Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrants Over A Century Apart, June 26, 2015

If you as parents cut corners,
your children will too.
If you lie, they will too.
If parents snicker at racial and gender jokes,
another generation will pass on the poison.
~Marian Wright Edelman

Kyle Christian Sauvage. Today is Kyle Sauvage's 11th Birthday. Kyle, who lives in Weatherford, Texas, is the younger son of James Sauvage and Kelly Shepard Sauvage. He is the grandson of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Enderle Perry. He is also one of the Great Great Grandsons of Leroy and Nola Gower, and William and Bura Shepard.

This first picture shows Kyle holding a certificate he received from a basketball camp he attended earlier this month in Weatherford, Texas.

Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931). This coming Wednesday, July 1, is the birthday of Elvira Owens Shepard, the Great Great Great Grandmother of the aforementioned Kyle Sauvage. It was exactly 150 years ago, just as the Civil War was concluding, that she was born in the small community of New Douglas in far north east corner of Madison County, Illinois, 40 miles east of Saint Louis, Missouri.

Historical Note One: The day before Elvira Owens was born, the 4 conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln, including Mary Surratt, were convicted by a military tribunal, and were hung just a few days later in Washington, D.C. Mary Surratt was the first woman ever sentenced to death by the Federal Government.

In the early 1880s, when just a young woman, Elvira met a young Hoosier vagabond who had recently wandered into town, by the name of William Elmer Shepard. His father had died in the war and he had run off from his home in Indiana to find a new life "out west" which turned out to be Madison County, Illinois. When Elvira and William met, it was the attraction of opposites: he was a wanderer, estranged from his family, unconnected to the community of his birth; she was a local girl from a strong, stable family, well connected to her community. They married in 1886 in Madison County and lived there for the next 20 years, bringing two children, William and Sadie, into the world.

About 1905 Elvira and husband William, with their 2 children, moved 700 miles westward, probably at the urging of the restless William Elmer. They settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma where William and Elvira lived for the rest of their lives. She is buried in Beaver County's Sophia Cemetery, alongside her first husband William Elmer Shepard and her late-in-life second husband Cal Williams.

This second picture (click on it for a larger view) shows a rather ragtag family group and was taken in Beaver County, Oklahoma about 1930. Starting from the far left, the second person (white hair, big smile) is Elvira Owens Shepard. (85 years later her GGG Grandson Kyle has a surprisingly similar smile.) To the right of Elvira is her daughter-in-law Bura Davis Shepard, then Bura's parents James Brooks Davis and Caroline Spear Davis. The tall fellow in the center in back is Lawrence Davis. On the far right looking dapper in a big stetson is Cal Williams (Elvira's second husband) and to the left of him (looking much less dapper in overalls) is my grandfather William Shepard (Elvira's son).

Elvira Owens represents the first generations of Americans in the newly re-United States of America of the late 1860s and beyond. Hers was the first generation that struggled to find the meaning of this American life without the evil of slavery. It was a time of reconstruction, with new opportunities, new prosperity, great social change and the ever growing westward movement.

Elvira also represents our connection to the Owenses of Madison County, Illinois. My grandfather William Shepard was born in Madison County and spent the first 16 or 17 years of his life there, the older child of Elvira and William Elmer. Granddad's only extended family was his mother's Owens family and he must have identified strongly with them throughout his early life and teen years. There are still extended Owens family members in Madison County today, as well as numerous Owens family members elsewhere around the U.S., some of whom are readers of this blog. We are fortunate to be related to them.

Historical Note Two: When Elvira died in 1931, there was a controvery over who should inherit her estate, her children or her second husband Cal Williams. The picture above from 1930 shows what appears to be a happy family gathering, but within a year or so of this picture being taken, the family splintered over the inheritance issue. It became very contentious and the matter was not settled until 1937, 6 years after Elvira's death, by the Oklahoma Supreme Court who ruled in favor of her second husband, the dapper Cal Williams. Select this link for a summary of that historic case.

The following is a lineage that includes Elvira Owens and her Great Great Great Grandson, Kyle Sauvage, whose birthdays are this week.
  • Edmond Owens Jr., (1795-1864) who married Anna Phelps (1787-1861)
  • Peyton Owens (1826-1872) who married Mary Wheeler (1825-1871)
  • Elvira Owens (1865-1931) who married William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915)
  • William Shepard (1888-1976) who married Bura Davis (1896-1986)
  • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) who married Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Gary Shepard (b. 1946) who married Cindy Dillon (b. 1954)
  • Kelly Shepard (b. 1973) who married James Sauvage (b. 1971)
  • Kyle Sauvage (b. 2004)
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Steve Shepard

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Happy Father's Day, June 20, 2015

My father gave me the greatest gift
anyone could give another person.
He believed in me.
~Jim Valvano

Tomorrow, June 21, is the anniversary of our son and daughter-in-law, Nathan and Chenda Sou Shepard, who were married on June 21, 2009. On that day 6 years ago Father's Day, their anniversary, and the Summer Solstice all occurred on June 21, a rare occurrance that happens again this year. Nate and Chenda live in San Diego with their 3 children Preslea, Logan and William. Happy Anniversary to Nate and Chenda!

