Many of my posts here on KINterested so far have touched on the life of my maternal great-grandmother, Katherine Jane Sheppard/ Shepherd (my mother’s father’s mother). However, I haven’t given a full outline of her life yet! This post is meant to correct that.
I’ll follow this up with a string of other short posts highlighting people, places, events, documents and other tidbits that will add much more context to the story of her life as we remember or have recovered it. As I load these posts on the blog, I’ll link to them here where appropriate, so click back! A timeline is fine and all, but it's the stories and the details that really matter, don't ya think? But here's a start:
1902 or 1903, August 16 or 18: Katherine is born to Samuel and Rose (Allen or Ellis)
Sheppard in Pennsylvania. This despite her telling my uncle in her later years that she had been born in Italy and was supposed to come to America on the Titanic!
1905-1918: Katherine is raised in Salem County, New Jersey, a collection of glass manufacturing
and farming communities in the southern part of the state tucked up against the Salem River and a stone’s throw from the Delaware. Her father Samuel is a farmer and her mom Rose does housework, both in her own home and “out”. The Kilsons - Rose’s presumed sister Bertha, her husband Wayman, and their four children Carl, Samuel, Eleanor and Bertha Elizabeth – live nearby.
1916, July 16: Katherine’s mom Rose passes away. Rose is 7 months pregnant at the
time, and 34 years old. Katherine is about 14.
1918, September 12: Her father Samuel, at the age of 43, registers for the draft for
World War I.
1918, December 24: Katherine moves to Washington, DC and into the home of her aunt Eleanor
(Allen or Ellis) Petite, Eleanor’s husband Oswald and their son Frederick.
1920 – 1940: For at least this time period, Katherine works in various domestic positions in
Washington, DC, as a laundress, a cook, a maid, etc. For most of this time, she is living in Eleanor Petite’s home in Foggy Bottom.
1922, December 29: Katherine gives birth to her son, my grandfather, Louis Shepherd, at Columbia
1927, July 5: Katherine marries a man named Liontly Banks. She is 24 years old, he is 34, and Louis
is almost 5.
1930: Katherine is again living with Eleanor and Frederick Petite. Eleanor’s husband Oswald had
passed away in 1923. It is unclear what happened to Liontly Banks.
1933, April 4: Katherine’s aunt Eleanor Petite passes away.
1939 or 40: Katherine and Louis move to 152 D Street SE, next door to Louis’ future wife.
1944, April 29: Louis and Elnora Cooper marry.
Around 1945: Katherine moves to New York City.
1957, August 21: Still in New York, Katherine marries Ivan Lewis Gittens, also known as Ivan
Sharpe, an actor from the British West Indies (now Trinidad and Tobago). They have known each other at least since 1951.
1958, January 29: Husband Ivan passes away.
1967, April 1: Elnora (Cooper) Shepherd, Katherine's son Louis' wife, passes away after battling
1968, May 2: Katherine’s son Louis marries Doris Elizabeth (Reid) Mathis in Washington, DC.
1970, October 14: After a hospital stay of a few weeks, Katherine passes away at the
Bronx Medical Center, leaving behind her son Louis and a host of grandchildren. She is interred the following week at Ferncliffe Cemetery.