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



Son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks

(View photograph)


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 eight indexes, may be purchased for $280.00.  The forty-two years of the Quarterly (1953 -1994) comprise a total of 4,410 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. The International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) that has been assigned to the Quarterly is ISSN 0561-5445.

Orders for individual back issues of the Quarterly as well as for a complete file should be sent to the editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104-4448.

NATHAN SPARKS (1775-1844)

And Three Generations of His Descendants

By Paul E. Sparks

[Editor's Note: We have sometimes called Nathan Sparks's father "Matthew Sparks the Elder" in order to distinguish him from his son of the same name. He was born in Maryland about 1730 and died in 1793. An article about Matthew and his wife, Sarah, appeared in the QUARTERLY of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pp. 556-566. At the time that article was published , however , we had not determined Matthew's parentage. In the QUARTERLY of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp. 3484-3501, we presented evidence that Matthew Sparks was a son of William Sample Sparks , who moved from Frederick County , Maryland , to Rowan County , North Carolina, with other members of the Sparks family in 1754.


[ We have learned nothing regarding the parentage of Sarah , wife of Matthew Sparks, but a granddaughter of Nathan Sparks, Elizabeth E. Sparks, whose nick-name was "Bettie," stated in a letter dated March 11, 1899, that Sarah's maiden name had been Thompson .  Her letter appears on page 4575 of this issue of the QUARTERLY. Sarah (Thompson) Sparks died on August 23, 1831.

[William Sample Sparks, father of Matthew, was a son of William Sparks, Jr. and a grandson of William Sparks, Sr. who died in Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709. (See the QUARTERLY of March 1971, Whole No. 73, and that of December 1992, Whole No. 160.)

[We have published articles on the lives of six of Nathan Sparks's brothers, as follows:  John Sparks, March 1966, Whole No. 53; Absalom Sparks, September 1982, Whole No. 119; Matthew J. Sparks, September 1984, Whole No. 127; William Sparks, June 1985, Whole No. 130, September 1985, Whole No. 131, and June 1986, Whole No. 134;  Jesse Sparks, March 1990, Whole No. 149, and September 1990, Whole No. 151; and Hardy Sparks, December 1990, Whole No. 152.

[ A significant source for information pertaining to Nathan Sparks , subject of this article, came to our attention for the first time in March 1994 through the kindness of our longtime and supportive member, Dolly Ziegler of Billings, Montana.   Mrs . Ziegler is not a descendant of Nathan Sparks, but while assisting a friend, Tammy Bethurem, also of Billings, In the latter's work in aiding Cadette Scouts to earn their "family history badges," Mrs . Ziegler's attention was drawn to some Sparks records in Ms. Bethurem's possession.  Obtaining permission to xerox these pages, Mrs. Ziegler generously shared them with us.

[These records had been compiled by Carl Cullen Thompson of Seattle, Washington.  He was a great-great-grandson of Nathan Sparks (1775-1844), subject of the following article. (See page 4565.)  Unfortunately, Mr. Thompson had died on June 15, 1993.

[From his notes , we know that Mr. Thompson had located a Sparks family Bible, published in 1816, that contains a record of the births of Nathan Sparks and his siblings, all being the children of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks.  This Bible had apparently been the property of Nathan Sparks, and someone had copied therein these birth records, perhaps from a Bible that had belonged to Matthew and Sarah.  One of the entries copied by Mr. Thompson that especially interests us is the date of death of Sarah (Thompson) Sparks--August 23, 1831.

[This 1816 Bible had doubtless become worn and fragile, and Mr. Thompson found it impossible to decipher at least six of the forenames of children born between 1757 and 1768.  He was able, however, to copy the birth dates of Nathan (October 23, 1775); James (April 14, 1778); Isaac (July 15, 1780);  Hardy (May 23, 1783); and Bailey (May 3, 1788). While we are confident that the dates given for Nathan, Isaac, and Hardy are correct, we are doubtful that those for James and Bailey are entirely accurate . Each time a date is copied, there is opportunity for error, of course, and old handwriting can be difficult to interpret.

[We deeply regret that we did not learn of Mr. Thompson's interest in the Sparks family prior to his death . Thus far, we have not succeeded in locating the Bible. If we eventually succeed in finding it and gaining access to it, we are confident that, with our knowledge of the names and approximate birth dates of the children of Matthew and Sarah Sparks , we will be able to decipher most of the entries.]


