Ephraim Sharp [of Fulton County] (1833–1904)
Ephraim Sharp, nephew of the Ephraim Sharp after whom Sharp County was named, was an important early settler and mercantilist in neighboring Fulton County. He established a mill, and the community of Sharp’s Mill, now Saddle (Fulton County), grew up around it. His mercantile establishment helped to provide the goods that sustained the growth of the Mammoth Spring (Fulton County) area.
Ephraim Sharp was born in Sandtown Township, Decatur County, Indiana, on June 23, 1833, to John Elston Sharp (called Jackson) and Susannah Armstrong Sharp. He was the fifth child and third son of this family of seven children. His mother died in 1841 when he was eight years old. His father married Sarah Armstrong, his mother’s sister. When Sarah died, he married a widow, Sarah Ellen Mitchell Taylor. John Elston Sharp had fifteen children during his three marriages, and at least six of these followed their uncles Ephraim Sharp and William H. Sharp to Arkansas. Sharp was named after his uncle Ephraim Sharp, for whom Sharp County was named when it was formed in 1868.
Sharp left Indiana when he was twenty-one and came first to Lawrence County about 1850, where he lived near his uncle Ephraim. He married Mary Elizabeth Wainwright on November 3, 1858; they would go on to have seven children. He enlisted in the Confederate army and was first lieutenant of Company F, Thirty-eighth Arkansas, Tappan’s brigade. He served for two years, participating in the Battle of Prairie Grove and numerous skirmishes before being honorably discharged. He had lived in Evening Shade (Sharp County) in 1860 but later moved to Myatt Township in Fulton County.
Sharp’s father-in-law, William Wainwright, was a well-known businessman in that part of Arkansas. The two men opened a general mercantile store in 1868 under the name of Wainwright and Sharp. In 1873, Sharp purchased Wainwright’s interest and continued on his own until 1884, then selling his business to Dr. J. S. Risher. The following year, he repurchased the business. A post office was established at his store, and he was appointed postmaster.
Sharp also built one of the most active mills in Arkansas, and the town of Sharp’s Mill (later renamed Saddle) grew up around it. The mill did a thriving business for many years, as it had the capacity to make flour and meal. With his mill, gin, and general store, Sharp became one of the most well-known businessmen in northern Arkansas. His customers came from miles around and sometimes had to wait several days for the grinding.
Sharp and his family were Methodists, and Sharp sponsored a revival meeting at Sharp’s Mill every year. People traveled long distances to the meetings and camped nearby. Sharp used funds and goods from his own store to entertain the people who came. Sharp, a Democrat, was a member of Myatt Masonic Lodge 401. His daughter Joanna Cordelia Sharp married Dr. Charles W. Culp and owned the Culp Hotel in Mammoth Spring.
Ephraim Sharp died on October 22, 1904, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Mammoth Spring.
For additional information:
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Northeast Arkansas. Chicago: Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1889.
Fulton County, Arkansas: History and Families. Morley, MO: Acclaim Press, 2008.
Ira Sharp Dennis
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