Catherine Recbecca Johnston or Johnson

Catherine Recbecca Johnston or Johnson

Catherine Rebecca Sharpe

  • Perry, Iowa

My mother, Catherine Rebecca Johnson (Sharpe) was born 3 May 1850, at St Thomas, Pennsylvania, the daughter of James S. Johnson (1821-1880) and Anna M. Shetron or Shedron (Johnson) (1825-1901).  It is unclear where her ancestors came from as records were burned at Chambersburg by the Confederate Army in July 1864 and those of the United Brothren Church at St Thomas, Pennsylvania, were lost years ago.

Mother was the united Brethren Faith.

Nine children were born of this family:

Catherine Rebecca (Sharpe) 3 May 1850; Peter Shetron or Shedron 1852; John Kitline  1854; James Shetron 1888; Maria M 7 Oct 1859 - 27 Sept 1863; Alfred Eyster 1862; Leonard James or George 1857; Lucretia M (Wolfe) 1866; Leslie 30 Nov 1869.

Catherine’s, mothers father operated a blacksmith shop along the old Turnpike, now Lincoln Highway, about mideway between St. Thomas and Chambersburg, near Back Creek.  Catherine’s father was a tailor by trade.  He was not in the Mexican War, or the Civil War because he was a cripple.  When only 14years old, one of his legs was amputated three times, finally above the knee with what was then called “White

Swelling.” At the age of thirteen, my mother was taken out of school and worked in her father’s shop.  During this time, the Civil War was on and her mother would bake half moon apple snit pies (dried apples) and take them to Gettysburg and sell them to the half starved soldiers.

There were many Civil War battles fought in Pennsylvania.  They lived in fear of the “Rebels.”  They all lived in terror.  One day the cry came “ THE REBELS ARE COMING.”

Everyone ran and hid.  Mother was near a grocery store when such a call came.  She was helping the owner cover and camoulfage the store to look like a living room, so it would not be pludered.  She was putting a carpet down on a bare floor near a glass door, when a rebel put his sword through the glass.  Just by a miracle and inches did she miss having her head servered.  She ran, but the rebel caught her and demanded she get him an axe to cut down the town flag pole.  She retened to agree, but ran into a neighbor’s house and hid under a bed.  After the neighbor thought the rebel must be gone, went outside and had been forced at gunpoint to get the axe for the rebel.  The rebel than shot the man before cutting down the flagpole.  The men in the town banded together and found the soldier in a confield.  They shot, him dead.  The rest of the Rebel Cavalry Raiders had gone ahead to Chambersburg under the command of Confederate General Stuart and burned some 557 building in that city.

The Courtship and Marriage

Reputed to have met at a singing class, and after six weeks of a whirlwind courtship, the dashing young Irishman (Moore Sharpe), who was ten years her (Catherine Johnsons) senior, she was 22 and he was 32, they were married 13 Aug 1872, in her parents’s home at St. Thomas, Pennsylvania.  A Bible Record from Emma shows they were married by Rev. W.C.B. Shulenberger.  It is not known of what church he was minister.

Jim Sharpe, recollected 22 Nov 1947, that mother was told by a neighbor lady

“You will never marry the blacksmith because there is another girl across the mountains with who he keeps steady company”

That or would to that effect.  Mercersburg would be that city.

**                                                Their Home**

**                 410 West Main Street, **Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

Some of their early married life was spent in Mercersburg, Pa., for there is where James Joseph Sharpe was born 8 Aug 1873, and Anna Elizabeth Sharpe was born 12 July 1875.  Later part of their married life was in St Thomas, Pennsylvania.

James’s mother told him “that when he was able to walk, that he would find the way to her parent’s (James Johnson) home as far the gate, but was too small to reachup and unlatch it.  That Jim would call out to “Grandpa” open gate, and he crippled, had to reach for his crutch and stop him work and go out doors and open the gate. That this thing happened quite frequently, but that Grandfather Johnson never once became impatient.  He was a tailor and his shop was in the front part of the home.

