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

VOL. XLI  MARCH 1993 ` WHOLE NO. 161a

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Born November 15, 1863

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THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by The Sparks Family Association.
Paul E. Sparks, President, 155 North Hite Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky (40206-2311)
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 organi- zation devoted to the assembling and preserving of genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family in America.  It is exempt from federal income tax under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(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 $7.00 per year;  Contributing membership dues are $10.00 per year; and Sustaining membership dues are any amount over $10.00 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 and $4.00 each to non-members. The first issue of the QUARTERLY was published in March, 1953. Seven  indexes have been published for the years 1953 -1957, 1958 -1962, 1963 -1967, 1968 -72, 1973 -1977, 1978-1982  and 1983 -1987.  Each index is available for $5.00. A complete file of the back issues of the QUARTERLY (1953-1991), including the seven indexes, may be purchased for $235.00. Orders for back issues, as well as the complete file, should be sent to Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48104-4448. The thirty-nine years of the QUARTERLY (1953 -1991) comprise a total of 3,892 pages of Sparks Family history.  The seven indexes  comprise a total of 717 additional pages.  Each individual joining the Association also receives a table of contents listing all of the articles and collections of data appearing in the QUARTERLY between 1953 and 1991.



The December 1979 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 108, contained infor mation (pp. 2164-66) about the family of Truelove, Jr. and Julia (Slavens) Sparks of Mercer County, Missouri. Among their ten chfldren were twin sons, Albert J. Sparks and Delbert A. Sparks, who were born on November 15, 1863, while their father was serving in the 7th Regiment Iowa Infantry during the Civil War. Subsequent to the publication of that article (which was de voted to the life and descendants of "Josiah A. Sparks, ca.1770-ca.1841, of Adair County, Kentucky"), additional information about the family of Albert J. Sparks was published in the March 1992 issue of the QUARTERLY (Whole No. 157, pp. 3912-14). We now present additional information about the family of Delbert A. Sparks. For the sake of uniformity, we continue the same alpha numeric outline used in the first article.

A photograph of these twin brothers, Delbert A. Sparks and Albert J. Sparks appears on the cover of this issue of the QUARTERLY; taken ca.1930.



JOHN L. SPARKS (ca. 1820-ca. 1893)


By Paul H. Sparks

[Editor's Note: Recent articles in the QUARTERLY dealing with the guerilla warfare which pervaded Kentucky during and after the Civil War have provoked quite a bit of interest among our readers. Another "story" has now come to us about guerilla activities in Lawrence County, Kentucky, and involves John L. Sparks, the youngest son of Levi and Sarah (Lyon) Sparks. In retelling this word-of-mouth tale, we have also added information about John L. Sparks and his family.]

John L. Sparks, son of Levi and Sarah (Lyon) Sparks, was born about 1820 in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and was carried as a baby to Lawrence County where his parents settled on the headwaters of Big Blame Creek about 1821. He grew to maturity in the home of his parents and when fully grown, he was a tall, thin man. He was married to Mary ["Polly"] Hay about 1850. She had been born about 1822 and was a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Johnson) Hay. John L. and Polly lived on what is referred to today as the "Calvin Dobyns farm" on upper Blame Creek. His neighbors included his brothers, Calvin Sparks and Wiley Sparks.

The family of John L. and Polly Sparks expanded rapidly during the 1850-1860 decade. When the 1860 census was taken, they had three children living in their household: Sarrilda, Elizabeth, and Wilburn. Children who had been born to them, but who had died shortly after birth were: James, Levi, and Sarah. John L. Spark5's parent5 had a150 died during the decade; Levi Sparks in 1651 and Sarah (Lyon) Sparks in 1855.


JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

(Levi Sparks, father of John L. Sparks, had been born on October 2, 1778, and was a son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks; see the QUARTERLY of December 1955, Whole No. 12, pp. 93-104, and the QUARTERLY of March 1981, Whole No. 113, pp. 2269-2272, for articles on the family of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks, along with references to other articles on this branch of the Sparks family.

