March 26, 1862 - February 8, 1925
|The Rev. Benjamin Hardy Sheppard was born near Calhoun, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, March 26, 1862, and died in his home in Jena, La Salle Parish, Louisiana, February 8, 1925, being at the time of his death sixty-two years, ten months and twelve days of age. He was a son of Frederck Marion Sheppard and Mary Elizabeth Butler. He was early left an orphan to meet the hardships of life as best he could, his mother having died when he was seven and his father when he was eleven. He met the problem in a heroic manner; working hard in the daytime and then at night he studied by a pine-knot fire that he might be better fitted for a higher service in life.
Brother Sheppard was licensed to preach November 13, 1886, while Dr. J. T. Sawyer was his presiding elder. He served four years as a local preacher, and was ordained deacon December 7, 1890, admitted into full connection in 1898, and ordained elder, 1895.
His first work as a traveling preacher was on Saline Mission, 1891, after which he served the following charges faithfully and well: Spring Creek, 1892; Bab’s Bridge, 1893; Ringgold, 1894-95; Lanesville, 1896; Hico, 1897; Lisbon, 1898-1900; Downsville, 1901; Haynesville, 1902-04; Sibley, 1905; Boyce, 1906; Rayville, 1907-08; Many, 1909-12; Carson, 1913; Oakdale, 1914-15; Lecompte, 1916-19; Merryvjlle, 1920-21; Trout, 1922 Jena, 1923. At his last appointment his health failed, and he was forced to take the superannuate relation in November 1923. His last days were spent in his home in Jena, where he was surrounded by friends and loved ones.
On October 29, 1882, he was happily married to Miss Nannie C. Currey, who, with the following children, survives him: Rev. Claude F., pastor of the Methodist Church at McDonoghville; Mrs. Janette Town-send, Boyce; Hardy A., Rochelle; Mrs. E. E. Bishop, Bon Ami; Mrs. W. H. Bishop, Jena; Mrs. C. L. Caddou, Plaquemine; Mrs. C. B. Abramson, Baton Rouge; Mrs. Thomas Bradford, Shreveport; Miss Bennie; the youngest, who is with her mother at Jena. Besides the immediate members of the family he has a brother, Mr. G. F. Sheppard, of Cal-houn, La,, and a sister, Mrs. William Graham, of Nebo, La.
When I recall the family that he reared, and some of the appointments that he served, I pause in admiration of the man who did this and never failed to meet his obligations. He must have been a wonderful financier to have done this and still be able to own the nice home in which he spent his last days.
Brother Sheppard came into my life more than thirty years ago, before I had joined the ministry, and while he was a young preacher, and the bond of friendship grew stronger as the years passed. I called to see him just a few days before he passed to the other world. He was very feeble, but I was allowed in his room and prayed. I then left and felt that I would never greet him again in this world, but I knew that I would see him again and that our friendship would be perfected in a perfect world.
Brother Sheppard was a heroic, man and dared to do the bidding of his Father in heaven at any price. He was a tender, sympathetic man, whose sympathies were not confined to his own race or color, but were as boundless as that love that sees the woes of the children of men all over the world.
No man was over given more tenderness and attention during his last hours of waiting and lingering sickness, They were all so anxious to minister to his comfort and to help in those hours, it was beautiful to see how they ministered in all devotion to him.
Brother Sheppard had rare good judgment and common sense in the affairs that confronted him, and this, with his knowledge of the Bible and the familiarity he had with human nature, coupled with his natural flow of good humor, made him an acceptable and successful pastor, who was dearly loved. He really seemed to have genius for friendship, and was loved by all classes.
In his death, his family felt keenly their loss, but rejoice that he left such a record of fidelity and loyalty to the Kingdom of God; our Conference has lost a choice spirit, who was faithful to every trust reposed in him; personally I have lost a dear friend whom I shall miss keenly.
“Our brother the haven bath’ gained,
Outflying the tempest and wind;
His rest bath sooner obtained,
And left his companions behind,
Still tossed on the sea of distress,
Hard toiling to make the blest shore,
Where all is assurance and peace,
And sorrow and sin are no more.”
It was fitting that this heroic man should have been carried to the. Nolley Memorial Church, named for a hero of the last century, whose shaft is only a few feet from where Brother Sheppard is buried.
|Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1925, Pages 108-109, by C. C. Wier.|