Sheppard was the youngest son of Morris F. Sheppard, born in Penn Yan 9
June 1808, probably in the "yellow house" on the site of 346 Main
Street. He attended the local schools, worked for his father and eventually
started in a mercantile career of his own.
During his career he owned at one time or another a great many parcels
of land in Penn Yan. He made his great fortune, however, speculating in
western lands, and became known as a crafty and rather hard-nosed businessman.
His wife was Jane Bradley, daughter of the temperance and abolition activist
Henry Bradley. Three of their children survived him:
Sheppard was very influential in the cause of the Republican party in Penn
Yan and Yates County. In his youth he was what was called a "Conscience
Whig" or an anti-slavery member of that party. But in 1856 like many
in this area, he switched over to the new Republican party with such fervor
that in 1860 he was chosen as a delegate to the Republicans' National Convention
in Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln, another former Whig.
Closer to home, he was a member of Penn Yan's first public Board of Education,
and continued thereon from 1857 (when it was organized) until 1874, serving
nine years as the board's president. He contributed heavily to the building
of the new Presbyterian Church later in the 1870s, and was a very prominent
member of that congregation.
He died in January, 1888, the last survivor of his father's children. Aldrich
stated in his 1892 history that, "Peculiar in his ways and methods,
as reformers often are, in his intercourse with his fellow-men, we believe
that no honest, appreciative person ever listened to his critical counsel
and pertinent suggestions without feeling in his heart that he was right,"
thereby revealing more about the man than he perhaps intended. However,
Sheppard contributed a great deal to his home town, and for that we can