"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."
(An old Chinese proverb.)


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[Note:  Here appears the cover photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]



Portrait Painted by William Harrison Scarborough

(View photograph)


THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by the Sparks Family Association
John J. Carmichael, Jr., President, 3408 N. Rosewood Ave., Muncie, Indiana (47304-2025)

A. Harold Sparks, Vice President, 500 1st St., N., #303, Newton, Iowa  (502087-3104)

Russell E. Bidlack, Secretary-Treasurer & Editor, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104-4448)

The Sparks Family Association was founded in March 1953 as a non-profit organization devoted to assembling and preserving genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family In America.  It is exempt from federal tax under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 503(c)(7).  Membership in the Association is open to all persons connected with the Sparks Family, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, and to persons interested in genealogical research.  Membership falls into three classes:  Active, Contributing, and Sustaining.  Active Membership dues are $10.00 per year;  Contributing Membership dues are $15.00 per year; and Sustaining Membership dues are any amount over $15.00 that the member wishes to contribute for the support of the Association.  All members receive The Sparks Quarterly as it is published in March, June, September, and December.  Back issues are kept in print and are available for $3.00 each to members of the Association and for $4.00 each to non-members. The first issue of the Quarterly was published in March 1953. Eight quinquennial indexes have been published for the years 1953-57; 1958-62; 1963-67; 1968-72; 1973-77; 1978-82; 1983-87; 1988-92; and 1993-97.  Each index is available for $5.00. 

A complete file of all back issues of the Quarterly (1953-1993), including the nine indexes, may be purchased for $360.00.  The forty-nine years of the Quarterly (1953-1993) comprise a total of 5634 pages of Sparks Family history. The nine indexes (1953-97) amount to over 900 additional pages.  An Index for 1998-2002 will be published in 2003.  A table of contents is also available for $5.00.  Comprising 72 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the QUARTERLY between 1953 and 2001.  It is updated at the end of each year.  The International Standard Serial Number that has been assigned to the Quarterly is ISSN 0561-5445.

Orders for individual back issues of the Quarterly, and the table of contents, as well as a complete file should be sent to the editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Rd., Ann Arbor, MI, 48104-4448.  His telephone number is 734-662-5080;  he has no E-mail address.


In the QUARTERLY of December 1962, Whole No. 40, page 692, we included a biographical sketch of Alexander Sparks, who was born on September 27, 1780, and died on January 29, 1857.  In the present issue, on our cover, we feature a photograph of a portrait of Alexander Sparks, painted by William Harrison Scarborough.  The existence of this portrait has come to our attention only recently.  It is owned by a descendant of Alexander Sparks, Judge John A. Jamison, retired, of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit of Virginia.  He lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We are most grateful to Judge Jamison for providing us with a photograph of this painting and for permitting us to publish it.

Alexander Sparks was a son of Daniel Sparks (1740-1810) who had been born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, but who, as a young man, had moved to the Welsh Neck area of South Carolina.  Daniel Sparks's life, including a record of his Revolutionary War service, was described in the above cited issue of the
QUARTERLY, pp. 689-692.

Alexander Sparks was married to Janette McKearly, a native of Scotland, who had been born in 1791;  she died in 1871.  They lived on the west side of the Pee Dee River, in what is now Darlington County, across the river from Marlboro County; he and his wife were buried in the cemetery at Society Hill.


ALEXANDER SPARKS, 1780-1857, continued:

Alexander Sparks became an extensive land and slave owner and was an exceed ingly wealthy man when he died.  In his will, dated May 4, 1852 (see Darlington County Will Book 10, p. 326), he left his widow his "mansion house at Society Hill" along with 100 acres of land, 20 slaves, the family carriage, carriage horses, and "my coachman, Robert," plus $20,000.  To one daughter, he left 2600 acres of land;  to another, he left 3,000 acres and 32 slaves;  to his only living son he left several plantations, along with 30 slaves;  to the only child of a deceased son, he left $25,000 in trust; and to "the Baptish Church at the Welsh Neck, Peedee River, being the particular Church of which I am a member, worshipping," he left $1,000.  Alexander and Janette (McKearly) Sparks had the following children:  (a) Elizabeth D. Sparks, who was married to Thomas P. Lide;  (b) Margaret Jane Sparks, who was married to Col. Isaac D. Wilson;  (c) Samuel Sparks, born April 11, 1829, died June 24, 1853, without issue;  (d) Dr. William Alexander Sparks, born October 4, 1817, died August 19, 1849, who was married to Alicia Middleton;  and (e) David G. Sparks, who had died before his father.  For more details regarding these children, see page 693 of the QUARTERLY.

William Harrison Scarborough, the artist who painted the portrait of Alexander Sparks, is remembered as a highly admired Southern portraitist and miniaturist.  He was born in Tennessee in 1812.  He received his fundamental artistic training at the Littlejohn Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He made his home in Darlington County, South Carolina, in 1837, and during the years that followed, he painted portraits of the leading citizens of the area.

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Compiled by Gerald H. Sparks

[We are indebted to Gerald H. Sparks, Maj., USAF Ret,,  P.O. Box 443, Runge, Texas, 78151, for recording for us the deaths of persons named Sparks between 1903 and 1973 that occurred in Texas, as registered at the Texas State Library.  Maj. Sparks has performed the further service of arranging these by county.  Because our editorial policy in publishing THE SPARKS QUARTERLY is to limit our inclusion to persons born before about 1900, we include here only those in dividuals who died between 1903 and 1940, believing that most of these Sparkses were probably born before 1900.  We shall be glad to respond, however, to any query from a reader seeking information on Sparks deaths in Texas from 1940 to 1973, as recorded by Maj. Sparks.]

