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


Index  Next Page  Previous Page  Previous Issue

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


(July 14, 1819 - July 28, 1909)


(View photograph)


THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by the Sparks Family Association
Paul E. Sparks, President, 155 North Hite Ave., 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 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; and 1988-92. 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 $250.00. Orders for individual back issues as well as a complete file should be sent to the editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Rd., Ann Arbor, MI, 48104-4448. The forty-one years of the Quarterly (1953-1993) comprise a total of 4,236 pages of Sparks Family history. The eight indexes (1953-92) amount to 874 additional pages. Each indi- vidual 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 1993.

[Editor’s Note: The following policy statement has guided your editor for some time. We believe that it is appropriate to publish it for the information of our readers.]
Definition : By “Sparks Family” (as used in The Sparks Family Association), we mean the aggregation of all persons, past and present, bearing the surname Sparks (also Spark, Sparke, and Sparkes), including women whose maiden name was Sparks. The term is stretched to include descendants of persons named Sparks through female lines who have an interest in their Sparks heritage.
We recognize that there are many branches of the Sparks family, and that it will never be possible to relate all of these branches to one another. In fact, we are aware that when the surname Sparks first came into use in the British Isles during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, it originated in different regions among persons in no way related to each other. In most, but not all, instances, the name derived from “Sparrowhawk,” first shortened to “Sparhawk,” then to "Spark" and "Sparks".
Immigrants bearing the name Sparks have been arriving in America since early in the seventeenth century. The thousands of Americans named Sparks who have lived or are living today in the United States do not have a common American ancestor. There are even a few documented cases where the name Sparks has been adopted by an individual (and passed on to his children) whose original name was entirely different.
Purpose : When The Sparks Family Association was founded in 1953, its purpose was described in the first issue of the Quarterly as that of “assembling and preserving genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family in America.” The Quarterly is the Association’s chief means by which these materials (or the information that they contain) are being preserved, not only in the hands of the Association’s members, but in the many libraries on our complimentary mailing list.
Geographical limitations : In the selection of material to publish in the Quarterly, emphasis will be given to records of the Sparks family that have been found in the United States. While it is hoped that in many instances we can succeed in tracing a given branch back to the immigrant, we cannot promise to locate that immigrant’s parentage in the “Old Country.” “Crossing the ocean” in tracing the origins of a family is a daunting task for most American genealogists.
Time limitation : In selecting material for the Quarterly, emphasis will be given to records from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries found in the United States. Only under unusual circumstances will we give space to Sparkses who have flourished in the twentieth century, although in presenting the record of a given family where children were born both before and after 1900, the complete family record will be given.
Choice of subject matter : Only factual information pertaining to individuals of the past who belonged to the Sparks family in the United States will be included in the Quarterly.  Because family traditions, while important, often contain fiction as well as truth, such sources will be clearly identified. Our sources will be cited, and corrections will be made when errors are discovered in previously published material.  Readers are urged to call our attention to errors or misinterpretations. Literary productions (such as poetry) by persons named Sparks, along with other non-genealogical writings ( e.g. , statements on religion or politics), will be excluded from the Quarterly, except for historical purposes.
Categories of material: The material chosen for publication in the Quarterly will fall primarily into two categories: (1) “raw genealogical data” pertaining to persons named Sparks from such sources as census schedules, marriage bonds, death notices and probate records, ship passenger lists, deeds transferring land ownership, etc.; and (2) genealogical studies, based on research, in which lines of Sparks descent are documented. This includes biographical sketches of persons named Sparks who lived prior to the present century. Occasionally, biographical information may be given to recognize an Association member’s unusually significant contribution to, or support of, the Association.
