Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year's Eve, December 31, 2018

The best is yet to be.
~Robert Browning

As we find ourselves on the cusp of 2019 it is a time to be grateful for all the experiences of the past year, the joyful and the sobering, the uplifting and the humbling. I am most thankful for the joy of family and friends. I am grateful for the blessing of being able to celebrate my mother's 94th birthday with her in November. In June we said goodbye to Cindy's mother Paula Harris. As we celebrated her 95 years we gave great thanks for a life well lived.

Cindy and I also give great thanks for Nathan and our three grandchildren and for all the children in our larger family, who bless us with their energy, innocence, intelligence and hope for the future. I am deeply appreciative of all of you readers of the Shepard's Crook, friends and family, many of whom we don't get to see often enough. Even so, all of you are to be thanked for your support of our family and your place in this great enterprise of being a family circle.

William Shepard with daughter Thelma
about 1940
Remembering William Shepard (1888-1976). I cannot let this month of December pass without remembering my Grandfather William Shepard. Christmas Day this past week was the 130th anniversary of his birth in Alton, Illinois. He was born in that small town on the banks of the Mississippi River across from St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that he spent the first 16 years of his life, where his values were formed and his dreams for the future took shape. The child of William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard, he had one sister, Sadie Shepard Pruett. The four of them migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma in 1905 which is where William encountered the James Brooks Davis family. In 1915 William married the oldest child of that family, the teenager Bura Davis, and with her had four children, the third of whom was my father. Their youngest child Thelma Shepard Boyd is the last remaining member of William and Bura's original family. The first picture I am including today shows my Grandfather Shepard with daughter Thelma. It was taken just about the time they moved to San Diego in 1940.

Granddad William has been gone for over 40 years but the impact of him and Grandmother Bura Shepard is still keenly felt by those of us whose lives they touched. I live in constant gratitude for my grandparents, the lives they lived and the values they gave us.

In the last two years I have learned more about the Shepard ancestors of Granddad than ever before. He has come to my mind a number of times recently as I have discovered much about his pre-Civil War relatives from Belmont County, Ohio. Many of them are people he probably never knew, people about whom I would have cherished the opportunity to share with him.

Darrell and Mary Shepard, 1984
with Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard
Happy Anniversary, Darrell and Mary! Today, New Years Eve, my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary Medina Shepard are celebrating 36 years of marriage. They were married on the last day of 1982 while they were students at Abilene Christian University. They live today in Monroe, Washington, north of Seattle. Their home is not far from their 3 children and their 4 Grandchildren. Best Wishes to Mary and Darrell for a wonderful anniversary!

Remembering Ron Gibbs. I mentioned several weeks ago that I had reconnected with Ron Gibbs, an old family friend from years ago. The Gibbs and the Shepard families go way back nearly a century, from their time in San Diego, then Southeast Colorado and Beaver County, Oklahoma before that. Just this fall I had written about the long friendship of these two families. Ron's brother Steve, who lives in Valley Center, north of San Diego, notified me recently that Ron passed away of a heart attack in Searcy, Arkansas just a week before Christmas. Our condolences and best wishes are extended to Ron's entire family.

The very best to all of you for a happy and prosperous new year in 2019!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A 50th Anniversary Celebration, December 27, 2018

The best and most beautiful things in the world
cannot be seen or even touched.
They must be felt with the heart.
~Helen Keller

Today Cindy and I are celebrating 50 years of marriage! We were married on a Friday evening, two days after Christmas in 1968 with a couple hundred people in attendance. We chose the La Mesa Church of Christ as the site for the event. It was a new church building and very accessible to all those who would be attending. At the time I was a student at Abilene Christian and had come home for the Christmas Holidays to get married. That fall Cindy had taken a break from her college education to stay home and prepare for the wedding. We were both 20 years old and ready to face the world together.

