north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     William Sharpe was born in 1742 in Cecil County, Maryland, the son of Thomas, Jr. and Elizabeth Sharp. His parents and grandparents spelled their surname without the final “e.” Sharpe’s move to North Carolina is not documented; the first record of his presence is his admittance to the Mecklenburg County bar in 1763. He moved to western Rowan County, what is now Iredell County, in 1768.

     Sharpe was appointed to the Rowan County Committee of Safety on 1774 and served as that group’s secretary for two years. His handwritten minutes survived in his family long enough to be published in John H. Wheeler’s Historical Sketches of North Carolina in 1851. They have since been lost. Sharpe represented Rowan County at the Second and Third and Fifth Provincial Congresses and at the Provincial Council of Safety. His service with the Council of Safety gave him the opportunity to accompany General Griffith Rutherford on his campaign against the Cherokee in September 1776. The following year Sharpe, Waightstill Avery, Robert Lanier, and Joseph Winston were appointed to negotiate a treaty with the Overhill Cherokee at the Long Island of Holston. By virtue of the treaty the Overhill Cherokee ceded tribal lands east of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a corridor through the Watauga settlements to North Carolina.

     William Sharpe was elected to serve as a North Carolina delegate to the Continental Congress in 1779, but resigned in 1981 calling the Congress a “house of bondage.” He was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons in 1782 and 1784. During the 1784 session, Sharpe introduced an unsuccessful bill to establish a state university. It was his last term of public office. Apparently his health was in decline, as he was unable to attend the laying of the cornerstone of the University of North Carolina in 1793. William Sharpe married Catherine Reese, daughter of Mecklenburg County justice David Reece, in 1768. The couple had twelve children. Sharpe died at his home north of Statesville July 6, 1818 and was buried in the Snow Creek Burying Ground.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 321-322—sketch by Jerry C. Cashion
C. L. Hunter, Sketches of Western North Carolina (1877)
Jethro Rumple, A History of Rowan County Containing Sketches of Prominent Families and Distinguished Men (1881)
William L. Saunders and Walter Clark, eds., The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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