April 20, 1955 Lois Shepard to In-laws

April 14, 1955

Dear Dick & Dad,

Suppose you are back from West Virginia by now-Hope you had a nice visit.

We are all around the dining rm. table – Sue doing homework Bill working on a gun, Kenny Kibitzing & me trying to write.

Bill finally go his boat trailor etc. all assembled & we’ve had a couple of rides in it. It certainly does go & we think will be very satisfactory for our purpose. We watched a water ski show Easter Sunday & it was quite interesting and looked like lots of fun. So we are all anxious to get started. Probably break our

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necks – but we’ll try anyway We are still shifting things around in the house – Not much storage space & no garage – there is one but they won’t let us use it! – So we had to pile a bunch of boxes & trunks in one corner of the large bedroom. – There is space for it but doesn’t look very good that way-

Bill hopes to go fishing tomorrow – He hasn’t done any as yet. Been too much to do- Tho we don’t think the fishing will be as good as Biloxi – Maybe he’ll find places where it is good after he’s been here a while –

David & Alan dont have any playmates there age

around here so they have leaned to play togeher much better – We decided not to send Dave to Kindergarten for that reason. Alan would really be lost – –

Hope everyone is O.K. at home & write –



From Riches to Rags

You know the story…poor man or woman comes to America and through sheer perseverance, sweat, and smarts, gets rich. Well, Franz Pietersen Clauw decided to buck that tradition. In fact, he came to this country poor and fate decided to pretty much keep him that way.

So why is this interesting, and why am I mentioning it? (Because, we have lots of ancestors who came to America poor, and stayed that way.)

Well, according to the local lore, Franz came from lots of money, but when he arrived in Beverwyck, he had nothing. Did his family back home disinherit him? Did he make bad investments? Did he drink, or gamble it away? Was it lost because of war? Unfortunately, the how if it never comes to light. But everyone in the area knew of his background, in fact his neighbors nicknamed him ‘Kind van Weelde’ or “Child of Wealth/Luxury.” Of course, it could have just been a story he told to make himself sound more interesting.

Franz arrived in Beverwyck by 1654, which we know because he shows up in local records regarding a court appearance. In his testimony Franz stated that he had been in Esopus for the fall harvest in 1654, so it is possible he arrived in that year.

Where he came from is mere speculation. Some say Holland, some say Brazil, but there is zero proof either way, at this time. The only thing we know for sure about him is that his father’s name was Peter, and he married Elsie, (origins and background also unknown).

The Clauws had two known children Jurrian and Hendrik. We descend from Jurrian (which is George in English), whose daughter Rachel, married Nicholas van Loon.

There are several references to Franz and his nickname in local histories, and in a journal kept by Jasper Danckaerts. The parts referring to Franz are entered below.

May 1st [1680], Wednesday. We began early to load, but as it had to come from some distance in the country, and we had to wait, we stepped ashore to amuse ourselves. We came to a creek where, near the river, lives the man whom they usually call the Child of Luxury, [Frans Pieterse Clauw] because he formerly had been such a one, but who now was not far from being the ‘Child of Poverty’, for he was situated poorly enough.

He had a saw-mill on the creek, on a water-fall, which is a singular one, for it is true that all falls have something special, and so had this one, which was not less rare and pleasant than others. The water fell quite steep, on one body, but it came down in steps, with a broad rest sometimes between them. These steps were sixty feet or more high, and were formed out of a single rock which is unusual. I reached this spot alone through the woods, and while I was sitting on the mill, my comrade came up with the ‘Child of Luxury’, who, after he had shown us the mill and falls, took us down a little to the right of the mill, under a rock, on the margin of the creek, where we could behold … crystal lying in layers between the rocks, and when we rolled away a piece of the rock, there was, at least on two sides of it, a crust or bark, about as thick as the breadth of a straw, of a sparkling or glassy substance, which looked like alabaster, and this crust was full of points or gems, which were truly gems of crystal, or like substance. They sparkled brightly, and were as clear as water, and so close together that you could obtain hundreds of them from one piece of the crust. We broke some pieces off, and brought them away with us as curiosities. (The rock was calcite, and of very little value.)