The political activities of Congress involving slavery were debated in the little communities all across the nation, and citizens began to take positions for and against the right of a state to act against the federal government. The Sparkses of Lawrence County also took sides, and by 1861 it was apparent that most of sons and grandsons of Levi Sparks were on the side of the federal government. A notable exception was his son, John L. Sparks, and it came as no surprise that, when the two factions declared open warfare, he joined the side of the states' rights supporters.

On October 25, 1861, John L. Sparks, along with some of his relatives and neigh bors, rode to nearby Prestonsburg, Kentucky, where he enlisted as a private in Company D, 5th Regiment Kentucky Infantry (Mounted), Confederate States Army. His term of service was for twelve months.

Confederate forces fared poorly in eastern Kentucky, and by the summer of 1862 they had been driven to the headwaters of the Big Sandy River in southwestern Virginia. Many of the men left their military units and returned home. Others joined loosely-knit organizations called '1Partisan Rangers'1 or "Home Guards," whose duties involved protecting the local citizens. These organizations also provided opportunities for personal grievances to become military objectives; thus the vicious guerilla warfare, or "bush-whacking,'1 became established, a practice which continued several years after the Civil War was over.

For some reason, John L. Sparks fell out with his half-brother, Garrett Sparks. As the story was handed down, John L. went to Garrett's house to find some thing (unnamed) and ransacked the rooms, even ripping the feather beds apart. Perhaps this incident provoked further violence. On April 24, 1865, John L. Sparks (accompanied by other members of his organization) is alleged to have ambushed Hugh Boggs and Jim Boggs (ex-Union soldiers and nephews of the wife of Garrett Sparks) while they were working in a field near the mouth of Collier Creek. Both men were killed.

After the shooting, John L. Sparks fled to Scott County, Virginia, where Jesse
Boggs, brother of the slain Hugh Boggs, caught up with him. Boggs shot
Sparks and left him for dead, but, somehow, Sparks survived. He remained in
Virginia, however, for the rest of his life, and even his close relatives apparently
had little contact with him.

Little more is known about the life of John L. Sparks after he left Kentucky. He was rejoined by his family, and a son was born to him and Polly in Virginia in 1868. He began the practice of medicine there and was generafly known as "Doctor Sparks." He died in 1893 according to descendants. Polly continued to live in Virginia and died there about 1900. They were the parents of ten child ren, but apparently only five of them reached maturity.

1. Sarrilda Sparks, daughter of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on February 26, 1852.

2. Sarah Sparks, daughter of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on February 25, 1853. She died on October 23, 1853.

3. Levi Sparks, son of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on March 17, 1854. He died on September 15, 1855.


JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

4. Elizabeth ["Betsey"] Sparks, daughter of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on December 29, 1855. When the 1880 census was taken, she was shown in the household of her mother, Mary [i.e. Polly] Sparks, in Scott County, Virginia. She was listed as Elizabeth Sparks, aged 23, born in Kentucky. Also in the household were two grandchildren of Mary Sparks, Ava V. Sparks, aged 3, and Charlie Sparks, aged 2, both shown as having been born in Virginia. Perhaps they were children of Elizabeth. We have found no further record of her.

5. James B. Sparks, son of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on March 15, 1857. He died on March 23, 1857.

6. Wilburn Sparks, son of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on July 15, 1859, in Lawrence County, Kentucky. He grew up in Scott County, Virginia, and it was probably there that he was married to Rachel Virginia Brickey about 1880. She had been born in December 1858 and was a daugh ter of William C. and Mary (Flannery) Brickey. Wilburn is said to have "studied'1 medicine under a medical doctor attached to the Coeburn Hospital at Coeburn, Virginia; however, at least one descendant states that he stud ied for four years in a medical school. Another descendant says that he did not have a diploma or license to practice medicine. Whatever the circum stances, we know for certain that he practiced medicine as a country doctor, riding on horseback and dispensing pills from a saddle bag.
Wilburn and Rachel had six children, including an unnamed child who died shortly after birth. Wilburn died on April 11, 1934, at Kingsport, Tennes see, and Rachel died there sometime during the following July.

a. John M. Sparks was born in June 1881. He was married to Josie Carter on July 6 (9 ?), 1903, in Wise County, Virginia. She had been born in December 1888 (1890?) and was a daughter of H. C. and Mary E. (Stapleton) Carter. John and Josie had six children.

