JOHN WESLEY SHEPARD, M. D., was a resident of Western Kansas from 1883, coming out here when a boy of ten years. He was an example of the successful man who starts life with limited opportunities but with unlimited energy and determination to succeed. He overcame obstacles in order to get his education and also assumed responsibilities in connection with the maintenance of the homestead. He attained his ambition of admission to the ranks of the medical fraternity about twelve years ago. At the time of his death his practice was only limited by time and his energy. There are few men in the profession in Western Kansas whose reputation was more widely extended. He went nights and days and practiced over ten counties in Western Kansas, and some of his practice also came from Colorado, as far away as Eads. Doctor Shepard, from overwork and the results of his strenuous practice, passed from this life April 25, 1918.
He was born near Knoxville, Tennessee, January 4, 1873. His people lived in Tennessee for several generations, and were in that district where the people were largely supporters of the Union during the great struggle over slavery. His grandfather, Benjamin Shepard, was probably born in Knox County, Tennessee, was a farmer, and though an old man at the time he served as a Union soldier. Two of his sons were killed in the Union army.
Thomas Shepard, father of Doctor Shepard, was also a native of Tennessee and did what he could for the Union cause during the war by serving as a teamster, though he was not enlisted. By application he was a farmer, and in 1883 he brought his family out to Kansas, taking a claim in Kingman County. He died there in 1885, when about fifty years of age. His death occurred before he had proved up the claim, and the title to the land was secured by Doctor Shepard's assistance. He earned the necessary money by teaching school. Thomas Shepard married Mrs. Sarah J. Lunsford. Her first husband was a Union soldier. She was the daughter of Colonel Copeland, who had served with the rank of colonel in the war with Mexico. Colonel Copeland lived on the French Broad River in Claibourne County, Tennessee. Mrs. Thomas Shepard died January 10, 1917, and is buried at Leoti. She had six children by her first marriage and also six by the second union. Those still living by her marriage to Thomas Shepard are: Thomas, of Salina, Kansas; William, of Tribune; and James, of Salina.
Doctor Shepard after coming to Kansas grew up largely in Kingman and Barton counties. He attended the local school and also the Kingman High School. At the age of sixteen he began teaching, his first school being in Kingman. Later he taught in Sumner County, at Mayfield, one year. So far as his means permitted he was carrying on advanced studies and finally graduated from the Central Normal College at Great Bend and then entered the State Normal and took diplomas in the elementary and Latin courses, finishing in June, 1899. He then entered the University Of Kansas and combined courses in the school of Liberal Arts and also preparatory to the study of medicine. Chancellor Snow of the University secured for him the principalship of the county high school in Thomas County, and the following year he went to Hoisington as principal of the school, an office he filled two years. His last educational work was a year spent as superintendent of the city schools at Caldwell, Kansas.
Doctor Shepard was graduated from the medical department of the University of Kansas in 1905. His inclinations and talents were largely along the line of surgery, and he eagerly accepted every opportunity to study and observe the methods of some of the great American surgeons. He did post-graduate work in the clinic of the late John B. Murphy at Chicago, and prior to that attended the clinics of the famous Dr. Nicholas Senn.
Doctor Shepard did his first practice at Tribune, Kansas, in 1904. After five years there he removed to Leoti, where he had his home and practice for five years, then spent a year in Scott City, after which he returned to Tribune. Doctor Shepard established a drug store at Tribune and also was in that line of business at Leoti. He was health officer of Greeley and Wichita counties, attended the State Health Officers Association, and was a member of the Association of Division Surgeons of the Missouri Pacific Railway.
Doctor Shepard demonstrated his success in business as well as in medicine. He developed a fine alfalfa ranch on Beaver Creek in Wichita County. This consists of 1,400 acres, 150 acres of which now supports a fine stand of alfalfa. Underneath his alfalfa there is a lasting supply of water at a depth of only five feet. This ranch is now leased for sheep. He owned another ranch on the Beaver, 640 acres, with twenty-five acres of alfalfa and 200 acres of "blue stem" soil, well suited for development to alfalfa.
Doctor Shepard was married at Hoisington, Kansas, December 23, 1900, to Miss Edna B. Mills. Her father, David R. Mills, is now clerk of the court of Greeley County. He came to Kansas about 1881 from Steubenville, Ohio, and has lived in Greeley County for several years. David R. Mills married Mrs. Elmyra (McClain) McGrew, who died at Atchison. Mrs. Shepard is their only surviving child. Doctor and Mrs. Shepard had two sons, Owen and Leroy, and a daughter, Gertrude, now five years of age.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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