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 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 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