“Reminiscence of a School Marm”
Excerpts from Memories of Emma K. Robinson (Sharpe)
Moore Irwin Patrick Sharpe came to U.S. On a sailing boat that took 35 days. He came 3rd class steerage so he could save as much of the money that had been sent by an Aunt in the U.S.A. He came with younger brother William. Both boys were bound out to an apprenticeship for 4 years. William’s master was very cruel, and one day, while at a picnic, he ran away. Moore stuck it out and became a skilled machinist. H met Grandma Sharpe at a singing class.
The rest of the Sharpe family came from Ireland later and lived on farms in Iowa. The oldest sister Susan married a wealthy widower, who died in a very short time and left her vast fortune. She coaxed Moore Sharpe family to come to Iowa, where sister Susan would start them on a farm. She made him think money grew on trees in Iowa. They came by train from Pennsylvania to Iowa in 1885. They only stayed on the farm for one year, as they all hated it, they knew nothing about farming. Moore couldn’t drive a team of horse on the rad, he would always land in a ditch. Sold out, and moved into town, where he got a job as machinist at the R.R. Roundhouse.
Grandpa Sharpe had a large leather family Bible with a padlock. The only time it was used, was for the recording of each birth. He was most meticulous about this, as his own had not been recorded in Ireland by his parents. He only knew it was in August, the year 1810. So he chose the 10th as his day.
Electrical storms were common in Iowa, and Grandma Sharpe always herded the children into the storm cellar for safety. One day, when the parents were away, Lucy herded them into the cellar at an approaching storm, and had each child place a hand on this Sacred Book to keep them safe as was the custom in the family. As to how she secured the keys to the padlock etc., she never told. But each child promised and kept that promise, that father never be told. Lucy showed the kids all the Bible pictures and also read about Jezebel to them. Fascinating!
Grandfather had told them that he had carried Lucy and Emma to prayer meetings in Pennsylvania, where he had each girl “sprinkled.”
Every day the Sharpe’s started with this prayer, with all the family in unison:
“Now before I work today, Let me not forget to pray, To God who kept me through the night, And woke me up in the morning light, In my work and in my play, Be thou with me all day” During World War I, Grandma Sharpe taught Emma and her school class to knit wool squares to be made into blankets for the Red Cross. Grandma Sharpe knitted and American Flag, finished it on Lincoln’ Birthday. Grandma Sharpe had sent a photo of herself with this Flag, to President Wilson, and had received a letter of thanks on White House Stationery. She was the first person in Perry, Iowa to buy $100.00 Liberty Bond.
Grandma Sharpe told the class of growing up during the Civil War. Her mother baked half moon pies and sold them to the Northern Troops there were many battles fought in Pennsylvania where she grew up. They lived in fear of they “Rebels.” They all lived in terror. One day the cry came “The Rebels are Coming” and everyone ran and hid.
Grand was near a grocery store when such a call came. She was helping the owner cover and camouflage the store to look like a living room, so it would not be plundered. 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 severed. She ran, but the rebel caught her and demanded she get him an axe to cut down the town flagpole. She pretended 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 then shot the man before cutting down the flagpole. The man in the town banded together and found the soldier in the cornfield, they shot him dead. The rest of the rebels had gone ahead to Chambersburg and burned that city.
Grandpa Sharpe had come to school, and gave a geography class a lesson about Ireland. He told how each student in his school had to bring their own peat to school, otherwise he couldn’t be near the stove to keep warm. The heating stove was always in the center of a classroom. The only text books were the Bible, and an arithmetic book.
(I only copied, word by word, the parts of her book that pertained to our grandparents, Catherine and Moore Irwin Sharpe, and to our mother Lucy Methesmith Sharpe Bremmer) WRBJ
Emma Kate Sharpe Robinson died 5 December 1963