Week #2 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
This photo is the only image I have of my great grandmother, and one of two that I have of my great grandfather. These portraits were in the possession of my aunt (and I hope one of my cousins still has them). My aunt sent this photo to me shortly after my father passed away. It would be the beginning of my love for genealogy research.
John Martin Shepherd (who often went by Martin) was born about 1832, presumably in North Carolina. His parentage has been nearly impossible to document and is currently the subject of a DNA research project.
Martin first married Eliza Parker on 18 April 1852.1 This is the first documentation of Martin in Johnson County, Tennessee. They had two daughters, Nancy (born about 1853) and Sarah (born about 1854).2 Eliza passed away sometime after 1860 (she is enumerated on the 1860 census for Johnson County).
Martin then married Anna Forrester on 16 February 1866.3 Anna, born about 1851, was the daughter of William Forrester and Nancy Greer.4 Anna was born and raised in Johnson County, Tennessee.
At the time of their marriage, Anna was about 16 and Martin was about 34. One can only wonder how Anna felt about being a stepmother to two women who were only two or three years younger. Anna gave birth to at least fourteen children, all of whom lived to adulthood. It is presumed that she died giving birth to her last child, Flora, in 1896.5 My grandmother, Crettie, was the eighth child, born in 1883.
Little else is know of Martin and Anna. Martin was at one time a shoemaker, but primarily a farmer. By 1883, tax records show he only owned 8 acres, which is not much for farming.6 However, his property bordered that of his father-in-law, William Forrester, so it could be that they worked together.
Martin died sometime between 1900 and 1910.7 After that, many of the Shepherd children scattered to other counties and other states. Those stories are for another day.
When I received this picture so many years ago, I knew relatively nothing about my ancestors. Even now, I continue to research and find new bits of information. I am often amazed at how much we can really learn about our ancestors after starting with only a few small details.
1 Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002, John M. Shepherd – Eliza Parker, 17 April 1852; image 74, “Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002”, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1169/images/VRMUSATN1780_061400-00077?pId=2311743: accessed 21 Jun 2021); citing Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.
2 1860 U.S. census, Johnson County, Tennessee, population schedule, District No. 9, p. 159, dwelling 708, family 17, John M. Shepherd; image, Ancestry.com (https:// www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7667/images/4296199_00120 : accessed 21
Jun 2021; citing NARA microfilm publication M653.
3 Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002, Martin Shepherd – 16 Feb. 1866; image 137 of 621, “Tennessee Marriage Records 1780-2002”, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1169/images/VRMUSATN1780_061400-00141https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1169/images/VRMUSATN1780_061400-00141 : accessed 21 Jun 2021); citing Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.
4 1860 U.S. Census, Johnson County, Tennessee, population schedule, District No. 9, p. 165 (written) p. 60 (stamped), dwelling 757, family 65, William Forister; digital image no. 9 of 12, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7667/images/4296199_00126: accessed 22 August 2022); citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 1259.
5 1900 U.S. census, Johnson County, Tennessee, population schedule, District No.3, sheet 2, dwelling 37, family 38, John Sheppard; image 4 of 24, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/7602/images/4118968_00025?pId=60684142: accessed 21 Jun 2021; citing FHL microfilm 1241581.
6 “Johnson, Tennessee, Tax Records, 1883-1885, 1887-1889,” images, FamilySearch (https:// www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C39N-297M-9? view=explore&groupId=TH-909-82400-30984-54: accessed 2 January 2023), image 25 of 625; Johnson County (Tennessee) Trustee.
7 He is last found on the 1900 census for Johnson County.