Isabel (circa 1753 – 1840/1850), Wife of Michael McDowell – 52 Ancestors #278

We’ve gathered quite a bit of information about Michael McDowell, here, here and here, but not so about his wife, Isabel. It appears that Isabel lived to be at least 87 years old and possibly as old as 97 years. That’s amazing, even today – but especially remarkable at a time when there were no antibiotics and childbirth carried the threat of death every year and a half for 20 or 25 years of a woman’s life.

Not to mention that Isabel appears to have crossed the mountains moving to a new home twice in her life, once when she was about 30 and again another quarter century later. Not an easy trip under the best of circumstances and the best of circumstances probably didn’t exist.

Isabel, spelled Isbell, is only mentioned one time – ever. If it was not for the deed that she signed with her husband, Michael, on February 16, 1793 in Wilkes County, North Carolina, selling their 75 acres of land on the Blackwater River in Franklin County, Virginia – we wouldn’t even know her name.

Michael McDowell Blackwater 1793 sale

Isbel signed with an X, three times, indicating that she could not read or write – and neither could Michael who signed with an X as well.

We don’t really know, positively, that Isbel, or Isabel, was Michael’s wife before or after that time.

We presume, and that’s a really dangerous word in genealogy, that Isabel was the mother of Michael’s children – including Mary McDowell, Michael’s daughter, born about 1785 in Wilkes County, 8 years before “Isbell” signed that deed.

We don’t find the name Isabel, by any spelling, among any of the children of Michael’s known children. But then again, we don’t know who all of Michael’s children were, nor do we know who all of his grandchildren were.

What we do know is that Michael was born about 1747, according to his Revolutionary War Pension application, and began having children when he lived in Bedford County, Virginia.

Who did Michael marry? We have no idea. Marriage records exist during that time in Bedford County, but Michael isn’t there. Of course, those records may be incomplete, but there’s no McDowell and no Isabel or Isbel.

Michael’s son, Edward was born possibly as early as 1773, but likely in either 1774 or 1775, which tells us that Isabel was probably born around 1753, assuming she was Michael’s only wife and the mother of all of his children.

When Edward was young, Isabel spent time alone in their cabin, without Michael at home. I hope she had other family members nearby.

Michael fought in the Revolutionary War in parts of 1777, 1778 and 1779. Michael reveals in his pension application that he initially marched to the lead mines and built a fort, taking at least 6 months, probably beginning about April 1777. After returning home, he was summoned again and “joined with some neighbors and friends with the citizens of the country calling themselves spies, to protect women and children from the skelping knife of the savage.”

Michael marched off to war at least 2 additional times, coming home in-between.

During the many months that Michael was gone, Isabel would have had to function alone on the frontier – not knowing if she would ever see her husband again.

It’s likely that Isabel was pregnant and probably had a second or perhaps even a third child during Michael’s 3 tours of duty. One of those children may have been their son, also named Michael, and other children may have not survived.

Whether Michael was present at home or not, life had to go on.

Isabel was responsible for cultivating the fields, planting seeds or tobacco plants, depending on what they were growing, tending animals and harvesting crops if necessary – not to mention taking care of toddlers. There was no “good time” for Michael to be gone – nor was Isabel ever safe.

Michael did eventually return home. Isabel must have been incredibly relieved. Finally, they could actually begin to plan their lives without the spectre of war constantly hanging over their heads.

On September 24, 1783, Michael bought 75 acres of land on the north side of the Blackwater River in Bedford County where they were living according to the tax list of 1782.

In 1783, Michael owned 2 horses and 4 cows, but in 1784, he was no longer on the tax list of Bedford County. We do find a Michael McDowell in Botetourt County, but then he’s gone from there too.

Michael is absent for a couple of years, but on February 4, 1786, Michael McDowell bought 161 acres of land from John Hall Sr. in Wilkes County, North Carolina characterized as “the plantation where Michael McDowell now lives.”

We know Michael was already living on this land at that time, but we don’t know how long he had been there.

Michael and Isabel didn’t sell their land in Virginia until 1793 from Wilkes County, when Isabel signed as his wife. Were they unsure about staying in Wilkes County? By the time they sold their Virginia land, they had been landowners in Wilkes County for at least 7 years and possibly as long as 9.

About Those Halls

I almost hate to say this, but I’ve wondered for some time if Isabel was a Hall. This is speculation, so please, please do NOT run over to your tree and add Hall as her surname.

It’s equally as likely that Michael married Isabel who was not a Hall in Bedford County, Virginia and was married to her for his entire life. Still, I feel compelled to at least look at Michael’s relationship with the Halls and the possibility that Isabel was, herself, a Hall.

Michael is heavily involved with the Hall family in Wilkes County. The Halls began entering land in 1778 on Mulberry Creek. Wilkes County Genealogy Society writes about the Hall family, here. WeRelate provides information about the family of Thomas Hall of Colonial Virginia, here.

Not only does Michael McDowell purchase land from the Halls, he fights with them as well.

No one fights as much as people who are related.

On January 24, 1786, Michael McDowell, along with Owen Hall posts a bastardy bond for William Profit who was charged with begetting a bastard child on Ann Hooper or Hoper. Both Michael and Owen signed with an X.

In November 1786, Michael is referred to in a deed between Owen and Robert Hall for 156 acres on Andrew Vannoy’s line, Mickel (sic) McDowell’s corner and the line between Hall and McDowell.” This confirms that they are neighbors.

In 1787 on the tax list, Michael has in his household 1 white male age 21-60, 2 males under 21 or over 60 and one white female. The man 21-60 would be Michael himself. There are only two children, both males?

  • If Edward was born in 1773, where are the children born between 1773 and 1787? That’s 15 years and only two surviving children? Isabel would have born in approximately 1753 or earlier if Edward was born in 1773.
  • If James McDowell who witnessed a deed in 1801 is the son of Michael and Isabel, he would have been born about 1779, so that would be the a second male.
  • Son John was born about 1782 or 1783, possibly in Virginia which would be a third male.
  • Son Michael witnesses a deed in 1799, so he would have been born before 1778, a fourth male.

According to these calculations, there should have been 4 sons living with Michael and Isabel in 1787. Where are the other boys?

In 1787, Michael is in court for a trespass case brought by the state. The same jury is ordered to hear Michael’s case as is hearing one between Owen Hall and John Hall Senior and wife, a “case for words” found in favor of Owen. The court then moved Michael’s case to the civil docket and finds him guilty as charged. Those cases seem to be connected.

Did the Hall family come from Bedford County, or an adjacent county? Where were they before Wilkes? There are Halls in Bedford County, but that certainly doesn’t mean they are the same Hall family.

However, in a letter dated 1782 from Henry Innes of Bedford County, Virginia to Ralph Smith of “The Pocket,” he says, “There is a large bull in this neighborhood which was formerly the property of Hezekiah Hall.” The 1782 Bedford County tax list includes both Owen and Hezekiah Hall as well as John Hall Jr. and Sr., two Williams and a Robert Hall. In 1773, we first discover Owen Hall on the Pittsylvania County, Virginia Tax list, so he appears to be about the same age as Michael McDowell.

That’s VERY interesting.

Michael McDowell’s’ father, also named Michael, spent time in Halifax County, adjacent Pittsylvania as well, but at least 20 years before Owen was found in Pittsylvania County.

It’s also possible that Michael was a widower when he moved to Wilkes County, or became a widower shortly thereafter?

By April 1785 in Wilkes County, Owen Hall was selling land to John Shephard on Mulberry Creek that runs with the lines of Owen Hall and Jesse Hall.

In 1790, Michael McDowell continued his involvement with Owen Hall when the state prosecuted Michael McDowell, Owen Hall and William Abshers who on July 20, 1790 “did beat, wound and ill treat Betty Wooten.”

Wow. I can’t help but wonder if they had been drinking. I also wonder what Isabel had to say to Michael. I sure hope she wasn’t on the receiving end of that kind of treatment.

Wooten Creek is a small creek feeding into Mulberry Creek near where the Hall, Absher, Vannoy and McDowell families lived, just south of Hall Mountain.

Isabel Hall Mountain.png

In the 1790 census, Owen Hall was Michael McDowell’s neighbor and probably about 40 years old. Robert Hall was Michael’s neighbor on the other side, probably about the same age. John, Jesse and William Hall live a few houses away.

Michael McDowell in the census has 1 male over 16, 4 males under 16 and 2 females. This tells us they have 4 sons and one daughter.

In July 1792, the court granted Michael McDowell permission to rebuild his mill. I wish they had told us what happened, but I’m guessing a fire. It would have had to be either fire, flood or tornado.

We know there was an arson in the neighborhood in 1789 when John Roberts burned the cabin of Braddock Harris and his wife Rachel Hickerson. The Hickerson family lived slightly south on Mulberry Creek. Arsons did happen, and it’s certainly possible. It seems the entire neighborhood was feuding during this timeframe, judging from the court cases.

On July 23, 1792, a deed was executed between Owen Hall and Robert Hall for 115 pounds, 156 acres adjacent Andrew Vannoy’s line, Michael McDowell’s corner, line between Hall and Michael McDowell including the land Owen Hall bought of John Hall Sr., witness Jacob McGrady, signed Owen X Hall, page 269.

I wish I knew if John Hall Sr. was Owen’s father, but there are no clues.

In February 1793, Michael McDowell and Isabel sold their land in Virginia. Perhaps they needed the money to pay bills given that their mill was out of commission. Or maybe they needed the funds to rebuild the mill. Note that today on Mulberry Creek, very near this location, we find Halls Mills.

In 1799, Michael sold his land to the local preacher, Jacob McGrady who lived just north of Hall Mountain and whose wife was Amiah, reportedly born about 1760 in Bedford County, Virginia, daughter of Owen Hall. Michael signed the deed but Isabel is glaringly absent. The property is located on Mulberry Creek, abuts Robert Hall’s line and is witnessed by Michael and Edward McDowell as well as Robert Hall. However, no mill is mentioned.

It’s difficult to deduce much about the relationship between the McDowell family and the Halls since they are clearly neighbors. Specifically, it looks like Michael is literally surrounded by Hall men.

Following that 1799 sale, Michael officially owned no land. How did the family earn a living? In 1799, Michael is shown with 200 acres but there are no deeds. Perhaps he was renting or we have an unrecorded deed.

In the 1800 census, Michael was 53 years old, Isabel is apparently still alive, even though her signature was absent on the 1799 deed, given that a female over age 45 is living in the household. Additionally, they have 2 males age 0-10, 1 female 10-16 and 2 females 0-10. It looks like the older sons have left the nest, but we don’t know where they are.

On November 23, 1805, a deed of conveyance occurs between Owen Hall, Russell Co., VA, and Robert Hall, 60 pounds for 156 acres, Andrew Vannoy line, Michael McDowell corner, marked line between Hall and McDowell, Witness William Abshire, Hezekiah Hall and James Quyth (?) Signed Owen Hall, page 287

Owen Hall moved north too, apparently.

December 5, 1805, a deed between Robert Hall and John Abshire, 150 pounds, 156 acres, Andrew Vannoy line, Michael McDowells corner marked line between said Hall and McDowell. Wit Jacob McGrady, William McGrady and Owen X McGrady. Signed Robert x Hall

Claiborne County, Tennessee

In 1809, Mary McDowell married William Harrell, the neighbor’s son. Harrell was spelled Harrold at the time and the family lived on Harrold Mountain, just to the east. Within the year, Michael, and presumably Isabel, along with most of their children left for Claiborne County, Tennessee. Mary McDowell and William Harrell moved with Michael too.

A younger Michael McDowell, presumably Michael’s son, stayed in Wilkes County, but the rest of the McDowell family left for the Powell River on the border of Claiborne County, Tennessee and Lee County, Virginia.

As Michael and Isabel packed up the wagon to set out over those mountains for Tennessee, Michael would have been 63 years of age and Isabel wasn’t far behind. Given that four children were born between 1790 and 1800, we can infer that Isabel would have had her last child about 1797 or 1798, suggesting she was born about 1754 which is in line with Edward McDowell having been born about 1773.

After arriving in Claiborne County, Michael McDowell settled on land named Slanting Misery. I’ve always wondered why they chose that land, because it truly was slanted and miserable, both. Or maybe it was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. They were certainly used to mountains from living in Wilkes County, so maybe Slanting Misery simply felt like home.

Slanting misery panorama

The 1810 census is missing, but the 1810 tax list in Lee County, Virginia, on the Powell River, shows Michael and two of his sons.

Four year later, in 1814, Michael begins claiming and amassing land in Claiborne County, just across the border from Lee County, beside his son-in-law, William Harrell who was married to his daughter, Mary McDowell.

Sons John and William McDowell live beside and claim land adjacent Michael as well.

Unfortunately, the 1820 census is lost too, but in 1830, a female is living with Michael, age 70-80, so born 1750-1760. That surely looks like Isabel.

In 1840, a female age 80-90 is living with Mary and William Herrell and it appears that Michael may have been living with the rather unfriendly preacher, Nathan McDowell.

It’s worth noting that two McDowell males, Nathan S. McDowell and John P. McDowell, clearly with ties to Michael McDowell based on deeds transferred to them “for love” are probably too young to be children of Michael and Isabel. It’s possible that these males were grandchildren of Michael and Isabel, especially given that we don’t have a full accounting of their children.

Children

In summary, the children attributed to Michael and Isabel are as follows:

  • Michael McDowell born between 1774-1778, either dead or gone from Wilkes County by 1820. (I’m confident of this relationship, but Michael is not confirmed as Michael’s son.)
  • Edward McDowell born possibly as early as 1773 or as late as 1780 (confirmed)
  • John McDowell born 1782 or 1783 (confirmed)
  • Mary McDowell born 1787 (confirmed)
  • Luke McDowell born circa 1792 (confirmed)
  • William McDowell born circa 1795 (confident, but not genetically confirmed)
  • Daughter born between 1790-1800 (no further information)
  • Daughter born between 1790-1800 (no further information)

Nathan and John P. McDowell are unlikely to be Isabel’s children, although it’s not impossible, given that Isabel was born about 1753 or possibly slightly earlier. If born in 1753, Isabel would have been 44 in 1797 and 49 in 1802.

There are two sons born between 1790 and 1800 as well – one of which could be Nathan.

Based on their transactions and activities, Nathan and John P. certainly appear to be related to the family in some fashion. I’m betting on grandsons, possibly through son Michael who stayed in North Carolina. A persistent rumor exists that the son, Michael McDowell, died on September 3, 1823 in Stokes County and is buried in Winston-Salem. A Billion Graves entry shows us a stone that says the Michael who died was in the 42nd year of his age, which would put his birth in 1781. I’m not convinced that this Michael is the Michael who was the son of Michael McDowell of Wilkes County, but it is a possibility..

  • Nathan S. McDowell born 1797 could be Isabel’s son or possibly a grandson or related in some other way. Nathan did not live close to Michael, roughly 20 miles away, and had no children, so this can never be proven genetically one way or another.
  • John P. McDowell born about 1802 is probably not Isabel’s son, especially since John born about 1782 is proven to be Michael’s son. John P. is probably a grandson or related in some other way.

Without documentation that doesn’t exist today, we’ll never know for sure.

DNA

Mary McDowell’s mitochondrial DNA is haplogroup U5b2b1a1, inherited directly from her mother’s matrilineal line. Of course, we’re presuming here that since Mary was born in 1785 in North Carolina that indeed she is the daughter of Isabel McDowell whose birth surname is unknown.

U5b2b1a1 is found mostly in the British Isles, although with some mutations, also in Scandinavia and central Europe.

Given that we first find Isabel in (probably) Bedford County, Virginia, it’s likely that she either descended from the Scotch-Irish population, Germanic settlers or from colonial English stock. We need more testers before we can draw any conclusions, although there are matches to a few families in this region in the right timeframe.

Isabel Mito map.png

We find Mary’s earliest known ancestor migration map matches scattered across the rather traditional migration path, so nothing unusual here.

Autosomal DNA

I was really hoping to find a smoking gun, or maybe a smoking Hall in my own DNA matches that might suggest that Isabel was a Hall.

I have neither ThruLines nor Theories of Family Relativity that suggest Halls, although Isabel is 6 generations back in my tree.

Looking to sift out more information, I used two wonderful tools which were both inconclusive.

First, I ran the Genetic Affairs cluster analysis along with tree reconstruction and didn’t find anything suggestive of a Hall connection. I was hoping for a fortuitous tree reconstruction, but it was not to be had unfortunately.

I then utilized DNAGedcom.com’s service that obtains the direct line ancestors in the trees of my matches, and indeed I do have a significant number of DNA matches with Hall ancestors out of Wilkes County.

The problem, of course, is that the Hall family remained in Wilkes and were neighbors of my family members with the following surnames:

  • McDowell
  • Herrell/Harrold/Herrald
  • McNiel
  • Shepherd
  • Hickerson
  • Vannoy

It’s very likely that I share a different line with these people who have Hall in their trees. In fact, I do share multiple ancestors with two of the most promising matches. This what happens when everyone stays up on that mountain and marries their neighbors. Within a generation or two, everyone is related to everyone else, and the neighbors are marrying are their cousins because everyone is a cousin.

Unfortunately, what this means is that for autosomal testing, I would really need to find a group of people who descend from Hall ancestors from this same line BEFORE they migrated to Wilkes, and who don’t share a different line with me.

Colonial Virginia is a tough nut to crack in this type of situation, especially this far back in time. Isabel would have been born in the early 1750s and many Virginia counties have experienced record loss of one kind of another. Unfortunately, there is no recorded marriage for Michael McDowell, nor a will that leaves anything to Isabel or any Michael McDowell from a father-in-law – so we’re out of luck unless something turns up one day in a previously buried record.

Or of course, if the right person just happens to DNA test, that could turn the tide as well😊

Hope springs eternal.

If you descend from Michael McDowell and Isabel or the Hall line, please be sure you’re in all of the databases (Family Tree DNA, Ancestry, MyHeritage, GedMatch and 23andMe). It’s not just who you match, but who your matches also match. The power of the newer tools is found in groups of matches that descend from the same ancestral couple – and each vendor has unique matches and tools that other vendors don’t have.

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Down Under: Christchurch, New Zealand – 52 Ancestors #277

This is the third article of a multi-part series about my trip to Australia and New Zealand. You can read about Australia, here, and Tasmania, here.

My Phone Becomes My Camera

I’ve received numerous questions about what camera I’m using. It’s my iPhone 11 Pro. I have a love-hate relationship with this phone.

For years, I’ve carried my phone plus a “real” 35 mm digital camera. I love the quality of the digital camera, but it has drawbacks.

  • No ability to upload directly to social media
  • Must upload to laptop or similar device
  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Not quick to take photo by the time you turn it on and get it ready

What I really want is a high-quality, small, lightweight camera with cellular and the convenience of my phone. If they can make one of those, I’m all in.

Wait, that’s almost my phone.

My iPhone needed to be replaced this past fall, so an iPhone 11 Pro was the way to go. The 11 Pro had 3 built in cameras – not one camera with a digital zoom which is not the same as a real SLR zoom.

Once I started using the 11 Pro, I never looked back.

However, it has downsides too:

  • No capability for telephoto and those types of lenses
  • Resolution not the quality of the 35 mm digital

However, a significant upside is that:

  • It’s not heavy
  • I’m carrying it anyway
  • Small footprint
  • Cellular and ability to upload directly onto social media
  • On screen editing

After this trip, I may never carry the 35 mm again, BUT, I’m very, very angry with Apple right now.

They just up and decided to invent a new file type – HEIC.

Never heard of it, right? Well, not only had I never heard of it, I didn’t realize I had 3400+ photos in that format. Apple made it the default file type in the 11 Pro. You may not care about this, because you can upload to Facebook and Instagram.

You’ll care a lot if you upload your photos on to a Windows PC and do anything, or try to do anything. If you’re a blogger, guess what – unsupported file type.

This means that you have to convert each file to .jpg format. There is no good way. You can read more here.

Now I have more than 3400 files of my own, plus Jim’s that I cannot use for my blog without an extra two steps for every single picture, nor can I drop them into a word document or share them with someone with an Android phone. Nothing NADA.

I HATE THIS!

I feel like Apple is holding my pictures hostage, trying to make me stay within the Apple family of products. It won’t surprise you to discover that you can upload to a MAC without any apparent problem. I can’t vouch for that, because I haven’t tried. I do know that I’ve now invested 3 days in something I shouldn’t have had to do at all.

Had I any idea, I would either have used the 35mm, or I would have purchased the older iPhone 10, hoping that by the time I needed to upgrade the next time, Windows and WordPress (my blogging platform) will both have figured out how to deal with Apple’s frustrating HEIC file format.

I did discover after I returned home that you can change that option in your phone by accessing: Settings> Camera> Formats and changing it back to .jpg. Photos will take more space on your phone. Frankly, that’s the least of my concerns.

I did find free tools online such as https://freetoolonline.com/heic-to-jpg.html. Some tools convert your first couple photos for free, or individual conversions for free one by one, but I have 3400 to convert. I’m always at least somewhat suspicious of what “free tools” are doing, because there has to be some motivation for someone to do something – and there is a lot of motivation for people to find ways to creep into our computer systems. What better way than helping us salvage our photos from an intrusive file format that we don’t discover until it’s too late.

This is probably more than you ever wanted to know. Hopefully it can save someone from these same issues. Unfortunately, it was part of this experience.

New Zealand

The South Island is the larger of the two major islands that comprise New Zealand. The North Island is smaller but has a larger population today. The South Island was more heavily populated at one point due to a gold rush in the 1860s.

All of New Zealand was the land of the Māori people before European colonization. The Māori arrived from Polynesia sometime between 1250 and 1300, settling on the islands and developing a distinctive culture.

In 1840, the Māori agreed in the Treaty of Waitangi to British sovereignty.

Nearly all locations have an English name and an equivalent Māori name as well. In fact, New Zealand itself is called Aotearoa in Māori, translated as “land of the long white cloud.”.

European settlement of New Zealand began in 1823. Today, the Queen of England is still the monarch, with a Governor General appointed.

Wellington is the capital, although Auckland is the largest city. The Ross Dependency is New Zealand’s territorial claim in Antarctica where it operates the Scott Base research facility.

