THE SHARP FAMILY. In the year 1749 William and Mary Sharp, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, left their native land to seek a home in the New World. They first located in the State of South Carolina, where their son Isaac was born April 13, 1750, and the family afterward moved to Virginia.
Isaac Sharp remained with his parents until after attaining his majority, and then left the paternal roof, coming to Greene county, Penn. He located near Waynesburgh, following surveying and school teaching. In those days wild hogs, deer, turkeys and bears roamed the forests; and many times the young pioneer stealthily crept past bruin, who was enjoying a feast of young pork, fearing that he might relish a human morsel as dessert. About the year 1777 he was united in marriage with Mary Woolverton, who was born April 22, 1761, daughter of John and Abigail Woolverton. In the year he was married Isaac Sharp took the following oath: "I do hereby certify that Isaac Sharp hath taken and subscribed the oath or affirmation of allegiance and fidelity, as directed by an Act of General Assembly, intituled: 'An Act to oblige the free male inhabitants of this State, above a certain age, to give assurance of allegiance to the same, and for other purposes.' Witness my hand and seal this 13th day of September, 1777, John Morrow." The following letter, written in 1779, is yet preserved as a souvenir:
My dear and affectionate son, I am glad to inform you we are in good health at present, blessed be God for His unspeakable favors. Hoping with all sincerity and ardent affection, you are in the same healthful condition. I received a letter from you this day dated October 27 (eleven months after), which gave me much satisfaction to hear of your bodily health, and it the more added to my joy to hear that you are still teaching school. Dear child, consider well, that while you are employed for your bodily support, see that your mind be employed for the welfare of your soul; for if we should gain the whole world, and lose our souls, what advantageth it us? Neither be ye conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, that you may know what is the will of God concerning you. Abstain from all evil company, lest you be partakers of their evil deeds. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you. Keep yourself, my dear child unspotted from the world. You know my advice to you when we last parted, concerning these associations, which I expect you to keep in obedience to me, as you may readily conclude, I would in no wise advise you to your hurt. We are talking of going to South Carolina again next spring. John's son John, who lives there was here, but I hardly think we will go. Be sure to miss no opportunity of writing to me. I would be glad to see you, and having nothing more to write, I remain your affectionate mother.
Isaac and Mary (Woolverton) Sharp settled on McNarlin's run, about three miles northwest of Waynesburgh, Penn., where seven sons and six daughters were born to them: John, born in 1779; Thomas, born in 1781; Abigail (Mrs. John Knight), born in 1783; Mary (wife of William Sharon), born in 1786; Rachel (married to David Cougar), born in 1788; William, born in 1790; Isaac, born in 1792; Rebecca (wife of Ephraim Coruin), born in 1794; Margaret (Mrs. Thomas Largely), born in 1796; Darby Woolverton (deceased in 1807), born in 1798;. Zachariah, born in 1800; Bittia (Mrs. Samuel Smith), born in 1802; and Manaen, born in 1805. [The above dates are taken from a Bible published in 1793, the property of the father of these children.] Isaac Sharp was a man of medium size, fair complexion and thin features. He was a pioneer school teacher by profession, being known throughout the country as "Old Master Sharp." Much of his life was spent in surveying, he having been among the first to own the necessary instruments and follow that vocation in Washington county. In his chosen work he had a rare opportunity to judge of the value of vacant lands, and wealth was within his grasp had he but seized it in time. He entered into an agreement with one Timothy Ross to make surveys, Ross promising to furnish the money to secure the patents. Their united efforts gave fair promise of success, but just at the critical point Mr. Sharp unfortunately yielded to an old weakness, and became a victim to the use of strong drink. This proved fatal to their enterprise, for, although in the main a temperate man, he was addicted to a periodical habit, and while in the power of its grasp another made use of his lost opportunity. Although weak in this respect, Isaac Sharp was an intelligent man, and the affection of his children is evident from the fact that each of those who have had sons of their own have named one in memory of their father. He died in October, 1830, and was buried in the old cemetery at Waynesburgh, by the side of his wife, who had preceded him August 26, 1822, in her sixty-first year.
