Friday, November 18, 2022

Special Cemeteries

In my family research, cemeteries are very important for information gathering. Ironically, some of the most exciting adventures in my genealogical research have been at graveyards. Call me crazy, but there is nothing more exciting than finding the grave of a relative I have been searching. 

Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Spencer, Indiana
A few cemeteries stand out as being very special places in the history of our family. Oak Hill Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana for example. That is where my GGGrandfather, the Civil War soldier William Shepard (1835-1862), is buried. Another important graveyard is the New Union Cemetery outside Spencer, Indiana, adjoining the old New Union Church, which is now defunct. The Cemetery is home to many of our ancestors for several generations. Numerous Davis family members in particular are laid to rest there. 

Just a few miles away is the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, a beautiful, neatly maintained place where a number of other ancestors are buried, including my 3X Great Grandfather John Pouty Williams (1806-1892). And then there is the Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma, the resting place of my Great Grandparents James and Callie Spear Davis, among numerous others. 

The New Union Cemetery (Indiana) and the Sophia Cemetery (Oklahoma) are resting places that are of great importance to generations of family members. 

Greenwood Cemetery, San Diego
Here in San Diego is Greenwood Cemetery, a significant resting place for over 50 years to family members of the Shepard, Gower and Russell families. Among our relatives buried there are my father Eugene Shepard, my Shepard grandparents and my Gower grandparents, and numerous other cousins, uncles and aunts. They are all congregated in one particular location just east of a loop some 50 yards or so south of the main Cemetery office.

The picture on the left was taken at Greenwood Cemetery recently. The central row of headstones in this picture includes numerous Shepard, Gower and Russell family members. On the left at the bottom of this picture is the headstone for my uncle Hendrix Gower.   

The first of our family members laid to rest in this cemetery was my sister Linda Shepard Clark (1950-1971) who died in a car accident at just 20 years old in 1971. 3 years later her cousin Beverly Russell Wilk (1939-1974) died unexpectedly at just 35 years old and took her place in this sacred location. 

If you visit Greenwood Cemetery you will recognize many of the names on these headstones. But you will not see a marker for my late cousin Gloria Kerr Watson (1953-2016). But she is there. She is tucked safely in the ground, sharing a grave with our Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower whose grave is on the right in this image. Cemeteries are places of death and solemnity. But there it's amazing how a visit to one can enliven the memories of our loved ones who have gone before us.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he/him/his)

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Happy 98th Birthday!

Today, November 1, is the birthday of my mother Maida Gower Shepard of Anacortes, Washington. 98 years ago she was born in Mountain View, Arkansas. She was raised in Okemah, Oklahoma, the second child of Leroy Gower and Nola Shannon Gower.

In 1942 (80 years ago today) Mom celebrated her 18th birthday as a senior at Okemah High School. Even though she and her family had lived in Okemah for 17 years, they were making plans to leave Oklahoma for California, which was the land of opportunity at the time. Mom's father Leroy and brother Hendrix had already relocated in San Diego to find jobs and a place to live. In late December of 1942 Maida and her mother endured an arduous bus ride from Okemah, Oklahoma to San Diego. But it was well worth it to be reunited with her father Leroy and brother Hendrix in Southern California.

For the next 36 years she lived in San Diego, where she met and married Eugene Shepard, with whom she raised their 6 children. In 1978 they moved from San Diego to Anacortes, Washington where she has lived for the last 44 years. The picture on the right shows Mom and me in a picture that was taken earlier today as her birthday began.

Maida lives with her daughter Barbara who is her primary caregiver. This evening of her birthday we had a happy family party as we celebrated this special birthday. Best wishes to Maida for many more birthdays.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, October 28, 2022

Those Who Were Challenged Most

In my years of researching our family, a few individuals stand out as having overcome severe personal challenges. They are people who had to endure hardships that most of us would find hard to fathom.

Willie Davis Russell. I have always admired and respected my uncle Bill Russell (1908-1997) for the way he dealt with the loss of a leg to bone disease as a young adult. Despite the difficulty of being an amputee, Uncle Bill was a good humored individual. Whenever our family gathered he enjoyed the occasion. I remember how he would sit down next to one of us kids, and very discreetly take our hand and put in on his knee. The child would be shocked at the hard plastic feel of his prosthesis. He got quite a kick out of surprising kids that way. After all these years, I must say, that behavior now seems a bit creepy to me, but that was Uncle Bill.

Uncle Bill Russell with wife
Pauline Shepard Russell, 1978
Despite his disability, Bill did well for himself. He worked hard for much of his life as a tax consultant. He made the most of life with his wife, my Aunt Pauline, and overcame with grace and determination the hardship of losing a limb. Uncle Bill died just before the turn of the 21st century but is survived today by his son Eric Russell, his granddaughter Shannon Wilk, and his Great Granddaughter Emma Wilk.

