Putnam County

THOMAS WELLS SHEPARD

The name of this lamented citizen of Putnam county, who passed to his rest on the loth of July, 1891, is remembered as that of one of the pioneers of the county, and a man who assisted greatly in its developm<->nt and prosperity. He was born in Kentucky, November 20, 1812, and when six years old was taken by his parents, John Wesley and Rachel Shepard, to Davis county, Indiana, where he grew to manhood.

At the age of twenty-three years, Mr. Shepard came to Putnam county, working in a saw mill at Florid, Putnam county, with a man named Millatt. He had often boated down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans with provisions, and after locating in Putnam county, took ice by boat from Hennepin to Baton Rouge, which business proved quite profitable.

On the 5th of December, 1844, near Hennepin was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Shepard and Miss Catherine Ham, who was born in Dutchess county, New York, May 9, 1825, and in 1831, was brought to Putnam county by her parents, William and ATargaret (Clum) Ham, also natives of Dutchess county. Here they located three miles from Hennepin, and during the Indian troubles, in which the father took part, they lived at the fort at Florid. The parents died on the old home farm, the father, at the age of seventy-five years. In their family were four children — Philip, of Hennepin; Maria, who became the wife of Bushrod Franceway, but both are now deceased; Peter, of Independence, Iowa, and Catherine, widow of our subject. After the mother's death, Mr. Ham was again married, his second union being with Miss Susan Dysart, who survived him until February, 1893. They had two children — William, now of Independence, Iowa, and Susan, wife of Charles Braddish, of Sansom, Illinois.

After his marriage, Mr. Shepard purchased a farm in Granville township, where he resided for two years, and then removed to a farm on Hennepin prairie, comprising three hundred acres, which he placed under a high state of cultivation, and improved with a large frame residence and the other accessories which go to make up a model farm. At one time he bought a section of Kansas land which he held for some years. He became an extensive stock-grower and cattle feeder, in which business he was quite successful, and for som.e years he owned an interest in a grist mill at Hennepin, being naturally a good mechanic and fond of machinery.

A strong abolitionist, Mr. Shepard aided many a colored man on his way to Canada and freedom, and during the war helped to raise troops to put down the rebellion and loosen the shackles from a million slaves. For almost twenty consecutive years he served as township supervisor, was trustee more than twenty-one years, and held other offices of honor and trust, the duties of which he always faithfully discharged. As a boy of thirteen he became a Christian, joining first the Methodist Episcopal church, and later the Wesleyans. He erected a house of worship on his farm in Hennepin, was a zealous and earnest Christian, doing all in his power to advance the Master's cause, and always lived at peace with his neighbors. However, he was quite firm in his opinions and would always stand up for his own rights, provided they did not conflict wit'n the rights of his fellow-men. His estimable wife also belonged to the Wesleyan church for some time, but now holds membership in the Congregational church.

Eight children were born to them — Rachel, wife of Archie Gerrow, of Hennepin township; William Henry, a farmer, who died at the age of twenty-six years; James, of Neosho county, Kansas; Thomas, of Beadle county. South Dakota; George, of Franklin county, Nebraska; Ella, who lives at home with her mother; Richard, of Black Hawk county, Iowa, and Grant, of Granville township, Putnam county. At his death the oldest son left a child, Percie, then only a year and a half old, who was taken by his paternal grandparents and reared by them. He is now employed in a hardware store at Hennepin.

In December, 1887, Mr. and Mrs. Shepard left the farm, removing to Hennepin, where he died of palsy after a ten days' illness. He was by nature liberal and public-spirited, and whereever he took up his abode maintained an interest in the people around him, and contributed to the best of his means and ability to their improvement socially and morally. No man is more worthy of a representation in a work of this kind, and there is none whose name is held in more grateful remembrance. The farm has since been sold and Mrs. Shepard finds a pleasant home in Hennepin, where she is surrounded by many warm friends.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 612.


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