Personal data pertaining to current members of the Association will not be included in the Quarterly beyond reporting the names and addresses of new members; we shall not use space to announce births, marriages, travel experiences, career promotions, business activities, etc., of our members. Brief obituaries will be published, however, when information regarding a deceased member or former member is received. In these brief obituaries, attention will be given primarily to genealogical rather than biographical information. Obituaries of non-members will not be published.
Collateral family data : Because readers of the Quarterly should expect its contents to relate primarily to persons named Sparks, we shall publish records pertaining to other names with the following restrictions: In the case of women who were married to men named Sparks, and men who were married to women named Sparks, we shall generally limit information about them to their own birth and death dates and the places where they lived, plus the names of their parents (if known). Brief biographical data may be included for these “Sparks in-laws,” but their ancestry will not be included unless it is of special historical interest.
Whereas genealogical and biographical data for Sparks descendants bearing the name Sparks (and its variant spellings) will be included up to about 1900, descendants through the female lines (i.e., persons not having the name Sparks), will be treated with less fullness, as follows: the children of a woman whose maiden name was Sparks will be given in the same degree of detail (when known) as the children of a Sparks male, even though the surname of those children was not Sparks. Members of the next generation ( i. e. , grandchildren of a Sparks female), however, will be identified only by name, with their dates of birth and death and the name(s) of their spouse(s), if known. If members of the following generation ( i.e. , the great-grandchildren of a Sparks female), are known, only their names will be given. The line will be followed no further, except occasionally to identify the relationship of a contributor of information regarding that branch of the Sparks family.
Queries : Members of the Association who are attempting to identify their Sparks ancestors, or trying to get in touch with fellow descendants of a Sparks ancestor, are encouraged to submit queries for publication in the Quarterly, although the editor will reserve the right to edit these. Unlike many genealogical publications in which queries are kept very brief, brevity will not be an important consideration in printing queries in The Sparks Quarterly. Believing that a query may constitute an important source of information for a future researcher, the editor will include as much useful information as is available. Queries regarding persons and families having names other than Sparks will not be accepted for publication, however, unless the subjects were closely identified with a branch of the Sparks family.  There is no charge for publishing queries in The Sparks Quarterly submitted by members of the Association.
Photographs and documents : A determined effort will be made to locate for reproduction and publication in the Quarterly old photographs of persons named Sparks, including their wives or husbands, taken in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Not only are Association members urged to loan old photographs to the editor for reproduction in Ann Arbor (or to have them reproduced locally at the Association’s expense), but they are encouraged also to make available old family documents and letters as well. Interesting accounts written by men and women regarding their experiences as pioneers, as soldiers of the American Revolution and the Civil War, or simply as settlers in a new land in which they described their way of life, will be included in the Quarterly whenever possible. Modern technology makes the copying of these records very easy, and their publication in the Quarterly assures their preservation and their authors’ identification.
Frequency and distribution : The Sparks Quarterly is published four times each year, with issues dated March, June, September, and December. There are occasional delays in meeting these target dates, but no issue has been missed in our long history. It is mailed (bulk rate postage) to all members of the Association who have paid their dues (whether they are active, contributing, or sustaining members) for the year in question.
(The number of pages in each issue of the Quarterly has increased over the years, from six in 1953 to over forty by the 1980s.) An annual financial report for the Association is mailed to members each December with a renewal form. Back issues are kept in print for later purchase. (See the blocked section at the beginning of the text of each issue for current cost of individual back issues as well as a complete file.) We are pleased to add to our mailing list, on a complimentary basis, any library with a genealogy department open to the public that agrees to preserve and make the Quarterly available to its patrons.
Table of contents and index : A table of contents providing a list of articles and groups of records, beginning with the first issue of the Quarterly in March 1953, is sent to each new member of the Association. An annual update covering the previous year is mailed with the March issue to all members. An index covering all names and places mentioned in the Quarterly is published every five years. (See the blocked section at the beginning of the text of each issue for the years included in each of the published indexes, with their current cost.)