–Jasper Danckaerts Journal

Franz made his living as a carpenter and ran a saw mill. It appears that he made enough to feed and clothe his family. Whatever money he had before he came to America stayed gone for the rest of his life. Maybe, he became a better person because of it.


The thousands of sawmills in New England for about 200 years beginning in the 1630s used essentially a single technology—a wooden waterwheel with a crank connected by the ‘pitman’ arm to a wooden sash (frame) in which was mounted a straight saw blade. The reciprocating motion of the vertically mounted saw results in the characteristic straight “up and down” saw marks on boards and timbers cut on these sash-type saws. [http://www.ledyardsawmill.org/history/early-sawmills-in-new-england]

1. From the Journal of Jasper Danckaerts, p217-218
2. For more on Dutch saw mill history – https://www.core77.com/posts/53123/A-Brief-History-of-Wood-Splitting-Technology-Part-3-The-Wind-Powered-Sawmill-That-Changed-Dutch-History

April 2, 1955 William Shepard To Parents

745 Oak Ave
Panama City Fla
2 April 55

Dear Dick & Dad:

We are all settled down now. Have a nice home. Lois has told you about it I suppose. It is 3 Bedrooms=one floor, on a lot about 200 x 200. The yard is wonderful for Dave & Alan. They dont come in at all, except to eat & sleep, and they are brown as berries already.

Most the work is done around the house and Im lookig forward to fishing the next month. I dont suppose it will be quite as good as Biloxi. But the water is beautiful clear.

We bought an all fibre-glass boat because of the salt water. So we are ready to vacation. I still go to Craig for 4 weeks on 1 May. so I have 4 weeks to relax and fish.

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Dad- please send the guns on down to me. Hope you can remove the old addresses and any reference to my overseas address, so they wont possibly be sent back by a mistake. Insure them for $200 apiece. And I am enclosing 10.00 for postage. If it isnt enough let me know. Should be about right.

Congratulations on reaching your 69th birthday with good health. Lois & I cant seem to find anything you would like so we want you to pick out your own present-that is what the other $5 is for.

We will write you later-Goodbye for now


Year end bits


Well, here we are again, at the end of another year. Which also means it’s time to post my end-of-year wrap-up.

I am afraid it was not a year for great research finds, or revelations on the DNA front. I did upgrade Dad’s yDNA to 111 markers, and paid for a FamilyFinder test to one of our related Shepard lines. This was to see where the cousin markers might be with this Shepard. And guess what. NO match! What!

If the Shepard line, that yDNA shows we are likely related to, isn’t showing the same person matching us in FamilyFinder, I am not sure what to think. Maybe the generational distance has diluted the markers so much nothing is showing up in the DNA carrying this Shepard line anymore, other than the yDNA. Hmmm, maybe someone else can help me figure this one out.

I have been contacted by several distant cousins, (none really shared much in the way of data, or pictures, or stories, so I have nothing there). Or, in the case of the Krings, I was contacted by a person who descends from the Krings, but is not related to us – other than the fact that Herman Shepard, my great uncle, married Ruth Kring. I am hoping this Kring descendant can help identify folks and places in Herman and Ruth’s pictures.

This year I will again be going to Salt Lake to do some research. I am hoping to learn more about my Norwegian ancestors and their lives in Norway. The library can provide assistance to folks researching other countries, and I plan on making use of this service this time around.

Last month I upgraded my website, which means I was able to change the template to one I like much better. I also uploaded more images and documents to the site. Something I will be doing much more of this year. The image focus will be: headshots, family group shots, or family homes. If someone wants to see the whole kit and caboodle, they can go to my Flickr site, that’s what it is for. There will also be a lot more ancestral documents to see soon on the site: vital records, wills, military documents, etc. There is no reason for them to sit on my hard drive just taking up space.

