Sunday, May 4, 2008

Samuel Shepherd and Roxalana Ray Shepherd

b. 10 November 1788 Bennington, Bennington, Vermont
m. 4 December 1820 Castleton, Rutland, Vermont
d. 10 October 1877 San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California
b. San Bernardino, San Bernardino, California
Wives: (1) Roxalana Ray, (2) Charity Bates Swarthout, (3) Sarah Whitney Crandall
Father: David Shepherd; Mother: Diadema (Diana) Hopkins

b. 1794 Castleton, Rutland, Vermont
d. 11 November 1832 On a boat on the Mississippi River
Husband: Samuel Shepherd
Father: William Ray; Mother: Joanna Pond

This is an edited version of a paper I wrote in college. The best single source on the Shepherd family is the book Shepherd Family History 1605-1966, (Eula M. G. Barnett, typed manuscript, 1983). If you look up the Shepherd family genealogy online, there are a number of published genealogies that make wild connections in the Shepherd family lines, so don't believe everything you read, especially on this line.

Vermont is inseparable from the history of the
Revolutionary War. In May 1775, Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys met in Castleton, Vermont (where Roxie was born) to plan the attack on Fort Ticonderoga. Bennington was the site of a battle won by the Americans. It is also the birthplace of John Deere (like the tractors), the burial place of Robert Frost, and the home of the Grandma Moses Museum among interesting connections. Bennington and Castleton were both chartered in 1761 by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire.

Samuel Shepherd was a Vermont native whose father fought in the Revolutionary War. After fighting in the War of 1812, Samuel migrated to the Western Reserve in Ohio to a township a short distance from Kirtland. A decade later he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lost his first wife while joining the Mormon migration to Missouri and fully participated in the “trials of Missouri [and] the courage of Nauvoo.” Most of Samuel’s large family, including seven step-children, went to Utah with Samuel and his second wife Charity Bates Swarthout Shepherd. One son and two step-sons were in the Mormon Battalion.

Reports of fertile California valleys enticed the family to join a large group of Saints and colonize in San Bernardino. After several years in San Bernardino County, Brigham Young called the settlers back to Utah. Several of Charity’s children and Samuel and Charity’s one daughter had remained in San Bernardino and Charity wanted to return to be near them. So Samuel and Charity returned to California and spent the rest of their long lives there surrounded by children and grandchildren.

Unfortunately neither Samuel nor his wives kept a diary or, if they did, they did not leave it to posterity. Their emotions and feelings in any given circumstance can only be imagined. Any available anecdotes and most traceable records are from meager written records left by their children and grandchildren.

Up until the point that Samuel and his wife returned to California, the family history is about as typical a biography of a Mormon pioneer of 1847 as humanly possible. So not only is research into this family and their lives and travels and trials interesting to their descendants, but also applicable to the experience that any given family who joined the Mormon church could have had. In this way, it enriches the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because the story of the individual is the story of the group.


Samuel Shepherd was born and raised in Vermont. His mother’s family were old, respected settlers in Bennington, Vermont. His father came into the area after the Revolutionary War. Not much is known of the origins of the Shepherd family. Some researchers conjecture that this family was descended from Ralph Shepard and his wife Thank-Ye-The Lord who settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. No evidence has been found to support this tenuous claim.

As Samuel grew up he heard many heroic stories of the Revolutionary War. His father David fought in the war as did his grandfather The Reverend Wait Hopkins who was killed in battle in 1779. So it was no surprise when Samuel and his brother Henry enlisted to fight the British in the War of 1812. Records indicate that he fought in a Vermont Regiment under Colonel Martindale, Captain Ashael Scovell and Captain David Sanford. Samuel was taken prisoner of war in 1813 and held in a British prison in Canada for several months. Samuel told his grandchildren tales of the war including his imprisonment. His granddaughter Sarah Shepherd Maeser wrote,
I remember hearing him tell, jokingly, that the cell in which he was confined was so filthy and his clothes so full of “cooties” that he could put them [the clothes] at one side of the cell and go to the other side and whistle and his clothes would come crawling over to him.
After the war, Samuel returned home to Castleton, Vermont. In 1820, he married Roxalana (Roxy) Ray and three years later they decided to leave for a new life in the Western Reserve in Ohio. Samuel and his brother Wait Shepherd settled in Chagrin Township in Cuyahoga County. Chagrin was on the border of Lake Erie, not far from Cleveland and only a few miles from the town of Kirtland. The area of the township where the Shepherds settled was on the Genesee Ridge near the Chagrin River. Chagrin is now called Willoughby.

