Crossing my fingers…

I had a goal today, it wasn’t a big one, but an important one. I needed to find a living Shepard descendant of William Shepard of Boston. The reason for the search is to contact them and try to convince them to participate in the Shepard surname DNA project. If the DNA matches grandfather’s, then the connection to the Westfield Shepards will no longer be speculation, but fact.

So, that said, I found a possible candidate. The letter is written and will be sent out tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Mental slow down…

‘Tis the time of year that things start slowing down, getting ready for the frigid and dreary winter. That includes me. It has been a few weeks since I touched my genealogy, being busy with life, etc.

But, I have been through my first batch of newspaper film for Parkersburg, West Virginia. And…have nothing of interest to report. Unfortunately this particular paper, at the time (1865-’66), reported very little news of interest regarding it’s citizens. It’s focus was mostly political. Which in and of itself can be very interesting, but doesn’t help much in my research focus.

One item that kept popping up in the paper over the year of coverage that I was skimming through, was the issue of drainage and sewage in the town. Apparently the local paper was finding it incomprehensible that the town wouldn’t clean up the stinky mess of sewage that kept appearing in certain sections of town, yet areas where the well-to-do resided were kept spic ‘n span.

I also have been double checking the Hamburg passengers lists regarding our three families on the JOHN side that came over in the 1800s.

1. JOHN, F.W and Henrietta – arrival 1852, indicates Alt Raden as ‘from’
2. JAHN, Cl. Aug – arrival 1855, indicates Freienwalde, Oberbarnim as ‘from’
3. ISSERSTEDT, F. W. and family – arrival 1855, indicates Wandersleben as ‘from’

Now ‘from’ can mean where they last resided or where they were born, it is not clear. But at least it is a good indicator of where one can continue research in Germany and Poland (in F.W.’s case).

Well that is it for now. Tomorrow I plan on being at the Neenah Country Fair promoting our genealogical society. Talk to ‘ya later.

Shepard update…

Just a short note to let you know that I have been working very diligently this weekend sorting out all the lines on this Shepard connection. In fact in using my separately created genealogy file for this problem I created a chart you can view at my flickr site. It has been a real hoot trying to untangle all the cousins that married each other in several of the generations. [Until I feel very confident of the connection, I won’t be adding this data to my regular family file.]

In a nutshell, assuming this connection correct, the Shepard line starts with an immigrant, William, from England arriving in the 1600s, the second generation settling in Westfield, Massachusetts and pretty much staying there until Henry and Huldah Shepard moved with their respective families, along with other relations, to Ohio.

Dont ignore your cousins…

One of the cardinal rules in genealogical research, is “Don’t ignore your cousins”. Too often family history researchers, especially newbies, tend to focus too much on their direct line during their research. Doing so can greatly decrease their chances of finding useful information that might help: knock down brick walls, find those missing pictures, get details on family they might otherwise never know.

Case in point.

It is very possible that I have found our mysterious Shepard progenitor. “How is this possible?”, you ask. Well I thank modern science and good old fashioned cousin searching.

Thanks to DNA we recently had a match between another Shepherd gentleman who is not a descendant of Hartley. This means that this Dr. John Shepherd and Grandfather are related very closely, genealogically speaking. But the question is, who is their common ancestor? Dr. John had in his research one generation further back than we did, to a John Shepherd born in New Jersey about 1783. Who was he in relation to Hartley? We didn’t know and further research hadn’t really turned up anything of use.

Cut to a different line. The Deem surname married into our Shepard line in West Virginia, there is a Deem Family site that I found last year, where I also found a picture purported to be of Susannah Smith Shepard, Hartley’s wife. On this site, Hartley and Susannah’s daughter, Sevilla, is listed because she married a gentleman by the name of Hiram Deem. Sevilla’s parents are listed, Hartley and Susannah, as are all four of her grandparents Henry Shepard and Huldah, and Joseph Smith and Catherine. I was curious how this person who put the information up on the Deem site knew who Hartley’s parents were, no one in our family had ever heard the names. When I tried to ask the poster where he got the information I received no response. So I gave up for a while.

Yesterday I had some time at work and decided to do a little Shepard research, as I do every couple of months. This time I decided to try the Henry and Huldah angle. Imagine my surprise when I got a hit. I had found a whole site uploaded by a Shepard descendant whose immigrant ancestor had started in Massachusetts. But in that data was a listing for Henry and Huldah Shepard along with his ancestors all the way back to merry old England. Not a mention of good ol’ Scotland.