JAMES SPARKS (ca.1752—1834)
Part II
By Paul E. Sparks
[Editor’s Note: The September 1994 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 167, contained the first part of an article about James Sparks and two of his children, Stephen Sparks and Ailcy (Sparks) Newkirk. James was a son of Richard Sparks and was born about 1752 in Middlesex County, New Jersey.  He lived for a while in Western Pennsylvania, where he served during the American Revolution, before moving to Jefferson County, Kentucky.  He lived in and around Jefferson County until about 1820 when he moved to Jackson County, Indiana. He died there in 1834.  We now conclude this article with a record of the other six children of James Sparks.  They were: Benjamin Sparks, Henry Sparks, James Sparks, Jr., Elizabeth (Sparks) Rector, Moses Sparks, and Walter Sparks.]
C. Benjamin Sparks, son of James and Caty Sparks, was born on July 1, 1778, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He was probably named for his father’s brother, Benjamin. He was carried as a small child by his parents as they traveled to Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 1782. It was there that he grew to manhood, and it was probably there also that he met and courted Mary Duncan. They were married about 1804. She had been born on September 21, 1787, in Bourbon County, Kentucky.
(Three assumptions have been made in the above paragraph. The first assumption is that Benjamin Sparks was a son of James and Caty Sparks. No official proof has been found that this is correct; however, descendants say that a tradition that Benjamin was a son of James has been handed down and accepted as a fact for several generations. In addition, since there can be only a limited number of father-son relationships among the Sparkses in the Jefferson-Shelby-Bullitt-Spencer Counties area of early Kentucky, apparently this relationship can be proven by a process of elimination.
(The second assumption is that Benjamin’s wife’s maiden name was Mary Duncan. This is based primarily on a tradition that Benjamin’s son, Duncan Sparks, was named for his mother’s family. This appears to be a reasonable assumption.
(The third assumption is that Benjamin was born in 1778. The inscription on his tombstone reads that he died on November 19, 1851, at the age of 75 years, 4 months, and 18 days. We believe that his age was actually 73 years and was either copied incorrectly from his tombstone or the stone has weathered so much that the last digit looks like a “5” rather than a “3.” This belief is supported by two other records:(1) on the 1850 census of Vigo County, Indiana, his age was given as 72 years; and (2) the ‘first record we have found of a tax payment by him is in a 1799 Jefferson County, Kentucky, tax book when he had probably reached the age of 21 years.)
Benjamin Sparks and Mary Duncan may have been married in Shelby County, Kentucky. (A cousin of Benjamin, Elijah Sparks, was married to Dinah Duncan in Shelby County in 1803.)  Benjamin and Mary probably went to housekeeping in Shelby County where he apparently bought a 59-acre tract of land on Plum Creek about 1808.  It is there that they probably lived for the next 20 to 25 years.  During this time, Benjamin paid taxes on this tract of land from 1808 to 1816 in Shelby County; from 1819 to 1821, he paid taxes on it in Bullitt County; and from 1824 to 1831, he paid taxes on it in Spencer County.  It is also interesting to note that the tract of land was apparently given a different size for tax purposes by each county: 59 acres in Shelby County, 76 acres in Bullitt County, and 88 acres in Spencer County. (See page 3134 of the December 1989 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 140, for a map showing the loca- tion of Plum Creek.)
Benjamin and Mary Sparks had a large family of eleven children, according to the federal censuses.  On the 1810 Shelby County census, they had two daughters and one son, born between 1800 and 1810; on the 1820 census of Bullitt County, four sons, born between 1810 and 1820, had been added to their household; and on the 1830 census of Spencer County, three more sons and one daughter had been added, all born between 1820 and 1830. We believe that all of these children can be identified except for one son and one daughter.
Mary Sparks, wife of Benjamin Sparks, apparently died about 1831 in Spencer County. Her death may have been a factor in Benjamin’s decision to move to Vigo County, Indiana, about 1832. He joined a host of relatives who had settled there earlier. When the 1840 census was taken in Vigo County, his was one of twelve households headed by a person named Sparks. (See page 1888 of the QUARTERLY of March 1977, Whole No. 97.) On May 3, 1843, he sold his land in Spencer County to Frederick Johnson. When the 1850 census was taken of Vigo County, he was enumerated as 72 years of age. Living with him were his son, Joseph; Joseph’s wife, Martha; and their one-year-old daughter, also named Martha. Benjamin died on November 19, 1851, and he was buried in the Prairie Creek Cemetery in Vigo County.  Here is what we have learned about his children.
1.Sarah [“Sally”] Sparks, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Duncan) Sparks, was born about 1804. She was married to Willis McGaughey on August 24, 1827, in Spencer County, Kentucky. Her father was the bondsman, and the marriage was performed by William Stout. We have no further information about this couple.
2. Elizabeth [“Betsey”] Sparks, daughter of Benjamin and Mary (Duncan) Sparks, was born about 1807. She was married to James Booth on April 15, 1829, in Spencer County, Kentucky, by William Stout. Booth’s bondsman was Willis McGaughey. We have no further information about this couple.

