IN date of settlement, Sharon Grove District occupies a foremost rank among the districts of Todd County. Its pioneer settlements were made very early, and to undertake to give an exhaustive and detailed account of the interesting and varied scenes and occurrences incident to the time thereto, would be a most difficult task as well as one demanding more space than can be allotted to it at this time. The study of man is a most proper one for the present and future generations, and it is one that is calculated to give rich returns to any thoughtful and inquiring mind that will undertake it; and in the lives of our forefathers we see that they sacrificed their own comforts and interests, and oft times their own lives for the benefit of those to follow them. The generally impoverished circumstances of these men, the hardships, privations and positive dangers immediately surrounding them, the formidable obstacles with which they were almost daily called upon to contend, all are conditions of life under which not many of the present day could live and make progress. So we say that the careful study of the lives and times of our pioneers might well be the ambitious work of one’s life, and how invaluable would such a work be.
Sharon District, to the history of which this chapter is devoted abounds in historical happenings of great interest and importance. It lies on the eastern side of the district, and has the following boundaries: On the north by Bivinsville, on the east by Logan County, on the south by the Elkton District, and on the west by the Kirkmansville and Fairview Districts. The surface of the district is somewhat diversified. The major part is rolling, along the north quite hilly, and in the southeast quite flat. From the Bivinsville District the cliffs extend over a short distance in the northern part, and here the sandstone is found. The soil here is the yellow clay. Along the banks of the creeks the limestone formation appears. This in some places is surmounted by a rich black loam, and in other points the white clay. On the east along the Logan County line there is some flinty limestone, and here in some places a red clay soil appears, but which is inferior to that of the south part of the county. On Briton Sherrard and Sam Shammies’ farms there are caves which have been explored to some extent. Also one on the widow Gilbert farm. Here in an early day it is said a counterfeiter’s furnace and other tools were discovered, but by whom they were used in the days gone by re-mains a mystery. At present from a half to two-thirds of the district is under cultivation. The timber of the district is mainly made up of poplar, white, black and red oak, maple and in some places walnut. In the southeast there is also some chestnut. Of late years an immense amount of timber has been cut down and floated down the creeks and thence down the Green River to Evansville.
On the farm now owned by Charles Christian a coal bank was discovered many years ago. At first the pioneers simply mined it for their own use. John Christian used it almost exclusively for fuel for many years. In the last few years it has been mined quite extensively. For four years William Brockman used it almost exclusively to run his mill, and in the last two years Charles Christian has had miners at work there almost all the time, and it has been hauled to Elkton and other points in quite large quantities. Some very pronounced lead formations have also been discovered, especially along the banks of Clifty Creek are they quite prominent. It is stated that in an early day Mr. James Sherrard mined it to some extent on his farm, and made his bullets almost entirely from the lead which he got here. He, however, never informed any one of the exact location of the metal, and since that time no one has ever paid any attention to the mining of the mineral. East Clifty Creek heads in the eastern portion of the district, flows generally in a northerly direction into the Bivinsville District, where it empties into the Middle Clifty. This latter stream heads on the Fritz Seers farm, flows generally in a northeasterly direction through the Bivinsville District and empties into Wolf Lick Creek.
Probably the first road in the district was the Russellville and Greenville road, which was in operation for many years, but was finally fenced up. About 1830 the Elkton and Greenville road was surveyed, and in about 1840 the Coal Bank road, as it is known, was opened. Within a year or two afterward the Morgantown and Hopkinsville road was first made a public thoroughfare, followed soon after by the Elkton and Mt. Sharon road. In 1800 John Driskill came here from Rutherford County, N. C., and made a settlement near the coal bank. He lived there for a few years, and then moved to the farm now owned by his son, John Driskill, Jr. Here he died in 1843. When he came here he stated to his son that he found the following parties living here; Col. Hardin, as he was known, made a settlement on the waters of Clifty, on parts of the farm now occupied by J. Driskill, Jr. He lived on his first settlement for some time, and then moved to a farm within a half mile of there, where he afterward obtained a patent of 200 acres. In the early days of his settlement here he had many severe encounters with the Indians, and at his request was granted a Colonel’s commission and the power to raise men to repel the attacks of the savages. Through all his residence here he was a very prominent man, and was looked upon as the leader and master spirit of the settlement. His word was law, and all questions of dispute were referred to him. In an early day two men were caught stealing horses. Hardin was sent for. He came immediately, and being told of their crime turned and without a word shot them down. About the same time a Frenchman came through this portion of the county selling gunpowder to the Indians. Hardin having heard of it followed the man to his camp among some Indians and also shot him. Soon after the settlements became somewhat numerous here Hardin moved to Missouri, where he lived to a good old age.
