THARP FAMILY GENEALOGY
Transcribed from a handwritten version by Wilbur A Tharp,
son of Casper A. Tharp Jr. and grandson of Casper A. Tharp Sr.
with annotations by Bruce Wilbur Tharp, son of Wilbur A.
This is the legend of the Tharps as told to me by Casper Tharp, my father, who had it from childhood tales told to him that came from his father, Casper A. Tharp Sr., one of the original Tharp brothers. (? WAT) (WAT elaborates on this editorial question mark he inserted in Thelma's narrative in his comments that follow - BWT.) My father believed it was history. I sometimes believe some of it. Who knows?
In the last quarter of the 18th century, Hugh Tharp was Lord of a castle on the border between England and Scotland. He had made a very successful marriage which was blessed with 23 children. Seven daughters and six sons grew to maturity. Oddly enough, all six (6) boys were born in the first six years of marriage, Fortunately the oldest and heir was not a twin; neither was the youngest. The four middle boys were two pairs of twins. This was not a rich feraditament (not sure what that is - it's spelled that way in the manuscript; probably refers to the lord's domain - BWT) and the five boys always knew that when they reached maturity they would have to marry well or seek their own fortune.
How word of the American Revolutionary War, the courageous and adventurous colonists, and the endless expanse of land to be had for the taking ever penetrated this remote Scottish mountain region it is hard to say. But somehow it did come to the ears of the Tharps and the 5 youngest boys were soon convinced that they must go to America together. Lord Hugh and his Lady were to lose them all at once in this way. The youngest was barely 15 years of age, but since they had all proven themselves men, Hugh gave them a modest gift of money to cover their passage, and his blessings.
With this gift and each other, the boys set out upon a series of adventures to rival any New World Tale ever told. The lord heard from his sons only three times before his death 18 years later. They communicated separately because they lost track of each other. After the death of Lord Hugh, the new Lord Gerald who had made a most fortunate marriage financially, tried in every way to get in touch with his brothers. He was well enough off so that he could have established his brothers in their home country and longed to see them again. He grew old and died but never ceased seeking word of them. Unfortunately, while his marriage had been a financial advantage, and a very happy one, he had no heirs and a wild scramble ensued for the inheritance.
The five brothers landed at Philadelphia and lost no time in moving inland. Two of them- the twins, Jonathan and Casper - decided to settle in a lovely green valley in Eastern Pennsylvania. (Irish Valley?) (could have been the valley in which Shamokin proper now lies - this was before the coal mining days and the valley could then have been described as "lovely" - BWT). They married, had children and soon a little settlement grew up around them that was called Tharptown. The other three left together, pointing West. In Ohio, the youngest brother, Clinton, joined a wagon train bound for California. (This is questionable - not sure wagon trains were going to California in the early part of the 19th century, when the events described here would have been occurring. - BWT.) There is a little hamlet today on a high point in the Rocky Mountains called Tharpís Station. This was quite a historical point in the race of the railroads across the continent. The other twins, Luther and John, took passage on a boat down the Ohio river. At some point they separated, or so my grandfather speculated. Luther went East into Georgia and many of his descendants are found there and in North Carolina. John seems to have settled in New Mexico.
Well, thatís it! Thatís the nut of the saga. At least four of the brothers were very prolific. We know what happened in Pennsylvania. You will remember that long before his death we heard about Jonathanís 15 children. And then, in our lifetime there were old Laviniaís 171 children, grand children and great grand children (Don't know Lavinia was - BWT). Looking backward, the fascinating people and stories I remember from childhood would each of them make a book of their own.
Recounted by Thelma Tharp. Daughter of Casper A. Tharp Jr. and a 4th generation of the original brothers. In my 58th year. (1968)
Notes by Wilbur A. Tharp
As I typed this from Thelmaís original record all of it seems quite plausible to me. In the opening paragraph Thelma writes of our grand father as one of the original Tharp brothers who emigrated to America. The record shows that grandfather Tharp was born in 1829 in Mt. Carmel Township. Obviously the story must be attributed to his father, passed on through our grandfather, Casper A. Tharp.
While Ethel and I lived in California we observed that there was a sprinkling of Tharps scattered in cities up and down the coast. A banker and a judge in Los Angeles, a jeweler in Santa Barbara, and a trucking company owner in central California. The latter stopped to visit friends in Arroyo Grande, on his way to visit relatives in Georgia. These are some that come to mind. There were also several Tharps listed in the San Luis Obispo telephone directory. In Sequoia National Park one of the featured spots publicized for tourists is Tharpís Log. This is a huge fallen Sequoia tree hollowed out and made into living quarters by Hale Tharp when he took his cattle back into the forest for forage during the hot summers. Hale Tharpís family emigrated to California to California about 1849 from Pennsylvania, via stops in Ohio and Wisconsin. Tharpís Ranch at nearby Three Rivers, California was in operation when we lived in the coast.
I remember Dad Tharp (Casper Jr.) telling about Tharpís Station in the Rockies. On While Doug Tharp (WAT's other son) lived in Pueblo, Colorado, he and I, with Ray Tharp (no relative) but a co-worker with Doug, went up into the high Rockies for a dayís fishing in Eleven Mile Lake. On the way we passed a mailbox at the side of the road which bore the name of Tharp.
In the Lancaster, Pa. telephone directory which covers most, if not all, of Lancaster county, with a population of approximately 325,000 people, there are only two Tharps. Ethel and Wilbur. Unless there are some Tharps around who cannot afford a telephone we are the only ones residing in this section. Apparently Casper and Jonathan passed up this section in favor of Irish Valley and environs!
If we could clear up the origin of Great Grandfather Tharp (the original Casper - BWT), I think it would add much support to Thelmaís narrative. I do not know that Revolutionary War records show two Tharps as enrolled in the army. There is also a Tharpís Run Cemetery somewhere in Ohio where some of Hale Tharpís ancestors or close relatives are interred.
July/1986 Lancaster, PA
Further notes by BWT - I have heard that the records of the US Revolutionary Army show the service of a Jonathan Tharp. It is possible he, or one of his brothers who served with him) is the Tharp referred to by George Washington in a letter written after the War of Independence. In it George refers to employing an army veteran named Tharp to do some plaster work at Mount Vernon. Not sure we can be too proud of this, though, since the context of the reference is the bad job of plastering done - the plaster fell down shortly after it was applied.!
Further notes by Marie:
This Tharp History and notes was kindly given to me by Bruce Tharp, another cousin. I am very grateful. Many thanks. Marie