This first picture shows Nate and Chenda at their home on Dicenza Way here in San Diego. 

Tomorrow is also the day we honor all father's in our midst. And we remember those fathers who have gone before us. I want to mention two in particular: my grandfather Leroy Gower and my brother in law Joe Paul Harris. Though they have been gone for many years, these two are remembered warmly by those who knew them as father and grandfather.

Leroy Gower (1899-1974) was a turn of the century baby, born June 25, 1899. Originally from a small farming family, he was born 116 years ago near Mountain View, Arkansas. He and his wife-to-be Nola Shannon were from the same small farming community west of Mountain View and probably knew each other as children. When they married in Arkansas she was a teenager and he was just 22 years old. 

After just a few married years -- and the birth of their first two children -- he and Nola moved westward and settled in Okemah, Oklahoma. After 17 years there they moved on to San Diego where they lived most of the rest of their lives. Leroy (and Nola) had the rich opportunity to live in fairly close proximity to their 3 children and their 12 grandchildren in San Diego as they watched them grow to adulthood. 

The above picture of Leroy was taken in 1973 -- just a year before he died -- on the occasion of an unknown funeral at the Little Chapel of the Roses in Glen Abbey Cemetery in Chula Vista, California. Do any of you know who the funeral was for? It was a service attended by several Gower and Shepard family members. Leroy looks to be holding his great granddaughter Kelly Shepard.

Joe Paul Harris (1950-2009). On this weekend of Father's Day, I am also remembering Joe Paul Harris, my wife Cindy's brother, who was a midcentury baby, born June 23, 1950, 65 years ago this coming Tuesday. He died in the spring of 2009 in Naknek, Alaska where he had lived the last 20 years of his life. He and his wife Jane raised their 3 children in San Diego. This picture of Joe Paul shows him with his father Joe Harris and his first born child, Cadence Harris Martin, in 1975. 

Also On This Weekend.  In celebration of the above mentioned men, and all the fathers in our extended family, I offer the following updated Father's Day presentation with music by Michael Buble, which honors fathers in our family through the years.


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Steve Shepard

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Our Sincerest Laughter, June 13, 2015

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Kambree BowmanTomorrow is the 2nd birthday of one of the younger members of our extended family: Kambree Kay Bowman of Millsap, Texas. She is the daughter of Mandi Aquiningoc and the granddaughter of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. Kambree has the distinction of being the first of the Great Great Great Grandchildren of both William and Bura Shepard, and Leroy and Nola Gower.

Scott Ortiz. Today is the birthday of Scott Ortiz of San Diego. Scott is the younger son of Kim Boyd Clark and Grandson of Thelma Shepard Boyd. This second picture shows Scott with his mother Kim and was taken earlier this year in San Diego.

Reminder: Family Reunion, August 22, 2015, Bothell Washington. This third picture was taken at a family reunion 28 years ago at El Monte Park, just outside San Diego. In this picture are Nathan Shepard (left), Jason Shepard, Scott Ortiz (in the swing) and Kelly Shepard. Thanks to Kim Clark for this picture.

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Steve Shepard

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Beauty in the Differences, June 6, 2015

Beauty is in the differences,
like the different notes of a chord of music,
each note with its own integrity —
together spilling out into the air
in clusters of intense harmony.
~Patricia Adams Farmer

Emma Beverly Jean Wilk. Today, June 6, is the 10th birthday of Emma Beverly Jean Wilk. She is the 7th of the 18 Great Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. She and her mom Shannon Wilk live in Atchison, Kansas. Emma is the only granddaughter of the late Phillip Wilk (1935-2007) and Beverly Russell Wilk (1936-1974).

Shannon: Hi there! Emma IS growing fast. Too fast for me. She is very excited. She was bit by a dog a few days ago. No stitches. Just got scared. We've been doing okay. Although my health hasn't been good. I have another surgery coming up. Could use some prayers. Other than that we are good. Papa Frank is still kicking and stubborn as ever! The weather has been great here. But the hot humid stuff will be here soon enough. Hope you are all doing good

James Brooks Davis. This past Tuesday, June 2, was the 145th Birthday of my Great Grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928).

With all the falderol of my last post regarding the 100th Anniversary of William and Bura Davis, I did not mention that they were married on the 45th birthday of Bura's father James Brooks Davis. He is a significant person in our family history, being the one who picked up his young family of 9 in 1913 and moved them from Indiana to Beaver County, Oklahoma. 