Nathan Sparks, son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, was born on October 29, 1775, according to the information copied from the family Bible published in 1816 that was discussed on the previous page.  Nathan was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, and was probably just an infant when his parents moved to Surry County, North Carolina. There, they settled near the village of Jefferson on New River in present-day Ashe County.  He was a young man when he accompanied his parents to Franklin County, Georgia, following the American Revolution, where his father was killed by hostile Indians in the fall of 1793.

The first official record we have found of Nathan Sparks is the license for him to be married to Sarah "Saily" Elsberry on March 10, 1800, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia.  She had been born about 1780 and was a daughter of Benjamin and Francina Elsberry. It was also in Oglethorpe County that Nathan participated in Georgia's "First Land Lottery." Registration for the drawing was made in May 1803, and Nathan was entitled to one draw. The actual drawing did not take place until 1805, however. Nathan was not one of the winners.

Sally (Elsberry) Sparks, wife of Nathan, died, apparently, soon after their marriage. It seems highly probable that she died in Georgia; however, no record has been found indicating the date or the place of her death.  Nathan was married (second) to Nancy Hancock on September 2, 1802, probably in Georgia. She had been born on September 17, 1782, and was a daughter of Martin Hancock.  According to a descendant, she was a first cousin of General Winfield Scott Hancock, born on February 14, 1824, in Pennsylvania, who was a Union officer dur ing the Civil War; he was the Democratic candidate for the United States Presidency in 1880.

Nathan Sparks moved his family to Tennessee sometime between 1805 and 1809. (His son Isaac was born in Georgia in 1805; his son Martin was born in Tennessee in 1809.) It is quite likely that Nathan was accompanied to Tennessee by his brothers, Jesse Sparks, Bailey Sparks, Isaac Sparks, and Hardy Sparks, as well as by his mother, Sarah Sparks.  Apparently, the five families settled first in Humphreys County.

Nathan Sparks did not stay very long in Humphreys County, and on February 15, 1812, he bought 208 acres of land from Charles Hayes in Wilson County. He paid $500 for the tract that was located on Spring Creek. Martin Hancock and John Doak witnessed the deed . Nathan remained in Wilson County for the rest of his life; he and his household were enumerated there on the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses .

Nathan Sparks bought 100 acres of land in Carroll County , Tennessee, on April 16, 1827, from William P. Anderson and Edward Gwin for $300. Two years later, on November 5, 1829, Sparks gave 60 acres of the tract to his son, Martin Sparks, and the remaining 40 acres to his son, Isaac Sparks.  The consideration was for his "love & affection for his sons."  Nathan's brothers, Bailey Sparks and Hardy Sparks , witnessed the transfer of the property .

An account of the efforts of the Sparks brothers to obtain recompense for the property loss suffered by their father , Matthew Sparks , during the Indian raids in Georgia, has been told in an earlier issue of the QUARTERLY and will not be retold here . Nathan Sparks played a major role in these activities , including a journey back to Baldwin County , Georgia , in 1828. Apparently , the efforts were successful. (see pages 561-565 of the June 1961 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 34, for a detailed and thorough account of this episode.)


In 1832, a new post office was created at Rock Springs in Wilson County , Tennessee, and was named "Sparks" in honor of Nathan Sparks. He was appointed its first postmaster on September 20, 1832.  Sparks, Tennessee, was located on
a star route running from Lebanon to Columbia, and was about nine miles south of Lebanon.  In 1835, Sparks reported that he had collected $15.96 in postal fees. His compensation for the period September 30, 1841, to September 30, 1843, was $24.70. He held the office until his death.

Nathan Sparks was said to have been a "cripple."  (Today we would say "physically challenged.")  We have learned nothing about the nature of his disability, however.  Because of his handicap , he is said to have used a large chair with a special writing desk attached to it. The chair was handed down to a granddaughter who retained it until her death. We have no further information regarding it.

On September 3, 1835, Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, who were among the heirs of Martin Hancock, deceased, gave a deed for their portion of 160 acres of land that had been owned by Hancock , located on Bartons Creek, to Samuel and Hope Hannah.

