Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951), November 29, 2016

Memories, even bittersweet ones,
are better than nothing.
~Jennifer Armentrout

Remembering Caroline Spear Davis (1865-1951)Today is the 151st anniversary of the birth of Caroline Spear Davis of Owen County, Indiana. She is the mother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). Her 85 years spanned a amazing time in history, from the American Civil War to the post WWII years.

The 6 image composite, below on the right, shows Callie at 6 different stages of her life. Across the top are three images from the time when she lived in Indiana: in about 1880 as a young woman, in 1896 as a 30 year old bride, and then in 1908 as a mother of 7 children. Across the bottom are three images from when she lived in Oklahoma: in 1922 as a Grandmother with one of her grandchildren Bernard Kilpatrick; in 1936 as a Great Grandmother with one of her great grandchildren Rex Russell; and in 1947 just a few years before the end of her life.

Caroline (or "Callie" as she was known) is our connection to our Spear family roots, an interesting and very significant part of our family heritage. Callie's Great Grandfather James Spear (1768-1821) migrated to America from Ireland as a young man, and eventually settled in Eastern Ohio. Like our Davis ancestors (and countless other pioneering families), the Spears came from Eastern Ohio to Indiana in the 1850s. My GGG Grandparents Alexander and Jane Davis came from Ohio's Monroe County, while the widow Julian Pugh Spear (Callie's grandmother) came with her grown children from Ohio's Tuscarawas County. The Spears and the Davises settled about the same time in Morgan Township near Spencer, Indiana in the years just before the Civil War.

Whether the Spears and the Davises knew each other in Ohio before moving westward is unknown. We do know that both families settled very near each other in Indiana, and that both families were instrumental in establishing a small country church near Spencer, Indiana, the New Union Church of Christ. This suggests that when they migrated westward the Spears and the Davises brought with them their common church affiliation.

In Eastern Ohio in the mid-19th century, the most rapidly growing religious group was the Campbell-Stone Movement (aka the "Restoration Movement") which gave rise to the Churches of Christ, the Christian Church, and the Disciples of Christ. One curious historical tidbit I found shows that Andrew Spear (1806-1887), the brother of Callie's Grandfather Samuel Spear, is buried in the "Church of Christ Cemetery" in Washington County in Eastern Ohio. It is just one more indication that Callie Spear Davis' kinfolk in Ohio were Restoration Movement people. This suggests that our family's roots in the Campbell-Stone tradition in America go back to the early 19th century, and the very beginning of the Campbell-Stone tradition.

Another interesting bit of family history relating to Callie Spear Davis is the existence of an obscure little book by A.T. DeGroot titled "The Churches of Christ in Owen County, Indiana," published in 1935. In that book the author writes about the New Union Church of Christ (also called "the Christian Church at Union"), the congregation to which Callie Spear and her family belonged. It is also the congregation to which many family members of her husband James Davis belonged.

DeGroot's book contains numerous membership records from the period between 1866 and 1880. In those membership records are 11 people named Davis, and 28 people named Spear, most of them identifiable as kinfolk of ours. When Callie Spear married James Davis in 1896, it was the union of two church members whose families were founding members of the same small congregation in their rural community. The New Union Church was a viable congregation for 100 years until it closed in the fall of 1956.

A number of our Davis ancestors rest in the New Union Cemetery adjacent to where the New Union Church once stood, at the corner of Rattlesnake Rd and Shepard Patrick Road a few miles out of town. A number of our Spear relations rest in the Spear Cemetery, 5 miles northwest of the New Union Cemetery.

In 1913 Callie Spear Davis and her husband James Brooks Davis moved from Indiana and settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma with their 7 children. Callie and James lived the last years of their lives there and are buried in the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County.

Happy Birthday Kim and Damian. Today is also the birthday of one of Callie Spear Davis' Great Grandaughters, my cousin Kim Boyd Clark. Kim is the daughter of my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd. She and husband Jeff Clark live in Grain Valley, Missouri. 