On the creek immediately below Hardin, Jacob Sellers lived. He had originally come here from North Carolina. He was a great hunter and was regarded by all as a very peaceable and inoffensive citizen. A Mr. Hall, a brother-in-law of Sellers, was living where his grandson, James Hall, now resides. He was a great deer hunter, and spent nearly all of his time in the chase. He answered his country’s call in the war of 1812, and served as a good and faithful soldier all through the conflict. After the war was over, he became quite an extensive farmer here, and at one time was quite wealthy. He died in about 1855. Mr. Roger was living on the farm now occupied by Squire Shammies; he raised a large family of children, all of whom were considered somewhat dissolute, and were among the greatest fighters of the day. A grandson, Burkett Roger, is still living in the Kirkmansville District, and is a very exemplary citizen. Sam McMullen lived on the farm now owned by Berry Tomlinson. He spent most of his time in hunting the game that then abounded here, and killed more bears, it is said, than any other two men in the district. He lived here for many years, and finally passed to his reward. He raised a large family of children, but they too have nearly all passed away. One daughter, Mrs. Dr. Mahone, is still living in the Bivinsville District. Robert Sherrard was living on the farm now occupied by his son, Samuel Sherrard; he came here from North Carolina, and was a faith doctor; he died here in about 1838.
As early as 1803 John Christian came here and made an improvement on the farm now owned by Joseph Carneal. He was a preacher in the Baptist Church, and died here a short time before the late war. A son, John, is now living in St. Louis; James, a grandson, is now living at Elkton. In an early day, but when we are not able to state with accuracy, Samuel Shammies came here from Virginia and settled on the farm now owned by William G. Shammies; here he died in about 1860. James Shammies, a brother of the above, made a settlement where his grandson, Mark, now resides; he died in about 1826. James G. Shammies, a son of Samuel, was born here; he was for many years one of the magistrates of the district, and in the early days of musters and militia he was the Captain of a company. He died here in about 1880.
About 1810 James Garrel came here from Virginia. The farm on which he first built his little cabin is now in the possession of Marshall Meadows. Besides farming he also followed teaming and had a mill on East Clifty Creek. He was a very resolute, stern man, and was in an early day a great Indian fighter. About the same time James Glenn made a settlement here. He was one of the early Magistrates, and ran a horse-mill here for many years. He died here in about 1826; his son Robert became quite a prominent man in the early history of the county. He was a member of the lower House of the State Legislature for three sessions. He was subsequently elected to the Senate; he served in this capacity until the breaking out of the war, when, owing probably to the many cares devolving upon him, he sickened and died while still at his post of duty. In the early history of the county he was also a Magistrate, and at one time he was the Sheriff. The duties of his office were however, mostly performed by his son, George F.
Probably about 1815 Robert Acock came to the county and made a settlement in this district. He was a native of North Carolina, and was a soldier in the Revolution. He died here in about 1847. His son, Robert Acock, Jr., was one of the early Sheriffs of the county, and subsequently moved to Missouri, where he died. William Seers came here from Logan County, in about 1815, and settled where his son Fritz is now living, on the head waters of Clifty. Here he died in an early day. In about 1830 Patrick Carneal came here. In early clays he was a school teacher, and taught here for many years. As early as 1835 John Lyon came here from Virginia and made a settlement on the farm now in the possession of his grandson, William Lyon, who is now keeping a store at Sharon Grove. Contemporaneous with the arrival of Lyon, Jesse Robin-son came here and settled on the farm now owned by William Gant. Soon after his arrival in this district, he put up a store on his farm, and merchandised here for many years. He was also quite an extensive buyer of tobacco. He moved to Illinois in about 1861, where he after-ward died. In 1838 Russell resides came here from Tennessee, and is now living near Sharon Grove. In about 1840 Andy Richmond also moved into this district from Tennessee and is still living here. He was for some years a merchant. Alfred, Joseph and John Gant settled here in about 1840. They came from Marshall County, Tenn. Of the three, John is now living in Elkton, and is a preacher of the Christian Church. Alfred is farming near Sharon Grove, and is a Methodist local preacher. Joseph died here about 1880; his son William is still living on the home farm. The days of yore in this district were very like the same days elsewhere-a time of home-made clothing and limited educational facilities, such as the present generation know but little about. Six yards was considered an extravagant amount to put into one dress, which was made plain. Bonnets were made from splints, and occasionally among the more aristocratic a leghorn hat was seen. The clothing of the women was hung upon wooden pegs around the walls of the house. They had none of the ruffles, silk hats, curls and jewels that adorn the young lady of this period. Reared in simplicity, surrounded by poverty, cared for by brave parents, their lives were one long dream of sunshine, unbroken by a single storm cloud poured out as a shameful libation to dim the horizon of their happiness. Corn bread and wild game were the principal articles of food. Wheat bread was a luxury which few possessed.