Two items peaked my cautious interest in this site, after all this connection could be bogus. 1. There was mention of one generation where the children were split up due to the death of their father when they were very young. One child was sent to New Jersey – [hmmm – isn’t that where Dr. John’s ancestor was born?], the other was sent to Westfield, Massachusetts [our possible relations]. 2. Henry, while being born in Massachusetts, is said to have died in Ohio. I do know he was married in Ohio, I found a marriage notice for him and Huldah that was culled from the Marietta, Washington County, Ohio paper. Washington County is just below Monroe County, where Hartley is said to have been born.

So all in all very intriguing bits of information, that makes me smile in hopeful anticipation.

Of great interest, if true, is a link to the following site on Wikipedia: Gen. William Shepard this General, if a true connection, would be Hartley Shepard’s grandfather.

I have also found archival collections for this General Shepard at the Westfield Athenaeum Library. Unfortunately, we can’t get them to sent the collection here as we can with our Wisconsin Historical Society materials.

Yesterday I also finally made contact with Nick Deem, the gentleman who had the picture of Susannah Smith on his site along with the information on Hartley’s parents. According to Nick “The information and picture was handed down in my family. I am not sure which of my Mothers sisters or brothers had the picture. They have all passed on now.” But it seems that the information could very likely be correct, because there are no records in Ohio that can confirm this data and very little on Henry and Huldah to speak of, which makes it hard to imagine someone making the connection on a guess, or a whim.

So thanks to the help of cousins, we just might have found the break we were waiting for.

Now where is another Shepard cousin I can get some DNA from? More later…

The proof is in the pudding…

Recently Dale and I headed over to his cousin’s place on the water in Steven’s Point. Lovely view by the way. Jane is big on her roots and remembered me mentioning that my great grandparents Victor H. and Gertrude John lived in White Lake for a few years and he was a cashier at the White Lake State Bank (the one Dale said never existed). So when we arrived for the party, she showed me the little table in her basement where she keeps her White Lake memorabilia, one of these items was a small Golden Jubilee pamphlet, containing a little history of White Lake.

Short but sweet bank history…

Microfilm madness…

I did it again. I ordered more newspapers on microfilm because I am a glutton for punishment. But this time I ordered “The Parkersburg Daily Times,” a West Virginia paper from Wood County. I am now going to see if I can find any tidbits about the Shepards in the Wood County area. The first film I have requested covers the time period of the mid 1860s, so just after the war of the rebellion, also shortly after West Virginia actually became a state of it’s own. My fingers are crossed.

Scanning update…

Well, I have actually finished scanning in all of Alan’s family letters. Tomorrow I plan on uploading them to flickr for everyone to read at their leisure. In fact I decided to make all the letters I have uploaded to flickr available to anyone who wants to read them. That will make it easier for anyone to access them, not that people are rushing to look at these historical documents anyway, but I have done my part and no one can complain.

In my travels…

A week or so ago, Dale and I headed up north to White Lake, Wisconsin for a memorial service for one of his Aunts. After the service we were talking to his cousin Jane and she reminded us that the Depot Museum was open. So we decided to stop in for a look-see, especially as we donate to the museum to help keep it open.

Now my particular interest in going was a recent find in my V. H. and Gertrude John research that they lived in White Lake for at least 4 years. While there Victor was a cashier at the White Lake State Bank which he helped to start, probably due to the opening of the While Lake Mill, part of the Yawkey Bissell lumber industry. The Johns most likely knew the Yawkeys and Bissells when they lived in Wabeno in the early 1900s.

Dale didn’t believe me when I told him about the bank. But of course I insisted that it was so. A fact which was confirmed when we went to the museum and in the last room near the exit, nicely framed on the wall, was the official government document allowing the White Lake State Bank to start operating, with the date of 1921, a date which corresponds with my research perfectly. It was a very fun and unexpected find.

Scanning project…

I finally finished scanning all of Dick and Dad’s letters. I haven’t uploaded the latest and last batch to flickr yet, but it will be seen there soon.

The next part of the project are Alan’s letters. As he was a prolific and verbose writer, it will definitely take a while to get through this batch. However, I am looking very much forward to reading them. This will be a wonderful way to get to know the Uncle who died way too young.

Modern communication…

Just in case there is some confusion about all these recent invites, here are a few bits of information for all my loyal followers.

This blog was started because the MyFamily site was requesting money to continue my account. I tried Geni.com, but really did not like the set-up, so I canceled that account. This blog will be much easier to deal with, with the added benefit that those who read it don’t have to feel all guilty that they aren’t contributing. Now you can keep up on the news of my cool new finds with no stress.

I have a flickr account ‘bumanns’, where you will find a large majority of the family pictures uploaded, along with personal letters.

The family tree is here (my own personal web site).

So hopefully folks will find this helpful and occasionally interesting.