Nathan Sparks died on September 4, 1844, in Wilson County, and his son, Jesse H . Sparks , was appointed as the administrator of his estate.  At the November 1844 term of the Wilson County Court, Jesse presented the following inventory of his father's personal estate:

One negro boy, Anthony, aged about 18 years; 6 head of horses; one yoke of oxen; 7 head of cattle; 16 head of sheep; 23 head of hogs; 60 geese.
One wheat fan; one cutting knife; 4 ploughs & one plough hoe; 7 sets of gear; one scythe; 7 old blades; 3 pole axes; one frow; one drawing knife; one croze & pointer; one handsaw; one hammer; one augur; one log chain; one cotton needle; 2 smoothing irons; one flax hackle; one grubbing hoe; two weeding hoes; one gun & stone; one pair steelyards; one ox cart; 7 single trees , clevis & pins; one pr. stretchers .

5 feather beds & furniture; one china press; one clock; 12 chairs; one chest; one slate; one Bible; one dining table & table furniture; one dressing table; one lot castings; one loom; one lot pails and churns; 2 spinning wheels; one saddle; one pr. saddle bags.

One note for $2.00 on George W. Carrell given December 6, 1843, and due December 8, 1843; a credit of 25 cts  insolvent;  A claim on Wm. S. New, amount not certain & uncertain whether it can be collected .

At the same term of the Wilson County Court, November 1844, Special Commissioners Thomas E. Spain, E. M. Booker, and Stephen H . Hearn reported that one year's provisions had been allotted to the widow and family of Nathan Sparks.  Included in the provisions were the following items: 60 barrels of corn; 2,000 bundles of oats, fodder, and hay; twelve head of hogs, 20 bushels of wheat; one small beef; 5 pigs; 10 pounds of wool and 50 pounds of seed cotton. The widow would have to furnish her own sugar, coffee, salt, etc.

At the October 1845 term of court , Jesse H . Sparks was permitted to resign his administration of his father's estate, and Henry Edwards was "approved to close the business."  Edwards had been married to Mildred Sparks and was a son-in- law of Nathan Sparks.

Naney (Hancock) Sparks survived her husband by a dozen years, dying on April 15, 1856.  James R. Green was appointed to administer her estate. He had been married to Priscilla Sparks in 1845 and was a son-in-law of Nancy Sparks.  He made an inventory return at the September 1856 term of the Wilson County Court and a final settlement of her estate at the March 1857 term.  Each of her eight heirs received a share of her estate, in the amount of $41.37


According to records sent to us by a descendant , Nathan Sparks had nine children:

A. Elizabeth Sparks was born on June 22, 1803.
B. Isaac Sparks was born on June 25, 1805.
C. Eady Sparks was born on February 9, 1807.
D. Martin Sparks was born on January 25, 1809.
E. Jesse Hancock Sparks was born on March 24, 1811.
F. Nathan Matthew Sparks was born on September 8, 1813.
G. William C . Sparks was born on October 6, 1815.
H. Mildred ["Milly"] Sparks was born on May 10, 1817/1818.
I. Priscilla Sparks was born on September 30, 1820.

A. Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on June 22, 1803, in Georgia, according to a family Bible. No further record has been found of her , and it is believed that she died when she was quite young.

B. Isaac Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on June 25, 1805, in Georgia. He was probably named for his uncle Isaac Sparks, and he has been identified incorrectly several times as his uncle's son be cause he was designated as Isaac Sparks, Junior on many records.  (While ''junior'' was/is often added to the name of a son having the same name as his father , it was used frequently in the past simply to designate a younger person, perhaps a nephew or cousin, bearing the same name as an older person in the community.)

Isaac was a small boy when he accompanied his parents to Tennessee about 1807. It was there that he grew to maturity.

On September 30, 1824, Isaac Sparks was married to Orpha (or Orphah) Thompson in Wilson County, Tennessee, by James Lester, a justice of the peace.  The license had been issued on September 27, 1824, and Isaac's bondsman was John Major. Orpha had been born on June 17, 1806, and she was a daughter of Moses and Elizabeth (Suddeth) Thompson.  Shortly after their marriage , Isaac and Orpha moved westward about one hundred miles where they settled in Carroll County, probably near Isaac's uncle, Isaac Sparks, Senior.  They may have settled on the 40-acre tract of land that Isaac had received as a gift from his father on November 5, 1829. When the 1830 census was taken, Isaac and Orpha were shown with two children, a boy and a girl, born between 1825 and 1830.

Although Isaac's father, Nathan Sparks, lived most of his life in Wilson County , Isaac spent his life in Carroll County.  He was quite active in the affairs of the county.  He was appointed road overseer by the Carroll County Court on March 15, 1831; on March 10, 1834; and in November 1837.  He was also a well-to-do farmer and was involved in the buying and selling of land for nearly three decades. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and of the Presbyterian Church .

