Saturday, July 28, 2018

Happy Happy Happy Birthday, July 28, 2018

What greater thing is there for human souls
than to feel that they are joined for life -
to be with each other
in silent unspeakable memories.
~George Eliot

Greetings to all of you from very warm and sunny San Diego! As July draws to a close it is a happy time for several members of our larger family who are celebrating a birth and some birthdays.

Birthday Buddies Barbara and William
Happy Birthday Barbara and William! Today is the birthday of my sister Barbara Shepard of Anacortes, Washington, and the birthday of my Grandson William Quincy Shepard of San Diego. Barbara was born in San Diego "back in the day," and is the youngest daughter of our parents Eugene and Maida Shepard. William was born in San Francisco 6 years ago today, the youngest child of our son Nathan and Chenda Sou Shepard.

Since both of them share the same day of the year as their birthdays I put together a collection of images of both of them. Select this link to view the music video. The songs on the video are from the soundtrack of the recent motion picture "Coco." The video contains scenes primarily from the last year. Some are pictures of each of them individually and some are pictures of both of them together, along with other family and friends. A number of the pictures were taken just two weeks ago when Barbara was in San Diego with her friend Ashley from Washington. They spent a week with us and celebrated Barb and Will's birthday a few days early. 

Jeff and Kim Clark (on the right) with family
Happy Birthday Jeff! Today is also the birthday of Jeff Clark, the husband of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark. The two of them are vagabonds traveling around the county in their RV with Kim's octogenarian mother, my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd. Some of their time is spent here in Southern California visiting children and Grandchildren. That is when I caught up with them earlier this summer. Since then they have been back to their old haunts in Missouri. The latest news I have received is that Thelma has developed some health issues and will be having some surgery in Missouri in a few weeks. Our best birthday wishes go out to Jeff, and prayers for good health for Thelma!

This second picture was posted on Facebook and was taken Thursday when Jeff and Kim stopped and visited family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while on their way back to California.

Welcome to Alden Nathaniel Gower! Speaking of July births... Congratulations to my cousin Sean Gower and his wife Tracy to whom a baby boy was born last weekend on Saturday night, July 21. Sean told me in a text that "Tracy is doing well along with Alden Nathaniel Gower. This was quite a feat at my age of 50 and my wife Tracy's age of 46 to have a child. We are so happy and overjoyed that he is so healthy. We beat all the odds. Love to everybody."

Alden Nathaniel Gower
Our best wishes go out to Sean and Tracy Gower on the birth of Alden. This is the first birth we have had in our larger family in a couple of years, and the first Gower birth we have had in quite a few years. And what a special birth it is! 

My Gower Grandparents, Leroy Gower (1899-1974) and Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004), had only one male child, Hendrix Gower (1921-2004). Hendrix and his wife Starlene had two sons, Hershell and Jimmie, but their grandchildren, until now, have only included one male child, Dane Gower, the grandson of Jimmie and his wife Cheryl. All of which means that until this month, among our Gower family members there has been just one male descendant capable of passing on the Gower family name. Alden Gower now becomes one more.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

All American Owens Heritage, July 10, 2018

To forget one’s ancestors
is to be a brook without a source,
a tree without a root.
~Chinese Proverb

Elvira Owens Shepard and her Owens Heritage. The first of July was the 155th anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard (1863-1931). She was the wife of William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915).  Elvira has always held special interest for me because she is the connection to our Owens family heritage. My Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard had run away from his Indiana home as a teen in the 1880s and started a new life in Southwest Illinois. That's where he met Elvira. After marrying her in 1886 and having two children with her (Sadie and William), this young family moved westward and settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1905. Some of their descendants eventually made it all the way to California and settled in San Diego, where a few of their descendants live to this day.

Elvira Owens Shepard 
with grandchildren Elmer and Pauline Shepard
about 1919 in Oklahoma 
Because of Elvira we have Owens roots that can be traced back to the very beginning of our nation. Her Great Grandfather Edmond Owens Sr. (1762-1821), was from rural Sussex County, Virginia and was a young teen when the USA came into being in 1776.

Elvira's Grandfather Edmond Owens Jr. (1795-1864) was actually born in South Carolina after his family had moved there from Virginia. But the Owenses were not in South Carolina very long. With his wife Sara Rives, Edmond Jr. migrated farther west to Davidson County, Tennessee where their son Payton Owens (1826-1872) was born. Payton moved on westward to Illinois as a young man. When just 19 he married another teenager Mary Wheeless in Washington County, Illinois, not far from Saint Louis. In 1865, near the end of the Civil War, Payton and Mary, living in Madison County, Illinois, gave birth to my Great Grandmother Elvira, the 7th of their 8 children.

So our Owens roots trace from Sussex County, Virginia to South Carolina to Davidson County, Tennessee to Madison County, Illinois. That's where Elvira Owen married my Great Grandfather William Elmer Shepard.

Edmond Owens Jr. about 1850
Edmond Owens Jr. One of the most colorful characters in this Owens history was GGG Grandfather Edmond Owens Jr. As a child, he had moved with his parents from North Carolina to Davidson County, Tennessee, where his parents became farmers. Edmond was still a teen when war broke out again with Great Britain. Edmond was one of the first to enlist for the American cause, just like his Grandfather Benjamin Owens, who served under Frances Marion, “The Swamp Fox”, during the Revolutionary War.

Edmond was part of the Western Tennessee Militia in this second War with Great Britain, also known as the War of 1812. He fought with Andrew Jackson in the famous Battle of New Orleans in January, 1815. He was part of a very diverse group of American soldiers who served together: Tennessee farmers, former Haitian slaves, frontiersmen, outlaws and pirates.

When Edmond and his ragtag group of soldiers first arrived in New Orleans to fight with Andrew Jackson, they did not make a good impression. They were not trained soldiers. They were pioneers and farmers. They wore woolen hunting shirts and dyed pantaloons, raccoon skin caps, and belts of untanned deerskin with hunting knives and tomahawks. They had long unkempt hair and were unshaven. They might be right at home in New Orleans today, but 200 years ago they would have appeared undisciplined and unfit to take on the invaders from across the Atlantic. The second picture of this post shows Edmond Owens later in life, probably about 1850, looking much neater and cleaner than in those earlier days of battle when fighting the British. 

Edmond Owens Land Grant, 1851
(click on picture for larger view)
Regardless of their appearance Edmond and his comrades routed the British in 1815. One eye witness officer said, "the redcoats fell like blades of grass beneath the scythe." Their victory was a huge boost to the morale of the still young United States. Edmond and the other Tennessee Volunteers became legendary for their service to their county. After the war, Edmond Owens Jr. and his family yielded to call of the American frontier. They left Tennessee in 1838 and settled 300 miles northwest, in Madison County, Illinois, where he received a land grant in 1851 for his service with the West Tennessee Militia (see image).

We are indebted to Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard for this Owens heritage that we can be proud of. They are one more part of the great American tapestry that is the history of our family.

Remembering Paula Harris. I mentioned in my last post that my mother in law Paula Harris passed away in early June. Select this link to view a video that honors her life and family. This was part of the Memorial Service we had for her on June 23. We are grateful to God for the wonderful life of Paula Harris (1923-2018).
- - -
Steve Shepard