Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!

I have been interested in family history for awhile now.    It's amazing how the seemingly small day to day things in life become incredibly interesting when you find out about them.........many many years later!

I decided to start sharing some of the things I run into!    

By now, I have thousands of people in my family tree. With a group that large, I figure that there has to be someone in there with a birthday, anniversary, death, or something going on for every day of the year!    I also found an "On This Day" report in one of the programs I use which will help me find someone for each day.  So - I decided I'll highlight a different person each post, who has a life event on that day.

With that in mind, I'll start this off on January 1, talking about my great grand uncle, Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd.

Rollins Don Carlos (Carl) Shepherd is pictured above with his 2nd wife, Hattie Mae Kinnamon and 7 of his 19 children - Ruth, Wilma, Elma, Martha, Alvin, Warren and Floyd.  In addition to 19 children, he was step-father to 3 more kids.   Quite the big family!   The baby (Warren) in this picture was born in 1929 - he looks pretty young - so my best guess is that this picture is from 1929 or 1930.   

Carl was born January 1, 1885 in Beaver, Utah.  He spent his early years in Utah at first in Beaver, and then in Vernal.  In 1889 word began to spread around the area that good opportunities could be found in the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming, and the family moved there in 1893.  The Shepherds were farmers and all the children worked on the farm, and the boys sometimes worked on other farms or cut and hauled wood to help support the family.     

In 1904, Carl married Mary Ann Abercrobie Caldwell, who had 3 children.   He was 19, she was 28.  They had 6 children - Electa, Bertha, Elizabeth, Clara, Rollins Don Carlos III, and Lyman.  

As Carl's father,  Rollins Don Carlos Sr., aged, he became angry and violent.  Rollins Sr. was 30 years older than his mother and the youngest of their children was born in 1904 - the same year Carl married his first wife.  The boys had to watch out for themselves and the others because when their father was upset, he would come after them with shovels, buckets, etc..

In 1904, Carl's father, Rollins Don Carlos Shepherd I, filed divorce papers,  mortgaged the ranch and transferred all of his assets to his wife, Elizabeth Talmer Roberts.     Lizzie took the money and moved the family around Wyoming, Montana and Colorado for the next several years.  Carl's father spent several years away from the family, living with his brother in Utah and when he returned to Wyoming, was in and out of the family's life until he died in 1909.

Conditions were often poor for the family, with Lizzie occasionally working in camps as a cook, and the boys working on various farms or logging and hauling wood to make money to support the group.  As the children got older and married, they settled down in various locations in the area.  Carl and Annie left with Annie in 1904 and moved around with her most of the time.

Carl's first wife, Mary Ann, died in 1915 due to complications resulting from Lyman's birth.   Carl's mother Lizzie and his sister Vailie came to help with the large family.    It became apparent that Carl would not be able to care for the family alone and the children were farmed out - some going to the oldest child - Carl's step daughter, Brazillia, and the youngest children going to live with Lizzie.    Electa and Bertha stayed with Carl.

Carl registered for the WW1 draft in 1915, and his draft registration form describes him as tall and slender with blue eyes and brown hair.

In 1916, Carl married Hattie Mae Kinnamon.   They had 13 more children - Audrey, Martha, Ruth, Floyd, Elma, Alvin, Wilma, Warren, Merrell, Beulah, Kenneth, Alice and Norman.   The family settled down near Olathe, Colorado.    Carl hauled coal, and farmed, and later the family moved to Montrose, Colorado.      He was a devout member of the Mormon church and was in charge of Sunday School, and the house was used to host the missionaries and hold "cottage meetings" for other members of the church in the area.

Carl's daughter, Elma, wrote a short biographical sketch of her father - filled with pleasant stories of lemonade and fried chicken, canning peaches, etc..    But she also indicates there was a dark side to Carl.

Elma writes that her father was a completely different man at church, then he was at home.   Away from church he did not speak often to his family, especially when angry, and had, what she described as an "terrible temper."  His family lived in fear with repeated threats that he would kill himself.  

Carl died in 1940, in Montrose, Colorado, the same year his youngest child was born.   I have not been able to find verification of how Carl died, Elma indicates he committed suicide.     

While I am able to document dates, and locations, the story part of this comes from 2 primary sources - a biographical sketch written about Carl by his daughter Elma in 1926, and a family history about Elizabeth Talmer Roberts.   

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