William Sharon (1821 - 1885)

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William Sharon, U.S. Senator's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, United States
Death: Died in San Francisco, California, United States
Managed by: Steven Cucolo
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William Sharon

William Sharon was a United States Senator from Nevada, In office March 4, 1875 – March 3, 1881. He was preceded by William M. Stewart and succeeded by James Graham Fair. He was born January 9, 1821 in Smithfield, Ohio; and died November 13, 1885 (aged 64), in San Francisco, California. His political party was Republican and his spouse was Maria Malloy. He lived in Virginia City and worked as an attorney and in real estate.

Early life

Sharon was born in Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, January 9, 1821, the son of William Sharon (Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 1793 – Mount Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio, April 24, 1875) and wife (m. Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, January 21, 1815) Susan Kirk (Lackawanna, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, 1796 – Mount Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio, 1833); paternal grandson of William Sharon[1] (Pennsylvania, 1753 – Jefferson County, Ohio, 1809, son of James Sharon and wife ..., paternal grandson of William Sharon (d. March 2, 1751) and wife Margaret Chambers and great-grandson of William Sherran and wife Mary ...) and wife (married c. 1789) Sarah Smiley (Juniata County, Pennsylvania, 1762 – Jefferson County, Ohio, 1857, daughter of George Smiley and wife ...); and maternal grandson of William Kirk (Juniata County, Pennsylvania, c. 1770 – Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, 1814) and wife Rachel Jones (c. 1772 – c. 1830).[2]

He attended Athens College. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri and studied Law. He was admitted to the bar and practiced. He engaged in mercantile pursuits in Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois.

Career in the West

William moved to California in 1849 and engaged in business in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California. He moved to San Francisco, California in 1850 and was a dealer in real estate. He married there in 1852 Maria Malloy (Quebec, 1832 – San Francisco, California, 14 May 1875). He moved to Virginia City, Storey County, Nevada in 1864 as manager of the branch of the Bank of California and became interested in silver mining.

Senator Sharon was a business partner of William Chapman Ralston and was the Nevada agent for the Bank of California. He and Ralston profited greatly from loaning money to mining operations and then foreclosing on those operations when the owners defaulted.

William Sharon acquired many of Ralston's assets in 1875 when Ralston's financial empire collapsed and he died. He was thought by some of his contemporaries to have actually aided the collapse. He certainly was the main beneficiary of Ralston's assets. Those assets included the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and Ralston Hall in Belmont, California.

He became the father-in-law of future Congressman and Senator from Nevada, Francis G. Newlands, by whom he is the great-great-grandfather of Chris Strachwitz. He was also the father of Florence Emily Sharon, who married Sir Thomas George Fermor-Hesketh, 7th Baronet, becoming the mother of Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, 1st Baron Hesketh (1881-1944).

Senator

He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate for Nevada and served from March 4, 1875, to March 3, 1881. He served as the chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining in the 45th United States Congress.

Later years

Sarah Althea Hill

He resided in San Francisco, California until his death there on November 13, 1885. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco. His final years saw a legal battle that was the juiciest scandal of its time. Two lawsuits Sharon vs. Sharon, 1884 and Sharon vs Hill, 1885 encapsulated his death. He lost the first case and before the appeal was decided, he was already dead, but he won, thus ruining Sarah Althea's Hill's hopes to be recognized as his wife or widow.

Senator Sharon was claimed to have remarried a woman named Sarah Althea Hill, but he sued to have this alleged marriage cancelled. The judgement (in his favor) was rendered after his death, but the consequent legal proceedings, which included a bowie knife fight in the courtroom of the Circuit Court for the Northern District of California and the physical beating of Justice Stephen Johnson Field of the US Supreme Court (by David S. Terry, a former Chief Judge of the California Supreme Court) and the fatal shooting of the Terry by a US Marshal, both in the breakfast-room of a California railroad hotel, culminated in a landmark US Supreme Court decision in the case "In re Neagle (Cunningham v. Neagle)", on the supremacy of federal law over state law. 135 U.S. 1; 10 S. Ct. 658; 34 L. Ed. 55 (1890).[3]

Notes

1. ^ The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) publishes a Patriot Index, a list of persons whose honorable service in the cause of independence during the American Revolution renders their female descendants eligible for membership in the NSDAR. Several ancestors of Chris Strachwitz appear in the Patriot Index, including: William Sharon (number 120). While Mr. Strachwitz is not eligible for membership in the NSDAR (by not being female), he is eligible for membership in the equivalent organization for men, the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

2. ^ http://www.wargs.com/noble/strachwitz.html Ancestry of Chris Strachwitz

3. ^ For details see, for example, http://lawbooksusa.com/cconlaw/neagleinre.htm.