Jim Sharpe also recalled that his father owned a house in St. Thomas at the time he moved to Waynesboro.  More than once he drove by team of horse and buggy from Waynesboro to St. Thomas, taking Jim with him.  To see about collecting the rent. On one of those trips, he went into the house and upbraided the tenant from chpping a hole in the floor, pointing the hole to her, which I saw with my own eyes, and fther proceeded to scold her about it.  Finally, father sold the home for $300.00 and used the money to pay toward a home on North Street in Waynesboro and the vacant lot adjoining it on the east.  Later on he sold this vacant space and the buyer built a house on it.

When the Frick & Co Shops, moved from the acuth eastern part of Waynesboro, to the extreme wester part of the city, father sold the North Street home at a profit and bought two large lots on a long hill sloping to the west on West Main Street, and built the home at 410 West main.  The vacant space east of it went as far as the school grounds where there was a school hous.  When father bought the tract, it was farm land and he was the first to build on it.  Frick’s new shop were to the east and north then.  The large two story squared house was room enought for thier rapildy growing family.

While James and Ann were born in Mercersburg, these children were born in Waynesboro:  William Sharpe 15 Feb 1877; Lucy Methesmith (Bremmer), 2 Sept 1878, Emma Kate (Robinson) 19 July 1880;  Stewart A Share 27 aug 1882;  Susan Ella (Coleman) 1 March 1885.

Susan Ella, was named for my father’s wealthy sister, Susan M Parriott in Iowa and Ellas for my mother’s dear friend and neighbor, Ella Letz.

When mother’s father James Johnson died 22 Feb 1880, Jim Sharpe and sister Anna walked together with father and mother just behind them at the funeral.  Jim remebered the trips made from Waynesboro to St Thomas when alarming word would came telling of grandfather’s condition.  Usually Uncle John Johnson would drive the livery team and buggy with all of us in it.  It was a long trip, over mountains and all.  Usually we went through Chambersburg, but sometimes went antoher route.  Uncle John came to Waynesboro before 1880, and all of the family came to live, one by one, in Waynesboro,  after the death of grandfather Johnson.  Grandmother survived until in 1901.

When im Sharpe was about 3 years old, when living in the North Street property, Uncle Leslie Johnson, who was about 3 years older, was visiting them.  They overheard mother say at the table when we were all eating a meal, that she was not going to have any more children, and added that the baby-crib might as well be burned up.  Well, Uncle Les and Jim took mental note of that remark and suiting action to her words, one day when nobody was at home, set fire to the crib on the vacant lot.  It was pretty badly damaged.  Jim does not remember what punishment was meted out, but recalled he reminded mother of what she had said at the table.

When Uncle John Kitline Johnson, mother’s brother came from St. Thomas to ork in the Frick Shops in Waynesboro, he lived with the Sharpes at the North Street home. (1880 census, shows John K as a day laborer, age 26 and his siter Lucretia, age 14 attending school.  Both boarders at the Moore Sharpe home).  At that time father and mother attended the Presbyterian Church, located a short distance away, to the southheast.  They both taught Sunday School classes.  Once there were revival meeting being held in the Methodist Church and mother wanted to take Jim to see what they were like.  Father objected to this.  Mother hid Jim at a neighbor’s house across the street-south.  A family roar resulted.  Jim did not get to go to the revival meeting.  Uncle John, who had always been most kin to Jim too up his abode elsewhere.  When Jim was a boy, Grandma Johnson came to Waynesboro after Grandfather Johnson passed away, 1880.  She used to worry over her son James or Jimmie.  She asked the Sharpe’s not to sing “Oh were is my wandering boy tonight, for that I love him he still knows, etc.”.

Uncle James went west when a mere lad, with an Uncle of mother’s, a Shetron by the way and stayed with them at or near Grand Tower, Illinois.  In later years, Jimmie Johnson returned to the east, married to Ella Costello, who he met and was married at Grand Tower, Illinois.  She was located in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, in October 1947, the only survivor of all the aunts and uncles of the Johnson or Shetron side.

**    Moving West**

About 3 weeks after the birth of their seventh child (Susan), the Sharpe’s sold their home and funishings and took all and moved West to the Iowa praires.  My father sister had written him on such glowing stories  of the “Go West Young Man and seek your fortune” - practically money was growing on trees, so they listened and decided on this big step.

