Anna Eliza Stewart Shepherd
1846 - 1919
Anna Shepherd, a pianist, holds the distinction of being the first music teacher at Union College, a position she held for one year before becoming preceptress (dean) of girls, a responsibility that would continue for the next decade. Her effectiveness in working with young people led to her serving as a dean at other Adventist schools and, finally, a return to UC for five more years.
Shepherd was born near Paris, Kentucky, and attended Indiana University. In 1865 she married William Alonzo Shepherd and shortly after that they moved to Nebraska City, Nebraska. Prior to their marriage, he had become interested in the Seventh-day Adventist church and been baptized.
After their marriage, Eliza, not being an Adventist, disapproved of his working on Sunday and sought to disprove his belief in the Saturday Sabbath by finding Biblical evidence to support Sunday-keeping. When she had finished reading through the Bible and not succeeded in her search, she joined the SDA church.
After her husband died in May 1891, Shepherd supported herself and two children by teaching music. That summer, she contacted church leadership about teaching music at the church's college scheduled to open that fall in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was hired. At the end of her first year at what had been named Union College, she was assigned to oversee the women in the dormitory and Leonard Hall was hired to teach music.
Although she was not listed in the first Annual Calendar, possibly because she wasn't hired until just before school started, she was listed in the 1899 and 1901 Annual Calendars, first as assistant instrumental teacher and then as preceptress and instrumental music teacher, respectively. In 1902 she accepted a position at Mount Vernon Academy in Ohio where she served as preceptress for five years.
Shepherd then taught at Sheyenne River Academy in North Dakota before returning to Union College in 1909 to serve as preceptress for five years and then for one year at the nurse’s home at the Nebraska Sanitarium, before retiring in 1915 because of failing health. She was living with her daughter, N.S. Ashton, in Mount Vernon when she died at age 72.
Sources: Obituary, Advent Review and Herald, 29 January 1920, 31 and Educational Messenger, December 1919, 29; 1899 and 1901 Union College Annual Calendar; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Second Revised Edition, 1996, (Review and Herald Publishing Association) 602.