Christchurch island map.png

Our ship stopped first to visit Christchurch, then Wellington, Napier, Tauranga and finally, Auckland.

The Dogs Pole

The first thing I encountered after we docked in Lyttelton Harbour, the cruise ship gateway to Christchurch, is a mystery that has yet to be solved. Maybe one of my Kiwi followers can educate us all.

christchurch dogs pole.png

The Dogs Pole. Notice that the Dogs Pole is entirely fenced, so the dogs can’t possibly get to the dogs pole to do what dogs do on poles. It’s also plural, not possessive.

One of my New Zealand friends suggested it might be an acknowledgement of the Antarctic expeditions that begin here. You can read more about those here.

Here, in 1957 dogs are helping to unload the Endeavor after a mishap in Lyttleton Harbour

Or maybe it’s an inside joke meant to baffle tourists and make people scratch their heads.

Harbour Cruising

This day dawned cloudy and cold. The weather in Australia and New Zealand can vary by a season in a day. How is it possible to be 120 degrees in Australia at the same time it’s cold in neighboring New Zealand?

Christchurch catamaran.png

We set out on a catamaran for some serious whale, dolphin and penguin watching – or at least we hoped to.

christchurch harbour cruise.png

Sometimes on these types of adventures, you get really lucky, and sometimes you don’t.

Christchurch dolphin.png

That’s the dolphin. As in, the only dolphin.

Christchurch dolphin skin.png

This is as close as we got to a dolphin – on the boat.

Christchurch island.png

The scenery, however, was stunning.

Christchurch shoreline.png

My normal perch on these kinds of adventures is right up front. You can’t photograph what you can’t see.

It was so cold and extremely windy that I had to go in and out.

Christchurch harbour mountains.png

I had a sweatshirt with me, and a light windbreaker for rain – but nothing more. I don’t even want to admit this to you, but I bought a thinsulate jacket. Hard to believe it was 120 degrees just a couple days earlier and I had been sweating to death.

We’re calling that jacket a souvenir. I actually do really like it.

Christchurch caves.png

We were told that you can often see penguins and seals in these caves and rocky outcrops along the waterline, but we didn’t.

Christchurch caves 2.png

I look at caves partly submerged in water and wonder if there are human remains there from hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and if we could obtain their DNA.

Christchurch waterline cave.png

The whitewash is bird poo. Jim saw a couple of birds happily perching above one of the caves.

Christchurch birds.png

There they are!

Christchurch banks peninsula.png

This area is known as Banks Peninsula, but today was not our lucky day. Not even many birds.

So much for that.

Christchurch, New Zealand

You may recall that Christchurch was devastated by a violent earthquake in February of 2011, causing massive damage to the central portion of Christchurch. Aftershocks continued for months, with smaller quakes continuing to this day.

Not only did buildings fall and sustain structural damage, but the soil liquified in Christchurch.

One might expect that the damage from this quake would be repaired 9 year later, but that’s not the case, at least not uniformly. Most of the structures that need to be removed have been, but not all. Rebuilding in some areas has simply not occurred.

Christchurch street.png

The older timber buildings, like the ones painted blue, yellow and green fared better than either taller structures, or ones made of brick or stone.

christchurch cathedral.png

The Cathedral midtown is still in a state of disrepair and indecision.

christchurch rubble.png

At first, I thought these were gravestones, until I looked closer and realized it is the remains of a building, with a window in the wall for pedestrians.

christchurch basic.png

There are many, many simply vacant spaces – in a sort of timeless limbo.

christchurch church.png

Battles over what to preserve in its current state, tear down or restore continue.

christchurch church of the blessed sacrament

The Catholic church of the Blessed Sacrament waits on its verdict.

christchurch church fenced.png

The church is fenced off to protect the church, residents and visitors.

Christchurch church old.png

We can see how the basilica used to look.

Christchurch basilica.png

Parishioners of this church are already worshipping in another location, but the debate about whether to repair, restore or tear down this historic building continues. A decision was made in August 2019 by the Bishop to demolish the building, but not everyone is convinced that the decision is final.

christchurch mural.png

Murals grace the walls of many buildings. Parking lots sprung up where buildings used to be.

christchurch music mural.png

christchurch art.png

Like other cities, art is everyplace.

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Sometimes I wasn’t sure exactly what the art depicted.

christchurch art chairs.png

These chairs were painted white and roped off, so I’m presuming you’re not supposed to sit down.

christchurch construction barricade.png

This mural, which I think is actually a construction barricade, reminds me of a quilt pattern. Hmmm, maybe for my New Zealand quilt?

christchurch barriacade photos.png

Look closely. These triangles actually hold images of New Zealand.

christchurch graffiti art.png

If you watch carefully, you can see graffiti art in several places.

christchurch park.png

Parks abound.

christchurch bike.png

It felt just lovely to walk in the warmth and sunshine knowing how cold it was back home.

christchurch flowers.png

Let’s Go Punting!!!

Our plan for the afternoon is to go punting on the River Avon.

Don’t know what punting is? Neither did I.

Punting is an Edwardian activity wherein a person with a very large stick pushes you along in a boat on the River Avon. Think of gondolas in Vienna, but different.

It’s best if I just show you.

christchurch boat sheds.png

Adjacent the botanical gardens and museum, we walked to those green and white striped buildings in the distance where the boats are housed.

christchurch old photos.png

Christchurch residents and visitors have been punting for a long time.

christchurch jackets.png

The punters of yesteryear wore these jackets and hats, and so did ours today.

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Each boat has a punter standing at the rear.

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There is only one female punter.

christchurch punting.png

Thankfully, the temperature had warmed up after we left the coast and the sun came out.

christchurch female punter.png

It morphed into a glorious day.

christchurch punting selfie.png

Jim and I sat at the rear of our boat, just in front of our punter. Taking selfies of places where we’re having fun has become a bit of a ritual, along with the obligatory trip leaving and returning picture.

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Our punter seemed to be having a great time too. His smile was infectious.

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The punter had to duck as we slipped beneath the bridge.

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There are flowers everyplace along the water.

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The botanical gardens line the river.

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Kayakers paddle among the flat-bottom punting boats.

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Wildlife enjoys the sunshine too.

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Willow trees love water. Not sure if this is a willow, but it certainly looks similar.

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Trees overreach the water forming green archways.

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The ducks enjoy napping along the waterway.

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Some things are universal.

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Back at the boat sheds, we disembarked.

After our punting adventure, we still had an hour before catching the bus, so we decided to go for a walk.

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The University of Canterbury campus was just across the street.

University of Canterbury

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The architecture here is very reminiscent of England.

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I would have loved to sit in the sidewalk cafe, but it wasn’t open.

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This building reminds be a great deal of the University of Cambridge.

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The entryway leads to central common areas.

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Students gather inside in the piazza.

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Construction repair from the earthquake 9 years ago.

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Modern art intertwined with the classic buildings such as this wrought iron fence in front of the University of Canterbury at the market area.

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The farmer’s market is parked in the lot reserved for the University during weekdays.

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We found Paua shell hair barrettes and a polished and sealed shell in the open-air shops surrounding the farmer’s market. I would like to have found Paua pearls, but they are rather rare and our time was limited. If you’d like to view stunning jewelry, just google “Paua pearls.”

We found Paua shells later on the beach, but you aren’t allowed to take those off of the cruise ship, so we couldn’t bring them home.

Headed Back to the Coastline

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New Zealand has been dry too, as you can see from the color of the foliage.

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Leaving Christchurch, a tunnel under the mountain connects the city with the coast.

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The harbor is stunningly beautiful as we drive along the coast on the way back to the ship.

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Back in our cabin, we see the pilot boat approaching. Pilot boats carry captains who are specialists in navigating the local waters.

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The local pilot assists the cruise ship’s Captain navigate the harbor. The pilot boat motors alongside until the ship passes the dangerous area.

Then, the pilot boat pulls up as close as possible to the water-level door, but not bumping the cruise liner, while the pilot waits for the perfect moment and jumps, yes jumps, from the open door to the deck of the pilot boat, even if it’s slippery and wet. One mis-judgement or misstep and the pilot is either possibly injured and miserably wet, or worse, crushed between the two boats. If that’s not the definition of nerve-wracking, I don’t know what is. First time I saw this, I couldn’t believe my eyes and my heart leaped into my throat.

Next port, Wellington.

 

Sarah Rash (1748-1829), Church Founder and Grandmother of Nearly 100 – 52 Ancestors #276

While we have very few records about Sarah, directly, during her lifetime, we do know a substantial amount due to the Shepherd Bible that begins with her birth.

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Sarah’s Birth

The Bible says that Sarah Shepherd, formerly Sarah Rash, daughter of Joseph and Mary Rash was born in Spotsylvania County Virginia State 23rd of April, Annoque Domini 1748, and is now the espoused wife of Robert Shepherd, aforesaid.

Thank goodness the family recorded this information because I don’t think we would have ever made this discovery any other way.

We don’t have any information about Sarah’s life in Spotsylvania County before her marriage to Robert Shepperd by the parson of the church, James Mcrae on October 1st, 1765. “The church” at that time in America would be the Anglican church. Everybody was required to attend, on pain of being fined for one’s absence.

Sarah was only just over 17 years old when she married Robert who was an “older man” at the advanced age of 26. At least he would be able to provide for his forthcoming family.

The Bible record goes on to tell us that Joseph and Sarah had several children. Given their first child’s birth date, they set about beginning their family right away.

The following children were reported to have been born in Spotsylvania County.

  • Elizabeth Shepherd, born July 23, 1766
  • James Shepherd, born March 8, 1768
  • Ann Shepherd, born March 8, 1770
  • Possibly space for a child that died
  • Mary Shepherd, born January 17, 1773
  • Agnes Shepherd, born February 8, 1775

The Bible states that the following children were born on the Reddies River in Wilkes County, NC – but I suspect either the year or location of Rhoda’s birth is in error, given that the Bible also says, in 2 places, that they departed for Wilkes County in December 1777, fully 9 months after Rhoda was born.

  • Rhoda Shepherd, born March 23, 1777
  • John Shepherd born August 26, 1779
  • Sally Shepherd born February 27, 1782 (Also noted in different writing, Sarah written in above Sally, Wm Judd’s mother, died November 1858)*
  • Possibly space for one child that died
  • Fanny Shepherd, born February 13 ,1785
  • Rebekah Shepherd, born September 26, 1787

*Note that the Bible descended through the Judd family to the person who owned it in 1991.

It looks like Sarah buried two, maybe three babies. It’s obvious that only the children that survived were recorded in the Bible. What is less obvious is when the Bible was written, or by whom. I wish the Bible front pages had been included as well, because the date that the Bible was printed might lend understanding to the provenance of the Bible itself.

Neither Robert nor Sarah could write, based on the fact that they only signed with Xs, so it obviously was not them who made those Bible entries. We know that schools existed in Wilkes County, so it’s possible that this Bible was the Bible of one of their children, possibly Sarah who married William Judd. However, it’s also possible that the minister or someone else who could write made these entries. Ot’s also quite possible that this information was written into THIS Bible years after those births and Robert’s death occurred.

Deaths

Robert Shepherd’s death is recorded, but Sarah’s is not, and neither are the deaths of any of the other children or grandchildren. Not even the two sons what we know died before their father’s death.

In the margins on the death page, we find the calculations for figuring the age at death of Robert. This strongly suggests that the 1817 entry was made at the time Robert died.

He was born in 1739 and died in 1817, so was just under 78 years of age.

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Now that we know what was going on with the margin dates, what other clues can we find?

The calculation above Robert’s is for someone else who died in 1817 but was born in 1777. Was that Rhoda? Apparently not, given that she had children born after 1817. Who could that have been?

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In the top margin are two additional calculations.

Sarah was born in 1748, and even though her death is not recorded in this Bible, I suspect strongly that she died in 1829 at age 81.

I’m confused by the calculation on the left, because no matter how I calculate this, it looks incorrect. My best guess is that someone was trying to “calculate how old Daddy would have been” when Sarah died.

We have no signatures of Sarah on deeds during Robert’s lifetime, nor other records, save one, so we have to infer what was happening in her life at that point based on what we know about Robert and their children.

Moving

In 1775, Sarah and Robert were celebrating their 10th anniversary with 5 children. An unwelcome intruder at their 10th anniversary was the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. What a frightening prospect. Perhaps after putting the kids to bed, they had time to sit beside the fire and talk about what the future might hold.

They needed to make important, life-altering decisions. Today we know they survived, but at that time, the future was uncertain and their family was young and vulnerable. One wrong decision or even a bad-luck turn of events and they might not survive, or they might lose their land or a million other bad things might happen during a war – an uprising no less – and the colonists were on the “mutinying” side. If the insurrection was “put down,” it had the potential to be quite violent and bloody. What was “right” and what was prudent?

The Revolutionary War was descending upon them. Times were uncertain. In July 1776, North Carolina would confiscate the King’s lands and make that land available to claim. Much land lay vacant in Wilkes County, just sitting there for the taking and building a cabin. Should they leave Virginia?

Virginia and North Carolina were both leading the way out of monarchy and into a democracy, forming a Bill of Rights. Yet, Robert and Sarah couldn’t be certain how this would unfold in the future. How would this chapter of history end? Which side would they be on? It was a gamble either way.

In November of 1775, Robert’s brother John Shepherd sold his land and the following November, in 1776, Robert Shepherd sold his land in Spotsylvania County.

The Bible tells us that the family removed from Spotsylvania County on December 7, 1777, 13 months later. I can’t help but wonder if they actually left in December 1776. Where would they have lived and how would they have earned a living for more than a year without land? They were certainly planning for this move for several months.

They set out in December, after the fall crops were harvested with the spring crops yet to be planted after their arrival in their new home. Sarah would probably have gone by the cemetery one last time to say a final goodbye to the child she most likely had and buried in the spring of 1772 in a now-forgotten place on the North Anna River, perhaps near a tract of land called Elk Neck, close to where her parents lived.

Sarah’s father, Joseph Rash died about 1767, so perhaps Sarah’s child would rest under the watchful eye of her father, buried side by side.

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The North Anna River runs for almost 100 miles today, with present day Spotsylvania County being further north. At that time, Spotsylvania County was the western frontier and encompassed this entire area.

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This 1776 map shows the North Anna.

Regardless of whether they left in 1776 or 1777, as the Bible says, they set out for Wilkes County, North Carolina, probably in a slow wagon train with family members and neighbors. Had they selected Wilkes County as their destination before they left, and if so, how and why?

Reddies River

Sarah Rash and Robert Shepherd had settled on the Reddies River in Wilkes County, North Carolina by April 24, 1778 when Robert made a land entry for 200 acres of land near the ford of Reddis River bordering his brother, John’s line. George McNiel also accompanied the two brothers from Spotsylvania County. George McNiel either was or became a minister of the Baptist faith.

The Shepherd’s would build a meeting house on John’s land no later than 1783. The congregation met sometimes at Robert and Sarah’s house while a new meeting house was being built in 1797 and 1798. They then attended the new Reddies River Baptist Church until their deaths.

On the surface, Robert and Sarah’s lives appear to be fairly mundane and bucolic. They moved to the new frontier, claimed land, built a cabin, had children and lived happily ever after. Or that’s how it would seem on the surface. However, by reading the church minutes and filling in some blanks, that’s not exactly how life along the Reddies River unfolded.

Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash had 10 known children, meaning 10 children who were recorded in the Bible. We don’t know if they had additional children who died at birth or very young and were not recorded, but it would seem so based on the birth dates and gaps between the known children.

As with mothers of that time and place, much of Sarah’s life was devoted to being pregnant, giving birth to and caring for her children – in addition of course to spinning, weaving cloth, making clothes, cooking, churning butter and pretty much anything else that needed to be done.

What do we know about Sarah’s children? Let’s look a brief summary of each child’s life to peek into Sarah’s activities.

Who Were Sarah’s Children

Elizabeth Shepherd, my ancestor and their first-born arrived on July 23, 1766, married William McNiel sometime prior to 1784 and died after 1830 in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Elizabeth and William moved from Wilkes County to Claiborne County about 1811. After their marriage, and before 1810 when they sold land on the Lewis Fork, they had moved to neighboring Ashe County which was formed in 1799. They are never found in the Reddies River Church minutes, which is a good indication that they had moved to Ashe County before 1798. In 1799, William McNiel received a land grant on the South Fork of the New River, so it’s safe to assume that Elizabeth and William had moved several miles west of Robert and Sarah’s homestead.

So Sarah’s firstborn child lived somewhat close, moved back and then removed far away where it’s unlikely that Sarah ever saw her or those grandchildren again.

James Shepherd, Sarah’s second-born child arrived on March 8, 1768 and died sometime between 1800 and 1810 without marrying. I have always wondered if this child had a disability of some sort. It’s unusual for a man in his 30s or 40s to never marry or purchase land.

It’s certain that James’ death weighted heavily on Sarah’s heart, especially if he was a child with special needs.

Nancy Ann Shepherd, their third child was born March 8, 1770, exactly two years to the day after her brother’s birth. Nancy married William McQueary in 1787 in Wilkes County and they are definitely found in the church minutes. William is shown in the census in Wilkes County in 1810, but not 1820. They moved to Pulaski County, Kentucky, apparently before 1820, where Nancy died on July 12 in either 1833 or 1835. The Reddies River church minutes shed a lot of light on their lives.

From reading the church minutes, as a mother, I can assure you that Sarah worried about Nancy.

It’s likely that a child was born to Robert and Sarah and died between daughters Nancy and Mary, probably in 1772. This would be the child that Sarah left behind when the family moved to Wilkes County, buried in a grave, probably near to her father. Leaving the grave of a child behind is difficult, even though that makes no logical sense. It may be a mother thing.

Mary, also known as Polly Shepherd, the fourth recorded child was born on January 17, 1773 and married James McNiel about 1790, brother to William McNiel who had married Mary’s eldest sister a few years earlier. They too moved to Ashe County initially, but in 1802, Mary’s father, Robert, sold land to the young couple. Mary and James were close to Mary’s parents, as Sarah requested that James administer Robert Shepherd’s estate at his death in 1817. I’m surprised that we don’t find Mary and James in the church minutes, but they are absent. I suspect that perhaps they lived closer to the Lewis Fork Church where George McNiel, James’ father, was the minister until George’s death in about 1805. Reddies River and Lewis Fork Church shared both a minister and a moderator for many years, so clearly they were closely affiliated as sister-churches.

Sarah was clearly very close to this couple. I wonder if this is why Robert sold them land, to entice them back to the Reddies River. Once back, they never left.

Agnes Shepherd, the fifth child was born on February 9, 1775 and married Thomas Irwin in 1791 or 1792. They had a dozen children and moved to Russell County, Kentucky in 1829 where he died in 1853 and Agnes in 1856. They too are found in the church records.

Since this couple didn’t remove until after Sarah’s presumed death, she would have been close to these grandkids.

Rhoda Shepherd was born sixth on March 23, 1777. There is some discrepancy about whether she was actually born in Virginia or North Carolina. She married John Judd and in 1827 or 1828 moved to Ohio where they become Mormon, then moved on to Wayne County, Indiana where John died in 1838. Rhoda moved on west, living on the DesMoines River in Iowa when her daughter Margaret married Eller Stoker in 1839. John Judd was very active in the Reddies River church, appointed as a Wilkes County Justice in 1816, and is regularly found in the court minutes.

Sarah would have been Rhoda and family regularly at church as well as in the community. It looks like Rhoda and John waited until Sarah’s death to move on.

John Shepherd, the seventh child was born on April 26, 1779 in Wilkes County. He married Mary Kilby on October 13, 1802, but probably died a few weeks later in December. In any case, his death occurred before Mary became pregnant. In January, Mary requested bond as John’s administrator. I surely wonder what befell John.

We don’t know what caused John’s death, but his untimely death right after his marriage when he had so much to live for has tragedy written all over it.

A child was likely born to Sarah Rash Shepherd and died in 1781. Was this the first grave in what would become the Deep Ford Hill cemetery?

Sarah, known as Sally Shepherd, the eighth recorded child, was born on August 27, 1782 in Wilkes County. She married William Judd about 1802, brother of John Judd who married her sister. In 1805, Robert Shepherd sold land to the young couple who eventually had 10 children. In 1829, they removed to Wayne County, Indiana, then to Madison County, Indiana, and on to Newtown, Sullivan County, Missouri where Sarah died in November 1858. The Shepherd Bible descended through this line.

It appears that Sarah lived with this couple for the last dozen years of her life.

It’s likely that another child was born to Sarah Rash Shepherd and died in 1784. Another tiny wooden casket. Another funeral.

Frances, known as Fanny Shepherd, Sarah’s ninth child, was born on February 13, 1785 and married Larkin Pumphrey about 1803. They had 9 children and removed to Pulaski County, Kentucky between 1814 and 1816. By 1830, the family was in Fayette County, Indiana with 7 children where I lose Frances’s trail. She and Larkin are found in the Reddies River church minutes.

Larkin had some challenges that are revealed in the church minutes as well, and I can assure you that Sarah worried about Fanny. She may even have had a “chat” with Larkin at some point.

Rebecca Shepherd, the eighth and last child was born on September 26, 1787 when Sarah was 39 years old. Rebecca married Amos Harmon in 1806, having 13 children. They moved to Richmond, Indiana between 1826 and 1831, then about 1835 on to Somonauk, DeKalb County, Illinois as one of the first settlers where Rebekah died in 1836.

Rebecca may have left Wilkes County before her mother’s death, or she may have postponed that decision until after Sarah passed over. It would have been very difficult for Sarah to say goodbye, forever, to yet another child as approached and then passed her 80th birthday.

It’s possible that additional children were born to Sarah after Rebecca and subsequently  died. In 1789, when the next child would have been born, Sarah would have been 41 and could have potentially had one or two more children.

The Reddies River Church

Robert and Sarah, along with some of their children are listed in 1798 among the founding members of the Reddies River Church. Note that Robert’s brother, John’s wife, was also named Sarah. Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash did not own a slave in 1798, so Grace belonged to John and Sarah Shepherd.

Shepherd Reddies River 1798 charter membership

Two of Sarah’s daughters, both married to the McNiel brothers, were already living in what would become Ashe County by 1798 so they are obvously not founding members of the Reddies River Church.

Daugher Nancy McQueary and husband William McQueary are both listed as church members.