Of the sons born to Isaac and Mary Sharp, as above mentioned, the following is a brief record: John and his wife (Elizabeth) passed their lives in Ohio; Thomas and his wife (Unity) were early settlers of Ohio, where they reared a large family (he was justice of the peace); William and Ruth moved West; Isaac was married to Eliza Nailor, who bore him seven children, namely: John, William, Isaac H., Rebecca, Mary J., Rachel and Maria (the parents resided in Millsborough, Penn., where the father followed the hatter's trade; he was a sound logician, and in politics a Democrat); Manaen was a tanner by trade, and passed his life in Indiana (one of his children was drowned in a tan vat); he died at the age of thirty years.
Zachariah Sharp, the fourth son of Isaac and Mary (Woolverton) Sharp, was born near Waynesburgh, Greene Co., Penn. When eighteen years of age he became an apprentice to one William Hartford, a blacksmith of Fredericktown, Washington Co., Penn., serving his full time, and afterward working a few months for wages. After leaving his employer the young man began business for himself and erected a small shop near Curry's run, Carter's creek. A few months later he was wedded to Elizabeth, only daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Yoder, residents of Fredericktown. The parents were Germans and called themselves Pennsylvania Dutch. The father was a skilled potter. Mr. and Mrs. Sharp resided on Carter's creek about four years after their marriage, then moved to the village of Amity, Penn., where he followed his trade for many years with untiring industry, also teaching many young men in the trade. In those days everything had to be made in a slow and laborious fashion, the sickle and broad hoe being pounded out in the same way as the tiniest nail. In those days a person who brought a young horse to be shod for the first time was expected to meet his social obligations in a rather peculiar but most suggestive manner. A quart bottle of whisky, called the "colt's tail," was brought by the owner of the animal, and when the horse was shod the men were "switched in the face" by their favorite beverage a pioneer observance of the modern "treating" custom now in vogue among different social circles. Zachariah Sharp finally abandoned the blacksmith's trade and became one of the leading country merchants of the community, afterward adding a small farm and several tenant houses to his store. Business prospered for a time, but the constant confinement was more than he could endure, and he began to long for a change. In 1855 certain mill property depreciated in value and Mr. Sharp incurred a heavy expense in its purchase. He attempted to repair and manage the old mill, but times were hard, money was scarce and interest was high, and soon, in this unfortunate experiment, the savings of many years had vanished like a mist before the sun. He was a total abstainer, positive in opinions, and usually following his own counsel. In politics he was a Whig, an ardent advocate of protective tariff and a warm admirer of Henry Clay, also favoring the United States Bank. Although never aspiring to political honors, he was nominally the postmaster for many years, the actual incumbent being a maiden lady, to whom he gave all the proceeds. He was an admirer of Jack Downing's letters, was fond of reading (owning a good library), and, like his relations, was a great hunter and a very skillful marksman. In religion he worshiped with the Presbyterian denomination, but was very liberal in his views. After an illness of but three days' duration he was called to rest from the labors of a long and busy life on September 19, 1874, in his seventy-fourth year. Mrs. Sharp was a kind and industrious companion, an affectionate and true mother, a zealous and devoted Christian, possessing a cheerful, trusting disposition, that person was vile indeed for whom she could find no word of praise. After months of severe pain, caused by a fall, she passed over the river October 14, 1881, in her seventy-eighth year. Of the children of this family, the following is a brief record:
Mary Ann was born in June, 1824, near Carter's creek, Penn., and remained at home until the others had all left the paternal roof. She was then married to James Hughes, of Amity, this county, who died some years ago, and the widow is now residing near Washington borough with her brother Manaen. She has been a very active member of the Presbyterian Church for many years, and is now sixty-nine years of age.
