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) 

1 comment:

Kim Clark said...

I love these pictures. Thanks Steve for doing this.