"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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[Here appears a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]


(See page 4332)

(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, Sec- tion 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 eight indexes, may be purchased for $360.00.  The forty-seven 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 2000.  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.

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834)



By Paul E. Sparks & Russell E. Bidlack

[Editor's Note: Articles about Richard Sparks (ca.1725-ca.1792), father of James Sparks, and about three of James's brothers, Richard Sparks, Jr. (ca.1757-1815), Walter Sparks (ca.1760-1827), and Daniel Sparks (1763-ca.1820), have been published in earlier issues of the QUARTERLY, and our readers are reminded of those sources of information about this branch of the Sparks family.  Those issues are as follows: Richard Sparks, Sr., December 1971, Whole No. 76; Richard Sparks, Jr., September 1974, Whole No. 87; Walter Sparks, December 1987, Whole No. 140; and Daniel Sparks, September 1993, Whole No. 163.  An article devoted to the remaining brother, Benjamin Sparks (ca.1754-1801), will appear in an issue of the QUARTERLY in the near future.]


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

[Here appears two maps, beneath which are the following captions:]

Map of that portion of New Jersey which includes Middlesex County and
The village of Cranbury, near which James Sparks was born ca. 1752

(View map)

Map of southwestern Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County; James
Sparks lived "near where Elizabethtown now is" during the American
Revolution  (Both maps reproduced from The Century Atlas, 1897.)

(View map)


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

James Sparks was born about 1752 near the village of Cranbury in Cranbury Township, Middlesex County, New Jersey.  (Cranbury is located twenty-two miles northeast of Trenton, the state's capital.)  Available records indicate that James was apparently the eldest son of Richard Sparks (ca.1725-ca.1792) who was a re sident of Middlesex County as early as 1750.  James was a good-sized lad when his father moved the family to the western frontier of Pennsylvania sometime be tween 1763 and 1765.  It was there that James Sparks served during the American Revolution, providing service for which he later would receive a pension.  (See page 4325 for maps showing both the area of his birth in New Jersey and the area in which the Sparks family settled in what became Forward Township of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  At that time, this part of western Pennsylvania was claimed by both Pennsylvania and Virginia.)

Some half-century after the American Revolution, James Sparks made application (in November 1833) for a pension based on his military service to his country.  He was then advanced in age and quite ill, so he was unable to appear in court; the judge of probate of Jackson County, Indiana, where Sparks was then living, named Abel Findly, came to his home to take his deposition.  Furthermore, James stated that his memory had failed to the point that he could recall very few details regarding his war service.  It is his "declaration," however, that provides most of the data for a sketch of his life.  (The full text of James Sparks's "declaration" was published with the other papers comprising his pension application in the QUARTERLY of September 1954, Whole No. 7.)  The original papers pertaining to Sparks's pension are preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in Revolutionary War Pension File S-32533.

James Sparks stated in his 1833 "declaration" that he had been born near "Brandberry in the state of New Jersey."  There can be no doubt that he meant the village or township of Cranbury in Middlesex County.  Apparently Judge Findly who recorded the old man's statements simply misunderstood this place name.  James Sparks also stated that, at the time the Revolutionary War began, he had been living in Pennsylvania "between the Youghahany and Monongalela ... near where Elizabethtown now is."  He meant, of course, the Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers, and his residence was in what is now Forward Township in Allegheny County. (See the map on page 4325.)

Sparks also stated that when the Revolutionary War began, he had been a member of the militia in a company commanded by Captain John Crow; later Captain Crow was succeeded by Captain Hartt.  (Court records of Yohogania County, Virginia, indicate that John Crow took oath as captain of militia on December 22, 1777.  Crow was mentioned frequently in the court records of Yohogania County until March 28, 1780, when John Johnson succeeded him as captain of militia.)  Sparks stated that throughout the war, he had "kept himself in continual readiness for service," and that he had responded and had not waited to be drafted.  He was not able to remember the number of tours of service in which he had participated, but he recollected that there had been several, ranging from one month to six, and that, in all, he had served a total of three years and four months.  During these tours he had been "engaged in defending the frontier set tlements ... against the Indians and sometimes the British and Canadians who assisted the Indians."