Anderson County, Texas
Neva Francis Sparks, 24 June 1934 Angelina County, Texas
Angelina County, Texas
Nugone Sparks, 19 December 1936
Archer County, Texas
Alice E. Sparks, 27 May 1924


INDEX OF DEATHS IN TEXAS, 1903-1940, continued:

Sid Sparks, 4 October 1926
  Male, White, Sparks, 17 April 1913
Artia Nooma Sparks, 13 January 1912
Gilbert Noah Sparks, 19 April 1939
Newton Caddel Sparks, 16 April 1924
Permelia Ann Sparks, 22 February 1929
  V. J. Sparks, 24 April 1929 Ruth Sparks, 15 November 1921

Ella Sparks, 19 June 1925
J. W. Sparks, 9 January 1933
Lloyd (Lloid) Sparks, 12 September 1934
Matilda Sparks, 10 January 1925
Mollie Sparks, 14 December 1917
Wade H. Sparks, 3 August 1933
Will Sparks, 17 August 1929
William Calvin Sparks, 11 April 1938

Alfred Newton Sparks, 5 January 1932
Charles Hy Sparks, 1 June 1939
Claude M. Sparks, 30 January 1921
Dan Sparks, 3 June 1915
David Sparks, 8 December 1938 (Added note: Wife, Mary Yates)
Fred Sparks, 8 March 1939
Fred R. Sparks, 14 December 1925
Jerry Kennady Sparks, 20 September 1925
Lena May Sparks, 15 February 1935
Mae Sparks, 9 July 1940
Margurite Sparks, 8 April 1934
Patricia Joan Sparks, 2 March 1936
Permelia E. Sparks, 25 May 1923
Infant of R. Sparks, 18 July 1923
William Arthur Sparks, 5 November 1922
William R. Sparks, Jr., 9 March 1930
William Thomas Sparks, 30 March 1921
Blanco County, Texas
George William Sparks, 1 March 1935


INDEX OF DEATHS IN TEXAS, 1903-1940, continued:

Bosque County, Texas
J. F. Sparks, 19 April 1932
Mary Lucy Sparks, 4 September 1939
Robert Wallace Sparks, 21 April 1928
Bowie County, Texas
George W. Sparks, 5 March 1925
Urite Sparks, 27 February 1938
Brazoria County, Texas
Mary Elizabeth Sparks, 24 April 1934
Brazos County, Texas
D. T. Sparks, 4 September 1930
Joseph Sparks, 14 May 1940

[Editor's Note: This listing of Texas deaths will be continued in future issues of the QUARTERLY.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


Born in Iowa in 1861; Died in Arizona in 1928

"Poet of the Old Southwest"

Collectors of rare books who specialize in the publications of the American West place high value on a volume that was printed in Los Angeles in 1926.  Its publisher was the Skelton Publishing Company.  Entitled The Apache Kid, A Bear Fight, and Other True Stories of the Old West, this 215-page book was written by William Sparks.  Your editor has owned a copy of this rare volume for many years and has long planned to share a bit of its charm with our readers, but before doing so, he had hoped to be able to identify this William Sparks with regard to his ancestry and the exact place of his birth.  Having failed in this endeavor, he hopes that now, with the publication of this article, someone reading it may be able to identify William Sparks's parentage for us.

Although his name was well known in the west during his lifetime, William Sparks rarely talked about his boyhood, and, while much of his writing was quite personal, he revealed nothing about his origin.  When Sparks died in 1928, and an effort was made to locate relatives, those who knew him best believed that he had been born in January 1861 at Ottumwa, Iowa.  Ottumwa is in Wapello County, but a search of census records there has revealed nothing about his parents.

Although his nickname was "Bill" among his cowboy friends, he was often called "Timberline Bill Sparks" when his poems and stories appeared in newspapers.  He told friends that he "had been thrown on his own resources" while still a boy, which may suggest that he was left an orphan at an early age.


WILLIAM ("TIMBERLINE"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

Whatever the reason may have been for William Sparks to "go west" as a boy, he became a "cow puncher" and miner at a very young age.  From his writings, we know that he was in Dodge City, Kansas, when it was commonly referred to as a "hell-hole," and there he came to know such famous western "characters" as the Earps and Bat Masterson, about whom he would write in later years.  He was on the Blue River in Arizona as early as the winter of 1878-79, and he spent a number of years in or near Tombstone, Arizona.  Arizona claims him as one of its literary pioneers.

It is highly doubtful that William Sparks had much formal education, and it is a mystery how he learned to write so well.  Writing biography and poetry is scarcely an avocation usually associated with cowboys, hunters, and miners.  It seems apparent that he wrote for the joy of expressing himself in print rather than for profit.  Newspapers of the time paid almost nothing for original literary productions.  Although his only book is now a collector's item, we doubt that Sparks received much in royalties during the two years that he lived after its appearance.

A number of Sparks's poems were, or appear to have been, autobiographical, and we wonder whether the following lines may tell us something of his youth.


By William Sparks


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

The preface to William Sparks's book published in 1926 was written by a former U.S Army officer and later the warden of the Territorial Prison at Florence, Arizona, named Thomas H. Rynning.  He seems to have known more regarding the life of William Sparks than most.  His preface was as follows:
To those who love the old Southwest and are students of its history, this series of historical tales by William Sparks (Timberline) will be of exceptional interest, reflecting as they do an accurate picture of those stirring pioneer days when Civilization was struggling with Marauding Apaches, and White and Mexican outlaws.

