Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values,
so we reach ahead to our children and their children.
And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.
Today is the 84th birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Vicki and her sister Maida Gower Shepard are the two senior members of our family. Cindy and I were in Arizona a few weeks ago and had the opportunity to visit with Vicki and her primary care giver, daughter Paula, and Paula's husband Frank Tuzzolino. Vicki has lived in a care facility not far from Paula and Frank for two years now. She continues to have various health concerns but enjoyed our time together. Best wishes to Vicki for a very happy birthday!
The first picture I am including shows Vicki Johnston and her daughter Paula Tuzzolino.
Today is the 109th anniversary of the birth of my uncle Willie Davis (Bill) Russell who was born in 1908. He was married for 62 years to my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell. Among the descendants of Bill and Pauline Shepard Russell today are Shannon Wilk and her daughter Emma of Atchison, Kansas.
|Vicki Johnston, Paula Tuzzolino|
This second picture I am including today was taken earlier this month and shows Shannon and Emma Wilk.
New Ancestors For Our Family Tree. The last few months have been surprisingly productive in my continuing search for our Shepard ancestors prior to the Civil War. The soldier William Shepard (1835-1862) has been a keystone ancestor in our family history for many years. But discovering his parents and ancestry has been difficult until the last few months. I have shared recently in this blog about the discovery of the soldier William Shepard's parents Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Jr., and then the discovery of William's grandparents Hannah and James Cross Sheppard Sr.
When James Cross Sheppard Sr. (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Shepard (1781-1839) migrated from Maryland and settled in Kirkwood, Belmont County, Ohio in 1809, they brought with them their first four children (they eventually had 13). What I did not know until recent weeks is that James' elderly parents, Mary Ann Hudson Sheppard and John Sheppard III, also migrated to Ohio from Maryland just a few years later. John and Mary Ann therefore have become the newest additions to our Shepard family tree.
Our Shepard ancestors before the Civil War generally spelled their last name "Sheppard" with two "P's." That is how it usually appears on their headstones which is why I am spelling their name that way. I say that even though it was not unusual for their last names to be spelled either Shepard or Shepherd.
5X Great Grandmother Mary Ann Hudson Sheppard was an Irish immigrant. She was born in 1755 in County Wexford, on the Southeastern Coast of Ireland. She came to America as a child from Ireland with her parents Joseph Hudson (1717-1807) and Elizabeth Dunn Hudson (1720-1789). The Hudsons raised Mary Ann and her siblings in South Eastern Pennsylvania which was just north of where the Sheppards lived in Cecil County, Maryland.
Mary Ann's husband John Sheppard III -- our 5X Great Grandfather -- was born in 1737 in the port city of Georgetown, in the North Eastern part of what was then the Maryland Colony. John married Mary Ann Hudson on October 8, 1777 in Cecil County, Maryland -- 240 years ago this month! They were probably married earlier than that, but Maryland did not require marriage licenses until 1777. In addition to their son James Cross Sheppard Sr., they also raised a number of other children (perhaps as many as 12), among whom were two daughters Elizabeth Sheppard Midkiff (1782-1873) and Lydia Sheppard Waddell (1795-1872). A rich resource for these ancestors of ours comes from the cemetery listing for John Sheppard III and his wife Mary Ann on FindaGrave.com. You can select this link for that listing.
|Emma and Shannon Wilk|
So John Sheppard III and Mary Ann Hudson married and bore their children in Maryland but migrated to Belmont County, Ohio a few years after their son James and his family did. The community of Kirkwood in Belmont County is where John and Mary Ann spent the last years of their lives. Mary Ann died at 69 years old in 1824, while husband John died 3 years later at the ripe old age of 90, which was exceptional for the nineteenth century. Mary Ann and husband John are both buried in Sewellsville Cemetery in Kirkwood Township, Belmont County, Ohio.
Our ancestors John and Mary Ann were frontier Americans, hearty Christian folk. Look at the given names in this post: Mary and Joseph, James and John, Lydia, Elizabeth -- all significant characters from the New Testament. We know that 4X Great Grandmother Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (John and Mary's daughter-in-law) was from devout Quaker roots. John and Mary Ann may have been Quakers as well, but if not Quakers they were certainly fine Christian people.
You may be asking, What about John Sheppard II and John Sheppard I? Since there was a John Sheppard III, there must have been a II and a I, right? The details on the lives of those two are scant, but we do have some important information about them. I look forward to sharing about that in my next post.
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|Sewellsville Cemetery, Kirkwood, Ohio|