May 26, 1998
I recently mentioned in this column that art work by the Shepherd sisters, Nellie, Nettie and Leona, is currently on display at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. Because of the interesting lives they led and their family’s connection with the Perry area, many folks in this community should be scheduling trips to see the collection of their paintings and drawings. I am familiar with the Shepherd family name, of course, but only recently did I learn some of the background of their contributions to the early life of this part of Oklahoma. Let me relate a bit of that today on the chance that it will be news to you, also.
The sisters were daughters of George T. Shepherd, a Kansas cattleman who claimed land in the 1889 land run, and Martha Ellen Kerns Shepherd. Part of their father’s claim later became Shepherd Mall, which I believe was Oklahoma City’s first completely enclosed shopping mall. Critic John Brandenburg reviewed the Art Museum’s display of their work in the Daily Oklahoman recently and provided more information for this piece.
Nellie Shepherd (1877-1920) was an art student in Cincinnati and later Paris, where she became a co-founder of the Oklahoma Art League, forerunner of the Oklahoma City Art Museum, during a visit by two Oklahoma City residents in 1910. Her self-portrait, an impressionistic oil, is part of the current display. Another Shepherd sister, Myrtle, is the subject of another portrait. Nellie died of tuberculosis in early 1920.
Nettie Shepherd’s contributions to the display are largely charcoal drawings. Nettie died in 1911. A painting by Leona is part of the museum’s collection. The show also includes a display case filled with old Shepherd family photographs, postcards and other memorabilia. Brandenburg advises that it should not be missed in its run through July 31.
George Shepherd and his wife were the parents of six daughters and two sons. One of the boys was Miram K. Shepherd, described as a handsome and virile young man who loved the outdoors. He staked a claim in the 1893 Cherokee Strip land run nine miles east and 2.5 north of Perry, just north of the Sumner community. On July 14, 1899, Miram married Elizabeth Marie Poole in Norman, Oklahoma Territory. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William B. Poole. Mr. Poole staked a claim just east of Sumner and in 1894 he gave an acre of land for the Poole school. Elizabeth also made the run and staked her claim on the southeast corner of the square, but she was too young to hold it. Mr. Poole came to the U.S. from England and his wife came here from Wales.
Miram and Elizabeth had three children – Miram Jackson (Jack) Shepherd, born in 1901; Juanita Lottie, born in 1903; and Leslie, born in 1909. Leslie died in infancy. Juanita graduated from Perry high school in 1923 and received a degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1925. Jack Shepherd’s wife was the former Rosette Pearl Jerkins, whose father was principal of Sumner Consolidated School for the first full year of classes in the new school, 1921-22.
Dr. Mildred Shepherd Rodriguez, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Shepherd, and her husband, Dr. Mario Rodriguez, now live in Stillwater after retiring from teaching careers at various universities in the U.S. Mildred Rodgriguez was very helpful in providing family information for this column.
We’ll continue this family history in another Northwest Corner. In the meantime, make your plans to see the Oklahoma City Art Museum’s current display of the Shepherd sisters’ art.