05 February 2010

Shephard Letter 1858 Ashland Boyd Co., KY

Original source documents are every researchers dream and some come from unlikely places. A recent seller on Ebay has posted an original 19 January 1858 letter under the catagory of historical autographs. In the Ebay description, the seller states "Pre-CW letter...T.L. Shepard writes to his Gramama about his child..." {Note: Clicking on the title of this post will take you to the Ebay item.}

The seller has scanned page 1 overlaying the other page[s] but the first page of the letter says a lot to someone who carefully reviews the material. "Ashland, Ky Jan 19th 1858 Dear Gramma I suppose you think that I have forgoten you But I have not bee it far from me. I confess that I have been negligent. We are all well. Mattie is growing very fast and she is as fit as a little pig. She can run all over the house and she can say Pound ?? tolerbly plain. Ellman and myself are going to school to Mr. Tomelson. I have been going to school ever since I came home. We have five schools in town...I suppose you have heard that old Jack Dickson run over by the cars in the tunnel a few months ago"

The letter continues on the following page which is partially covered in the scan "and he was hurt so bad that he died in..."

In these short lines, without the availability of reviewing all material contained in the letter, I have ascertained that the writer is probably a sibling of Ellman since both are in school and that Mattie is another younger child possibly in the household.

Before delving into the historical information provided about Ashland, Kentucky in those few lines, I decided to do a quick search for the Shephard family knowing that the surname in Eastern Kentucky is spelled in a variety of ways including Shepherd and Shepard.

Two years after the writing of the letter in Ashland, Kentucky, the 1860 Federal Census lists Elman L. Shephard age 11 born Ohio and a brother Franklin Shephard age 16 born Ohio [could an F. Be misread as a T.?] in Addison, Gallia County, Ohio in the home of James Maddy age 68 and wife Elizabeth 64, Mary Maddy 25 and Charles V. Maddy 24, all born Ohio. Franklin Shephard is also listed in the house of Luther Shephard age 47 born Ohio and wife Elizabeth 38 born Ohio, Elizabeth age 3 [1857] born KY and Mary born Ohio age 1. The birth of Elizabeth indicates that this family had been in Kentucky and is probably traveling back and forth along the Ohio River between Gallia County, Ohio and Boyd County, Kentucky. Rereading the entry, the author appears to have traveled when writing "I have been going to school ever since I came home..."

Gallia County, Ohio marriage records state that Luther Shephard married Elizabeth Maddy 4 March 1841. And true to the quick observation, that the family is moving along the ribbon of the Ohio River, Luther returned to Ashland in just a short time after the 1860 Federal Census. He is witness at the wedding of John Gosslen to Mary Jane Corbett in Ashland, Kentucky on 15 June 1863. From Family Lineage Investigation files, on hand, this blogger knows that Mary Jane was born in Gallia County, Ohio, the daughter of William and Susan __ McBrayer Corbett. Luther Shepherd is residing in his own home in Ashland when he hosted the marriage of Milton Nelson to Julia Wilson on 9 March 1864.

By 1870 Elman Shepherd, is an adult age 21, a preacher born in Ohio living with L. E. Shepherd age 56 a druggist born in Ohio and wife A. M. age 31 born Virginia. Others in the household include Anna 6 born in Kentucky, Lucy 4 Kentucky, Mary 11 born Ohio, Grace 2 born Kentucky and a Mary Wilson age 38, milliner born Virginia. No T. L. or Franklin Shephard.

Luther Shephard's wife appears to differ by 1870. A popular undocumented on-line source states that Elizabeth Maddy Shephard died 19 September 1853. From the 1860 census we now know she was still living but could have died prompting Luther to move back to Ashland by 1863. A clue to A. M. Shepherd is posted in the Ashland Independent 7 September 1882 "Mrs. L. E. Shepherd, of this city, is a sister to the Welshman, Thomas Thompson, 60 who as killed by a train last week near Ironton, Ohio."

By 1880 the family is residing on Third Street, Ashland and Luther is listed as overseer of the poor. Both Luther E. Shepard [1812-1885] and Agnes M. Thompson Shepard [1839-1908] are buried in Ashland Cemetery, Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.

Historically the Shepard/Sheperd family were in Ashland while still part of Greenup County, Kentucky. The letter was written when the town was in its infancy. Mr. Tomelson cited in the letter was Mr. A. A. Tomlinson "of Ohio" according to early histories of Ashland. He taught in a two room frame building used as the first public schoolhouse.

The death of Dick Dickson tells another story. The first train out of Ashland was 7 November 1857. Daily trains hauled pig iron produced by the area furnaces. The tunnels such as the one at Princess were hand dug and very narrow.

It is this blogger's hope that this wonderful piece of history will finally rest in the hands of family members who will continue to piece together the history from this Ashland, Kentucky letter from a grandchild to a grandmother.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for being there, doing what you are doing!

    Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do.

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"