Daughter Agnes Irwin is listed too, but where is her husband, Thomas Irwin?

Sarah’s son, James Shepherd, is listed, but would perish soon after. I surely wish those church minutes would have recorded deaths.

Children, meaning those undersage, seems to be omitted.

The church minutes reflect the principles of their Baptist faith when founding this church along with the Shepherd family’s continued involvement with the fledgling church over the years. What we don’t know is why the group abandoned the Deep Ford Church, reportedly at the top of Deep Ford Hill, although I’m not at all convinced that it wasn’t at the bottom of that hill, at or near the actual “Deep Ford” of Reddies River, probably on John Shepherd’s land.

The congregation left both the building and the name behind. Did the church burn perhaps, or was it something else? If so, what?

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After this initial formation, Robert is next mentioned on December 1, 1800 when two members (not Robert) came forward to confess that they had drank too much. Not only that, but Lewis Fork Church where George McNiel was minister sent Reddis River a letter stating that no pastor should have to care for more than one church because the other churches were destitute for a pastor. Reddies River Church members would pray about this and look to the Lord for a Minister and Deacon.

By this point in time, George McNiel whose family had journeyed with the Shepherd family from Spotsylvania County was 80 or perhaps even slightly older. He was no young man to be preaching every Sunday in a different church and ridng horseback between them in all types of weather, in addition to being the County Register of Deeds.

Church on the first Saturday of January 1801 was to take place at Robert Shepherd’s, but “fell through” on account of bad weather. They met the first Saturday in February instead. Today, church services are typically held on Sunday and weekly, not monthly.

The transporation to and from church, based on the church location and their land, could have taken an entire day using a farm wagon pulled by the horses.

On April 18th, the church members again met at Robert Shepherd’s and “at a call meeting after divine service opend a door for admision and received Thos Irwin by expereance.”

This was daughter, Agnes’s husband, now brought into the fold. He wasn’t on the original list because he had not yet joined the church.

This does make me wonder if Robert had a home more substantial than the typical log cabin. Assuming that the church membership didn’t dwindle from the original 23, and people brought their children along, Robert and Sarah’s house would have had to be large enough to hold at least 50 people, if not substantially more. Or, perhaps they met in the barn – but surely not during the winter months. Those would have been short services, indeed.

In May of 1801, “brother Robert Shepherd’s sister Sarah Jinnings joined by letter,” which means she had been a member in good standing of another church.

This tells us that at least 3 of Robert’s siblings wound up in Wilkes County.

The same day, “Brother Thomas Irwin was baptised but Ben Darnald refused to be baptised.” Why would one “confess their sins” before the entire congregation, but then refuse baptism? This is a bit confusing. A great deal of pressure was likely leveraged against Ben.

The Darnell’s lived “up the mountain” near the Vannoy family. In 1787, Benjamin and Joseph Darnell, born in 1780 according to court records, orphans of John Darnell and Rachel Vannoy were bound to Andrew Vannoy to learn to farm.

In August 1801, it was stated in the church minutes that Brother John Judd would attend the association in the room of brother Robert Shepherd. I wonder why Robert couldn’t attend and where the association met.

On December 5th, the church met at Robert Shepherd’s house and “concluded it was necessary to have a stock laid up for the expense of the church and that brother Robert Shepherd and brother John Shepherd were to receive produce and turn it into money and keep the money in their hands until called for by the church.”

I have to laugh, because I clearly know what is meant, but I can’t help but imagine Robert magically “turning produce into money.” Other than paying the minister, I wonder why the church at that time needed money.

On February 6, 1802, church met at Robert Shepherd’s again, and the minutes reflect an ongoing close alliance with Lewis Fork Church.

In 1803, Larkin Pumphrey and his wife joined the church, but left permanently in 1814. Larkin of course was married to Fanny Shepherd in 1803 so they joined about the time they married. Joining a church as “man and wife” instead of as someone’s child who was “brought to church” was probably a rite of passage. Besides that, you got to be called, “Mrs. Pumphrey” or “Sister Pumphrey” instead of “just” Fanny Shepherd.

On January 3, 1803, the church appointed both Robert and John Shepherd to “sight Brother Larkin Pumphrey to come to meeting.” Larkin came forward at the next meeting and “gave satisfaction for some misconduct.” In 1811 he was again repremanded about “his fighting” which may be a clue about his issue in 1803.

This entry in January the same year that Larkin and Fanny married causes me to wonder if Robert and Sarah may have had some misgivings about this marriage.

Saturday, February 5th, 1803 was apparently quite the day.

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Two of Sarah’s son-in-laws were called to answer for their behavior – having rude company and allowing dancing in one’s house. IMAGINE!! This must have been scandalous!

Two church services later, on April 2, 1803, John Pumphrey was brought before the church for profane swearing. William McQuary and brother Robert Shepherd were nominated to “stand in the place of deacons,” giving them until next December to look for a deacon.

Also in April, Rhody and John Judd “tuck letters of dismission,” meaning they were joining a church elsewhere which can sometimes signal a move.

Did Sarah feel a bit like she was trying to herd cats, keeping her kids in line with the church’s view of how life was supposed to be led, and trying to keep her sons-in-law out of trouble too?

On July 2nd, Robert Shepherd was chosen to “stand in that place of a Deacon.”

In December 1803, William Judd (no mention of wife) petitioned for dismissal.

In February 1804, Larkin Pumphrey and Fanny “took letters” meaning they were leaving the church and moving their membership elsewhere.

This could well signal a rift in the family.

On July 1, 1804, Robert Shepherd along with Thomas Johnson and John McQueary were chosen as delegates to the association. Knowing the name of the association would give us insight into where Robert traveled and how long Sarah might have been tending the homeplace by herself.

Perhaps her children or sons-in-law looked in on her and helped when necessary.

In the book, History of North Carolina Baptists by George William Paschal, he states that Flat Rock Church assisted Deep Ford or Reddies River church with its constitution. In 1792, the Reddies River church was a member of the Yadkin Association which met at the “Deep Ford on Ready’s River, Wilkes County,” but by 1801 they were in the Mountain Association of which the author finds no mention. However, the Brushy Mountain Association is mentioned multiple times.

On Saturday, February 2, 1808, sister Phebe Shepherd, a member of Brier Creek Church confessed that she was not in fellowship this church nor could she take a seat with them. The church appointed Robert Shepherd and Brother Johnson to request her “to come to our next meeting and tell the cause…”

In March 1808, Rhody and John Judd joined the church again by letter.

Amos Harmon joined the church in 1808 as well, and left in 1830.

In June 1808 the church decided that the male members would pay 1.00 each to pay brother James Parson to “attend them onst a month yearly.” It’s odd, today, to think of a church only meeting 12 times per year.

On Saturday, January 1809, William McQueary was drinking to much again and was excluded. John Judd was made a deacon and Robert Shepherd “shall be the Elder of the church the church appointed him to be the man.” An elder is similar to a Deacon who can sometimes function as a pastor as well. Elders participate in the “presbytery” which denoted their ordination council.

In November 1808, Amos Harmon was appointed to “site” William McQuary to come to the next meeting. Apparently the church had requested William’s appearance and he had not complied. “A rumer was about has come forrod…allegation laid into the church against William McQuary for his drinking two much referred till next meeting.”

In February, 1809, “Robert Shepherd was chargd to the work of the Eldership.”

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The “Imposition of Hands” is more typically called the “laying on of hands” today, and it part of the ritual of ordination, the act of giving a blessing or healing. Does this mean that John Judd was something akin to a “lay minister?”

Agnes and Thomas Irwin had apparently left and came back, joining by letter in 1809.

This was a big day for the family. Were old rifts being healed or was this just normal expansion and shrinkage?

In March of 1810, Larkin Pumphrey was acknowledged into their Christian Fellowship.

In June of 1810, Nancy McQuary was sited to come to the next meeting to explain why she had not been attending monthly meetings. The next month, she came forward and gave satisfaction. Clearly, if she had simply been ill or pregnant, everyone would have already known that, so something else was going on. I wonder if this had something to do with William’s drinking. I surely hope she was not being abused.

In February 1811, Larkin Pumphrey came forward to talk to the church about his fighting. The next month, he was received into Christian fellowship. In August, he is summoned again but in September gave satisfaction for his fighting. It seems that Larkin had a chronic “fighting problem,” which maked me wonder if he had a chronic alcohol problem too.

In October of 1811, William Judd is vistiing the church at Old Fields on behalf of this church.

In November 1812, Agnes and Thomas Irwin received a letter and left the church but were back again in November of 1813.

On the second Saturday of December, Thomas Irwin was to “site” Amos Harmon, his wife’s sister’s husband to come to meeting “to answer to some things about his conduct at Muster,” but the church acquitted him.

This tells us, at least, that the men did attend muster. I wonder when that practice stopped.

In January 1813, a report was taken up against Amos Harmon and referred to next meeting, but in January 1814, “the affair of Amos Harmon taken up,” the church acquitted him. I wish they had told us more.

Sally Judd joined the church in September 1813 by baptism. She was about 31 years of age and the fact that she had not previously joined the church was probably weighing heavily on the minds of both of her parents.

In 1814, William Judd along with his brother John, Thomas Johnson and Amos Harmon were to determine if a member should be excluded or not.

In October 1815, Amos Harmon was excluded from the church, “concerning his loos way of living” but joined again by acknowledgement in August 1816. I surely would like to know what was considered “loose living” by this church at that time. It could have been allowing rude people to visit or dancing, or something much worse.

In June 1816, a rukus was caused by an allegation against Thomas Johnson by John Judd that Johnson had “moved his fence to stop up George Taylor’s pasway with a wagon.”

This smells very much of local high drama! You immediately know there’s a whole lot more to this story.

In August 1817, Thomas Irwin along with William and John Judd are called upon for a contribution of 25 cents each.

In October 1817, Thomas Irwin is once again to “site Amos Harmon to meeting to answer for some of his misconduct and different reports that is out in the world against him.” He was excluded from the church.

In November of 1817, “a reference from the last meeting was taken up concerning Amos Harmon and for refusing to hear the church and his disorderly way of living in many cases the church has excluded him from thee Christian fellowship.”

In March of 1818, the affair of Noah Vannoy was taken up and Thomas Irwin and John Judd were “to site him to come to our church meeting.”

In September of 1818, three members were sent to “investigate the matter at William Judd’s on Reddies River.” I would surely love to know what that “matter” was.

In 1821, some major issue involving Noah Vannoy and the Lewis Fork church needed to be unraveled, taking several months apparently. William and John Judd were both involved attempting to straighten this out. The Vannoy family lived in this area and intermarried with the McNiel family as well other neighbors.

The last mention of William Judd is in August 1825 when the church is indebted to him for covering the meeting house $1.20. John Judd on the same day was allocated money for the association.

In November 1827, John Judd came forward with acknowledgement for some misconduct but the chruch forgave him. Given his long unmarred active church involvement, I wonder if this was another man by the same name and not the husband of Rhoda Shepherd. In July of 1826, John was still a delegate attending meetings on behalf of the church. In June 1828, John is cited to church again for misconduct. I wonder what happened.

Sally Shepherd was married to William Judd, who became a deacon in February 1828, about a year before Sarah Rash Shepherd would have passed. It appears that she was living with this couple and they did wind up with the Shepherd Bible.

Rash 1829.png

John Judd was excluded in 1829 and his wife’s sister applies for letters of dismissal that same day. It sounds like drama of some sort occurred. It was about this time that Rhoda and John left for greener pastures in Ohio, then Indiana and Iowa where they converted to the Mormon faith along the way. There’s surely much more to this story too, especially considering his many years of active church service.

In December 1829, the matter of Amos Harmon was referred to the next meeting. At the following meeting in January 1830, the church “took up the reference of Amos Harmon and left as they found him.”

The notes show that Agness Irwin left the church in 1829.

In January 1830 Rebecca Harmon was “received by experience at an evening meeting at Aaron Churches.” She was also baptized.

On the second Saturday of March 1830, the church “dismissed Rebecca Harmon by letter.” A note of March 22nd says they dismissed Sally, Fanny and Rachel Harmon by letter.” This family too was headed north.

In October 1830, the church dismissed Fanny Judd by letter.

In November 1831, Fanny Judd returned her letter of dismissal.

In Feburary of 1837, Fanny Judd was dismissed by letter.

With this last entry, the half century of the Shepherd family’s involvement in the Deep Ford Church that transitioned to Reddies River Church drew silently to a close.

Robert and Sarah were long gone, and their children’s families, for the most part, had moved on too.

The Families

It seems that life on the Reddies River was anything but mundane. The church notes reveal the “sins” of various family members, at least according to the standards of the place and time in which they lived. It’s their various “falls from grace” that lend a face of humanity to these people who clearly struggled, just like people today.

I’ve attempted to document each of Sarah’s children and grandchildren, with the lines who carry Sarah Rash Shepherd’s mitochondrial DNA bolded. Sarah passed her mitochondrial DNA to both sexes of her children, but only daughter’s pass it on to future generations. You can read more about how DNA works, here.

If you are or know of an individual, male or female in the current generation, who descends from Sarah through all females, I have a free mitochondrial DNA testing scholarship waiting for you.

Sarah’s mitochondrial DNA can help us break through her brick wall. We have her mother’s name, but nothing more about her matrilineal ancestry.

The absolutely wonderful news is that Sarah had several daughters who each had several daughters, which increases the likelihood that someone who descends from Sarah Rash through all females to the current generation, which can be male, either has tested their mitochondrial DNA, or is willing to test.

Sarah’s Descendants

Sarah had an incredible number of descendants in just the first couple of generations. Some have slipped our grasp – perhaps their family line knows more.

Elizabeth Shepherd, Sarah’s oldest child born in 1766 was the first to marry. She tied the knot with a neighbor boy, William McNiel, the son of the preacher, George McNiel in either 1783 or perhaps early 1784, probably in the Deep Ford Meeting House. Elizabeth married at the same age her mother, Sarah had, 17 or 18. Reverend George McNiel, her father-in-law, likely officiated. The families were neighbors as well, so the entire valley probably attended.

Sarah became a grandmother in October of 1784 at the age of 36. Sarah had grandchildren older than her youngest children who weren’t born until 1785 and 1787.

However, 1784 may have been a sorrowful year for Sarah, because it looks like she buried another child of her own in February or March, probably in the now destroyed Deep Ford Hill Cemetery where these modular homes sit today.

Shepherd Deep Ford HIll Cemetery

By the time Sarah’s namesake granddaughter was born in October, Sarah was pregnant again with Fannie who would be born 4 months later. Perhaps Elizabeth was trying to make her mother feel better by naming her firstborn child, Sarah, after her grieving mother.

In the 1790 census, William McNiel, married to daughter Elizabeth Shepherd, lives 10 houses away from Robert and Sarah with 1 male over 16, 1 under 16 and 3 females.

Sometime before 1800, before the membership roster of the Reddies River Church was assembled in 1798, Elizabeth and William would move to neighboring Ashe County.

Elizabeth would bless her mother with 9 more living grandchildren, 10 in total, plus probably 2 more that died, added to the tiny graves in the family cemetery.

Elizabeth Shepherd and William McNiel moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee in about 1811 or 1812, so Sarah would never have known her grandchildren born after that time. That must have been one tearful goodbye, with Robert and Sarah watching their eldest pull away in a wagon, knowing they would never see her again.

Elizabeth wasn’t there to lay her father to rest 5 or 6 years later in 1817, nor her mother, probably in 1829. That sorrowful news would have arrived months later by letter.

Elizabeth died in Claiborne County sometime between 1830 and 1840, between age 64 and 74, perhaps not long after her mother’s death.

Elizabeth had 10 children including 4 daughters who lived to adulthood:

  • Sarah “Sallie” McNiel born August 26, 1784 married Joel Fairchild and died January 2, 1861 in Hancock County, TN. She had 5 children including:
    • Fannie Fairchild born about 1822, died about 1868
    • Elizabeth Fairchild born 1820-1825 who married Samuel McCullough, having daughters:
      • Sarah McCullough, born 1852
      • Elizabeth McCullough born 1864
      • Susan McCullough born in 1867
      • Cordia McCullough born in 1870
    • George McNiel born Sept. 21, 1786 in Wilkes County and died July 20, 1870 in Claiborne County, TN. He married Nancy Baker, having 10 children, then Matilda Yeary having 3 more children.
    • Lois McNiel born about 1786, married Elijah Vannoy and removed to Claiborne County, Tennessee about 1811 or 1812. She died in the 1830s, having had 10 children including daughters:
      • Permelia Vannoy born Feb. 21, 1810, married John Elijah Baker in 1838 and died in Washington County, Arkansas February 5, 1900. She had four known children, all daughters:
        • Luana or Luanda Baker born about 1836
        • Rachel Baker born about 1837, died March 25, 1925 in Springfield, Missouri. She married Larkin Brewer and had two daughters who died as children.
        • Sirena Baker born 1839 married Samuel P. Jones and died in 1862. She had daughters Mary Jones 1857-1913, Permelia Jones 1860-1907, Alice Jones, 1868-1945, Virginia Jones 1870-1831, Flora Jones 1875-1936, Leticia Jones born in 1877.
        • Nancy Jane Baker born in 1845.
      • Mary Vannoy born about 1815 married Isaac Gowin
      • Elizabeth Vannoy born about 1817 married Elisha Bishop, died after 1880 and had two known children, including one daughter:
        • Levina Ann Bishop (1843-1925) who appears to not have had children.
      • Nancy Vannoy born June 19, 1820 married George Loughmiller, died April 29, 1896 in Washington County, Arkansas. She had 8 children, including 6 daughters:
        • Mermelia Loughmiller 1839
        • Mary T. Loughmiller 1843-1946 married John H. Jones and had daughters Laura Myrtle Jones (1872-1930) and Permilia E. Jones born in 1876.
        • Elizabeth Loughmiller 1848
        • Sarah E. Loughmiller 1850
        • Martha “Marty” Loughmiller 1852
        • Lydia Loughmiller 1853 who may have died before 1870
      • Sarah “Sally” Elizabeth Vannoy born Oct. 17, 1821, married Joseph C. Adams and died October 14, 1892. They had 6 children, including 3 daughters:
        • Nancy Jane Adams (1849-1922) who married Franklin J. Skaggs and died in Huntsville, Arkansas. She had 9 children including three daughters, Ann Skaggs born in January 1875 married Thaddeus Brackston Jones and had daughter, Annie Jones born in 1908. Daughter Shadric C. Skaggs was born in December 1889 in Madison County, Arkansas. Daughter Lyda Mae Skaggs (1894-1969) married George Everett Clark.
        • Rebecca Elizabeth Adams born in 1853, married William Leroy Throckmartin Bee Boren. She had 9 children including three daughters. Julia Boren 1872-1945 married Randy Clinton Bolinger and had a daughter, Ruby Bolinger. Mary Lou Boren (1876-1950) married Andrew Jackson Hamilton and had daughters Elisa Hamilton, Cecil Hamilton and Gladys Hamilton. Laura Boren 1886-1990 married 4 times and may have had one daughter. Daughter Sally Ada Boren (1892-1978) married Earnest Welcome Hart and had two daughters, Lillie Hart and Irene Hart.
        • Margaret Ann Adams 1857-1923 married John Ward and died n Oregon. She had 9 children including two daughters, Mary Jane Ward born in 1881 and Sarah Emma Ward born in 1887 or 1888.
      • Angeline Vannoy born about 1825 married Sterling Nunn in 1949 and died before October of 1850, probably in childbirth.
      • Lucinda J. Vannoy was born March 15, 1828, married Col. Joseph Campbell in 1886 with a prenuptial contract and died April 2, 1919 in Washington County, Arkansas.
    • Niel S. McNiel born about 1792 in Wilkes County, died September 10, 1839 in Claiborne County and married Elly Ramsey. They had 3 children, two girls and a boy.
    • Mary McNiel born about 1792 in Wilkes County, married Robert Campbell in 1817 in Claiborne County, TN and died on August 10, 1874 in Bradley County, TN. She had at least one child, a son, but it’s unclear whether she had other children, although it’s certainly probable.
    • Nancy McNiel born March 22, 1794, married Alexander Campbell and died on November 30, 1839 near Sneedville, TN. She had three sons.
    • John McNiel born July 1, 1803, married Elizabeth Campbell, sister to Alexander and Robert, and died on October 8, 1883. They had 8 children.
    • Betty (probably Elizabeth) McNiel born 1800-1810 and may have married Andrew McClary.
    • Jesse McNiel born 1806, married Bettie Campbell and died in 1890 in Claiborne County.
    • William McNiel, Jr., born 1810-1815 married Nancy Gilbert.

James Shepherd is the next child in birth order, born in 1768 who should have married sometime around 1790, or after.

The 1790 census shows Robert Shepherd with a total of 2, 1 and 7, meaning 2 males over 16, 1 under 16, and 7 females. This tells us that James is still living and residing with his parents in 1790 at 22 years of age. Not terribly unusual

In 1798, a James Shepherd appears with Robert and Sarah on the list of Reddies River Church charter members. This James could potentially be Robert’s brother James, but I doubt that because there is no wife listed with James, and the only charter members are 20 or so neighbors who live very close by.

In the 1800 census, Robert reports 2 males 16-25, 1 male 45 and over, one female 10-15, 2 females 16-25 and one female 45 and over. This tells us that James is still living at home at 32 years of age and confirms that he was born between 1775 and 1784.

The 1810 census shows no children living at home. No James Shepherd shows up elsewhere, and no records referencing James are found, so it’s presumed that James died between 1800 and 1810, between the ages of 32 and 42. James is probably buried in the Deep Ford Cemetery too. Given that he never married, owned land or lived away from his parents, I can’t help but wonder if he was somehow disabled.

By 1790, another of Sarah’s daughters had also married.

Nancy Ann Shepherd, born in March 1770 married William McQueary on February 11, 1787, just a month before her 17th birthday. They lived in Wilkes County in 1800 and 1810, but then removed to Pulaski County Kentucky where she died July 12, 1833 or 1835, depending on which version of the story you believe.

