Transcriber’s notes: I was getting bored with Herman Shepard’s letters to his parents, so decided to see if I could find other letters from and to other folks. Well I actually found some 1940s letter William/Bill sent to his brother Herman that are not dated, but I know they are from the ’40s because of the paper he used, the same he was using for letters to his parents during the time.
So now for something slightly different.
Dear Herman and Ruth
Just a line because I don’t have to much time. I like it here fine. The climate is hot and sunny. We go swimming and have sports here. Its like heaven compared to an enlisted mans quarters. We have luxurious hotels and eat at Miami’s famous restaurants. I have been associating with a better class of men than the usual run of army selecties [that doesn’t sound at all snobbish] and that won’t hurt me any. I am young to be here the average age is 30. I think that I’ll go further to school after I get through here. One or more of the following 1. Aviation Meterology – Mass. College 2.. Advance Reremantical[?] Eng. – Dayton O. <–have no idea what this class might be 3. Communications – Fort Monmouth 4. Flight Training – Randlolph Field possibly meteorology and flight training
[page 2] We have just finished our first weeks work and my average is 95. You have to stay on the beam here because 85 is failing, and 20% fail out of here. We have to change uniforms once and most the time twice a day. Enough about me.
How is everything in Westerville? I wish I were back for an hour. Id look over the town, get Lois & K. W. and beat it back to Florida. What a state. Ill never live in Ohio again after seeing the South east coast. Write me the news. So long for now.
I like how he says ‘enough about me’, asks Herman how everything is, and then proceeds to talk about himself again! LOL
Happy to hear you are settled at the cabin. Just be sure that you don’t start any more construction jobs. I’m rather sorry to hear that other people are building at the beach I had the idea but you know how it is.
Lois is probably written you about her coming over. I think she will leave Ohio just after October 1. At least that is what they tell me here.
We have a brand new three bedroom apartment in Kaiserslautern. It is the nicest I’ve seen in these parts. We will probably move on the base next spring.
The beer and food taste so good here I have a hard time keeping my waist line down. I weigh the same I did when I left Ohio 200 pounds.
We will send you some pictures when Louis gets the camera over.
Enjoy your vacation north and I hope that Florida is warm this winter. I’ll try to write next month, although my pen isn’t very long!
Dearest: Had a bad day today. Now we dont dare have any. The cadet standards are up to pre-war levels and we havent a snow-balls chance in hell now. Only 50% remain out of the group now. I expect that I may go too as I know my flying isnt the best, while not the worst. I fly to conservative my instructor says. Well perhaps I am a bit settle down. I cant get excited over it. I just enjoy it and plod along. If flying can be called plodding.
I just want you to be prepared if they do pull up my number. If they do Ill probably go to a reassignment center and then God knows what. One thing I’m sure of. If I do get transferred out of this I want you, If it looks as if I might go over, to spend a few weeks with me. Leave the children at my folks. The thing is to be mentally prepared if something should happen.
Dont let all this scare you. I am going to give them a run for their money. Dammit all, I may not be 18 years old, but Im not hoary and grey yet.
[page 2] I enjoy flying and can fly and well too. I know it. My acrobatics are good. Where I get into trouble is trying to do things my way instead of the armys. for instance in a spin today I held the rudder a bit longer than usuall because the spin seemed faster. The instructor didnt like it at all. Oh well Ill try to straighten out.
How are things going in Dayton? Loe[?] is a working girl. Are you taking over her household duties? OK by me except I draw a line after 8:00 P.M. in the evenings. Dont try to slip in an early one (as if you would). I was only foolin Dear. I start to write something down to kid you and it seems to be off-color when its in writing. Guess Im am off-color character. Im strictly in a mean mood tonight so Id better close. I might eat you up. Not a bad idea Hmmm. Nice dish anyhow.
I love you always. Can you love a nitwit? If you can we’ll get along.
Your Bill P.S. Love to KW & Susie. (her dress is still undone as yet.)
Lois has probably kept you advised of all the news- so Ill confine my letter to our plans for this summer. -Our plans are subject to your wishes so let us know if anything conflicts with your schedule.
We will leave here July 5th and drive directly to Thessalon, taking ten to twelve days and stopping at Couer d’Lane, Idaho- Yellowstone Nat Park, Grand Teton Nat Park, Mt. Rushmore Nat Park and across Wisconsin, to the straits and to Thessalon. We will spend the last two weeks in July with you in Canada & then visit with Lois folks in Westerville for several weeks, then go to Montgomery.
I have written Herman & Ruth. I suggested that they try to be in Canada
[page 2] with us if they could. it would be nice to have the family together again. There will be no shortage of sleeping space. we are bringing six sleeping bags and air matress!
We bought a camping outfit-tent-stove & the works. We plan to camp all the way aross the U.S. We will carry it in the boat with Bonnie and the motor.
The way you can tell when we get there is by the green boat coming across the bay with six dirty characters in it. We may stop to wash up before we get there! We plan to arrive in Canada 15 to 17 July.
