"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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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. Eight quinquennial  indexes have been published for the years 1953 -1957, 1958 -1962, 1963 -1967, 1968 -72, 1973 -1977, 1978-1982,1983 -1987; and 1988-92.  Each index is available for $5.00. A complete file of the back issues of the QUARTERLY (1953-1994), including the seven indexes, may be purchased for $260.00. Orders for back issues, as well as the complete file, should be sent to the editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48104-4448. The forty-two years of the QUARTERLY (1953 -1994) comprise a total of 4,062 pages of Sparks Family history.  The eight indexes  comprise a total of 874 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 1994.


By Paul E. Sparks

[Editor's Note: In the December 1981 issue of  THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, Whole No. 116, we published a query about the parents of James E. Sparks (ca.1782- 1854) of early Nicholas County, West Virginia.  Additional information about some of his descendants was presented in the June 1985 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 130.  Since the publication of these articles, however, we have received additional information about James E. Sparks and his descendants that we now share with our readers.  Our readers are reminded that until 1863, Nicholas County was a part of the state of Virginia.]

West Virginia marriage records kept in county courthouses in the 1800s frequently included the age of both the bride and the groom, as these ages were reported to the county clerk at the time.  We have included these here although they are often in error by a year or two when compared to available birth dates.


According to death records of Nicholas County, transcribed from the original county records during the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), James E. Sparks was born about 1782 in Pendleton County, Virginia.  His parents were George and Sara Sparks.  When he died on July 8, 1854, he was 72 years of age.  His death certificate was filed by one of his sons.

[Scanning editor's note:  See SQ p. 5461.  The parents of this James E. Sparks are unknown.]

Born about 1782, James E. Sparks was about five years old when Pendleton County was formed in 1787 from parts of the Virginia Counties of Augusta, Hardy, and Rockingham.  (Hardy County, however, had not been formed until 1785 from Hampshire County.)  James Sparks could thus have been a native of Augusta, Hampshire, or Rockingham County.

Unfortunately, the 1790 census of Virginia was burned; the 1800 census is missing; and the 1810 census is incomplete; thus, records of persons named SPARKS in this area of Virginia are sparse.  In Hampshire County, Salathial Sparks paid taxes in 1783 and 1784; Robert Sparks paid taxes there in 1792.  George Sparks and William Sparks paid taxes in Hardy County in 1810.  James Sparks was a witness to wills in Rockingham County in 1745, 1747, and 1749, and Charles Sparks was married there to Jane Neilson in 1784.  None of these records appear to be productive.  A search of Pendleton County records was most unrewarding.  In spite of the meagerness of these records, however, we will continue to search.

James E. Sparks was married to Mary ["Polly"] Boggs on March 19, 1804.  The license was issued by the Kanawha County clerk and the marriage probably took place on Glade Creek in what would become Nicholas County in 1818.  Polly had been born about 1786 in Virginia and was a daughter of Charles Francis and Mary (Clendenin) Boggs.  She and James settled down to housekeeping in the general area of Summervilie, Persinger, and Hookersville.  James was a farmer.  He was named as heading his household on the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses of Nicholas County.  He is said to have had a sister who was married to Joel Hamrick.  Polly is said to have had a brother named James Boggs.

James Sparks was granted several tracts of land in Nicholas County by the state of Virginia.  Five of these grants were recorded in Nicholas County Deed Book One.  In 1822, he received a grant of 131 acres on Glade Creek.  In 1823, he received a grant of 150 acres on Philips Run, and in the same year, he and others received a grant of 150 acres on Glade Creek.  In 1831, he received grants of 28 acres and 43 acres on Glade Creek.

Sparks deeded his 150-acre tract of land on Philips Run to his son, John Sparks, about 1835; it may have been intended as a wedding present.  In 1848, he gave his son, Uriah Sparks, and his son-in-law, Jacob Hardway, each a 48-acre tract of land for nominal considerations; these gifts may have been made on the promise that these men take care of James and Polly in their old age.  In 1850, James and Polly were both shown on the census in the home of their newly married (?) son, Uriah Sparks, and in 1860, Polly Sparks, now a widow and designated "old Lady," was in the home of her son-in-law, Jacob Hardway.

As stated above, James E. Sparks died on July 8, 1854.  Polly died, apparently, sometime between 1860 and 1870.  No grave site has been found for either, nor does a will or estate settlement record exist for either one.  Census records and statements by descendants indicate that they were the parents of seven children.


A. Isabella Sparks, daughter of James E. and Polly (Boggs) Sparks, was born about 1805 in Kanawha County, Virginia.  She was married to John Hutcheson on February 26, 1822, in Nicholas County.  They had at least one child, Matilda, born about 1832, according to information given on the 1850 census of Nicholas County.