William Woolverton Sharp was born January 16, 1826, in the old village in this county, where he grew to manhood. He was a fair scholar, fond of reading, and his penmanship was remarkably clear and graceful. He taught school during the winter months, attending college in the summer season, and reading medicine with Dr. Matthew Clark. In 1847 he was married to a Miss Margaret Sharp, of Washington county (who was no relation to his family). He died several years ago, and the obituary, written by his friend and comrade, James P. Sayer, reads thus:
Dr. Sharp occupied a high position in his profession, his apt mechanical ability enabling him to perform difficult surgical operations with ease. In the sick room he was prompt and careful. In September, 1862, when the war cloud was darkest, he was commissioned as assistant surgeon of the One Hundred and Fortieth P. V. I. In March, 1864, he was promoted to surgeon of the Eighteenth Regiment, Pennsylvania Cavalry, with the rank of major. His arduous duties in the campaigns of 1864-65 told rapidly on his health and physical strength. He resigned his commission in March, 1865, and sought the quiet of home. Partially recovering his health, he resumed the practice of medicine at Amity, this county where he continued to reside until his death. During the year 1858 the Doctor made a public profession of his faith in Christ, and united with the people of God. His special work was in the Sunday-school, and his natural ability to illustrate the lesson with blackboard exercises was truly wonderful. We predict the impressions made upon youthful minds by his crayon work will outlast the argumentative and impassioned appeals of those who failed to use the simpler methods that are most effective. In his business as well as in his professional and religious work, he was a man of method. He did nothing carelessly, and in his work there was no room for rubbish. He never fully recovered his health after his return from the army, and during the winter of 1882-83 he contracted a heavy cold, which settled on his lungs. No man ever made a more methodical and determined resistance to disease than did he during the spring and early part of summer, fighting it inch by inch with Christian fortitude. He left no remedy untried to regain his strength, yet when he knew further resistance was futile, he met death only as a true Christian can, confident of his trust in God, and having met he found rest, leaving bright testimony for the encouragement of those whom he loved. In the quiet of the closing hours of Sabbath, August 5, 1883, his comrades with whom he had mingled in war and in peace, in the presence of the bereaved family and friends, laid him to rest in the old churchyard, where his body shall rest until in response to his dying invitation, the loved ones shall meet him in the morning in the presence of God.
He left a wife and seven children, namely: George W., Mary E., Jacob R, William H. P., James B., Emma B. and Isabel.
Jacob Yoder Sharp, son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Yoder) Sharp, was born July 16, 1828, on the old homestead, this county. Although named for his maternal grandfather, he resembled his grandfather Sharp in personal appearance, having a fair complexion and slender form. He was a diligent student and was ranked with older pupils, but his strength was too frail to support the brilliant mind, and brain fever resulted from too intense application. He died in his fourteenth year, in 1842, leaving the memory of a dutiful, affectionate son, and a pure-hearted youth, of whom no praise could be truthfully termed an exaggeration.
ISAAC SHARP (namesake of his grandfather, who died soon after the birth of this grandchild) was born December 16, 1830, in Amity, Amwell township, this county. An amusing anecdote is told of his birthplace, and transpired at the time of his birth: A Mr. Dow was lying next to the roof in a certain house of Amity, just recovering from the effects of an oversupply of intoxicating beverages. Suddenly a gust of wind lifted the roof from above him, when the inebriated gentleman was heard to observe: "That's right, good Lord, scourge Amity but save Dow, he's only a boarder." Years afterward, while visiting in Charleston, Ill., Isaac Sharp met a Mrs. Wright who had known him in infancy. She described him at that period of existence as a "horribly ugly baby," but complimented him on having at last become a more comely specimen of humanity. In boyhood he was bashful among older people, but his mother used to say that Isaac was the most troublesome of all her mischievous children. In early life he learned the tanner's trade, following that business in Amity, Penn. On March 5, 1851, he was married to Lavina (daughter of Abner and Mary Bane), who bore him three children: Mary Flora (married to James P. Sayer), Lindley Bane (married to Grace Walters) and Lizzie Ann (deceased at the age of six months).