One of these tours had taken James Sparks to Lake Erie where the Americans had fought the British and Indians. "Many of the enemy were killed and the rest of them were beaten and driven off and they fled," he recalled.  "The blood of the enemy who were killed there coloured and stained the water then in the holes and creeks at that place near the Lake."  He stated that his commanding general during this campaign had been General Edward Hand.  In other campaigns, he had served under General Heath, General Mcintosh, and General Gibson, the latter being the commanding officer at Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh) where he had often been stationed.  A soldier who had served with him in the same company was Samuel Lemon, Sparks recalled, but he believed that Lemon was dead by the time he made his application for a pension in 1833.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

Sparks recalled one of his tours of duty quite distinctly, that in which he had served "under Col. Broadhead in the company commanded by Capt. Hartt" which had been principally to relieve the troops which were besieged at Fort Lawrence, on or near Muskingum River, or a branch thereof."  He remembered that during this time "the troops nearly starved and suffered much.  We had a part of the time to live on roots and on hides which we roasted and eat."

In addition to his service as a soldier, James Sparks had served also in the Pack Horse Service, in which he had helped to deliver supplies to the American soldiers in the field.  In all, he had spent three tours in this service, one for six months and two for three months, each. He stated that he had supplied his own horses, "five and mostly six horses in number, and that he had been "engaged in carrying salt and flour and other provisions for the Army and the war from East over the Allegheny Mountians to supply the western forts and garrisons ... principally to Fort McIntosh and the Fort at Pittsburgh."  Between trips, he would rest for a brief period at his home in Pennsylvania.

Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, James Sparks had moved from Pennsylvania to Jefferson County, Kentucky.  He gave the date as 1782.  He also mentioned that in the fall of 1781, his house in Pennsylvania had burned, destroying all of his discharge papers.  (This date was incorrectly copied as 1787 on page 43 of the QUARTERLY of September 1954.) Perhaps it was this disaster which prompted him to move to Kentucky.

In his application for a pension, James Sparks recalled that shortly after moving to Kentucky, he "went a volunteer one tour of service against the Indians under Hardin, called Colonel Hardin, in his campaign."  He also stated that he had remained in Jefferson County, Kentucky, until the year 1800.

When James Sparks moved to Kentucky in 1782, he probably did so in the company of his brother, Daniel Sparks, whose name we have found on a 1782 tax list of Jefferson County, Kentucky.  Another brother, Walter Sparks, had moved there by 1786. (See pp. 3132-33 of the QUARTERLY of December 1987, Whole No. 140.)

On June 20, 1783, James Sparks received a warrant (No. 908) for 200 acres of land in Kentucky from the state of Virginia for his having been a "soldier of the Virginia line."  Virginia still claimed western Pennsylvania in 1783, for which reason James Sparks's war service was considered as having been rendered to Virginia.  Furthermore, the area that became Kentucky in 1792 was, until then, part of Virginia, and land there was freely given by Virginia to its veterans of the Revolution.  By 1780, Virginia had divided Kentucky into three counties; Jefferson, Lincoln, and Fayette.  (See Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds by Willard Rouse Jillson, published in 1926 by theThilson Club.)  As noted, Kentucky became a separate state in 1792.

The earliest official record we have found thus far in Jefferson County, Kentucky, to mention James Sparks pertains to a law suit dated April 6, 1785, in which Edward Tyler sued James Sparks and won a judgment of five pounds.  On the same day, James Sullivan also sued James Sparks and won the same judgment . On May 4, 1785, Sparks sued Edward Brant.  These cases involved disputes over land ownership, caused largely by the "metes and bounds" system of land measurement then in use. Based on landmarks which would often decay or change, this system resulted in endless confusion and litigation.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

The Jefferson County, Kentucky, tax lists of 1789 survive and contain the name of James Sparks as well as that of his brother, Daniel Sparks.  James was also a member of a Jefferson County jury on November 4, 1789, and again on March 6, 1792.

On April 1, 1794, James Sparks bought a 63-acre tract of land from David Leitsch (or Leech) through Leitsch's attorney, John Gillam.  The land was located on Broad Run, a tributary of Floyd's Fork (usually spelled without the apostrophe).  Sparks paid Leitsch thirteen pounds and two shillings.  Walter Sparks, brother of James, was one of the witnesses to the deed, which was recorded on page 140 of Deed Book 4 of Jefferson County.  The other witnesses were George Markwell and Nicholas Russell.