I wasn’t able to post as many ancestress stories as I would have liked this last year. Unfortunately, work, and having to pay the bills, gets in the way of my hobby time more than I would like. Or, I run into research blocks, where I am at a certain point in my research, but getting the record I need to continue means a trip to a courthouse, a facility in another state, or some other annoying hurdle to jump. But, I’ll keep truckin’ and do what I can to continue that project.

And, that about wraps it up! Here’s to cool finds and revelations in the new year, to me, and every other genealogist. (Oh, yeah–I updated my theme!)


January 25, 1955 William Shepard To Parents

25 January 1955

Dear Dick & Dad:

Really dont have any news. Lois will keep you informed when I know the exact time Ill be home, and were my next assignment is. What Im writing about is to see if you know any people in Parkersburg named Criner.

Major H. S. Criner is at Taegu [Air Base], where I am visiting. This evening we started talking and It seemed that he knew a lot of people that we should know. In fact his grandmothers name was Smith – wasnt there a Smith in our family? [Yes] He knows Shepards – Buchanans – [did a quick check on Lt. Col. Harold Smith Criner, not related via Smiths.]

There are a lot of Davis & Smiths in his family.

Well it has been warmer the past few days. Perhaps the last few weeks of my stay here will be more pleasant. Anyhow it doesnt matter very much, just so I get to come home around 1 March.

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I suppose you will be getting ready to go to Canada soon. Wish I could make it, but it seems that I just wont ever get a vacation in the summer. Maybe when I reture?

Hope you are all well. Give my regards to Aunt Doshie & Uncle Burch. Ill see you soon

One of the Oldest Houses in New York

This image is from Wikipedia page, see source below.

For my last research post of this year, I though I would share this interesting bit of New York state history that I found in my online travels.

As I have hit a pretty sturdy brick wall researching Gertrude Cain’s Irish ancestry, I have moved on to trying to flesh out Gert’s non-Irish side. And over time I have found some pretty interesting history I have been able to share in this regard. So here is another interesting story, it’s about Jan Van Loon (pronounced ‘van loan’) and his house. I plan on telling you more about Jan himself next year, for now we will stick with his house.

Jan Van Loon arrived in New York in 1675. He was a blacksmith who spoke French, and was Catholic. In 1685 he purchased a very large tract of land consisting of thousands of acres, (this property now encompasses Athens and parts of Catskill and Coxsackie). In 1688, as the earliest European settler in the area, Jan decided to name the settlement he started Looneburgh. Or, later settlers named the property in his honor. The story is told both ways. The patent is still known by that name.

Apparently, when Jan built his house for his family in 1706, he built it to last.* According to wikipedia it is now known as one of the oldest extant buildings still standing in the state of New York. Although, if you do a search of a list of the oldest buildings in New York it is about 31 down from the top. But still, that is pretty darned old. The house is located in Athens, the exact address is 39 South Washington Street, on what is also New York State Rt. 385.

In 1932  an historic marker was placed outside the house, as you can see in the image above, which reads:


New York State Education Department

Jan’s place on the family tree is Gert’s 5th great grandfather, on her mother’s side. Gert actually descends from Jan twice, as her great-great grand mother Lena/Helena Van Loon is the daughter of Van Loon cousins.

*Although, technically, only one wall of the original 1706 structure remains unchanged.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Van_Loon_House

December 26, 1954 William Shepard To Parents


26 December 54

Dear Dick & Dad:

It is the lull between holidays. We had a cold christmas day with no snow. The package arrived OK and the presents were just fine. Thanks ever so much for the P.J’s as they were needed.