Please let us know if this is OK. We look forward to seeing all of you.
I hope that the weather is better in Thessalon than at Moses Lake right now. All day it has been drizzling a cold rain. We cant complain too much, as it seldom rains.
I have been busy building a 5 foot high picket fence around our yard to keep Bonnie & the boys in. Hope to have it finished in a few weeks.
Havent been doing much fishing or boating since we came back from vacation. Two weeks of it must have worn me out. We did have a wonderful time though. Lis has written you about it, i’m sure.
[page 2] I wonder what time you are going south this year? Ill try to get a cross- county flight and come down for a week-end when you get settled.
The children are getting ready for school now. K W & Sue to high school. Dave to 2nd grade. Alan will go to Kindergarten. We dont want to push him too much. Tomorrow Lois & I are taking him to a hospital in Tacoma Wash. to have another eye examiniation. We hope that an operation will not be necessary.
I hope you & dad are feeling well Dick. Ill close now & get a letter off to H. O. (Ill shock him too).
Ill answer your letter because soon at Craig, Ill be too busy – and I do want to thank you for sending on the Guns.- We received the next letter too – telling about disregarding the telephone bill.
I called Herman the other evening to tell him to bring me a new 25 H.P. Our Johnson is running fine but remote controls dont work so well on it. And the whole family has been water skiing. It takes a real good motor.
I suppose that you have finished fixing the boat by now,
page 2 and are ready to go north. I think Herman & Ruth are coming down in June. It will be hot, but not so much as July & August.
Went fishing today I we caught a flounder & a sea bass – had them for dinner tonite and they were good. We also caught about 20 hard tails – a fish like a mackerel. Only the fight harder than a bass. They weigh about 1 1/2 pounds.
When you come down this fall it will be fine weather and good fishing too. Well, Ill close now.- See you later
A couple of years ago I found the coolest newspaper article when researching William Shepard of Westfield, Massachusetts. It has always been in the back of my mind, waiting, I guess, for me to finally say “Hey, I need to blog about this.”
So, finally, here I am blogging about this.
On and off for about 15 years, William tried his hand at politics by running for the office of Representative, or Lieutenant Governor, from 1789-1804. It took nine tries before he was finally elected as Representative of Massachusetts, Western District, in 1796 (and again in 1797, 1798, his last win was in 1800).
In May of 1797 he apparently stood up in session and made reply to a speech given by President John Adams a few short weeks earlier. His words were sent to the newspaper by ‘A Customer.’ (Maybe this was done by William himself, to help sway the voters back home in his favor for the next election.) By the way, he was a Federalist.2
…The observations of the Hon. William Shepherd in the House of Representatives, May 27, on the reported answer to the President’s Speech…
Mr. Shepherd did not rise from his seat with an expectation of throwing much light on the subject under debate; but being a new member, he conveyed it his duty to come forward and announce his political principles to his constituents and to the world, and to make some remarks and observations on the subject under consideration that he might be able to justify his own conduct for thus doing,
“Sir, said he, I do not come forward with an intention to criminate the government of the United States, for in general I believe it has been wisely conducted and well administered. I do not come forward to make researchers into the police of the government of Great Britain, neither do I come forward prejudiced against the republic of France, nor do I come forward with any prepossessed prejudiced against any of the members of this House, for they are the greater part of them entire strangers to me; but Sir, the President of the United States in his speech has informed us that there is an unhappy dispute existing between the republic of France and the United States1, and on that account there is a report Sir, on your honor’s table, which was designed for an answer to his speech, but objection has been made, and an amendment is proposed by the honorable member from Virginia—the question is before your committee, whether we shall admit of the amendment, first; Sir, I will take a retrospective review of the conduct of both nations and remark how France first came to be connected with the United States—because it has been hinted by some gentlemen, that France had no motives to induce her to take an active part with us—but pure benevolence and gratitude to help the poor Americans in their helpless and forlorn situation; but Sir, did we hear any thing from France in ’75, even in ’76 when we wre obliged to fly in every direction before the forces of Great Britain asked and barefooted—so, they did not come to our assistance. In ’77 we were more successful, the face of our affairs was materially changed, we had the good fortune to take and capture a whole British army, but as yet Sir, we received no assistance from France. In ’78 in the opening of the campaign we saw no French to assist us—what did we do at the action at Monmouth, we kept our ground as least in spite of all the force of Great Britain—By this time France had come into an alliance with us, but Sir, let us make a little pause here and enquire whether France had not some motive besides mere goodness to the Americans.
Was it no inducement to France to lop off so considerable a branch of the British government as the United States were —and weaken that government—had ever a nation a stronger motive to induce them to step into our succor.
I will only say, that in the year ’78 Count d’Estaing, planned with others an expedition against Rhode Island. In the operation of which the fleet under his command, was unsuccessful, and he was obliged to quit the harbor, and left the army of the United States on the Island, in a dangerous situation.
