Tribune-Courier News Reporter
Life in Marshall County has changed drastically over the past century, but one thing remains the same – residents have a deep sense of identity with their community.
One of the many unincorporated communities in the county that is treasured by its older citizens is Sharpe, located in the northwest end of the county, with U.S. Highway 68 running right through the heart of the tiny town.
Adoree Haus, was born in 1939, and as a toddler moved with her family from Gilbertsville to Sharpe when the construction of Kentucky Dam forced many to relocate.
“I’ve lived right across from the school (Sharpe) for almost my entire life,” she said. “I attended the school from first grade through high school graduation.”
While the school in Sharpe today is confined to grades kindergarten through fifth, it started out at a different location and at one point held classes from first grade through senior year of high school.
Sharpe was a prominent community at the beginning of the 20th century, but as technology and means of travel have evolved the community has lost much of its identity.
Haus’ mother, Hazel Thursten, was the first Parent-Teacher Association president at Sharpe and was known as a “mover and shaker” in the community. Her father Raish Jones worked for the Illinois Central Railroad.
“My dad was gone most days for work, so my mom did a lot more than most of the women at that time,” she said. “You were just as likely to find her working on the roof as in the flower garden.”
Haus explained her mom was approached in the 1940s to become the PTA president because she was well known in the community and others thought she’d be able to raise money for the school.
“Schools had to be self supporting and they needed someone who could lead the PTA in raising those funds,” she said. “Mom came up with so many programs to raise money. After she took the job there wasn’t a weekend there wasn’t something going on at the school. It became the place to go to socialize.”
Haus said they held dances, box dinner auctions and did everything else they could to make money for the school.
“Sharpe became well off because of all those fundraising events,” she said. “People didn’t travel as much back then. They wanted their own communities to succeed, so that’s why they put their money into the school.”
No discussion of the history of Sharpe would be complete without a mention of the 1938 Sharpe Green Devils who won the county, district, regional and state basketball tournaments. The school had built its first gymnasium just a year earlier, though without the luxuries of showers or locker rooms.
Sharpe completed a 36-1 season by defeating Maysville 36-27 in the championship game. The Green Devils defeated Louisville St. Xavier, the eventual National Catholic Interscholastic Tournament champion, 28-26 in the semifinal.
Coached by Homer Holland, the Green Devils were led by James King and Deward “Red” Culp. Other team members included Charlie Harper, Jewell Jessup, Albert Brooks, Charles Rudolph, Loy Liles, Clifton Thomasson, Murl Barrett, Reese Barrett, manager Walter Buck Bailey, and mascot Charles Holland.
Sharpe Elementary School remains a landmark in the community, along with several churches and a relatively new landmark - Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland Museum.
Keith Holt, owner of the Apple Valley Hillbilly Garden and Toyland Museum, said he turned his grandfather, Oral Wallace’s, cider press into a hillbilly garden and toy land in 2004 to commemorate the history of the site and to follow his own ambitions.
Holt, a former puppeteer and actor, had always dreamed of owning a toy museum and when his mother passed away he came back to Sharpe to follow his dream and honor the history of his family.
On site at the hillbilly garden and toyland museum today is the original two-room house that became Apple Valley in 1928 and a building that in 1932 Wallace used to serve dinners for people traveling Highway 68, which at the time was a dirt road.
In 1939 a gas station and bus stop operated from the property and officially became known as Apple Valley in 1944 when Wallace began selling soft drinks and apple cider made from his orchard.
While the history is abundant on site, Holt said his focus has been on making the Apple Valley attractive to more than just history lovers.
“I was hoping the Toyland would bring people in like the quilt museum did for Paducah,” he said. “It hasn’t happened, but none of what I have accomplished here today would be possible without the area’s grand past,” said Holt.