One day earlier, on March 31, 1794, Walter Sparks had purchased a neighboring tract of 96+ acres on Floyds Run from William Crooks.  At about the same time, Daniel Sparks, brother of James, purchased a tract of 343 acres in the same general area, also from David Leitsch.  Daniel's land was located on Broad Run.  All three tracts were located in that portion of Jefferson County which became part of Bullitt County in 1796.  The new boundary line passed directly through land owned by Daniel Sparks.  The 63-acre tract belonging to James Sparks was entirely in the new county of Bullitt.  (See the map showing this area on page 4155 of the QUARTERLY of September, 1993, Whole No. 163.)

According to his pension application, James Sparks left Jefferson County in 1800 and went to Vincennes in Indiana Territory, where he and his family lived until 1803.  They then returned to Jefferson County, probably accompanied by other settlers who had become tired of living under the threat of Indian raids.  On his return to Jefferson County, Kentucky, Sparks probably took up residence on his 63-acre tract of land that he had purchased earlier from David Leitsch.

James Sparks and his family continued to live in Jefferson County for several years.  On August 8, 1808, he and his wife, called "Caty Sparks" in the deed, sold their 63-acre tract to James's brother, Daniel Sparks "of Bullitt County."  The land was described in this deed as a part of "Leitsch's original 14,000 acres." Daniel Sparks gave his brother fifty pounds for this tract. Valentine Sparks, a son of Daniel, was a witness to the deed, which was recorded on page 677 of Bullitt County Deed Book B.

James Sparks was listed as the head of his household in Jefferson County when the third U.S. census was taken in 1810, but sometime prior to 1813, he moved his family to Bullitt County where, on September 11, 1813, he bought 96 3/4 acres of land from his nephew, Elijah Sparks (son of his brother, Walter Sparks).  The consideration was $73.00.  This land was located on Goose Creek and was in that part of Bullitt County that would become a part of Spencer County in 1824.

James Sparks continued to pay taxes in Bullitt County until 1819, but during that year he moved to Jackson County, Indiana, to join his sons who had already gone there about 1811.  (Indiana had still been a territory in 1811, but had become a state in 1816.)   James arrived in Carr Township, Jackson County, in time for him to be named, and his household to be enumerated, on the 1820 U.S. census.  James left few records in Indiana.  When the 1830 census was taken, the enumeration of the household of his son, Henry Sparks, in Lawrence County, Indiana, appears to have included James Sparks and his spouse.

On November 28, 1826, James Sparks, described in the deed as a resident of Jackson County, Indiana, sold the land that he still owned on Goose Creek in Spencer County, Kentucky, to his son, Stephen Sparks, for $400. (Spencer County Deed Book B, page 62.)  Three years later, in 1829, however, James and his son, Stephen, were sued over this transaction.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

 Daniel Sparks, a nephew of James Sparks (whose father was James's brother, Walter Sparks) brought suit in Chancery Court to require James and Stephen Sparks to sell the 96-acre tract to him.  He was successful and then paid his uncle and cousin $270 for the land. (Spencer County Deed Book B, page 271.)

The last record that we have found of James Sparks is the application he made in November 1833 for a pension for his Revolutionary War service.  He made his application in accordance with the provisions of an Act of Congress dated June 7, 1832.  This law provided that any Revolutionary War veteran, regardless of his health or financial means, who had served at least two years in the Continental Line or state troops, volunteers or militia, was eligible for an annual pension equal to his pay as a soldier.  (rn James Sparks's case, this would be forty dollars a year.)  A provision was made, also, for a pensioner's heirs to claim any unpaid portion following his death.

As noted earlier, James Sparks made his pension "declaration" before Jackson County Probate Judge Abel Findly.  It was probably at the home of James's son, Stephen Sparks at "Sparks Ferry" in Carr Township, that Judge Findly recorded James's declaration.  Findly stated that "on this occasion, since James was physically unable to appear in court, his "room" had become the Judge's "Chamber for the time being" while Sparks made his application.  Three witnesses supported Sparks's "declaration." One was Benjamin Newkirk of Flinn Township in Lawrence County, Indiana, though "of the immediate nighbourhood [sic] of Sparks Ferry in Jackson County."  He said he had known James Sparks since 1783, although he did not add that he was also his father-in-law  Another witness was "Stephen Sparks of Sparks Ferry aforesaid residing at this place. " Stephen was James's eldest son and, as will be noted in greater detail later in this article, he was the proprietor of "Sparks Ferry" in Carr Township, Jackson County.  The third witness was William Lux "of Hamilton Township residing here in Jackson County."