B. John Sparks, son of James E. and Polly (Boggs) Sparks, was born about 1807 in that part of Kanawha County that became a part of Nicholas County in 1818.  He was married to Agnes Hannah (or Hanna) about 1836.  She had been born about 1820 in Virginia.  John and Agnes lived on Philips Run where he was a farmer.  His father had deeded him a 150-acre tract of land there in the middle 1830s; this may have been intended for a wedding present.  John also had an interest in acquiring a 1200-acre tract of land on Elk River from John Hamilton in 1827.

John Sparks was listed on the 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses of' Nicholas County.  On the 1870 census, his post office was given as Hookersville, a village located on the west side of Muddlety Creek.  Agnes died there about 1858, perhaps shortly after the birth of their eighth child.  John died some time after 1875, for in that year he gave a receipt to his son, James Sparks.  According to census records and statements from descendants, he and Agnes had eight children, including an unnamed son who was born about 1838.

1. James ["Jim"] Edward Sparks, son of John and Agnes (Hannah) Sparks, was born on September 21, 1836, and was probably named for his paternal grandfather.  He should not be confused with his uncle, James E. Sparks, Jr.  Jim was married to Mary Ann G. Kennison on February 16, 1856, in Nicholas County.  He was 20 years of age and Mary was 18 years old.  On the marriage license, her maiden name was give as Armentrout, which was the name of her step-father, Zachariah Armentrout.  She had been born on February 4, 1838, probably in Pocohontas County, Virginia.
Jim and Mary Ann gave a tract of land on Persinger Run to the Methodist Episcopal Church on December 13, 1895, and Sparks Chapel was erected on the ground in 1897.  The chapel was merged later with the Bennett Memorial Methodist Church now located on State Route 41 on Glade Creek. Jim died on September 16, 1911, and Mary Ann died on April 10, 1922.  They were buried in the Sparks Cemetery at Persinger near State Route 41 and Nile Road. (See page 2761 of the June 1985 isue of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, No. 130.)  They were the parents of seven children.
a. Clark L. P. Sparks was born on December 5, 1856.  He was married to Melvina Hamilton Sparks on March 17, 1887, in Nicholas County. He was aged 30; she was aged 26. She had been born in November 1861 and was a daughter of James E. and Elizabeth (Robinson) Sparks. Melvina died on October 16, 1889, and Clark died a month later, on November 22, 1889. They had no children. (See also Item E, 13, below.)

b. John Calvin ["J.C." or "Cal"] Sparks was born on August 4, 1862.  He was a partner in a country store and also the postmaster at Persinger, West Virginia.  He was married to Carrie Belle Boso on February 22, 1899, in Nicholas County.  She had been born about 1881 and was a daughter of Nelson and Mary Ellen (Phillips) Boso.  He died on August 21, 1939, and Carrie Belle died in 1943.  They were buried in the Sparks Cemetery at Persinger.  They had three children: (1) Ivie Opal Sparks; (2) Mabel Manila Sparks; and (3) Lula Madge Sparks.

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Children of Alice H. Sparks & Jesse Cox (continued)


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(Photograph taken about 1905)

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(Children of Levi H. and Clarissa (Armentrout) Sparks, Continued:)

e. Benjamin H. Sparks was born on December 16, 1888, and he was married to Ida May Weese on February 25, 1914, in Nicholas County.  He was 25 years old at the time; she was 21.  He was killed in action in France on June 7, 1918, during World War l.

f. Joseph W Sparks was born on February 7, 1890.  He was married to Lulu May Groves on August 29, 1924, in Nicholas County.  He was then 34 years old; she was 24. Joseph died on April 2, 1955. According to relatlves, he and Lula May had six children: (1) Reva Pearl Sparks; (2) Beulah E. Sparks; (3) Anne Sparks; (4) John Paul Sparks; (5) William L. Sparks; and (6) Gerald D. Sparks.

g. John Edward ["Eddie"] Sparks was born on September 23, 1892.  He was married to Olive Virginia Hickman on July 3, 1923, in Nicholas County. He was then 30 years old; she was 22.  She may have been a daughter of Nora Hickman.  EddieVSparks died in 1978.

h. Dayton Sparks was born on June 27, 1894.  He was married to Zella Mays on July 22, 1923, in Nicholas County.  He was then 29 years old; she was 17.  She had been born on August 22, 1905, and was a daughter of Ira B. and Mary Elizabeth ["Bessie"] (Morris) Mays.  (See Item B, 5, above.) Dayton died on March 7, 1938, and Zella died on May 6, 1987.  They had two children: (1) Mary Ruth Sparks; and (2) Frances Sparks.  Mary Ruth Sparks, who is married to Delmas B. Winebrenner, has been most helpful in the preparation of this article.


