J. M. Sharp, Aged Pioneer, Dies At Ranch Home. Month’s Illness Is Fatal For Santa Paula Rancher. Funeral Rites Will Be Monday. Deceased Organized Bank And Other Corporations.
J. M. Sharp, who played an important part in the general development of Ventura County, passed away at his home west of Santa Paula at 8:30 o’clock last night (December 8, 1932), following a four weeks’ illness with influenza.
He was one of the first citrus growers in Ventura County and within the past few years had undertaken the development of 125 additional acres in orchard. He was recognized as a progressively-minded rancher and his holding were all highly developed which, coupled with his great business capacity, brought him rich returns.
Mr. Sharp was born in Cadiz, Ohio, on March 3, 1844, and when he was four years old he moved with his family to Missouri, later going with them overland by covered wagon to the Willamette Valley in Oregon where he was educated in the public schools. He came to California in 1867 and his first job was as ditch tender in Placer County at a salary of $50 a month. Then he went to San Francisco where he attended Heralds Business College, where he taught following his graduation. He then entered the State Normal College in San Francisco and was graduated in 1871, going to Nevada where he taught. Later he was employed as an accountant in San Francisco banking institutions and farmed in Sonora County for one year.
With a wagon and four horses and his worldly goods he embarked for Ventura County in 1876, locating in the Santa Ana Valley where he had purchased a ranch, with his brother as partner. Here he built a house and ranched until 1882, at which time he purchased a Weldon ranch near Santa Paula where he continued to make his home until his death.
Hay and lima beans were his first crops on the new holdings, and later he put in 65 acres of walnuts and 50 of citrus being one of the pioneer planters of these two crops in the county. During his life he was actively interested in the development of Ventura County and was instrumental in the organization and operation of the Saticoy Walnut Growers’ Association, one of the first cooperatives in the county and which he served as president for 30 years.
He was president until a year ago of the Alta Mutual Water Company, an irrigation project, and also of the Saticoy Mutual Water Company, serving domestic purposes. He was one of the original 15 Ventura County men who organized and gave impetus to the good roads movement in this county. Mr. Sharp was one of the leading men in the Mupu Citrus Association of Santa Paula and served as its president for many years. In October 1890, he was one of the organizers of the peoples Lumber Company, and served as an officer of the corporation for about 40 years.
In 1905 he organized the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Santa Paula, and was president of the bank for 12 years. Later he served as a director of the Citizens State bank there. When he resigned from active membership in the Santa Paula Rotary Club about a year and a half ago he was made an honorary member, and was one of the oldest members in the group. He was the creator of the student load fund which the Santa Paula Rotary Club sponsors.
He was married on Aug. 6, 1874, to Mrs. S. R. Plank, a native of Philadelphia who survives him. Other surviving members of the family are two daughters, Mrs. Grace N. Thille and Mrs. Jennie Duval; and four sons, Julian H. of Camulos ranch, Hubert of Saticoy, L. T. of Santa Paula, and Nathan of Simi. Two other sons, Edgar and Carroll passed away some years ago. There also are 15 grandchildren.
Private funeral services will be held from the Skillen Chapel followed by public services in Santa Paula Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 12.
Ventura County Star, December 10, 1932.
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman