"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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FRANK SPARKS (1874-1937)



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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 organization 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 $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 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, 1988-92, and 1993-1997.  Each index is available for $5.00. A complete file of the back issues of the Quarterly (1953-1996), including the eight indexes, may be purchased for $300.00.  The forty-five years of the Quarterly (1953 -1997) comprise a total of 4,932 pages of Sparks Family history.  The nine indexes  amount to 900 additional pages.  A table of contents is also available for $5.00.  Comprising 65 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 1997; it is updated at the end of each year. 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, the table of contents, as well as for a complete, file should be sent to the editor, Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, MI, 48104-4498.  His telephone number is 734-662-5080, but he has no E-mail address.


Frank Sparks had a twelve-year career in baseball, beginning in 1897. The photograph of the baseball card that is reproduced on the cover of this issue of the QUARTERLY was provided by Sallie McHenry of Sherman Oaks, California. We hope there may be a collector of baseball cards among our members who can tell us whether the size and design of this card is typical of those printed in the first decade of the present century. We know that Frank Sparks was a pitcher for the Philadelphia National Baseball Team from 1903 to 1910, so this card was printed during that period.

[CORRECTION: In the QUARTERLY of June 1998, Whole No.182, page 4994, we erred in giving Sailie McHenry's E-Mail address. It is: Salliel23@WEBTV.NET.]

[Scanning editors's note:  Correction made.]


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Information regarding Frank Sparks and his ancestry appeared in the June 1998 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 182, p. 4986; also p. 3242 of the June 1988 issue, Whole No. 142. He was born on December 12, 1874, at Etna, Georgia, a son of Linton and Sarah (Wimberly) Sparks . Eula (Sparks) Foster, a sister of Frank Sparks, wrote an interesting biographical sketch of their father,Linton Sparks, that we presented on pp. 4994-97 of the June 1988 QUARTERLY, cited above.

Sallie McHenry, whose grandmother, Sallie (Sparks) McHenry (1888-1962), was a first cousin of Frank Sparks, has sent us a copy of a newspaper clipping with Frank's picture, found among her family's papers . We have reproduced this photo, above . We do not know the date of this newspaper nor the place where it was published, but the date was probably between 1907 and 1910. We now believe that that his full birth name was Thomas Frank Sparks . He is remembered as "Tully Sparks" in baseball history, and with an erroneous date of birth in most such sources, i.e., "April 18, 1877." According to family roords, he was born on December 12, 1874.

The 1907 season was Frank's best, according to The New Phillies Encyclopedia by Rich Westcott and Frank Bilovsky (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993);


"..... he had the kind of season [in 1907] most pitchers never achieve . He was 22-8 for a .714 percentage with an even 2.00 ERA and had 24 complete games out of 33. At one point, he won 10 games in a row." His statistics began to drop in 1908, however, and he was reported "out of condition" in 1909, with only 6 wins in 17 games. "After three games of the 1910 season, his Phillies and big league career was over."

Frederick G. Lieb and Stan Baumgartner, in their The Philadelphia Phillies (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1953), described "Tully Frank Sparks" (p. 68) as "a soft-spoken Southerner from Monroe, Louisiana," and "a smooth, easy worker, with good control and lots of mound savvy. Fans always liked to see him pitch; win or lose he always gave a good account of himself..."

The newspaper article below the photo of Frank (see p.5025) noted that he was "temperate and studious in his habits . . . It was at the State university at Athens that the veteran twirler learned the rudiments of the game."

Family records indicate that Frank Sparks was married twice . His first marriage was brief and ended in divorce, without children . Late in life, in May 1936, he was married, second, to a widow, Mrs. Sadie (Patterson) Comer. They had no children. He died on July 15, 1937, in Anniston, Alabama.

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In the December 1994 issue of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, Whole No. 168, appeared Part II of an article by Paul E. Sparks entitled "James Sparks (ca.1752-1834) of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Indiana, and His Family." Part I of this article had appeared in the issue of September 1994, Whole No. 167. James Sparks was a son of Richard Sparks and had been born about 1752 in Middlesex County, New Jersey; he had moved with hjs parents to western Pennsylvania as a boy and had served from there in the American Revolution before moving to Jefferson County, Kentucky. About 1820, James Sparks moved again, this time to Jackson County, Indiana, where he died in 1834. Among the children of James Sparks and his wife, Caty, was a son named Moses Sparks who was born in Kentucky about 1789; he died in Coffin County, Texas, on December 20, 1858 (see pp. 4390-96 of Issue 168, cited above). Moses Sparks was married about 1810 to Elizabeth -----, probably In Jefferson County, Kentucky; she died in February 1860, in Coffin County, Texas.