In August, 1862, Isaac Sharp enlisted as a volunteer in Company D, One Hundred and Fortieth P. V. I. The first duty of this regiment was to guard the North Central Railroad west of Baltimore, and in December, 1862, it was ordered to join the army of the Potomac. On December 20 they arrived at Falmouth, just too late to participate in the battle of Fredericksburgh. From the time of his enlistment until the latter part of March, 1863, Isaac Sharp never missed a roll call or failed in duty, though often detailed for picket duty (a most arduous task in freezing weather). In March he had a severe attack of erysipelas, which disabled him until May 1, when he shouldered his traps and joined in the march to Chancellorsville. Wearied and worn, they arrived on the field at 9 P. M., on the evening of the third day of the month, and the next morning they took an advanced position facing toward Fredericksburg. At this point a dispute arose between the leading generals. Hooker had given repeated orders to Couch to fall back, but the advantages of the position were so apparent that Hancock and Warren both advised Couch to stand his ground. Warren went to Hooker and explained the matter, which resulted in an order issued at 2 P. M. for Couch to hold the position till 5 o'clock. But Couch had begun his retreat, and said: "Tell Gen. Hooker he is too late, the enemy is now on my right and rear, and I am in full retreat." The regiment moved to a position to the left of the former place, and there passed the night in range of the enemy's batteries. The Confederates kept up a constant fire, but the Unionists were on too high ground, and before an attack could be made had again moved. While making coffee at the Chancellor House, they were ordered out on double quick to repel an attack made where the Wilderness road turns down the hill. After this they were moved to the left brow of the hill, facing the river, and began throwing up trenches. Meantime a terrible artillery engagement was being waged, of which the following is an accurate description given by Capt. C. L. Linton, commanding:
What wild eyes and blanched faces there were when the shells and solid shot came in from the right and rear of us! Orders coming to "about face, left in front," we advanced to the plank road in rear of the Chancellor House to support a battery. The Fifth Maine had opened fire, to which the enemy replied so rapidly and accurately that almost all the horses and men were killed or wounded. Only two of the artillerists remained at their posts. While there the Chancellor House was seen to be on fire, a detail from Company F was made to remove the wounded therefrom. All this time the shot and shell were coming so thick and fast that it seemed one could not take his nose from the dirt lest he would have his head blown off. A call for volunteers was made to save the guns of the Fifth Maine battery. Upon looking back, whom should we see but our division and brigade commanders, Gen. W. S. Hancock and Gen. Nelson A. Miles. A moment later came our corps commander, hat in hand, and hair streaming in the breeze. The call for volunteers was responded to by a rush from Company D, and a few from one or two other companies, through the concentrated fire of thirty guns, into a storm of shot and shell, in the face of Jackson's men infused with victory, and saved every gun. Myself and Corporal I. Sharp in the rush, both grasped the limber of one of the guns at the same time and on either side. With superior effort we succeeded in raising it a few inches from the ground, when a solid shot or shell passed between us and under the limber. At that instant Sharp gave down, and I thought he was done for, but was rejoiced when Corporal Sayer and others lay hold to see him straighten up again. He had let down on account of the immense weight we were lifting. A corporal of the battery procured a rope, and we soon had the gun moving from the scene of action. The force attached was not sufficient to make fast time. Try as we did, we stuck once or twice when running against dead horses.
Not having fully recovered from former sickness, over exertion brought on disease, and after remaining in the regiment a few weeks, Isaac Sharp was sent to the general hospitals at Columbia, D. C., Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. On June 1, 1861, he was discharged from the service, on account of physical disability. On his return home he found the tannery closed, and unable to engage in physical labor followed mercantile life, removing in 1871 to Washington borough, Penn., where he is yet living surrounded by numerous friends. His character is best illustrated by the history of his life, and his aspirations are fitly expressed in his own words: "My life may not have been entirely void of some good. Be that as it may, it is of small importance to me, if at last my omissions and commissions are cancelled and a clear title to the mansion of glory given me."
Cephas Dodd Sharp, son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Yoder) Sharp, was born June 21, 1834, in the old stone house at Amity, this county. When a young man he came to Washington, Penn., working as a clerk until the war opened, when, fired with patriotic ardor, he bade farewell to his affianced and laid aside the vocations of peace for the panoply of war. He was among the first to volunteer for the three months' service, and enlisted in Company E (commanded by N. Magiffin). For a time they were employed in guarding railroads, and then he returned home with zeal dampened by the harsh experiences of field life. But he possessed the true spirit of a warrior, and in 1862, with several friends, once more volunteered his services. This time he enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Fortieth P. V. I., and participated in the engagements of that regiment until his death. He was in the battle of Chancellorsville, and was one of the martyrs who fell at bloody Gettysburg. On July 2, 1863, he joined in that desperate charge across the wheat fields which cost so many lives. A bullet passed through both of his thighs, and at the same instant another lodged in one of his knees, the latter proving fatal. He fell and soon after received another terrible shot which paralyzed him for a time. Regaining consciousness, he supposed a ball had passed through his breast, but found a minie- ball deeply imbedded in the pocket Bible which was carried in his breast pocket. Night threw her mantle over the bloody tragedy as the dying soldier lay where he fell among the others. Listening, he heard the familiar voice of Bedan Bebout in prayer. He spoke, and they succeeded in dragging their bodies together. Isaac Lacock and Charles Cunningham, also wounded, heard the conversation and joined the group. Slowly, painfully, the night passed on, and morning found them helpless in the hands of the enemy. They hired rebel soldiers to carry them to a place of greater security, and at midnight on July 5, were found in a Mr. Cunningham's barnyard. Lacock and Cunningham survived, and Bebout and Cephas were soon freed from pain. The last words uttered by Cephas were: "Oh, God, cut me loose, let me go." The Bible and bullets are kept as sacred relics of that terrible night by his brother Manaen Sharp.