(The Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located on Clear Creek in Carroll County, Tennessee, and, as far as can be learned, was established about 1825.  It was a part of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that came into existence about 1800-1825 when its members disagreed on the method of ordaining its ministers . A cemetery is a part of the church grounds , and a rather large number of Sparkses and their descendants are buried there . Several of the descendants of Nathan Sparks became Presbyterian ministers.)


Orpha (Thompson) Sparks, wife of Isaac Sparks, died on February 6, 1842, in Carroll County and was buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery.  She left Isaac with five small children.  About 1843, he was married (second) to Jane L. Donnell. She had been born on August 25, 1817, in Tennessee, and was a daughter of Adreck (?) Donnell. She and Isaac had one child, James Nathan Sparks, born about 1844. She had in herited a one-sixth share of her father's estate, and on October 16, 1848, she and Isaac sold her share of a 245-acre tract of land, formerly belonging to her father, to John W. Winn for $300.

When the 1850 census was taken of Carroll County , the census taker visited the household of Isaac Sparks on November 5, 1850. He recorded Isaac's age as 45; his occupation as that of a farmer, and he owned real estate valued at $4,500.  Jane's age was recorded as 33. With them were Ellzabeth E. Sparks, 22; Rachel E. Sparks, 19; William M. Sparks, 16; Moses T. Sparks, 14; and James N. Sparks, 6. Also living in the household were Isaac's nephews, Nathan L. New, age 18, and Pleasant S. New, age 16, sons of Isaac's sister, Eady (Sparks) New, who had died in 1836. Isaac Sparks had been appointed as guardian of the two boys.

As mentioned above, throughout his life , Isaac appears to have been involved in the buying and selling of land.  It is estimated that he was a party to a dozen or more transactions; however, the record is not clear, because of the difficulty of distinguishing him from his uncle, Isaac Sparks, Senior.  The last transactions that he made were probably the disposals of 388 acres of land to his children.  To son, William M. Sparks, he sold 120 acres; to son, Matthew T. Sparks, he sold 100 acres; and to his daughter, Nancy (Sparks) Melear, he sold 168 acres. Each child paid Isaac $1,500.

All of Isaac's children had left home when the 1870 census was taken in Carroll County. He and Jane lived near the village of Huntingdon.  He was then described as a farmer with real estate valued at $10,000. He died on February 27, 1878, and was buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery . His tombstone was inscribed with a Masonic emblem and the following words:

Jane (Donnell) Sparks survived her husband for twenty years, dying on January 16, 1898.  She had made a will on July 3, 1893, in which she named the following:

This will was probated on February 7 1898, at the Carroll County Court.  Jane (Donnell) Sparks was buried beside her husband in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery.


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

ISAAC SPARKS, JR. (1805-1878)

and his second wife


(View photograph)

b. Mary Elvitta Melear was born on February 13, 1850.  She died on Sep tember 3, 1874.
2. Apparently a son was born to Isaac and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks between
1825 and 1830.  He died, we believe, between 1840 and 1850.

3. Elizabeth E. ["Bettie"] Sparks, daughter of Isaac and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks, was born about 1828. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to Will Carson about 1851, and they had two children. Her second marriage was to a man named Smith.  They apparently had no children.  Bettie died sometime after 1899.  Her two children by her first husband were:

a. Will Carson, Jr.
b. Jennie Carson. She was married to a man named Roach, and they had three children: Eva Roach; Ruth Roach; and Willie Roach.
C. Eady Sparks, daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on February 9, 1807, probably In Georgia;  she may have been carried as a baby to Tennessee by her parents . She was obviously named for her father's sister, Eady Sparks. She was married to William S. New on July 21, 1?31, in Wilson County by Wilson Hearn.  Hope Hancock was the bondsman. William New had been born on October 27, 1794, and was very likely a widower with four children when they were married.