A son of Moses and Elizabeth Sparks was Benjamin Sparks, born January 17, 1816; he was married in Jackson County, Indiana, to Amanda Boley (sometimes spelled Baley) in 1836. When the 1840 census was taken, Benjamin and Amanda were in Van Buren (now Cass) County, Missouri, but by the fall of 1847, they had moved to Coffin County, Texas. (A list of their children appears on page 4993 of the December 1994 issue of the QUARTERLY.) Among the twelve children of Benjamin and Amanda Sparks was a daughter named Sarah ("Sallie"] Sparks, who was born in Van Buren County, Missouri, on May 26, 1845, not July 31, 1845, as stated on page 4393 of the QUARTERLY.


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SARAH ["SALLIE"] (SPARKS) HOLT (1845-1919)


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Information about Sarah Sparks and her children has been provided for this additional article by Erschel Paul Nichols, one of her great-grandsons . Sarah Sparks was married to Andrew Jackson Holt prior to 1864. He had been born in Carroll County, Arkansas, and was a son of James Simpson and Elizabeth (Fortner) Holt. He died on August 18, 1882, in Hood County, Texas; Sarah was married a second time to E. J. Henderson. She died on June 1, 1919, in Newton County, Arkansas.

Andrew Jackson and Sarah (Sparks) Holt were the parents of four children:

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Wedding Photograph - August 2, 1891

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Seated, left to right:
John Samuel Nichols; William Ernest Nichols; Julla (Holt) Nichols, holding James Earl Nichols.
Standing: William Nichols, brother of John Samuel Nichols.

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[It is Erschel Paul Nichols, son of William Ernest Nichols in the above photograph, who provided the information and the photographs for this issue of the QUARTERLY . He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution through James Sparks, his fourth great-grandfather, who served in the Revolution.]

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Vol. 3, p. 109.
Vol. 19, p. 57.
The Register Book for the Parish of Jamaica, New York, kept by the Rev. Thomas Poyer, Rector from 1710 to 1732.
Jonas Spark & Mary Wright of Hempstead [New York] March 26, 1728, at Jamaica, licensed & certified.
Vol. 47, p. 239.
Saratoga County, New York. Epitaphs, Green Ridge Cemetery.
O. T. Sparks, son of Aaron & Lucinda Sparks,
of Townsend, Vermont, died March 16, 1860, in his 37th year.
Vol. 49, P.
110. Mohawk Valley Householders in 1800. Town of Minden.
Pearl Sparks
Vol. 57, p. 382.
Abstracts of Wills Recorded at Owego, Tioga County, New York . Liber A.
Vol. 58, p. 1927.
Abstracts of Wills taken from Probate Court Records of Tioga County, New York.
Vol. 69, p. 139. Records of Trinity Church Parish, New York City. Baptisms: Vol. 70, p. 273. Records of Trinity Church Parish. New York City. Marriages: Vol. 76, p. 78. Same.
William Sparks & Miraly Lamson, March 29, 1792.
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New Information About His Closing Days

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In the QUARTERLY of September 1974, Whole No. 87, we presented biographical data on Richard Sparks, who was born about 1757 in New Jersey and died in 1815 in Mississippi. The story of his youth is especially interesting . When he was between three and five years old, after his parents had moved from Middlesex County, New Jersey, to what was then the American frontier in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, Richard was stolen by the Shawnee Indians, a not uncommon occurrence at that time and place . In later years, he reported that he had been treated kindly by his captors and had been adopted by a minor chief named Blackfish. He was given the Indian name "Shantunte," and, as the years passed, he gradually forgot his original name as well as his parents and siblings. An Indian boy, younger than himself, with whom he often played was named Tecumseh, who would figure importantly in later warfare with the White Americans .

Richard Sparks remained with the Shawnee Indians until February 1775, when he was about fifteen or sixteen years old . By then, he had no memory of his origin.