Today also happens to be the birthday of Kim's grandson Damian Ortiz of San Diego. Damian is the son of Kim's son Jeremy Ortiz and his wife Desiree of El Cajon, California. Best wishes and happy birthday to Kim and Damian!

Thanks to Damian's mom Desiree for this picture of Kim and grandson Damian.
- - -
Steve Shepard 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, November 23, 2016

I am grateful for what I am and have.
My thanksgiving is perpetual.
~Henry David Thoreau

On this week of Thanksgiving 2016, I am grateful for three particular women in our extended family: My mother Maida Gower Shepard, and my two aunts Vicki Gower Johnston, and Thelma Shepard Boyd. That triad represents the senior members of my parents' generation in our family.

My aunt Thelma is the youngest of the three, and is the last remaining child of my grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard. Born in Two Buttes, Colorado, she moved as a child to San Diego when the Shepards first settled here in 1940. She lives today in Grain Valley, Missouri with her daughter Kim Clark Boyd, who tells me: "She is doing fine. She loves car rides and goes everywhere we go. She still walks every day. I cook and she's the prep cook and dishwasher." Happy Thanksgiving and thank you to Thelma for blessing our Shepard family for 80 years!

The first picture, taken this past May, shows my aunt Thelma Boyd on the left, with fellow octogenarian Engelbert Humperdinck. (What? You don't know the famous Engelbert Humperdinck? Google him. Or better yet, Youtube him!) Also pictured are Thelma's daughter Kim and her husband Jeff Clark.

My aunt Vicki Gower Johnston is the youngest of the three children of my Grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Born in Okemah, Oklahoma she too came to San Diego as a child when our Gower family settled here in 1942. She lives today in Chandler, Arizona near her daughter Paula Harrell Tuzzolino, although she still longs for life in Oak Harbor, Washington where she lived for over 40 years, until a year ago. Happy Thanksgiving and much gratitude to Vicki for being an important part of our family.

This second picture shows my aunt Vicki back in 1995 when she was visiting in San Diego. This picture was taken by her sister Maida Shepard while they were having fun riding the Carousel in front of the San Diego zoo.

And I am very grateful for the senior most member of our family, my 92 year old mother Maida Gower Shepard who lives with her daughter Barbara in Anacortes, Washington. Born in Mountain View, Arkansas, Maida and husband Eugene raised a family of 6 children in San Diego before retiring to Washington State in 1978. Mom has made her home there now for nearly 40 years. 

I am especially grateful that mom is doing better after being hospitalized a week ago. As of this writing she is still in the hospital in nearby Mount Vernon, Washington, but is stable and hopefully will be going home later today. 

This third picture, taken in August, shows Maida on the right with her oldest son Gary and her daughter Barbara at her home on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes.

After re-reading the foregoing paragraphs, it dawned on me that the caregivers of the foregoing women also deserve our thanks. I am grateful for daughters in our family, like Paula, Kim and Barbara, who give so much of themselves to care for their aging mothers. It speaks well for the kind of family we are!

May all of you and your family have a happy Thanksgiving!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Remembering Bura Davis Shepard, November 10, 2016

How important it is
for us to recognize and celebrate
our heroes and she-roes!
~Maya Angelou

Veteran's Day. Tomorrow is Veteran's Day, an opportunity to honor all those who have served our country in military service. We have many folks in our extended families who deserve our appreciation on this day. Thanks to all of them for the many various ways they have served: men and women, Davises and Shepards, Shannons and Gowers, and many others. Your commitment to our country blesses our family. 

Remembering Bura Shepard. Tuesday of this week was the 120th anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). Born in Indiana in 1896, she and her family, in the spring of 1913, left Owen County, Indiana and migrated westward. They settled in the panhandle of Oklahoma, where, within just two years, Bura met and married William Shepard, my grandfather.

