Chapter 1 The Setting of Dwight Albert Sharpe
Born June 24, 1939, I am privileged to have been born a fifth-generation Texan, my great, great grandfather, Judge Felix Benedict Dixon immigrated from Ohio to Texas in 1841, when Texas was still an independent nation. His parents had come from West Virginia. My lineage also has roots going back early in America as a sixth-generation United States citizen, being a descendant of American Revolutionary soldier, Lt. George P. Sharp, of the New York Militia, who is my third great grandfather. George’s grandfather, Jacob Scherp, had migrated in 1710 with a group of some 3,000 German Palatines. Finally, English family connections make me a 10th generation American. Plymouth Colony Gov. William Bradford, who came with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower to establish Plymouth Colony in 1620, is my seventh great grandfather.
The historical genealogical interests in my life will describe the various family lineages, all of which have European, English and Scandinavian connections. My direct lineage through my mother’s family goes back to a 38th great grandfather, Gor Thorrasson, who lived in the 600s. That is in our Abney line. It is believed he was what was called a Viking. He lived where we know today as Norway. The earliest ancestor through my Shape family line is my 7th grandfather, Otto Scherp, a man who lived among German Palatines in the 1600s in . It was his grandson, Jacob, who emigrated to America in 1710.
One man particularly interesting in the Sharpe lineage was Willis Sharpe Kilmer, my half second cousin, once removed! Here is a 30-page report on Willis and his ancestry. He bore no children. He lived 1868 – 1940. The newspaper article shortly following his 1940 death estimated his estate to be worth some $10 to $15 Million. He was a raiser of horses, and owned the 1918 Kentucky Derby Winner, Exterminator. He was a marketing man, and is credited with fashioning the first nation-wide newspaper advertising program. It was promoting a cure-all ailment ointment liquid named “Swamp Root.” Some charge that its popularity stemmed from the fact that its alcoholic content was 10%. The Kilmer Building, 141 Chenango Street, built in 1903, was originally used as the home of the Kilmer product, Swamp Root. It was at the corner of Chenango and Lewis Streets in Binghamton, New York.
Willis lived in a generation of and in physical proximity of another of our Sharpe family relatives. John Davidson Rockefeller, Sr., who lived 1839 – 1937. Both lived in New York State, and developed much of the wealth each experienced from New York sources or beginnings.
Another Rockefeller relative of ours, John Davidson Rockefeller, Jr., donated the $8,500,000 to purchase the. Manhattan land on where the United Nations building was erected. His father, born in a modest one room rural cabin, who rose to be considered at one time the wealthiest man in the world, John Davidson Rockefeller, Sr. is a star in our family line. The father and son are depicted in the photo here.
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller is the fourth grandnephew of Johann Philip Rockefeller, the husband of Catherina Sharp. Philip and Catherina are my third grand aunt and uncle. Catherina is the granddaughter of Jacob A. Scherp, the German immigrant who come to America in 1710. Nelson's highest office served was as Vice President of the United States in the President Gerald Ford administration. Gerald R. Ford, the 38th President of the United States, is the 17th cousin, four times removed, to President James Monroe. President Monroe is my 31st cousin, twice removed. The ancestors in common with President Monroe and me are Eystein Glumra Ivarsson and Aseda Rognvaldsdatter, ninth century Vikings of Norway. They are President Monroe's 30th great grandparents, and my 32nd great grandparents. President Monroe is the 18th cousin, seven times removed to my son-in-law, Steven O. Westmoreland.
From 519 AD, down through our family shows lateral relationships with British Monarchs for all but 80 years during those almost 1,500 years. It has all been exciting to me to learn of these things.
For those of you interested in spelling, please know that there is a lateral cousin relationship with American lexicographer, Noah Webster, my third cousin, five times removed. He is the Arthur of a famous Dictionary published in 1828. The unique character was that so many definitions included Biblical references.
The study and pursuit of genealogy and history has been an interest of mine since about 1978. I heard of some historical information, both about my family and about that of my wife, Suzanne Boggess Sharpe. Then I learned of some interesting history on my father's side of the family. So, I was drawn to learn more about the history in our family lines, and thus the pursuit began.
Another icon of American Industry is Mr. J. P. Morgan, the founder of U.S. Steel. John Pierpont Morgan, born April 17, 1837, lived till March 31, 1913, (known best simply as J. P. Morgan) is my fourth cousin, three times removed. The ancestor in common with us is Samuel Spencer (1670 - 1756), my sixth great grandfather, and Morgan's third great grandfather.
It has since come to my realization that a knowledge of your heritage helps give understanding to who you are and what may have shaped why your family is like they are! One aspect, which has been of interest to me, is to capture information about what Christian heritage and experience my family had.
In 591, English King Ceawlin, received Christian Baptism. He is the earliest member of our family's ancestry that claimed Christianity, over 1,400 years ago. Pope Gregory had sent a missionary from Rome circa 591, named Father Columba. King Ceawlin is the 35th great grandfather of Edward Southworth, a British upper class noble whose first wife was Alice Carpenter. After Edward died, Alice went to the New World, to the Plymouth Colony at the beckoning of the Colony's Governor, William Bradford.
She and William married in what was the fourth marriage in that New World Colony. She and William became my seventh great grandparents. King Ceawlin is the 18th great grandfather of my fourteenth great uncle, Englishman Edward Southworth, the first husband of Alice Carpenter. After Edward died, Alice married Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford. They became my 7th great grandparents. King Ceawlin, because of his lineage down through that of my son-in-law, Steven O. Westmoreland of Wise County, Texas, is the 49th great grandfather of my grandchildren, Kate, Jack and twins Lily and Sarah Westmoreland; and youngest son, Sam.
The War Between the States (generically called the Civil War) was the most terrible conflict to have happened to the United States. Here is a statistically summary.
The Presidents of the two waring jurisdictions were Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. Several military generals led the respective armies who are listed here. Note that two of them were General George B. McClellan for the North and General Robert E. Lee for the South. To reflect the tendency of our ancestors to be leaders in whatever circles they worked and moved, you should notice that all four of these men cited here as leaders were cousins of mine!
The Union forces were a little more than twice the size of the South. However, the North suffered more total deaths: 365,000 versus 290,000. Total dead from all causes were 785,000 to 1,000,000. We have not suffered so many deaths in any other prior or subsequent military engagements. It was a terrible event to happen among our people!
The early years of genealogy for me were spent contacting known relatives by mail or phone to learn what they knew, and the directions to which they could point me. Visits to libraries and courthouses began to take place in areas where it was understood that the family lines had lived at one time or another. There were lots of walks through old cemeteries, and the camera became a recording tool for capturing information.
Later, efforts were captured, using computer software and research on the Internet. The research has enabled the accumulation of records on over 9,000 relatives, including over 3,100 marriages. That was a lot in my thinking, until meeting a professional genealogist who has files of relatives up in the five figures!
The personal web site (www.dasharpe.com) has been a source of other genealogists discovering, through online search process, that the Sharpe family information can relate to them. They make contact mostly by the e-mail address posted, but occasionally by phone as well. Being publicity shy is not in my bag of concerns, so the public exposure of that information brings far more benefit than has anything been unpleasant.
I encourage people to become interested in their family histories, and to record them, not only for their own self-enjoyment, but also for the benefit of their children, grandchildren and the descendants even after that. Identify those relatives you have who are oldest, and interview them to write their thoughts and recollections, while they still have good cognizance. They and the other people related to your family lines will appreciate your provision of these marvelous facts and stories in an organized format.