His release from captivity resulted from the defeat of the Shawnees on October 10, 1774, at the Battle of Point Pleasant. The army of Virginia that defeated the Indians was under the command of Governor Dunmore in what has been called "Dunmore's War." One of the demands made by Dunmore of the defeated Shawnees was that they bring all of their white captives for release at Point Pleasant in the following February. Located near the mouth of the Kanawha River, where it flows into the Ohio River, Point Pleasant was (and is) near today's border line between West Virginia and Ohio, on what was then the Virginia side.

As word spread that this event would take place, scores of parents whose children had been kidnapped by the Indians over the years, made their way to Point Pleasant hoping to find and recognize them . Richard's parents made the journey . His father's name was also Richard, but we have not discovered his mother's name.

The story of Richard being stolen by the Shawnees, his captivity, and his later military career was told in a carefully researched article by Leota S. Driver, published in the Tennessee Historical Magazine, Series II, Vol. II, No. 1, January 1932, under the title "Colonel Richard Sparks--The White Indian."  Ms. Driver had not been able to learn Richard's parentage, nor was she in communication with any of his descendants, but she had located nearly all of the material that had been published about him, including memoirs by several men who had known him . Based on those records, Ms. Driver imagined how Richard's mother may have searched for him among the captives brought by the Shawnees to Point Pleasant that day in February 1775:

Many... must have studied the features of the returned captives, hoping to find someone whose fate had remained a mystery. Among them was a mother who, years before, had lost a little boy aged four. It required keen eyes to recognize in the tall, bronzed youth the person of four-year-old Dickie Sparks . But a mother's eyes are keen. She never forgets any feature of her child. This mother noted a mark which her little boy had carried, and she claimed him as her own . Shantunte could not understand the words spoken to him, but he did observe the tears in the eyes of his mother and sisters. Tears suggested only one thing to his mind. He had seen squaws cry sometimes when the warriors burned their prisoners at the stake. This, he concluded, was to be his fate.
It is not our intent here to repeat the rather long article on the life of Richard Sparks appearing in the September 1974 issue of the QUARTERLY, but to report a bit of backgound to introduce a recently discovered document pertaining to his last days . For those interested in Richard's father, Richard Sparks, Sr., an article about him and his family can be found in the QUARTERLY of December 1971, Whole No . 76. While we do not have a complete record of the sisters of Colonel Richard Sparks, we know that his four brothers were named James, Benjamin, Walter, and Daniel. An article about Benjamin Sparks will be published in the near future. Articles about the other three have appeared in the QUARTERLY as follows: James Sparks, September 1954, Whole No. 7, September & December 1994, Whole Nos. 167 & 168; Walter Sparks, December 1987, Whole No. 140; and Daniel Sparks, September 1993, Whole No. 163

After he became "civilized" by his family, young Richard proved to be an effective scout for the American forces in their war against the British for Independence . Eventually, he became a career officer in the U.S. Army, although he had difficulty learning to read and write, as well as in giving up his Indian ways. For example, his army friends remembered that his preferred way of sleeping was on the floor, wrapped in a bear-skin rug.


Richard Sparks was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army in 1792; he commanded a company under General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on the Maumee River in 1794. By 1806, he had advanced to the rank of major in the U.S. Second Infantry, in which year he led the Exploring Expedition of the Red River for which service he received special praise from President Jefferson .

On July 6, 1812, Richard Sparks was promoted to the rank of colonel in the Second Division at Fort Charlotte in South Carolina, where he served until his retirement from the Army on June 15, 1815. Although Col. Sparks left no personal record of his unusual experiences in life, a number of men who had known him left accounts, as we reported in the September 1974 issue of the QUARTERLY. None, however, explained why Sparks had been required to end his military career, other than the fact that, following the War of 1812, the U.S. Army was reduced in size . A fellow officer, Colonel G. W. Sevier, who was also a brother of Sparks's second wife, was quoted by an historian, Lyman Draper, as stating. "Col. Sparks was grieved when he heard that he had been dismissed" and "like an old worn out war horse turned out upon the hillside to graze as he could."

A document has been brought to our attention, however, revealing that it was Sparks's state of health that required his retirement . This document has come to light through an odd set of circumstances.