Our Wedding Party, December 27, 1968
The La Mesa Church of Christ
The Wedding Party. The wedding party included two of my siblings, my brother Gary and sister Linda, as well as Cindy's brother Joe Paul and two of her cousins, Gloria Weston and Malacha Whitmore. Also standing on the chancel with us were friends Pam Henderson, Connie Cleland, Dan Frost and Jim and Tim Deveny. Also in attendance were an assortment of Harris and Shepard friends and family, including many church friends who meant so much to us. Leading the service was Edwin Kilpatrick, the minister of the Linda Vista Church of Christ where my family attended for many years. Edwin was my second cousin and a very good friend and mentor. 

Cutting the Cake, Dec 27, 1968
Our First Home. After the wedding we enjoyed a simple punch and cake reception in the church basement. When the church festivities were concluded we made our getaway and drove to Laguna Beach in Orange County where we honeymooned for a few days. We took in such well known sites as the world famous Knotts Berry Farm (woo-hoo!). After the first of the year we made our way back to Abilene Christian to attend college. Our first home was in one of the "Witts Apartments" across the street from the school. We lived there for the next 18 months until I graduated from ACU and we moved back to California in 1970.

On the occasion of this anniversary it is a moment to remember the various places we have lived, the people who have been our friends, and the experiences that have made us who we are today. The journey has taken us from the hectic pace of life in the Greater LA area, to the San Francisco Peninsula, to the serenity of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and finally back to San Diego where it all began for us. The experiences have been many and varied and the lessons have taught us much.

Cindy and me in front of the Waiola Church, 
Lahaina, Hawaii, Dec. 27, 2018
The Love That Brought Us Together. Today we are thrilled to be retired and enjoying life as much as ever. It is a rich blessing to be living close to our son Nathan and his children Preslea, Logan and William, and to share life with them. We look forward to whatever is yet to be. We know that the love that brought us together in the first place will carry us through whatever the future holds. Thanks to all of you who have shared your lives with us in so many meaningful ways over the years.

This week we are celebrating our 50th anniversary with our family on the island of Maui, Hawaii. Among the activities of this week was a 50th Anniversary Renewal Service at the Waiola Church in Lahaina that occurred earlier today. Presiding was Rev. Anela Rosa, minister of the Church. It was a sacred event, the perfect complement to all the activities of this holiday week.

This third picture was taken by our son Nathan in front of the Church where we had the renewal service earlier this evening. Down in front of us are our three grandchildren: Logan on the left, William on the right, and, barely visible behind William, is Preslea in a red dress with yellow flowers in her hair.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Amazing Anniversaries, December 12, 2018

Marriage is a coming together
for better or for worse,
hopefully enduring,
and intimate to the degree of being sacred.
~William O. Douglas

Celebrating 50 Years. This month is the occasion of Cindy's and my 50th wedding anniversary. It is a pretty awesome milestone. We are both glad to still be around, and to have great family, and to still be in good health. On the other hand, any kind of 50th celebration is humbling. You cannot celebrate 50 years of anything without being forced to ponder one's mortality. Whether it is a 50th birthday, a 50th High School reunion, a 50 year friendship, a 50th year in a particular house, or a 50th wedding anniversary. Even so, we can't help but approach this 50th remembrance in a spirit of celebration. 

Another Anniversary. Our anniversary gets put in perspective when we consider another milestone wedding anniversary occurring this month. Today, December 12, is the 360th Anniversary of my 10X Great Grandparents, Laurens Van Buskirk (1630-1694) and his wife Janettje Jans Van Buskirk (1629-1694). Church records show that these two Dutch immigrants were married on this day in 1658 in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam, which is now New York City. 

It is rare to find a clear line of ancestors who lived so long ago, which is part of what makes these ancestors so unique. They are among the founding families of New Jersey. "The Descendants of the Founders of New Jersey" is a group open to anyone who can document that they are descended from one of the founders. Their website lists Laurens and Janettje Van Buskirk among the list of founders. 

Laurens and Jannetje are related to us through my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, whose Great Grandmother was Jane Buskirk Davis. Jane was a 5X Great Granddaughter of Laurens and Jannetje Van Buskirk. Laurens was originally from Holstein, Denmark and migrated across the Atlantic in 1655 when he was 25. Jannetje was originally from Noord-Holland, Netherlands and had migrated a few years earlier. 