Eady and William New had two children before her death, which occurred on June 12, 1836.  After her death, William New apparently was married again and had two more children before his death on August 11, 1846.  He and Eady were buried in the Shlloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery .


l. Nathan S. New was born about 1832 and was named for his grandfather, Nathan Sparks. After the death of his father, he became a ward of his Uncle Isaac Sparks. When the 1850 census was taken of Carroll County, he was shown as eighteen years old and was living in the household of his uncle, Isaac Sparks. On October 8, 1853, he sold to his Uncle Isaac his share of his deceased mother's part of the estate of his grandfather, Nathan Sparks (actually one-half of an eighth share) . The estate consisted of land and a Negro boy, Anthony. We have no further information about Nathan S. New

D. Martin Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on January 25, 1809, in Tennessee . He was obviously named for his maternal grandfather, Martin Hancock.  He was married twice. His first marriage was to Rachel Marrs on December 3, 1828, in Wilson County, Tennessee. They were married by James Lester, a justice of the peace; Samuel R. Comer was the bondsman.  A few months later, on November 5, 1829, Martin's father gave him sixty acres of land in Carroll County for his "love and affection" for his son. Perhaps the gift was intended as a wedding present.

Although Martin Sparks was married in Wilson County, he and Rachel apparently went to housekeeping on the land that his father had given to him in Carroll County.  He was appointed as a road overseer by the Carroll County Court in September 1834. He did not stay in Carroll County very long , however.  On June 21, 1836, he sold the land that he had been given by his father to his cousin, Bailey N. Sparks, a son of Isaac Sparks, Sr. The consideration was $435.

Apparently , Martin and Rachel Sparks went to Illinois where a son , Benjamin W. Sparks, was born to them in 1837. They returned to Tennessee shortly thereafter, and a daughter, Eliza Sparks, was born to them there in 1839.  It may have been there that Rachel died, perhaps when Eliza was born.

Around 1840, Martin Sparks moved his family to Arkansas , but his household apparently was missed by the census taker of the 1840 census. It may have been in Arkansas that he was married (second) to Martha ------- about 1842.  She had been born about 1815 in Alabama. When the 1850 census was taken of Guachita County, Arkansas, Martin and Martha were living near the village of Locust Bayou with eight children.  Also living in their household was Lafayette Brigance who was shown as twenty years old.  He was a cousin of Martin.

[Lafayette Brigance was born about 1830 in Carroll County Tennessee, and was a son of William C. and Sarah A. (Sparks) Brigance. His full name was Melvin Lafayette Brigance.  HIs mother , Sarah A . (Sparks) Brigance, was a daughter of Matthew and Margaret Sparks and was born about 1792, probably in North Carolina.  She had been married to William C . Brigance on March 18, 1813, in St. Clair County, Illinois.  Matthew Sparks, father of Sarah, was a son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. See page 2644 of the September 1983 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 127, for information about the family of Matthew and Margaret Sparks . When the account of that family was published, we had not learned that Matthew and Margaret Sparks had a daughter named Sarah A. Sparks. See, also, page 3719 of the March 1991 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 153, for a query about the Sparks-Brigance relationship . ]


Martin Sparks had moved his family a few miles further west to Hempstead County before the 1860 census was taken.  His wife, Martha Sparks, was not listed as a member of the household; she had probably died.  We have found no further record of Martin.  A descendant states that he was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister . He was the father of ten children.

E. Jesse Hancock Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on March 24, 1811, in Tennessee and was probably named for his uncle, Jesse Sparks and for his mother's family.  He was married three times.  We have not learned the name of his first wife.  Apparently they were married about 1831, and their only child, Isabella Sparks, was born on May 19, 1832.  Jesse's first wife apparently died shortly thereafter.


Jesse Sparks's second marriage was to Julia Marrs on October 28, 1833, in Wilson County, Tennessee. They were married by John F . Doak , a justice of the peace . Julia may have been related to (perhaps a sister of) Rachel Marrs, wife of Jesse's brother, Martin Sparks. (See Item D, above.)  A daughter, Sophronia Sparks, was born to Jesse and Julia on July 30, 1834. Julia apparently died sometime between 1834 and 1839.

The third marriage of Jesse Hancock Sparks was to Susan Cornell, probably in 1839. She had been born on January 27, 1812, in North Carolina. The first child of Jesse and Susan was a daughter and was born on March 25, 1840, just in time to be enumerated on the 1840 census of Wilson County.

Jesse Sparks followed his brother, Martin Sparks, to Arkansas, settling in Ouachita County about 1849. The family was enumerated there on the 1850 census , but shortly thereafter they moved to Cooke County, Texas.  Jesse was a member of a grand jury there in January 1858.  He was instrumental in organizing a Cumberland Presbyterian Church there in 1862. He continued to live in Cooke County until his death on March 10, 1892.  Susan (Cornell) Sparks had preceded him in death, dying on February 27, 1884.  She and Jesse had five children.  With his three wives, Jesse was the father of seven children.

