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William Sharpe Map

William Sharpe Map

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Sharpe Map-Transcript

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The William Sharpe map of 1773 is housed in the Iredell County Public Library and is one of Iredell County's most important historical documents. The map was drawn in 1773 by William Sharpe and list all the families settled in the Fourth Creek Meeting House (now First Presbyterian Church area. The map names the people and shows where they were living in 1773 up to an eleven mile radius from what is now near the center of the present day city of Statesville. The center of the map is about two miles west of the meeting house and from that point is laid off in a series of eleven concentric circles one mile apart. Thus it covers a tract twenty-two miles in diameter, from the Catawba on the South-west and beyond Rocky Creek on the north. It includes a major part of Third Creek, Fourth Creek, Fifth Creek, South Yadkin, and Snow Creek. The whole is divided roughly into quarters, with the east-west line cutting through the center and the north-south line through the old meeting house, which is about a mile south of the east-west line. The map was drawn about twenty five years after the first settlement in Iredell County and includes the names of many of the first settlers in the area.

William Sharpe was the eldest son of Thomas Sharpe and was born in Cecil County, Maryland on Dec. 13, 1742. In 1763 he moved to Mecklenburg County, N.C. where he married Catherine Reese, a daughter of David Reese, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, and also a niece of Rev. Thomas Reese, a prominent minister of this period. Soon after the marriage he moved to Rowan County where he was admitted to the practice of law and was an attorney, magistrate, and surveyor by profession. Sharpe came to be known as “Lawyer Billy” and was a staunch supporter of Independence and served as secretary of the Rowan County Committee of Resolves. William Sharpe represented Rowan County in the Provincial Congresses at New Bern and at Hillsborough. He was a member of the Halifax Convention in 1776 which drafted the first State Constitution. Sharpe served as an aide to General Rutherford in his campaign against the Cherokee Indians, and in 1777 he and Waightstill Avery were appointed by Governor Caswell to form a treaty with them.

William Sharpe was a member of the Continental Congress in 1779 and served until 1782. As a state legislator Sharpe was the first to purpose a state university on November 8, 1784. Although it did not pass it did clear the first reading in the House of Commons. It was introduced again on Dec. 11, 1789 by William R. Davie at which time it passed and the University of North Carolina, said to be the second in the South, was established. Davis's bill was practically a copy of Sharpe's original when it was passed. Archibald Henderson, of the University of North Carolina, credited Sharpe with being the first in our history to author such an educational bill. When the town of Statesville was formed, Sharpe was credited with laying out its original streets called Broad and Center Street. The township of Sharpesburg was named for William Sharpe. He died in July 1818, leaving a widow and twelve children. After his death his wife moved to the Erwin plantation, "Belvidere, outside of Morganton, and lived there until her death. A marker was later put up in Iredell County honoring Sharpe as a member of the Continental & provincial congresses and as being the first legislator to advocate the University of North Carolina in 1784. His grave lies about two miles east of the marker in the Snow Creek Methodist Church Cemetery in Iredell County.

William Sharpe was a member of the Old Fourth Creek Presbyterian Congregation in 1773 at the time he drew his map. It was drawn in preparation for the division of the Fourth Creek Congregation. The map was used in petitioning the Orange Presbytery for the formation of one or two more Presbyterian churches to better serve the whole congregation which was growing more and more distant from the location of the Fourth Creek Presbyterian Church. As a result of this subsequent division, Concord Church was built in 1776 northwest of the old meetinghouse in Statesville. Bethany Church was built later and these three churches were organized to be one pastoral charge. The map shows 196 families around the Fourth Creek Congregation which was really the center of the community within a twenty mile radius and undoubtedly helped persuade the Presbytery to vote for the formation of Concord (Loray) and Bethany Churches in 1775. The map has been checked for accuracy and has been classified as one of the most amazing early maps now extant. Though intended as a church document today it serves as a vital tool for modern researchers and genealogists in identifying the people living in the Iredell County area in 1773.

For information on the William Sharpe Map, contact:

  • Joel Reese-Local History Librarian
  • 704-878-3093