When the undersigned first came to Arizona as a member of the Regular U.S. Cavalry, during the Indian Wars--later in Cuba during the Spanish American War as an officer in the First U.S. Cavalry (Roosevelt's Rough Riders), and during the early years of the present century when I was commanding the Arizona Rangers--I came into close and intimate association with the author, William Sparks, better known throughout the Southwest as "Timberline Bill."  A word as to his adventures, career and character may not be amiss in order that the reader, by knowing something of the man himself, may be able to judge as to the truth and accuracy of the pictures he draws.

Pioneer, prospector, miner, professional hunter, cow puncher, Government packer in Arizona, and Cuba, and peace officer extraordinary, he has run the entire gamut of hardships and adventure incident to those thrilling days, and has rendered gallant and useful service to his state and country.

A man of exceptional courage, rectitude and proven worth, it was my good fortune to secure his services as 1st Sergeant of the Arizona Rangers, and he served as such during the time I was Captain commanding that organiza tion, 1901-1907.

Previously he had been a line rider on the White Mountain Indian Reservation, where he came into close contact and acquaintance with the Chiricahua Apaches, including the notorious "Apache Kid."  In the early days he was a professional hunter, supplying the market in the new mining camps with venison.  It was during that period that he matched [sic] the Bear Fight described in this book, the details of which are well known to myself and many of the old-timers in Arizona.

He went to Cuba as a packer with the Carter P. Johnson Expedition which took arms and ammunition to the Cuban Insurgents, and not only "carried a message to Garcia," but guns and cartridges as well.  Later he went to the Phillipines.

From his arrival on the Blue River in Arizona in the early winter of 1878-1879, and up until the past decade, he has had a full and creditable part in the stirring activities of Tombstone, Clifton and Globe;  as well as the mining camps, the cattle ranges, and the mountains and deserts of Arizona.

It is refreshing to read a series of historical stories by one who knows his subject so intimately, and who describes it so accurately, and I heartily commend them to the public.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

So far as we know, William Sparks was never married. His poem entitled "Marguerite" may suggest a youthful romance. The final verse reads:

As often happens with a popular hero, some of the accomplishments credited to him may well have become exaggerated.  For example, in an obituary of Sparks appearing in the Miami, Arizona, Gazette of December 15, 1928, the story was repeated of how his actions led to the election of the first president of Cuba.

Sparks came upon a detachment of Cuban revolutionists in the vicinity of Santiago.  They were in possession of a long range gun, which they had captured, but which they were unable to operate.  Sparks, who had watched the operation of such guns, though never having had any actual experience with them, took charge of procedures and directed the fire on a blockhouse, which was blown up.

The commander of the revolutionists was given credit for the victory, and rose to an important command, finally reaching eminence as a great leader and eventually becoming president of the new republic.

Researchers at the Arizona Department of Library, Archives and Public Records report, however, that Sparks's name has not even been found in the books written by Theodore Roosevelt and others about the famous Rough Riders.

In the fall of 1928, when friends of Sparks learned that he was living in meager circumstances," a clerkship was arranged form him at an Indian Agency at Fort Apache.  When "Timberline Bill" arrived there to assume his new post, however, he complained of illness.  He did not recover from this illness and died on December 15, 1928.

The story told most often regarding William Sparks is that involving his fight with a grizzly bear in 1888.  He told this story in his own words in his book published in 1926.  We believe that our readers will find it to be of interest, even though it does not contribute to our knowledge of Sparks genealogy.

Because there were many doubters that a man could live to tell of a fight with a grizzly bear, Sparks included in his book a statement by the physician who had treated his wounds, John H. Lacy, M.D., who was company physician for the Arizona Copper Company at Clifton, Arizona.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:


By William Sparks

In the spring of 1888 my partner, a man named Al Robertson, and I, were camped at the forks of Eagle Creek, near the foot of the Blue Range, and about fifteen miles above the Double Circle Ranch of Arizona.

"Al, if you'll wash the dishes, and bring in the horses, I'll go look at that trap we set down the creek," I said to my partner one morning, as he rose from the ground where we had been squatted beside the canvas manta, or pack cover, on which the tin dishes and plates that had contained our breakfast were spread.

"All right," said Al, "I'll have the horses here before you're back.  What horse will I tie up for you?  I want to start as soon as I can, for it will take me all day to ride to Slaughters and back, so I won't wait, for if there is anything in the trap it may take quite a while to trail it up and skin it."

After telling Al which horse I wanted tied up, I buckled on my cartridge belt, picked up my rifle and started down the creek toward the place where we had set a large bear trap the day before.

The camp was in a small open space on a point between the junction of two mountain streams, that tumbled noisily over their bed of boulders, between banks that were thickly wooded with black alder, ash, balsam, oak, cherry, walnut and pine trees, which in many places were festooned with wild grapes, Virginia creeper, and honey-suckle vines.

For several years there had been a considerable number of hunters in these mountains, who supplied the new mining camps of Coony, Carlisle, and Clifton, with fresh venison and turkey in winter; and winter or summer, hunted and killed the black-tailed and white-tailed deer, bucks and does alike, that abounded in the forests and hills north of the Gila River.

In summer they cut freshly killed venison into thin strips, which were salted and hung on a line until dry enough to be pulverized into powder when beaten with a hammer.  When enough of this, "jerky" it was called, had been accumulated to load the pack horses, it was taken to one of the mining camps and sold to the Mexican workmen who, with their families, were very fond of it.

Bear of several varieties; cinnamon, black, brown and silvertip, as well as mountain lions, were plentiful, and until the advent of the cattlemen were only killed when the hunters were in need of bears' oil for cooking; or in the autumn, just before the hibernating animals holed up, when the fur and skins were at their best.  I am aware that several great naturalists have decided that black and brown bear are one and the same species; and that the cinnamon and silvertip, or grizzly, is the same bear.  But that these learned gentlemen, who have mostly gained their knowledge of wild animals from the writings of others, or from an occasional trip extending for a few weeks at most, to the wilds, are mistaken, I am sure.