Laurens and Jannetje did not know each other before coming to America. The story of how they met is an interesting one. It is found in the online cemetery record for the now defunct Van Buskirk Cemetery in New Amsterdam (New York) where they were both buried in 1694.

A Match Making Orphan Master. In July of 1658, the director of an orphanage in New Amsterdam asked Laurens to visit a widow in South River, Delaware to see if he could help her out in some way. The woman's husband, a Dutch immigrant carpenter named Christian Barentsen Van Horn, had died in a recent epidemic that had decimated their community, and left her with four children. In 1658, a single woman with four mouths to feed faced extreme hardship. It often meant the children had to be placed in an orphanage. Laurens found a way to provide assistance to Jannetje far beyond the expectations of the Orphan Master. Four months after meeting Jannetje, the two of them, with her four children, made their way back to New Amsterdam and were married in a Dutch Reformed Church, with the children becoming part of the newly formed family. 

Original Van Buskirk homestead in New Jersey
The family man Laurens went on to become a successful businessman in this budding community of just a few thousand people in what would eventually become New York City. He became a land owner and a dry goods merchant in New Amsterdam, and went on to live a very productive life, even becoming a judge and a Justice of the Peace. He also was instrumental in the establishment of a Lutheran Church. This second picture shows the original Van Buskirk homestead, which was located on Constable Hook near Bayonne, New Jersey.

The Westward Family Journey Begins. He and Jannetje added four more children to their family in the years after their marriage. In 1688 they relocated to Hackensack, New Jersey where they both lived until their deaths in 1694. Their move to Hackensack was just the beginning of the westward movement of these Van Buskirks. Throughout the 18th century our Van Buskirk ancestors made their way to Bucks County, north of Philadelphia, then on to western Pennsylvania and then to Monroe County in South Eastern Ohio. That is where our ancestor Jane Buskirk was born and where she married Alexander Davis in 1841. By the time Jane was born the family had dropped the "Van" part of their name and they became simply Buskirk. 
Bura Davis Shepard 
with husband William Shepard, about 1950

Alexander Davis and his wife Jane Buskirk Davis were the first of our kinfolk to leave Eastern Ohio and settle in the area around Spencer, Indiana in the middle of the 19th century. Some of their descendants, including my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard, settled in Beaver County, Oklahoma in the early 20th century. By 1940 others of this family had made their way westward as far as San Diego, California where some their descendants, including my family, still live today.

A Long Journey From East to West. It has been a long journey from New Amsterdam in 1658 to San Diego in 2018; from a young couple marrying in a Dutch Reformed Church on the East Coast to a 50 year anniversary here on the West Coast. The journey encompassed 15 generations of Buskirks, Davises and Shepards. But it is one more part of this grand tale that is our family history.

Here are the specifics of this 15 generation lineage over the last 360 years.
  • Laurens Van Buskirk (1630-1694) - wife Janettje Jans (1629-1694)
  • Thomas Van Buskirk (1668-1748) - wife Margrete Brickers (1668-1719)
  • Johannes Van Buskirk (1694-1747) - wife Marytie Hooglandt (1696-1738)
  • George Van Buskirk (1721-1800) - wife Sarah Ashton (1720-1779)
  • John Van Buskirk (1743-1829) - wife Mary Blackmore (1742-1823) 
  • Samuel Blackmore Buskirk (1765-1847) - wife Charity Ann Foggin (1762-1841)
  • John Foggin Buskirk (1795-1873) - wife Mary Terry (1807-1886)
  • Jane Buskirk Davis (1823-1895) - husband Alexander Davis (1819-1866)
  • Charles Edward Davis (1849-1926) - wife Malinda Wright (1846-1920)
  • James Brooks Davis (1870-1928) - wife Caroline Spear (1865-1951)
  • Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986) - husband William Shepard (1888-1976)
  • Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) - wife Maida Gower (b. 1924)
  • Steven Shepard (b. 1948) - wife Cindy Harris (b. 1948)
  • Nathan Shepard (b. 1977) - Chenda Sou (b. 1980)
  • William Q. Shepard (b. 2012)
- - -
Steve Shepard