Friday, April 28, 2023

Remembering My Father

Today is the anniversary of the birth of two of the more important people in my life. My father Eugene Shepard was born in 1921, 102 years ago today, on a farm in the panhandle of Oklahoma. He has been gone for 20 years now, but his legacy remains. The family of his father William Shepard had migrated from Madison County, Illinois to the OK panhandle in 1905. His mother Bura Davis and her family had migrated to Oklahoma in the spring of 1913 from Indiana. Soon after relocating, farming neighbors Bura Davis and Will Shepard met, fell in love, and then were married in 1915. My Dad was the 3rd birth of Will and Bura. 

Eugene Shepard
in 1995 in Anacortes, Wa.
From the Panhandle to Western Washington. My Dad's first 7 years were spent on the Shepard farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle. In 1928 he and his family then moved 170 miles northwest to Southeast Colorado where they sought a better life. But after 12 years in Colorado the Shepards decided that rural Colorado was not the place for them. So they moved again, this time from rural Two Buttes, Colorado to the bustling city of San Diego. It was obviously a huge change in life style for all of them, even though I never heard my Dad or his family complain about that transition. 

In San Diego, during World War II, he met Maida Gower and after an extended wartime romance, they were married. Life in San Diego was good for them for 38 years, until 1978 when they upped and relocated to Anacortes, Washington. It was in Western Washington that Dad lived happily for the last 25 years of his life. 

Nola Shannon Gower
about 1990
A Life Well Lived. On this, the anniversary of his birth, I celebrate the good life he lived, the long career he had at the Point Loma Fuel Supply Depot, the devoted family man he was, and the family legacy he left behind. He was a great father to all 6 of his children. He loved his grandchildren. His descendants today stretch from Western Washington to North Texas to San Diego, and number a total of 32.

Eugene was born on the 18th birthday of the woman who would be his mother-in-law, Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004). So today I also celebrate my Grandmother Nola Shannon Gower on the 120th anniversary of her birth in Mt View, Arkansas. She was the consummate grandmother who loved and respected her 12 grandchildren and their families. As a young mother she and husband Leroy relocated to Okemah, Ok in 1925 where they lived for 15 years before moving to San Diego. After almost 60 years in Southern California, she moved to Anacortes in her 90s, and lived her last years there with her daughter and family.

These two very important people in my life -- Eugene Shepard and Nola Shannon Gower -- I celebrate with great honor and respect today as I remember their birthdays. Thanks be to God for the wonderful lives they lived and the lasting impact of their many descendants.
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Steve Shepard

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Women's History Month

With the recently concluded month of March being Women's History Month, I feel compelled to write about a couple of women in our family history. There are actually numerous women in our family tree whose life stories are fascinating: Elizabeth Maxwell, Lydia Warford, Lulu Lee McGee and many others. But there are two people I find exceptionally worthy of mention.

Jane Buskirk Davis (1823-1895) was a remarkable woman who deserves special consideration. Jane was the Great Grandmother of my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. The very old picture below is one of the few pictures that we have of Jane Buskirk. She is important to mention for two main reasons: First, Jane's ancestry shows a clear line to the first immigrants among our ancestors to America from Holland. 

Jane Buskirk Davis
Jane and her siblings were born in the rural community of Adams, in Monroe County, Ohio. It was there in Southeastern Ohio that Jane met and married Alexander Davis. He and Jane and their first four children were the first of our Davis ancestors to immigrate from Ohio to Spencer, Indiana. In Spencer they settled for several generations. Among the family members born in Spencer was my Grandmother Bura Davis (1896-1990).

Jane Buskirk Davis is also notable because of the breadth of her life history. Born and raised in the community of Adams, Ohio, in 1852 she and husband Alexander relocated 365 miles along the National Highway to Spencer, Indiana. 

When Alex and Jane Davis settled in Indiana in the 1850s they were among the first members of a new church start in Owen County called the New Union Church of Christ, which was part of the Restoration Movement, also called the Stone-Campbell movement. That movement had its beginning in the area just east of Monroe County, Ohio. It appears Alex and Jane brought their Stone-Campbell affiliation with them when they settled in Indiana. 

In the 1880s, Jane was among our Davis kinfolk who left Indiana and migrated even further west to Oklahoma. At 70 years old, Jane with their youngest son William Alexander Davis, "ran for land" in the Cherokee Strip in 1893. They staked a claim and settled on it, in what eventually became the town of Helena in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma.

Maida Gower Shepard and daughter Barbara
Jane died just two years later in 1895. Land had been donated for a cemetery but it had not yet been plotted. Even so, they allowed Jane's burial, and she became the first person buried in Good Hope Cemetery just south of Helena. Today she lays to rest there beside her son William Alexander Davis and his wife Mary. 

Jane Buskirk Davis's life, from her beginning in Ohio, to Indiana, and eventually to Oklahoma, covered over a thousand miles.

This family post about Women's History would be incomplete without mentioning my mother Maida Gower ShepardMom has lived in Anacortes, Washington for 45 years, ever since 1978 when she and husband Eugene left San Diego for the Great Northwest. She is still in her home on Wildwood Lane with her daughter and full time caregiver Barbara.

At 98 years old, Maida's life has encompassed an amazing amount of history. Born in Arkansas in the roaring 20's, she lived through the Great Depression, married Eugene Shepard in San Diego during World War II, with him raised 6 children, and had to suffer through the tragic death of her older daughter Linda at just 20. She has experienced an amazing amount of history. Her life story from Arkansas to Oklahoma to San Diego to Western Washington has covered over 3,000 miles.

We are proud of all the women in our Family Tree who are worthy of honor as we remember Women's History Month.
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Steve Shepard