Stephen Sparks, son of James, testified that he had often heard his father tell of his Revolutionary War experiences, noting also that "Colonel Richard Sparks, since late of the United States Army ... was the brother of the said James and knew him to be in the service...." (As noted earlier, an article on Colonel Richard Sparks appeared in the QUARTERLY of September 1974.)

James Sparks's applipation for a Revolutionary War pension was approved, and his name was inscribed on the Indiana Pension List in the amount of $40.00 per year.  According to subsequent documents in his pension file at the National Archives, James Sparks died on May 25, 1834.

Three years later, on January 1, 1837, William Marshall, U.S. Representative to Congress from Indiana, wrote to John Tipton, U.S. Senator from Indiana, asking him to help his (Tipton's) old friend, Major Stephen Sparks of Jackson County, with a matter of "deep interest."  Sparks's father, Marshall explained, had been a "revolutionary soldier" and had been entitled to a pension, part of which he drew during his lifetime.  Since the date of his death (May 25, 1834), the Major could get no information on the subject.  "The papers, the Major thinks, are in the Pension Office or in the possession of General John Carr, at least Gen'l. Carr can inform you where they can be found.  "Stephen Sparks was obviously trying to collect the unpaid portion of his father's pension. (See Vol. XXVI of the Indiana Historical Collections) There is also a power of attorney document among the papers in James Sparks's pension file by which, on March 22, 1856, Ailcy (Sparks) Newkirk, daughter of James Sparks, appointed C. H. Barkley of Louisville, Kentucky, to ascertain what had become of her father's pension application.  Then a resident of Lawrence Connty, Indiana, Ailcy was seventy-nine years old.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834),continued:

As stated earlier, James Sparks died on May 25, 1834, in Jackson County, Indiana.  Nothing has been learned about the cause of his death nor the place of his burial.  His wife, Caty (probably a nickname for Catherine), apparently had died between the taking of the census in 1830 and November 1833, when her husband made his application for a pension.  Neither of them left a will, nor have we found any record of the settlement of their estates.  From various sources, however, we believe that we have learned the names of all of their children.

A. Stephen Sparks, eldest son of James and Caty Sparks, was born on June 25, 1775, in that part of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which became a part of Allegheny County in 1788.  He was a small boy when his parents moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky, about 1782.  It was there that he grew to manhood, and it was probably there that he met and courted Catherine Padget.  They were married in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in August 1799.  (The marriage license was issued on August 13, 1799, and in all likelihood, they were married a few days later.)  "Catha" (her nickname) Padget had been born about 1774 in Virginia and was a daughter of Theophilus and Abigail Padget of Shenandoah County, Virginia. (Padget was sometimes spelled Padgett and Paget.) Theophilus Padget acted as bondsman for his son-in- law to be, and the marriage ceremony was performed by Jacob Barton.  The license was not returned to the courthouse until May 7, 1800.

Stephen Sparks apparently did not accompany his father to Vincennes, Indiana, in 1800;  he continued to live in Jefferson County where he paid taxes until 1809.  His name appeared on the 1810 census of Jefferson County, and his household was enumerated as comprising, besides himself, a female aged 26 to 45 (doubtless his wife, Catha), and four boys under ten years of age, whom we believe to have been their sons.

About 1811, Stephen Sparks and his family crossed the Ohio River with several other families into Indiana Territory.  He settled at a place referred to as "The Forks" in what became a part of Jackson County in 1816.  This is the place where the Driftwood Fork of White River and the Muscatatuck River join to form the East Fork of White River.  It is also the point at which Jackson, Lawrence, and Washington Counties join.  From this time forward, Stephen Sparks was identified with Indiana, and records pertaining to him have been found in six Indiana counties: Brown, Clark, Harrison, Jackson, Lawrence, and Washington.

Stephen Sparks's brother, Moses Sparks, and his brother-in-law, Benjamin Newkirk, accompanied him to the new settlement, and there is a good probability that his brother, James Sparks, Jr., was also in this group of settlers.