Peggy Ann Gray Shannon. A second ancestor who had to deal with serious personal hardship was Peggy Ann Gray (1829-1899), the Grandmother of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. In 1864 her husband David Reid Shannon died in Louisiana while fighting for the confederacy in the Civil War. He left her as a widow with 7 children: Mary Ann (16), William (14), James (12), Richard (11), Sarah (9), Margaret (2), and Sam (5). What an incredible hardship, to be left with 7 children and no husband, in Wartime, far from home. I cannot imagine a more desperate situation for a young mother. Select this link for more about the life story of David Reid Shannon. Thankfully Peggy's father and brothers eventually came to her rescue. They traveled over 400 dangerous miles from northeastern Mississippi during the height of the Civil War to their daughter and sister in rural southern Louisiana. They gathered up Peggy and her children and moved them another 400+ miles to Stone County, Arkansas where they started a new life. Peggy's story is not only about her strength and courage amidst great adversity. It is also about the way it brought out the best in her family who responded to her plight.

Henry William Cooper
1852-1906
Henry William Cooper. Perhaps the most amazing story of personal adversity among our ancestors concerns a distant cousin of my mother Maida Gower Shepard. Henry William Cooper (1852-1906) was born and raised in Newnata, Stone County, Arkansas, the same community where my mother was born in 1924. Henry was born without the use of his legs. It was obviously a disability that made life extremely difficult for him and his family. 

Though he went through life without the use of his legs, he became proficient using his hands. He had a workshop where he made chairs, baskets, brooms, dolls and puppets. The old picture at the left shows him playing the fiddle and operating dancing dolls he had made himself. He also made a cart on which he could get around, using wooden blocks to propel himself. (Thanks to the Stone County History Museum in Mountain View, Ark. for this old photo.)

At 25 Henry married Margaret Parlee Anderson and with her bore and raised a family of 9 children.

When people write about our ancestor Henry Cooper they mention his similarity to the famous French Artist Toulouce Lautrec (1864-1901), a contemporary of Cooper. Lautrec was without the full use of his legs and, like our cousin Cooper, compensated for his infirmity by being extraordinarily creative.

Here then are three remarkable people in our family tree who overcame great hardships. They responded to their adversity with determination, fortitude and hard work. They are people whose DNA we share, and who inspire us to be as resilient as they were.
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he/him/his) 

Friday, October 14, 2022

A Forgotten Immigration

Much of my Shepard family research in recent years has focused on the descendants of James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (1784-1839) from Kirkwood, Ohio. I wrote in a blog post a few years ago that James and Hannah Sheppard had over 100 grandchildren. As a result, they likely have several thousand descendants in the US today, over two centuries later. 

Massachusetts Bay Colony
Puritan Immigrants
Recently I have discovered that a whole other Shepard migration from England to Massachusetts took place in the 17th century by a large number of folks who spelled their last name SHEPARD, just as many of us do today. One of the unique things about these particular Shepard folks is that they were Puritans, which influenced the way they named their children. 

Two of the earliest Shepard immigrants from England to Massachusetts were Deacon Ralph Shepard (1603-1693) and his wife Thankslord Perkins (1609-1693). Other given names among these early immigrants were: 

  • Thankful Shepard (1651-1692), Ralph and Thankslord's daughter
  • Mary Thankful Dill (1676-1723), a granddaughter of theirs
  • Thankful Knowles Shepard (1745-1764), daughter of a well-known Massachusetts Ship Master
  • Samuel Lord Shepard (b.1885)

Clearly the New England Shepards were partial to Biblical names. They gave their kids names such as Charity, Joshua, Aaron, Moses, Solomon, and Hannah, as well as lesser-known Bible names like Hepzibah, Mehitable, Theophilus, Angelica and John Baptist.

But my favorite among all these pious monikers is this particular name: "O Lord Another William Shepherd" (1744-1801). Yes, there was an actual person with that name. Imagine going through life with a name like that. I am beginning to wonder if his parents Tom and Betsy Shepherd had a sense of humor and gave their son this name as a humorous gesture. "O Lord Another" was born in Grange, a small town in rural eastern Scotland in 1744 to Thomas Edward Shepherd and Betsy Sellars. He immigrated to Anson County, North Carolina and served in the American Revolution. One record shows that he applied for a pension for serving in the War. He died in Anson County in 1801.