The grizzly of California, and the silvertip of Arizona, are the same animal; and may be any color from almost black to a dirty gray.  His hide is covered with thick fur, sometimes almost black, sometimes a purplish brown.  Through this grows a mass of longer hair, usually somewhat darker than the fur, until it reaches through the fur, when it becomes silvery white, and I have often seen silvertips with a streak of white from the shoulders, where the long hair grew into a mane, to their rump.  The genuine silvertip is broader between the ears than the cinnamon; shorter from a line drawn between the ears to the nose, and stands higher at the shoulders.  In fact, a silvertip, that is not the product of a cross between the grizzly and one of the other species, has a sort of hump on his shoulders that no other bear has, as well as a character and habits that are different from those of bear of any other species.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

The brown bear of Arizona is small, with a sort of curved head and long claws.  He is covered with short, brown hair, often little longer than the winter coat of a cow, and if he has any fur at all, it is scanty and short. The cinnamon is medium in size, between the black bear and the grizzly, and has long, red dish colored hair that covers a thick coat of fine fur, that is exactly the color of dried cinnamon bark.  There is a difference in the shape of his head, and in his habits.  He has no hump, but his claws are long like the grizzlies'.  The full-blooded black bear is black; sometimes with a white spot on his breast; and has short front claws that are attached to fingers under the skin of his front feet, that are so muscled that he can climb a tree that he cannot reach around, if the bark is rough enough for him to insert his claws into its cracks.

No full-blooded bear of any of the other varieties can climb a large tree, though I have seen bears that were brown in color, but who plainly showed more of the characteristics of their black, than they did of their brown forebears, take to trees when pressed.  As all these species cross, the cubs born of black or brown parents, that are mixed blood, may be of either color.

When setting a trap for bear, it was the custom to cut a heavy green pole, and drive it through the ring attached to the trap until only about eighteen inches of the larger end remained on the side of the ring from which the pole had been inserted.  Then, if a bear got in the trap, in dragging the pole through the trees and rocks he would leave a plain trail, and could be easily followed.

But if no pole, or clog, as the hunters and trappers called it was fixed to the trap, and it was left loose, a large bear might travel for many miles before lying up.  And if the trap was made fast, when it snapped on a bear's leg it might break the bones, as sometimes happened, and in such an extent that often a trapped bear would twist and gnaw off his leg above the trap and escape.

But this was in June; and the bear, as was their habit, had all gone to the higher mountains where there was food in plenty.  Up in the mountain meadows, surrounded by forests of spruce, and quaking aspen, were many delicacies that appealed to the nose and stomach of a hungry bear.  Yellow jackets were storing honey that only had to be dug for to be obtained.  In many places the ground was matted with wild strawberry vines that bore countless crimson points of wonderful flavor.  Wild oats were in the milk; and there were numberless dead trees covered with rotten bark, that a bear had only to tear off, with his claws, to secure great fat grub worms, that were far more grateful to the taste of an almost satiated bear, than the most tender venison.

On my last trip to town, a townsman had requested me to bring in a lion's skin, which he offered to pay well for. Lion were hard to find without dogs, and the trap had been purchased to trap lion at the time the Territorial Legislature had made it mandatory on the supervisors of the different counties to pay a bounty on both bear and lion.  But the counties of Arizona were very sparsely settled at that time, and were very poor; and the hunters brought in so many scalps of bear and lions that the different supervisors petitioned the next Legislature to repeal the bounty law, which was done.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

As a lion caught in a trap would seldom travel farther than the first dense thicket, and the bear, as we supposed, were all higher in the mountains, we put no clog on the trap, but set it between two ash trees, and a few feet in front of another tree that was well covered with grape vines.  A little basin, just large enough to secrete the trap in, was scraped away with a stick, and when the trap had been placed in it and covered with twigs and leaves, the bait, a deer's head and liver, were hung on the tree on which the grape vines grew, and the other trees, so that an animal intent on investigating the bait would have to step in or over the trap to get to it.

Soon after I left camp I came to a place where the creek ran against a bluff.  Pulling off my moccasins, and rolling up my trousers, I waded through the swiftly flowing water, slipping on the round boulders at times, but managing to keep my rifle and clothing dry.  At several more crossings I repeated this; but at last came to the mouth of a small creek where the trap had been set.  Stealthily approaching the place, I saw that the vines were torn, and the bark on several small trees broken and bruised by the teeth of some enraged animal.

When I stood over the spot where the trap had been set, I found that the ground had been almost ploughed up in places by a bear, whose footprints proved him to be a silvertip of enormous size.  Different bear, when wounded, or caught in a trap, have no hard and fast rules in regard to their actions.  One bear, suddenly finding himself griped in the torturing jaws of a clattering steel trap, may skulk noiselessly away, while another may frighten all the wood folk within hearing distance with his bawling.

But this bear had acted different from any that I had encountered before.  The ground and trees showed plainly where he had swung and struck with the heavy trap, regardless of the pain he must have endured.  In places the trap springs had dug holes in the soil that looked like a shovel had been thrust into it by some careless gardener, and saplings five or six inches in diameter were almost bare of bark in places, where he had snapped and torn with teeth and claws.

The "sign" or appearance of the torn vines and bark, and the tracks, proved that the bear had been caught not long before daylight, and as the sun was now not more than an hour high, I reasoned that the enraged animal would not travel after daylight, and might be in any brushy thicket, nursing his hurt, and the hatred that all bear must feel for a trap, and the men who set them

So I slowly circled around among the trees until I found where the bear, evidently hopping along on three legs and holding the front paw on which the trap was fastened, above the ground, had left the narrow canyon valley, and started straight over a ridge that was covered only with scattered pine trees, and short grass, that made no covering in which a bear could hide.

