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 West Virginia’s 16th Secretary Of State Remembered As Popular With Both Parties, “Prankster” Who Played Jokes With His Twin Brother

4/16/2012

Secretary of State George W. Sharp's grandchildren, John Bell and Marie Tyree, say George and
his twin brother Summers were known as the "Twin Statesmen."

    Charleston, W.Va. – From the very beginning, it seemed West Virginia’s 16th Secretary of State was destined for a career in politics in the Mountain State.
 
    George W. Sharp and his twin brother, Summers, were born on June 20, 1880 – West Virginia’s 17th birthday. The day also happened to be their mother’s birthday.
 
    The two looked so much alike it’s said even their mother had difficulty telling them apart. The two were also known to play jokes on unsuspecting people. Once, Summers had his hair cut in a Charleston barbershop. Five minutes after he left, George entered. All the bewildered barber could muster was a comment about the fastest growing hair in the world.
 
    George Sharp’s only two grandchildren, John Bell and Marie Tyree, visited the Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month for the first time in years. They brought with them photographs and newspaper clippings that they’ve collected over the years.
 
    George and Summers both earned law degrees from Marshall University. 
 
    After serving as Circuit Clerk in Pocahontas County and as the Commissioner of the West Virginia Fish and Game Commission, George was elected West Virginia Secretary of State in 1924 and 1928. He even acted as State Auditor for a period in 1926, after Auditor John C. Bond was indicted on charges of forgery, larceny, and embezzling. A published report in the Weston Democrat in 1930 contemplated a George Sharp run for Governor in 1932. He instead ran for re-election as Secretary of State and was unopposed in the primary. He lost in the general election to Democrat William O’Brien, who would himself hold the position of Secretary of State until 1948.
 
    George W. Sharp also served as the Chairman of the Capitol Dedication Committee and took part in the dedication ceremony on June 20, 1932.

    Summers was the Republican nominee for Governor of West Virginia in 1936, and was a respected lawyer and Circuit Court Judge in Pocahontas County.
 
    Another instance of the two being confused happened in the Pocahontas County Courthouse, where Summers was trying a case. Jurors mistook George for Summers, asking if they could be excused. George said it was fine with him – a reply that would mean court proceedings had to be suspended for lack of jurors.
 
    Another time Summers was scheduled to make a campaign speech but got sick – George stepped in and delivered the speech and the crowd didn’t know the difference.
 
    After serving as Secretary of State, George served as chair of the Pocahontas County Republican Party from 1940 to 1945.
 
    West Virginia Secretary of State George W. Sharp died in 1954.

Contact:

Jake Glance
(304) 558-6000
jglance@wvsos.com