John and Nancy’ Sharp’s Emigration to Kansas 1859
Having grown up knowing that most of my ancestors on my fathers side of the family settled in the South in the early years of our nations formation; I always had the uncomfortable feeling that more than a few of them would be slaves owners.
In later years we were able to make contact with other decedents who researched and kept our family history alive.
Here is a family story that proves a person can transcend, his or hers family philosophies
and business practices, to a higher personal standard.
The taken from a page from our family’s genealogical notebook:
250. John SHARP was born on 19 Jul 1810. He died on 24 Sep 1861. He has reference number 250. From Chase County Historical Sketches, 1940
THE SHARP FAMILY
and his wife
FIFTEEN SONS AND DAUGHTERS
The Sharp family, John and his wife, Nancy Landrum Sharp, was among the
earliest settlers in Chase county. Their names appear in the census of 1860.
The Sharps and Landrums were of English, Welsh, and German descent. Both
families were residents of Anderson County, Tenn., when John Sharp and Nancy
Landrum were married at Clinton, in 1833.
The Landrums were of the wealthy, slave-owning class, while John Sharp,
although owning several slaves, was radically opposed to slavery as an
institution. After their marriage, John and Nancy Sharp established their home
on a plantation near Wallace Crossroads, Tenn., where they lived until 1855,
engaged in agricultural pursuits, mainly the raising of corn, cotton, and
tobacco. Here also was born to them a large family of boys and girls, thirteen
of whom grew to maturity, married and passed the Sharp blood on to future
In 1855, Mr. and Mrs. Sharp decided to move their family to a wider horizon
and a free soil; so one day at Knoxville, Tenn., they gave their slaves their
freedom, and added the gift of a new suit of clothes, and some money in pocket
and a blanket to each, to assuage the grief of parting. After this they
disposed of their land holdings, and outfitting their little cavalcade at Bill
Wallace’s store, they started for Kansas with their two ox-teams, two cows, one
horse and two hounds. Their conveyances were so haveily laden that the men of
the party, and sometimes the women, walked most of the way.
When the Sarp family reached Marysville, Mo., they had learned so much of the
unsettled conditions in Kansas, due to Broder warfare between the Pro-Slavery
and Anti-Slavery facions, that they decided to remain at that place for a
while. They made thier home there for four years. Then, in March, 1860, they
came to Kansas by way of Fort Leavenworth.
In Tennessee, March had always meant Spring-time and balmy weather, but this
March was different. Between St. Joseph and Fort Leavenworth thses pioneers
were overtaken by a blizzard– a typical
“Norther,’ in which they suffered terribly from dust and cold. The children
wrapped in feather-beds and the women in quilts, and not until they were warmed
by the cheerful fires at the Fort, were their suffereings ended. however,
undaunted, they pursued their journey and reached Chase County, Kansas, the
latter part of April, 1860. He was married to Nancy LANDRUM in 1833 in Clinton, , Tennessee.
251. Nancy LANDRUM was born on 15 Sep 1815 in , Anderson Co., Tennessee. She died on 13 Feb 1885 in Bazaar, Chase Co., Kansas. She has reference number 251. From ‘PrairyErth’ by William Least Heat-Moon:
At the turn of the century Bazaar [KS] was the terminus of a Santa Fe spur
and one of the largest cattle-shipping points in Kansas. From its pens-now
also gone-grass-fat steers went down the line to end up on dinner plates in
Kansas City, Chicago, New York. The village sits nearly at the juncture of
Rock Creek and the South Fork of the Cottonwood in the southeast corner of the
quadrangle, six miles north is the Falls, near where highway 177 leaves its
course through creek and river bottoms to rise onto the hills almost at the
center of Chase, bypassing Bazaar and then dropping in the vale of the South
Fork and heading toward the southern county line. The river and large streams
here-Rock, Buck, Spring-and the roads that follow them strike similar
southwest-northeast courses; only Den Creek runs counter. Sharp’s Creek also
comes in contrary, but just the mouth of it nips into the quad; with no other
village near, inhabitants along the father reaches of the stream belong to
Bazaar. To it, then called Frank’s Creek, in 1860 came John and Nancy Sharp of
Tennessee, who had freed their slaves and headed west only to be driven
eastward again by the great drought and subsequent starvation that forced out
thirty thousand other Kansas immigrants, but the Sharps held on near Missouri
and returned to the Flint Hills with the rain. A year later John died and left
Nancy with their thirteen children. She raised sheep and planted cotton and
made herself a small gin, spun wool and cotton together, concocted dyes from
oak and walnut bark, and sold the cloth in Lawrence and thereby kept the
children alive, and some of the descent today live along the creek. People say
that before she died in 1884 Nancy, who had learned to extract essences and
life from the rocky land, cut a goose quill and with ink made from pokeberries
put her X to her last testament.