Friday, April 27, 2018

A Remarkable Week for Remembering, April 27, 2018

We have a witch in the family.
Isn't it wonderful?
- from Harry Potter
and the Sorcerer's Stone

It has been a remarkable week for remembering people in our family.

Gloria Harrell Watson. Yesterday, on beautiful clear day, we laid to rest my cousin Gloria Harrell Watson (1953-2016) in Greenwood Cemetery in San Diego. Her sister Paula had made the arrangements and was there with her husband Frank as we said our last goodbyes and prayed Gloria into eternity. Gloria passed away two years ago in Knoxville, Tennessee at 63 years old. She was born in San Diego and was raised there along with all her siblings and cousins. At just 18 years old she married William Watson in San Diego. She then moved with him to Tennessee where she lived the rest of her life. She had a long and successful career at healthcare company Allmeds, Inc. in Knoxville.

Gloria Harrell Watson and Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower
Thanks to our cousin Jimmie Gower, Gloria's ashes were interred in the grave next to her grandmother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004).  Gloria and her Grandmother were very close and had a special bond throughout Gloria's life. Their final resting place is in a lovely section of Greenwood Cemetery which on a clear day offers views of the local mountains to the east, and San Diego bay to the west. In this particular corner of Greenwood Cemetery a dozen or more graves of family members are located. It is a place rife with memories of Gowers and Shepards who have lived in San Diego in recent generations.

The first picture I am including today was taken 25 years ago and shows Gloria with her Grandmother in San Diego. The picture was taken while Gloria was visiting in San Diego from Tennessee.

Beverly Jean Russell Wilk. Today would have been the 79th Birthday of my cousin Beverly Jean Russell Wilk (1939-1974). Bev is the mother of Shannon Wilk who lives with her daughter Emma Beverly Jean in Atchison, Kansas. Bev only lived to be 35 years old because of a brain aneurysm that tragically cut her life short back in 1974 when she was a wife and a mother of two young children. Beverly's grave is just a few steps away from Gloria's in San Diego.

Bev's daughter Shannon posted this on Facebook just today: "Happy Birthday to my mom. She would have been 79 years old today. She was taken from me early in my life, and though I have no memory of her, she is always in my heart. My very own Angel who watches over me and her granddaughter. Love you mommy."

Beverly Russell Wilk with uncle Eugene Shepard
Eugene Shepard. Tomorrow I will be remembering my maternal grandmother Nola Shannon Gower, and my father Eugene Shepard, who were both born on April 28. My dad was born 97 years ago in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where he was raised. He graduated from Two Buttes (Colorado) High School when his family lived there in the 1930s. After serving in the Navy in WW2 he stayed in San Diego, married Maida Gower and with her raised a family of 6 kids. After retiring from the Naval Supply Depot in the late 1970s, he and Maida moved to Anacortes, Washington where he died 15 years ago this summer.

The second picture in this post was taken about 1944 in San Diego. It shows my father, Navyman Eugene Shepard, holding his 5 year old niece Beverly Jean Russell. Dad was stationed at the time in Los Alamitos, California, and was probably home on leave visiting his family. Bev was the only granddaughter of the Shepards at the time and was the darling of the family. She and her family had only lived in San Diego for a couple of years, having moved from Colorado in 1940.

Nola Shannon Gower. My Grandmother Nola Gower was born 115 years ago near Mountain View, Arkansas. She married Leroy Gower in Arkansas in 1921, and then moved to Okemah, Oklahoma where she and husband Leroy lived for 17 years until they moved to San Diego. The first picture above shows Nola Gower in her home on Lynne Street in San Diego, where she lived for almost 50 years.

The memories of this week have been important and powerful for members of both our Shepard and the Gower families. They bring to mind some of the best of the folks who have made our family what it is today. I thank God for the memories of all these loved ones.
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Steve Shepard

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Happy Siblings Day! April 10, 2018

Our paths may change as life goes along
But the bond between us remains ever strong.

Today is Siblings Day, one of the lesser holidays on the calendar, but one that most definitely deserves its place. It is undervalued as far as I am concerned. Siblings are important, even though they sometimes live at a distance, even if our relationships do grow old over time, even if we have our differences. Despite all that it behooves us to honor our siblings.

