Sheppard Farm awarded Century Farm Designation
The Sheppard Farm was recently honored as a Century Farm in Wet Virginia by the Western Conservation District and the West Virginia Conservation Agency. The West Virginia Century Farm Program is designed to recognize those families who have been farming the same tract of land for at least 100 years.
The Sheppard Farm was established in 1901 by Pascal and Lucy Sheppard and is located nine miles north of Sandyville on Route 21. The land has been farmed by five generations of Sheppard family to present, and is the home of the largest known Shellbark Hickory Tree in West Virginia. The tree has a circumference of 146.1 inches and is 90 feet tall with a crown spread of 80.2 feet.
Over the years, the Sheppard family raised corn, tobacco, hay, timber, sheep, and beef cattle. They also grew large truck gardens.
In the late 1800s to early 1900s, the family operated a “halfway house” so named because it was located half way between Parkersburg and Ripley and Ravenswood. Travelers could get a meal and a nights’ lodging before continuing on their travels. Family lore tells of the night Jesse James and his gang came to the house, got a hot meal, and bedded down with their horses in the barn, disappearing early the next day.
The original owners, Pascal and Lucy Sheppard, moved from Pee Wee, West Virginia, to the farm and raised five children there.
L.C. and Mamie Sheppard were the second generation of the Sheppard family to operate the farm. L.C. was also a local school teacher, and Mamie, just a few years younger, had been his pupil. The couple married quite young, and they celebrated 80 years of marriage before L.C.’s death just shy of 101 years of age.
L.C., also known as Clair, was well read and kept up with politics and current events all his life. Mamie lived to be 98. Together, they had four children.
Granddaughter Barbara Sullivan remembers three stars hanging in Mamie’s window during WWII. One for her uncle Pascal who flew fighter planes for the Air Force, another for her uncle Paul who was stationed in Bermuda with the Army, and a third for her father, Blaine, who served with the Navy on the east coast of the United States and in Cuba.
When Blaine returned home from service, he helped with the farm and eventually took over the operation. He and his wife, Wanda, passed the farm to his son Gary, Sr., also known as Dick Sheppard, and his wife, Patricia. They still reside on the farm.
Today, the 535 acre farm is operated by Dick and Patricia’s son Gary Jr. and his wife, Robin, as well as son Greg and his wife, Tracy. They raise beef cattle, hay, and timber. Greg’s son and daughter-in-law, Jarod and Hannah Sheppard, are the sixth generation to live on the farm and are restoring the original house as their home.
If your family has a farm that has been passed down within the family for 100 years or more, the Western Conservation District and West Virginia Conservation Agency would like to consider you for the Century Farm Award. Please contact Western Conservation District through their website at wvca.us/district/wcd.cfm, by mail at 224C First Street, Point Pleasant, WV 25550, or by phone at 304-675-3054.