Nancy had 12 children with William, including William McQueary Jr., shown below:

I have not documented Nancy’s children thoroughly, but according to the 1800 and 1810 census, it appears that she had at least 7 daughters and 3 sons, including:

  • John McQuery
  • Allen McQuery
  • Pleasant McQuery
  • Jesse McQuery
Rash William McQuery

William McQuery

  • William McQuery
  • Humphrey McQuery
  • Mary Polly McQueary 1789-1813 who may have married William Cash
  • Sarah McQueary 1802-1877
  • Rebecca McQueary 1804-1870
  • Nancy McQueary 1807-1852
  • Elizabeth Betty McQueary 1813-after 1870, married Wilson “Willis” Owens and had 9 children, including 5 daughters
    • Mary Owens born 1838
    • Paulina Jane Owens (1840-1866) married Mason Compton Miller
      • Emily J. Miller born 1864
    • Sarah Emily Owens, born 1841, married Edwin Shivel, had 4 daughters:
      • Catherine Shivel born 1862
      • Elizabeth Shivel born 1864
      • Emma Shivel born 1867
      • Manah Emily Shivel born 1869
    • Nancy Owens born Mar 23, 1843
    • Lucy Owens born July 31, 1853

Mary “Polly” Shepherd born in 1773 married James McNiel sometime around 1790. They lived in Ashe County for a while, but moving back to Reddies River where Robert Sheppard sold them land in 1802. Mary died June 7, 1869.

James NcNiel and Mary were clearly close to her parents, Sarah and Robert, as James was the administrator of Robert’s estate in 1817 when he passed away, at the request of Sarah.

Mary “Polly” Shepherd McNiel had 9 children beginning in about 1792, with the last one born in 1814. She probably buried 3 or 4 children, judging from their birth dates.

  • Larkin McNeil
  • John McNeill (1796-1877), married Rachel Eller and had 4 children, including at least one son.
  • Frances “Fanny” McNeil (1798-1856) married Simeon Eller in 1817 and then Isaac Brown in 1851. She had several children, with at least one daughter, America, and possibly more:
    • America Elizabeth Eller (1841-1903) married William Richard Whittington and had three daughters:
      • Nora Caroline Whittington (1864-1956)
      • Dora Whittington born in 1872
      • Almeda Whittington (1875-1938)
    • Mary Ann “Polly” Eller (1820-1894) married Allen A. “Squire” Whittington and had daughters:
      • Emily Caroline Whittington (1841-1910)
      • Nancy Elvira Whittington (1843-1931)
    • George McNeil
    • William McNeil
    • Oliver McNeil, born in 1805 and married Delilah Eller. They had 7 children.
    • Nancy McNeil (1812-1880) married Edward J. Dancy in 1836 and had at least 3 children:
      • Mary Dancy (1837-1893) married James Calvin McNiel and had 8 children including 2 daughters:
        • Eda Elizabeth McNiel (1865-1924)
        • Julia Emma (1869-1948)
      • James Dancy born1839
      • Amelia Dancy (1841-1861) married Joseph Nichols and had one daughter:
        • Anna Elizabeth Nichols (1861-1935) married Calvin Columbus Church and had at least one son
      • Rebecca McNeil (1813-1878) married John Humphrey Vannoy in 1833 and had 12 children, including 4 daughters:
        • Mary Ann Vannoy (1841-1888) married James Phillips and had 6 children including two daughters:
          • Laura Rebecca Phillips (1874-1955) married
          • Nancy Myrtle Phillips (1877-1911) married Joseph Franklin Blackburn and had daughters Loretta Blackburn, Ina Blackburn and Dollie M. Blackburn
        • Nancy Louisa Vannoy (1847-1929) married James Madison Eller and had 8 children including one daughter who survived and had children:
          • Rebecca Eller (1878- ) married Zollie Church and had 3 daughters, Estelle Irene Church (1901-1991), Beatrice Teresa Church 1904-1985), Florence Mae Church (1906-1992)
        • Carolina Vannoy (born 1851)
        • Frances Matilda Vannoy (1854-1925) married James Wilburn Hardin and had 9 children, but only 1 daughter who had daughters:
          • Hattie Mae Hardin (1875-1953) married George Maxner and had daughters, Kate Maxner, Lucille Maxner and Edith Maxner
        • Eli McNeil (1812-1881), married Fannie Eller, moved to Ashe County and had 10 children.

Agnes Shepherd born in 1775 married Thomas Irwin about 1791. She and Thomas had 12 children beginning with Elijah born in 1792 or 1793. In 1810, Thomas was granted land on the Reddies River. In 1829, they removed to Russell County, Kentucky where Agnes died on March 18, 1856.

  • Elijah Irwin (1792-1878) married Elizabeth Goodman and had 6 children.
  • Thomas P. Irwin
Rash Alley Irwin

Alley Irwin

  • Alley Irwin (1797-1879) married Larkin Shepherd her first cousin once removed, son of Robert’s brother, John Shepherd. Alley’s children might really have carried a “Shepherd” look. They had 11 children, including 5 daughters:
    • Lucinda Shepherd (1821-1867) married Nathan Weaver and had 3 children, including daughter:
      • Martha Weaver (1849-1894) married Lewis Dobson Williams and had daughters Lula Elizabeth Williams (1881-1929), Mary Frances Williams (1875-1958), Effie Clyde Williams (1886-1930) and Ruth Dell Williams (1892-1919). Martha had several female grandchildren.
    • Rebecca Shepherd (1824-1879) married Joshua T. Coffey and had 9 children, including 3 daughters who may have had female children.
      • Adeline Coffey born 1844 married Aldred Wyatt
      • Matilda Coffey born 1846 married Isham Patrick
      • Alice Coffey born 1852
    • Sarah Shepherd (1831-1862) married Rev. John Ennis Pierce and had 5 children including 2 daughters:
      • Martha Carolina Pierce (1853-1948) married Banjamin Azmon and had 4 daughters: Edith Azmon, Mary C. Azmon, Ellen Azmon and Julia Azmon
      • Mary Saphronia Pierce (1857-1928) married Leonard Bynum Church and had daughter Julie Church.
    • Martha Shepherd (1842, twin to Mary, died 1916) married John Edward Fouts (died 1862) with whom she had one son, and then George Washington Phillips with whom she had 4 children, including 4 daughters:
      • Elizabeth Phillips (1871-1952 married Cicero Nathan DeBord and had daughters Tena Ada Debord (1893-1968), Phoebe Ruth Debord (1895-1932), Mary Bertha Debord (1897-1983), Myrtle Debord born about 1905 married a Brown and lived in Darlington, MD.
    • Mary Shepherd (1842, twin to Martha, died 1908) married William Harrison Brown and had no children.

You can read more about Alley’s family, including photos of her children, here.

  • Squire Irwin moved to Russell County, KY.
  • Nancy Isabelle Irwin (1798-1857) married John Thomas Jennings in 1819 and died in Russell County, KY in 1857. They had 10 children including no daughters:
  • Andrew Irwin born about 1799 married Lucy Wyatt in 1828 and moved to Russell County, KY.
  • William Irwin born about 1800 and died before 1824.
  • Sally Irwin born about 1803, married John Shepherd in 1824 and died in 1831 in Wilkes County. John and the children moved to Kentucky in about 1829 according to Brodrick Shepherd, taking their 3 children:
    • Lynville Shepherd 1827-1880
    • Elizabeth Shepherd (1829-1860)
    • Nancy Shepherd born about 1831
  • Robert Irwin born about 1810 married Sally Lutteral in 1838 in Russell County, KY and in 1853, married Ann Vannoy. He died in 1872 in Russell County.
  • Larkin Irwin born about 1812 died in the 1840s leaving 4 small children in Russell County, KY.
Rash Franklin Irwin

Franklin Irwin

  • Franklin Irwin (above) born about 1814, married Elizabeth Spencer about 1840 in Russell County, KY. Brodrick Shepherd reports that he and 7 of 8 children moved to Indiana after the Civil War where he remarried to Mary Stewart.

Rhoda Shepherd born in 1777 married John Judd about 1790. In 1800, Robert Shepherd sold two pieces of land to John. Eventually, Rhoda and John moved to Centerville, Wayne County, Indiana in about 1829 and Rhoda died after 1839. They had 9 known children.

  • William Judd (1808-1881) married Malinda Jane Troxell
  • John Judd (1825-1889) married Jane Brown
  • Robert Allen Judd (1810-1896) married Hester Ann Burns
  • Sarah Judd (1813-1890) married Thomas Oler and had 8 children, including 3 daughters that survived to adulthood:
    • Margaret Oler (1840-1918) married Joseph Morrison and had 9 children including 4 daughters that lived to adulthood:
      • Sarah Alice Morrison (1866-1953)
      • Bertha May Morrison (1874-1952)
      • Caroline (Carrie) Athelia Morrison (1877-1963)
      • Essie Leona Morrison (1883-1961)
    • Martha Oler (1843-1911) married Peter Chenoweth and had 4 children including 2 daughters:
      • Sarah Olive Chenoweth (1865-1939)
      • Eva Chenoweth (1862-1923)
    • Lydia Ann Oler (1842-1895) married Rufus Williams and had one daughter:
      • Jennie W. Williams (1880-1977)
    • Thomas Judd (1815-1890) married Margaret Oler
    • Tabitha Judd (1803-1847) married David Eller and had 7 children, including 3 daughters:
      • Clarissa Eller (1829-1889) married William C Marion and had 7 children including 3 daughters who lived to adulthood:
        • Priscilla Marion (1850-1923) married Melville Whitmore and had 4 children, including daughters Viola Whitmore (1871-1934), Minnie Whitmore (1879-1954) and Clara Winifred Whitmore (1881-1966)
        • Collitta Marion (1855-1911) married Jacob Sirdoreus and had 9 children including daughters Bessie Maud Sirdoreus (1887-1979), Annie Mae Sirdoreus (1892-1974) and Cora Belle Sirdoreus (1895-1994)
        • Emma M. Marion (1863-1932) who married John Riley Sirdoreus and had 8 children including daughters Nora Sirdoreus (1878-1933), Rosa Sirdoreus born in 1880 and Edna Mae Sirdoreus (1893-1968)
      • Mary Eller (1820-1897) married Claiborne C. Tinsley and had 6 children, including daughter:
        • Mary Jane Tinsley (1847-1917) married James Allen Eller and had daughter Myrtle Lillian Eller born in 1885 who married John Pickerel and had daughter Verle Irene Pickerel (1884-1956)
      • Elizabeth Eller (1827-1897)
      • Martha Eller born in 1839
    • Mary Judd
Rash Margaret Judd

Margaret Judd

  • Margaret Judd (1822-1886) married Eller Stoker and had 8 children, including 6 daughters:
    • Orson Hyde Stoker (1843-1908)
    • David Allen Stoker (1844-1929)
    • Lavina Stoker (1846-1916) married William Spears and had three daughters:
      • Myrtle L. Spears (1878-1925) married Frank Wilson and had 9 children including daughters Gladys O. Wilson, Myrtle Wilson, Shirley W. Wilson, Crystle B. Wilson, Olive M. Wilson, Lynn B. Wilson, Ordie D, Wilson and Bernice B. Wilson
      • Eva S. Spears (1884-1969) married Charles P. Meadows and had a son
      • Cora Ethel Spears (1887-1960) married John William Meadows and had a son
    • Michael Eller Stoker (1849-1929)
    • Mary Elizabeth Stoker (1850-1936) was born and died in Pottattamie County, Iowa and married William Sheen. They had 3 daughters:
      • Elsie May Sheen (1887-1978)
      • Gestie Hezel Sheen (1889-1981)
      • Maude Lillie (1892-1972)
    • Margaret Calpernia Stoker (1854-1934) married Joseph George Spears and had 4 children, three of which were daughters:
      • Elva Spears (1972-1955)
      • Sarah Alice Spears (1874-1960)
      • Emily Caroline Spears (1877-1950)
    • Lucretia Stoker (1855-1914) married William Heileman and had two children, including one daughter:
      • Minnie Heileman born February 1880, married Louis B. Smith and had one son.
    • Melanda Stoker, reported to have died as a child
  • Elizabeth Judd (1817-1886) married Alvin Winegar and had 10 children including 6 daughters:
    • John Alvin Winegar (1838-1914)
    • Samuel Thomas Winegar (1840-1921)
    • Lucinda Winegar (1843-1844)
    • Alvin Judd Winegar (1846-1893)
    • Mary Winegar (1848-1848)
    • William Winegar (1849-1902)
    • Margaret Ann Winegar (1851-1906) married Peter Howell and had 8 children including 4 daughters:
      • Margaret Ann Howell (1871-1947) married Charles Henry Brown and had daughters Ruby Lilia Brown, Margaret Pearl Brown, Rosamond Mary Brown and Ethelyn Howell Brown.
      • May Howell born 1876
      • Mary Sterling Howell born (1879-1928) married Hugh Tierney
      • Sarah Howell (1881-1916) married Parley White and had two sons
    • Louisa Winegar (1853-1941) married Zadock C. Mitchell and had 8 children including 4 daughters
      • Florence Mitchell born in 1883
      • Mary Lavina Mitchell (1885-1978)
      • Ellis Mitchell born in 1888
      • Viola Mitchell (1892-1966)
    • Sarah Elizabeth Winegar (1856-1924) married Alexander Brown and had 4 sons

John Shepherd born in 1779 married Mary Kilby on October 13, 1802 at 23 years of age but died before January 31, 1803 when Mary requested bond as administrator. The had no children. On January 12, 1804, Mary married Jesse Vannoy. John was probably buried in the Deep Ford Cemetery as well.

There were two other John Shepherd’s living in Wilkes at the time, but John, Robert’s brother died in 1810, having been married to Sarah. Their son, John, married Sally Ervine in 1824.

John’s death must have been crushing for Robert and Sarah, to lose both of their sons within a few years, between 1800 and 1810. It’s unfortunate that his death date and cause was not recorded in the family Bible.

Sarah “Sally” Shepherd born in 1782 married about 1802 to William M. Judd, brother of John Judd who married her sister. In 1805, Robert Shepherd sold William 100 acres. Sarah and William had 10 children beginning in 1803. In 1829, they removed to Wayne County, Indiana, then to Madison County, then finally to Newtown, Sullivan County, Missouri where Sarah died in November 1858 and is buried in the Howard Cemetery. Sally appears to be the owner of the Shepherd Bible.

Sarah and John had 10 children:

  • Perry Judd (1803-1844)
  • John Judd born (1806-1840)
  • Jeremiah Judd (1808-1867)
  • James Judd (1811-1854)
  • Larkin Judd (1813-1856)
  • William Judd (1815-1911)
  • Andrew Jackson Judd (1818-1854)
  • Linville Judd (1821-1858) married Sarah Muse, then Mary Collier and had 5 children.
  • Mary Margaret Judd (September 25, 1823-1924) married Jesse Tucker and had 10 children who lived to adulthood, including 4 daughters:
    • William A. Tucker born 1838
    • Linville Tucker (1839-1922)
    • Ferril Tucker born 1841
    • Sarah Louise Tucker (1844-1905) married Joseph Lacount Brackett and had 10 children including daughters:
      • Annie Brackett (1861-1904)
      • Mary Amelia Brackett (1874-1943)
      • Sarah F. Brackett (1879-1947)
      • Albina Brackett (1882-1918)
    • Amelia Tucker (1846-1921) married James Milton Pigg and had 10 children, including 4 daughters who lived to adulthood;
      • Sarah Elizabeth Pigg (1867-1925)
      • Margaret Lorena Rene Pigg (1879-1960)
      • Elsie May Anne Pigg (1884-1975)
      • Minnie Cedalia Pigg (1887-1939)
    • Jeremiah Tucker (1848-1924)
    • Nancy W. Tucker (1851-1940) married Jesse Lewis Pigg and had 8 children including 4 daughters that lived to adulthood:
      • Mary Ann Pigg (1871-1949)
      • Charlotte Lottie Ellen Pigg (1876-1930)
      • Malecta Frances Pigg (1879-1968)
      • Ida Mariah Pigg (1883-1968)
    • Mary Ann “Polly” Tucker (1852-1936)
    • Jesse Tucker (1856-1933)
    • John William Tucker (1863-1919)
  • Sarah Elizabeth Judd (March 29, 1827-about 1883 Henry County, Indiana) married Eli Trueblood, no known children

Frances, “Fannie” Shepherd born in 1785 married Larkin Pumphrey about 1803. They had 9 children and they too removed to Pulaski County, Kentucky between 1814 and 1816, before Robert Shepherd died in 1817. By 1830, they were in Fayette County, Indiana and had 8 known children, including 3 daughters:

  • Eli Pumphrey born April 23, 1806 in Wilkes County and died May 18, 1882 in Decatur, Indiana.
  • Martha Pumphrey born 1808.
  • John A. Pumphrey born about 1812 in Wilkes County and died in 1872 in Tipton, Indiana.
  • Delphia Matilda Pumphrey born in 1814 in Wilkes County and married Samuel Smith in Union County, Indiana, having one son.
  • Jackson Pumphrey born about 1816 in Pulaski County, KY.
  • Sarah Pumphrey born about 1819 in Pulaski County, KY and died n 1891 in Decatur, Indiana. She married Samuel Milton Burney had had 9 children, which included 5 daughters:
    • Malinda J. Burney (1840-1917) married Barney Markle and had 3 children, including 2 daughters:
      • Almira Markel (1867-1932)
      • Maude Pearl Markle born in 1874
    • Ann Burney born about 1853
    • Inas Burney born about 1855
    • Famson Burney born about 1859
    • Mary Tamson Burney (1862-1943) married Edwin Austin Jackson and had 2 sons
  • Joseph M. Pumphrey born about 1821 in Pulaski County, Ky and died in 1866 in Tipton, Indiana.
  • Andrew J. Pumphrey born about 1828 in Pulaski County, KY and died in 1875 in Decatur, Indiana.

Rebekah Shepherd born in 1787 married Amos Harmon on June 2, 1806. They had 13 children, moving with them to Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana between 1826 and 1831, then about 1835 on to become one of only 2 or 3 early settlers in Somonauk, DeKalb County, Illinois where Rebekah died on September 22, 1836 and is buried in the Oak Ridge, Cemetery.

  • Sarah Harmon (1809-1881) married Conway Rhodes in 1833 and had three sons:
    • James Rhodes died as a baby
    • Anthony Rhodes born in 1836 married Anne.
    • John M. Rhodes born in 1838, married Sarah Price.
  • Rachel Harmon (1811-1899) married William Poplin in 1831 in Tazewell Co., Illinois. The is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery near her mother. Rachel had 6 children:
    • Sarah Poplin (1832-1834)
    • Harriet Poplin (1836-1887), married Herbert C. Cotton and had two children, one of which was a daughter:
      • Eva Cotton
    • Mary A. Poplin (1838-1839)
    • Rebecca C. Poplin, born in 1840, married John V. Henry in 1865
    • Francis E. Poplin was born in 1842, married Charles V. Stevens in 1862 and had 2 children:
      • F. Stevens
      • Ida Stevens
    • Jesse F. Poplin born about 1845 died after 1910
  • Fanny Harmon (1812-1836) married William Alloway in 1831. She died in DeKalf County, Illinois and is buried in Somonauk, Illinois
  • John Harmon (1813-1837)
  • Anthony Harmon (1814-1892) married Elizabeth Wilcox and had 6 children
  • George Harmon was born about 1815
  • Mary Ann Harmon (1817-1897) married Major Dennis and had 4 children. She died in 1897 in St. Louis, Missouri.
    • Waitstill Dennis (1843-1906) married Joseph Baker and had 2 children, including one daughter
      • Mattie Baker born 1870
    • Shepherd Dennis (1844-1870)
    • Rebeca Dennis (1847-1911) married Charles S. Lewis in 1865, died in Joplin, MO and had one daughter who died unmarried
    • William Allison Dennis (1852-1913)
  • Amelia Elizabeth Harmon (1819-1905) married Michael Been Ward in DeKalb County, Illinois but moved to Walla Walla, Washington. Not only was Amelia a female county commissioner, something unheard of at that time, but as such she attended the 1885 World’s Fair. President Rutherford B. Hayes stayed with the family when visiting the area. She had one child:
    • Augusta Ward (1843-1920) who married Raymond R. Rees and had 4 children, including 3 daughters:
      • Eleanor Rees (1869-1880)
      • Elma L. Rees (1870-1939) and married Harry H. Turner
      • Lora A. Rees ((1875-1941) married Paul Compton.
    • Amos P. Harmon (1821-1897) married Mary, died in Amador County, CA and had 5 children.
    • Nancy Malinda Harmon married Daniel Beem in 1842 in DeKalb Co., Illinois and died in 1905 in Amador County, CA. They had 7 children:
      • Unknown
      • Unknown
      • Benjamin Beem
      • Elizabeth Beem married a Reed
      • Sarah M. Beem (1848-1850)
      • William Edward Been (1861-1891)
      • Isabella Beem (1864-1944)
    • David E. Harmon (1825-1902) married Mary Jane Norton and had 4 children:
      • Imogene Harmon born in 1865 in Ohio
      • May Harmon born in 1869 in Ohio
      • Charles Harmon died young
      • James A. Harmon
    • William Harmon (1826-1845)
    • James A. Harmon was born in 1831 in Richmond County, Indiana and died in 1910 in Shelby County, Iowa. He married twice and had both of his children by first wife, Miriam E. Hummell:
      • Alfred L. Harmon born in 1872 in Shelby County, Iowa
      • Henry E. Harmon born in 1873 in Shelby County

Cousin Brodrick Shepherd provides additional information about Sarah Rash Shepherd’s descendants, here.

After the Kids Left Home

Sarah’s children slowly left home. The census along with family histories helps to rebuild the progression of these families.