O Lord Another's name suggests that William Shepard was a very common name for folks among our ancestors. Here's an interesting fact: in my family tree today there are 24 different men with the first name William and the last name Shepard, Shepherd, Shephard or Sheppard. All four last name spellings were common among our ancestors. 

Old family photo of William
Henry Harrison Sheppard
The oldest William Shepard I can find in our family tree is my 7th Great Granduncle William Shepherd (1682-1759), born in St Michael's Parish, Barbados. He was part of the Sheppard migration to Maryland in the early 18th century via the Carribean Island of Barbados. The most recent William Shepard in our family is our grandson William Quincy Shepard, born in San Francisco in 2012. 

Among the other William Shepards in our family tree is William Henry Harrison Sheppard (1840-1862) (pictured at left) named after the 9th President of the U.S.

In the mid 18th century when "O Lord Another William Shepherd" was born in Scotland, William Shepard was already in common use among our ancestors. That affection for the name William Shepard continues to modern times. In 1977 we gave our son the name Nathan William Shepard. My father was Eugene William Shepard (1921-2003). His father was simply William Shepard (1888-1976). His father was William Elmer Shepard (1862-1915), and his father was William Shepard (1835-1862). And so it goes.

The history of the name William Shepard in our family is varied. One would be hard pressed, however, to find a Shepard ancestor with a more colorful name than "O Lord Another William Shepherd."
- - -
Steve Shepard (he/him/his)

Friday, August 26, 2022

More Remarkable Names

I have shared before in The Shepard's Crook that a large number of our ancestors who spelled their name "Shepard" came to the American colonies from Europe in the 18th century via the Island of Barbados in the Caribbean. It was a very common way of transitioning from Europe to the American colonies. 

The "Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s to 1900s" indicates that a John Sheppard arrived in Maryland on a ship from the Caribbean Island of Barbados in 1726. That John Sheppard (1713-1741) and his eventual wife Anne Schiels (1714-1741) may very well be the first "Sheppards" in our ancestral line to arrive in the American Colonies. From Maryland, some of our Shepard ancestors migrated to Kirkwood, Ohio where they settled. Some of them eventually chose to move further westward.  Some made their way to Iowa. Others to Indiana, Oklahoma and finally California and other places on the West Coast.

I shared the interesting names of some of those ancestors in my previous post, but here are a few more outstanding names of folks from whom we are descended.

Obedience Dutiful Bugg (1755-1846). Originally from Cumberland, Va., Obedience is found among the ancestors of my Grandfather Leroy Gower. She was from a family who knew about duty and obedience. Her first husband, Colonel James Martin, served in the Revolutionary War. Married three different times she understood the meaning of obedience and duty. She and her husband James named two of their daughters "Prudence" and "Temperance". As a child Obedience lived on a Virginia plantation which served as a makeshift military hospital during the Revolution, nursing injured Patriot soldiers back to health. As a child she witnessed family members responding to the call of duty and being obedient in service to their country. 

Washington at Valley Forge
Rev. Lewis Cookson "Ole Club Axe" Davis (1756-1835). As far as I know this Davis ancestor is not related to the family of my Grandmother Bura Davis. As I researched Old Club Axe, I discovered to my surprise that he is actually a part of my wife Cindy's ancestry. The bigger surprise however is why this minister of many years chose to take the nickname "Old Club Axe." It is not a moniker that would endear him to Churches looking for a new minister. As a young adult he served in the American Revolution and was part of George Washington's Army who spent the disastrous winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That horrific experience alone would harden an individual. After his military service Rev. Davis was a circuit riding Baptist preacher of the "hard-shell" variety in Georgia and Alabama for many years.

Pearly Majesty Morphis (1895-1983).  Hers is a name that rolls off the tongue easily with grace and beauty. One can almost hear the harps of heaven as her name is spoken. She is an example of how our 19th century ancestors tended toward ostentatious names. Pearly was born in Arkansas just before the turn of the 20th century and is in the family line of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Like Grandma Gower, Pearly and her family lived in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma for several years before moving on to California. Pearly is buried today in Tehachapi, California. She brings to our family tree an ancestor named Maida Tinsley, the only other Maida in our tree besides my mother Maida Gower Shepard. 