I mean not—by making these observations to criminate any one, for I will admit that it was all owing to misfortune, and the fate of war; I shall make no observations until the year ’81, here I acknowledge that the French army and navy of France was of great and essential service to us in the capture of Cornwallis, and I am willing to acknowledge that I felt thankfulness and the deepest gratitude towards that nation of any in the world, from their first alliance with us, to the close of the war with Great Britain. I shall now observe the conduct of France in their own nation—soon after they left America they began a reform in their own government—no man on earth rejoiced more than myself while they were struggling for their just right against the nations of Europe. I rejoiced at every victory they gained and mourned at their defeats; but sir, if they had closed here, I should have rejoiced with them to this moment; happy of us had they stopped here and all Europe besides. I will now observe and make one or two remarks on the conduct of Great Britain towards America at this time—Great Britain complained of our conduct towards them—at the same time they were committing depredations and spoliations on our navigation—and what was the cry of many of the people of this country at that time—join France and go to war with them, how can you bear to have the American flag insulted and degraded; but what was the measure taken by the Executive? why he sent an Envoy Extraordinary and made a treaty with Great Britain—and agreed on the friendly principles on which we should settle all our differences, this however gives uneasiness to France, and it will be well to make some enquiry what are the substantial reasons for this uneasiness, are they not because we did not enter into war with Great Britain , here the executive part of government is called into question for their conduct; will it not be reasonable and just that we should find them guilty of a breach of their trust before we condemn them.
Has any one been able to pint out and show wherein they have gone beyond their powers which the constitution clothes them with. I have heard of none:
But Sir, what measure had been taken by the Executive to remove the complaints of France, have we not pursued the same course which was taken with England, have we not sent a minister to them in order to remove their complaints and settle with them on the most amicable terms. But how has he been replied? why, rejected with insult and they would not even listen to the voice of accommodation.
Several gentlemen have reproached us with ingratitude and speak of it as the most heinous sin a man can commit, I admit it to be one of the greatest sins, but where have we been guilty, have we taken away their property, have we unsubtle them in the person of their minister. Then why are we to be drawn to a confession of guilt when we know we are innocent—again let me ask where is our courage, our magnanimity, our confidence, if we dare not say of them what we know to be the truth; shall we not say they are wrong when we know they are wrong.”
Some gentlemen have said that the speech is a declaration of war, it does not read so to me, that it is sounding the war whoop, I have heard no war whoop, I have heard nothing hostile but against our own government, and gentlemen who have endeavored to criminate the Executive have proved their incompetence, they have not been able to produce evidence of a single fault, they are driven to act like the men who were brought as witnesses to condemn our favor, their testimony is nought and they are driven to make any outcry of crucify him, crucify him, and take his blood on their own heads, in order to get him given up into their own power. Are we in doing this, acting either wisely or prudently? I think we are doing neither.
He expressed the degree of satisfaction it would give him to find a more general unanimity in the house, but he despaired of seeing it, on this account he would prefer the report, to the amendment, not but what he was willing for the sake of conciliation to alter some things in the address. He hoped they would agree to put the country in a state of defense as the best best of avoiding hostility, this was an old adage, but it was as true as it was old. There was nothing he dreaded so much as going to war either with Great Britain or France. He knew his constituents were to a man opposed to war, he knew they would relinquish every thing but one in order to preserve peace—that is their independence. That would eternally disgrace them, and they were determined never to be disgraced—He knew his constituents would never be induced to quarrel with the government, and he was certain they were pleased with its administration—he could also assure the committee they would concur very readily in any measures Congress might adopt on this trying occasion.
William Shepard – speech
The most likely reason that it took so long for William to win an election, or even get votes (in several earlier runnings he had only 1 vote), was because of his being instrumental in the defeat of Shay’s Rebellion. The people of Massachusetts had long memories, and vindictive feelings about his role in the event. In fact anonymous neighbors, and bullies, threatened and assaulted himself and his family for years afterward:
excited against me the keenest Resentments of the disappointed Insurgents, manifested in the most pointed Injurys, such as burning my Fences, injuring my Woodlands, by Fire, beyond a Recovery for many Years – wantonly & cruelly butchering two valuable Horses, whose ears were cut off and Eyes bored out before they were killed ~ insulting me personally with the vile Epithet of the Murderer of my Brethren, and, through anonimous Letters, repeated by threatening me with the Destruction of my House and Family by Fire.- which kind of Injuries I occasionally experience even to this day.
There were others though that respected his willingness to serve his community, in many local offices, and defend the state of Massachusetts “at all hazards.” They understood that you don’t give in to terrorists, which is exactly what the Shay’s Rebellion participants were.
One of these men recalled his presence and military bearing at militia exercises and drills, which inspired admiration and respect:
When I recall his large, imposing figure, bedecked with his trusty sword and crimson sash…and heard the whispers ‘there’s the general,’ I remember the awe, notwithstanding his genial face, with which he inspired me.3
The haters were in the minority long enough for him to be elected four times as a representative of Massachusetts.
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.
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.