MANAEN SHARP was born October 22, 1837, in Amity, this county, and in childhood was an independent, rather self-willed boy, but very careless in dress. One suspender was as good as two in his estimation, misplaced buttons were forgotten, and his boots were soon run down at the heel in short, he was an original character. He was so fond of hunting that his older brothers gave him the nickname of "Nimrod." On one occasion he caught a live rabbit, and notifying the boys to bring their dogs, prepared to have an exciting chase. Each boy held a dog, while Manaen with his rabbit advanced some distance, then freeing the animal, gave chase, the other boys and dogs following with pandemoniac yells and whoops, and the chase was on. It was brought to a speedy and unexpected terminus a large bulldog that had never seen a rabbit joined in the chase, but he was in pursuit of higher game, and catching the young leader by the leg, gave him a lasting souvenir of that rabbit chase, which the "Squire" carries to the present day. The official title of "squire " was bestowed upon him during an election, when the boys held a juvenile "congress" in a tailor shop, and a journeyman tailor coming in just as the returns were made out, published the story.
On April 8, 1858, Manaen Sharp was united in marriage with Sarah A. Bebout, who has borne him three children: James N. (married to Sarah Ellen Dagg), Ada (Mrs. George McCollum) and Annie (at home). After his marriage Mr. Sharp farmed for a time, and in 1861 enlisted in Company B (M. Zollars, Capt.), Eighty-Fifth P. V. I., Joshua B. Howell, commanding. During the winter of 1861-62 the regiment was quartered at Fort Good Hope, Washington, D. C. He took part in the siege of Yorktown, and the battle of Williamsburgh, and in September, 1862, was discharged at Philadelphia on account of disability. Returning home he entered mercantile life, carrying on business successively in Amity, Beallsville, Amity and Washington. He has prospered in business life, having overcome the careless habits of boyhood, and is now carrying on a furniture establishment in Washington, Penn., with his son James N., as junior partner. In 1856 Manaen Sharp united with the M. P. Church, of Amity, Penn., with which his family is also connected. He is a member of the G. A. R., and in politics was formerly a Republican, but is now voting the Prohibition ticket, and has been nominated for Assembly, also as county treasurer. He owns a handsome brick dwelling, equipped with all modern improvements, situated just north of Washington borough.
Elizabeth Jane Sharp, daughter of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Yoder) Sharp, was born in 1840, in Amity, this county. In early womanhood she became the bride of James A. Bebout. Her husband enlisted in Company D, One Hundred and Fortieth P. V. I., and was killed July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, in the charge across the wheat field, and no one knows his burial place. The heartbroken widow toiled for herself and two little ones until they were old enough to care for themselves, when her strength gave way, the needle fell from the nerveless hands, and she died a victim of consumption. She was a true Christian, modest and retiring in disposition, and deeply mourned by her friends.
Nancy Maria Sharp, daughter of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Yoder) Sharp, was born in January, 1843, and in early life gave her hand and heart to William Kelley, the village blacksmith. He followed his trade in Amity for several years after their marriage, then moved to a small farm situated on the line between Washington and Greene counties. They have had eight children.
Zachariah D., youngest son of Zachariah and Elizabeth (Yoder) Sharp, was born April 11, 1845, in Amity, this county. In January, 1872, he was married to Paulina Gaus, who has borne him two daughters: Lillian and Elizabeth. After his marriage Mr. Sharp traded in country produce for some years, then moved to Washington, Penn., and engaged in the lumber business, also running a planing-mill. In religion he is a member of the Presbyterian Church, of which he was formerly an elder, and in politics is a supporter of the principles advocated by the Prohibition party. In personal appearance he is of a dark complexion and a slender form.
Text taken from page 171 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed April 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published April 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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