Tuesday, June 02, 2020

June 2, 2020

To remember the past is to see 
that we are here today by grace.
~Frederick Buechner

Gary and Cindy Shepard
Anacortes, Washington
Happy Anniversary Gary and Cindy!
Congratulations today to my brother Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy Dillon Shepard on 41 years of marriage. Gary and Cindy live in Oak Harbor, Washington and are an important part of the team caring for our mother Maida Shepard in nearby Anacortes, Washington. Best wishes to Gary and Cindy as they celebrate 41 years together!

Celebrating a Sesquicentennial. Today is the 150th Birthday (the Sesquicentennial) of my Great Grandfather James Brooks Davis (1870-1928), the father of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). He was a leading member of our Davis family in Owen County, Indiana in the late 19th Century. Jim Davis' Grandparents, Alexander Davis and Jane Buskirk Davis migrated to Indiana from Ohio around 1850. Jim Davis was the first Davis child to be born in Indiana. He was raised northwest of Spencer, Indiana in a community where numerous members of three closely related families lived: the Davis family, the Williams family, and the Spear family. 

On New Year's Day, 1896, Jim Davis married Callie Spear, a young woman whose family was closely connected to the Davises. The families had known each other in Southeastern Ohio in the early part of the 19th century and may have come together to Indiana when they migrated westward just before the Civil War. Jim and Callie Davis had 7 children, all born in Indiana, the first being my Grandmother Bura Davis.

Young James Brooks Davis
About 1890
Closely Interrelated Families.
The marriage of Jim Davis and Callie Spear was just one of the many ways these families were connected. Seven years after Jim and Callie were married, Jim's younger brother Zaley Davis (1882-1966) married Callie's sister Pearl Spear (1876-1945). This was another instance in our family of brothers marrying sisters. Select this link for other instances.

A few years earlier Jim Davis' father-in-law William Spear (1830-1883) had married into the Williams family not once, but twice. The first time was in 1861 when he married Caroline Williams, who died at just 23 years old, after two years of marriage and the birth of a baby girl. The widower William Spear then married his own sister-in-law Margaret (Maggie) Frances Williams. Select this link to read more about them.

The Davis, Williams and Spear families were not just neighbors within the same rural community of Morgan Township in Owen County, Indiana. They were all founding members of the New Union Church of Christ near where they lived. Select this link for more about the New Union Church.

Family man James Brooks and Callie Davis
with their 7 children, in Indiana,1908 

A Recent Discovery.
One other interesting link between these families I recently discovered while researching my Shepard ancestors. I have known for some time that the Spears, Davises, and Shepards were all rooted in Eastern Ohio in the early 19th century, before any of them ever moved westward into Indiana. But what I discovered recently was that Callie Spear Davis' great uncle William Spear (1791-1873) lived in the same farming neighborhood as my Shepard ancestors in 1850 in Kirkwood Township of Belmont County, Ohio. As far as I knew, my Shepard and Spear ancestors never knew each other until my Great Grandparents William Elmer Shepard and Callie Spear Davis became neighbors in Oklahoma in 1913. But my recent discovery shows that some of our Spear ancestors and some of our Shepard ancestors were neighbors in Ohio in 1850 and probably knew each other. And so it is that the historical connections between these families grows.

A Man of Character. In many ways James Brooks Davis showed us his character through his life and his actions. He was a devoted family man, a beloved father, a welcoming individual, a faithful Christian, a hard worker, and he was ambitious. The best example of his ambition occurred in the early spring of 1913. In March of that year James Brooks Davis gathered his family of 7 children (ages 4-16) and migrated to Oklahoma. 

James Brooks Davis in 1923 with one of
his 31 Grandchildren, Eugene Shepard

The opportunities of that new state had already drawn several members of his Indiana family, including his parents Charles and Malinda Davis. So following in the footsteps of others, Jim and Callie heeded the call of the wild west. As a young couple in their 40s, they made their way by wagon, 850 miles from their home outside Spencer, Indiana to the panhandle of Oklahoma. 

They took along with them Callie's special needs adult brother Clayton Spear (1870-1944) who lived with them for many years in Indiana and then Oklahoma. Eventually he had to be institutionalized in Oklahoma where he lived the last years of his life. Even that act of receiving his brother-in-law into his family shows the kind of people Jim and Callie Davis were. They lived the last years of their lives in Oklahoma and are buried in the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County. Select here to visit their grave online.

James Brooks Davis is a very important individual in our family tree. I celebrate his life and honor his memory today on the 150th Anniversary of his birth.
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Steve Shepard

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