Child 1800 Census 1810 Census 1820 Census 1830 Census
Elizabeth Shepherd b 1766 married William McNiel c 1782 Ashe County, NC Wilkes County, NC Claiborne Co., TN Claiborne Co., TN
James Shepherd b 1789 Home Presumed dead Presumed dead Presumed dead
Nancy Ann Shepherd b 1770 married William McQueary 1787 Wilkes Wilkes Pulaski Co., KY Pulaski Co., KY
Mary Polly Shepherd b 1773 married James McNiel c 1790 Ashe County Wilkes Wilkes, 1 female over 45 which would be Mary herself Wilkes
Agnes Shepherd b 1775 married Thomas Irwin c 1791 Wilkes Missing on census, Wilkes land grant in 1810 Missing Russell Co., KY
Rhoda Shepherd b 1777 married John Judd c 1790 Wilkes Wilkes Wilkes, but no female over 45 Wayne Co., Indiana
John Shepherd b 1779 Home with parents Died 1803 Deceased Deceased
Sarah Shepherd b 1782 married William Judd c 1802 Home Wilkes Wilkes, female over 45, probably Sarah Rash Shepherd Wayne County, Indiana
Fannie Shepherd b 1785 married Larkin Pumphrey c 1803 Home Wilkes Pulaski Co., KY Pulaski Co., KY
Rebekah Shepherd b 1787 married Amos Harmon 1806 Home Wilkes Wilkes, no female over 45 Richmond, Wayne Co., Indiana

In 1790, only two of Sarah’s daughters had married, and they lived nearby. The census tells us that a total of 7 females lived in the Robert Shepherd household.

By 1800, both of Sarah’s sons would have been strapping young men and good help on the farm. Three of her daughters were still living at home too.

In 1803, as the children grew up and married, Sarah and Robert apparently needed additional help, so they took two orphan boys, William and John Adkins, who apparently would have turned 21 about 1809. In any case, they are not with Robert in the 1810 census. In 1809, about the time the boys would have turned 21 and been released from their indenture, Robert bought two slaves.

By 1810, the landscape had changed.

Slaves Rachel and Jerry, probably Rachel’s son, purchased in 1809, live with Sarah and Robert until after Robert’s death in 1817. I must say, the purchase of slaves saddened me, and I hope they were treated as family.

Both of Sarah’s sons were presumed dead. John, we know for sure died in 1803, but James simply disappears entirely between 1800 and 1810.

All of Sarah’s daughters are married. Elizabeth and William McNiel moved to neighboring Ashe County, but then moved back again as did Mary and James McNiel. By 1810, Sarah had a passel of grandkids running around, and her daughters all lived nearby. With 8 daughters married and each having children every couple years, that meant that a new baby arrived every 3 months or so in someone’s cabin.

Just as assuredly as the stork arrived, death visited too, and the family would make their way to the church and the cemetery with a small wooden box riding on the wagon. There were probably already several graves in a row by the time Robert joined them in 1817, and even more when Sarah was laid to rest about 1829.

In 1817, Robert crossed over that great divide without a will, meaning that legally, Sarah was entitled to one third of his property and assets as her widow’s share. If he had made a will, he could have left her more.

Sarah’s petition to the court after Robert’s death declining her right to administer his estate in favor of her son-in-law, James McNiel is the only actual documentary evidence of Sarah in Wilkes County, aside from her name on the 1798 Reddies River church list of founding members.

Rash Sally Shepherd signature.png

Sarah’s signature with an X confirms that she cannot read and write. We may not have her actual signature, but we have her mark, which was the signature she was able to make.

In the fall of 1817, enough food and supplies were laid out from Robert’s estate to provide for Sarah “and family” for a year, as was the custom, although the only family living with her, as far as we know, were the slaves, Rachel and Jerry.

Robert Sheperd estate widow allotment

In 1818, Robert’s estate, including the remaining 122 acres of land, Rachel and Jerry, was sold. There is no record of purchasers or the amount of the sale. At this point, Sarah would have had to live with one of her children.

In 1820, several of Elizabeth’s children had moved on to more promising locations. Both sons were dead, Elizabeth and William McNiel moved to Claiborne County, TN about 1811 or 1812, Nancy Ann and William McQuery were in Pulaski County, KY, as were Fannie and Larkin Pumphrey. I can’t find Agnes and Thomas Irwin in the census although one Thomas Irwin purchases land in 1819.

That leaves Rhoda and John Judd, Sarah and William Judd, Mary Polly and James McNiel along with Rebekah and Amos Harmon in Wilkes County in 1820.

Of those families, only Sarah and William Judd have an “extra” female over the age of 45 living with them in the 1820 census, so I suspect strongly that Sarah spent the last dozen years of her life living with her namesake daughter, Sarah, who went by the nickname of Sally. That’s also the family who passed the Shepherd Bible from generation to generation, so this makes sense.

Ironically, Sarah and William Judd left for Wayne County, Indiana in 1829 or 1830, before the census – right after the time I suspect that Sarah died.

Perhaps Sarah’s death is what freed them to go.

By 1830, the year after Sarah’s presumed death, based on the Bible margin calculations, another 3 of Sarah’s daughters and their families pulled up stakes and left, leaving only Mary Polly Shepherd and James McNiel in Wilkes County.

The rest of Sarah’s children would be strewn across 4 states and 6 counties, like dandelion seeds drifting on the wind.

Lots of Grandchildren

Of Sarah’s 10 living children, her two sons didn’t survive to give her grandchildren. The 8 daughters combined blessed Sarah with 84 known grandchildren, and probably at least another 10 or 11 that died young. With nearly 100 grandchildren, or maybe even more, I wonder if Sarah could remember their names or who belonged to which parent. Holidays and picnics must have been interesting – and huge!

I can’t help but wonder if everyone got along.

While some of these grandchildren were born after their respective mothers left Wilkes County, so would never have known their grandmother, Sarah, many were raised right there along the Reddies River, on land that originally belonged to Robert and Sarah. Sarah was able to watch those grandkids and their children run barefoot through the freshly plowed fields, just as she had watched her own children blossom and thrive in the fertile valley at the base of Deep Ford Hill.

I’d wager that Sarah sat with their smiling faces gathered around her by the fireplace on chilly evenings as she told them stories about Spotsylvania County and their wagon-train adventures, in the midst of the war with the Tories, on the way to their haven on the Reddies River, a place that became the Shepherd sanctuary high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This three and a half mile stretch of road and river, from the Reddies River church to the Deep Ford Cemetery is where Sarah lived for half a century. She would have known every bend in the river and mountain ridge by heart.

Rash Wilkes aerial.png

Legend:

  • Red star – Reddies River Church established in 1798
  • Blue star – known location of Robert Shepherd original land
  • Green star – approximate location of the Deep Ford of the Reddies River, owned by Robert’s brother, John Shepherd
  • Purple star – possible location of the Deep Ford Meeting House, although I suspect it may have been at the base of the Deep Ford Hill, near the green star in the cleared fields
  • Yellow star – Deep Ford Hill Cemetery, now destroyed

It was for life in this valley that Sarah and Robert had risked it all, pulling up stakes and moving hundreds of miles away from everything and everyone they had ever known.

Sarah’s husband, Robert, contributed a horse and feed to the Revolutionary War effort, and her oldest daughter’s husband, William McNiel fought at the Battle of Brandywine. By the time Sarah was telling those stories, 30 years and a world later, nestled in a snug cabin along the Reddies River, that had all happened “long ago” and were distant memories from a place “far, far, away.”

rash children

Many locations where Sarah’s children were found, in addtion to Wilkes County, the red star.

Another quarter century later, Sarah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren would be scattered to the winds too, many moving north and westward with the rapidly advancing frontier line, and facing yet another war that would tear at the seams of a frayed nation.

Thankfully, Robert and Sarah had given them a firm foundation on which to build, both a country and their lives.

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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OMG, Mary Tan Hai is Found – 52 Ancestors #275

Late last night, the son of my mother’s dance partner, Mary Tan Hai, reached out to me after googling his mother’s name during the time she danced in Chicago and found my 52 ancestors article about Mary and mother dancing together during WWII.

Except, her name really wasn’t Mary Tan Hai. It was changed from something I never knew until last night to protect her from being sent to a concentration camp during the war.

If you recall, I wrote about my mother’s professional ballet and tap dancing career during WWII, here. Mother’s dance troupe partner and good friend, Mary, was Japanese. Her family was interred in the Japanese Detention Camps here in the US. Mary couldn’t communicate with them or her Japanese identity would be discovered and she would be sent away too.

In order to protect Mary, they changed her name and the dancers protected her within the troupe. Mary “became” Chinese. There was no record in the troupe of her Japanese origins, just in case. I don’t know if mother ever knew Mary’s true name.

My mother was born in 1922. After Mom’s fiancé was killed in action, she left the troupe and eventually lost track of Mary, but never forgot her best friend and roommate. She talked about Mary and wondered what happened to her. I presumed when I wrote the article about Mom’s dancing career that Mary had long-ago passed. I searched, but I couldn’t find anything about Mary Tan Hai anyplace. Now I know that’s because that wasn’t her real name.

I was wrong. Mary wasn’t deceased.

Mary’s family is “gathered round her”, her son wrote me last night, as she prepares to pass over. Mary and Mom will reunite soon. Oh, the stories they’ll have to tell. The hugs they’ll share!

Even though I’m at RootsTech today, I quickly found a table on the Expo Hall floor, downloaded the photos from my own blog to my laptop, colorized the photos at MyHeritage, downloaded them and mailed the newly-alive colorized photos to Mary’s son.

A few hour later, I receive a lovely gift in return that I never imagined. Mary, as it turned out, had a photo album with pictures of mother I had never seen. I am forever grateful. After I sort through what I received, I’ll be publishing that information soon.

I’m so glad to know that Mary married, to a serviceman it turned out, had a family and a long, wonderful life. Perhaps Mary can still enjoy these photos, and if not, I know, based on the thank you note that her family is.

Thank you so much MyHeritage for providing this AMAZING tool to allow us to connect and share and remember. For everyone who is interested in colorizing photos, the first 10 are free for people without a MyHeritage subscription, and unlimited free colorization of photos if you do have a subscription. I’ve provided instructions here.

Now, take a look at these beautiful colorized photos!

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope

Mother is middle row right. Mary is back row right, just above Mom.

Mother, Mary Tan Hai and troope colorized

Mother and Mary Tan Hai

Mother and Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai

Mary Tan Hai colorized

Mary Tan Hai gazebo

Mary Tan Hai gazebo colorized

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn

Mother, Mary Tan Hai lawn colorized

Mary Tan Hai well

Mary Tan Hai well colorized

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking

Mom, Mary Tan Hai peeking colorized

Update: Mary’s beautiful obituary can be found here. Thank you to her family for the notification.

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Fun DNA Stuff

  • Celebrate DNA – customized DNA themed t-shirts, bags and other items

Down Under: Tasmania – 52 Ancestors #273

This is part 2 of a multi-part series about my trip down under to Australia and New Zealand. You can read part one about my adventures in Sydney, outside Melbourne and in the Blue Mountains of Australia, here.

This trip was very different from past journeys, in part because we traveled over the holidays. We discussed this with family members first, but the kids are grown and the cruise line, Viking, included free airfare, but on just this one departure date. Clearly, lots of people hesitate to be gone for the holidays and Viking wanted to fill the cabins. For us, the free airfare made the trip affordable and our adult children were incredibly flexible. It also meant that we would spend New Year’s Eve someplace very unique😊

In this article, I’ll be sharing an unexpected New Year’s Eve treat, the absolutely amazing UnZoo, the penal colony at Port Arthur and a stunning drive along the Tasmanian coastline.

And of course, because it’s me, we had a crisis.

Come on along…

Tasmania

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. Separated from the mainland during the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. Tasmania is mostly volcanic – and beautiful.

Tasmania map.png

We departed from Melbourne and would be putting into the port of Hobart, the capital of Tasmania after a day at sea.

Tasmania aerial.png

From Hobart, we traveled by bus to the Tasmanian Devil UnZoo and on to Port Arthur, the site of one of the original Penal Colonies.

But before reaching Tasmania, we celebrated New Year’s Eve!!!

New Year’s Eve

This was a New Year’s Eve like no other, in more ways than one.

Jim and I had been anticipating New Year’s Eve shipboard. We’re not big celebrators at home, and we knew, just knew, that Viking would host a bang-up party.

What we didn’t know, of course, is how rough the seas would be.

I don’t do well with motion, and the remedy for that is to take Dramamine and go to bed.

The remedy does not involve either food or alcohol. And NEVER alcohol in combination with Dramamine. Not only that, but alcohol makes normally stable people unstable, and with the ship rocking to and fro, I needed every shred of stability I could muster.

Additionally, I was still affected by jet lag. It gets better gradually over a few days, but for me, jet lag means I’m sleepy just about all the time that I’m supposed to be awake, and wide awake when I’m supposed to be asleep. My body just screams, “I’m confused.”

Indeed, Viking scheduled a New Year’s Eve party from 9 – 12:15. Yes, you read that right. It ended at 12:15. Fifteen minutes after midnight.

I had to laugh, because Viking does attract many retired people, but really, we’re not THAT old. Why I remember New Year’s Eve’s that I was only getting started at 12:15, but I digress.

While Jim and I were trying to decide if we were going to sleep or going to party, the Cruise Director invited passengers to the atrium to a Chocolate Tasting.

OK, there’s no question. I’m going to that – rolling seas and Dramamine or not! Chocolate is going to be the death of me yet. I already tripped and fell once in the pursuit of chocolate and ancestors, but I was NOT going to miss this event.

Tasmania Chocolate Tasting.png

Believe me, the title “Chocolate Tasting” was significantly understated.

The chefs had outdone themselves and created an entire edible chocolate art display, plus buffet.

This event was so popular that they had to rope off the area and a line formed quite some time before the grand opening, or in this case, grand un-roping.

It seems that everyone loves chocolate.

Chocolate

Tasmania chocolate table.png

I slipped in while they were setting up to grab a few shots. This was before the serving trays arrived that held the beautifully decorated and arranged goodies for the guests.

Tasmania musicians.png

Musicians were scattered throughout the public areas of the ship. Music may calm wild beasts but I’m not so sure about people being restrained from chocolate.

When they *finally* opened the Chocolate Tasting buffet, it was immediately swamped with eager guests.

Tasmania chocolate served.png

It seems that everyone wanted a photo before the trays were empty. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that you eat twice, first with your eyes. Truth! And this was a smorgasbord.

Tasmania chocolate variety.png

There an amazing variety of delectable goodies. I learned that those pastel cookies are French macaroons. Who knew?

Tasmania barrier reef.png

Isn’t this just beautiful?

Tasmania chocolate fountain.png

There were two very popular chocolate dipping fountains, off to the side, one white chocolate (yes, I know that’s not really a thing) and one “regular” chocolate. As you can see, the tray was empty but held fruit and marshmallows. Nothing remained empty very long.

Tasmania edible decorations.png

The decorations like the “plants” and that loopy ribbon-looking artistic expression on the left are edible.

Tasmania chocolate theme.png

The theme was Australia, of course. Just look at those native flowers and pots with “bark.”

Tasmania chocolate fish.png

The “barrier reef” with the chocolate fish. Everything was edible, but no one could bring themselves to eat the display itself.

Tasmania chocolate fires.png

The bushfires were present on everyone’s mind.

Tasmania chocolate tree.png

This chocolate Christmas tree looks like laser-cut scrollwork. I wonder how they did that.

Tasmania chocolate buffet.png

Very pastel for chocolate. Look at those beautiful lacy butterflies. I bet they worked all day on this. I wonder if the chefs were disappointed that people didn’t eat the decorations themselves, of if they would have been hurt if they had. Maybe that was the crews treat later.

Tasmania New Year's Eve sunset.png

After falling into a chocolate food coma, we went to our cabin and watched the sun set.

Tomorrow would be an early morning, waking up in Hobart, capitol city of Tasmania.

I probably don’t need to tell you that we never made it to the party.

Never make the mistake of laying down on a cruise ship. The motion will rock you right to sleep.

Tasmania

New Year’s Day dawned bright and beautiful. Happy 2020! I had never welcomed a new year in another country, let alone another hemisphere on a landmass half way around the world.

Tasmania Harbour

click to enlarge

After docking, we climbed aboard the bus to head for the UnZoo, and then on to the Penal Colony, first driving through the city of Hobart.

Tasmania is known for its wool production and exports, both historically and today.

Tasmania woolstore.png

One of my favorite things about cruising is that you’re always by the sea.

Tasmania coast

click to enlarge

The entire journey today would be along the beautiful Tasmanian coastline in the golden rays of sunshine.

Tasmania coast bay 2.png

Before long, we arrived at the UnZoo.

The UnZoo

That the heck is an Unzoo? Well, it’s the reverse of a zoo.

The animals aren’t caged for human entertainment. The animals live in their natural habitat, without fences, and the humans are guided through that habitat and (minimally) restricted for everyone’s protection, when necessary. Kind of an immersion experience in a native botanical garden that the animals enjoy too.

I have always been very concerned about the ethical aspects of zoos – and I absolutely love not only the concept of an UnZoo, but the UnZoo itself.

We visited the Tasmanian Devil UnZoo whose mission is to save the Tasmania Devils. The Tasmanian Devil, a carnivorous marsupial, was named by the original colonists due to its ferocious voice and aggressive nature. They may be small, but they don’t know it, or sound small. Extinct on the Australian mainland today, they are found only on Tasmania, and may become extinct there soon.

You can hear and see the Devils in a YouTube video here. That voice!

Additionally, the UnZoo serves as a wildlife sanctuary, hospital and preserve for other native Tasmanian species as well.

Tasmania UnZoo save Devil.png

You may have heard that the Tasmanian Devils are urgently threatened with a rare form of facial cancer, DFTD or Devil Facial Tumour Disease, a fatal, transmittable cancer.

The bad news is that DFTD is one of only three forms of contagious cancers in the world and more than 80% of the Devils are infected today. The good news is that the location of the UnZoo has allowed a fence to be built across the neck of the peninsula to protect the Devils on the peninsula, none of whom are infected. In other words, the cancer has not spread there – yet.

Tasmania UnZoo map.png

To give you an idea of the lay of the land, Hobart is on the left, above, the UnZoo is the red pin, and the fence spans the small neck of land at Dunalley pointed to by the red arrow. If this fence and alarm system fails, the Tasmanian Devil will likely become extinct.

The UnZoo admissions provide funding for building and alarming the fence along with caring for the animals. You can contribute, here.

The guides at the UnZoo are extremely committed to the animals under their stewardship.

Tasmania UnZoo guide.png

The animals come to know the guides quite well. As a retired wildlife rehabilitator, I can assure you that even though we attempt not to form bonds with the critters, we do – and they do with us as well.

Tasmania UnZoo parrot.png

While the birds in the aviary at Healesville, outside Melbourne, had been reclusive, that’s not the case here for these unconfined birds.

Tasmania UnZoo parrots in trees.png

Look up! Birds are everyplace.

Tasmania UnZoo parrot me.png

A little birdseed helped encourage this friendly parrot.

Tasmania UnZoo parrot Jim head.png

Jim was quite taken by surprise. There was no birdseed on his head, so the attraction must have been something else. You can see both Jim and the bird are quite pleased.

Tasmania UnZoo Tasmanian Devil Education.png

Educational signs are posted in many places, helping visitors get to know the animals, along with discussing the history, challenges and surrounding habitat.

Tasmania UnZoo Tasmanian Devil habitat.png

People walk along the paths. This border is not to keep the Tasmanian Devil in, but to keep the people out of the Devil’s habitat and to keep everyone safe.

Tasmania UnZoo Tasmanian Devil.png

I had a difficult time getting a good picture of that Devil.

Tasmania UnZoo Tasmanian Devil closeup.png

In another area, the boardwalk is separated from the animal’s area by plexiglass. This little Devil came right up and took a look at us.

Tasmania UnZoo Tasmanian Devil top.png

As it turned out, he was a bottle raised orphan after his mother was killed on the road.

Tasmanis UnZoo Tasmanian Devil eating.png

After reaching adulthood, he failed in the breeding program. Let’s just say he got too excited and accidentally hurt the females, so he is experiencing an early retirement, at least from planned breeding anyway. What goes on in the bush stays in the bush though – and he’s not telling.

Lots of human imprinting means he’s quite docile, at least for a Tazmanian Devil, and although he isn’t confined in any way, it’s unlikely he’ll ever leave the general area. As a rehabilitator, I had wild, released, animals that hung around nearby for years, without being fed or encouraged. One swan even came and pecked on the sliding glass door with his beak to get help once when his mate was injured.

One of the UnZoo initiatives, aside from preventing the spread of disease is to care for orphaned animals, help the injured recover and sustain a wild breeding Devil population.

Sadly, sometimes they pass on.

Tasmania UnZoo Devil Cemetery.png

Devils that have died at the UnZoo are buried here.

Tasmania UnZoo Devil Cemetery 2.png

If you look at their “tombstones,” you’ll notice that some of them appear to have lived quite long lives. Freddie, for example, 1991-2007. These may be fictitious dates, because Devils typically don’t live more than 7 years in the wild, although it’s well-known that captive animals with care often live longer than wild animals.

Tasmania UnZoo Erpol.png

I have to wonder what is special about Erpol’s genetics. I’m suspecting that it might have something to do with the facial tumors. I sent the UnZoo a query about this but haven’t heard back from the right person.

Interestingly, there is little genetic diversity in the remaining Devils due to various past population bottlenecks where few Devils were left alive. Unfortunately, the immune system of the Devils today can’t recognize the tumor cells as foreign due to a mutation shared by all known Devils.

Devils aren’t the only animals at the UnZoo.

Tasmania UnZoo Wallaby.png

This Wallaby hopped across the path in front of us.

Tasmania UnZoo Pedemelon.png

These particular Wallabies are called Pademelons. Numbering in the millions, they live in the scrub and eat grass. There are no fences, so these critters are free to come and go.

Tasmania UnZoo birds.png

Umm, excuse me….

The person had no idea these hopeful birds were creeping up behind him.

Next, it was my turn to be surprised. The guide told us that if we walked into this field, stood very quietly, and did not approach any of the animals, that the kangaroos might, just might, come out to see us.

Tasmania UnZoo Kangaroos.png

A group of kangaroos is called a mob, and they tend to be quite skittish. A gust of wind that startles one of them precipitates a mass high speed exit of the entire mob.

Tasmania UnZoo kangaroo mob.png

You have no idea how thrilled I was. Note the joey in the pouch of the Mom in the middle.

Tasmania UnZoo single kangaroo.png

Kangaroos are extremely powerful creatures. When fighting during breeding season, males kick to kill each other and can disembowel with their back legs and claws. Notice the length of their claws in the following pictures.

Tasmania UnZoo curious kangaroos.png

“Hey, hi, who are you?”

