Bestey Sharp married John Ralston, Sr about 1799 in what was then called Mercer County, Pennsylvania. By about 1803, John and Betsey moved down to Brady Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.
In the History of Butler County, PA, within the biography of John Ralston Sr, it is noted that Betsey’s father was James Sharp and that either he or her brother James Sharp Jr was the founder of Sharpsville, PA.
So I contacted the Sharpsville Historical Society and ended up getting very involved in figuring out this James Sharp family. I have been working on this for months with absolutely frustrating results and have finally gotten some breakthroughs.
It is clear to me that James Sharp, Betsey’s father, was not the founder of Sharpsville. This does not mean his son wasn’t, only that he did not live on or own land anywhere near Sharpsville in Mercer County.
Betsey’s father, James Sharp, moved his family to what is now called Washington Township, Lawrence County in about 1797 but at the time was called Slippery Rock Township in Mercer County. In 1818, James Sharp sold 75 acres of the land he was living on for fifty dollars. He had an agreement with Dr Peter Mowry of Pittsburgh who owned vast amounts of land through warrant in this area, that Sharp would settle the land and improve it and in time would own it. But Sharp owed Mowry 50$ and he ended up selling the land to Henry Meacom (Macom) to pay the debt and Sharp walked away without any proceeds.
Here is the 1818 deed:
You will see from the deed there are names to tell us how to identify this piece of land. It was originally granted in the name of Wilson Hunt on a warrant. It adjoins James Gilfillen’s land on the east and Peter Mowry’s land is on the north and south. James Robeson owns 75 acres of this tract of land.
Here is the warrant survey of this land.
But most importantly you will see this land on warrant survey maps. The best map to look at, though the property was in Washington Township is the Scott Township map, for it shows the other pieces of land Mowry owned nearby, some of which he sold to James Gilfillen. And of those three pieces at the very top right of Scott Township owned by Mowry I had to figure out which one was the land James Sharp had been living on.
Finally, the Library of Congress has some very old maps of PA counties available and you can look at the map of Lawrence and Beaver Counties and see where James Sharp and his family lived from about 1797 to 1818. How do we know that I have the right spot on the map?
According to History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania by S.W. and P.A. DURANT, 1877 :
Early Settlements of Washington Township
“Probably the first white settler in the township was George Hettenbaugh, originally from Germany, who came in 1797, and settled the farm now owned by George and Michael Jordan. Mr. Hettenbaugh had two sons with him–Michael and George. They brought a good share of their provisions on their backs, having their household goods packed on the backs of four horses–a fine start for pioneers. Old Mr. Hettenbaugh set out the first orchard in the neighborhood, and a few of the trees are yet standing. Hettenbaugh run takes its name from this family, who settled at its source.
The same year the Hettenbaughs settled, a number of families came to the township and located in the immediate neighborhood.
Alexander Anderson came to America from Ireland, about 1789-90. Some time during the year 1797 he came to what is now Washington township, and settled the farm now owned by his grandsons, John and Joseph Totten. Either the same season or next, Mr. Anderson planted some corn, potatoes, &c., and soon set out an orchard, the second one in the vicinity. The old orchard now standing on Henry Jordan’s place was set out about 1812-13.
James and John Smith came the same year (1797) from the Chartiers valley, and helped swell the settlement begun by the Hettenbaughs.
James Sharp and family came about the same time and settled in the same neighborhood, as did also M. McLaughlin, who located on the farm now owned by Jonathan Bonny.”
So if you look at the map, you will see Gilfillen still owned the land at the time of the map and Hettenbaugh’s land is noted and most importantly, Henry Meacom’s name is on the map, which is where James Sharp lived.
So if you are descended from this James Sharp, you could visit this ancestral place, now that we know exactly where it is.
And when you read the published accounts of the history of Sharpsville, note that the accounts are mixing up two men named James Sharp.
I checked all the land sales by James Sharp as guarantor in Mercer County and the remainder note that James Sharp and his wife Nancy in the 1830’s sold land in New Castle, and then up in Sharpsville, about 30 miles northeast. New Castle is not that far from Washington Township, and all of these sales by a James Sharp, may be Betsey’s brother.
In 1824 and 1825, a couple of PA state senators attempted to get a James Sharp a veteran’s pension. This James Sharp was out of Butler County, PA and he was very old, 82 years old. I would hedge a bet this is my five times great-grandfather, Betsey’s father and I am waiting for the documents on this petition. Hopefully, the documents will reveal the militia Sharp served in and maybe even other identifying information about him. My James Sharp was born about 1750 and he was probably living with his children down in Butler County, being a man of no means, having sold his land in 1818 and walking away with nothing. John Ralston Sr was prosperous and I’m sure he and Betsey took care of him. The Scots- Irish stuck together.
James Sharp, according to 1800 and 1810 census, had many children: At least two sons, and five daughters of which I only know of Betsey for sure. A John Sharp of the right age, lived in Mercer County while James was there (actually Lawrence County) and he may be a son. Another man named Joseph Sharp, whose eldest son was James, lived in Slippery Rock Twp, Lawrence County and was the right age to be James’s son. I have to research this man yet.
To be continued….