Deacon Enoch Shepard…

John and Elizabeth (Noble) Shepard of Westfield, Massachusetts had two sons that we probably descend from, the famous General William and the not so famous Enoch. While William and his wife stayed in Westfield their whole lives, Enoch moved his family around eventually landing in Ohio when land became available there after the Revolutionary War. I use the term probably when discussing Shepard ancestors before Hartley because, while DNA indicates that we descend from these Shepards, and verbal family history has Hartley’s parents as Henry and Huldah Shepard, we still have no documented evidence to confirm this.

Enoch Shepard was born in Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts on 25 Oct 1742. He was five years younger than his brother William. In his formative years he appears to have received schooling, but by his own admission it was probably just enough to learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic. When he reached the age of 19 he married a cousin (of some degree), Esther Dewey, a descendant of Thomas Dewey and Constance Hawes. (We descend from the same Thomas Dewey and Constance Hawes three times in this Shepard line.) His brother William married Esther’s sister Sarah.

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Enoch and Esther’s marriage entry in Westfield, Massachusetts

In July of 1773 Enoch and Esther purchased a lot in the town of Murryfield, (which is now called Chester) and apparently they were dismissed from their church in Westfield to Murrayfield in July of 1775 and admitted to the church in Murrayfield in January of 1776. It was from here that Enoch signed up and joined the Revolution. And while he might not have had as much notariety as William, he was Captain of his own unit. Although according to this record he was uncomfortable with the assignment:

Petition addressed to the Council, dated Murrayfield, April 6, 1778, signed by said Shepard, stating that he held a commission as Captain, 13th company, Col. John Mosley’s (3d Hampshire Co.) regiment, although he had viewed himself as not equal to the discharge of the office when chosen, but having made the experiment and finding himself unable to discharge the duties of his office with credit to himself or benefit to the country, asking to be permitted to resign his commission; ordered in Council April 24, 1778, that the resignation be accepted.

Enoch shows up in a history of Murrayfield book1 usually as Capt. Enoch Shepard, involved in local goings on and committees for the time that they lived in the town. They even managed to be chastised by their church according to this interesting statement found online:

…on 23 May 1784, Capt Enoch Shepard and Esther his wife, “a beloved brother and sister,” were admonished for neglecting worship, and on 26 December, 1784 they were excommunicated. [from the church in Murrayfield]

When the town of Wolcott in Vermont was created in 1781, it is thought that our Enoch is one of the people listed as a proprietor.2 They appear to have moved to Vermont about 1784/5. But, if indeed this is the same Enoch and they did move to Wolcott, the family didn’t stay long before they packed up and headed further south, eventually making the move to Marietta, Ohio.

The first, frame house in Marietta was built in the summer of 1789… Captain Enoch Shepherd (brother of General Shepherd, who suppressed Shay’s rebellion in Massachusetts) prepared the timber and lumber for this house at Pennsylvania and made it into a raft, upon which he brought his family to Marietta.

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Enoch’s newspaper advertisement selling their property in 1778 in Murrayfield.

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Enoch’s receipt regarding their land in Marietta.

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Enoch supported the family as a Deacon and mill operator. He, along with a partner established the first mill in Marietta. As usual, we know very little of Esther, his wife. She died in 1794, and Enoch married again shortly afterward.

While the details of this Shepard family are currently unclear and spotty, I do get a good sense of Enoch through two books that he had published during his lifetime. It was here at Marietta that he appears to have taken his title of Deacon with great seriousness and fervour, because he wrote two books related to spritual matters. The first, which was more of a sermon, was quite boring (Dissertation on the quantity and quality of sin, 1814). I tried to muddle through but had a hard time keeping my eyes opened and never finished it. The second I discuss below.

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Above is the title page of the book, on the right is the newspaper advertisement regarding the publication. Printed in 1812.

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So here are my impressions of Thoughts on the Prophecies, by Enoch Shepard, copywrite 1812, written by Enoch in response to a Rev. Bishop Faber’s book, where Faber apparently favors the Catholic Church too much for his liking.