Though there was no danger of coming suddenly upon the bear here, I climbed the ridge slowly, halting at times to recover my shortened breath.  For a rifle is an arm of precision; and the man who has swiftly climbed a steep hill, whose breast is heaving, and nerves jumping from the exertion, cannot pull the trigger with any certainty, as the sights align on a moving or distant target.

And although the bear was encumbered with a heavy trap, I knew that when I came face to face with his bruinship there would be a reckoning on the part of the bear, if my bullets were not sent to the only immediately vital spot in a bear's anatomy--the brain.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

The part of a bear's skull that contains the brain is long, and almost round, like a curved cylinder in profile, with a thick ridge of bone running from just in front of its junction with the spinal column to below a line drawn between the eyes.  The frontal part is thickest beneath this ridge, and as the skull rounds, or curves, away from the ridge, it becomes thinner, but is still very thick, and in grizzlies often covered with several inches of hair, hide, and gristle.  This was long before the day of high-powered guns, and even the heavy caliber black powder impelled bullets of those days would often glance and fail to penetrate the skull of a large bear, unless they struck it squarely.

But a bullet from the 45-90 that I carried would knock any bear down that it struck in the head; and neither I nor my companion hunters felt the least fear of any bear if we had a few yards of open ground to pump our rifles at him be fore he could reach us.

It was for this reason that, after reaching the top of the hill, I descended very slowly, always avoiding every clump of brush, and circling around through the openings until I had again picked up the trail, when it went into places where the bear might be hidden.  I finally came to the bottom of the hill and a small stream of crystal clear water that gurgled between open groves of small timber.  The bed of the creek was sandy, and from twenty-five to seventy-feet wide  The bear turned directly up the creek, and I followed, still carefully avoiding thickets and turns in the bank, where the bear might have laid up for the day.  At last I found where the bear had left a thicket and crossed the creek, leaving a string of still wet tracks in the sand; which the sun had now heated so warm that it was evident the bear had heard me, and probably thinking the clump of brush he had laid down in was not so well situated for an ambush as he wished, had silently sneaked away while I was reconnoitering a short distance down the creek.

Presently the tracks led up a gently sloping hill, bare of underbrush, but covered with pine trees.  As I slowly neared the top, I heard the rattle of a rattlesnake off to one side, and stepping a few feet toward the sound, I saw a small rattler coiled beside a hole near a large rock.  Grasping a small boulder I flung it at the snake, but missed my mark, and as the snake began to disappear beneath the rock, I hurled missile after missile, but without effect

When the snake had disappeared, I slowly climbed to the top of the hill, and passing through the open pines, which grew so thickly here that it was slow trailing over the mat of pine needles, I picked up the trail where the bear had started down the farther hillside, which was pretty well covered with scrub oak and buck brush.

I did not follow the trail here, but traveled parallel with it, when I could see it in the soft volcanic ash which covered the hillside, or, when I could not see it, cut across where the course the bear was taking led me to believe it should be, still keeping in the open spaces until I could see the trail ahead of me.

At last I came to a belt of thick brush, and leaving the trail, I skirted this until I came to an opening, which I entered, and winding from opening to opening, came at last to a clear space about sixty feet in length, up and down the hill, which at that place sloped at an angle of almost 45 degrees.  As I stepped out into this clear space near its upper end I could see the bear's track where he had hopped, and slid, down through the soft, ashy soil, and entered the brush at the lower end of the opening.

Thinking the bear was ahead of me, and holding my rifle in the hollow of my left arm, with my right hand holding its grip, my thumb on the hammer, and the trigger-guard, I stepped over into the bear's track just below the fringe of brush the bear had come through.  Though I was gazing intently across the gulch, hoping I might see the bear ascending the opposite hillside, I had already chosen my route through another break in the brush just beyond the bear's tracks.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

 As I stepped in the trail I heard the rattle of a trap-chain above and behind me, and before I could turn, the bellow of the bear, not unlike the bawl of an enraged bull.  I could not turn my feet on the steep hillside as swiftly as my body, and as I tried to face the bear, for I knew there was absolutely no chance for escape by flight, the bear came charging over the brush, snapping at my head, and striking with its unencumbered paw.  Both myself and the bear were at a disadvantage on the steep hillside, and attempting to dodge a stroke from the bear's paw, I threw myself to one side and down the hill.  As I did so, the rifle, which I had cocked as I tried to turn, was accidently discharged, leaving it with the chamber of the barrel empty.

I fell with such momentum that I turned over and over several times, like a boy turning back-somersaults, while the bear, his beady, bloodshot eyes flashing malignant rage and hatred, his ears laid back, and his grizzly gray mane standing erect, tried to check himself as he slid and rolled by me.  Snapping like a monstrous dog, just as I stopped rolling, he sunk one tusk, all he had left--he had broken the others off biting the trap--in my thigh, and dragged me along as he slid down the hill.

When bear and man had stopped the bear was standing diagonally over me.  The beast's tusk had penetrated my thigh and tore loose a whipcord looking muscle; and snapping again, the bear caught me by the same thigh.  After some effort to balance himself, he rose up on his haunches and shook and swung me like a cat might shake a mouse.  At last he slowly came down on his feet, and still holding me in the grip of his great jaws, flung or jerked me until my head lay down the the hill, while the bear's rump was up the hill, but his head, his jaws still grasping my leg, was turned almost at right angles toward his right, and my left.

