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                            REV. ROBERT D. SHEPPARD, A. M., D. D.
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 35-37

REV. ROBERT D. SHEPPARD, A. M., D. D.  The world has
produced many able scholars, eloquent speakers and capable
business men, but it is very rarely that nature
simultaneously endows a single individual with those
compound qualities of mind and heart which by proper
cultivation and development enable him to become at once a
ripe scholar, an eminent instructor, a profound theologian,
a popular pastor and a successful financier.  The man who
succeeds in fitting himself for satisfactory work in any one
of these capacities is entitled to considerable credit, but
the time and patient application which are exhausted in so
doing usually preclude the attainment of other noteworthy
accomplishments.  Therefore, he who has mastered not only
one, but all, of the professions enumerated above, and that
during an existence of less than half a century, must be
termed a phenomenal character, and a brief outline of his
comprehensive life work can not fail to interest the public
with which he has been almost constantly brought in contact.
Robert Dickinson Sheppard was born in Chicago, July 23,
1846.  His father, Robert Sheppard, was a native of Dundee,
Scotland, and came to America in 1830.  He first located in
Buffalo, but five years later became a resident of Chicago,
where the balance of his life was spent.  He was one of the
first building contractors of the city, and later became
prominently identified with its lumber interests.  He was an
early member of the Clark Street Methodist Church, and
erected the first brick building occupied by that society,
at the southeast corner of Clark and Washington Streets.
This edifice was built exclusively for purposes of worship,
but was afterward replaced by a commercial block, the
building which occupied that site at the time of the great
fire.  He was one of those Christian gentlemen of the
Caledonian race who are numbered among the pioneers of
Chicago, and whose influence is still apparent in the
business and social life of the city.  His wife, Mrs.
Samantha Sheppard, who was one of the earliest teachers of
Cook County, still survives, at the venerable age of
eighty-three years.  She is the daughter of Zenas Dickinson,
a native of Granby, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, who
came to Illinois with his family in 1835.  The Dickinson
family is of English lineage, and many generations of that
name have resided in the Connecticut Valley.  Many of the
most influential men and women of that region have borne
that cognomen.

The marked characteristics of both parents seem to have been
impressed upon the son, who enjoyed the best educational
advantages to be had in Chicago.  After completing the
course at the Chicago High School, he became a student at
the Northwestern University, and still later at the Chicago
University, from which he graduated in 1869.  He had
resolved in youth to devote his life to the interests of the
church, and his vacations had been mostly spent in the study
of theology, so that a single year at Garrett Biblical
Institute was sufficient to complete his preparation for the

Immediately after his ordination in 1870, he joined the Rock
River Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was
successively assigned to the pastorates of the Michigan
Avenue Church, Chicago; the Third Street Church of Rockford,
Illinois; and the Western Avenue Church, Chicago.  In the
fall of 1877 he went abroad, and spent the following year in
study and travel through Europe and the East, thereby
broadening his field of knowledge and preparing himself for
further and greater usefulness.  Upon his return he was
assigned to Grace Church, Chicago, where he remained for
three years.  After an equal period spent as pastor of the
First Church of Aurora, Illinois, he was recalled to Grace
Church, the last pulpit which he filled as a regular charge.
The thorough and efficient manner in which he applied
himself to his ecclesiastical duties, and the appreciation
of the same manifested by his parishioners, can be judged by
the fact that he was retained in nearly every charge to
which he was assigned for the full period of time allowed by
the regulations of the Methodist discipline.
On the 13th of June, 1872, Mr. Sheppard was married to Miss
Virginia Loring, daughter of Nahum Loring, another Cook
County pioneer, who engaged in mercantile business at
Naperville in the days when that town rivalled [sic] Chicago
in commercial importance.  Four interesting offspring,
named, respectively, Robert Loring, Marguerita, Virginia and
Dorothea, complete the family of Mr. and Mrs. Sheppard.
In 1872 the Chicago University conferred the degree of
Master of Arts upon Mr. Sheppard, an honor which was
duplicated three years later by the Northwestern University.
In 1878 he was appointed a Trustee of the latter
institution, and he has filled the same position for Garrett
Biblical Institute since 1884.  Since that date he has held
the chair of history and political economy in the
Northwestern University, though the first year was spent in
foreign travel and study, under a leave of absence
generously granted him by the Directors.  In 1892 the Board
displayed its confidence in his ability and integrity by
appointing him Treasurer and Financial Agent of the
university.  In the management of its business affairs he
has shown a degree of judgment and discernment seldom met
with in men not fitted for such responsibilities by long
years of careful discipline, and the remarkable progress of
the institution is largely due to his energetic and
farseeing business policy.

The intellectual resources displayed by Mr. Sheppard could
only be developed in a person of extraordinary physical
vigor and endurance, and it is almost needless to state that
he is the picture of health and strength.  Naturally of
pleasing address and engaging manner, he has not neglected
to cultivate his social instincts, and is never too much
absorbed in business or professional cares to give just
consideration and attention to every caller.  While
distinguished for his own originality, he is always on the
alert for the reception of advanced ideas and improved
methods, his ample experience and ready discrimination
enabling him to grasp and accept, or reject, a proposition
almost instantly.  A conviction once formed by him is not
easily shaken, and he is zealous and eloquent in its
enunciation.  His residence, now nearing completion, is one
of the most attractive objects bordering the famous Sheridan
Road, and his home constitutes one of the chief social
centers of the university and of the city of Evanston.

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