There was a whole other immigration of Europeans with the last name "Shepard" who migrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 17th and 18th centuries. These were folks with a strong Puritan influence. They gave their children very pious names. One such ancestor was Thankslord Shepard Perkins (1612-1681). More about Thankslord and her kinfolk in my next post.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Friday, July 22, 2022

Remembering One Who Gave His Life

My Great Great Grandfather William Shepard (1835-1862) died 160 years ago today. Born and raised in Wabash, Indiana, he served in the Civil War as a member of the Union Army. Married less than two years, he left his pregnant wife Mary and their young son William Elmer in the fall of 1861. From Wabash this new recruit marched some 80 miles to Indianapolis to join Indiana's 41st Infantry. Once this unit was gathered together, they marched their way 250 miles further south in the cold of winter to join the Civil War at Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

Pvt. William Shepard's grave
Evansville, Indiana
In the very first encounter with the enemy by his unit, William seriously injured his arm in a canon blast. (Somebody had to be the first injury.) His active military service ended almost as soon as it began. Sent to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana, he languished for 5 long months. He died July 22, 1862 and lies buried today in the Civil War section of Evansville's Oak Hill Cemetery, a place I have visited more than once with great pride and humility. William's headstone stands there today as a lasting memorial to his sacrificial devotion to our country. He is an honored family member who deserves our sincerest gratitude. It is the sacred responsibility of all of us, his descendants, to make sure that he is never forgotten. May we honor his memory as he continues to rest in peace. 

Select this link or this link to read more about the details of his life and military service.

Remarkable Names. It has been a while since I shared in this blog about outstanding names in our family tree. In recent months I have come across some ancestors who were gifted (or "saddled," depending on your perspective) with unique names. Consider the following remarkable names which I have uncovered in our family tree.

First are a couple of family members whose names are a mouthful to speak. Imagine having to go through life with one of these.

Achilles Archilaus Archibald Hogg (1774-1864). Named after the Great Warrior of Greek Mythology, our ancestor Achilles was originally from North Carolina, a 3rd Great Grandfather of my Grandfather Leroy Gower. Giving their son such a big name suggests the Hogg family wanted great things from him. Or did they simply like outlandish names?

Bazzell Bazel Bassell Baswell Roberson (1745-1831) was born in South Carolina, 1745. This name is quite the tongue twister and is almost impossible to say correctly, even at a slow speed. It is unclear exactly how you even pronounce his name. He is in the family line of my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower.

Talitha Cumi Spear (1840-1943) "Talitha Cumi" is a phrase found in the Bible. In Mark 5:41 Jesus raises a little girl from death by saying "Talitha Cumi," which in Aramaic means "little girl arise!" This Talitha Cumi is in the family line of my Great Grandmother Callie Spear Davis and was born alongside Captina Creek in Belmont County, Ohio. This is one more indication that our ancestors were quite Biblically literate and often gave their children names from scripture.

Zebulon Zerubabel Filer Fyler Flyer (1644-1714) - "Z.Z. Flyer" is in the family line of my Great Grandmother Elvira Owen Shepard. The Flyer family continued the ostentatious naming of their children by giving their son the name Samuel B. Filer Fyler Filor Flyer. Surely they had a sense of humor in giving him such a name.

These are just a few of the remarkable/amusing/outstanding names of ancestors in our family tree. In my next post I plan to share some other names that are just as memorable.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Happy Father's Day Weekend! June 18, 2022

I believe that what we become
depends on what our fathers
teach us at odd moments,
when they aren't trying to teach us.
~Umberto Eco

On this weekend of Father's Day, I am sharing with you a post from 6 years ago. A lot has happened in our family and in our respective lives in the past few years ago. The challenges we have faced and the difficulties we have encountered were many. This post reminds us of the importance of being a part of our family. The fathers in our family are still to be thanked and honored for what they do for us. Thank God for fathers past and present! 

I am mindful of, and grateful for, two men in particular: my own father and the father of our grandchildren. My dad Eugene Shepard died in 2003 but lived a wonderful life and left a great legacy of family love and devotion. Our son Nathan is an outstanding father who makes us very proud on this weekend to honor all the men who hold our family together.

This first picture shows my dad Eugene Shepard and our son Nathan Shepard in 1996 in Anacortes, Washington. They are just two of the many fathers that are a part of our diverse and changing family.

Below is a slide show honoring all the fathers past and present in our Shepard, Gower, Harris and other families. Pictured are young fathers, old fathers, dads from long ago and dads who are very new to the task. At least one is a father of five kids, while others are fathers of just one or two. Some are steady and hard working, others are just thrilled at the very idea of being dads. Some have been at it for many years and now revel in the joy of "grandfatherhood", while others are still learning how to be the best dad they can. Some do a great job of being step dads, while others face unique and daunting parental challenges.  

My brother Gary of Oak Harbor, Washington has been a father since 1968, while my late cousin Hershell Gower of Bullhead City, Arizona, who died during Covid two years ago, had been a father since 1967. That's 49 years! Congratulations to them.

All the fathers pictured here are to be thanked for their hard work and the loving guidance they give their kids. Click on the arrow below to start the Father's Day video.