References

  • Kroninger, Robert. Sarah and the Senator. Berkeley, Calif.: Howell-North, 1964
  • Roberts, Gary L. In Pursuit of Duty. American West 7 (September 1970): 27-33, 62-63
  • William Sharon at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Hudson, Lynne. The Making of Mammy Pleasant: A Black Entrepreneur in Nineteenth Century San Francisco Chicago and Urbana IL.: University of Illinois Press, 2003. (p63)
  • Stone, Irving. "Men to Match My Mountains."

United States Senate

Preceded by

William M. Stewart United States Senator (Class 1) from Nevada

1875–1881

Served alongside: John P. Jones Succeeded by

James Graham Fair

v • d • e

United States Senators from Nevada

Class 1: Stewart • Sharon • Fair • Stewart • Nixon • Massey • Pittman • Bunker • Scrugham • Carville • Malone • Cannon • Hecht • Bryan • Ensign

Class 3: Nye • Jones • Newlands • Henderson • Oddie • McCarran • Brown • Bible • Laxalt • Reid -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Sharon

William Sharon (January 9, 1821 – November 13, 1885) was a United States Senator from Nevada who profited from the Comstock Lode.


Early life


Sharon was born in Smithfield, Ohio, January 9, 1821, the son of William Sharon and Susan Kirk. He attended Ohio University. After studying law in St. Louis, Missouri, he was admitted to the bar. In addition to practicing law, he engaged in mercantile pursuits in Carrollton, Illinois.


Career in the West


Sharon moved to California in 1849, and engaged in business in Sacramento. He moved to San Francisco in 1850, where he dealt in real estate. In 1852, he married Maria Malloy (Quebec, 1832 – San Francisco, 14 May 1875). He moved to Virginia City, Nevada in 1864 as manager of the branch of the Bank of California and became interested in silver mining.


Senator Sharon was a business partner of William Chapman Ralston, and was the Nevada agent for the Bank of California. He and Ralston profited greatly from loaning money to mining operations and then foreclosing on those operations when the owners defaulted.


William Sharon acquired many of Ralston's assets in 1875 when Ralston's financial empire collapsed and he died. He was thought by some of his contemporaries to have actually aided the collapse. He certainly was the main beneficiary of Ralston's assets. Those assets included the Palace Hotel in San Francisco and Ralston Hall in Belmont, California.


His daughter Clara married Francis G. Newlands, who became a Congressman and Senator from Nevada. He was also the father of Florence Emily Sharon, who married Sir Thomas George Fermor-Hesketh, 7th Baronet.


Senator


He was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate for Nevada and served from March 4, 1875, to March 4, 1881. He served as the chairman of the Committee on Mines and Mining in the 45th United States Congress.


Later years


He resided in San Francisco until his death there on November 13, 1885. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco.


His final years saw a legal battle that was the juiciest scandal of its time. Senator Sharon was alleged to have remarried a woman named Sarah Althea Hill, and he sued to have this alleged marriage cancelled. Judgment (in his favor) was rendered after his death, but the consequent legal proceedings, which included a Bowie knife fight in the courtroom of the Circuit Court for the Northern District of California, the physical beating of Justice Stephen Johnson Field of the US Supreme Court (by David S. Terry, a former Chief Judge of the California Supreme Court) and the fatal shooting of Terry by a US Marshal, both in the breakfast room of a California railroad hotel, which culminated in a landmark US Supreme Court decision in the case "In re Neagle (Cunningham v. Neagle)", on the supremacy of federal law over state law. 135 U.S. 1; 10 S. Ct. 658; 34 L. Ed. 55 (1890).

Obituary from the New York Times

Ex-United States Senator William Sharon died yesterday afternoon at 3:32 o'clock at his home in San Francisco, after an illness of some weeks' duration.

William Sharon became one of the money kings of the Pacific slope through a career that began in repeated misfortune and was developed by operations that appeared to the public both bold and startling. Only a strong character could have picked up courage after the reverses that came upon him in early in life, and the record of his successes. while phenomenal in a financial sense, was made by courage and good judgment. each of which he displayed in a rare degree. ·

Until he was 17 years old, Mr. Sharon lived on his father's farm at Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, where he was born on Jan. 9, 1899. He was of Quaker descent. His family, tracing their lineage back to the colony of William Penn. The young man was not content with farm life, and fancying that he saw a fortune in the business of river transportation, he prevailed upon his father to give him money with which to buy an interest In a flatboat that was to carry general freight from the river towns of Ohio to New Orleans.. The boat was loaded, and everything promised well for the first trip. but in shooting the rapids in Louisville the boat was wrecked and the cargo nearly ruined. Sharon returned home thoroughly disgusted. For the next three years he remained at home, working on the farm and fitting himself for Athens College, which he entered in 1813, graduating two years later. Showing a fondness for the law, be entered the office of Edwin M. Stanton and was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1845. He never practiced that profession. Poor health and the prospect of having to grub along for several years before he could get a fair footing led him to accept an offer Immediately after his admission to the Bar to go into a mercantile business in Carrollton, IIIinois. There he was doing a fairly successful business when the gold fever started In 1848. Early In 1849 he started across the Plains. reaching Sacramento in August 1849.

