Saturday, June 25, 2016

Celebrating Leroy Gower, June 25, 2016

We're all ghosts.
We all carry, inside us,
people who came before us. 
~Liam Callanan

Kyle Sauvage. Tomorrow is the 12th Birthday of Kyle Sauvage, son of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. Kyle is the Grandson of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry, and the Great Great Grandson of Leroy and Nola Gower mentioned below.

The first picture shows Kyle, with his parents Kelly and James, at a Texas Rangers baseball game in Arlington, Texas earlier this month.

Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974). Today is the 117th anniversary of the birth of my grandfather Leroy Gower, who was born near Mountain View, Arkansas on June 25, 1899. He was the last of our ancestors born in the 19th century.

Grandpa Gower, along with his wife Nola Shannon Gower, originally from Mountain View, were among the first in our family to live in California when they migrated here in 1942 from Okemah, Oklahoma. They came with their 3 children: Hendrix, Maida and 9 year old Vicki (known then as Melva), and Hendrix' young wife Starlene.

The Gower family came to San Diego in two installments. Leroy, his son Hendrix and pregnant wife Starlene came in mid-1942 to get jobs and get settled. Then Nola and their two daughters, 18 year old Maida and 9 year old Vicki, came in December of that same year.

Having the family separated during the move to California was very difficult for them, especially for the girls who remained in Oklahoma. For that reason Maida was willing to move to California in the middle of her Senior year in High School. So in December of 1942 Nola and the two girls took an arduous, 1,400 mile bus ride to California. Maida then graduated from San Diego High in the spring of 1943.

The snippet on the left is taken from the 1943 San Diego High School Yearbook which I found online. It shows Maida Imogene Gower on the left surrounded by several of her classmates. Most of the graduates have a few clubs or activities associated with their listing. For Maida, the only thing mentioned is "Okemah High", the school in Oklahoma where she attended all but the last half of her senior year. Maida has the distinction of being the first in our family to have graduated from a school of any kind in California.

Maida's father Leroy came to San Diego when he was 42 years old, worked for Railway Express for many years, and lived the final 33 years of his life here. He was a life long smoker and for the last several years had very poor eyesight. Like many of his generation, he developed respiratory problems which led to his death in 1974 at 75 years old. His wife Nola outlived him by 30 years.

Grandpa Gower's lineage can be traced back to the early 17th century in Virginia, to Abell Gower (1640-1689) and his wife Jane Hatcher Gower (1640-1710), our earliest known ancestors born this side of the Atlantic.

On this anniversary of his birth, I remember Grandpa Gower as a committed Churchman, an honorable though strict father, a loving Grandparent, a hard worker, and a lover of the San Diego Padres. He is to be commended for making the difficult adjustment to city life in San Diego, after being rooted in small towns in Oklahoma and then Arkansas before that.

This final picture shows Leroy with his wife Nola Gower in front of him, surrounded by some of their church friends at the Balboa Park Baptist Church. This picture was probably taken in the late 1960s or early 1970s. They were committed, long time members of this San Diego congregation.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Generations Apart, One in Heart, June 12, 2016

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.
You are the continuation of each of these people.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Generations Apart, One in Heart. Four birthdays are celebrated this week in our larger family. I thought it appropriate to highlight their birthdays by including pictures of each birthday person with their grandparent, or in one case, with their grandchild. In all four pictures, the pairs are approximately the same age.

Emma Wilk and Beverly Russell Wilk. June 6, Monday of this past week, was the 11th birthday of Emma Beverly Jean Wilk, granddaughter of Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Emma and her mom Shannon Wilk live in Atchison, Kansas. 

Emma and Grandmother Beverly

In this first picture, Emma's image (left) was taken on her birthday earlier this week. On the right is her grandmother Beverly Russell in a picture that was taken in San Diego almost 70 years ago, in 1947. At the time of Beverly's photo she was about the same age that Emma is now.

Beryl Swinney Shepard and Kaylan Shepard. Yesterday, June 11, was the 93rd anniversary of the birth of my aunt Beryl Swinney Shepard (1923-1994), wife of Elmer Shepard, and mother of Dane and Joan Shepard. 

Kaylan and Grandmother Beryl

In the picture above, Beryl's image (on the right) is coupled with the image of her granddaughter Kaylan Shepard, daughter of Dane and Cindy Shepard of Blanchard, Oklahoma. Beryl, in military uniform, served during World War II, which is when this picture of her was taken, while Kaylan's picture was taken earlier this year. 