7. Dicey Ann Sparks, daughter of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on February 22, 1861, in Lawrence County, Kentucky. There appears to be a probability that she did not go to Virginia with her parents, but remained in Kentucky. It was there, in Elliott County, that she was married to Jasper Newton ["Newt'~] Day on January 7, 1882 Newt had been born on January 1, 1861, in Morgan County, Kentucky, and was a son of Isaac and Frances (Watson) Day. He and Dicey Ann lived in Elliott County for the rest of their lives. It was there that they had six children, two of whom were unnamed and died at birth. Newt died in June 1897, and Dicey Ann died on June 18, 1905. (A photograph of Dicey Ann (Sparks) Day appears on the following page.)


JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

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DICEY ANN (SPARKS) DAY (1861 - 1905)

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8. John Humphrey Morgan Sparks, son of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born on July 15, 1864. He was married to Mary Lyon, and they had one child, a son named Walter. We have no further information about this couple. JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

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9. Mary Jane Sparks, daughter of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born about 1866 in Kentucky.

10. Calvin Nelson Sparks, son of John L. and Polly (Hay) Sparks, was born about 1868 in Virginia. He grew up to become a timber worker. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Rue Carter about 1900, probably in Wise County, Virginia. They had two children before Rue's death, which probably occurred in 1910. Calvin~s second marriage was to Ellen Warrman, probably in 1912, and they had two children. From information given by a descendant, Calvin died shortly after the birth of his fourth child in 1916.

JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

JOHN L. SPARKS (CA.1820-CA.1893), continued:

C. Orbin ["Orb"] Sparks, son of Calvin and Ellen (Warrman) Sparks, was born in 1914. He was married to Esther Ramey about 1936, and they had three children. Orb died on August 10, 1990.

(1) Earnest L. Sparks was born on August 10, 1938. He was married to Sarah Sue Ingram on November 12, 1957, and they have four chfld ren: Robin, Earnest, Jr., Brian, and Kellie.
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Helen Sparks was born to Levi Carlton and Bertha Crum (Ludwig) Sparks on March 24, 1893, at Valentine, Nebraska. She was educated at the University of Nebraska, Colorado State Teachers College, and Columbia University. She taught for many years in the Valentine City Schools and in the Winnetka (Illinois) City Schools. She also taught in the states of Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico.

During World War I, Helen worked in the YWCA Canteen at Camp Cody, New Mexico, and then went to New York City where she worked for the Salvation Army on the docks. There, she was a part of the welcoming group to the returning service men and served them the famous Salvation Army doughnuts.

After the death of her mother, Helen moved to Los Angeles and worked for the Los Angeles Board of Education until her retirement. She then turned to the


Los Angeles County Court where she worked for two years. In 1967, she moved to La Jolla, California, where she became well-known for her volunteer work. Currently, she fives at Victoria Special Care Center, 654 South Anza Street, El Cajon, California, 92020.  Helen Sparks has been a member of the Sparks Family Association almost from its founding (she joined in 1954), and she has been one of its most ardent supporters. Her branch of the Sparks farnily has been the subject of several articles in the Quarterly, including major articles in the issues of March 1964, Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807 ("Jonas Sparks, Died 1805, of Rowan County, North Carolina, and His Descendants") and March 1978, Whole No. 101, pp. 1965 -1984 ("Ancestors and Descendants of Cornelius Sparks, 1789 -1862").

Many happy returns of the day, Helen!

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It was in March 1953 that we mailed the first six-page issue of The Sparks Quarterly to a number of people whom we thought might be interested in joining an organization whose purpose it would be to publish Sparks family records. In that first issue, the founders identified themselves as three young men "born between 1910 and 1920" who could "look forward to at least half a century of activity in the Association." We have now met 80 percent of that pledge, having completed our fortieth year with the appearance of the December 1992 issue of the Quarterly, No. 160, the last page of which was numbered 4062.