I still grasped my rifle, for there was nothing else to hold onto.  As the bear, still snuffling, clamped down again and again on my thigh, I slowly at first, and then with a quick sweep, brought the rifle around until it touched the side of the great brute's head.  As I swung the gun, I worked the lever.  The bear saw, or heard, and let go his hold on my leg.  Just as his head turned and the muzzle of the rifle touched its side, a little below and back of the eye, the lever snapped, my finger gripped the trigger, and the crash and smoke that flamed out told me, even before the bear had fallen, that the scrap was over, for there were still several cartridges in the magazine, and even if the bullet did not reach the bear's brain, it would stun him into helplessness for several moments.  But as my right hand jerked the lever and threw an other cartridge into the barrel, I saw the bear collapse.  His feet seemed to give way under him, and with a sort of convulsive shudder of the muscles, he sank to the ground and rolled over against the brush at the lower side of the open space, just as I, with a great effort, threw myself out of the way.  When the bear stopped rolling, he lay on his back with his great paws sticking up, and the trap dangling from one of them;  Man and bear were not far apart, and as bears have been known to play possum, I rose to a sitting position, and poked the bear with the muzzle of my rifle.  But there was no doubt that he was dead.  A look at the eyes, the great hole in the side of his head where the powder had burned the hair off, made that certain.

The bear had evidently heard me throwing rocks at the snake, and had circled around through the brush and waited beside his own tracks for his enemy.  Had I followed the trail through the brush there can be little doubt I would have fallen an easy victim to the enraged animal.  For, as it was, the steep hillside, and loose ashy soil that ran down the hill at every touch of bear or man, was the only thing that saved me.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

I now thought of my leg.  It felt numb and dead;  but I soon found there were no bones broken;  but the blood was flowing freely from the wound made by the bear's gnashing tusk.  Pulling out my pocket knife, I cut and tore from my cotton flannel undershirt--all I had on except trousers, moccasins and hat, enough strips to tie a bandage around my leg tightly above the wound. Then, picking up my rifle, I looked again at the magnificent animal that luck alone had enabled me to conquer; and limped down the hill to the bottom of the gulch, and then on down to where I knew there was an almost ice-cold spring.

When I arrived at the spring, which bubbled up from a small fern-covered cienaga, or marsh, I lay face down and drank my fill. Then, slowly limping, I went down the gulch until I came to a place beneath a giant mountain cypress where the bear had dug out a wallowing hole.  In spring, when the bears begin to shed their winter coats, they greatly enjoy a mud and water bath, and into one of these wallows I scrambled, not without considerable difficulty.  I had observed that although I had tied the bandage tightly above the principal wound-- for the broken tusks had done little damage, and the grinding teeth had bruised and not cut--with every limping step the blood spurted out afresh.  So, after sitting in the cold water for perhaps twenty minutes, I rebandaged the leg tightly, and finding a dead sapling with a fork about the right size for a crutch, I broke it to the right length. Then, leaving my rifle and cartridge belt, I started for the camp.

It was now about an hour before sun-down; and I was about five miles from where the trap had been set, and about six and a half miles from the camp.  Leaning on the improvised crutch, I limped down the canyon to the creek, and on down the creek as I had come.  Dark came on, and the rough and narrow fork of the sapling rubbed and chafed my armpit until I stopped and tore the most of what remained of my shirt into strips, and wound it around the fork of the crutch.  Then I hobbled on, hour after hour, through the darkened woods.

Limbs, and vines, and thorns reached out and tore and scratched my exposed skin, but I did not care.  I did not think my wound was serious; and while other men of my acquaintance had killed bear in hand-to-hand conflict, none had ever met such a monster as I had,--except for the slight handicap of the trap for the bear, --fought and killed in a fair fight.

Bear, like hogs, are very heavy for their size.  But this bear was largerbodied than a fair-sized cow pony; and although it was June, the season of the year when bear in the foothills are usually poor, he was fat and sleek; a meateater that had not gone to the high mountains, but had remained in the lower country to prey on the cowmen's cattle.

Finally I came to the main creek, and stumbling along to the accompaniment of the cries of night animals and birds, wet, weary, and sore, came around the point only a hundred yards or so from the camp.  Through the trees I could see Al standing by the campfire.  At last I crossed the smaller stream and climbed up the bank to the welcoming fire, and the well-meaning but clumsy ministrations of my partner, who finding on his return after dark that the horse he had tied up for me was still unsaddled, knew something had happened, but could do nothing until daylight made it possible to follow a trail.

Next morning, long before daylight, Al saddled up and went after the gun, rifle, trap and hide.  At that altitude the nights were cold, and he found the skin still in good condition.  After skinning the bear, he returned to the camp, and, loading me on an easy gaited horse, started for the nearest town, about sixty miles away.  That night we stopped at the Double Circle Ranch; the next at McCarthy's Mine, and on the following day we arrived in Clifton, where we sold the bear's hide; and I remained until the wound in my thigh had healed.


WILLIAM ["TIMBERLINE BILL"] SPARKS, 1861-1928, continued:

To give credence to his story of the grizzly bear, Sparks obtained two affidavits which he included in his book.  Each was written on the letterhead stationery of the Office of Sheriff of Gila County, Globe, Arizona.  These two statements appear as follows:

[Signed] John H. Lacy, M.D.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mrs. Richard C. Young, 332 Devon Drive, San Rafael, California, 94903, would like information regarding the parentage of Sarah A. Sparks.  Sarah was married to William C. Brigance in Tennessee.  They moved to Pope County, Arkansas, about 1831-32.  Sarah died there before 1840.  The Sparks and Brigance families lived in Sumner and Carroll County, Tennessee, before moving to Pope County, Arkansas.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *




By Paul E. Sparks

[Editor's Note: The June 1974 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 86, contained an article about the descendants of Isaac Sparks, Jr., of Estill County, Kentucky.  He was married to Annis McGuire in Estill County in 1809, and their first child was a son named William Sparks who was born in 1810.  William was married twice.  His second marriage was to Sarah ["Sally"] Ann Muck on May 2, 1850.  In 1855, William and Sally Ann sold their land and left Estill County.  Apparently, they disappeared from the knowledge of their relatives who remembered only that they went to Arkansas where they may have had triplets.  See page 1652 in the issue of the QUARTERLY referred to above.