Samuel and his brother took after their mother’s Hopkins and Dewey families and were active in public affairs. Samuel is mentioned time and time again in the town records as Overseer of the Poor and Supervisor of the Seventeenth Voting District. Samuel and Roxy had six more children while they lived in Chagrin, one of whom was stillborn or died before he got a name. In 1829 the government took a census for the purpose of creating public schools. Samuel and his brother Wait were named as freeholders (landowners).


In the late 1820s, the Western Reserve was shaken by a religious revival. The group called Disciples of Christ, or Campbellites, called for a return to the religion of the New Testament and converted many people. Chagrin was a center of heavy preaching by Campbellites in the late 1820s. In 1829 a Mr. Ezra B. Violl was converted through the efforts of Sidney Rigdon and “preached with great fervor” in Chagrin and several other townships. It is reasonable to suppose that the Shepherd families were stirred by these preachers and may have even joined the Campbellites.

Not long afterwards, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Mormon Church”), which had been organized in 1830 in New York, moved its headquarters to Kirtland, Ohio. A historian of the Disciples of Christ wrote that Violl did not join the Mormons, “though [Sidney] Rigdon himself, their leader to Christ, had reeled and fallen under its blow.” Samuel Shepherd was greatly affected by the new movement of “Mormonism” with the talk of prophets and angels and the translation of the Book of Mormon. Family records tell that Samuel Shepherd and his family were baptized in 1832.

Shortly afterwards, Samuel and Roxy and their seven children joined Mormon pioneers in their attempt to settle in Missouri. Unfortunately, as they traveled on the Mississippi River in 1832, huge cholera epidemics broke out along many river ports. Samuel’s wife and infant son William Ray succumbed to the terrible disease and died. Samuel arrived in Missouri with six children between the ages of ten and one years old. The family sorely missed their wife and mother. Nevertheless, they began the work of starting a new home in Clay County, Missouri.

The next year Samuel married a widow with seven children. Charity Bates Swarthout had lost her husband the same year that Samuel lost his wife. Charity was also originally from Vermont. When Samuel and Charity married, they had thirteen children between them. Together they had one daughter, Lydia Shepherd, who was born in Independence, Missouri, in September 1836.

Not many years afterward, the “Missouri War” began in full force and the Shepherds were driven from their homes by mobs. They joined the Saints in Hancock County, Illinois. The Shepherds probably settled in the town of Bear Creek, because when the Saints were again driven from their homes, Samuel Shepherd was one of the men appointed to sell the property of the Saints in Bear Creek.

When the United States asked for volunteers to fight in the war against Mexico, Samuel’s family kept with the tradition of military service. One son, Marcus Delafayette Shepherd (known as Fayette), and two stepsons, Hamilton Swarthout and Nathan Swarthout, enlisted in the Mormon Battalion and marched to California.

While the three soldiers marched to Mexico, Samuel and his family began the long trek across the continent to Utah. They traveled in the Abraham O. Smoot-Samuel Russell Company. Samuel’s step-son-in-law Farnum Kinyon was the Captain of the third group of ten wagons in the company.

Not all of the large family traveled to Utah. Samuel’s oldest daughter Sarah Adeline Shepherd had married a man named Garoutte. They remained in Hancock County until they moved to Dallas County, Iowa, in the 1850s. Family tradition also records a story about another of Samuel’s daughters. Fanny Jane had become close to her sister Sarah Adeline after the death of their mother. Fanny Jane began the trek west with the Saints but the first day out left camp and went back to stay in Illinois with Sarah. Fanny Jane married and had two children but died young.

In the 1850 federal census, Samuel was listed as a farmer in Utah County with a household of six and real property amounting to $400.

Samuel received his endowment 17 January 1846 in the Nauvoo Temple as the Saints were preparing to leave Nauvoo for the West. In Salt Lake City, Samuel and Charity went to the Endowment House where Samuel was sealed to his deceased wife Roxy Ray and Charity was sealed to her deceased husband Philip Swarthout. Samuel and Charity received their patriarchal blessings in 1851. John Smith, Patriarch, gave Samuel the following blessing:
Brother Samuel, I lay my hands upon thy head in the name of Jesus Christ and seal you for the blessings of our Father. Thou hast passed through many trials and had many afflictions and many losses and crosses, but thou hast kept the faith and the Lord is well pleased with thy integrity at all times. He hath given his angels charge to watch over and preserve you and they never will leave nor forsake thee and they will administer unto thee to comfort thine heart.

Thy name is written in the Lamb’s book of life and because of the honesty of thine heart it shall not be blotted out.. Thou shalt be a counsilor [sic] in Zion, have wisdom to direct thee at all times in the best possible course that [unreadable] Zion.

