Page 421-423, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


Joseph Sharp, of El Dorado, Kans., was for a number of years one of the extensive contractors and builders of Butler county, but in recent years has not been actively engaged in that work, although his sons, operating under the name of Sharp Brothers, are the largest contractors and builders not only in Butler county, but probably in the State of Kansas.

Joseph Sharp was born in New York in 1851. His parents, John and Zella (Payne) Sharp, natives of Yorkshire, England, died when Joseph was about eighteen months old. He had one brother, Frank, who was reared by a family named Tipton, near Columbus, Ohio, and Joseph, the subject of this sketch, grew up in the home of his cousin, near Worthington, Ohio. Joseph learned the mason and stone cutter's trade when a youth and in 1870 he and his brother came to Kansas, locating in Butler county. Frank took a claim and after proving up on it, went to Wichita, where he became a successful carriage and wagon manufacturer within a few years. He died at the age of thirty-six.

When the two brothers came to Butler county they came by rail as far as Emporia and from that point came by stage to El Dorado, landing at the latter place August 13, 1870. At that time the old trail


which the stage coach followed crossed what is now Mr. Sharp's front yard, and the early supplies and building material for El Dorado were hauled over this trail. At that time El Dorado was a small hamlet, there being practically no settlement west of the Santa Fe railroad and a part of the present court house square was occupied by a cattle corral, and the old El Dorado Hotel, remembered by early day wayfarers, stood on the corner now occupied by the Citizens Bank.

Upon arriving at El Dorado, Joseph Sharp engaged in the butchering business, his shop being located on South Main street, where Seth Frazier's office now is. Mr. Sharp also homesteaded a claim in Fairview township and managed to spend enough time on that, in connection with his butchering business, to comply with the homestead law, finally proving up and receiving his deed from President Grant. In the meantime he had been engaged in building, his first work in that line being on the construction of the Farmers and Merchants Bank building. During the last forty years he has erected a number of important buildings in El Dorado and has also built a great many bridges in Butler county. He built the Central school building, which was later destroyed by fire, the opera house drug store building, the Smith building on North Union street, the I. O. O. F. building, which was built in 1881, the Conley building and the building occupied by Ora Wyant and also a great many private residences. He built the arch bridge on North Main street, and also the bridge on South Main street, and furnished stone for the bridge near the pumping station, as well as a great many stone and concrete bridges throughout this section of the State.

In addition to his activities as a contractor and builder, Mr. Sharp is one of the pioneer horticulturists of Butler county. He has been very successful in raising small fruits, including cherries, graps[sic] and a variety of berries, and also peaches. He started out to demonstrate that small fruit can be profitably grown in this section and has succeded beyond a reasonable doubt. He probably holds the record as a strawberry grower in Kansas, having raised 206 bushels on one acre, which he sold at $2 per bushel. He has twenty acres under fruit culture and his vineyard and other small fruit should act as an object lesson as well as an inspiration to the average Butler county farmer.

Mr. Sharp was united in marriage April 13, 1879, with Miss Rosa L. Burnham, who at the time of her marriage was a resident of El Dorado, but was born in Indiana and came to Kansas with her parents when she was a girl. Twelve children have been born to this union, as follows: Earl J., who was county register of deeds of Butler county for two terms, ending in 1915, resides at El Dorado; John E., a member of the firm of Sharp Brothers, contractors and builders, El Dorado; Zella, married Will Opperman, El Dorado; Charles H., a member of the firm of Sharp Brothers, El Dorado; Ray W., a member of the firm of Sharp Brothers, El Dorado; Mattie, married Nat Scribner, El Dorado; Hazel


married Ernest Elson, El Dorado, Kans.; Nettie, married Elmer Neilson, El Dorado; Nina, Russell, Theodore, Ruth and Mildred residing at home.

The Sharp Brothers are known throughout the West as one of the extensive and reliable firms of general contractors and building engineers. They were brought up in this line of work with their father, and since the withdrawal of the senior Sharp from the active conduct of the business, the sons have gone on with the work and each year has added new developments and extended their sphere of operations. They have erected a number of large concrete bridges, doing a great deal of this class of work in Colorado, and in recent years they have built a great many expensive and modern school buildings in the State of Kansas, and at the present time are building a State college at Hays, Kans., which will cost $100,000, besides over $150,000 worth of other work on hand. Their experience and financial standing give the Sharp Brothers a standing in the building world equaled by few in their line.

During the forty-six years of his residence in Butler county, Mr. Sharp has seen a great many changes take place. When he came here buffalo were plentiful just a little west of El Dorado, and in the early days he frequently went buffalo hunting, and during his time killed a number of buffalo. He has killed these animals in Sumner county and his last trip was as far west as Medicine Lodge, in 1877. Antelopes, wild turkeys and prairie chickens were to be found in great numbers in Butler county when he first came here.

Mr. Sharp has been a Republican since he was a boy and has taken on active part in the local affairs of his party, and at the present time is a member of the Republican Central Committee, having served in that capacity for a number of years. He has been a delegate to most of the county conventions and has been an important factor in the local councils of his party, and for a number of years was a member of the El Dorado city council. In the early days Mr. Sharp was interested in Wichita county and recalls the county seat fight there between Coronado and Farmer City, where, as he says, they moved one hotel back and forth between the two towns until they wore it out.

Mr. Sharp is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, having been a member of that lodge since 1882. He also belongs to the Anti-Horse Thief Association and the Kansas Fraternal Citizens. He is one of the men who can look with pride on what he has accomplished since coming to Butler county, and he has the additional satisfaction of seeing the work which he commenced carried on in such an efficient manner by his capable sons.

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