[Recently, we received information from descendants of William and Sally Ann who have found the reason for their ancestors' apparent disappearance.  We are pleased to share the extension of our knowledge of this couple.  For the sake of continuity, we have continued to use the same alpha-numeric outline used in the earlier article.]

William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks did not go to Arkansas as they apparently told their relatives that they would.  Instead, they went north to Ohio, then turned west toward Indiana where a daughter was born to them in 1856.  They continued westward, and another daughter was born to them in Illinois in 1858;  still another daughter was born to them there in 1863.  By the end of the Civil War, they were in Iowa where a fourth daughter was born in 1865.  Their last child (also a daughter) was born in September 1869 in Nodaway County, Missouri, and it was there that Sally Ann died two months later of breast cancer.  She was only 35 years old!  William did not survive her for very long; he died at Ft. Scott, Kansas, in 1871.  Little wonder that relatives were unable to determine their whereabouts.

After the death of their parents, two of the children, James and Robert, managed to keep the family together until their sisters reached womanhood.  Some where during the family's travels, another brother, George Sparks, had left home.  When the 1880 census was taken of Bourbon County, Kansas, two of the sisters, Agnes and Sarah, were living in the household of their brother, Robert Sparks, and his wife, Maggie.  Another sister, Mary Jane, was living in the household of her brother, James Sparks, and his bride, Ellen Jane.  In all like likelihood, the sisters named Lizzie and Liza were already married and living in their own homes by 1880.

William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks had eight children.  The eldest of these was actually the eighth child of William Sparks, since he had seven children by his first marriage.  (See pages 2172-73 of the December 1979 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No.108.)

8.  James Sparks, son of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born in May 1851 in Owsley County, Kentucky, and had reached maturity when his father died in 1871.  He and his brother, Robert, assumed the responsibility of keeping the family together.  He was married to Ellen Jane , probably in 1879.  She had been born in June 1860 in Indiana.  When the 1880 census was taken of Bourbon County, Kansas, James's eleven-year-old sister, Mary Jane Sparks, was living in his household.  James and Ellen Jane continued to live in Bourbon County, Kansas, and when the 1900 census was taken, they had two children.  Relatives say that eventually this couple moved to Denver, Colorado.



Children of James and Ellen Jane Sparks:
9.  Robert Sparks, son of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born on April 8, 1853, in Owsley County, Kentucky, and was a young man when his father died.  He, with his brother, James Sparks, managed to keep the family together until their sisters were grown.  On June 30, 1878, Robert was married to Margaret Mary ["Maggie"] Wolf in Bourbon County, Kansas.  She had been born on February 22, 1857, in Adams County, Indiana, and was a daughter of Amos Wolf.  When the 1880 census was taken of Bourbon County, two of Robert's sisters, Agnes, age 17, and Sarah, age 15, were living in his household.

Robert and Maggie moved to neighboring Bates County, Missouri, and then to Vernon County, Missouri, about 1890.  Eventually, they moved to Colorado, where they farmed on Stewart Mesa, located on the North Fork of the Gunnison River.  It was there that they reared their four sons. Maggie died on November 13, 1938, at Paonia, Colorado.  Robert died there five years later, on October 25, 1943.  They were members of the Baptist Church.

a. William R. Sparks, son of Robert and Maggie (Wolf) Sparks, was born on June 2, 1881, in Bourbon County, Kansas. He worked for the railway express. He was married to Myrtle Lillian Briggs in 1907 in Vernon County, Missouri. She had been born on November 11, 1887, in Augusta, Kansas, and was a daughter of Orion and Mary Ann (Needles) Briggs. William died on January 25, 1939, at Alamosa, Colorado, and Myrtle died there on December 16, 1950. They had four children.


Continuation of  [ d.  Ralph Sparks ] above:
10. George W. Sparks, son of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born on December 20, 1854, in Owsley County, Kentucky.  Apparently, he left the family while he was still quite young, and relatives say that he remained in Indiana.  We believe that he is the George W. Sparks who was married to Sarilda Jackson on October 23, 1877, in Clark County, Indiana.  According to the 1880 and 1900 censuses of that county, George and Sarilda had six children:  Orra M. Sparks, Elmer Sparks, Margaret ["Maggie"] Sparks, Myrtle Sparks, Alma Sparks, and a son whose given name we have been un able to decipher from the census records.

11. Elizabeth ["Lizzie"] Sparks, daughter of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born about 1856 in Indiana.  She is said to have been married to a man named Bustern, probably in 1876, and they moved to Dallas, Texas.  They are said to have had two daughters, Bertha and Mabel.  We have no further information about this couple.

12. Eliza ["Liza"] Sparks, daughter of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born in August 1858 in Illinois.  She was married to James Lee, probably in 1877, in Kansas.  He had been born in 1853 in Illinois.  When the 1900 census was taken, they were living in Bourbon County, Kansas. With them were three of their children:

a. Lucy Lee was born in May 1878 in Kansas.\
b. Charles Lee was born in March 1880 in Missouri.
c. Grace Lee was born in April 1882 in Missouri.


13. Agnes ["Aggie"] Sparks, daughter of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born about 1863 in Illinois.  She was living with her brother, Robert, when the 1880 census was taken of Bourbon County, Kansas.  She was married to Lee Brown, and they lived near Redfield, Kansas, where they reared four children:  Clara, George, Fred, and Charles.