A photograph of Jesse Hancock Sparks appears on the cover of this issue of the QUARTERLY. The original was loaned to us by Angie May Sparks (Mrs. Thomas Charles) a number of years ago (see item E , 5, d) , below . Angie Sparks died in 1975.

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

A page from the Civil War diary of

Thomas Sparks (1842-1924)

(View photograph)

F. Nathan Matthew Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on September 8, 1813, in Tennessee and grew to manhood in Wilson County.  The first official record we have found of him is his appointment on August 11, 1841, by the Wilson County Court, to build a bridge. According to a Bible record, he was married to Eliza C . Thomasson on December 1, 1844, probably in Wilson County.  She had been born on May 10, 1825, in Alabama.

Shortly after their marriage , Nathan and Eliza moved to Arkansas where they settled near the boundary between Guachita and Hempstead Counties.  Nathan paid a poll tax in Guachita County until 1853, but after he bought a 200-acre tract of land in Hempstead County that year , he paid taxes in Hempstead County.

Nathan Sparks became a Cumberland Presbyterian minister and, according to a history of Nevada County, in 1857 he led the community in building the Mount Moriah Church about ten miles south of the town of Prescott.  He was also called to be its first minister and assumed that position on March 22, 1857.  He died in the fall of 1858, perhaps a short time after reaching his forty-fifth birthday. The cause of his death may never be known.


The Hempstead County Court appointed John Thadeus W. Gill as the administrator of the estate of Nathan Matthew Sparks . Gill gave an accounting of an inventory to the court at its February 1859 term.  Among the several dozen items listed on the inventory were : stock , consisting of five horses, seven cows, fifteen hogs, and eight sheep; 250 bushels of corn and 500 shocks of fodder; books, including an encyclopedia and four histories of religion.  Gill assured the court that the inventory consisted of Nathan Sparks's property, except for property reserved to Eliza A. Sparks, his widow.

(Why was John Thadeus W. Gill appointed as the administrator of the estate of Nathan Sparks?  Gill had been born in 1831 in South Carolina and had come to Arkansas in 1851 where he finally settled in Hempstead County in 1856.  He was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a highly successful farmer. We have found no clues to any relationship between him and Nathan, although Nathan did name his youngest child Jane Gill Sparks. Perhaps one of our readers may be able to tell us about a relationship.)

Few other records of the family of Nathan and Eliza (Thomasson) Sparks have been found.  The 1860 census of Hempstead County indicates that the family broke up after Nathan's death, and only three of his children appeared on that census.  They were:  Nancy T. Sparks, 14; Mary A. Sparks, 12; and Eliza T . Sparks , 10. They were living in the household of Charles Reynolds, age 33, who had been born in Connecticut.  Nathan's widow, Eliza C. (Thomasson) Sparks may have been the Mrs. Elizabeth Sparks who was married to Thomas M. Wilson on June 6, 1875, In Hempstead County.

Nathan M. and Eliza C . (Thomasson) Sparks had six children , according to the records in the Bible belonging to Nathan Sparks, Sr.


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


Daughter of

Nathan Matthew & Eliza C. (Thomasson) Sparks

(View photograph)


G. William C. Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on October 6, 1815, in Tennessee.  He was married to Sarah Justiss (or Justin) on May 16, 1848, in Wilson County, Tennessee, by the Rev. J. B. Moore, M.G.  Sarah had been born on December 16, 1821, in Tennessee.  William Sparks was an ordained Presbyterian minister.  He and Sarah were in Wilson County when the 1850 census was taken, but after selling William's share of his father's estate to Samuel H . Porterfield on May 27, 1850, they moved to Arkansas .

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

Photograph taken about 1895

(View photograph)


William and Sarah remained in Arkansas until about 1858 when they moved northward to Union County, Illinois, where they were enumerated on the 1860 census of that county. William was described as a farmer with real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property valued at $600.  The family remained in Union County until about 1862 when they moved to Atchison, Kansas.  Many years later, in 1937, Samuel Nathan ["S.N."] Sparks, a son of William and Sarah , reminisced about their next move.  He wrote :

Sometime prior to 1896, William and Sarah moved to the Oklahoma Territory where they settled in the area that became Carter County in 1907.  Sarah died at Springer , Oklahoma Territory, on August 4, 1896, and William died a year later, on September 7, 1897, at Ryan. They were the parents of four children.
Scanned and Edited by Harold E. Sparks