Short History of Sharon. Tennessee

Weakley County Press - March 7, 1958

The Early History Of Sharon, Tenn.
By Ann L. Bailey

In 1824, a land grant was received by Wesley Rogers and John Jenkins from the United States Government.  This land was divided by regularly traveled dirt road, known as the Dresden-Trenton road.  In a short time, a portion of this land was bought by Graves Fonville.  People began to migrate to this area.  They in turn bought land from Graves Fonville and began to start a small community which included a few stores.

On Jan. 15, 1852, a post office was established approximately 2 ½ miles northwest of the area which is now known as Sharon.  Mr. Nelson O. Underwood was appointed as the only postmaster and served until the Dedham Post Office discontinued service on July 25, 1866?.

The first schools in the area were Galloway School, west of Mount Vernon, Hickory Grove School, about a mile west of Sharon, and Chestnut Grove School, south of Tansil Cemetery.  The Hickory Grove School was free except for two months when a  “subscription” or tuition was required.  Teachers at this school included Ben Tansil, Mr. Donoho, George Winstead and Mrs. Lou Evans, who became county superintendent.  From time to time this education of children was supplemented by “tutor” and music teachers who lived in the homes and taught the children in the neighborhood.  The land for the Hickory Grove School was given by John Jenkins.

In 1873, the Illinois Central Railroad bought a right-of-way for its tracks through the land of this settlement.  And by Aug. 22, 1873, the first train chugged through the settlement to the amazement of all 273 of its inhabitants.  Bob Russell was the town’s first depot agent.

During this year, the people decided that the settlement needed a name also.  Fonville, Sharon, and Owenville were considered; and Sharon was selected to be the title.  At this time the town’s businesses were comprised of one hotel, the Shannon House, two steam-cotton gins, two general stores, a mechanic shop, one grist and saw mill, and two churches, the Methodist and Cumberland Presbyterian.

A post office was established in Sharon on Jan. 26, 1874, and its first postmaster was Charles W. Moore.
The people remembered now as Sharon’s first settlers include Jim Fonville, Charlie Owen, Dr. Ben T. Bondurant, whose daughter, Mrs. J. W. Burton, is the major source of the information for this article, Charlie Overton, Mrs. Margaret Hunt, Charlie Moore, Ben Moore, “Squire” or Justice of the Peace, George Terry, Mrs. Mit? Winston, John Nowlin and Joe Dent.  The families Underwood, Chandler, Tansil, Jenkins, Ethridge, Tillman, and Shannon lived in the nearby communities and contributed to the development of the town.  The first homes built in the community were those belonging to Jim Fonville, Charlie Owen, and Buck Hunt.

Sharon’s first school was established in 1890 and was called Sharon Training School.  Its first teacher was Professor J. W. Douglas.  A few of the people who owned businesses then were:  the Moore Brothers, a general store; Hollis and Parrish, a general store; Dr. Ben T. Bondurant, a drug store;  Wyat Overton and his nephews, Jim and Jess Ammons, a drug store;  and Mr. Bailey, a general store.  This store was later owned and operated by his nephews, George and I. H. Terry, who came here from Virginia.  The town had four physicians which practiced in Sharon and its surrounding areas.  They were Dr. Henry Shannon, Dr. Ben T. Bondurant, Dr. Frank Hall, and Dr. Columbus P. Allen.

In 1895, John Fonville gave three acres of land to the community as a burial area.  It was named Woodlawn Cemetery and its first burial was that of George Norman on July 13, 1895. Another first occurred when Sharon received it first telephone in 1896.  Its first bank was established in 1902.

Mount Vernon Methodist Church, established in 1823 west of town; Corinth Baptist Church east of town, Sharon Methodist and a Primitive Baptist Church (where the R. A. Childress home now is) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church provided the early places of worship. “Parson” Asbury Smith, grandfather of Mrs. Fannie V. Milner, was the local Methodist preacher for many years.  Brothers Sellars and Majors were early Methodist “circuit” riders.

No matter how many important or noteworthy happenings evolve from the history of a town or community, its past, present or future happenings are no greater than the people within it.

Submitted by Rebecca Holder

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