Before mills were built different plans were adopted to manufacture corn into meal for bread. While the corn was yet soft, it was grated into corn meal by rubbing over a piece of tin punched full of holes, to make it rough. Mortars were made by cutting off a tree about three feet from the ground, and burning a hole in the top of the stump, about a foot in depth and diameter. Into this the corn was placed, and a hard hickory pestle or an iron wedge attached to a spring pole was used to pound it fine. This was probably the first rude attempt at a mill. As the country be-came somewhat settled up, the horse and water-mills came into general use. Probably the first mill in the district of which any record has been kept was one built by James Glenn, on his farm. After his death Robert ran it for some time. It was a horse-mill, and a very crude one at that. In about 1830, George F. Glenn moved the mill to another part of the district, and ran it for many years. William Harrison put up in an early day a horse-mill at the head of Pond River, which was run for some time, and then finally fell into disuse. In 1830 Mr. Garrell put up a water-mill on East Clifty Creek. It continued to be used until about 1850, when it finally rotted away. In 1875 Gray put up a small steam-mill near where Glenn’s Mill originally stood. He operated it for a short time, and then sold out to Trout. In 1879 the latter put up a flour and saw-mill, which is still in use. In about 1875 William and Henry Richmond put up a water-mill on Clifty Creek, which is still standing. Some years ago Francis Davis put up a steam-mill on Wolf Lick, in the eastern edge of the district, which is now doing a good business.
One of the first schools in the district was one that was put up on the Shammles farm as early as 1830. Mr. Carneal was among the teachers employed here, and taught for many years. Another school was built in about 1835, on the Sherrard farm. It was taught by William Sherrard, who was a cripple. In 1845 a school was built near Mt. Sharon. Jonathan Carr was a teacher here. The first building stood for about twenty years, and a frame was then erected which is still in use. Among the recent teachers here have been John De Vard, Miss Sue Courcy and Miss Lou Courcy. In 1860 another schoolhouse was erected on the Shammles farm. Here William Shammies, Miss Frankie Shammies, Mark Rouke and Gail Craig have all taught. The Missionary Ridge Schoolhouse was built in about 1873. Among the teachers here might be mentioned Misses Anna Gant, Rebecca Lamb and – Pidcock. The Campbell Schoolhouse, on the John Campbell farm, was erected in 1878. Frankie Shammies has been one of the teachers. A schoolhouse was built at Sharon Grove in about 1860, and a new building was put up in 1876. Here Prof. McGuire’ is the present teacher.
The Antioch Baptist Church was organized in about 1820. Among the first members were John Driskill, Thomas Sherrard, Mr. Johnson and family, Absalom Moore and William Donks. Meetings were first held in a log-house. In about 1850, a frame was built which is still in use. The church has about 100 members; the Deacons are John Driskill, Jr., and Andrew Seers; Clerk, John Link. Among the ministers who have been employed here have been It. V. Christian, John Walker, William Trabue, Jacob Bowers, Meek Malone. Rev. Jenkins is the present pastor. The Mt. Sharon Methodist Church was built in about 1830. Among the pioneer members were Uel Gilbert, Samuel Shammles and James Shammles. In about 1870 a frame house was built, which is still used as a church. The membership is now about 250. Among the ministers here have been Revs. Alexander Griffin and Thomas Penick. Rev. Crandal is the present pastor.
The voting place in the district is at Sharon Grove. Here William Lyons and Marion Tomcilin have general stores, and F. Galbraith a drug store.