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SHARP, JOHN HENRY

SHARP, JOHN HENRY (1874–1957). John H. Sharp, judge, was born April 25, 1874, on a farm near the settlement of Nesbitt, in Robertson County, Texas, the son of Andrew and Mollie (Brown) Sharp. He entered Southwestern University at Georgetown in 1893, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1897. He studied law in the office of an older lawyer in Franklin and was admitted to the bar in 1898. He began the practice of law in Ennis in 1900 where he also became mayor and long-time president of the school board. He married Eula King on June 6, 1906. His reputation as a trial lawyer led to his appointment to the Supreme Court Commission of Appeals by Governor Dan Moody in October 1929. In 1934 he was elected Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Texas where he remained through three six-year elective terms until 1952 when he retired, having completed 23 years as a member of the Supreme Court. He was a Democrat, a Mason, and a member of the Baptist Church. He died on November 20, 1957, at his home in Austin and is buried in the Supreme Court section of the State Cemetery in Austin. He was survived by his wife and two daughters, Lucille and Helen Sharp, who both married lawyers.

Judge Sharp wrote 512 opinions for the Supreme Court, cited hundreds of times. Southwestern University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Civil Laws degree in 1951. His professional and personal accomplishments were extensively reviewed in a Memorial Ceremony in the Supreme Court of Texas on March 29, 1958, and are now recorded on fourteen pages of The Texas Reports of the Supreme Court of Texas.

Judge Sharp was one of nine children of Andrew Jackson Sharp (1838–1928) who had been a gunner in the famous duel between the Monitor and the Merrimac (renamed C.S.S. Virginia), in March 1862 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. His account of the battle included a graphic description of the scuttling of the Virginia in which alcohol played a disastrous part. After the war he returned briefly to the family farm in Alabama, found it grown up in little pine trees instead of cotton, married his pre-war sweetheart in Louisiana, then migrated to Texas in a wagon train, finally settling in Robertson County in an area known as Beck's Prairie. He became a successful farmer and lived to be the oldest survivor of the Monitor-Merrimac battle, an event which rendered wooden warships in the world obsolete.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

"John H. Sharp Memorial," Texas Bar Journal 21 (January 22, 1958). Thomas J. Cutler, "A Duel of Iron," Naval History (August 2004, October 2004). Oral history by Georgia Sharp (Gray) Page, c. 1955. Vertical files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Thomas D. Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Thomas D. Anderson, "SHARP, JOHN HENRY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsh66), accessed August 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.