3. Duncan Sparks, son of Benjamin and Mary (Duncan) Sparks, was born about 1809. Descendants say that he was named for his mother’s family. He was married to Rachel Martin on December 2, 1834, in Spencer County by William Stout. Willis McGaughey was his bondsman. Rachel had been born about 1811 in Kentucky and was a daughter of John Martin. Shortly after the birth of their first child in 1835, Duncan and Rachel moved to Vigo County, Indiana. He died there in 1839, and when the 1840 census was taken of Vigo County, Rachel was shown as the head of her household. According to that census, she had three children, two sons and one daughter, born between 1835 and 1840.

After five years of widowhood, Rachel (Martin) Sparks was married (second) to Samuel Oakes on September 14, 1844, in Vigo County.  Shortly after their marriage, they moved a few miles southward to Sullivan County where they were listed on the 1850 census. Samuel was shown then as 53 years old, and Rachel’s age was given as 37. Living in their household were seven children of Samuel by his first marriage. They were: Hector Oakes, 17; Amanda Oakes, 15; Irene Oakes, 13; Sarah Oakes, 11; William Oakes, 9; Margaret Oakes, 7; and Mary Oakes, 5.  Also in the household were two of Rachel’s children by her first marriage: Benjamin F. Sparks, 14; and John Sparks, 10.
When the 1860 census of Sullivan County was taken, Benjamin F. Sparks was no longer listed with the family of his stepfather, Samuel Oakes; however, John D. Sparks was still in the Oakes household. Samuel Oakes is believed to have died about 1870, and Rachel accompanied her son, John D. Sparks, to Pike County, Missouri, about 1875.  She may have died shortly afterwards.  We have no further information about her.
a. Benjamin F. Sparks was born on October 25, 1835, in Spencer County, Kentucky. During the Civil War, he served in the 43rd Regiment Indiana Infantry.  He was married to Elizabeth Green on March 3, 1868, in Clark County, Illinois. They separated five months later, but they were never divorced. They had no children. Benjamin died on September 16, 1927, in Sullivan County, Indiana. (See pp. 2377 and 2399 of the March 1982 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 117, for his picture and an abstract of his Civil War pension file.)
b. According to the enumeration of the household of Duncan and Rachel (Martin) Sparks on the 1840 census of Vigo County, Indiana, it appears that Duncan and Rachel (Martin) Sparks had a daughter born to them between 1835 and 1840. She may have died while quite young.
c. John D. Sparks was born about 1840 in Indiana; he may have been a posthumous child. He lived with his mother and stepfather until August 1861 when he enlisted in Company F of the 43rd Regiment Indiana Infantry, along with his brother, Benjamin F. Sparks. He served until he was so disabled by a severe case of measles that he received a medical discharge. (See pages 4397-98 of this issue of the QUARTERLY for an abstract of his Civil War pension file.)
After his discharge from the Union Army, John D. Sparks was married to Cena -------  about 1864, probably in Sullivan County, Indiana.  When the 1870 census was taken of Sullivan County, he was shown as working in a sawmill.


He and Cena had three sons on the 1870 census: Willis Sparks, age 6; Edward Sparks, age 4; and James Monroe Sparks, age 1.  Cena Sparks apparently died in 1873 when their fourth child, Wyley Sparks, was born.  John D. Sparks moved his family (along with his mother) to Pike County, Missouri, probably to be near his uncle, James Sparks and family.  It was there that he made his initial request for an Invalid Pension for his Civil War service.  The last account we have of him was in 1886.  He was living at that time in Vandalia, Missouri.

The third son of John D. and Cena ( ) Sparks was James Monroe Sparks, born on July 27, 1868. He was married to Nora Ethel Teach on August 24, 1892, in Lincoln County, Kansas, and they apparently had eleven children. A picture taken of this family about 1914 includes seven of their children. Not included in this family picture were the four oldest children: Alfred Sparks (who had probably died); Homer Sparks; Ralph Sparks, and Harry Sparks. This picture has been shared with us by a granddaughter, Winnifred (Sparks) Finley.
[Here appears a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]

James Monroe and Nora (Teach) Sparks & seven of their children

Left to right:  James Monroe Sparks holding unidentified child; Nora (Teach)  Sparks; Gertie Sparks; Harvey Monroe Sparks; Minnie Sparks; Myrtle Sparks; Byran  Sparks, and an unidentified child.

Index  Next Page  Previous Page  Previous Issue

Scanned and Edited by Harold E. Sparks