Work here at K-55 in Korea is much different than I have been doing. Im back to communications work and it isnt nearly as interesting as fighter aircraft operations. But it will get me home sooner. If I would have remained in Okinawa I’d come home in April. This way Ill make it in March. In fact I expect to leave Korea sometime during the last two weeks in February. There isnt much news from

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here. I just wanted you to know that I was still kicking. I should be getting my new assignment stateside in a few days of a few weeks at the most. When I know where Im going Ill sent another letter.

Try not to let the cold weather get you down. It is bothering me! No colds or runny nose but I just cant seem to keep warm.

Well, goodbye for now Ill write later.

Your Son

November 19, 1954 William Shepard To Parents

19 November 54

Dear Mother:

Have been moving about quite a bit so I havent been able to write much. Letters to Lois have been rather light. As you probably know I was supposed to be in Korea, but have been sent for a period of temporary duty to Okinawa – Pen is not too good so excuse the scratches.

The way things are going, I should be back in Korea about 10 December. And I hope to get my christmas boxes there. It is medium warm here on Okinawa – about 50º to 70º with the wind blowing constantly. It was beginning to get cold in Korea – down to freezing quite a bit.

As you mentioned in your last letter, the boys are growing up and I will probably notice a big change in them. Sure miss the little rascals. [apparently his daughter is of no interest]

Im very sorry to hear that Bess is having so much trouble. I hope that she is finished with it now. She certainly has enough trouble as it is.

We are on maneuvers here in Okinawa and I’ve been living in a tent & sleeping bag

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for the past week. There is about two more weeks to go.

So much work to do that I dont have much time to get homesick. But once in a while I do.

Flying is about normal. I finished my 2000th hour last month. I am assigned to the 67th Fighter Squadron now and it is quite some outfit. The squadron insignia is a rooster with a pair of boxing gloves.

We almost caught the last typhoon but it died out just before getting here. Would have been rough on the equipment out in the open like we are.

Dont know just when I’ll get to write agian. But Ill try not to make it too long.

Take care of yourself & tell Dad hello for me

September 6, 1954 William Shepard to parents

6 September

Dear Dick & Dad:

I suppose that you are still in Canada, so I’ll write there. Everything is going along normal. Work & flying as usual. Time goes by fairly fast. Now I am 1/2  the way  through my time.

There isn’t any news, but I wanted to let you know I was still kicking. The weather has turned cool, thank goodness. It was too hot in August 95 to 100° every day, and almost 100% humidity. However this month has been very pleasant.

The weather has turned cool, thank goodness. It was too hot in August 95 to 100° every day, and almost 100% humidity. However this month has been very pleasant.

We are finishing a three day holiday (Labor Day) and I have had plenty of rest. I’ve been playing chess and cribbage until I’m tired of it. Tomorrow I’m going up to the front lines again for several days, perhaps 8 or 10. It is for screwing in with the Army does. We understand what they do, we can get better close support with our fighter bombers. And two, it is a break in the monotony to go to a different place for a while.

And two, it is a break in the monotony to go to a different place for a while.

Hunting season starts here on October 1. Probably duckies and present. None of these

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Koreans have guns, so it’s all ours to hunt. I may get to get out a few times.

It is a good time to be in Ohio, during the autumn. Wish I could see it. Especially the trees. We only have a few scrubby ones in South Korea. Up north there are forests, but down here nothing but rice patties. And that your stink. I’ll never get homesick for this place.

It is a good time to be in Ohio, during the autumn. Wish I could see it. Especially the trees. We only have a few scrubby ones in South Korea. Up north there are forests, but down here nothing but rice patties. And that your stink. I’ll never get homesick for this place.

As I said before, I haven’t any news. So I’ll close for now. Right when you get time.

Your son Bill

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a small post to say that I am giving thanks to all my readers out there. I appreciate your feedback and hope I can continue to keep finding stories to share.

Also, I am having a few issues with my new website upgrade, so don’t be surprised if you can’t access it. I am working on it. — ALL FIXED! Although if you run into any weird glitches while visiting the site, let me know.