Tasmania kangaroo

This doesn’t look very comfortable for either mom or baby, but it clearly works and keeps the baby safe. The guide mentioned that for the mother, especially when it’s desperately hot, like the days when it rose to 122 degrees, the Joey is like a hot water bottle up against her abdomen. The Joey probably feels the same way too.

Joey’s stay in the pouch entirely for about 9 months and continue to nurse for about 18 months, much like human children, well except for the pouch. The mother can have 3 dependent Joeys at once. One as an embryo developing, one in the pouch like this guy, and one still suckling outside the pouch. You can read more, here.

Tasmania kangaroo up close.png

Our guide explained we were not to approach any animals, but that IF a kangaroo approached you, that you could slowly reach out and scratch its head. If the kangaroo liked that, and approved of you, it might expose its chest to you as well, which they enjoy having scratched. Kind of like dogs.

They also enjoy kangaroo kibble.

Tasmania UnZoo Jim kangaroo.png

Jim said this was literally the highlight of his trip.

Tasmania UnZoo Jim kangaroo feed me.png

“Wait, wait, I wasn’t finished…”

The kangaroo literally reached out and gently pulled Jim’s hand back towards her – like our cats do at home.

Tasmania UnZoo stealth kangaroo.png

“Hey, no one’s looking are they??? Shhhh, don’t tell”

This kangaroo stealthily snuck up behind the guide and oh so quietly slipped its head into the bucket pilfering a snack.

Tasmania UnZoo mom and joey.png

I was standing off to the side when the Mama kangaroo with the Joey hopped up to me. I was very surprised since mothers are typically very reserved when their young are involved. I didn’t have any food in my hand either, at least not yet.

I offered to pet and scratch her, although I fully expected her to retreat. She didn’t and scratching seemed to be exactly what she wanted. She seemed a bit shy around more than one person at a time.

Tasmania UnZoo petting mom and Joey.png

Look at the length of those toenails. Just sayin’!!!

We had quite the scratch-fest. Not only did Mama let me scratch her head, then her chest, she twisted around so I could scratch her back, AND THEN SHE RAISED UP AND LET ME PET HER JOEY!!!

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The Joey seems to love his little Joey-sized scratches too.

This might well have been the highlight of my trip – although there were so many amazing experiences.

Just call me the kangaroo whisperer.

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Surprisingly, Mama wasn’t interested in food though. Nursing an older Joey requires lots of calories.

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As soon as they realized I had treats, the other kangaroos wanted snacks.

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Then Mama changed her mind. I could have stayed right here all day.

Sadly, it was time to head for the gift shop and to say goodbye to the animals at the UnZoo.

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This shy Devil watched from a distance as we arrived, and he watched us leave too. I think he’s the unofficial guard.

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Tasmanian Devils at the UnZoo even create art. I would have purchased this if it had been for sale in the gift shop, but it was hanging in the gardens. It looks like batik fabric and where else could you find something this unique?

Tasmania UnZoo devil tile

Even the floor in the gift shop is devilishly cute.

Next, we headed for the penal colony at Port Arthur.

Port Arthur

Port Arthur was the harshest of the penal colonies in Australia. I have to tell you that this was difficult for me. The buildings are beautiful, but the history is dark, horribly dark. I give the Tasmanians a lot of credit for not sweeping it under the proverbial carpet and instead, using this location and history as a learning experience.

While whalers had been using the Tasmania’s islands since 1798, it wasn’t until 1803 that a military outpost of 49 people was established here. Of those 49, many were convicts; 21 males and 3 females.

Eventually, 75,000 convicts would arrive in Tasmania, one fourth of the total sent to Australia from the British Isles. Many of their crimes were menial.

A database of 132,000 of the known 160,000 convicts transported to Australia can be found here. Tasmanian convict records are online in several locations. Check your surnames, even if you don’t have Australian ancestors. You never know who you might find, or from where. The key to solving a long family mystery might be waiting in the convict records.

A New Zealand cousin was responsible for breaking down our Speaks family brick wall, allowing us to find the location in England. Don’t make assumptions that Australian and New Zealand records or DNA matches are irrelevant to you. They may be exactly what you need!

Non-convict settlers began arriving near Port Arthur in about 1820, lured by land and free convict labor.

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Using convict labor meant that convicted men, not animals, pulled plows. Generally convict women were servants.

Established in 1830, from 1833 to 1853, the Port Arthur penal colony was the destination for the hardest of convicted British criminals – secondary offenders, rebellious people from other penal colonies and sadly, those with mental health issues.

Tasmania Port Arthur pano

Click to enlarge, photo By JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5185333

Surrounded almost entirely by (supposedly) shark-infested waters, escape was not possible. One man tried, disguising himself in a kangaroo skin, up until the hungry guards attempted to shoot the kangaroo for extra rations. Luckily for him, they were poor shots. He threw off the kangaroo skin and surrendered.

The isthmus of Eaglehawk, the only possible escape route was fenced, guarded by soldiers, man-traps and literally, intentionally half-starved dogs chained every few feet as sentinels.

Let us just say that not only was the most severe physical punishment and torture used on the convicts, but the concept of psychological punishment and torture was developed and perfected here.

Some men murdered others simply to be put out of their eternal misery; confinement under horrific circumstances with no hope of reprieve or release – ever.

I found the cruelty terribly disturbing, with inmates being whipped long past becoming unconscious, repeatedly, then hooded and confined in total darkness and silence for days and weeks on end. It’s no wonder that beside the prison, a building known simply as “the asylum” was built because the minds of many did not survive the incessant torture. They were literally “driven mad.”

You’ll forgive me if I simply could not take a picture of that building.

The 1646 or more convicts who died here were interred on the Isle of the Dead, right off shore in the bay, but only 180 graves of prison staff or military personnel are marked. The prisoners are interred in anonymous burials, graves dug by other convicts that would, soon enough, sleep there themselves – probably much more peacefully than they lived. For most of them, death was probably a welcome release.

Port Arthur was closed in 1877, the buildings abandoned.

All of these buildings were built with the labor of the men who were confined in them, including, ironically, the church.

I’ll not say more.

I will let these photos speak for themselves in silence – beginning with our arrival.

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Tasmania Port Arthur church

By D. Gordon E. Robertson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9752214

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Tasmania Port Arthur cemetery

By Star reborn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9653430

Lunch in The Asylum

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Lunch that day was served in “The Asylum,” of all places, and included a Tasmanian beer if you were interested. I drink very little, but this is very good beer and was quite welcome, as I was more than a little uncomfortable in The Asylum. I could literally feel the agony of those long-forgotten people. Not surprisingly, Port Arthur and The Asylum are reported to be heavily haunted with ghost tours reporting screams still emanating from cells, and more.

Thank goodness, I found a beautiful flower to focus on, and not the brutality that had occurred in the recesses of this building for many decades. How many lives lost? How many minds lost? What kind of human could inflict that level of torture on another sentient being? Death would have been far more humane.

Why is it that humans feel that torture of other humans, or animals for that matter, is ever justified or acceptable? As the guide said, all of this was meant to grind you down into submission and subservience, and to deter others, but sometimes the cogs ground too far.

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Color and beauty, for me, is always a welcome salve.

The Coastline

I was grateful to leave, something many of the convicts were never able to do.

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Heading back towards Hobart, the coastline was beautiful and relaxing.

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We stopped for a short walk and to take pictures of this stunning vista.

I know these are weeds of some sort, but I prefer to think of them as wildflowers. A weed is a flower growing in a place where you didn’t plant it and don’t want it to grow.

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Our trip back towards Hobart took us through a farm that I believe incorporated a golf course with a “country” lodge.

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These ranches are massive, mostly free-range farms encompassing thousands to tens of thousands of acres supporting sheep, goats and cattle, and in this case, a golf course too. The mountains, seen in the distance, are never far.

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This tractor looks familiar and reminds me of growing up.

I can’t tell you how many times I walked to the house because the tractor got mired down someplace in the mud or ran out of fuel. My Dad would just look at me as I walked from the field to the barn, shake his head and chuckle, surveying the scene over my shoulder to determine just how much trouble it was going to be to retrieve the tractor this time😊

Some things seem to be the same world over.

Tasmania ship

click to enlarge

Look, I do believe that’s our ship, waiting for us.

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On the waterfront in the dock area, near the passenger terminal today, the IXL Jams building stands as testament to a company of that name formed in 1891, specializing in jams, of course. The local legend says that someone told the founder to name the building, so he decided on IXL, as in “I excel.” Is that true? I couldn’t confirm, but it’s a cute story.

Inside the terminal, we found a maker’s market, although they were getting ready to close for the day.

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We were just in time and I thoroughly enjoyed perusing these goods. No fabric though, or t-shirts.

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I bought beautiful zippered change purses with helixes. What, you don’t think that those decorations are really helixes?

Kami and Joey approve!

Rough Seas

Now might be a good time to mention that the seas around Tasmania and New Zealand’s South Island are considered to be some of the roughest in the world. We had two sea days between Tasmania and our next port, Dunedin, in New Zealand.

Had I known those seas had that reputation, I would not have booked this cruise. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t know, because I survived, and the cruise was amazing. But it was not without challenges.

It’s also a good thing I had unlimited amounts of Dramamine and Viking has room service for food.

So, what do you do on a ship at sea for 2 days?

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At our age, you eat.

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You find food that looks like state shapes. Think of this as adult I-spy. This is the lower peninsula of Michigan.

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You drink. In my case, coffee and tea. Adult beverages flowed freely.

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You find more food art on the ship.

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This looks good enough to eat.

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OK, now I’m hungry. That’s no problem, because there’s food everyplace.

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The cafeteria is open for all meals, but theme restaurants, like Manfredi’s Italian restaurant require reservations but there is no extra cost. This is the BEST tiramisu I’ve EVER eaten, and their steak is legendary.

Jim went to a cooking class with the chef where he learned how to make the Tiramusu and received the recipe. I’d share with you, except that would be copyright violation, I’m sure.

Can’t make up your mind about dessert? No problem. Have 3😊

You can also swim or immerse yourself in the hot tub, go to the spa, sit poolside for high tea, watch movies in your room or in the outside theater, attend a wide variety of cultural talks – or all of the above.

As a special treat, you can go to the Viking Orion’s 3D planetarium, don 3D glasses and enjoy specially filmed movies about sea life, space or the aurora borealis. We enjoyed all three, but then we’re space and science geeks.

You cannot be bored.

You can, however, have a crisis.

The Crisis

By this time, we were about a week into the trip of a lifetime. We departed on Christmas Day and this was New Year’s, a week later.

When I pack, I make lists.

The most important things on that list are my meds, phone, credit cards, and my technology if I’m presenting. If I’m going overseas, add passport and visa to that. Everything else can be replaced if need be.

You know what’s coming next don’t you.

I obviously have my passport and Visa, or I wouldn’t have been IN Australia. I had my phone or you would have already heard about that, and I’ve already mentioned my computer. I would gladly use Jim’s credit cards if mine were missing😊

That only leaves one thing.

Yep, meds.

I use a 7-day reminder pill box. When I went to refill for the 2nd week, I had every med in the Rx vials, except one.

OMG HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

Not that how mattered at that point, because the issue was the same regardless.

I only take 2 meds that I can’t do without – and the one missing was, of course, one of those.

I had a full-fledged crisis on my hands.

I asked my daughter back home to check, and sure enough, the vial was sitting right on the counter, so it wasn’t buried in the luggage or lost someplace – although by that time I had already frantically torn everything apart.

Maybe, just maybe, the ship’s medical department had something that would work.

Nope – but they contacted “someone” on shore. We were dealing with a US prescription, that I couldn’t prove was prescribed for me, a Norwegian ship, New Zealand laws and a ship’s medical staff from ??? licensed in ???.

What are the chances this is going to work out well?

The nurse told me that at the next port, Dunedin, I might have to go to the doctor to get a prescription written by a physician IN New Zealand. They didn’t know for sure, but they were contacting the proper people onshore and would let me know soon.

The hours dragged by.

No news.

I worried. I worked on my computer and wrote a blog post. Thank goodness for wonderful wifi.

Fortunately, I had a couple spare doses in my purse, so I wasn’t out entirely, but would be in another 2 days.

The Viking shore agent was working with pharmacies to try to get my meds.

Finally, news came that the agent “thought” they would have my meds the morning we got into port at Dunedin. If not, then I’d get to visit the doctor instead of going on a shore excursion, which is not the adventure I intended to have. Regardless, I was grateful for any resolution to this problem.

I was so MAD AT MYSELF, not to mention my husband who assured me he put the vials in the bag, multiple times. I could kick myself for not checking.

However, at least there was a solution and the rest of the trip would be just fine.

I took Dramamine and went to bed. The seas were rougher than ever. I just wanted to go to sleep. Something, probably the deck furniture, crashed into the railing on the neighbor cabin’s balcony, jarring me awake. It was going to be a long night.

By the time we woke up in the morning, we should be docked in Dunedin.

NOT Dunedin

I went to bed feeling much better about the situation. One way or another, everything would work out.

I woke up, anxious for docking so I could stop worrying about the medication. We should already have been in port, but sometimes schedules are beyond the control of the captain. Mother Nature has a mind of her own and interferes, as do port schedules and berth availability. I could feel the ship rocking, being tossed around roughly. We weren’t in port.

I slid the door open and stepped outside on the small balcony.

The ship was still sailing and port was nowhere in sight. I turned on the TV to see how much further we had to go on the map. It appeared that we were beyond the port – but those maps aren’t exact by any means. We interpreted this to mean that we would be in port shortly.

We got dressed and headed to the cafeteria for breakfast, ready to leave for shore excursions, or the doctor, whichever our aadventure for the day turned out to be, as soon as we docked.

During breakfast, the Captain began speaking over the intercom and informed us that, indeed, we were NOT going to Dunedin after all, because the seas were too rough and the ship couldn’t dock safely.

Rats!

Wait!

OH NOOOOooooo – my meds are supposed to be waiting in Dunedin!!!!

Now what?

Back to medical, but the door of the medical department was closed and locked. Uh-oh.

Bless those customer service agents on the ship, because they are amazing.

After several phone calls, the word was that Viking would “try” to have the med shipped from Dunedin to Christchurch – but the problem was that we were only to be in Christchurch for a day. The meds would likely arrive after we left. This wasn’t going to work, and unless we got meds in Christchurch, I would be out entirely.

To make matters worse, we were now relaying messages between me, the customer service agent(s) including a supervisor, the medical department personnel and two port agents in two different locations. Not to mention a pharmacy and who knows who else was involved.

Lord have Mercy – this is never going to work. Disaster is written all over this scenario.

The customer service agent told me that “someone” would call me in my room as soon as they knew something. There were a lot of anonymous someones and somethings in this equation.

Passengers were informed that the ship would be docking that evening in Lyttleton, the more distant of two ports where cruise ships dock whose passengers are headed for Christchurch – not in Christchurch itself, further complicating an already complex Rubik’s Cube.

So off I went to deal with another rough day at sea, worrying and waiting for a phone call.

Minutes stretched to hours.

No news.

Maybe I have new MyHeritage triangulated segments or SmartMatches.

No news.

Maybe I have new bucketed matches at Family Tree DNA.

Still no news.

Maybe I have new shakey leaf hints. Nope.

Is that phone EVER going to ring???

I spent the day writing and reviewing a business plan with a jeweler I had met with in Melbourne, Australia to discuss a DNA jewelry line. (No, I didn’t mention that little detail😊)

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The seas were still rough and the sky was grey. I was feeling blue.

Would we even be able to dock? Lyttleton was said to be as difficult as Dunedin, snugged into a U-shaped bowl of mountains.

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Yay!!! Docked at Lyttleton

I have never been so glad to see land!

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We’re here! What a relief!

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Lyttleton is beautifully tucked into a lovely harbor, but at that moment, I was pretty much oblivious to the beauty and awash in relief.

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What I really cared about is that we had indeed managed to thread that needle and were moored to the dock.

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I did manage to notice this very unusual tower as we sailed into the harbor. That ball would drop at a specific time, allowing navigators on ships docked in the harbour to set their clocks appropriately. Hence, the saying, “you’re on the ball.”

It’s now called Timeball Station, originally constructed in 1876 but rebuilt in 2018.

You can see the tower on the hill just above the point of the bow of the ship in the photo above.

Where Are the Meds?

Not wanting to be a pest, I had *only* called customer service 3 times that day at sea. They were supposed to let me know something about the plan, but I never heard back.

I was trying my best not to be “that person” any more than I already was. After all, they were trying to help me.

It might be possible to see a physician that evening, if I had to, so that I didn’t miss the following day at Christchurch. Fingers crossed!

The very minute we docked, I was standing at the customer service desk. The customer service agent took one look at me, knew what I wanted and called the nurse’s cell phone, who said that she was literally in line to be the first off the boat to retrieve the med from the port agent who was waiting at the end of the gangplank.

GLORY BE!!!!!

Five minutes later, I had my meds in my hot little hands.

I need to say this right here and now.

Viking and the staff was amazing!!!

The nurse and the customer service agents went WAY, WAY above and beyond to help me. Never, not once did they make me feel as stupid as I was already feeling.

And yes, it did cost something – but only $45 for the port agent’s efforts which included the cost of the med, which is far, far less than a medical emergency or ruined vacation. I was completely at their mercy.

I am eternally grateful. I LOVE VIKING! They did not have to make my problem their problem, but they did and solved it.

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I learned a valuable lesson.

Never, ever again will I leave without physically checking my meds one last time myself. That’s probably a good precaution anyway – four eyes are better than two. We were actually very fortunate, all things considered. All it takes is one misstep to cause an awful mess.

After 3 rough days at sea, a missed port and a crisis averted, we were finally connected to solid land and looking forward to touring wonderful New Zealand. Trust me, we wouldn’t be disappointed.

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Tomorrow promises to be a GREAT day!

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Down Under: Australia- 52 Ancestors #272

What, you might be thinking – this doesn’t LOOK like a 52 Ancestors article. That’s because this one is somewhat different. I’m writing it for you, and for my descendants. Plus, Mom does make a cameo appearance is a rather unorthodox way.

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Recently, I visited both Australia and New Zealand.

Both locations are important to the genealogy of people in the Americas. How’s that possible, you ask? I’ll be telling you shortly in another article, but for purposes of this article, let’s just say that Australia and New Zealand were both settled by Europeans, in part, by convicts shipped overseas to sparsely populated Australia by the British Government beginning in the early 1800s.

These outbacks were a great place to get rid of people, given that Europe was overpopulated at the time.

My recent adventure served multiple purposes, but for now, I just want to share the lovely experience with you. I’ll be writing 3 articles, one about Australia, one for Tasmania and another for New Zealand.

Australia has recently been ravaged by fires. I arrived in the midst of the worst of the wildfires. Roads were closed surrounding Sydney. We took 4 boxes of masks with us, as just a couple days before our departure, we saw photos of intense smoke in Sydney Harbor.

I reached out to my genealogy colleagues in Australia for an update, debating whether we should cancel or not. We didn’t. One way or another, we knew it would be an adventure of a lifetime.

I wasn’t wrong!

We were embarking on a cruise, so if the going got rough, so to speak, passengers could just get on the ship and sail out to sea. The residents and the animals, so horrifically devastated, could not escape in the same manner. Especially not the animals. Those who did survive face the challenge of finding food in a destroyed habitat. My heart breaks for them.

In spite of those issues, the trip was wonderful and educational.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and come along. Yes, there’s DNA interwoven because there’s DNA interwoven everyplace, literally, and in every aspect of my life.

Food

I realize that food is not a normal place to start, but this is absolutely critical information for anyone planning to travel “down under” who is either hypoglycemic or diabetic and may need to eat something specific in-between meals. By “need,” I’m referring to a medical need. Knowing how to regulate your blood sugar with food, but then suddenly being without the food you need is terrifying.

Australia and New Zealand have very strict biosecurity laws that regulate the importation of food and biological items. This means ANY KIND OF FOOD. From anyplace outside of Australia or New Zealand, depending on which place you are visiting – including planes and cruise ships.

They are concerned about the introduction of invasive species, including seeds and insects, a phenomenon they have already experienced with rats and other non-native species that have devastated the ground-nesting bird population, nearly to extinction.

You cannot take that apple or snack off of the plane. You cannot bring anything from home. I had pre-packaged tea bags and protein bars in my suitcase, which I did declare, and they decided were fine but “plant products” are included on the banned list. If you have something to declare, you need to go through a separate entry line.

We did see entire suitcases confiscated. They are not kidding about this.

Once on the ship, we could NOT take any food off the ship for tours with the exception of processed foods. Thankfully, my protein bars that I had brought for the purpose of maintaining my blood sugar were allowed, as was prepackaged chocolate, but not nuts.

Typically, I make a cheese sandwich on crackers or a croissant and put it in my purse for a snack later, but neither bread products nor cheese were allowed to be removed the ship, so my typical “go-to” was gone.

They are dead serious about this. There are agents at the exits to inspect bags, including backpacks – and they do. There are lovely beagles trained to sniff out food items.
And there is an immediate $400 fine – plus you don’t get to keep the food.

When you are on a tour, you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to purchase anything before you need it. Be aware so you can be prepared.

Speaking of Food

I’m somewhat of a foodie, but I promise not to inundate you with photos of food. However, I found this food art just lovely. Look closely.

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These are all hand-made. Art is everyplace, including framed art pieces on the ship.

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Tapas anyone?

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Seafood? This looks like so much fun!

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Not to be outdone, the chefs carved watermelon art.

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A honeydew mandala.

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If you think this is something, just wait until you see the New Year’s Eve stunning chocolate buffet.

Australia

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Before undertaking this trip, I really gave no thought to how large Australia actually is. In essence, it’s roughly the size of the US, with most of the population living along the coasts, with the interior being fairly inhospitable desert.

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The recent fires burned the ring of the coastline where mountains sport forests that sustain both life and fuel for fire. Global warming has contributed to increasingly devastating fire seasons, with 2019/2020 being the worst on record. Australia had gone months with no rain. That combined with temperatures as high as 122 degrees and violent winds fanning the flames wrought havoc.

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To put things in perspective for you, this map shows where the fires were burning about the time we left, with Sydney being right in the midst of the worst part on the southeast coast.