100 years ago this fall, William and Bura were a young couple living in Beaver County. They were still adjusting to married life in a rural setting, having celebrated their first wedding anniversary on June 2, 1916.

Bura Davis (Shepard)
Will and Bura's first child arrived in late December, which meant that for most of 1916, 19 year old Bura was pregnant. She had moved to Oklahoma just 3 years earlier, and now as a young pregnant housewife, had to endure the heat of a dusty Oklahoma summer, the physical demands of a young farming couple, the difficulties of adjusting to being married, and much more. Even though there were a number of other Shepard and Davis family members in Beaver County, life for Will and Bura, out in the Oklahoma countryside, must have felt very lonely at times, especially when transportation was primarily by foot, horseback or a horse drawn wagon.

Bura, the oldest of 7 children, was from a large and robust family which was an integral part of her identity. In the fall of 1916 Will's parents, William Elmer and Elvira Shepard, lived elsewhere in Beaver County, as did Bura's parents, James and Callie Davis. In the household of the elder Davises lived Bura's 6 younger siblings, who ranged in age from 8 to 18 years old. The teen bride Bura was no longer in the middle of that happy and vibrant family circle. Instead she and her new husband were on their own and sought to make their own way in life.

When Bura's 20th birthday arrived on November 8, 1916, she was just weeks away from bringing into the world a baby girl they would name Pauline, the first Shepard child of the next generation, and the first of Will and Bura's 4 children.

The 1920 U.S. census shows that Will and Bura Shepard were living in Logan Township within Beaver County, in the very Southeastern corner of the Oklahoma panhandle, walking distance from the Texas state border. They were 35 miles southeast of the small town of Beaver, the county seat. According to the 1920 Census, none of their family were living in the immediate area where they resided and where they worked their small family farm. They were 15 miles on a dirt road from the South Flat Church of Christ, to which they and other family members belonged, and which was a major source of social contact. Being pregnant on the Oklahoma frontier, removed from family and friends most of the time, must have been very difficult.

A Few Historical Notes: In 1916 nearly 14,000 people lived in Beaver County, more than had ever lived in that county before that time, or since. It was a unique time of significant growth for this part of the state, known as the Cherokee Strip. The growth was a result of the historic land rush of 1893, when upwards of 100,000 people participated in a run to claim land. 1916 was the height of the population growth for Beaver County. Today the population is less than half what it was when Will and Bura lived there.

November 7, 1916, the day before Bura's 20th birthday, was election day in the U.S. with Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson elected president for a second term. It was the last day that Bura was 19 years old, but she was not allowed to vote, even if she had wanted to. The Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, did not become a part of the U.S. Constitution until the summer of 1920. 

Art Colgain, Havilah Wardle
Bura likely voted in that 1920 election, the first one open to women voters, making her one of the first women ever in our family to vote in a Presidential election. It would have been an incongruous distinction for Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, who was a soft spoken, but devout woman, who shied away from accolades and was most comfortable living humbly away from the spotlight.

Two other family milestones this week. This past Monday, one of William and Bura Shepard's Great Grandchildren, Havilah Colgain Wardle, celebrated her 34th birthday. Congratulations and best wishes to Havilah who along with husband Kevin, lives in the Salt Lake City area. She is the daughter of my cousin Joan Shepard of Dixon, California, and Art Colgain of the Salt Lake City area. This second picture shows Havilah with her dad in a photo taken back on Father's Day.

Russ Shepard, Shaun Gower
Happy Birthday on Tuesday of this week to Shaun Gower, who with his wife Tracy, lives in Escondido, California. Born in England in 1967 when his father was in the service, Shaun is the son of my cousin Hershell Gower, and the youngest Great Grandchild of my grandparents Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Shaun is one of the few descendants of my Gower grandparents who still lives in the San Diego area.

This last picture, taken in 1990, shows Shaun Gower (on the right) with his cousin Russ Shepard at Lake Erie, near the home of my parents Maida and Eugene Shepard of Anacortes, Washington.
- - -
Steve Shepard