Monday, December 28, 2020

Old Drawer Discoveries, Dec 28, 2020

Funny how the new things are the old things.
~Rudyard Kipling

13 years ago today I first began this family blog. It has been an interesting journey to say the least. I have enjoyed very much writing about our extended families. This blog has encompassed Shepards and Gowers, Harrises and Davises, and many other relatives. In recent years I have traced our Shepard and Harris ancestors to the earliest years of America, writing about John Shepard, Abel Gower, James Keith, John Marshall, and numerous other early American ancestors. The more research I do, the more discoveries I make about ancestors who have been hidden to history, and whose stories tell us much about our history and in some ways about ourselves. Thanks to all of you who are readers of The Shepard's Crook and who have expressed your gratitude. It has been a labor of love. I look forward to sharing more with you about kinfolk from whom we are descended.

Cindy and me, December 27, 1968
Happy Anniversary. Yesterday, Cindy and I celebrated 52 years of marriage. We were married Dec 27, 1968 in front of a large group of friends and family at the La Mesa Church of Christ, a few miles from where we live now in Allied Gardens. A lot has changed in our lives and in our larger family over those many years. Beloved family members have passed away. Wonderful new family members have been added by birth or marriage. Beautiful happy memories have been made, while our share of sorrow has been experienced. Through it all Cindy and I find ourselves grateful for all our family and for the memories that have been made over the years.

Remembering Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000). My aunt Pauline Shepard Russell was born on this date 104 years ago in 1916. She was the first child of my Grandparents William Shepard and Bura Davis Shepard. Not long after marrying Bill Russell in Colorado, Aunt Pauline and Uncle Bill were among the first family members to migrate to California. In September, 1940, the Shepard family of 7 packed up and made their way across 1,150 miles of the American Southwest from Two Buttes, Colorado to San Diego. 

Pauline Shepard Russell (right) with her
mother Bura Davis Shepard, about 1945
Bill and Pauline both lived here in San Diego for the rest of their lives. Bill died in 1997 and Pauline died 3 years later. They were both wonderful people who contributed in a very positive way to the life of our larger family. Their grandson Eric Russell lives in the Reno, Nevada area, while their granddaughter Shannon Wilk and her daughter Emma live in Atchison, Kansas. 

Old Drawer Discoveries. We have recently remodeled our garage. It was a total reboot of a space that has been collecting family stuff of all kinds for over 60 years. In one dusty box we found dozens of old Harris and Hicks family pictures, most of which, unfortunately, have no writing on the back to identify the people. The most remarkable find, however, was an old family Bible, titled "The Good Leader Bible," copyright 1946. It was given to Cindy by her parents Joe and Paula Harris. The first page says, "Presented to Cynthia Harris (Cindy), by Mother and Dad, January 7, 1948." 

"The Good Leader Bible" is definitely showing its age (aren't we all!). Its cover is cracked and split, and its binding literally creaks when it is opened, like a treasure chest that had been sealed for decades. Its insides and margin notes indicate that it was well used by a serious Bible student for a period of time. But that time is long past. It has been hidden from view in a dusty garage for God knows how long. Despite its age and its sentimental value, it is probably time to give it a final resting place. Cindy's mom and dad, Joe and Paula Harris, are both gone now, but this Bible gift of theirs remains. It was a heartwarming discovery of a 73 year old treasure, reflecting the joy of a newborn child and a young father and mother's hopes and dreams for the future. 

Best wishes to all of you for a very Happy New Year!
- - -
Steve Shepard (he, him, his)

Friday, December 18, 2020

A Christmas Baby: December, 2020

Yes, I share a birthday with Jesus 
and no, that doesn’t make me the messiah; 
I’m just a very naughty boy.
~Nathan Campbell

A Christmas Baby. My Grandfather William Shepard was a Christmas baby. He was born 132 years ago, on Christmas Day 1888. I don't remember that being a big deal in our Shepard family when I was growing up. I learned about his Christmas birth date in a passing conversation as I recall, probably from my Grandmother, his wife Bura. Granddad William was born and lived the first 16 years of his life in the town of Alton, Illinois which lay along the east side of the Mississippi River and was part of the Saint Louis Metropolitan area. 

Sadie and William Shepard
Madison County, Illinois - 1892
Granddad was an unassuming person, a man of faith and an active churchman. But he was not someone I would call pious or overly devout, as opposed to his beloved partner of 61 years, Bura Davis Shepard, the standard bearer of all things religious in our family. I remember Granddad as a regular guy who never thought too highly of himself. I could easily imagine the last line of the quote above coming out of Granddad's mouth.

In other posts I have traced our Shepard family line from Maryland on the East Coast to San Diego and Anacortes on the West Coast. That was a 300 year family journey of some 4,000 miles, encompassing 12 generations. Our Shepard ancestors stopped and settled for periods of time at several locations along the way, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Oklahoma, Colorado, San Diego, and Washington. In Madison County, Illinois, the Shepards settled for a rather short period of time, just a little over 20 years. Granddad's father, William Elmer Shepard, came to Madison County, Illinois in the early 1880s from Indiana. In Illinois he met Elvira Owens, a local woman from a well established family. He courted her and then married her on September 2, 1886. 

Two years later their first child William (no middle name) Shepard was born on Christmas Day 1888. It was in the midst of one of the coldest winters on record in Madison County. Three years later his younger sister Sadie Shepard was born, also in Madison County. William and Sadie are the only two members of our entire Shepard family born in Illinois. 

Sadie Shepard Pruett (center) with husband
Levi Pruett on the right. On the left is Sadie's
brother William Shepard with wife
Bura Davis Shepard - San Diego, 1946 
The picture above on the right of young Sadie (at just a few months old) and William (at 3 years old) is the only Shepard family picture we have which was taken in Illinois. All the Shepards in our family tree before them were born in Indiana, Ohio or Maryland. All the Shepards in our family tree who came after Grandad were born once the family moved westward to Oklahoma, Colorado and then California.

Grandad William's early years in Illinois were spent in the suburbs of Saint Louis. Instead of being a farmer, William worked in a factory and went to a private school for a period of time. In 1905 at just 16 years old, Grandad William, along with his sister Sadie, at just 13, moved to Oklahoma with their parents, William Elmer Shepard and Elvira Owens Shepard.  

In 1913 in Beaver County, Oklahoma, Grandad William met a young woman from a neighboring farming family by the name of Bura Davis. After a period of courtship they were married on June 2, 1915 by Steve Shoemate. He was the minister of the South Flat Church of Christ, the church to which Bura and her family belonged, and the church to which William and his parents were connected. It was in Oklahoma that Pauline, the first of their 4 children, was born. She arrived just three days after Granddad's 28th birthday in 1916. Gram and Grandad considered Pauline a very special Christmas gift that year. At the time the young struggling couple William and Bura were in just the second year of their marriage, and were thrilled to see their family get started as they welcomed Pauline into the world. 

On Christmas Day, 2020 we will have a lot to celebrate, despite the challenges of this past year. Among those celebrations we include our Shepard ancestors, in particular Granddad William Shepard who was born on Christmas Day so long ago.

Reminder note to my anonymous troll: Thank you for being a regular reader of The Shepard's Crook. Please understand that comments left online on my blog are always read. If appropriate, I will gladly post them for all to read. I welcome comments about family. But hateful, unkind rants, which you have left, are unacceptable and will not be posted.

As this strange and crazy year of 2020 draws to its close, I wish all of you and your loved ones the immeasurable joy and lasting peace of Christmas!
- - -
Steve Shepard (he, him, his)