Sydney

It seemed odd to arrive at the holidays in a location that was sunny and warm. Does not compute!

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Welcome to Australia.

The sunrises and sunsets were utterly stunning, caused by particulate matter in the air, of course. Our plane, after a 20+ hour journey, landed at dawn. Yes, I slept in my clothes. I was surely glad to get to the ship and take a shower and change clothes – but that wasn’t going to happen for another several hours.

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We were greeted at the airport by an Aussie Christmas tree. This all seemed surreal to me – both because I actually WAS in the southern hemisphere, on the land mass just north of Antartica – and because I was so sleep deprived that my mind was pretty foggy.

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And a sand-carved Santa.

We found our bus and headed into Sydney. What a beautiful city.

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Reminders of Australia’s English roots are everyplace. All cities have a St. Mary’s Cathedral, right?

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Our cruise ship would not be ready until later in the day, so we made our way down to the harbor where we enjoyed the warm weather, historic buildings mixed with art deco and Christmas decorations.

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Plus art – art is everyplace.

Croissants, pastries, coffee and tea were waiting for us at the lovely Sir Stamford Hotel at Circular Quay. Bless Viking!

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We strolled along enjoying the warmth after leaving the frigid winter and darkness of the winter solstice behind.

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At the bottom of a historic street, a vista opened up to our weary eyes that included a panoramic view of the harbor including the legendary Sydney Opera House and bridge.

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Meet Kami the Koala and Joey the Kangaroo who accompanied us on our adventures. Yes, I rescued them from a convenience store where they were being held for ransom😊

At this godforsaken hour of the morning, a convenience store was the ONLY thing that was open – trust me.

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I was pleased to note in both Australia and New Zealand that the Aboriginal people, the  Gadigal people here, were honored as the original inhabitants of the land.

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Standing outside the Opera House, we could see tiny people on the TOP of that bridge. Yes, you can pay to participate in the “Bridge Climb,” or you can stay on the ground for free. Guess which one I did!

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Rounding the end of the Opera House peninsula, the bay is beautiful. I’d bet that property on the point cost a pretty penny.

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Continuing around the Opera House, in the distance, you can see the islands that once held penal colonies. Today, having a penal colony ancestor gives Aussies bragging rights and is a source of pride. Those convicts were tough-as-nails survivors.

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The Opera House was amazing of course, but we were actually too close to see it very well. This area is packed with walkers and tourists later in the day, but it was still VERY early when we were here.

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The Royal Botanic Gardens cover several acres behind the Opera House.

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Let’s take a walk!

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You know I’m a sucker for flowers and plants, and I was anxious to see the native flora and fauna. Plus, the temperature was rising. Shade was becoming alluring.

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Is now a good time to mention that indeed, it was hotter than Hades in Australia, with the temperature reaching 110 one of the days we visited? 100 on this day was just the warmup act. Yes, that’s the Devil, which I found extremely ironic.

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Some of these trees were hundreds of years old, stately, massive and stunning. I see why Lord of the Rings was filmed down under.

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Inviting benches were scattered liberally. Yes, we walked pulling our hand luggage. The hotel offered to hold it for us, but we saw the line of suitcases in the hallway being “held” for folks, and we realized how easy it would be for something that looked like a laptop bag to walk away. Whoever invented wheels for suitcases was a genius.

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Color for the weary soul was everyplace. These Agapanthus are considered weeds because they grow everyplace in Australia and New Zealand, unbidden. They were music for me.

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Even the ducks wanted a cold drink of water. It was HOT and getting hotter by the minute!

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Splashes of color are to be found everyplace.

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Some garden areas are quite formal, and others not so much. You can see the haze from the smoke in many of the pictures.

Our eyes and sometimes our throats burned much of the time were in Australia, but it wasn’t terrible unless the wind shifted. People who live there just went about their business because there was little else they could do. Life goes on.

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The Kookaburra bird wanted a drink in this fountain. This guy was such a ham and put on a show for us, taking a bath to cool off. If you’ve never heard a Kookaburra bird, here’s a YouTube video.

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Of course, there was a rose garden. I had a terrible time selecting just one picture to share with you.

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Ok, two, maybe two. 😊

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I can see the bridge in the distance. We walked for maybe 5 or 6 hours, tired and hot, pulling luggage and backpacks, but thoroughly enjoying ourselves. After leaving the cold northern hemisphere, this was heaven.

I loved our impromptu tour of the Opera House area and gardens, but I was glad when it was time to board the bus again for our ship.

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Boarding our ship at the terminal and finding our room, we were afforded a lovely panoramic view of the city.

Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

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We didn’t remain on board for long though, because we had scheduled a harbor dinner cruise.

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At this point, we weren’t at all sure we’d be able to see much if any of Australia due to the encroaching fires, so we wanted to take full advantage of every opportunity possible – despite being incredibly jet lagged.

It looked dusky almost all of the time. Sunset was still a few hours away.

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When sunset did arrive, it was indeed spectacular.

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The Sydney skyline is truly beautiful at night.

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Unfortunately, my pictures just don’t do this justice. The smoke, the light, the water was rough and I don’t have a wonderful camera or the requisite skill. If you want to see some stunning scenes, just google “Sydney skyline at night.” There’s even a quilt panel.

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The Opera House.

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The bridge actually goes uphill a bit.

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You can’t see the boardwalk amusement park from this perspective, but there is one near the base of the bridge.

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We docked near the amusement park beneath the bridge and walked along the boardwalk.

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No, I didn’t ride the ferris wheel. By this time, I just wanted to go to bed.

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The Opera House beneath the bridge.

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The next morning, we would wake up to discover whether or not the roads out of Sydney were open towards the Blue Mountains, if it was safe, and if there was anything left to see.

We hoped so, not for us, but for the residents, firefighters and animals.

The Blue Mountains

While Sydney was founded on the harbor, the Blue Mountains ring Sydney and are stunningly beautiful. It’s surprising to me the unique character of mountain ranges.

The day was smokey most of the time. Our driver and guide used their discretion in modifying the planned agenda somewhat to keep us safe and out of as much smoke as possible.

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I love driving through the countryside – any countryside.

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I always wonder what abandoned buildings would say if they could talk. What stories would they tell?

The city quickly gave way to roads rising uphill towards the mountains.

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And then to the mountains themselves.

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We couldn’t see the valley floor through the smoke. However, this is the first we saw of the lovely rainforest forest.

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The ferns grown to gargantuan size here, and absolutely every plant is somehow drought and heat resistant, or it doesn’t survive.

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The bench at this overlook is an acknowledgement of the Aboriginal culture.

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The beautiful Blue Mountains themselves. That’s not mist or fog, it’s smoke from the fires. I must admin, the smoke add an etherial, unworldly feeling and is incredibly beautiful.

A few hours later, you couldn’t see these rock formations at all. We were very fortunate to visit when we did.

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Yes, there was really a valley out there, someplace.

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Turning around.

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This must be what “forever” looks like.

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I did my best to get a panorama. This scene was literally about 270 degrees. We were standing on a point of land.

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In case you wanted to sent a postcard saying “Wish you were here.”

Have I mentioned that I’m afraid of heights, and cable cars. Well, guess what, I just got over myself and DID this at Scenic World, near the overlook.

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This cable car had a glass floor. I told myself I didn’t have to look, and I didn’t have to climb aboard if I changed mymind. I recall my mother hyperventilating as she was about to board a similar cable car that crossed the Niagara River Gorge above the angry swirling muddy whirlpools. She couldn’t do it, and neither did I.

Would this time be different?

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Hey, when you’re this far up, you’ll die immediately if you fall, so no sweat! I climbed aboard and forced myself to keep my eyes open. Eyes open or closed didn’t matter at all to my safety, but mattered a great deal to the experience.

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The view was superb, making me forget about any perceived danger.

I still can’t believe I did what’s coming next.

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This is the glass bottom of the cable car. Not only did I stand on that glass – that’s my white shoes – I looked straight down at the rainforest canopy, hundreds of feet below. You can see the creek winding through the bottom of the valley.

And if that wasn’t enough daredevil for one day, next I rode on the incline train that went STRAIGHT DOWN, and, I was in the front seat. Go big or stay home.

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And yes, I did keep my eyes open. I also filmed this for posterity. I’ll spare you. But in case you were wondering, I was NOT screaming.

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This railway was original constructed for miners as transportation to the mines.

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The old coal mines aren’t safe now and weren’t safe then. Now coal mining is done by strip mining so no one is underground.

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We hiked through the verdant green forest. This is the land of huge trees and massive vines.

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Some vines grow so large as to be the size of trees.

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As odd as this sounds, this is a rainforest, even though they haven’t had rain in weeks.

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I can only imagine clearing this land. The Aboriginal people lived in harmony with the environment. They understood fire and how to deal with it.

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The smoke was moving in, so we needed to move on.

Leura and Lunch

Next, we spent time in the lovely village of Leura.

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The Australians have incorporated art into just about everything, everyplace.

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Greeting us was the Wisteria Place Café, covered in, you guessed it, Wisteria.

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Is this inviting, or what? Tea and scones are staples here.

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As luck would have it, just a block from where the bus dropped us off, I spied a quilt shop!!! I can literally smell these!

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Trust me, I’ll be making an Aussie quilt with this lovely Australian fabric plus some that I’ve been saving for something special.

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The shop owner told me that the fires and resulting smoke had negatively affected her business and she was literally in tears over the sale.

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Kami and Joey approve! Theyjust might get little quilts too.

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In many ways, the Australian towns remind me of time-worn out-of-the-way western towns in the US.

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Quaint shops, including an antique shop and bookstore line the main street in town.

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Our guide has rearranged our schedule because the fires, wind and smoke were predicted to be worse by afternoon, so lunch was quite late, but well worth waiting for.

Lunch and tea were served at the lovely restored Carrington Hotel in neighboring Katoomba. In Australia, a 100-year old building is old and colonial. Here, a 250 year old building is colonial. In Europe, 350 is just approaching old.

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The interior was lovely.

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I’m not sure exactly what this was originally. Today, they’ve used it for Christmas decorations and as part of a seating arrangement, but the original wooden object reminds me of something you’d find in a church.

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Here’s a view of the back. It also looks German to me. Whatever it is, it’s large and stunning.

After lunch, we returned through the smokey haze to our ship in the Sydney Harbour.

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A few hours later, we set sail for the day long journey to Melbourne.

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How does one form an affection for a place in two days? I can’t answer that question, but I did and I wasn’t ready to leave.

As we sailed along the coastline, we passed by several islands.

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The beauty of the islands was remarkable, enhanced of course by the stunning painterly sunsets.

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Melbourne

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Good morning Melbourne. The land where everything even remotely old is a designated historical site, like these buoys in the harbor. No, I don’t know why.

This day dawned sunny and beautiful.

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Beaches line the waterfront, with the Spirit of Tasmania ferry docked, ready for the crossing to the island of Tasmania, an Australia State.

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Never let it be said that Australians don’t have a sense of humor. All of Santa’s reindeer want to stay here and go to the bakery. Can we please stop????

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This iconic old building was “Tea Central” when teas were rare and imported.

I’m sure you realize that I’ve taken many of these photos through a bus window. I managed to avoid people most of the time, but blurred the guides face in this photo.

Photos from a moving vehicle window are very hit or miss – so no judgement please:)

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The old and very new, mixed into one eclectic city that sports both history and high tech. Many shiny high rise buildings grace the city with technology names you’d recognize. However, the historic or unusual structures were much more interesting to me.

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The clocktower on Melbourne’s old city hall building.

The hills surrounding Melbourne were engulfed in flames in several directions. Fortunately, Melbourne itself was not threatened.

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The smoke in the distance looked like mist or fog, but it was much more deadly.

Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary

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Unfortunately, in Melbourne, we were unable to do what had originally been planned which involved mountains and a winery, so instead we chose to go to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary to support the wildfire relief efforts.

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Melbourne is surrounded by vineyards. Australian wines are quite dry.

The Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary provides care for injured and orphaned wildlife, which as you might imagine, was arriving in droves. If you would like to contribute to the emergency fund, you can do so directly, here. They are still in need and will be for months to come.

Rest assured that I’m not going to be showing you any injured animals in these photos, so you don’t need to be concerned about that. I am going to share with you the wonders of nature and critters from down under – nothing like we have here.

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The Sanctuary strives to provide a supportive recovery environment similar to the animal’s natural habitat, and an area where they can be released but still receive nourishment and assistance if they can’t quite make it on their own.

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To that end, the visitor’s entry fees support the animals. The center of this flower is just lovely and looks to be waving a tiny star.

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Some opportunists decide to hang around forever – like this guy. In fact, he’s famous, or infamous.

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Judging from the sign, this Ibis’s reputation and tricks are well known!

I couldn’t wait – we headed straight for the Koala area.

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This Koala enclosure recreates their natural habitat, plus a sun shelter and a water mister. Ok, so there’s no water mister in the forest.

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This sleepy Koala may never leave!

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Pathways within the Sanctuary were marked by beautiful carvings.

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The animals sought shelter from the oppressive heat. Some were difficult to see.

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I’m not sure what this is, but it’s native and beautiful.

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A sad testimony to the brushfires which have always occurred in Australia, just never to the degree and with the intensity that they do today. Development in areas without firebreaks, in addition to global warming, contribute to the devastation being experienced today.

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These sprinklers offer an artistic touch.

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This Wallaby is looking for something good to eat.

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Entrance to the Platypus exhibit.

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Unfortunately, my platypus pictures failed miserably. Fast-moving water creature in low light.

Australia Platypus

By Klaus – Flickr: Wild Platypus 4, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32551315

This photo from wiki is much better. Someone once said that the Platypus is proof positive that God has a sense of humor.

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This Emu was as curious about us as we were about it.

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The pelicans were some of my favorites.

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Not only are they amazing, they’re incredibly photogenic. I think this guy was hoping for flying fish.

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This sleeping wombat was hot and burrowed into the coolest place possible, the dirt in the shade.

The Wombat wasn’t the only creature that was hot and miserable.  This tarp sheltered a playground. I love how they worked the raptor into the canopy.

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There were lots of educational exhibits scattered throughout, along with some colorful play areas for kids. I wonder what kind of a toad or frog this is!

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Education, kindness and conservation is the central theme everyplace.

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Hey, do you think we could get DNA out of this tooth?

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That huge reptile carving illustrates extinct animals! I don’t want to run into him in the dark, that’s for sure.

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I don’t know what these are and no one we asked knew either – but they grow wild everyplace in Australia. They are so uniquitous that I don’t think people even notice them anymore.

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The Sanctuary sports a large aviary.

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Tropical birds abound, but they were mostly quiet and hidden in the mid-day heat.

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The carvings were just so incredible.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see a Dingo carving, but there is definately a Dingo area.

Settlers and farmers have been attempting to exterminate the Dingo since the 1800s. The Dingo Fence, began in 1880 and completed 5 years later, was an attempt to prevent Dingoes from entering an area where they had largely been eradicated.

The fence stretched nearly from sea to sea.

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Dingos, both revered and maligned were known as the “Sly Yella Dog.”

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In 1980, a two month-old child, Azaria Chamberlain, disappeared at Uluru, then known as Ayers Rock. Her parents reported that the child had been stolen from their tent by a Dingo, which began a firestorm of accusations, litigation and 5 separate coroners’ inquests into the child’s disappearance and presumed death.

Her mother was initially convicted, until a chance discovery six years later of a piece of the child’s clothing in an area inhabited by Dingoes triggered the release of her mother.
Was the Dingo a victim, a villain, or simply acting like a canine? Or maybe all of the above.

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Dingoes are distinct from dogs, unless they have interbred.

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Dingoes were adopted as pets by the Aboriginal people, although others believed they conferred bad luck.

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Dingoes just look like dogs, don’t they. But there are differences.

Dogs bark and dingoes howl. You can hear two dingoes howling here, or an entire eerie dingo chorus here, where each Dingo has an identifiable voice.

You can learn more about the Dingo, here.

Time for lunch and something cool to drink!

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Lunch was purchased in the cafeteria that helps to fund the center. You can’t miss it, just find this huge carved bird!

After lunch, we visited the gift shop hoping to find a t-shirt or other merchandise to leave some additional money in Healesville.

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This gentlemen in the gift shop was playing a sacred Aboriginal instrument known as a didgeridoo, made from termite hollowed tree trunks, dating back some 40,000 years. You can hear one here.

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I hope to find some fabric incorporating Australian flowers.

The Spiritual Heartland

Another area at Healesville, The Spiritual Heartland, spoke to me, heart to heart.

Being descended from Native American ancestors, raised attending Native cultural events and hearing our ancestral stories, I connect through the heartline with other aboriginal cultures, especially those displaced and attempting to retain their heritage.

Traditionally, the Australian Aboriginal people moved from place to place across the land, driven by the seasons.

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The Gunyah is a traditional Aboriginal shelter. As the Europeans settled on the Aboriginal land, beginning in the 1830s, these structures were eventually replaced by more traditional colonial structures, as was the traditional clothing of possum-skin cloaks.

The Aboriginal nomadic lifestyle changed with the arrival of Europeans who perceived that their failure to put down roots in one place meant that the land was unclaimed and available for the taking.

By 1859, less than 2,000 of the original 60,000 Aboriginal people remained. The toll had been heavy with 58,000 people succumbing in only three decades.

Wonga, their leader, petitioned the government for land they could call home, permanently. Finally, after being ignored for years, in 1863, Coranderrk Station was established as a refuge for Aboriginal people who believed that the land had been given to them in perpetuity.

Coranderrk Station was a successful, independent aboriginal village, but created in the image of the colonial settler, not the Aboriginal people. Their traditional lifestyle was replaced by farming.

Many times the Aboriginal women would gather in the “new-fangled” clapboard houses, pull the curtains and pretend to say prayers, all the while quietly speaking their own language.

In 1923, all “half-cast” men were ordered off the land, freeing the land for colonists who viewed this land as too valuable to remain in the hands of Aboriginal people. This eviction fractured Aboriginal families, exactly as it was intended to do.

Today, the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary is the steward of a small portion of that original Aboriginal land.

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These circles mark the last remnant of Coranderrk Station, 80 hectares of land purchased in 1998 and returned to the Wurundjeri people, along with an additional 142 hectares from another source, remnants of Yarra Bushland.

Today, Coranderrk is the spiritual heart and homeland of many.

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I stand here in unity with all Native people around the world. We walk together.

Not only does Healesville heal animals, they heal hearts too.

You can donate to support the work of the Healesville Sanctuary, here.

Headed Home

It was time to head back to Melbourne, to our temporary floating home.

For several days, I had noticed signs for “Pokies” everyplace. And I mean literally everyplace. This one is outside a gas station. I saw signs outside restaurants, groceries, and more.

Care to guess?

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Pokies are slot machines.

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And you know what this is, I’m sure. I had no idea they traded under any other name than the immediately recognizable McDonald’s.

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I’m not sure what to think of this balcony drive-in hotel though!

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Passing through an Australian small town. I can hear John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” in my mind.

Entering the outskirts of Melbourne again, I noticed a lot of graffiti art.

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I know this might sound strange, but I find this quite interesting. I realize that some people find graffiti art a bit of an oxymoron.

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Is graffiti vandalism, or is it art? And when?

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You have to admit, some of these grafitti artists are quite talented. Some cities invite graffiti artists to have contests.

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Much of art versus vandalism is in the eye of the beholder. Or the eye of the property owner. And frankly, in the quality of the grafitti art itself.

Some of these buildings seem to be an ongoing art competition canvas.

A few of the original colonial buildings remain in Melbourne, closer to the waterfront.

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Colonial buildings can be recognized by their original iron railings, mostly gone today.

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The guide explained that many iron railings were melted down years ago, but a few have escaped.

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These fortunate few remain.

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I love the old colonial sections of towns. This brickwork is remarkable. Notice that the neighbor’s house has decorative brickwork of some type too. I’d bet this was the signature style of a particular brickmason.

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To me, this looks very Spanish and Caribbean.

It feels odd moving from the colonial era to the Olympics within a block or two, but that’s exactly the cultural shift one makes. I suspect that many early buildings were removed to make room for the stadium.

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These Olympic rings are found in front of Melbourne Stadium known as the MCG, or Melbourne Cricket Ground. The cricket games played during the 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Melbourne at the ANZ Stadium, and are Aussies ever PROUD of that. Cricket is an Aussie obsession – one which they don’t even attempt to explain to outsiders. If you want to know more about cricket, here you go, and good luck.

It was time to board the ship again.

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The harbor was beautiful sailing away. But things can change rapidly. And did.

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An hour or so later, the smoke drifted over the water, causing a very red sun that was not setting.

A few hours later, the sun actually did begin to set, looking like a painter’s palette.

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The sunset over the Bass Strait sailing into the Tasman Sea.

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Viking Cruise Lines always attempts to reflect the art of the locations where their voyages journey. As I pondered these footsteps, I can’t help but think of the footprints of man, of mankind, trekking out of Africa, forging paths across the globe – to you and me today. Songlines of a different type, perhaps.

We are indeed, all related.

I think I feel a quilt coming on.

Mom’s Birthday – January 30th

The next day was bittersweet.

It saddens me every year when Mom’s birthday rolls around, in part because what used to be a joyful celebratory occasion marks the anniversary of the birth of someone I can never see again.

Never hear her voice.

Never tell her stories about my adventures.

How she loved to hear those.

Well, at least the ones I selectively shared with her😊

On this particular birthday, what would have been her 98th, we sailed through some EXTREMELY rough waters in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and Tasmania. The captain would have turned on the fasten seat belt signs if he could have. Everyone was staggering around like drunken sailors, except they were stone cold sober.

Thank goodness for great wifi. Starting on Mom’s birthday and for the duration of our two day sea crossing to reach our next port, I pretty much stayed in my cabin and worked on Mom’s genealogy while popping out onto the balcony from time to time to soak up some sunshine and take a picture.

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Or two.

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I probably wouldn’t have told Mom about how rough these seas were, although they did calm down towards evening.

But given that she’s on the other side, I’m guessing she already knows. I can hear her now, “Can’t you just behave?”

In a word, Mom, “no.” I can’t and never could.

Wanting to do something to honor her birthday, I found Mom’s graduation picture in one of my blog articles, decorated it with a Christmas wreath, and posted it as my profile picture on Facebook.