Happy Father's Day to all of you who have taken on the great task of being a dad!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, June 02, 2022

A Day Full of Memories

"In life, it's not where you go, it's who you travel with." 

– Charles Schulz

June 2 has always been an important date on the calendar for our family. It is a day loaded with special events and full of wonderful memories for every part of our family.

It was on June 2, 1915 -- 107 years ago -- that my paternal grandparents, William Shepard and Bura Davis, were married in Beaver County, Oklahoma. They had only known each other about two years, but in that period of time their love grew and their decision to marry was made. 

I have written numerous times in this blog about the wedding of William Shepard and Bura Davis, especially this blog post on the 100th Anniversary of their wedding. It was a simple event in the home of their local preacher. But it was an event with great significance for their descendants who are remembering them all these years later. Will and Bura are both gone now; Will for almost 50 years and Bura for nearly 40 years. But their love and devotion to their family remains in the hearts of all of us who knew and appreciated them.

Will and Bura chose to get married on the birthday of her father James Brooks Davis, who was born on June 2, 1870 in Spencer, Indiana. It speaks of the love and respect Bura had for her father that she would marry on his 45th birthday.

On June 2, 1979 my brother Gary Shepard and Cindy Ann Dillon were married in a Garden wedding in our home on Humbolt Street in Los Alamitos, California. It was also a simple but very meaningful ceremony with just a few special people in attendance. Today they are remembering that special event after 43 years of married life. Best wishes to them as they celebrate their 43rd anniversary in Oak Harbor, Washington where they live.

Paula Hicks Harris. The memories we have on this second day of June are not all happy ones. It was four years ago today, on June 2, 2018, that Cindy's mom passed away at our home here on Burgundy Street in San Diego. She was just a few weeks short of 95 years old. She was a wonderful woman who has been sorely missed for these last 4 years, and will remain in our hearts forever.

Celebrations are also in order today because it was 20 years ago yesterday, on June 1, 2002, that Jeremy Ortiz and Desiree Ambriz were married here in El Cajon. Jeremy is the son of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark and the grandson of my Aunt Thelma Boyd.

This has been a day filled with various family memories, all of which are important. 
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, April 25, 2022

Lulu Lee McGee

Researching our family history has put me in touch with some interesting people. Our Family Tree includes over 15,000 people, which means that it contains a large variety of individuals. One of the more fascinating people I have found is a 2nd cousin (4X removed) by the name of Lulu Lee McGee, born in Virginia in 1871, she died in Tennessee in 1941.

Lulu was married to Ome Madison McGee (1873-1950), a Grandson of Matthew Gower (1762-1853), my 5X Great Grandfather. Lulu was a domestic worker most of her life, a servant of well-to-do families. She was black but not a slave, having been born 5 years after the abolition of slavery. Originally from Virginia, Lulu married for the first time at 20 years old to John Hoskins in Arkansas. She had one daughter Martha, who tragically died in 1918 of Lobar Pneumonia as a result of the Spanish Flu which ravaged the entire country for several years.

Cousin Lulu Lee McGee (center)
with her sister (right) and family, about 1941
30 Days of Hard Labor. While in her 30s Lulu did domestic work for a family in New Jersey. Her efforts were evidently less than stellar. She was accused of criminal behavior and was arrested. She found herself before a judge who sentenced her to 30 days of hard labor in the Allegheny County Workhouse. Fortunately, we have the public prison record for Lulu's brush with the law. By the way, this is not the first time that the public prison record of a person in our Family Tree has been available. Four years ago I wrote about Edgar Lee Vessels who spent twenty years in a Texas prison, with his public prison record being a prime source.

In Lulu Lee's situation the public record of the Allegheny (Pennsylvania) County Prison indicates that her crime was "Visiting a Disorderly House." She was incarcerated with others whose crimes were: Keeping a Disorderly House, Selling Liquor, Being a "Common Prostitute," Drunkenness and Vagrancy.

A Miscarriage of Justice. In this period of Reconstruction in American history, personal enslavement was illegal, but unfair treatment of people of color was still very apparent. 30 days in prison for her offense seems a miscarriage of justice at the very least. Unfortunately, it was typical of the late 19th century, when Jim Crow laws abounded and racial discrimination was common. 

In that day and age people of wealth took the work of their domestic servants very seriously. Servant work like this lent itself to abuse, with Lulu being a prime example. One only needs to read the daily news to realize that this kind of mistreatment is no less apparent today.

Lulu's prison record from 1899 says that she was 5'3'' tall, had brown hair and blue eyes, weighed 145 lbs., and was a Baptist. The record also indicates that she never attended school, and at 29 years old could not read or write. Her occupation was listed as "housework."

