Biography of Neal J. Sharp

Many elements combine to make this brief biographical sketch an interesting one. It reaches back into the early history of our country, and has to do with the development of the new west.

Neal J. Sharp, register of the United States land office at Hailey, was born in Fulton County, Illinois. July 14, 1833, of Scotch ancestry. His great-grandfather, Joseph L. Sharp, settled in Virginia and founded the town of Sharpsburg, which was named in his honor. His grandfather, James R. Sharp, was born in Tennessee, and fought gallantly for American independence in the war of the Revolution. Joseph L. Sharp, son of the patriot just mentioned, was also born in Tennessee, and did duty as a soldier in the Blackhawk war and in the war with Mexico. He married Matilda Singleton, of Irish lineage, whose ancestors were among the very early settlers in the south, and some of whom fought the British in Revolutionary days. By profession he was a lawyer, and he was a man of much force of character who was prominent wherever his lot was cast. He was elected to the legislature of Illinois and to that of Iowa, and was president of the first council of the Nebraska legislature. He died in his eighty-third year, his wife in her fifty-fifth.

They had three sons and three daughters, of whom four survive.

Neal J. Sharp, their eldest son received the rudiments of an education in the public schools near his early home in Illinois, but is a fine example of the self-educated gentleman, widely read, alive to every question of the day reminiscent as to the history of the past. He was nineteen years old when he went to Iowa. He read law with D. H. Sullivan, a prominent lawyer there, and was admitted to the bar in Nebraska in 1857. He began the practice of his profession and was meeting with success when the civil war broke out. In prompt answer to President Lincoln’s call for troops, he enlisted. May 2, 1861 in Company A, First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered into the service as second lieutenant. He served in the army of Tennessee and took part in the battles of Pilot Knob, Fort Donelson, Pittsburg Landing, the siege of Corinth and the battle with the army of Price at Cape Girardeau. At Fort Donelson he was promoted for meritorious conduct to a first lieutenancy, and at Corinth he was brevetted captain. He was mustered out of the service in 1863, and in 1864 took up his residence in Virginia City for a time.

Since that time he has been continuously engaged in the practice of the law and in looking after mining interests. In partnership with three others, he owns copper mines on Lost River, in Custer County. They have sixteen claims and two fractions, and are developing the property with judicious rapidity. They now have one thousand tons of ore on the dump and fifty thousand tons in sight, and their miner is under bonds in the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Mr. Sharp has other important mining interests in the Wood River and Salmon River Country, on which his annual assessments aggregate one thousand eight hundred dollars. He is the owner of large tracts of land and valuable water rights in Custer County, and his investments in these are regarded as very promising.

Mr. Sharp was happily married, in 1855, to Miss Ellen Trammell, a native of Tennessee, who died in 1862, after having borne him three children, two of whom are living. Ada is the wife of Horatio L. Wood, editor of the Red Rock (Texas) Review. Belle became the wife of Joseph Ferris, a prosperous farmer of Fremont County, Wyoming. In 1865 Mr. Sharp married Miss Nancy A. Morgan, a native of Missouri, who bore him one daughter, who died in infancy. Mrs. Sharp is a lady of much culture and refinement, prominent in society and a helpful member of the Congregational church.

There is no more popular man in this part of the state than Neal J. Sharp, popularly and affectionately known as Colonel Sharp. He is an influential Republican, and his appointment by President McKinley as register of the land office at Hailey met with general approval. He is performing his duties of the office in a manner entirely satisfactory to every one concerned. He has been a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows since 1866, and has passed all the chairs in both branches of the order. He was the organizer of Lincoln Post, No. 15, Grand Army of the Republic, and is one of its past commanders. He has had an ample and successful experience as a lawyer, and any one who knows him is certain that any case will be as safe in his hands as ability and honesty can make it. He was for seven years district attorney of Custer County, and has gone into history as a model guardian of the people’s legal rights. He has fulfilled every obligation of life manfully, and is in every way worthy of the high esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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