Scott Ortiz and Thelma Shepard Boyd. This coming Monday, June 13, is the 31st birthday of Scott Ortiz of El Cajon, California. He is the second son of Kim Boyd Clark and her late husband Gabe Ortiz.

Scott and Grandmother Thelma

This picture shows Scott on the left in an image from a picture taken earlier this month. The right half of this picture, taken in 1958, shows Scott's grandmother Thelma Shepard Boyd when she was about the same age that Scott is now and living in San Diego. Thelma lives today in Blue Springs, Missouri, not far from her daughter, and Scott's sister, Kim.

Kambree Kay Bowman and Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc. And finally, this coming Tuesday, June 14, is the 3rd birthday of Kambree Kay Bowman, daughter of Mandi Aquiningoc and Stephen Bowman of Weatherford, Texas. 

Kerri and Granddaughter Kambree

This composite photo shows Kambree on the right, from a picture taken very recently. The image on the left is a picture of her grandmother Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc, taken in 1971 in San Diego when she was about the same age that Kambree is now. Kerri lives today in Weatherford, Texas. 

Happy Birthday and best wishes to each of the birthday people pictured above!

These pairs are presented in this way not just to generate some nostalgia, especially among those of us who can remember life years ago. But this also highlights the important relationships between the generations. Being two generations apart sometimes suggests distance and separation, but the fact is that there are connections that cannot be denied, connections that are significant whether or not the two relatives ever met. 

Look closely with eyes of discernment and you can see the connections in the images above, in the eyes, in the hair, in the smiles. All of this is one more reminder that our lives, minds and hearts are inextricably intertwined with our ancestors, even if that ancestor is only two generations away.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, June 02, 2016

From Pioneering Stock, June 2, 2016

It is not easy to be a pioneer
- but oh, it is fascinating! 
I would not trade one moment,
even the worst moment,
for all the riches in the world.
~Elizabeth Blackwell

Three celebrations are in order in our family this day. Two are contemporary, one is a remembrance from long ago, involving stories of a genealogical nature and of historical interest.

James Brooks Davis (1870-1928). Today is the anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandfather James Brooks Davis who was born on this day in 1870 near Spencer, Indiana. He was the much admired father of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, who chose her father's birthday as the day to marry William Shepard in 1915. James died at 58 years old, also in the month of June, but in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

Jim Davis was the brave soul who, after living in Indiana all his 43 years, and after being a 3rd generation Hoosier, packed up and moved west in 1913 to Beaver County, Oklahoma, some 900 miles away. He migrated with his wife Callie (also a native Indianan), their 7 children (ages 5 to 16), AND his wife's special needs brother Clayton Spear. To pack up and move a family that size and configuration required a pioneering spirit. It was something between "rather crazy" and "incredibly ambitious." 

But Jim Davis was from pioneering stock; it was in his blood. His grandparents Alexander and Jane Davis had braved the American wilderness some 60 years earlier when they migrated from Monroe County, Ohio to Owen County, Indiana. And they did so with several young children, including my Great Great Grandfather Charles Davis! The stories of their adventures must have been the stuff of many a conversation around Davis dinner tables during James' early years. We remember him, on this his birthday, with admiration for his love of family and his willingness to dream of a better future. He is buried today alongside his wife Callie in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County. 

The picture above shows James Brooks Davis in 1923 with 4 of his grandchildren, Eugene, Pauline and Elmer Shepard, and Geneva Kilpatrick.

Happy Anniversary Gary and Cindy. Today, June 2, is the 37th anniversary of my brother Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy Dillon Shepard. Happy Anniversary to them! Gary is one of the Great Grandchildren of James Brooks Davis. 

He and Cindy were married in 1979 in Southern California where they lived for the first 34 years of their married life. Today they live in Oak Harbor, Washington just a short drive from Anacortes, Washington where our mother Maida Shepard lives. Cindy and Gary are very helpful in caring for mom who, as she moves into her 90's, is requiring more and more care and attention from her family.

Happy Anniversary Jeremy and Desiree. Yesterday was the 14th wedding anniversary of Jeremy and Desiree Ortiz. Jeremy is one of the Great Great Grandchildren of the aforementioned James Brooks Davis. He is the oldest child of Kim Boyd Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri and lives with wife Desiree and their 5 children in El Cajon, California. Best wishes to them for a happy anniversary!
- - -
Steve Shepard