Her Saving Grace. Lulu had some hard experiences in life, and struggled tremendously at times. Her saving grace may have been her sister Amanda Fitzhugh Lee (1878-1959) whose family had done quite well. Sister Amanda's son was Dr. Harry W. Mickey (1904-1973) the first African-American Medical Doctor in Washington D.C. He received his medical degree from Howard University, which was announced in the June 22, 1922 edition of the Washington D.C. Evening Star newspaper. Dr. Mickey was a White House Physician during the Presidency of Warren McKinley. A family story has it that Dr. Mickey traveled with President McKinley on his fateful trip to Ohio in September, 1901 when McKinley was assassinated.

The group picture above shows Lulu in the center with her sister and family including her nephew Dr. Harry W. McKinley who is standing behind LuLu and to the right. This picture was taken in 1941 at the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Harry L. and Amanda Mickey (the two dressed in formal black in this picture).
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cousin Connections

In my genealogical research of recent months I have focused my attention on ancestor Matthew Gower (1762-1853), one of the earliest Gowers of whom we have any record. Matthew was the GGGreat Grandfather of my Grandfather Leroy Ertin Gower (1899-1974). Or to come at it from the other direction, Matthew was the GGreat Grandson of Abell Gower, the first Gower ancestor to come to America from England.

Two recently discovered Gower cousins have helped focus my attention on ancestor Matthew Gower. One cousin is Marsha Fagnani of Calaveras County, California. She, like me, is a direct descendant of Matthew Gower. She leads a Facebook Group called Friends of Gower Cemetery (the Cemetery where ancestor Matthew Gower is buried). Their stated purpose is "to preserve and maintain the pioneer family Gower Cemetery, established in 1816, located behind the Centenary United Methodist Church on Gower Road, Nashville, Tennessee." I encourage you to visit their Facebook page to find out all about the work of cousin Marsha and other Gower descendants. Their efforts are well worth our support and encouragement. On their Facebook page are several resources related to the Gower Cemetery and our Gower ancestry. Among those resources is a list all the known Gowers that reside in the Cemetery.

Unknown Children from Oklahoma
in the 1920s
Another Gower cousin I was fortunate enough to find and connect with recently is Edwina Gower from Arkansas. Cousin Edwina, another direct descendant of  Matthew Gower, has a special interest in Matthew and has collaborated with several of us in an effort to share information and learn more about this important ancestor. The rewarding work of discovering more about Matthew Gower and other Gower ancestors continues.



More Old Family Photos. As I mentioned in my last post, I was unexpectedly gifted dozens of old family photos by second cousin Norman Getz of Beaver, Oklahoma who passed away earlier this year. On the right is one of the photos of two unknown children, probably from the 1920s. Some of the photos I received are from the 1920s and 1930s and show people I know and can identify. Many of the photos however are images of people I cannot identify. 

Elvira Owens Shepard (center left) with 
other friends, family, neighbors
The photographs I have received are good quality for the most part and are quite remarkable really. The problem is that they show family or friends who are unknown to me. In this post I have included a few more of these images. If you recognize these folks please let me know. If you don't know these folks, just admire and ponder these compelling historic images from a couple of generations ago. 

One of the people who figured prominently in the life of our family in the early part of the 20th Century was my Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard Williams. She appears repeatedly in the photos that we have from that era. The group photo above on the left shows 6 folks, a few of whom I can identify. The lady on the right is Mrs. Erickson, a family friend and neighbor who appears in a surprisingly number of our old photos. Next to Mrs. Erickson, in the hat, is Cal Williams who is seated next to Great Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard. As an older widow, Elvira married Cal Williams who was considerably younger than her. The lady on the left and the two children in the back I cannot identify. Can you?

This next picture is a better image of Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931) and her late-in-life husband, the young and dapper Cal Williams (1882-1968). Select this link for more about Elvira and Cal and the controversy their marriage created nearly 100 years ago. 

 
The final picture below is a compelling picture of an attractive young family posing formally yet gracefully in a setting and posture reminiscent of a number of old family photos I have seen. I recognize the wicker chair which is a type of chair I have seen in other old family photos, but I do not know who this family is. Do any of you know?
    

I continue to sort through the many pictures I have received. In future posts I look forward to sharing with you more of the best of them. The goal of identifying all the people in these pictures for future generations is an important one. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Monday, February 28, 2022

Tell Me Who I Am


Pauline and Bill Russell
probably in the 1930s
I received word recently that my second cousin Norman Getz (1936-2022) of Beaver County, Oklahoma passed away a few weeks ago. Norman was one of the 36 first cousins of my father Eugene Shepard. Among Norman's belongings were dozens of old family pictures which were given to Lisa Parks, my second cousin who lives in Fort Worth. Lisa was gracious enough to forward them on to me. 