Lean to the priesthood it shall be confired [sic] upon you in fullness in due time. Thou shalt preside over a stake of Zion shall be great in council and thou shalt be blest with health peace and plenty the remainder of thy days. Thy posterity shall be numerous and great upon the mountains, like Jacob’s be mighty among the hosts of Israel.

Thou shalt live in peace with thy family have riches until you are satisfied for naught a thing shall be withheld from thee. Thou shalt live to a good old age go down to thy grave like a shock of corn fully ripe come up in the resurrection with all thy father’s house and inherit a kingdom that shall continue to increase forever and ever for thou are of the blood of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. Amen.

Samuel and Charity and their remaining children arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. In 1849, son Fayette who had been in the Mormon Battalion, left California and arrived in Utah. Before returning to Utah, he worked at Sutters Mill and was there when gold was discovered.

He must have given a glowing report of the possibilities in California, because soon afterwards, his father Samuel traveled to California to see what the possibilities were. He returned to Utah only to go back to California in 1851 with the Apostles Amasa Lyman and Charles C. Rich and hundreds of other volunteers.

Sometime while they were in Salt Lake City, Lucinda Swarthout Kinyon’s husband Farnum died in 1853, leaving Lucinda with several young children. [May 29, 2014—Farnum seems to have died in 1849 or 1850 in Nevada, by the Humboldt River. Lucinda remarried James Madison Coburn around 1851 in San Bernardino.] She accompanied the Shepherd family to California. Fayette and his nineteen-year-old bride also were among the travelers as were Sydney and Julia Tanner and many of their family members.

The Saints gathered in Payson in Utah Valley. Here they were organized into three companies under Jefferson Hunt, who led and scouted, David Seeley, and Andrew Lytle. “Nathan Swarthout later stated…that he traveled in Andrew Lytle’s company,” so it is likely that the rest of the Shepherds were also in this group.

Edwin Pettit, David Seeley’s brother-in-law, described the move to San Bernardino. His experience was probably typical of what the Shepherds, Swarthouts, and Tanners experienced.
Again the ox teams plodded their weary way through the wild country. When camping for the night, our wagons were formed into a corral to hold the stock to keep them from the Indians. On one occasion the Indians drove off two of our cows which were never recovered. While I was on guard at the mouth of the corral one night, the Indians fired a shower of arrows at two men who were sitting by a camp fire. The fire was extinguished immediately, but it caused a great excitement in the camp. There were a number of arrows picked up next morning, but they had gone wide of their mark and no one was hurt. Two nights after that, while I was out herding the cattle, an Indian passed between me and the herd, shooting arrows at them. I did not stop him, nor even say goodbye, for fear he would take a shot at me. He shot one mule and one ox in broad daylight, but they did not prove to be poisoned arrows, consequently we pulled the arrows out and the animals both got well. We finally encamped at Sycamore Grove, at the mouth of the Calhoun pass, June 11th of the same year. Negotiations immediately were opened with the Lugos, which resulted in a sale of the great ranch, covering a great portion of the present San Bernardino valley, for the sum of $75,000. The Mexicans took their herds of horses and wild cattle with them, leaving the bare ground for the new owners.
The settlers purchased land and built a fort to protect themselves from Indians. It was not for a considerable time that the settlers moved into homes. The settlers farmed. The men went into the mountains to log timber and worked at the community’s saw mill. The community organized the “San Bernardino Rangers” to protect themselves from the Indians and the lawless element.

Edwin Pettit recorded that:
Fields were plowed and planted, and in the following spring the townsite was surveyed and laid out in town lots of one acre each. I put in a crop of grain and went to farming. I paid $125.00 for a one-acre lot in San Bernardino, and in a short time bought the next one to it, and paid $200.00, which made me the possessor of a quarter of a block.
Samuel’s granddaughter, Sarah Shepherd Maeser, wrote that her parents moved into a home on a lot which was their share from having helped pay for the purchase of the San Bernardino ranch from the Lugo family. “Here in a nice little house, surrounded by orchard, vineyard, ornamental trees, and a splendid farm, they were comfortable and happy.”

Sometime between 1855 and 1858 Samuel went before the clerk of San Bernardino County to declare that he served in the War of 1812. He signed his name Saml Shepherd and was witnessed by Charles C. Rich and Archibald Sullivan. The federal government granted land to survivors of the war. It is supposed that he received land.

On 9 January 1857, a violent earthquake shook the settlement. One settler reported that “the trees shook…the water in the well splashed against the sides, the walls of the houses creaked, and folks staggered as if they were a ‘little bit tight’.”