Gary, me, Jerry, Darrell, Barbara and Russ
I am grateful for my siblings. For Gary, Darrell, Barbara, and Russ, and for Jerry Clark. And for the memory of my departed sister Linda. I am grateful to each of them for our shared history, for our family ties, for the memories we have from years passed. I am grateful for the happy times that brought us together and the sad times that also brought us together, even though we would never have wished for it to have happened that way. I am also grateful for the ways our relationships have evolved over the years, sometimes in ways that deepen our bonds, other times in ways that challenge the very fabric of our family.

Maida and her sister Vicki
But most of all I am particularly grateful for the ways my siblings have responded to needs of our dear mother Maida Shepard in these last years of her life. My life is so much better for having my siblings in my life. But most of all, mom is blessed by the care given to her by her children, my siblings, who give the best of themselves to her.

Long Time Siblings. Siblings are usually the people we have known longer in life than anyone else, except our parents. In our larger family, among those who have been siblings a very long time are my 93 year old mother Maida Gower Shepard and her 84 year old sister Vicki Gower Johnston. These days Maida and Vicki live a distance from each other, with Maida living in Washington, and Vicki living in Arizona. But for most of their lives they lived near enough to one another to keep their relationship close. They stay in contact even today as best they can despite the limitations of their advanced years. They have been siblings since 1933, nearly 85 years. This second picture shows Maida and Vicki just a few years ago in Maida's home in Anacortes, Washington.

Sisters Juanita and Paula, with Cindy on the left
But the most remarkable set of siblings among us is my wife Cindy's mother Paula Hicks Harris and her sister Juanita Hicks Eeds. At 94 and 96 years old respectively, Paula and Juanita have shared the bond of sisterhood for almost 95 years! They have been close throughout the years, even as each had children and raised their respective families. They have both lived in San Diego since about 1950, and have lived together in the same house on Burgundy Street for the last 37 years. These days they both struggle with the affects of aging and need full time care, but their sibling bond remains as strong as ever. This third picture shows Juanita in the middle with her sister Paula on the right, and Paula's daughter Cindy on the left.

Rest In Peace Gloria. I received word from my cousin Paula Harrell Tuzzolino that her sister Gloria Harrell Watson, who died two years ago, will be laid to rest later this month in San Diego. On April 26 Gloria's ashes will be interred next to her Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. At that time there will be a graveside service to honor Gloria. Any family members or friends are welcome to join us. For more details please contact me or Paula.
Darrell, Kellan, Mary and Rachel

Happy Birthday Rachel!
Birthday wishes are extended to my niece Rachel Shepard who turns 31 years old this Saturday April 14. She is the daughter of my sibling Darrell Shepard, and lives in the Seattle, Washington area with her son Kellan. Best wishes to Rachel for a wonderful birthday!

This last picture was taken this past Easter and shows Rachel with her dad Darrell, her mom Mary and her son Kellan. And her friend the Easter Bunny.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Nathan Shepard: An American Original, April 3, 2018

We are connected with our past.
People who care nothing for the past
usually have no thought for the future.
~S. W. Kimball

Preslea Maida Shepard
Happy Birthday Preslea! Last Monday was the 8th birthday of our granddaughter Preslea Maida Shepard. She lives here in San Diego with her dad and brothers, just a short ways from Cindy and me. We all had a great time celebrating her big day last week at LEGOLAND in nearby Carlsbad.

The first picture shows a smiling birthday girl Preslea in a picture at their home in San Diego.

Birthday Wishes to Nathan! Today is the birthday of her father, our son Nathan Shepard. Best wishes to Nate for a great birthday! Nate stays busy these days being a father of three, and working full time for Wells Fargo Bank. He enjoys hockey, biking, backpacking, Roblox, and caring for the family dog Jasmine.

When Cindy and I gave our son his name 41 years ago, little did we know that he was not the first in our Shepard family to have the name Nathan Shepard. We thought we were being original. I am sure the same can said for my cousin Dane Shepard and his wife Cindy who, 22 years ago, gave their son the name Nathan Shepard. What none of us knew until recently, was that the first Nathan in our Shepard family tree was the first born child of James and Hannah Gatchell Sheppard, of Belmont County, Ohio. That Nathan was born 217 years ago on February 7, 1801, in Fredricktown, Maryland.

Nathan with Preslea and Logan
The second picture shows Nathan Shepard with daughter Preslea and son Logan.

