Thursday, November 29, 2018

Three Celebrations, November 29, 2018

We must believe in ourselves
or no one else will believe in us.
~Rosalyn Yalow

Today, November 29, is the birthday of three people in our family, spread out over 6 generations: my cousin Kim Boyd Clark, her grandson Damian Ortiz, and our Great Grandmother Caroline Spear Davis.

Caroline "Callie" Spear Davis (1865-1951) was the mother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. Callie was born 153 years ago today, in the late fall of 1865 near the town of Spencer in Owen County, Indiana. Callie Spear's kinfolk, like the kinfolk of her husband James Davis, had migrated from Monroe County in Southeastern Ohio to Indiana just before the Civil War. Both the Davises and the Spears were from the same area in Monroe County, Ohio before moving westward.

Caroline Spear Davis at 6 different stages of her life
The Spears and the Davises may have known each other in Ohio before settling in Indiana. What we know for sure is that they were founding members of a little Church of Christ a few miles northwest of Spencer Indiana when that church began in the 1860s. It seems likely the Spears and the Davises brought their Church affiliation with them when they traveled the dusty Cumberland Trail from Ohio to Indiana. In the mid 19th century when they left Ohio, the Spears and the Davises were probably part of the newly formed and rapidly growing Restoration Movement, also known as the Campbell-Stone tradition. It was a religious affiliation that many of us still proudly adhere to, some 150 years later.

No Stranger to Heartbreak. Callie was the 2nd of 9 children and was raised on a farm in rural Owen County, Indiana. Throughout her early years Callie was no stranger to heartbreak. Consider this:
  • One of her sisters, Margaret, died at just a year old when Callie was 9. 
  • Another sister, Nona, also died at just a year old when Callie was 14. 
  • Her youngest sister Effie died of tuberculosis at just 18 years old. 
  • Callie's oldest sibling Isolena was a half-sister who was the child of Callie's namesake aunt Caroline who had died in her early 20s (read more about that sad story here). 
  • To top it all off, Callie's brother Clayton Spear, 5 years younger than her, was a mentally disabled individual for whom Callie took responsibility for many years. 
She had more than her fair share of family sorrow and hardship. And all this happened in the wake of the Civil War, which brought its own pain and heartache to innumerable families. Yet from all indications those experiences deepened Callie's life and did not weaken it. Indeed it made her appreciate her own life and family that much more.

Callie and James. In that rural community outside Spencer, Indiana Callie Spear and close neighbor James Davis struck up a close friendship. It was a relationship that blossomed within the context of the New Union Church of Christ, the little country church to which both their families belonged. On a wintry New Year's Day in 1896 they were married in Owen County, Indiana. Callie was 30 years old at the time, 5 years older than James. Nevertheless in the following 11 years they brought 7 children into the world and created a strong, happy Hoosier family. Those of us who are descendants of Callie and James can consider ourselves fortunate to be their heirs and recipients of the Midwest values that their original family espoused.

Their Migration to Oklahoma. In March, 1913, Callie and James Davis packed up the entire family of 7 kids, left Indiana, and moved westward over 800 miles to Beaver County, in the panhandle of Oklahoma. Several of James' brothers and their families had already relocated to Oklahoma from Indiana. There Callie and James lived out the rest of their lives. James died in 1928, while Callie lived until the summer of 1951. She lived long enough to see all her children grow and have families of their own, and to enjoy her many grandchildren. Callie and James are buried in the Sophia Cemetery close to the family's church, the South Flat Church of Christ, in the small farming community of Sophia, Oklahoma. On this day of remembering her birth, we celebrate this wonderful woman whose life was well lived and whose legacy we gladly claim.

The collage above I put together a few years ago. It shows Callie Spear 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.

Grandmother Kim Clark with Damian
and Ashlyn, Dominic and Isaac
Happy Birthday Kim Clark! Today is also the birthday of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark, who is one of the 93 great grandchildren (give or take a few) of James and Callie Spear Davis. Kim and husband Jeff Clark, along with Kim's mother Thelma Shepard Boyd, spend a lot of their time these days traveling around the US in their motor home visiting family and enjoying famous sites. Kim was born in San Diego and split her growing up years between San Diego and Gallup, New Mexico.

Happy 12th Birthday Damian Ortiz! And thirdly, today is also the birthday of Kim's grandson Damian Ortiz of El Cajon, California. He is one of the 5 children of Kim's oldest child Jeremy and his wife Desiree.

The second picture was taken this past summer when Kim and husband Jeff and their family were visiting Yellowstone National Park. It shows grandmother Kim in the middle with grandson Damian on the left. Also pictured are three other grandchildren: Ashlyn, Dominic and Isaac Ortiz.
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Steve Shepard

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