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Charmaine Keith (View posts)
Posted: 907675200000
Classification: Biography
Edited: 993311417000
Vol. 3, p. 1309-1310


In every state the dignity of the highest court is a matter of jealous watchfulness on the part of the people. A seat on the supreme bench instantly confers a distinction upon any incumbent, and not only the members of the profession from which are drawn the judges but the general public have without exception exercised a discrimination judgment in electing only men eminently qualified for so exalted an office.

One of the new members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court is John Fletcher Sharp, who has been Identified with the practice of law in old Indian Territory and in the new State of Oklahoma for more than a quarter of a century, and who has built up and maintained a spotless record in the profession and in all his relations with the public life of the territory and state. He was born March 2, 1865, on a farm near Camp Point, Adams County, Illinois. His parents were James and Permelia Jane (BATES) Sharp. Judge Sharp was the oldest of four sons. His brother William died in infancy, the second brother is James Baxter, while Marvin Hates died at the age of nine.

Spending his early life on a farm in Western Illinois, Judge Sharp attended the public schools and for four years was a student in Chaddock College at Quincy. With the class of 1889 he graduated with the degree of LL. B. from the Missouri State University, was admitted to practice in Howard County, Missouri, and in the week following his graduation, came to the Indian Territory, attended the first session of the United States Court at Muskogee, and at once located for practice of his profession at Purcell. Other than the tribal courts of the Indians, the only court in the territory at that time was located at Muskogee by Act of Congress of March 1, 1889. He rapidly acquired prominence in the law and soon became recognized for his qualities as a leader among men.

For two years he served as mayor of Purcell, and on behalf of the town delivered the address of welcome to the first joint Indian Territory and Oklahoma Press Association at its organization at Purcell April 30, 1890.

A lifelong democrat, Judge Sharp took an active part in the organization of his party in the old Indian Territory, and was a party leader at the Muskogee Convention in 1892, when the first territorial organization of the democratic party was effected. It was in that convention that Hon. R. L. OWEN of Muskogee and Colonel John S. SNEED of Purcell, now deceased, were chosen delegates from the Indian Territory to the Democratic National Convention at Chicago, who after a better struggle were seated as the first representatives ever accorded to old Indian Territory in a national party convention. From that time forward until statehood, save for four years, Judge Sharp was a member of the Indian Territory Democratic Executive Committee, and after statehood was on the committee until his appointment to office. In 1900 he was one of two delegates at large from Indian Territory to the national democratic convention in Kansas City.

Before his elevation to the Supreme bench Judge Sharp had a law practice which was state wide both in extent and importance. From 1895 to 1898 he was closely associated with that group of men who promoted and built the Oklahoma Central railroad from Lehigh to Chickasha. Judge Sharp is a Knight Templar Mason and an Elk and he and his family are members of the Episcopal Church.

On September 1, 1911, he was appointed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court a member of the Supreme Court Commission, and was reappointed September 1, 1913. This appointment came without solicitation by himself or friends, and he remained a member of the commission until January 11, 1915, when he resigned in order to qualify as associate justice of the Supreme Court, having been elected to that office in November, 1914. At the biennial organization of the court in January, 1915, he was chosen vice chief justice. A trained lawyer of ripe experience, Judge Sharp possesses in a high degree the judicial temperament so necessary to his present important station. Possessing rare attainments as a lawyer, Judge Sharp is besides an indefatigable worker. His splendid ability is reflected in the soundness of his judicial utterances in the form of his opinions as a member of the state's highest tribunal. It is this work that has brought to Judge sharp his most enduring fame.

On November 23, 1892, Judge Sharp married Miss Bessie C. PICKRELL of Arkansas City, Kansas. Mrs. Sharp is a woman of broad culture and should be credited with an important share in her husband's advancement to eminence in Oklahoma affairs. She was born in Knox County, Illinois. They have two children, a daughter and a son. The daughter, Helen Irene, born November 27, 1893, graduated from the Purcell High School, also attended school at Oklahoma City, was a student in the noted Belmont College at Nashville, Tennessee, in the State University of Oklahoma, and graduated from the Oklahoma State Central Normal at Edmond. She has been thoroughly trained in music, the classics and in all departments of literary culture. On February 16, 1916, she married James Franklin BUCK, a prominent young banker of Shawnee, Oklahoma. Mr. Buck was born at McKinney, Texas, November 1, 1890. The son of Judge and Mrs. Sharp is John Fletcher, Jr., born November 18, 1895, and who is a graduate of the Oklahoma City High School, class of 1912, and of the Oklahoma State University, class of 1916.

It is citizens of the high character and profound legal learning possessed by Judge Sharp the state delight to honor.

Transcribed by Charmaine Keith, October 6, 1998
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