The Sheppard clan of Kirkwood Township in Belmont County, Ohio is an important part of our family history. The patriarch and matriarch of that clan were James and Hannah Sheppard, who migrated to the frontier of Ohio from Maryland in the first decade of the 19th century. (Note: It was not until after the Civil War that we began consistently spelling our last name with one p.)

Fellow family researcher Dee Gordon has written this story about my 4X Great Grandparents James and Hannah Sheppard, the parents of the original Nathan Shepard in our family:
James and Hannah began their married life in Maryland possibly with or near her parents the Gatchells, until their first 4 children were born. Then they decided to try their luck in the wilds of Ohio. And started on their long and trying journey in a heavy covered wagon pulled by oxen. The trail they took is now known as U.S. Route 40 Highway. 
After several weeks of travel and peril they stopped in the Kirkwood twp., Belmont Co., Ohio. They settled first on the Wilson Farm in October of 1809 and remained there for one year. James then bought a quarter section in Kirkwood twp., for two dollars per acre, and made improvements. The deed was dated January 1, 1812 and was signed by James Madison President, and James Monroe, Secretary of State. The deed is still in the family.
That old homestead never had any other name other than the Sheppard Farm till 1943, 135 years later. By about 1949 it had been transferred only 4 times. This old home is spoken of at length, because from it more persons with the same family name have started out into the world than from any other home in Kirkwood twp. 
It is said that the quality of their household goods and other equipment which they brought from Maryland was of the best that could be obtained at that time.
Among those improvements made on this land in the native forest was a home erected by James to which he moved his family in 1810. It was a round-log cabin 18 by 20 feet, one story high, with one small window, and a quilt hung up for a door. They lived in this house until 1827 when he erected a two-story addition of hewed logs in which he lived the remainder of his life.
One of the odd things about this house was the adjustments made to accommodate a Grandfather's Clock. It was brought over from Baltimore and was taller than the ceiling. A hole was cut through into the room above, next to the wall on the north side. The top of the clock extended twenty inches above the upper floor and was capped over for protection. This clock was a family relic which has been lost entirely to this generation; but those two rooms completed that fine building which was nicknamed the PEPPER BOX on account of its shape.
James Sheppard was considered one of the most successful farmers in Belmont Co., and was a large land-holder, owning over 1,200 acres in Belmont Co. He also assisted in building several schoolhouses and held several township offices.
James was a Tanner by trade and followed it for several years as well as farming. He learned this and Weaving while still in Maryland. James was also a very accomplished carpenter and cabinet maker. A small bureau or chest of drawers made by James is in the permanent home of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio. 
James and Hannah had 99 grandchildren.
The foregoing story gives an overview of the life of this Sheppard clan in Kirkwood, Ohio in the early 19th century. Much of it seems to be word of mouth family traditions, but gives some interesting facts from which more documented research into this part of our family can be done.

Nathan Cross Sheppard (1801-1856), the oldest of the 13 children in this family, was actually born in Maryland but made the wagon journey to Ohio as a child. He was raised in Belmont County, Ohio and married Elizabeth Clark with whom he had 14 children. So this Nathan was one of 13 children. Then he and his wife Elizabeth had 14 children. Do the math. The claim above that James and Hannah Sheppard had 99 grandchildren is not far fetched.

Bethesda Cemetery Grave of Nathan Sheppard (1801-1856)
After raising their family in Ohio, Nathan Cross Sheppard and wife Elizabeth sold their Belmont County farm and migrated 600 miles westward to Rock County in Western Illinois in 1854, where Nathan died just two years later at 55 years old. He is buried there in Bethesda Cemetery, along with numerous other relatives, including a Eugene Sheppard, a Mary Sheppard, 2 Rachel Sheppards, and yet another William Sheppard.

The picture on the right shows the grave of 19th century Nathan Sheppard in Bethesda Cemetery, Illinois.

Nathan Cross Sheppard -- the original Nathan in our Shepard Family Tree -- was an outstanding American pioneer and frontiersman, who we are proud to claim. His younger brother James Cross Sheppard Jr. (1813-1887) is the one from whom we are directly descended. His son, William Shepard (1835-1862), who died in the Civil War, is the one I have written about many times in this blog. He was the Grandfather of my Grandfather William Shepard (1888-1976).
- - -
Steve Shepard