The photos are a treasure trove of images from our family's history in the early years of the 20th century. Most of them are unidentified, although some have writing on the back which tells something about the people in the photos. But as with many old photos I have seen, the words on the back don't help much. They include phrases like, "this is mother," or "this was taken after we left Oklahoma," or "this was taken last summer." 

One picture that jumped out at me when I saw it, was a picture I had never seen before. It shows my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell (1916-2000) and my uncle Bill Russell (1908-1997) when they were very young. It is a picture that may have been taken when they were married in January 1935 in Springfield, Colorado. I am grateful for all these pictures from our family's history, identified or not. 

Elmer, Pauline and Eugene Shepard
Tell Me Who I Am. I am hoping that you might be able to help me put names to the people in the pictures I have. Over the next couple of months I will share with you some of the pictures I have received, in hopes that some of you can tell me who these people are. 

This second picture, like the first one, may also be from the 1930s. On the back of this photo is written: "Aunt Sadie. Taken in the yard this summer." I doubt this is a picture of my Great Aunt Sadie Shepard Pruett (1892-1980). The two fellows in the picture look very much like my Uncle Elmer Shepard (1918-2012) on the left, and my father Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) on the right. The woman in the middle looks more like my Aunt Pauline Shepard than my Great Aunt Sadie Shepard Pruett. If you have some insight into these photos, I would appreciate hearing from you.

The third photo is a group picture and shows a collection of women in Oklahoma, probably in the late 1920s. The back of the photo lists the women in the picture: Sadie, Mrs. Bachman, Mrs. Esther Frass, Mrs. Erickson, Grandma, Bura, and Amelia Frass

A photo from the 1920s of several family members,
neighbors and friends
I am suggesting a date of the late 1920s for this photo because "Grandma" (Elvira Owens Shepard), the woman in the middle/right in white, died in 1931. Grandma Elvira Shepard appears in many of the photos that I have received. She seems to have been the matriarch of the Shepard family in the early 20th century in Oklahoma, which would explain why she is so prominent in many of the photos. Next to Elvira, on the right, is my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986), Elvira's daughter-in-law.

In the back in this photograph is a tall woman who is identified as Mrs. Erickson. She appears in a number of the photos that I have received. She must have been a close family friend or neighbor. If anyone can tell me about Mrs. Erickson and her place in our family's history, I would appreciate hearing from you.

If you do have comments to make about these photos, send me an email, or simply click on the comments button at the bottom of this page and you can leave a message. I would be glad to hear from you.
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

An Infamous Weekend

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord:
His truth is marching on.
~Battle Hymn of the Republic

Happy Birthday to Cindy A. Shepard! Today, February 2 is a memorable day in our Shepard Family history. Not just because it is groundhog day. Nor because it is the exact midpoint of winter. Not even because it is the birthday of my sister-in-law Cindy A.Shepard of Oak Harbor, Washington. All that makes it plenty memorable, of course. But the second day of February stands out for us Shepards because of two historic events that occurred on the same day in the lives of some kinfolk. One event was very happy and the other very tragic. 

160 Years Ago Today. In February of 1862, my Great Great Grandfather William Sheppard was just a few months into his military service in the Civil War. He had joined the Union Army's 2nd Indiana Cavalry in September, 1861 while living in Wabash, Indiana. Over the following few months, after his military training, his unit marched southward from Indiana into Kentucky. At the town of Bowling Green, William's unit had their first taste of battle in a skirmish with confederate forces. 

It was the very first conflict of the War for the 2nd Indiana Cavalry. This unit went on to fight in the war for 3 more years. They fought at the famous encounter at Shiloh. They went on to engage the enemy in other venues as well before returning to Wabash, Indiana at the end of the war. 

But William's active duty in the Civil War began and ended at Bowling Green, Kentucky. On Sunday, February 2, 1862, William suffered a serious arm injury from a canon blast. We don't know if the canon misfired, or if William was hit by enemy fire. We only know that the injury brought an abrupt end to his active duty in the Civil War.

Tragic Irony. While on the battlefield that fateful day in February 1862, young William could not have known what was happening back home in Indiana. The very day he was injured in Kentucky, his wife Mary in Wabash, Indiana, was giving birth to their second son. What tragic irony that these two events would happen on the same day, some 315 miles apart.

