As a self-professed lover of Ella Sharp, her farmhouse is like my own personal Graceland. When I first began working as a docent at the Ella Sharp Museum I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to be getting such close access to where Ella herself lived out her life. In the morning, I was tasked with unlocking the doors which meant that, on my own, I got to walk through her home just as the morning light was peeking through the windows. In historical clothing, I would walk on the wood floors, hearing the sharp click of my boot in the same places Ella's clicked on.
When I began doing this work I truly understood what it felt like to time travel. Dressing similarly to how Ella would have, being alone in her home, and passionately sharing the stories of her life really makes me feel like our spirits are connected.
For this year's County Wide Museum Day, I volunteered to give museum goers tours through Ella's home, sharing stories of the family and the items that make up the house. From my post, I saw an amazing turnout. In the three hours I worked I saw at least 70 people came through who ranged from history buffs to curious children. I enjoyed watching people be so interested and curious about the things in Ella’s house. I smiled, thinking that she would be so happy, could she see that.
Here are five interesting facts I learned about the family by being a docent:
- By the time Ella was born her mother, Mary, was on her second family. That is that Mary was married to one man and had two children, all of whom died, before she met Ella’s father, Dwight, and started a life with him.
- Ella was the eldest of her parents’ four children. All three of her brothers, one of which was her twin, died young at ages 4, 22, and 30 leaving her as the only living heir to her family’s estate.
- Ever wonder what the W. stands for in Ella’s name? It’s Wing, her mother’s maiden name. Ella Wing Sharp.
- Though she loved to travel both domestically and abroad, Ella had many significant events of her life take place in her farm house, including her wedding to John Sharp and her funeral, both of which took place in the home’s front parlor.
- In 1908, at the event of her husband’s death, Ella took her will to her lawyer to have it sealed in an envelope and placed in his safe, not to be opened until after her death. Her death would come four years later and in the will is where she proclaimed that the large majority of her farm be given to the city of Jackson for use as a park and her home be converted into a museum.
You can learn more facts like these by visiting the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History when you tour Hillside Farm House and several other historic buildings.
Alexandra Cash was born and raised in Jackson. After receiving a Bachelors of Journalism from Michigan State University, she traveled to Morocco with the United States Peace Corps. Living in Jackson for five years after that, she decided to move abroad again, this time to Japan. You can read about her experiences both home and abroad at alexandracash.com. Or find her on YouTube by searching Alexandra Cash.
Publish Date: 9/19/17