Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Shepherds and Sizemore's of Eastern Kentucky

The Shepherds and Sizemore's of Eastern Kentucky

When people discuss the early history of our state, they often mention early explorers like Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone. These men forged into Native American hunting grounds to create what is now known as the Daniel Boone Trail, or Wilderness Trail. Yes, many people of Scottish and Irish decent followed this trail, but there were a few families with a more diverse heritage that came into this state. Some followed the Wilderness Trail, others came through Pound Gap. These Tri Racial families moved from the area of Hawkins County Tennessee and Wise Virginia in the early 1800s. Some, like the Sizemore's, had Native American ancestry through the Cherokee and Creek tribes, while the Shepherd's had this plus African American ancestry. 

Let's look at the Shepherds. The earliest picture I have of this family is Henderson Shepherd and his wife Louisa. Henderson was born in Wise Virginia in 1821. Both he and his wife have ancestors that came from the New River area, primarily through the maternal side. This is where we find women with no last names or history. Through the Paternal Lines, we find these families came to America in in early 1700s, possibly as Indentured Servants from England and Ireland. 

What is interesting about Henderson is the picture of him and his family. When we look at Henderson, we can see obvious European and African lineage, and his wife Louisa is said to have been part Native American. The child Henderson holds appears to be a Native American girl, while Louisa holds a little boy that is more Caucasian in appearance. In this picture, we get a glimpse of what a truly Tri Racial family would have looked like. Henderson is my 3 X Great Grandfather.

Henderson's son Clem Shepherd married Rutha Musselwhite. Rutha has ties to Wilkes County through her mother Tamar Allen. We have no evidence of what race she was or who her parents are. Her father, Worley Musselwhite, was born in Roberson North Carolina with no listed parents. My thought would be that both of her parents could be of possible Lumbee origin. And by the picture of Clem and Rutha, I think that would be a fair assumption. 

Clem would have a son named Elijah Shepherd, who would later marry Ann Jones. Their daughter, Oddie Shepherd, was my grandmother through my father.

So, let's talk about Ann Jones. Ann was the daughter of Bige Jones and Sallie Woods. Bige was the son of Civil War soldier Edward Jones and a Native American lady named Mary Polly Asher Jones. Sallie was the daughter of Mahala Sizemore-Woods and Lilburn Woods. Mahala is the daughter of Ann Pruitt and Russell Sizemore. Russell's mother was Rhoda Sizemore, daughter of George All Sizemore and Agnes Shepherd. His father is unknown. We know by pictures that the Sizemore's indeed have some degree of Native American, but so does the Woods and Jones. When we research these families, we find the same information, with ties back to areas like Wilkes County NC, Wise VA, and Roberson County NC.

 Yes, this has taken many years to put together and document with evidence. Lucky, I also have a cousin that had pictures of these people. When we put a face to the name, the story starts to unfold. Our Tri Racial ancestry is revealed before our eyes.

Mike Fields

Abijah Shepherd center. Grandson of Henderson Shepherd and great great grandson of Russell Sizemore.

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