Unfortunately, only two of the triumvirate now remain: Paul E. Sparks and Russell E. Bidlack. William P. Johnson, whose idea it was to form the Association, died in 1980.

At the end of our first year, 1953, our membership totaled 163 individuals, who had paid $237.00 in annual dues. (Active membership dues were then only $1.00, while contributing dues were $2.00, and sustaining dues were any amount over $2.00.) Today we have over 1,000 members, and the dues received in 1992 totaled
$15,480.25. The Quarterly has increased in size from six pages to 40 (sometimes more). Many people who have joined the Association during the past forty years have died, of course, while others have simply dropped their membership. In fact, a total of 3,331 individuals, at one time or another, have been members of the Association.

In the September 1953 issue of the Quarterly, we listed by name the 120 individuals who had joined the Association by that time. If we consider these to be our "charter members," it is interesting to note that only ten of the 120 are among our members today. These special few are the following:

Ina Sparks Bassett, 1730 Rochelle Parkway, Merritt Island, FL 32952-5661
Elden G. Burcham, P.O. Box 1471, North Platte, NE 69103
Lentini Sparks Combs, 6390 Shiloh Springs Rd., Dayton, OH 45426J.
Olin Holbrook, 528 Broad Ave., S., Naples, FL 33940
Dorothy Sparks Murphy, 952 Donald Ave., Akron, OH 44306
Rev. A. Harold Sparks, 500 1st St., N., #303, Newton, IA 50208-3104
Delmon D. Sparks, P.O. Box 875, Monrovia, CA 91017
Emerson T. Sparks, Rt. 1, Box 399A, Arrington, VA 22922
Robert W. Sparks, IV, 10604 Baypines Lane, Richmond, VA 23233-3405
Sherwood E. Sparks, P.O. Box 1664, Beckley, WV 25802-1664


By Paul E. Sparks

The Hatfield-McCoy feud in eastern Kentucky is probably the best-known feud in that state; however, it was only one of perhaps a dozen vendettas which extended across the commonwealth during the latter part of the nineteenth cen tury. Among these other feuds was one that has been termed "The Walker Smoot Feud," which began and ended in Owen County. The Walker faction in volved four sons of Delville and Lucinda (Sparks) Walker.

Details of the Walker-Smoot feud were first recorded in a 21-page booklet entitled "Horse, Foot and Artillery, How the Walker-Smoot Feud in Owen and Henry Counties Expanded Until It Enmeshed a Secret Order, State Troops and the Federal Regulars." This booklet, along with eleven others, was researched by Harold W. Coates, editor of a Cincinnati newspaper, and it was first pub lished as one of a series of booklets in the early 1900s. These booklets became so popular that they were purchased by the Holmes-Darst Coal Corporation of Knoxville and were published as a 280-page book, Stories of KentuckyFeuds, in 1923.

The trouble leading up to the outbreak of this feud began during the early days of the Civil War. A young man named Roberts was preparing for his marriage when he was attacked and killed by a man named Salyers. Robert's father, John B. Roberts, became so overwrought by his son's death that when he saw Salyers entering a store at some later point in time, he took up a gun and shot Salyers dead. It is said that Salyers was then, also, preparing for his own marriage. Thereafter, first one and then another of these two families was killed until finally the senior Roberts was, himself, shot and killed at the village of Gratz in Owen County by a man named Bill Smoot.

The Coates narrative of the Walker-Smoot feud begins in 1870 with an imaginary scene near a store in northern Owen County. Willis Russell, a former soldier in the Confederate States Army, was approached by four men who asked him to join an organization whose purpose it was to run all of the black people out of Owen and Henry Counties. The organization was the Ku Klux Klan, and the local unit was headed by Bill Smoot.

Russell refused to join, primarily because the organization had an unworthy purpose, but he also knew that Smoot had killed a man named John B. Roberts near the village of Gratz. He also knew that the kinfolks and friends of Roberts, including the Walker boys, were looking for an opportunity to take revenge on Smoot.

