My attempts to research and discover any archival details (original manuscript, photos, etc.) from C.K. Shepherd’s 1922 book, Across America by Motor-Cycle, were stymied for years because I could not discover his full name. Ultimately, I resorted to a “brute force” approach. I logged into the WWI military records section of The National Archives in the UK and then reviewed the records of each and every person with the last name “Shepherd” (and even “Shepard”), trying to identify individuals with facts in common with C.K. about which I already believed to be true. It took a while, but in May 2017, I found conclusive records showing that C.K.’s full name at birth was Charles Kenilworth Shepherd. This discovery was the turning point, because I now had a complete name to search for. Part of my work now focused on learning what I could of whatever became of C.K. after he published his book.
Armed with his full name, I began building a family tree using various tools and resources often used in genealogical research. In June 2017, I discovered that his first wife died in 1938 and that he legally changed his name to Charles Kay Shaw about six months later. He then remarried to Nora Tarpey about six months after changing his name, just as World War II began. I was able to locate and order a copy of C.K.’s death certificate from 1971, and a week or so later, a copy of Nora Shaw’s death certificate and probate (which included her last will and testament). I observed that C.K.’s death certificate said the “informant” of the death was “Charles Drury Shaw,” identified as C.K.’s son. I began searching for records of Charles Drury Shaw. I found one who I thought was a likely match, a physician published in various places, most recently in Australia. But I was unable to make contact. So I turned my attention to the will of Nora Shaw. She had named her two children to receive her assets, with Charles Drury Shaw being one of her children. But she also decreed that, in the event Charles Drury Shaw predeceased her, his share of the inheritance would be divided equally between his two children, who Nora Shaw named, including one Timothy Charles Shaw.
So I set about trying to find Timothy Charles Shaw who I believed would still be living. After a few days, I had found someone whose information all added up, born in 1978… a musician, performer, and entrepreneur in London. He seemed to be into all things electronic and was performing under the stage name Tim Exile. I searched for his email address and also searched on Facebook. I found an email I thought was his, sent him an email and, a few minutes later, sent him a Facebook message. Facebook had recently split their Messenger app separate from their standard interface, and the new app required the recipient to sign up to receive messages, so I was unsure if the Facebook message would ever reach him. But he replied an hour and a half later! The image at right is a recreation of the actual content of the exchange that followed.
What follows is the email exchange that occurred (beginning with the email I sent him just three minutes before my first Facebook message):
|Subject:||Are you the grandson of RAF Captain Charles Kenilworth Shepherd?|
|Date:||Thu, 6 Jul 2017 12:32:38 -0400|
I suppose it is possible you did not know that was his name before he became Charles Kay Shaw in 1939, so you could simply know yourself to be Charles Kay Shaw’s grandson.
If your answer to the above question is “yes” or “maybe… who wants to know?”, please reply and I will fully inform you as to the nature of my inquiry.
If you are no relation, please let me know.
Otherwise, please let me hear from you and we can take it from there.
|Subject:||Grandson of CK Shaw|
|Date:||Fri, 7 Jul 2017 12:26:52 +0100|
Nice to meet you on the email. This is where you can reach me.
I look forward to hearing more about the biography. Have you contacted my dad?
All the best
|Subject:||Re: Grandson of CK Shaw|
|Date:||Fri, 7 Jul 2017 08:17:02 -0400|
Well this was a bit of a needle in the haystack. I do not quite know where to start so I will give you a little sketch about how I came to look into this.
I am Mark Hunnibell. I am 59 years old and am an airline pilot for American Airlines with prior service in USAF. I live in Yellow Springs Ohio in the United States.
I am in the final stages are restoring a 1919 Henderson motorcycle. I got it years ago from my father, but he never had it running. About 15 years ago I started getting more serious about getting it running and it looks like it will be running this year. During the course of researching details about the motorcycle type and its history I found the book written by your grandfather CK Shepherd. He also drove a 1919 Henderson. As the restoration of my bike progressed, probably about 4 years ago, I had a romantic idea/dream that I would attempt to replicate his ride in 2019, one hundred years later. Now in 2017, it very much looks like it is going to happen.
|Subject:||Re: Grandson of CK Shaw|
|Date:||Thu, 13 Jul 2017 21:45:04 +0100|
Firstly apologies for the slow reply – I have quite a lot on my plate at the moment as I’m starting a new business. Also I wanted to grab a moment to speak with my dad to see how we might be able to help you. I spoke with him just now and he asked me to CC him into the thread – so here he is. He has a huge amount of information about CK which he’d be happy to discuss.
Gentlemen, over to you!
While I’m here Mark I’m curious as to how you discovered that I’m the son of Charles even though you hadn’t managed to get in touch with him. You’re clearly a talented researcher.
Looking forward to hearing tales of how your explorations unfold.
All the very best
The rest, as they say, is history (I did explain to Tim all of the above as to how I found him). Charles and I carried on by email for some time. I flew over to meet him a few months later and we have been in frequent contact since. Charles is planning a special trip to America to meet up with me at the Grand Canyon. I was humbled and moved when reading the first two sentences that he wrote for the Foreword of my new book, Across America by Motor-Cycle – Fully Annotated Centennial Edition:
My father had been dead for 46 years when Mark Hunnibell brought him back to me. Mark first identified my son from my mother’s will and contacted me in July 2017.