Another settler, John Ketcham, recalled many years later that at first the Indians in the area were friendly, but on April 7, 1812, a man named Hinton was killed, which marked the beginning of a series of Indian murders that continued throughout the period of the War of 1812. Ketcham recalled:


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

This settlement at The Forks was originally called the Driftwood Settlement.  One of the few surviving documents relating to the early years of the settlement is an undated petition to Congress signed by fifty-four settlers, including Stephen Sparks, Moses Sparks, and Benjamin Newkirk.  Received by Congress in May 1813, the petitioners complained that there were no mills within twenty-four or twenty-five miles of their settlement, and that the only satisfactory mill seat was on government land that was "so indifferent that no one will purchase it.,"   They proposed, therefore, that Stephen Sparks be granted this tract by lease or donation "to erect a Water Gristmill and Saw mill."   The petition was eventually rejected by Congress, however.

In 1816, Stephen Sparks signed a petition with thirty-nine other settlers informing Congress that they had remained on their land throughout the War of 1812 while many other settlers had fled to a "more populated part of the Country for security." Therefore, these petitioners asked "a right of pre-emption" for each settler who had remained; that is, that the land be given to them without charge by the Federal Government.  This petition was also rejected.  (Both of these petitions have been published in the U.S. Territorial Papers, Indiana Territory.)

Further evidence that Stephen Sparks was one of the settlers who remained at Driftwood Settlement during the Indian troubles is a petition presented to Congress in 1838 by the Hon. William Graham, a Congressman from Indiana, signed by citizens from Jackson County "praying that the said Stephen Sparks may be paid for property of which he was plundered by hostile Indians in the year 1813."  (See the Journal of the House of Representatives, 25th Congress, 2nd Session, February 14, 1838, page 396.)

On May 1, 1813, Stephen Sparks joined a company of Indiana Mounted Rangers and continued in this service until his discharge on August 25, 1813.  His captain was Craven Payton.  Many years later, Stephen Sparks was given forty acres of bounty land for this service in the War of 1812.  John Ketcham recalled in his memoir, cited earlier, that in one expedition against some Indians that had stolen horses from the settlement, Stephen Sparks and three or four other settlers spotted the Indians and began creeping up on them.  Sparks fired too soon, however, and the Indians escaped.  General Tipton, who was in command of this expedition, was so angry at Sparks, according to Ketcham, that "he cried like a child, and was tempted to tomahawk the major."  (Stephen Sparks later became a major in the militia, and for this reason Ketcham referred to him as "the major in his memoir.  See also the December 1963 issue of the SPARKS QUARTERLY, Whole No. 44, for an abstract of the bounty land application of Stephen Sparks based on his service in the War of 1812.)

Stephen Sparks continued to be active in military affairs. In April 1817, he received a commission from the state of Indiana appointing him a captain of the 17th Militia Regiment  He later advanced to the rank of major and was often referred to in the county records simply as Major Sparks.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

The title "Major" became so strongly fixed in identifying Stephen Sparks, both in public and private records, that it came gradually to be thought of as his given name, i.e., he was often called simply "Major Sparks."  In fact, "Major" was bestowed as the forename on at least three of his descendants.

Indiana Territory became the state of Indiana in 1816, and Jackson County was formed that same year.  Stephen Sparks was a member of the first grand jury of Jackson County, which met on April 7, 1817.  According to a History of Jackson County, published by Brant & Fuller in 1886 (page 377), Sparks erected a tread mill near his home at Sparks Ferry, "and all who patronized it were compelled to loan the use of their horses or oxen to furnish power to do the grinding."

"Sparks Ferry1' was located, according to the above history of Jackson County, "on the principal line of travel between settlements of Washington and Lawrence Counties," and Stephen Sparks prospered as a result.  The Jackson County Court authorized him to charge for his ferry service at the following rates:  50 cents for each wagon and four horses; 37 1/2 cents for each wagon and two horses; for two-wheel carriages, 25 cents; for a man and a horse, 12 1/2 cents; for grown cattle or hogs, 4 cents; and for sheep, 2 cents.