14. Sarah Sparks, daughter of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born about 1865, probably in Iowa.  When the 1880 census was taken of Bourbon County, Kansas, she was living in the household of her brother, Robert.  We have no further information about her.

15. Mary Jane Sparks, daughter of William and Sally Ann (Muck) Sparks, was born on September 7, 1869, near Bedford, Iowa, while her parents were moving from Des Moines to a farm near Fort Scott, Kansas.  Her mother died shortly after her birth, and she was still an infant when her father also died.  Her brothers and sisters took care of her until she reached womanhood.

[Note:  Here appears the a photograph, beneath which is the following captions:]

 Mary Jane (Sparks) Steel
Francis Fountain Dyne Steel

Photographs taken ca. 1900

View Photographs



On July 23, 1887, Mary Jane Sparks was married to Frank Steel in Bourbon County, Kansas.  His full name was Francis Fountain Dyne Steel, and he had been born at Abergavenny, Monmouth County, England, on August 2, 1863.  His father was Samuel Hopkins Steel, an English physician who wanted his son to study medicine.  Instead, Frank migrated to the United States, arriving in January 1881.  He finally settled in Bourbon County, Kansas, where he met, courted, and was married to Mary Jane.  They started housekeeping near Hiattville, Kansas, where they lived until March 1910 when they moved to a farm near New Market, Iowa.  They moved from the farm into New Market about 1920.

Mary Jane was a member of the Baptist Church for a while, but later changed her affiliation to the Methodist Episcopal Church.  She died on January 20, 1942, at her home in New Market.  Frank survived her by fourteen years, dying on November 3, 1956.  They had eleven children, eight of whom survived infancy.  All were born near Hiattville, Kansas.



[Note:  Here appears the a photograph, beneath which is the following captions:]

50th Wedding Anniversary Photograph

Francis F. D. and Mary Jane (Sparks) Steel

(With Their Eight Children)

View Photograph

Front row, seated, left to right: Margaret Dyne (Steel) Gerke, Henry Sparks Steel,
Mary Jane (Sparks) Steel [Mother], Francis F. D. Steel [Father],
Grace Underwood (Steel) McCoun, and William Arthur Steel.

Back row, standing, left to right: Nellie Mae (Steel) Baldwin, James Robert Steel,
Nora Nourse (Steel) Beck, and Samuel Francis Steel.

(Taken in the New Market, Iowa, Lodge Hall, July 1937)



* * * * * * * * * * * * *



Assembled by Paul E. Sparks

[Editor's Note: This is a consolidated index of the service records of Confederate soldiers prepared from:  (1) Records in the National Archives;  (2) Records preserved by the respective states;  and (3) A few miscellaneous sources.  Our readers are reminded that there are duplications of names as well as of military units, and that the same individual often served in more than one military unit.  Also, the names of military units were often changed, and there were frequent consolidations of small or reduced units into larger ones.  In a few instances, a man may even have served in both the Confederate and the Union armies.]

Named Sparks
Rank Company Military Unit
A. Pvt. -- 4th ALA Inf
A. " B Galliards 27th SC Inf
A. Instr. B ALA Cp. of Instr. Talladega




Named Sparks
Rank Company Military Unit
A.B. Pvt. -- Fenners Batt. LA Lt. Art.
A.B. " A Righters 1st LA Inf.
A.C. Cpl. B 4th Bn. GA Inf. (State Guards)
A.C. Pvt. K 11th GA Cav.
A.C. " G 49th NC Inf.
A.D. Capt. E Consolidated Bn. SC Cav.
A.D. " L Consolidated 20th SC Inf.
A.G.  Pvt. I 2nd LA Cav.
A.G.  " F 4 th LA Inf.
A.J. " C 4th VA Reserves
A.J. (Andrew J.) " B 28th GA Inf.
A.J. " I 17th NC Inf. (see also Jackson Sparks)
A.J. " C 4th VA Cav.
A.K. " H 3rd GA Cav. (filed under Wesley Sparks)
A.L. " I 14th ALA Inf.
A.N. " B Consolidated 20th TEX Ca. (See also William Noble Sparks)
A.P. " Old Nelson 1st ALA Lt. Art.
A.P. Instr. - ALA Cp. of Instr. Talladega
A.W. Pvt. H 23rd ARK Inf.
A.W. " B 9th GA Inf. (See also Wesley Sparks)
A.W. " D 52nd GA Inf.
Abel " G 28th ALA Inf.
Abner " D 22nd ALA Inf.
Abner  Evan " H 25th ALA Inf.
Abner G. " F 4th LA Inf.
Absalom " A Dukes KY Cav.
Absalom Lt. B 8th KY Cav.
Absalom Pvt. D 6th SC Inf.
Adam " D 31st VA Militia
Albert " F 56th NC Inf.
Albert " A Consolidated 11th TEX Inf.
Alex D.  Capt.  E  19th SC Cav.
Alexander Pvt. B  Pvt. B 55th NC Inf.
Alfred " F 16th MO Inf.
Allen  " E 33rd ARK Inf.
Allen " A 9th Bn. NC Sharpshooters Allison
Woodville " I 9th TEX Cav.
Alonzo M.  " B 1st GA Inf.
Aipheus " H 4th NC Reserves
Alvin B. " C 33rd TENN Inf.
Amon " C 48th ALA Inf.
Augustus  " K 30th GA Inf.
Ausbin " G 7th SC Resrves
B.  " B 9th Bn MISS Sharpshooters (filed under W. B. Sparks)
B.  " D 41st MISS Inf.
B.  " H 1st SC Regulars
B. B.  " E E 19th ALA Inf.
B. F. " G Colquitts 1st ARK Inf.

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Scanned and edited by Harold E. Sparks