And then, I cried when I saw the result on my phone.

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After it posted, I realized that her beautiful photo is juxtaposed against me, in a lab jacket, at the GenebyGene lab this past June when filming the Lost Colony episode.

Oh, the irony.

Mom’s parents wouldn’t allow her to further her education, because they had already spent money on dance lessons because of her heart condition, and they had already put her brother through college.

Not exactly comparable expenditures, but what was Mom to do?

How different Mom’s life would have been had she been allowed to attend college. There weren’t student loans then, and 17-year-old females in 1940 could do little without their parent’s consent, and in this case, assistance.

While they were willing to scrimp and sacrifice to send her brother to college –  sacrifices she endured too – they were not willing to make that same investment in Mom. Instead, the brother got a master’s degree and she got married. That’s what “good girls” did back then.

As I looked at those two photos together, taken 79 years apart, I realized just how much things have changed. I went to college and received advanced degrees three decades after Mom’s pleas were cast aside. Yes, I earned my way, but I COULD earn my way – an opportunity she was never afforded.

The lab I was visiting is directed by a female PhD, Dr. Connie Bormans.

I, along with other women have been so blessed with hope and opportunities never possible or even imagined by my mother’s generation.

I know, retrospectively, that mother would be popping-buttons proud of me, even through she was not cracked up about some of the decisions I made along the way to arrive at this place in my life. Like moving away, for example. She wished, fervently sometimes, that I would just “stay home and behave myself,” for what she perceived as my own good.

Well Mom, that just wasn’t in the cards, or my DNA.

Of course, she knows that, because she contributed half of my genetic material and selected my father for his devilishly handsome bad-boy rebel tendencies. He contributed the other half of my DNA. She, of ALL people, shouldn’t be surprised about where life’s path has taken me, with a few pushes, shoves and mid-course corrections along the way.

So, here I am on her birthday😊!!!

Staggering around on an artificial floating island half-way around the world in the very rough Tasman Sea, seeking to solve life’s mysteries using DNA. Something only discovered 2 years before my birth and that Mom had probably never heard of at that time. Yet she herself would take DNA tests that I still utilize today. Genetics would profoundly mold and transform the life of her daughter half a century later.

Happy Birthday Mom, from your gleefully misbehaving daughter sailing the Tasman Sea.

I’ll see you overhome.

Australia Mom birthday sunset

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Robert Shepherd (1739-1817), Died of the Stone and Gravel – 52 Ancestors #271

I’m incredibly indebted to a cousin, David Stielow, with whom I corresponded in 1991 about the Shepherd family. David proudly signed his correspondence with “6 great-grandson of Robert and Sarah (Rash) Shepherd.” Unfortunately, I lost touch with David decades ago. David, wherever you are – thank you!

David sent me a copy of the long-rumored but never-produced Bible record of Robert Shepherd including information that at that time, Mildred Judd Hodkins (1922-2015) who descended through Robert’s daughter, Sarah Shepherd, wife of William Judd was the then-current owner of the Bible.

The Shepherd Bible

It’s a beauty, that’s for sure!

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The marriage or Robert Shepherd and Sarah Rash in Spotsylvania County, and their removal to Wilkes County 12 years later.

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Births, including Robert and Sarah themselves. A spouse’s name and a death date sprinkined in for good measure.

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The last child was born when Sarah was 43, then Robert’s death is recorded 30 years later.

The handwriting is ornate, rendered artistically in stunningly beautiful script. Was it Robert or Sarah who lovingly penned these entries by the light of candles in front of a fireplace? I would love to see the original Bible.

I’ve come to doubt that the handwriting is either Robert’s or Sarah’s. To begin with, the handwriting recording Robert’s death entry looks just like the first entry recording his birth. That’s pretty difficult to accomplish. Sarah’s entry refers to her as “now the espoused wife,” which suggests that Sarah and Robert are living, and that it’s after 1765 when they married.

Robert’s wife, Sarah Rash’s death is not recorded for some reason, so perhaps the handwriting is actually hers – except that in 1819 records regarding Robert’s estate, Sarah signed her name with an X. So the entries couldn’t have been written by Sarah unless something dramatic happened to her ability to write between 1817 and 1819.

This might be the “church Bible” that was sold at Robert’s estate sale, or perhaps a later Bible altogether.

It’s probable that this entire Bible record was recopied from an earlier Bible belonging to Robert and Sarah, because the entries all appear to be in exactly the same penmanship except for a couple obvious additions later. This wouldn’t be unusual if the old Bible wore out, burned or was sold at the estate sale, and a new Bible was purchased. It could also be expected if the original Bible descended to one child and another child copied the original records into their own Bible. Seeing the Bible printing information in the front might help narrow these possibilities.

My guess, and that’s all it will ever be, is that this Bible belonged to daughter Sally who married William Judd because it’s her descendant who had the Bible in 1991. Furthermore, William Judd’s name is written above Sally, along with her proper name, “Sarah” and a death month and year of November 1858.

I suspect that the original Bible was probably distributed to another family member after Robert’s death in 1817 – hence the last entry in the “original” handwriting is about Robert’s death.

There is a confusing date conflict which might be explained by recopying and adding a bit of information. Daughter Rhoda is reported to have been born in Wilkes County on March 23, 1777, which clearly could not have happened if the family didn’t leave Spotsylvania County until December of 1777. One of those two years or Rhoda’s birth location has to be wrong.

This amazing Bible doesn’t just tell us that Robert and his wife Sarah Rash were born, but when and where they were born, their parents’ names, marriage date and who married them, their children’s names, birth dates and locations, along with a couple death dates.

But it doesn’t end there either. The last page records Robert’s death:

“Robert Shepherd father of the aforementioned family deceased June fifth one thousand eight hundred and seventeen 1817 – at his own house, on Reddies River, Wilkes County, North Carolina State where to he removed and settled his family from Spottsylvania County, Virginia, December 7, 1777.

After 17 days illness with his old disorder the Stone and Gravel, after residing about 40 years in the aforesaid spot.

Aged according to this record exactly seventy seven years eleven months and seven days subtracting elven days for his old stile birth.”

I initially thought that Stone and Gravel meant gall stones, but according to medical references, I suspect it was kidney stones. Gall stones appear to have been referred to as colic at that time. Regardless of which kind of stones – they had to be absolutely agonizing and probably became lodged where they shouldn’t, killing the man.

“His old disorder” tells us that Robert had suffered from this previously, probably repeatedly over a very long time. I’d guess he either died of uremic poisoning, if the stone lodged in the ureter between the kidney and the bladder, or sepsis if he developed an infection. Either would have been horrifically painful.

How much more could we ask of a Bible record? This is hands-down the most informative Bible record I have ever found in my family.

Joyce Dancy McNiel (1937-2003), another now-deceased cousin, transcribed the Bible record and sent me the following information from her files. I’m so indebted to these researchers from the generation that preceded mine. They were immeasurably kind when I was beginning.

Shepherd Stielow letter.png

Robert’s Birth

Robert was born on June 17, 1739 in St. George’s Parish, Spotsylvania County, Virginia to George Shepherd and Elizabeth Mary Angelique (or Angelicke) Day Shepherd.

St. George’s Parish was formed in 1714, initially in Essex County until Spotsylvania County was formed in 1720.

In 1730, the parish was split with the new St. Marks Parish incorporating in the upper portion which was made into Orange County, and eventually Orange, Madison, Culpepper and Rappahannock counties, according to the book, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia published by Bishop Meade in two volumes in 1861.

Shepherd Spotsylvania County.png

Spotsylvania County, where Robert was born, is located about 50 miles north of Richmond, near the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers.

In 1732, Colonial William Byrd visited, saying of the place, “Besides Colonel Willis, who is the top man of the place, there are only one merchant, a tailor, a smith, an ordinary-keeper and a lady who acts both as a doctress and coffee-woman.” What the heck else do you need?

I have to ask, what exactly is a coffee-woman? Susanna Livingston, a widow was indeed that person and you can read about her colonial Virginia coffee house here.

Keep in mind that this description was just 7 years before Robert’s birth.

The first church in Spotsylvania County was built in 1732. There was an earlier church near Fredericksburg built in 1728 and one near Mattapony as well called the Mother-Church.

In the 1720s and 1730s, Spotsylvania County was literally the unsettled frontier.

Marriage

Robert Shepherd was married to Sarah Rash on October 1st, 1765 in Spotsylvania County by church parson, James Mcrae. Bishop Meade’s books don’t show a James Mcrae, but do include a Christopher Mcrae and someone by the initial of A.

Mcrae is a decidedly Scottish name, which might provide a hint as to the origins of the Shepherd or Rash families, either or both.

Spotsylvania County Deeds

Deeds tell more of the story of the Shepherd family in Spotsylvania County. The first record of George Shepherd is found in 1749, although he was clearly married prior to that time, given that son George was born about 1728, supposedly in Spotsylvania County as well. This suggests that the elder George, Robert’s father, was probably born about 1700.

On November 6, 1749, George Shepperd of St. George’s Parish of Spotsylvania County and Elizabeth Mary Angelicke Day, his wife, sold land to Benjamin Holiday of same parish and county, 25 pounds current money, 60 acres, part of the land whereon the said Shepperd lives, etc. Witnesses were Joseph Holloday, William Miller and Margaret Randolph. Everyone signs with an X except for Joseph Holloday.

In Deed books D and E, on August 31, 1751, we find a deed from Benjamin Holloday husband of Robert’s sister, Susanna, for her father George Shepherd’s land conveyed to Robert Shepherd and his brother George Shepherd.

Shepherd Spotsylvania Holloday land purchase.png

On November 5, 1775, John Shepherd, Robert’s older brother by 5 years, sold his 500 acres of land to William Arnold, a transaction witnessed by George McNiel who also moved to Reddies River, settling land adjacent Robert and John Shepherd.

On November 20, 1776, Robert Shepherd (who signed with an X) and his wife Sarah, George Shepherd and his wife Mary, of Spotsylvania County sold to Benjamin Holloday of the same county for 54 pounds current money, 108 acres in Spotsylvania County. Witnesses: Charles Yates, Edward Herndon, John Chew, Jr, Anthony Gholston, Clayton Coleman, John Herndon and John Holloday. Recorded January 16, 1777.

It appears that Robert was laying the groundwork for their move to Wilkes County, along with his brother, John Shepherd and the George McNiel family.

Robert’s family, probably along with the others, made the journey from Spotsylvania County to Wilkes County, according to the Bible, on December 7, 1777 – clearly a turning point in the lives of these families. I’d wager there was a wagon train that “removed from” Spotsylvania County, pulling out on December 7th and hoping to reach Wilkes by Christmas. They were probably bumping along those rough roads until at least the second week of January. The average distance for a wagon was 10 miles a day, and that’s without problems.

The family had to decide which path to take.

Shepherd Spotsylvania to Wilkes.png

A more westerly path, down the old wagon road through the Shenandoah Valley would have been slightly shorter, but much more treacherous through high mountains, especially in the slippery winter.

I believe they chose the route shown above that took them through South Boston in Halifax County. Not only is this route flatter, James Shepherd, brother of Robert Shepherd settled in Halifax County for several years before moving on to Wilkes County to join the rest of the family.

For all we know, the entire group could have stopped there for some time, either to rest or to evaluate Halifax County as a place of settlement. It’s ironic that a few generations later in Claiborne County, Tennessee, the McNiel/Shepherd/Rash descendants of Wilkes County, NC would intermarry with the Estes/Moore/Dodson/Younger lines of Halifax County, VA.

Halifax County, like Wilkes County, was on the generational migration path westward for many families.

Robert Shepherd and George McNiel were more or less contemporaries. George was somewhat older, born about 1720 as compared to Robert born 19 years later.

About 1784, George McNiel’s son, William McNiel would marry Robert Shepherd’s daughter, Elizabeth Shepherd, born in 1766. Clearly, they knew each other from Spotsylvania County and undertook the overland journey to Wilkes together, but she was a bit young to have been flirting on that journey. The Rash, Shepherd and McNiel families have been hopelessly intertangled since they arrived in Wilkes County and began intermarrying. For all we know, they could have already been somehow related in colonial Virginia and before.

The Revolutionary War

The War wasn’t far behind these families. In fact, that could be part of what encouraged the Shepherd family to pull up stakes and move. Robert’s future son-in-law, William McNiel, served in Virginia from June through November 1777, fighting in the Battle of Brandywine. By this time, the Revolutionary War was in full swing.

The Revolutionary War began in April of 1775 when shots were exchanged at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts. Shortly, both Virginia and North Carolina had joined the war. For the next 8 years, the residents of both Virginia and North Carolina would suffer from warfare, deaths and injuries, shortages of food and clothing, destruction, loss of property and constant fear.

But Virginia and North Carolina, as states, would also lead the way. In May of 1775, the King’s Governor in North Carolina fled the palace and the seat of government in New Bern was taken over by Abner Nash, the eventual governor, leading the Whigs.

North Carolina proceeded to create a Bill of Rights, placing the power with the people instead of a king, providing for independent branches of government. In other words, they voted for a form of democracy that would be mirrored on a national level a few years later.

Similar events occurred in Virginia, with independence from England declared in May of 1776 following the Battle of Great Bridge on December 9, 1775, about 150 miles south of Spotsylvania Courthouse, near Norfolk.

Of course, Robert Shepherd couldn’t know how things would eventually work out in November of 1776 when he sold his land, nor in December of 1777 when he left for North Carolina, probably via Halifax County, Virginia. He may have anticipated a great deal more warfare with accompanying devastation to land and crops. Or, the move may have had absolutely nothing to do with the war. Regardless, these families moved during the war, while a literal revolution was occurring. I have to wonder what types of precautions they put in place to attempt to stay safe, and why they chose that time to migrate westward into an area plagued by Tories and Cherokee uprisings.

There’s no record of Robert Shepherd actually serving as a soldier, but he did provide supplies according to North Carolina Army accounts, in the form of a horse and 13.5 bushels of corn, or about enough corn to feed a horse for 54 days at 8 quarts of corn per day.

Life on the Reddies River

Cousin Joyce’s handwritten letters provide both general and specific information about the Shepherd family.

They lived in what is known as the Reddies River and Parlier section, west of North Wilkesboro some 12 to 14 miles. John Shepherds’s entry no. 64 called for 405 acres of land at the Deep Ford on Reddies River. Robert’s entry was next, #65-B-1-M188 for 200 acres and Rowland Judd’s entry #145-A-!-M276 was for 514 acres. John Shepherd also owned A-1-#233 calling for 333 acres on the north side of the Yadkin. George McNiel was a neighbor too, his line joined Rowland Judd’s line.

The name Deep Ford was derived from the fact that the original road leading from New River in what is now Ashe Co to the Yadkin Valley crossed the Reddies River at the foot of this hill, and that the ford at this crossing was unusually deep – thus the name that remains today; Deep Ford Hill.

Paul Gregory in his book, The Early Settlers of Reddies River tells us that:

When John arrived on Reddies River, only a few scattered families were living there. It must have been a highly satisfying experience for them to find that the fertile bottom land on both sides of the stream beginning ‘at the bend in the river’ and extending North­ward to the forks of the river was still uninhabited and unclaimed. The place where the wagons crossed the river was just north of the bend in the river. The water was unusually deep at this crossing, hence the name deep ford. The crossing was also located at the base of a hill, giving the name Deep Ford Hill. It is here that John settled.

Reddies River was flanked on either side not only with wide, fertile bottom land but also with mountain land covered with heavy timber, abounding in an assortment of wildlife. The waters of Reddies River were clear, clean, swift, and cold. This is the place that John sank his roots never to move again.

When John arrived on Reddies River, most land of this area belonged to Earl Granville, Lord Proprietor for the British Government. Furthermore, no land was available for sale or lease, as the British land office had been closed several years prior to this date. Only a very few settlers actually owned the property on which they lived. Thus, more early settlers took possession (squatted on) land of their choice, with the idea of later buying or leasing the property when the land office was reopened. This is what John did.

On July 4th, 1776 all land was confiscated and all land transactions with the British Government were invalidated. The confiscation act provided a way for the early settlers to own the land they had improved and to which they laid claim. The settlers were required to register their land with the local government as a basis for subsequent land grants. On April 24th, 1778, John entered his land, claiming 405 acres, beginning at the bend in the river near Deep Ford and extending northward to the forks of the river, including property on both sides of the river. Although John later bought many additional acres of land, it was here that he reared his family, and it is here that John and his wife, Sarah, lived for the rest of their lives.

John’s land provides an important clue about Robert. Cousin Broderick Shepherd has been compiling information about the older generations of the Shepherd family for years at http://www.reddiesrivershepherds.com/ and more recently on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Reddies-River-Shepherds-363723261156/

Broderick’s research about Robert can be found here, brother John, here, James here who fought at King’s Mountain. Brother George never left Spotsylvania County.

According to land grants, Robert Shepherd lived adjacent his brother, John Shepherd, on the Reddies River.

Shepherd grant 847.png

In 1775 Robert applied for 200 acres and in 1788 obtained 199 acres of land on the Reddies River.

Shepherd 199 acres.png

This document says that Robert is already living on this land, “for comfort.” There is no record that he ever lived elsewhere in Wilkes County.

Shepherd 199 acres 2.png

Shepherd grant 65.png

Robert applied for 200 acres but was actually granted 199. This made me wonder if an acre was set aside for either a church or a cemetery or if that’s just how the survey fell. Robert’s land is very irregularly shaped.

Shepherd grant survey.png

Looking at this survey, grant and map, John Sheppard’s line is shown below. A pole is 16.5 feet, so their joint line is 2145 feet, or about half a mile.

Shepherd survey.png

The land grant process took several steps and each step had an associated fee.

According to A. B. Pruitt, in 1777, North Carolina passed a law allowing people to take over the title to all “vacant” land in the state, meaning the land formerly the property of the King or his representative, the Earl of Granville, in addition setting forth the process, grants, for land to be sold to anyone who could pay the fees.

Land was located by prospective owners and claims were entered into books, with associated fees paid. After a waiting period, in case someone else claimed the same land, a warrant was issued which meant the county surveyor would survey the claimed land. Of course, the surveyor needed to be paid. After the survey, shown above, the survey and associated information was returned to the Secretary of State. Beginning in 1783, the state charged 10 pounds per hundred acres, or less if the land was somehow substandard and included swampland or was mountainous. In other words, if the land couldn’t all be farmed. Prior to 1783, only 50 shillings was charged per hundred acres. With Robert’s 199 acre grant, he would have paid 1990 pounds if every acre was deemed farmable.

Next, the governor would sign a land grant, attaching one of the two copies of the survey which was sent to the grantee in one way or another – sometimes being delivered to the local courthouse where ads were placed stating that the grant could be picked up.

Shepherd grant book.png

At the same time the governor wrote the grant, it would be recorded in a grant book, shown above. That wasn’t the end of the process though, because the grantee only had a year in which to register their new grant with the Register of Deeds in the county where the land was located. That filing also cost a small fee, but no one checked to assure that registering of  grants in the deed book was ever actually done.

I’ve seen cases where patents and grants were sold at these various steps, possibly because the man couldn’t pay the upcoming fees and wanted to recover his initial investment. Often, he had staked the land out and already made improvements by clearing land, planting crops, adding fences and building a cabin and outbuildings.

Robert’s actual grant in the land patent book occurred three years after the original application. I’m sure the offices and surveyors were absolutely swamped initially. Robert probably didn’t care, because he had been living there and farming the land all along. The grant was just making things official.

Shepherd 199 acre certificate.png

In 1796, Robert obtained another 50 acres abutting his original 199 acres.

Shepherd 1201.png

Shepherd 50 acres.png

Shepherd 50 acre warrant.png

Notice on the survey that north is not at the top.

Shepherd 50 acre survey.png

Shepherd 50 acre certificate.png

Robert’s brother, John’s land grant is shown below, a total of 405 acres, 180 by 360 poles, or 2970 feet by 5940 – a little over half a mile east to west by a little over a mile north to south.

Shepherd John survey.png

Note that west is at the top, so north is to the right on the survey.

Aligning the two surveys, along with the marker for the location of the old Deep Ford Cemetery with the red pin, we see the following.

Shepherd both surveys.png

George McNiel’s survey was adjacent the land of both brothers.

By comparison, here’s the first official NC map by Strother in 1808.

Shepherd Strother 1808 map.png

Church and Cemetery

Fortunately, there are contemporary roads that we can “drive” down using Google Street view.

At the top of Deep Ford Hill, the cemetery was located where these mobile homes are today, according to George McNiel during a 2004 visit when he took me to visit these sacred ancestral locations.

George and his wife, cousin Joyce Dancy McNeil, spent their lives documenting both history and cemeteries in Wilkes County. George and Joyce are both descendants of the McNiel, Vannoy, Shepherd and Rash lines. Our collective roots and blood run deep in this land.

Shepherd Deep Ford HIll Cemetery.png

In the early 1900s, the Deep Ford cemetery was abandoned by the families. The landowner used the gravestones to build the foundation of a chicken house, then the chicken house was bulldozed sometime later, reportedly in the 1960s or 1970s. George McNiel was just sick about this.

George stated that, “there was a cemetery just over from the church where Vance Lovett in the 1930s took the stones to build a chicken house, then years later bulldozed them into a ravine.” He took me to that location and showed me the 2 or 3 trailers there in 2004. I can’t help but wonder if they are haunted.

According to Brodrick Shepherd, family members believed to be buried in this lost cemetery include:

  • John Shepherd Sr. born August 10, 1734 and died June 11, 1810, married to Sarah Jennings 1738 – >1810
  • Robert Shepherd born June 17, 1739, died June 5, 1817, married to Sarah Rash born April 23, 1749. Her death in unknown.
  • John Shepherd Jr., c1760 – May 7, 1812, son of John Sr.
  • Phoebe Shepherd c1770 – >1812

I’d wager that there are more, including Sarah Rash and one if not both of their sons, James and John.

The cemetery isn’t the only thing that’s missing today.

According to historian George McNeil, one of the very early churches was established before 1800 on the top of the hill at Deep Ford. It would make sense that the church and cemetery were very close or adjacent.

Shepherd deep ford intersection.png

If the church was located at the top of Deep Ford Hill, the area across from the cemetery is flat, where a gas station is located today.