The trip west from Waynesbor, began with excitement.  After the sale of their property both real and personal, father and mother had around $2000, but some debts and to be paid and railway tickets bought.  Mother did not relish the trip, in fact, she declined to go and it was only after much persuasion and placing the remaining case in her hands that she finally consented.

The night before, one of the creditors, a physician by profession, who had doctored our family, came in person to the home on West Main Street and announced that he had to paid or else, where upon father said he would pay him about $15 or $20, if he the doctor would accept that bill in full.  The doctor said OK, and so the deal was struck and the doctor then and there paid. Uncle Alfred Eyster Johnson was present and helped our parents all he could by sympathy and encouragement and packing up things to go as baggage on our journey.

Early the next moring, we took passage on the Western Maryland railway, and we noriced that the doctor got aboard on the same train.  We then went south to a town or city where we had to change trains for the west, a midnight train.  Father took Jim Sharpe with him and walked up town, while mother and the rest fo the family stayed at the depot.  As we walked along, who should approach us but thisdoctor.  He shock hands with father and passed the time and wished us a safe journey and so on.

Then he switched the conversation and told father he would have to pay him the balance of his bill or he would go upstairs to a law office about it, etc. At this juncture, father walked away and when we returned to the depot a lawyer was there taling earnestly to mother who had one hand on her pocket, trying to decide what to do, to pay or not.  This lawyer, Jim recalled as the man who was Superintendent of the Waynesboro public school when we lived there on North Street and was evidently now a lawyer in the State of Maryland.  Mother did not pay him.  However, in a little while the depot agent called father to his office, saying the lawyer had sentword to him to hold our personal belongings till paper could be made out, perhaps an attachement.  But the immediate upshot was that a train was then pulling into the station and the agent said for us to get aboard and not wait till midnight and a great hurry up was in store for us.

Luckily all of us children got aboard and nobody was left behind.  We loaded the baggage and all we had along to eat for 9 in a wash boiler, mother with the precious bills in her pocket, and we bid farewell to that city believe Eageratown, Maryland, thanked thed station agent for his presence of mind, help, aid and assistance.

Jim Sharpe, identified the lawyer as the former school superintendant Professor Lytle, who wnent into law and was practicing in Maryland.

The Sharpes had to change trains at a small station before arriving at Harpers Ferry.  There they saw the canal, the bridge, etc., and big bluffs on one side.  Toward dart they arrived in Cumberland.  Changed trains there.  Along that night, we had turned off into Pensylvania a mid mountains and the next day about noon cossed the river at Wheeling.  That night we passed through Indiana and the next moring as day was breaking, we were moving through the low outskirts of Chicago.  There we changed cars, thistime taking the Illinois Central, after several hours spent in the depot.  As the sun was setting, we crossed the Father of Waters, passing through a short tunnel at east Dubuque, Illinios. Along toward midnight, we reached Ackley, Iowa and made the four mile journey to Aunt Susans (Parriott), northeast of Ackley, riding in robert Wilson’s farm wagon, over frozen mud roads, so rugh and mother carrying a three weeks old baby in her arms.

Robert Wilson was the husband of Margaret Jane Sharpe, Moore’s sister. Susan (Coleman) said the Sharpes stayed at her father’s sister Elizabeth (Aunt Lizzie) lovely home with their family of eight children, one girl Susie and seven boys. Elizabeth was married to James Stockdale.  Anyway, they soon wore out their welcome and father bought a farm with a small house that my mother called a “Corn Crib”.

Jim Sharpe related in 15 Nov 1947, that fathers first acquired quite a fine art of stacking light grain when helping a nearby farmer at Mercerburg with harvesting .  He remembered that father could stack oats in fine form when living the first summer in Iowa, and farmed the eighty acres six miles north of Iowa Falls.  Father built four stacks of oats that Jim thought wer fine, but Jim was too little to pitch in bunles up to his dad as he neared the top, and mother died the best she could do at pitching.

Note:  page 1-1d contain excerpts from James, John, Stewart, Susan and Emma Sharpe’s letters.  Etc., and Winnifred Jones data and enlarges upon page 1 of Susan Coleman’s “Memories” as copied from her hand written Biography over 81 pages.

Douglas S Sharpe, (grandson) and Alfred Leonard Sharpe (son)