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The Genealogy of Sharon Hardy

William Paine/SWT
Sharon Hardy stands behind the arrowhead collection of her great-grandfather Doc Halsey. The collection is on display in the New River Room of Pulaski County’s historic courthouse.

By WILLIAM PAINE

william.paine@southwesttimes.com

Everyone’s ancestors came from somewhere, but most people have only a vague idea what their blood relatives were up to a couple of centuries before they were born. Many, if not most, have little interest in such knowledge … perhaps because they are of the mind that their ancestors were no one special.

Sharon Hardy of Pulaski comes by her historical curiosity honestly. An impressive arrowhead collection made by her great-grandfather Albert (Doc) Halsey, is on display in the New River Room of the historic Pulaski County Courthouse. He found these arrowheads, as well as a skull, while tending to his watermelon patch at a site that is now deep underwater at Claytor Lake.

As a child, Sharon would visit her grandparents at their home in Mountain View and sneak off to nearby Ingles Ferry to visit Miss Mary and Miss Minnie Ingles, who lived at the historic Ingles Ferry property. The old ladies let Sharon play and “treasure hunt” at old Ingles Tavern, which happens to be the oldest structure still standing in Pulaski County.

Though born in Radford in 1954, Sharon spent her formative years in Florida. Her father, Tony Vickers, moved the family south so that he could take a job at Elgin Air Force base. Her parents moved back to Dublin in 1962. It was then her father, with the help of her grandfather, erected the building across from Dollar General store on Route 100.

Her parents opened Colonial House Restaurant in this structure in 1964 and ran the restaurant until 1971. Meanwhile, Sharon’s family lived in apartments on the second floor.

Sharon remembers Dublin as being a lively place back when she attended Dublin High School.

“We had Dublin Sundry and that was a lot of fun,” said Sharon. “It was a big hangout for kids back then. They had hot dogs, hamburgers and a jukebox.”

After high school Sharon moved to North Carolina and lived with her aunt. She later returned to live with her mother, as both her parents had by this time divorced.

For the next several years, Sharon worked as a floral designer in various flower shops in Dublin and Pulaski before moving to Wytheville to live with her grandmother. There she continued her floral design work. In 1985, she bore a child she named Jenafer (Jena).

Her and her grandmother moved to 7th Street in Pulaski in 1987 and Sharon continues to live there to this day. She met David Hardy in 1989 and married him in 1991.

Sharon’s interest in genealogy began in earnest when daughter Jena began attending James Madison University in 2003 and left her old computer at home.

“I’d never been on the computer, but I became interested,” said Sharon. “I had always wanted to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, so that’s how I got started. My cousin was doing genealogy and she said ‘Why don’t you look up your family name?’”

Her research found that she was a descendent of Samuel Caddall, who came to America from Ireland in 1774.

“He is buried up on the hill at Thorn Spring golf course,” she explained. “That was all his land and he was in the Revolutionary War. I found a pension application of his. He was at Valley Forge and fought at the Battle of Trenton.”

Sharon did indeed join the D.A.R. and as she delved deeper and deeper into her family history, research became more than a past time and evolved into a type of benign addiction.

“I just love doing it,” she said. “It’s like Treasure Hunting.”

Sharon’s maiden name is Vickers and she found that her mother’s side of the family descended from Elias Vickers, who settled in Montgomery County between Radford and Christiansburg in the late 18th Century.

Her mother’s maiden name is Halsey, so she looked into that branch of her ancestry. It turns out Thomas Halsey was one of the founding settlers of Long Island. His home place, which was built back in 1638, still stands today. She and family members have visited there twice and, today, Sharon is a member in good standing of the Woods River Chapter Colonial Dames 16th Century.”

“That was a doozy,” Sharon said. “To join I had to prove 13 generations of births, marriages and death.”

What’s more, she claims ancestry from four individuals who lived in old Jamestown. She can also trace her lineage to the War of 1812 and is currently working on an application for the National Society of United States Daughters of 1812.

In 2007 Sharon was asked to be a member of the Pulaski County Courthouse Exhibits Committee, a post she readily accepted. The exhibits committee honors veterans every year at a Veterans Remembrance Ceremony on Independence Day. The committee is also working on a war memorial exhibit on the third floor of the old stone courthouse.

Sharon also is co-chair of Pulaski County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, which is appropriate in that she claims four ancestors who participated in that conflict. Her great-great-grandfather, William Thomas Vickers, was injured fighting for Stonewall Jackson in the battle of Bull Run (Manassas) and after the war came back to Dublin to work on the railroad.

“He fell between two train cars and the train cut both legs off,” Sharon explained. “He died on the way to the hospital. I hunted for the newspaper article for 10 years before I found it in the Richmond Times.”

The Sesquicentennial Committee’s purpose was to educate the citizens in Pulaski County about history of the war in our area. To that end, the committee had historic roadside markers approved and installed, promoted lectures and re-enactments and compiled a register of soldiers buried in the county.

“We formed a subcommittee during sesquicentennial to compile a register of soldiers buried in the county and I was on that committee,” she said. From this work she compiled enough information for two books. The first focuses on Captain Christopher Cleburne, who died at the battle of Cloyd’s Mountain, and for whom Cleburne Boulevard (Route 100) and Cleburne Wayside on Route 100 is named.

Sharon’s second book is about Civil War soldiers buried at New Dublin Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

“There are 25 soldiers buried there,” she said. “The most of any cemetery in the country.”
Writing articles about past events focused on this region has become another area of great interest to Sharon. She is writing an article about revolutionary war soldiers from this area for the New River Historical Society Journal.

She has also researched the monument of a Confederate soldier that still stands in Jackson Park today.

“I wanted Pulaski citizens to know about the monument,” she said. “I found the original newspaper article from October 1917 when it was dedicated. Pulaski County citizens wanted their Confederate veterans recognized and remembered. Some of them were without shoes and had lost their homes after the war. Some had lost arms and legs. Many thought the statue coincided with Jim Crow laws when they really just coincided with veterans aging out and dying. I don’t think there was any sinister motive in placing the monument in Jackson Park.”

More recently, Sharon has served as chairperson of the Pulaski County WWI and WWII Commemoration Committee.

“I consider myself a patriotic person. I have loved working with all the county WWII veterans,” she said. “They are very special and there are not many of them left. I was honored to present many of them with a flag that was flown over the capitol. I’m very proud to be a descendant and family member of all of those who fought and served from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to the present day.”

These days Sharon often does genealogical research for friends and is currently helping at least two women in their quest to join the D.A.R. It is not uncommon for her to find that she is distantly related to other people in the area, especially those with the surname of Smith, Covey, Farmer, Godbey and Wyser. She’s been accused more than once of being related to half the people in Pulaski County.

“I’m not a certified genealogist but I’m working on that,” said Sharon. “I have never charged anyone for helping research their family names.”

Sharon’s daughter, Jena, returned to the area after college and married Eric Coalson. Today, Jena is youth services librarian at the Pulaski County Library. The couple has one child, Arthur Flynn Coalson.

“Jena is what I’m most proud of and now my grandson, Arthur … he puts a smile on my face everyday,” she said.

 

 

 

 

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