Forkland Abraham Lincoln Museum

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Shirley Ellis Sheperson

"Kentucky has lost a great friend to its history and genealogy researchers."
Shirley Ellis Sheperson passed away on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 at her home in Danville, Kentucky at the age of 90. She was born to Cecil and Alma Whitehouse Ellis on 6 February 1930 in Gravel Switch, KY.
Shirley was the widow of Louis Sheperson who passed away in 1990 after 38 years of marriage.

Surviving are four sisters, Jewell Deene Ellis, Kaye Ellis Thurman, Karen Ellis Marsee and Marlena Ellis. Also surviving is one brother, Dale Ellis. Shirley was predeceased by two sisters and three brothers, Barbara Ellis Taylor, Wilma Ellis Ewbank, Cecil Ellis, Jr., Darrell Ellis and Barry Ellis. She is also survived by sisters-in-law Mildred Ellis, Margaret Ellis, Millie Ellis and brother in-law Clifton Taylor, as well as, a host of nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews.

Shirley grew up in the Forkland Community and graduated from Forkland High School. She was a graduate of the University of Kentucky and spent her 32-year career as a County Extension Agent in Family and Consumer Science in Casey County.

She was the first chair of the Forkland Festival, a position that she held for twenty-five years. She worked tirelessly to establish the Forkland Lincoln Museum and was involved in many local and state historical groups. One of her many passions was genealogy. Her many awards included the Distinguished Service Award from both the National and State Extension Service and the Hall of Fame Award from the University of Kentucky School of Human and Environmental Sciences. Shirley was a lifelong member of the Church of Christ and a member of the Danville Church of Christ for the last fifteen years.

A private graveside service was held Saturday, 28 November 2020 at Elder Cemetery in the Forkland Community. Casket bearers were her nephews; Kevin Ellis, Scott Taylor, Chad Ellis, Steve Taylor, Charlie Ellis, Tim Ellis, Brian Ellis, Aaron Marsee, and Nick Marsee. Honorary casket bearers are her nieces: Darra Thompson, Melissa Wells, Annette Scanlon, Lourrae Myers, Anne Milburn, Pippa Hunt, Sara Comley, Polly Hosay, and Michelle Word.

Memorial contributions in memory of Shirley may be made to the Forkland Community Center or Elder Cemetery.

Walden Funeral Home in Perryville
was in charge of the arrangements.

For those of you who need help with genealogy, you may receive free help at the Forkland Abraham Lincoln Museum on Saturdays from 12 noon to 4 pm or by appointment at other times.  There is someone at the center on those Saturdays who can help you with your own genealogy, if you will contact the center and let us know you are coming.  Both the museum and genealogy center are open every Saturday from May 4th - October 26.  For appointments call Wayne Thurman at 859-936-7489 or e-mail him at  You may also e-mail Carolyn Crabtree at


A regular Newsletters is sent out to people who are interested in activities going on at the Forkland Community Center.
To get on the list of subscribers, e-mail Pat Williams at  If you would like to contribute news or photos, send them to Pat. 
To see a copy of the Newsletter, click here.


Forkland Community Center in Southwestern Boyle County, Kentucky
Located on KY 37, 30 minutes from Danville or Lebanon
Address: 16479 Forkland Road, KY 37
Gravel Switch, KY 40328
GPS Coordinates for the Forkland Community Center: N37.551286, W084.985209.

Directions to Forkland Community Center: From Danville, go south on US 127 to the traffic light at Junction City and turn right onto KY 300.  Then just after the railroad tracks turn left onto KY 37 and stay on KY 37 all the way (about 10 miles) to the Community Center on the right.  From Lebanon go east on US68, turn right on KY 243 (Gravel Switch turnoff).  Stay on 243 until KY 243 turns right over the bridge.  Here you should go straight on KY37.  The Community Center is about three miles on the left. 

See a video of the museum at

 For more information, click here.


On March 1, 2008 the Forkland Abraham Lincoln Museum was officially opened after receiving a grant from the Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Kentucky Historical Society.  Lucey Shipley Hanks, mother to Nancy Hanks Lincoln and grandmother to Abraham Lincoln, moved to Kentucky after the death of her husband James Hanks.  She had been living with a sister Rachel Shipley Berry and her husband Richard in the Forkland area of Mercer County (now Boyle) but in 1790 she married Henry Sparrow, Sr. in Mercer County, Kentucky.  Lucey's daughter Nancy apparently moved to Washington County, Kentucky with her aunt and uncle and their children.  There she met and married Thomas Lincoln.  Nancy and Thomas were the parents of President Abraham Lincoln.  Lucey and Henry Sparrow lived on Scrubgrass Road in the Forkland area of Boyle County for over 34 years and had eight children whose descendants are scattered throughout Boyle, Mercer, Anderson, Washington and other counties of central Kentucky.  Because so little seems to be known about the maternal side of President Lincoln's family, the Abraham Lincoln Museum at Forkland was built.  In the museum you will find photographs of family members, Lincoln artifacts, and authentic newspapers about the death of Abraham Lincoln.  Other artifacts in the museum show the life that people like Lucey and Henry Sparrow lived on the "Fork".  We welcome you to come and experience what life was like in the 1800s-early 1900s in the Forkland area.  You may also do genealogy research in the history room or purchase items in the gift shop.  We welcome any information about the families connected to this beautiful area of Kentucky.