The settlement enjoyed a rocky history. Brigham Young had very mixed feelings about the settlement in California. From the beginning he regretted that so many Saints wanted to leave for California. However, San Bernardino had an important role. Saints coming from Australia landed in California and came through San Bernardino to outfit them for Utah.
It was designed also that the immigration from the British Isles should be diverted to that region…across the “Isthmus of Panama…land them at San Diego, and thus save three thousand miles of inland migration through a most sickly climate and country.” It was also intended that this settlement on the Pacific slope would be the western terminus of a line of settlements over the eight hundred miles of country between that point and Salt Lake City.
Whatever the motives and sentiments of Church leaders and members were, during the Utah War of 1858 Brigham Young called the settlers back to Utah. An estimated 55 percent returned to Utah. The settlers moved to Parowan and Beaver. Among them were Samuel and Charity as well as his son Fayette and his family and his daughter Julia Ann and her husband Sidney Tanner and their family. They settled in Beaver.

When the Saints left San Bernardino, a newspaper correspondent in Los Angeles reported the following:
within six weeks one thousand persons will have forsaken their homes in that valley in obedience to the commands of their chief. Men, women and children go off without a murmur and with countenances lighted with stern joy, at the assurance they receive that they are about to fight and destroy their enemies.…
There is not one line in the face of a Mormon that does not defiantly say, “we will die before we submit.”
The correspondent deplores that steps have not been taken to guard the Cajon Pass—the only gateway from southern California to Utah—to prevent the transmission of munitions of war and of the enemy, whether “Mormons” or Indians…
However, the Los Angeles Star reported the following:
From our acquaintance with the people of San Bernardino, we must say that we know them to be a peaceable, industrious, law-abiding community. Under great disadvantage they have cultivated their farms, and caused the ranch, [San Bernardino] which was, before their occupation almost unproductive, to teem with the choicest products of the field, and the garden. With their peculiarities of religion or church we have nothing to do; we know them to be good citizens, and cheerfully testify to the fact. Besides the people of San Bernardino, our state will lose three or four hundred other Mormon citizens, many of whom are now on the way to join the departing saints.
Samuel and his wife remained in Utah for a short period. However, most of Charity’s children as well as Samuel and Charity’s one daughter had remained in San Bernardino. Eventually the two decided to return to their farm in San Bernardino.

In 1860, the Federal Census showed Samuel Shepherd, age 70, farmer, living with his wife Charity, age 68. Their land was worth $1200 and their personal property worth $955. They lived in a house next to their daughter and son-in-law Lydia and James Davidson, their four children, James’ brother Hiram and a young Mexican laborer. Other family members lived in the neighborhood.

The year 1862 saw much flooding. Brigham Young noted to the Saints in Utah that they should be prepared for any exigency because the “water has risen twenty-five feet higher than it has ever been known to rise before in San Bernardino and other parts of California. I wish to warn this people, that they be not caught unprepared when spring opens.”

In 1870, the Federal Census showed Samuel Shepherd, age 80, at home (retired) living with his wife Charity, age 78. Their land was worth $2500 and their personal property worth $3000. They lived in the same neighborhood as many family members including the Davidsons and several Swarthout families.

After the Saints returned to Utah there was no branch of the Church in San Bernardino, so Samuel and his children and step-children lost contact with the Church. Finally in 1870, Samuel and Charity were baptized members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by J.W. Gillen.

In 1871 the United States government granted pensions to war veterans. On 28 March 1871 Samuel appeared before the clerk of the district court to record his service in the War of 1812 and receive a pension.

Charity died in 1877 at the age of 83 and one month afterward Samuel married the widow Sarah Whitney Crandall. He died six months later at the age of 87. No death certificate was filed. Sarah later claimed a government pension in Samuel’s name due to his service in the War of 1812.

Separated from the church, he also separated himself from blessings he had been promised, such as that he would “preside over a stake of Zion [and] be great in council.” However, he performed a valuable service in the early days of the church. Samuel Shepherd spent the greatest part of his life on the frontier, from the settlement of the Western Reserve in the 1820s to the settlement of California through the late 1870s. He was blessed with a large posterity, many of whom remained in the Church and consider the Shepherd name an honorable one.

The pictures are from wikipedia with rights granted for public use. In order:
The Old Chapel in Castleton, Vermont. It was built in 1821, the year after Samuel and Roxie were married.
Burgoyne's kettle captured in a Revolutionary War Battle.
Historic map of the Western Reserve (Ohio) 1826 including the Fire Lands.
The Kirtland Temple, Ohio.
Sutter's Mill in California.