Sparks did more than just operate a ferry. He also built ferry boats.  On March 16, 1833, Creed H. Baswell of Mason County, Virginia, signed an indenture with Sparks giving "Sparks the right to make, construct, use and vend ferry boats on the East Fork of White River from Sparks's place to the head of the river for a period of 14 years." (Jackson County Deed Book C, page 360)

Today, there is little to indicate the site of Sparks Ferry.  An "old" iron bridge built in 1879 serves the area and is quite likely near the place where the ferry boat once crossed the river.  Two momentos of its existence have been preserved. They are mileposts or milestones which were used to give the traveler both the direction and the distance to some of the neighboring villages and towns.  One of these still stands in Brown County, Indiana, at the junction of Indiana Highway 135 and the New Bellsville Pike and tells the traveler that he is 28 miles north of Sparks Ferry and 43 miles south of Indianapolis.  The other is only a fragment of the marker that once stood at the junction of the Christiansburg Pike and the road that leads to Rockford and Seymour.  Of these stones, Ms. Helen H. Reeve of the Brown County Historical Society writes:

We have reproduced Ms. Reeve's rubbing of this fragment on the cover of this issue of the QUARTERLY.

An article by W. Douglas Hartley entitled "To Sparkesferie, 28 Miles," with. a photograph of the "second marker" to which Ms. Reeve refers, above, appeared in the October 1972 issue of the magazine Early American Life. Dr. Harley, in his article, referred to this milepost as "the Stone Head," because a crudely carved man's head is atop (and part of) the square block of sandstone, on two sides of which are carved hands pointing the direction of localities. One side reads: "To Columbus 17 ms. " and "To Fairfax 27 MS." On the second side, another hand points, with the information "To Indianapol1s 43 ms" and "To Sparkesferie 28 ms." This side is also signed:  "H. Cross 1851."


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

Several deeds are on file in Jackson County, Indiana, pertaining to the buying and selling of land by Stephen Sparks.  One interesting document, dated March 30, 1837, pertains to his contracting with the "Overseers of the Poor" to accept an eleven-year-old boy named James Hickman as an apprentice for ten years "to be taught the trade of a farmer."  At the end of the ten years, it was agreed that Sparks would provide young Hickman with a horse, saddle, and bridle worth not less than fifty dollars. (Deed Book E, p. 60)

As indicated earlier, Stephen Sparks left records not only in Jackson County, but in several adjacent counties as well.  For example, he paid taxes on two horses in Harrison County in 1813.  It was also there that he had a dispute with Major Noll in 1814 in an unidentified case that apparently was dismissed.  About the same time, a deed was recorded in Clark County whereby he and his wife, Catherine, sold a 100-acre tract of land to John Henthorn, son of William Henthorn, of Clark County. This land was described as being "in the Illinois grant which was given to Isaac Yates, a soldier in the Illinois regiment."  The consideration was $200.

At the September 1832 term of the Second Judicial Court of Indiana, seated at Salem, Washington County, Indiana, and composed of Judges John F. Ross, Henry W. Hackett, and William Phelps, Stephen Sparks brought suit against Roswell Seaton for defamation of character.  Seaton had apparently become disgruntled over the fees Sparks was charging for the use of his ferry boat and took an opportunity to vent his feelings on Sparks's son, Hiram.  Seaton told Hiram that his father was a rogue, thief, and rascal, and was in the habit of robbing every wagon that traveled the road.  Seaton also accused Sparks of stealing some hogs belonging to a man named Gray.

Sparks, in his own defense, stated that for twenty years and upward, he had been the owner and keeper of a house of public entertainment for travelers using the state road from Salem to Bloomington and had kept a public ferry opposite the tavern to help travelers cross the East Fork of White River.  The statements made by Seaton had grievously injured his business as a tavern-and ferry-keeper, and he asked for damages in the amount of $2,000 along with court costs.  Apparently the witnesses who testified on Sparks's behalf persuaded the court to render a verdict in his favor, and he was awarded $2,000 and court costs. This was probably beyond what Seaton could pay, however, and Sparks reduced the amount of the award to $50 and court costs.

In 1836, Stephen Sparks was one of the "locating commissioners" appointed by the Indiana Legislature to locate the county seat of newly-formed Brown County.  The commissioners named the site Jacksonburg.  Sparks received twenty-one dollars for seven days of work, but he had to wait until October 1843 to get paid.  He was also a traverse juror in Brown County at the April 1837 term of court.

The six sons of Stephen and Catha Sparks were all in Jackson County in the spring of 1836.  An old ledger belonging to their son, William H. Sparks, contains a list of the names of the men who were working on a road in Carr Township on April 15, 1836.  Men named Sparks were: Uriah, Richard, Warden, Moses, Hiram, and Harrison.  Stephen Sparks was probably exempt from working on public roads because of his advanced age.  The owner of this ledger, George Leslie Sparks, shared this entry in 1953. He is now deceased.