He set up a business as general trader. His store was swept away by floods in the following Winter. leaving him nearly penniless. Then he moved to San Francisco, and became a dealer in real estate, by which, in the ensuing 14 years, he laid aside $150.000. Every dollar of this was lost in 1864, in the Stock Board, which he helped organize in that year, and he found himself at 42 with nothing to show for his enterprise and labor.

The Bank of California then took him up and put him in charge of an agency at Virginia City. From this time his career was one of brilliant and uninterrupted success. Resolving to seek his money where he had lost it, and having unusual facilities for information about the status and prospects of the Nevada mines, he went into mine buying and speculation on a gigantic scale, and in a few year, he won the title of "King of the Comstock" from his extensive interests in the great Comstock lode. Among the prominent mines that be owned or controlled were the Imperial. Yellow Jacket, Belcher, Dayton, Chollar. Eclipse. Ophir. Overman. Caledonia. and Sierra Nevada. Some of these properties were obtained for him by purchases that were recklessly extravagant, but he bad immense ideas of what be wanted. and the vast yield from his operations enabled him to carry out those Ideas. Having acquired all the mining property for which he cared, he started, with William C. Ralston and D. O. Mills, the Union Mill and Mining Company. which built mills and worked ores all over the mining districts of Nevada at marvelous profits. One of his enterprises was the construction of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad, known commonly in that section as the "crooked road." . The mines and hoisting apparatus at the Comstock consumed great quantities of wood, which had to be hauled by wagon from Virginia City. He concluded that the transportation of wood would yield a good revenue to a railroad company. which would also naturally carry ores from the mines to the mills on the Carson City. He had little trouble in working up subscriptions among the people for $500,000. That money having been used, be mortgaged the road for the balance needed to complete the construction. When this was done he owned half the road without having to put a dollar of his own money into it. It was a success from the start. and soon yielded him $2,000 a day. This was a small part of his income. He was a large real estate holder in San Francisco. owning the Cosmopolitan Hotel and other valuable property. In 1870, with William C. Ralston. he began 'to build the famous Palace Hotel. which was completed at a cost of $3.500,000. Although known as a busy and successful man, Mr. Sharon had no claims to popularity until Ralston's suicide brought him to the front. The Bank of California was on the verge of ruin, ,and that meant financial panic on the Pacific slope. Mr. Sharon then stepped 'to the front, and declaring that the bank would go on if It cost him every dollar be owned. He put $16,000,000 into the bank and tided over the crisis. This act made him a public idol. In 1814 he was elected to the United States Senate from Nevada. He made no figure at Washington, seldom attending the sessions of the Senate. The Eastern public have had frequent reminders of him, however. in the past 12 years, notably, through the weddings of his daughters, Clara and Flora, the former to Frank G. Newland, in 18U, and the latter to Sir Thomas Hesketh, in December, 1880. The weddings were celebrated at Belmont, Mr. Sharon's home and were princely affairs. The suit of Sarah Althea Hill to establish herself as Mr. Sharon's wife is yet fresh in the public mlnd. In appearance Mr. Sharon was small and slender. He bad keen blue eyes and a high forehead. There was nothing In his dress or manner to make him conspicuous.

In anticipation of approaching death Mr. Sharon recently deeded all his property to his Son. Frederick Sharon. and his son-in-law, Frank G. Newland, in trust for his heirs. The estate is valued at $6.000.000, and embraces property in Nevada, California, Missouri, and the District of Columbia. It Is to be divided Into three equal portions among the children, Clara. Frederick, and Flora, (Lady Hesketh,) or their heirs. The three children Clara, who is deceased, will each receive one-third of her share. The deed ignores all other relatives of ex·Senator Sharon.

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William Sharon, U.S. Senator's Timeline

1821
January 9, 1821
Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio, United States
1853
1853
Age 31
1857
August 2, 1857
Age 36
San Francisco, California, United States
1858
1858
Age 36
1885
November 13, 1885
Age 64
San Francisco, California, United States
????
????
Colma, San Mateo County, California, United States