C. Charles C. Sparks, son of James E. and Polly (Boggs) Sparks, was born on January 6, 1809, in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West Virginia), and was probably named for his maternal grandfather, Charles Francis Boggs.  He was married to Margaret McCoy on September 23, 1828, in Kanawha County.  She had been born on September 25, 1811, in neighboring Greenbrier County and was a daughter of James and Elizabeth McCoy.  Charles was a wheelright and by 1832 owned a 187-acre farm on Muddlety Creek, which he bought that year from Thomas B. Hamilton.

Charles was taxed (a poll tax on himself) and paid tax on one horse in Nicholas County from 1829 until 1835, but about that time he followed the Kanawha River northward to the Ohio River, which he Crossed and settled in Gallia County, Ohio.  It was there that he and his household were enumerated on the 1840 federal census.  When the 1850 census was taken, however, he was back in Nicholas County.

Charles Sparks was shown as head of his household when the 1860 census was taken of Nicholas County, but when the 1870 and 1880 censuses were taken, his spouse, Margaret Sparks, was shown as heading the household.  No explanation has been found for his absence.  His date of death was recorded as February 26, 1889, in Nicholas County at the age of 79.  The in formation was given by a son-in-law, A. Gwinn.  Margaret's date of death was recorded as March 3, 1882, at the age of 72. She and Charles were the parents of nine children.

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Photograph of a framed portrait of

Wellington Sparks (1831-1895)

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Photograph of a framed portrait of

Margaret Edminston (Taylor) Sparks (1832-1920)

Wife of Wellington Sparks

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George Washington Sparks
(Born 1854)

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Martha Ellen (Sparks) Morton
 (Born 1856)

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Nicholas County
Velmer Sparks
No. 13

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The daughter of the late Walter and Melvina "Bina" (Perkins) Sparks, Velmer Sparks was born at Crupperneck in 1899 and raised at Beaver Mills, near Craigsvilie, where her dad operated a gristmill.  Miss Sparks began teaching at the Schindel School when she was only 17; subsequent assignments took her to the schools at Curtin, Cralgsville, Dain, Beaver, and the Tannery.  Then, in 1930, she found the niche that would occupy her remaining working years - as a teacher at Richwood High School. She taught math, English, and history at RHS for a total of 35 years, before retiring in 1966.  Countless students remember her with fondness and respect.  She died on January 10, 1980.  (From the West Virginia Hill-Billy, 1985.)
n. Meletha Alice Sparks, daughter of Wellington and Margaret (Taylor) Sparks, was born on March 5, 1875. She was married twice. Her first marnage was to Samuel H. Green on October 29, 1893, in Nicholas County. He was then 26 years old; she was 17. They had three children: (1) Josie Green; (2) Tressie Lee Green; and (3) Albert E. Green. Meletha was married (2nd) to Thomas Ellison in 1912, and they had two children. In sequence in the numbering of her other children, they were: (4) Samuel A. Ellison; and (5) Mary Jane Ellison.
E. James E. Sparks, Jr., son of James E. and Polly (Boggs) Sparks, was born about 1814, probably in Kanawba County, Virginia.  Descendants say that his middle name was Edward, but so far no record has been found to support this statement.  He grew to maturity in Nicholas County and it was probably there that he was married to Elizabeth ["Betty"] Robinson about 1835.  She had been born about 1818 in Virginia and was a daughter of James and Elizabeth (Lemasters) Robinson.

At least one descendant of James and Betty Sparks believes that James was married to Elizabeth Callison not to Elizabeth Robinson. We are inclined to agree with the Robinson Family History, researched and published by L. O. Bobbitt in 1929, which states that Elizabeth Robinson was married to James Sparks.  Note, for example, that James and Elizabeth named their first son Uriah Robinson Sparks.

James E. Sparks received a grant from the state of Virginia in 1840 for 70 acres of land on Glade Creek.  He also bought 110 acres of land on the "north side of Gauley River in Nicholas County" from Cortes Stephenson in 1846.  This is where he and Betty lived for the rest of their lives.  Their household was shown on the 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses, and this is where James died in July 1870.  Betty Sparks was the head of her household when the census was taken on July 9, 1870.  She lived in Muddlety Township, and her post office was Hookersville.  When the 1880 census was taken, she was shown as living in the household of her son, Marmion Rush Sparks.  No record has been found of her death.  She and James E. Sparks had thirteen children.


[Here appear six photographs, beneath each of which are the following caption:]

Alonzo Milton Sparks
(1875-1956)  Taken ca. 1900
Lemon Cecil Sparks
(1889-1922)  Taken ca. 1917
Elbert Houston Sparks
(1877-1956)  Taken ca. 1900
Grover Cleveland Sparks
(ca. 1885-1897)  Taken ca. 1895
Andrew Donaly Sparks
(1881-1942)  Taken ca. 1900
Ransom Wyatt Sparks
(1871-1943)  Taken ca. 1895



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EDGAR SPARKS (1875-1916)

Son of James Benjamin and Frances Jane Sparks

(Photograph taken about 1905)

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Scanning edited by James J. Sparks