Uriah Sparks, son of Stephen Sparks, died in the early part of 1843, and Stephen Sparks asked the Jackson County Court to appoint him as administrator of his son's estate. He received the appointment on July 24, 1843.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

[Here appears a map, beneath which is the following caption:]

Map of Southern Indiana, including Jackson County, in which Sparksville
is located,  (Reproduction from The Century Atlas published in 1897.)

(View map)


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

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

The broken gravestone of

STEPHEN SPARKS (1775-1851)

(The Sparks Cemetery near Sparksville, Indiana)

(View photograph)

Late in the 1840s, Stephen Sparks's health apparently began to fail, and he commenced to dispose of his property.  In 1848, he sold two tracts of land to his sons, William H. Sparks and Hiram Sparks.  On January 24, 1848, he and Catha gave a 65-acre tract of land to their grandchildren, Arena, Isaac, and Jacob Sparks, all children of their deceased son, Uriah Sparks.  The consideration was $1.00 and "love and affection."

Stephen and Catha were in Carr Township in Jackson County when the 1850 census was taken.  He was aged 75, a farmer, and he owned real estate valued at $3,000 according to what the census taker recorded.  Catha was aged 74.  Living in their household were two of their grandchildren:  Amanda Sparks, daughter of their son, Hiram, and Jacob Sparks, son of their son, Uriah.

Stephen Sparks died on August 9, 1851, aged 76 years, 1 month, and 14 days.  He was buried in the Sparks Cemetery about one mile west of present-day Sparksville.  His gravestone, now broken, shown above, was photographed by Robert L. Sparks, son of Paul E. Sparks, in June 1994.

Stephen Sparks did not leave a will, and his son-in-law, Villorous Wray, was appointed administrator of his estate.


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

[Here appear two photographs, beneath which are the following captions:]

A general view of Sparks Cemetery - June 1994

(View photograph)

Photograph taken in June 1994 of Paul E. Sparks holding
the upper portion of the gravestone of Stephen Sparks

(View photograph)


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

Although Sparksville was named In honor of Stephen Sparks, it did not come into existence until 1857 when Charles J. Rosenbaum platted the present-day village, about eight miles west of Medora.  It was designated a post office shortly thereafter.  Today (1994), only two street signs mark the original plat.  They are in fairly good condition and mark First and Second Streets.  About two dozen houses compose the village.  Sparks Cemetery is about one-half mile west of Sparksville and can be reached by walking on the CSX railroad track.  It is on the top of a fair-sized bluff and is on the railroad's right-of-way.  It has not been used for several decades.  The tombstone of Stephen Sparks has fallen and is broken into three pieces. (Editor's Note: See the photograph of Paul E. Sparks, President of the Sparks Family Association, taken in June 1994, holding a portion of this stone, reproduced on page 4336.]

Catherine (Padget) Sparks survived her husband only a short time, dying in the spring of 1854.  She had made a will on August 10, 1853, and it was probated at the Jackson County Court on April 27, 1854.  Following is an abstract of her will:

Although no tombstone for Catherine Sparks has been found in the Sparks Cemetery or elsewhere, in all probability she was buried beside her husband.  She and Stephen Sparks had seven children.

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

In the early records pertaining to John Curtwright, his surname was written as Curtwright, or Cartwright, but sometime, probably in the 1850s, his name began to appear as Kurtright. This was the name his children were known by, and it is the name we will use in the rest of this account.)
[Here appears a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]
Seated, left to right: Margaret (Kurtright) Hall; Julia (Kurtright) Talcott; John  Kurtright; Arena (Sparks) Kurtright.
Standing,left to right:  Mary C. (Kurtright) Carter: James Richard Kurtright; Sarah Jane (Kurtright) Anderson; Joseph Franklin Kurtright; Alice (Kurtright) Anderson Rouner. (Photograph taken about 1875)

(View photograph)


JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:
JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:
JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-18345), continued:

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752-1834), continued:

[Here appear two photographs, beneath which is the following caption:]

Gravestones of the first and second wives of William H. H. Sparks
Sparks Cemetery near Sparksville, Indiana

(View photograph of gravestone of first wife)          (View photograph of gravestone of second wife)

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Scanned and edited by Harold E. Sparks