My grandmother Bura, 16 years old at the time of their move, was the oldest of the 7 children. She had the tremendous responsibility of helping her parents watch over her 6 siblings (ages 5-15), plus her mother's special needs brother Clayton Spear, who also made the move with them. It is very understandable that within 2 short years of arriving in Beaver County, Oklahoma, Bura had met country neighbor William Shepard and was ready to marry him and get out on her own.

This second picture shows Beverly Russell, the grandmother of Emma Wilk, pictured above. Beverly is shown here (lower right) next to her brother Rex, in front of her parents Bill Russell and Pauline Shepard Russell. This family picture was taken in San Diego, probably about 1945. I am not sure why these folks look so stern. I remember them as being happy, pleasant people. Is that a sign for a dentist office in the window behind them? Perhaps that explains their demeanor. 

A final thought. After using the word "falderol" in a previous paragraph I decided to look it up just to make sure I was using the right word. Here are some Merriam-Webster Dictionary synonyms for falderol: "balderdash, baloney, blather, blither, bull, claptrap, codswallop and crapola." Turns out it is a much more meaningful (and colorful) word than I ever anticipated!

Family Reunion August 22, 2015. Don't forget that our next Family Reunion will be Saturday, August 22, 2015 in Bothell, Washington at the home of my nephew Patrick Shepard and his wife Nicole.

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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

A 100th Wedding Anniversary, June 2, 2015

William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard
On the Occasion of Their 
100th Wedding Anniversary

A Century Ago. 100 years ago, on June 2, 1915, my grandparents William Shepard (1888-1976) and Bura Emerald Davis (1896-1986) were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma. 

William and Bura, 1974
In this blog post I want to honor them and celebrate their life, their marriage, and their living legacy. Though William has been gone for 39 years, and Bura for 29 years, we remember them still.

An Historic Recording of William Shepard. The following photo presentation includes an actual recording from 40 years ago -- in 1975 -- when William Shepard was interviewed by John Banks, the minister of the El Cajon Boulevard Church of Christ in San Diego. In this interview William, with Bura close by, describes what it was like the day the two of them were married. (If you have trouble viewing or hearing this presentation on a mobile device, please try it on a desktop computer.)


A Clan of 87. Over the last century, Will and Bura's marriage has lead to the creation of a large family which includes...
  • 4 children (pictured below with William and Bura) 
  • 12 Grandchildren, 
  • 21 Great Grandchildren, 
  • 15 Great Great Grandchildren, 
  • and 2 Great Great Great Grandchildren. 
That is a total of 54 direct descendants who have been born to them over the last century, better than 1 birth every other year for 100 years. Add to that total the 31 men and women who have married into their family over the years, and you have a clan of 87 individuals. 
William, Bura and Children Eugene, Thelma, Pauline and Elmer

73 of those 87 people are still around today, and range in age from 5 months old to 90 years old. They are scattered around the Western United States in San Diego, Northern California, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Just to the right of this post on the main page of The Shepard's Crook are pictures of 9 of the youngest of those 73 descendants of Will and Bura. Scattered throughout the various posts of this blog are pictures and stories of every single one of their descendants.

Here's an interesting note: Of those 73 descendants who are alive today, 32 were born since William Shepard died in 1976. That means that close to half of the descendants of William and Bura who are alive today never had the opportunity to meet William or Bura. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have known them were touched by their lives in a wide variety of ways. The memories we have of them are numerous and varied; the gratitude we feel is immense; the debt we owe to them is beyond measure.

William and Bura Through The Years: a Collage of Images and Sound. The following musical photo presentation shows a variety of images of William and Bura Davis Shepard and their family. Some of the same pictures are included in the presentation above. This one, however, does not include the 1975 recorded interview. Instead it shares a wider variety of family pictures from 1914 through the 1980s. (If you have trouble viewing or hearing this presentation on a mobile device, please try viewing it on a desktop computer.)


For More Information. Here are some links to other informative blog posts regarding Will and Bura's wedding on June 2, 1915:
Whether you are a descendant of theirs, a family friend, a relative, or are connected to them in some other way, be a part of this online Wedding Anniversary Celebration. If you have suggestions about how we might expand this page honoring them, please let me know.
Greenwood Cemetery, San Diego

What Say You? At the bottom of this post is a place where you can leave some comments. Your comments may be just a sentence or two, or perhaps longer. I invite you to leave some thoughts regarding this 100th Wedding Anniversary Celebration. You can respond to one of the following questions, or comment however you would like.
  • What is your favorite memory of William and Bura Shepard?
  • What important life lessons did you receive from them?
  • What was the most important thing about them?
  • What special moments did you share with them?
  • How did they impact your life?
  • How is your life different today for having been touched by their lives?
Click on "post a comment" below to leave your thoughts, memories, reflections, or words of gratitude for the late William and Bura Davis Shepard. Let's make their 100th Wedding Anniversary worthy of their life and legacy!
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Steve Shepard