Thursday, July 13, 2023

Thelma Shepard Boyd

I have had the opportunity in recent days to spend some quality time with my aunt Thelma Shepard Boyd. She has been in the hospital here in San Diego recently. At 87 years old her health is not what it once was. She has been diagnosed with some serious illness. Fortunately, she is being provided great care by her daughter Kim Clark and other family members. 

Kim & Jeff Clark and Thelma Boyd
Kim's husband Jeff Clark posted the following prayer request on Facebook recently which gives you an idea of how she is doing.

Please keep my mother-in-law Thelma Boyd and my wife Kim Clark and Thelma’s grandkids and great grandkids in your prayers. Thelma has had congestive heart failure for the last five years and Dementia for the past three or four years and Alzheimer’s for the past year to year and a half.  Thelma has dealt with this (with daily staff visits and multiple daily reminders) while she lived at her independent senior living facility in El Cajon.  But her situation has now changed. The progression of the Dementia and Alzheimer’s has increased and daily visits and reminders are now not enough.  

She was taken to the hospital last Wednesday evening (July 5) very dehydrated (forgetting to drink).  She has been getting fluids but still not eating much. Doctors said that is part of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.  A person not knowing or wanting to eat or drink.  We are trying to get her placed in a facility where she will have more care but not a nursing home.  Hospice is helping with this. With congestive heart failure and Dementia hospice will help and since she has had both for years they could have been helping her for years, allowing Kim and the grandkids to be a daughter and grandkids instead of the stress of being a caregiver too.

Maida and Barbara Shepard
Thelma is a very special person in our Shepard family. She is the last remaining child of my Grandparents William and Bura Shepard. Thelma at 87, and my mother Maida Gower Shepard at 98, are the last surviving members of their generation in our family. They are both wonderful women who have lived exemplary lives and are living reminders of the great family to which we belong.

Speaking of my mom Maida Shepard in Anacortes, Washington, she too has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and Dementia. Fortunately, she is also being provided good in-home care by her family, in particular by her daughter Barbara.

During this time of illness, please remember Maida and Thelma and those who care for them. Thanks be to God for these two wonderful women who represent the larger family of which we are privileged to be a part.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Saturday, July 08, 2023

"The Surgeon of Ann Arundel"

Every so often when researching our family, I come across a person whose life story is so interesting that it needs to be told. My 9th Great Grandfather is one such person. He was Dr. Richard Wells (1609-1667), and was known as "the Surgeon of Ann Arundel." Ann Arundel is a county in Maryland some 50 miles east of Washington, D.C.

Richard Wells is our ancestor through my Grandmother Bura Davis Shepard (1896-1986). He is also the Great Grandfather of our ancestor, the Quaker Rachel Wells (1720-1771), who I have written about several times in this blog. Here is Richard Wells' family line:

Wells Family Coat of Arms
Richard Wells (b.1609)
Frances Wells (b.1657)
Joseph Wells (b.1697)
Rachel Wells (b. 1720) 
Joseph Wright (b. 1740) 
John Wright (b.1774) 
Nancy Wright (b. 1811) 
Malinda Wright (b. 1846) 
James Brooks Davis (b.1870) 
Bura Davis Shepard (b.1896) 
Eugene Shepard (b.1921) 
me (b.1948)

Richard Wells' life in Colonial America began when he immigrated at 28 years old from England to the colony of Virginia in 1637. He was a staunch Puritan of wealth and influence in a time when Puritans were in power. He married Francis Elizabeth White (1622-1711) while living in Virginia and with her had 11 children, a normal sized family for colonists like the Wellses who sought to populate the new world.

Being a Liberal Puritan, Richard felt the urge to move northward to Maryland where Lord Baltimore had established freedom of religion. The Puritans were a significant group of activists within the Church of England. They sought to rid the Church of all Catholic influence. They were purists who resisted the Church straying from its roots. They had a major impact on life in Colonial America, and eventually became the Congregational Church, which is today part of the United Church of Christ.
A physician's 17th century
blood-letting tool chest. 

It was in 1653 that the Puritan Richard Wells and his family of 11 children and 6 slaves relocated to the western shore of Herring Bay in the southeastern part of Ann Arundel County. Once they settled in Maryland, Richard immersed himself in civic affairs. He was appointed a member of the Parliamentary Commission the year after arriving and served on that body from 1854 to 1858. It was an appointed commission of eight who controlled Maryland's Government. 

Richard is best known for being given the moniker, The Surgeon of Ann Arundel. It suggests that he had some familiarity with the practice of medicine, although historical details of that are hard to find. In the 17th century, during Richard's lifetime, there were no medical schools, and one became a doctor simply by practicing. Among his functions as a surgeon was blood-letting, a common medical procedure at that time. The image above shows a blood-letting "tool chest" for 17th century doctors such as Richard Wells.

In Maryland, Richard and his family did very well and accumulated significant wealth, primarily through land ownership. Soon after he arrived he was granted 600 acres on the shore of Herring Bay, an estate he named "Wells". His accumulation of land went far beyond that and eventually included several thousand acres of land. In his Will, which was probated in Ann Arundel County in 1667, Richard Wells bequeathed to his 5 sons parcels of land that totaled nearly 3,000 acres. In 1658 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace and was also on the Puritan Council. Clearly our ancestor Richard Wells was a leading citizen of early Maryland. We are honored to have ancestors such as Richard Wells and Frances White Wells in our family tree.

- - -
Steve Shepard