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Local History 

Biography of Edward Martin Shepard

Long time users of the library and especially the Local history department recognize “Sheppard Room “stamped on much of the material in the Local History Section at the Library Center.  Newer users or people who never visited the currently named Carnegie Midtown Branch of SGCL may wonder “What’s a Shepard Room?”

Edward Shepard (1854-1934”) was a well known scholar and community leader in Springfield between 1900 and 1930.  He was a professor and one time president at Drury College. Dr Shepard was widely traveled and was often quoted in the news when asked about national or world issues.  He was also one of the leading supporters of bringing a publicly supported library to the community and was involved in the formation and building of the Carnegie funded Main Library on Central Street.  His daughter Isabella Shepard, a teacher at Central High School, was a long time board member of the Springfield City Library.  Miss Shepard donated most of her father’s books about geology and history of Missouri to the library.  For several years these were housed in the west wing on the main floor at the midtown branch along with other valuable material from the collection.  In 1972 these books and other items were moved to the east wing of the third floor to a room dedicated as the Edward and Harriet Shepard room, known until 1999 as the Shepard Room.

A Historical Sketch
"Edward Martin Shepard was born at Winsted, Connecticut, May 15, 1854, the son of Samuel and Mary Isabella Shepard. He died at Springfield, Missouri, April 28, 1934.

"In the town of Norfolk, Connecticut, in an atmosphere of philanthropy and culture, the boy grew to manhood. As a lad, his education began in the then famous Russell Military School at New Haven and continued later at Peabody Academy of Science, Salem, Massachusetts, and Williams College.

"He was fortunate in forming early friendships with men who directed his career along chosen scientific lines. His first teaching was done at Waynesburg College. From there he came to Drury in the fall of 1878 to fill the chair of science, which then included the whole range of scientific subjects.

"He was married June 28, 1881, to Harriett E. Oklen of Madison, New Jersey.

"When M. L. Gray of St. Louis endowed a chair of geology at Drury, the much burdened teacher was able to specialize in that subject.

"As a teacher, he was inspirational, guiding ambitious students along lines most fitted to their ability and often providing for them the opportunity for advancement. He lived to enjoy the reward of seeing many young men and some young women whose careers he had started along lines of medicine, geology, paleontology, botany and chemistry, become eminent in their professions. He helped many students in understanding the harmony in their religious beliefs and true science.

His service to the College was generously given to any needed work. As librarian in the lean years of the young school, as dean and as acting president at various times, he cheerfully did his share of the miscellaneous duties that came to hand even to raising money to equip his department which sum he begged mainly from relatives in the East.

"On coming to Drury, his personal scientific collection became the nucleus to which he continually added until the Drury museums became widely known and frequently consulted by scientists of other states.  On the presentation of these collections to the College, the Trustees voted to adopt the name “The Edward M. Shepard Museums.” The Graydon Springs Geological Field Station was another feature created by Mr. Shepard for the advancement of science at Drury.

"One of his most interesting tasks for the State was concerned with a part in the organization of the Missouri exhibit at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition on the closing of which he obtained many rare specimens for the Drury collections.

"At various times he was honored with scholastic degrees: Sc.D. from Waynesburg College; A.M. from Williams; and LL.D. from Drury. His election as an overseas member of the London, England, Authors Club was a prized connection. He was a member of the Board of Managers of the Missouri Geological Survey, an office which he held practically from the organization of the Survey until his death, serving many years as Secretary and as Chairman of the Publications Committee of the Board. Of Mr. Shepard’s service to Missouri, the State geologist writes: 'Nowhere have I found in the State’s records a service of almost 50 years, without remuneration. No one else has served on any board for so continuous a period.'

"Some of Mr. Shepard’s most outstanding work was done in this connection, such as his Geology of Greene and Adjacent Counties, published in Volume XII of the Survey reports; A study of the underground waters of Missouri, made for the U S. Geological Survey.

"A Systematic Mineral Record, published by AS. Barnes & Company and articles written for scientific journals, attest his industry as a geologist as well as teacher. His investigations settled the much-discussed question as the cause of the New Madrid, Missouri earthquake in a paper published in the Journal of American Geology.

"After his retirement from the classroom in 1908, the occupation of consulting geologist filled the greater part of his time. He traveled extensively in Europe, Hawaii, Australia, new Zealand, the South Seas and the Orient. The International Congress of Geologists, Mexico, 1909 brought him in contact with men of his profession in all of theses countries and broadened the scope of his work.

"The study of local history fascinated his active mind. He did much to promote the erection of markers to fix the facts of early Missouri history. His church and its interests were a vital part of his life and he found happiness in serving on its Board of Deacons for many years. His civic relations were expressed in active membership in Rotary, The University Club and association in the management of the Springfield Children’s Home. He held places at various time on the local park and Chamber of Commerce boards. He was a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, a member of the Association of Petroleum Geologists, The American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers and the Societies –Sons of the Revolution, Colonial Wars and Mayflower Descendants.

"His capacity for friendship was unlimited and he rejoiced in the opportunity to serve to the extent of his ability.

"A memorial service in honor of Dr. Shepard was held in Stone Chapel, at the regular convocation hour, May 22nd. President Nadal presided and provided the verbal setting for the remarks of the other speakers, Dr. William J. Wills, class of 1897, Dr. C. Wilbur Smith, class of 1898 and Professor Benjamin F. Finkel of the College faculty. There was special music.

"A similar service was held by the University Club of Springfield at the time of their regular noon luncheon, May 23rd. Reverend G. Bryant Drake, Vice-President of the Club and Dr. Shepard’s pastor presided and introduced the speakers: Dr. R. T. H’Doubler, Mayor Harry D. Durst and Professor Benjamin F. Finkel."

See Dr. Shepard's Springfield and Greene County timeline published in an earlier article.


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