In the three years that followed, one event after another led to Willis Russell becoming an outstanding man in his community who was opposed to masked and organized outlawry. He raised a company of militia in the face of the threat of death. He defied Smoot and the other white-robed men who roamed Owen and Henry Counties. In doing so, he received so much help and support from the Walkers that their organization became known as the "Walker- Russell Party."

(The "Walker boys" were sons of Delville and Lucinda (Sparks) Walker. as noted above. They were William H. Walker, James M. Walker, Thomas F. Walker, and Charles C. Walker. In 1870, they ranged in age from twenty-two to twenty-nine years. Two other brothers, Benjamin Walker and Farmer Walker, do not appear to have been involved in the "Walker-Russell Party." Their mother, Lucinda Sparks, had been born about 1819 and was probably a daughter of William Sparks. Most certainly, she was a descendant of Henry and Lucy (Clark) Sparks, natives of Virginia, who had settled near Monterey, Kentucky, about 1795.)


Bill Smoot, like Willis Russell, was a leader in his area of Kentucky and was popular with the local politicians. He traveled in disguise with his father, John Smoot, and his brother, John C. Smoot, and was quite successful in adding members to the Klan. This band of disguised desperados roamed Owen and Henry Counties at will, preying on the helpless.

Early in 1873, the Smoot gang attacked the home of a 70-year-old man named Williams and wounded him, but he was able to fight them off. After he recovered, Williams went to Kentucky's governor, Preston Leslie, in Frankfort and told him of the outlawry.  Leslie was sympathetic and wrote a letter not only authorizing Russell to oppose the Klan, but he also promised that he would prosecute its members to the limit.

Russell's band proceeded to arrest a man named Grubbs and was taking him to the jail in Newcastle when the horse of a member of the band went lame. They then asked Lewis Wilson, a Negro, to loan them his horse which he did, thus sealing Wilson's doom. In July 1873, a band of fifteen men broke into Wilson's place, shot him, and burned his cabin. He was able to get to a neighbor's house where he died, but not before he identified several of his assailants.

Governor Leslie offered a reward for the capture of these men and sent word to Russell to find them and take them to jail for trial. Russell succeeded in finding the names of thirteen of the men and arrested one of them, a man named Onan. Onan confessed that he was in the gang which killed Wilson, and Onan was indicted. He was tried at the November 1873 term of court. Through the connivance of the county judge and the county attorney, however, Onan was acquitted. This action convinced Russell that the local authorities were controlled by Smoot's gang, and that he must get help from ouside Owen County.

Early in 1874, a large band of the Klan was organized on Twin Creek near Gratz, and Russell consulted with the United States marshal, General Eli Murray, in Louisville. Murray then appointed Russell as a deputy marshal, an action which prompted Smoot to vow publicly that he would not rest until he had run Russell and the Walkers out of Owen County. In the meantime, the local authorities did nothing to restrain Smoot and his gang.

Several events led to the end of this feud. First, a member of the Klan went to Russell and told him that the Smoot gang was going to burn the village of Monterey and kill all of the inhabitants. Russell was then able to station his men at appropriate places and turn the Klan away. Russell then called for help from General Murray, who dispatched troops immediately to Owen County. Smoot and seven members of his gang were arrested in February 1874 and placed in a boat to be taken to the Louisville jail. On the way down the river, Smoot escaped. He did not reappear until May 1874. By this time, the federal troops had left Owen County, believing that law and order had been restored there.

On May 8, 1874, James M. Walker, while walking down the main street of Owenton to meet his brother, William, at the Walker Hotel (which William owned), was shot down by two rifles fired from the upper windows of the Hill Hotel. He dropped in his tracks, and his body was then riddled by bullets from a score of rifles, guns, and pistols.

Again, the local authorities did nothing to try to find Walker's murderers, and for a second time, Russell appealed to General Murray. Murray again sent troops to Owen County where they searched for days, but were unable to find Smoot or any of his followers. Again, the federal troops departed.

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