After suffering his injury, William was taken off the battle field and transported to a military hospital in Evansville, Indiana. 5 long months later, on July 22, 1862 he died. The actual cause of death was not the arm injury, but dysentery, an intestinal infection that took the life of countless soldiers who, like GGGranddad William, experienced extended stays in wartime hospitals.

The second day of February will always remain in our family history as a time when joy and tragedy intersected. In Indiana a baby was born; in Kentucky the baby's father was mortally wounded. It may have been her longing for her soldier-husband that caused Mary Shepard to name their newborn child William Elmer Shepard. 

The Rest of the Story. That wartime baby William Elmer Shepard became a very important figure in our family history as a young adult. He left his troubled stepfamily in Indiana and journeyed alone to the Saint Louis area where he married, had two children, and then migrated with them to Oklahoma in the early years of the 20th century. Our ancestors suffered much in those tragic years of the Civil War. We are grateful for their fortitude and resilience, and are honored to be counted among their descendants.
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Steve Shepard

Monday, January 17, 2022

The Lost 100th Grandchild

Which one of you,
having a hundred sheep
and losing one of them,
does not leave the ninety-nine
and go after the one that is lost?
Luke 15.4

In the years I have been researching our family history, I have used numerous resources to gather information. One resource I have found especially helpful is the book Sheppard-Marshall and Allied Families, written by 3rd cousin Lillian A. Sheppard. Originally from Iowa, she lived for many years in San Jose, California until her death in 1982. Her book is a well researched and extensive collection of Sheppard family members. And it is available online at Ancestry.com at this location. 

As a reminder, many of our ancestors, including Lillian, spelled their name with two p's. Included in Lillian Sheppard's family history are my 4X Great Grandparents James Sheppard (1775-1843) and his wife Hannah Gatchell Sheppard (1784-1839) of Kirkwood, Ohio. I have written about James and Hannah numerous times in The Shepard's Crook. 

An image of Lillian Sheppard
from her book
The 99 Grandchildren. In Lillian Sheppard's family history she records 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard. James and Hannah themselves had 13 children, each of whom had large families of their own, averaging nearly 8 children apiece. Hence the 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah. For some reason Lillian was unaware of the 100th grandchild of James and Hannah. That "lost" 100th grandchild is my Great Great Grandfather, Civil War soldier William Sheppard (1835-1862). He is the one from whom our part of the Shepard family is descended. His younger son was William Elmer Sheppard (1862-1915) who took his family to Beaver County, Oklahoma, which is where my Shepard Grandparents met and started their family.

An Understandable Oversight. Now to be fair to cousin Lillian, there are good reasons why her research failed to turn up the 100th Grandchild of James and Hannah. First of all, her research and writing were completed in 1974, long before the Internet came along with its amazing number of genealogical resources. 

Furthermore, William Sheppard, born in 1835, left the Sheppard family homestead in Ohio as a child with his parents and migrated to the wilderness of Indiana. In so doing he evidently lost contact with his grandparents and other family. He grew up in Indiana, served in the military during the Civil War, and died at just 27 years old. Communication was so poor in those days that his war service and his death at a military hospital may not have been known to many in his own family. After William's death in 1862, his widow Mary Sprague Sheppard with their two young sons Frank and William, got on with their lives which did not include William's family of origin.

Gravesite of GGGrandfather
William Sheppard in Oak Hill Cemetery
Evansville, Indiana
When I first started researching the soldier William Sheppard some 30 years ago, it was very difficult to find information about him. For several years I thought he had been lost to history and further details of his life would never be found. I knew that his son William Elmer Sheppard was born in Wabash, Indiana, so I visited Wabash and found a few references to him in County history books there. That led me to his grave in Evansville, Indiana where I found a little more information about him. 

Disappointed But Gratified. So it is not surprising that William, the 100th grandchild of James and Hannah Sheppard, could not be found by Lillian Sheppard in her research and was not included in her 857 page book. It leaves me disappointed that Great Great Grandpa William Sheppard, an honorable soldier who gave his life for his country, is missing from this important historical resource.

But it is gratifying to know that telling his story in this blog is one more way of assuring that GG Granddad William will not be lost to history. He now takes his place as one of the many Grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard. May his memory be a blessing to all his descendants.

I mentioned that in her research Lillian Sheppard uncovered 99 grandchildren of James and Hannah. In recent years that number has actually grown. In my family tree on Ancestry.com I have now identified from historical records 118 grandchildren of James and Hannah Sheppard, from their first Grandchild Hannah J. Sheppard (1825-1902) to their last Grandchild Etta Blanche Sheppard (1873-1963). Those 118 Grandchildren, with their individual families, would make for one huge family reunion!
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Steve Shepard