Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986).
Last Friday was the anniversary of the birth of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. She was one of the most influential people in our entire family. A woman small in stature, she was a spiritual giant in our Shepard family. She was the only person in our ancestral tree who was raised in Indiana, migrated to Beaver County, Oklahoma, and then settled with her family in San Diego where she lived the biggest part of her life. Her last few years were spent in Anacortes, Washington with her son Eugene Shepard and his family. She and husband William are buried today in San Diego's Greenwood Cemetery.
William and Bura Davis Shepard
San Diego, 1960s
When I remember my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard I always think of her faithful devotion to the Church of Christ. Her father was James Davis and her mother was Callie Spear Davis. The Davises and the Spears were Church of Christ families who migrated to Indiana from Southeastern Ohio about the time of the Civil War. They were among the founders of the New Union Church just outside Spencer, Indiana. James and Callie brought their faith with them when they settled in Indiana. From her childhood my Grandmother Bura developed that same love and devotion to the Church. It was part of the DNA she inherited from both the Davises and the Spears, and that she passed on religiously (so to speak) to her descendants.
I have not found many details about the church life of the Spears and the Davises in Ohio. But I do know that Monroe County, Ohio where they lived in the early to mid 19th century was in the very region where the Restoration movement originated. The ancestral home of the Spears and Davises in Monroe County was just outside the County Seat of Woodsfield, where there is an historic Restoration Movement congregation
that began in pre-Civil War days. Alexander Campbell himself preached at the dedication of the congregation in 1855. Because of grandmother Bura and her Davis and Spear kinfolk, we have a number of family members today who can trace our lineage in the Restoration Movement back for 6, 7, even 8 generations.
On this month of the 123rd anniversary of my grandmother's birth, I am grateful for her life and that of her husband William Shepard. Their love and dedication to their family and their faith is a treasured legacy that we hold dear.
Karl Frederickpaul Wilk (1969-1997)
|Karl Wilk's High School Photo|
Granite Hills High, 1987
. One of William and Bura's great grandchildren was Karl Frederickpaul Wilk. He was the son of my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk and her husband Phil Wilk. Had she lived, cousin Bev would have turned 80 years old in April of this year. Unfortunately she died at just 35 years old of an unexpected brain aneurism. When she died, she left her 39 year old husband with two youngsters: a 1 year old daughter, Shannon, and a 5 year old son, Karl. It was to Phil's great credit that he did such a good job of being a single parent for many years. He was assisted in raising his children by grandmother Bura Shepard who, after the death of granddad William, lived with Phil and his family for several years.
Last Tuesday would have been Karl's 50th birthday. His unfortunate death occurred 22 years old in San Diego. Substance abuse was his downfall, resulting in him taking his own life. He died here in San Diego way too young at just 27 years old, a handsome young man full of promise and hope. Like others in our family tree, his life is a cautionary tale, reminding us that life is fragile and the dangers are many. Karl's sister and niece, Shannon and Emma Wilk, live in Atchison, Kansas. Shannon shared with me recently some thoughts on the life of her brother Karl.
"I think of him often. I tell my daughter about him all the time. Little things, like his favorite music, movies he liked. My memories are full of the good times. Even the ones of him picking on me. He was my big brother, and I miss him terribly. He loved music, his friends and loved to make you laugh. Karl will always be on my mind. Never a day goes by that I don't think of him."
Emma and Shannon Wilk
Atchison, Kansas 2019
Karl and Shannon's grandparents were my aunt and uncle, Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000) and her husband Bill Russell (1908-1997). Uncle Bill died in the summer of 1997 at 88 years old, just three months before Karl took his own life.
We would like to think that all our family stories are positive ones. But they are not. We all know that's the way life is. Some family stories are not pleasant to recall, even though we can and do remember, and learn from, the parts of those stories that are positive and insightful. It reminds me once again that family research sometimes leaves one uneasy and discomforted. But it is all part of that great mosaic we call our family.
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