The first thing I noticed while reading this book, was that great Gramps was very long winded. His tome bombastically denigrates the Catholic church – repeatedly. Over and over. Hammering on the same points from different angles for over 150 pages. With, of course, snippets of disgust against Jews and Muslims thrown in for a little diversity. And, while I might even agree with some of his points regarding the Catholic church, I don’t at all condone his bigotry. Apparently Enoch didn’t really practice christian charity as well as one would expect from a Presbytarian Church Deacon.

However, I do have to admit that against my will I was amused and quite enjoying his ranting style. I expected to be very bored with the subject matter, but I wasn’t, even though I didn’t always understand what he was talking about, or referring to, as he used lots of bible quotes (I never read a bible) and ancient battle references.

In his conclusion Enoch indicates that he never received a liberal education, which comes across in the book quite clearly. Someone with a liberal education tends to be more inclusive of other’s ideas, beliefs and points of view. It is also pretty clear that he believed that the current state of the church foretold “the approach of the glorious millennial day” also known as armageddon, (well, I call it the zombie apocalypse, but that’s just me.)

Along with being very anti-catholic in tone, Enoch also speaks in a very derogatory and contemptuous manner of ancient Roman religious beliefs and practices. The usual tendency of all religions to denigrate those who don’t believe in their version of god/s.

“The Roman Empire included many idolatrous and heathen nations, who were zealous worshipers of their several Gods, and obstinately tenaciously of their absurd rites and ceremonies. Consequently the pure doctrines of the Gospel, which struck at the foundations of their folly, and sought to overturn all their heathenish superstitions, appear in their view either foolishness, or a rock of offence. So that they become enemies to the christians, who would not join them in their idolatry, and with the utmost avidity engaged in persecutions authorized by the Emperor. Hence the followers of Jesus were always treated with contempt, and wanton abuse.” p10

Enoch was misinformed about early Roman history regarding the matter of the Christians and their persecution. Even to this day many Christians still, erroneously, believe that Christians were killed in colosseums in droves because of their religious beliefs. The Romans were pretty liberal regarding the religious views of other cultures, live and let live was their motto.

He went on to brag that when Constantine came to power and brought Christianity to the empire

“Pagans were turned out of office and faithful christians pointed in their stead.” p16 “The idol images were destroyed, and polluted temples cleansed, and converted into houses for the worship of the true God.” p17

Speaking in regards to a story about Mohamed “In his [Mohamed’s] travels…he had an opportunity of observing the many divisions and contentions, which existed among the professors of Christianity; for the idolatrous practices, which soon after were established in the popish Church…”p25

In this statement he makes reference to his distaste for Jews and Muslims:

More regarding Mohamed, and his shutting himself in a cave “…he procured some Jews and apostate Christian; also a few scribes vile enough to answer his purpose. With these he shut himself up in a cave for several years…When he had obtained from these despicable creatures all that he wished, he then put the whole to death.”

He proceeds to denigrate Mohamed and his beliefs where in this example he speaks of the wars that Mohamed imposed to establish his own beliefs over the Christians:

“Those parts which Mohamed subdues, and in which he established his wicked abominations…”p32.

I would say this book gives a pretty good idea of Enoch’s worldview. It is possible that his wives shared in this prejudice, then again, they could have just rolled their eyes, shook their head and continued to put the dinner on the table. I don’t think Enoch made much profit on his book. Five hundred copies were made the first printing, and there doesn’t appear to have been a second one, so any hopes of his being celebrated and feted as a famous author never came to fruition. Enoch died in 1821 at the age of 78.

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Here are the moves of the Enoch and Esther Shepard family. Starting in Westfield, making a short hop to Murryfield, then possibly Vermont, and on to Pennsylvania, where they built the raft that floated them to their final destination of Marietta, Ohio.

If anyone is interested in reading his book let me know. It is out of copywrite but I can freely share my digital copy, which was created just for me and is not available anywhere online. Believe me I tried. Thank goodness for the persistance of our University’s ILL department.


Sources:

  1. https://archive.org/stream/historyoftownofm09cope
  2. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vermont/LamoilleWolcott.html
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