For many homesteaders, fall is a time for preparing for winter. They may start stocking up on supplies like food, firewood, and tools.
While full-time homesteading isn’t for everyone, learning to become self-reliant can be a great way to reduce your dependence on the store and the government.
By Tyler Sharpe
To begin this tale, we’re going back to some pre-history of the Sharp legacy. First, I’ll introduce my second great-grandparents, Horace M. Sharp, and Frances Tyler (Sharp). The Sharp family traces its military history of this country with several notable army soldiers and officers. Going back to the historical founding of the colonies and operating “Sharp’s Forge” for Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army. They supplied weapons and ammunition at Valley Forge.
Horace died in an accident while working on the roof of a construction project in 1881. His widowed wife Frances Tyler Sharp (and her young sons Edward, Daniel T., William, and daughter Frances) moved to the manor house in Flint, Michigan to be with her aging father, Capt. Daniel Tyler.
In 1898 young Daniel Tyler Sharpe (my great-grandfather) moved from his lavish boyhood manor home in Flint, to a barren and logging era-stripped 80-acre parcel of land in Higgins Lake. Thanks to the support of earlier neighboring homesteading families nearby like the Burleson’s (Burleson Orchard & Farm), the Sergeant’s (Sergeant’s Dairy Farm – now Sergeant’s Septic and Excavating), the “Dan Sharp Farm” became a landmark staple of the area community.
Daniel T. Sharp found more success as an area carpenter than farming the sandy soil. The “Dan Sharp Farm” also hosted the area post office for many years for the early Higgins Lake / Markey area as well as a trading post of sorts for the area’s goods.
The Sharp family lakeshore parcel property (the north 40 acres of the 80-acre homestead) was developed by Dan T. Sharp as “Sylvan Beach”. This is where a summer lake house was constructed along with several smaller vacation rental cabins. Due in part to the scarcity of the local economy at the time, this portion of the original homestead parcel was exchanged for taxes to the State of Michigan in 1926 to become the seed property of the (South) Higgins Lake State Park, which was opened in 1927.
After Dan Sharp’s Farm became more of an area landmark trading post of sorts than an actual farm, “Dad Sharp’s Place” began in 1923 as a small local produce stand, roadside cookshack, tiny grocery store and early gas station for the area’s residents and early vacationers. Continuing in the construction trades, Dan Sharp was also heavily involved in building many of Higgins Lake’s early cottages and road construction, as well as helping build the (South) Higgins Lake Park Store with the CCC in 1935. He later help build the “Ralph A. McMullen” center lodge at North State Park
The original “Sharp’s store shack”, now 100 years old, was replaced by a ‘new’ store built in 1939-40 by my great-grandfather Daniel T. Sharp and grandfather Daniel R. Sharp as a father/son project.
Dad Sharp’s Grocery continued to serve as the family store and gas station with my uncle Richard Sharp operating it until 1969 when a deal was made with then-current fuel supplier Leonard Oil and proposed a new steel building to replace it. The new steel building was completed in November 1969 while ‘old’ Sharp’s buildings were both moved to their present location at 153 W. Higgins Lake Drive. They began to serve many subsequent businesses through the years.
Richard Sharp & family continued operating “Sharp’s Corner” using the ‘new’ building until selling it to John Bennick in 1978. Through the years since, the ‘original’ Sharp’s Corner store building has hosted numerous businesses including “Reinhart’s Restaurant”, Nancy Robinson’s (Sergeant) “Sub Shack”, “Minto’s Delicatessen”, “Sandcastle Gifts”, and most recently “Treasures by The Lake”.
My wife Heather and I’s background is also unique. I am a military veteran having served several overseas tours and actions including Desert Shield/Storm, retired from the military in ’99. While serving in my military occupation as an Avionics Tech, I also enjoyed being a military athlete having ski-raced throughout Europe. I trained in mountaineering at Garmish/Parten Kirchen in Germany. I have been an instructor and coach in the winter-sports ski industry since 1993 with many Northern Michigan and western resorts.
These days, I’m a highly regarded and credentialed staff trainer and instructor at Boyne Mountain and at Big Sky, Montana’s Madison Base Mountain Sports School.
Heather’s background includes many years as an employee under John Bennick at “Sharp’s Corner” where she was also its General Manager for several years. Heather became “momma Heather” to the employees under her at Sharp’s! She has also continued to serve as a bookkeeper/accountant assistant under her family’s long-standing accounting business.
Jointly, we started our own company in 2015 (THS Ventures, Inc.) after having been managers of the South Higgins Lake Park Store for 6 years to contract holding concessionaires of the South Higgins Lake Park Store for the last 8 years. Well over a year ago we made the decision not to renew our concessionaire contract with the State Park and begin our business plan moving forward in a new direction.
Heather and I are now the proud “new” owners of the old Sharp’s family legacy store having recently purchased the property from John & Jeannie Bennick back to the “Sharp family”. Renovations to the store building have been ongoing since last fall in ’22 to sympathetically ‘restore’ the building to its general appearance in 1951 including the return of it’s original “Dad Sharp’s” now 100-year heritage name-with-a-twist, “Dad Sharp’s Outfitters”. Though the new store won’t be anything resembling a grocery store, gas station, or restaurant- it will reflect what our passions are as Northern. Michiganders, outdoor adventures!