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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



Genealogical records indicate the identification of the Sharpe family with the history of England from a period so remote that authentic annals become merged into traditional lore. Some years before the opening of the Civil war a young Englishman, Samuel J. Sharpe, sought the opportunities which he believed to exist in the new world. Among the pioneers of Iowa he became interested in general agricultural pursuits and also followed the trade of a carpenter. With loyal devotion to the country of his adoption he offered his services to the Union immediately after war had been declared. Being accepted as a volunteer, he went to the front with Company G of the Ninth Iowa Infantry. For a period of four years, or until the close of the Rebellion, he remained in active service and meanwhile took part in thirty-two battles, among them being Gettysburg and other history-making engagements. Notwithstanding his active participation in such a large number of fierce contests he was injured only once and that proved to be a mere flesh-wound. During the progress of the war he had the satisfaction of casting his ballot for Abraham Lincoln at the time of the second election of that illustrious statesman.

Upon exchanging the accoutrements of war for the tranquil pursuits of peace Samuel J. Sharpe engaged at his trade of a carpenter at Canon City, Colo., besides which he followed general farming. About 1887 he became a pioneer fruit-grower in the Walla Walla valley of Washington and later he became interested in agricultural and horticultural enterprises near Mabton, Wash., a thriving little village in the Yakima valley. On his ranch tliere he passed away in 1904 and since then his wife has made her home with their son, Elton Dennis. The latter was born at Canon City, Colo., January 21, 1871, and by dint of his own determination acquired an excellent education. From his earliest recollections he was ambitious to acquire knowledge and studious in temperament. After he had completed the regular high school course he attended an academy at Milton, Ore., and after- ward spent several years in Union College at Lincoln, Neb., from which institution he was .graduated in 1S95 with a high standing.

Possessing the bent of mind that finds its highest enjoyment in educational activities, it was but natural that Professor Sharpe should have entered upon pedagogical labors when the time came for him to select his life work. From his earliest identification with the profession of educator he was successful and particularly so in the instruction of young men and young women. Those who earnestly and sincerely are preparing for the responsibilities of the future awaken his sympathy and arouse his deepest interest. To aid them in their noble endeavors he always has felt to be one of the greatest privileges that life can offer the vast army of teachers. Not only does he possess the desire, but in addition he possesses the ability to develop the mind and bring out tlie latent energies of the soul. In every sphere of mental training his co-operation proves beneficial to the student earnestly seeking to solve some of life's great mysteries.

As an illustration of the splendid leadership of which Professor Sharpe is capable it may be stated that at Lodi, Cal., he founded a normal school and built up an institution having an attendance of two hundred and fifty. However, the task proved too much for his health and nervous prostration resulted, which obliged him to resign the presidency of the school in the spring of 1910. Afterwards he spent one year with a brother at Mabton, Wash., and meanwhile enjoyed a gradual restoration to complete health. Upon his return to California, Professor Sharpe opened the Westsonian Normal College of Arts and Sciences during February, 1912, this being a training school for those who wish to secure training in arts and sciences. The school has ten departments operating, all of which have experienced success. It occupies one floor of the new Siller building on Ninth street between K and L streets, and has been elegantly fitted and substantially prepared for its specific use. Mrs. Sharpe, who prior to her marriage December 25, 1898, was Miss Sylvia Compton of Boise, Idaho, has proved a most able assistant to her husband and the two co-operate to secure the most gratifying results in the instruction of each student. Music and art have their special departments. There will also be afforded training for mechanical trades. It is the aim to develop professional and technical departments, also a research department for the study of astronomy and archaeology, and already the Professor has made arrangements with the Astronomical Association of Great Britain for co-operation in the securing of literature and in other movements for the upbuilding of the science. It is also his intention to conduct, under the auspices of the school, a series of illustrated lectures throughout the state, and indeed into every part of the west as far as practicable, showing the material resources and the commercial and educational advantages offered by the great Sacramento valley. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011