A member of our Association, Catherine Y . Moulton of Rogers, Arkansas, reported recently that she had attended a lecture sponsored by the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. The lecturer had been Marie Varrelman Melchiori, a specialist in Union and Confederate Records at the National Archives in Washington . Ms. Melchiori had illustrated her lecture with photographic slides of little known documents at the Archives that can aid family historians in their research. One of her illustrations had been from "Record Group 94," entry 20, it being a confidential report completed on June 30, 1814, by the Assistant Inspector General of the U.S . Army, Daniel Hughes, regarding the commissioned officers of the Seventh Military District between January 1 and June 30, 1814. Of Richard Sparks, Hughes had written:

Colonel Sparks of 2nd Infantry is rendered inadequate to the duties of his command by reason of a Paralytic affliction of the left side, depriving him of the free use of the leg, arm, and otherwise affecting him; his mind is considerably impaired. This Officer has devoted his life to the service and from his Zealous exertions in the execution of his duty from the beginning of the North Western Indian Warfare to this day may be attributed his present melancholy situation. He is a good man, esteemed and respected by all who know him.
From this we know that, prior to June 30, 1814, Sparks had obviously suffered what would doubtless be diagnosed today as a severe stroke. It is rather remarkable that he had not been required to resign his commission a year earlier, rather than on June 15, 1815. It was then that he, with his second wife, Ruth Sevier, moved to a home that he had built at Bayou Pierre in Claiborne County, Mississippi. He died there on July 2, 1815, just seventeen days after his discharge . A comrade, Colonel Silas Dinsmore, wrote the following tribute for a Nashville, Tennessee, newspaper:

About the 1st inst., the corruptible part of our friend Col. Richard Sparks, late of the 2nd Infantry, was relieved from duty, and put in snug quarters till the grand reveille shall awaken the armies of the universe for a final review and promotion, when honest men will have a preference, whatever may have been their politics . The Colonel, of course, stands a good chance.


In 1782, seven years after his return to his family in western Pennsylvania from his Indian captivity, Richard Sparks was married to Frances Nash . They became the parents of five daughters and one son.

More detailed information regarding the children of Col. Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks appears in the September 1974 issue of the QUARTERLY, pp. 1686-88.

Following the death of Frances (Nash) Sparks in 1794, Richard Sparks' children were reared by relatives, and they rarely saw their father during his army career.

It was on June 29, 1797, that Richard Sparks was married (second) to Ruth Sevier, daughter of General John Sevier and his second wife, Catherine Sherrill. Richard and Ruth had no children. Following his death in 1815, Ruth was married (second) to David Vertner. She died in 1834.

Although we published the photograph of the oil painting of Colonel Sparks on the cover of the September 1974 issue of the QUARTERLY, we have reproduced it again on page 5030 of the present issue because many of our current members have joined the Association since 1974. We have also reproduced an example of his signature . It is from a report that he submitted to the Secretary of War, William Eustis, on October 7, 1809 (found in Record Group No. 107 at the National Archives).

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Information and Queries

In the QUARTERLY of June 1978, Whole No. 102, pp. 1993-2014, we published an article devoted to Richard Sparks, who was born in Virginia between 1779 and 1781. We are quite certain that it was in Pittsylvania County . Virginia that he was born and that his father was Samuel Sparks, about whom information was included, also, in the June 1978 issue, pp. 1990-93.


Richard Sparks spent his youth in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, and it was there that he was married to Sarah Peterson, daughter of Peter and Ruth Peterson. Richard and his family moved to adjoining Rutherford County, North Carolina, before 1810. Early in the 1820s, they moved to Roane County, Tennessee, where they were still living when the 1850 census was taken. By 1860, however, they were in Carroll County, Arkansas . On the census of that year, Richard's age was given as 81 and Sarah's as 78.

Richard Sparks had died before the 1870 census was taken; Sarah was living that year with her son, Joshua Sparks, in Newton County, Arkansas.

Among the thirteen children of Richard and Sarah (Peterson) Sparks was a son named Peterson Sparks, born in 1806. He was married shortly before the 1830 census was taken, at which time he was living in Blount County, Tennessee. The first wife of Peterson Sparks died sometime prior to 1840; his second wife, who had been born about 1820, was Isabella ----- . By 1840, Peterson and his family had moved to Jefferson County, Alabama, where three of his brothers, Samuel, James, and Thomas, were also living. By 1850, he had moved to Pontotoc County, Mississippi, but by 1854 he was in Conway, Arkansas, and by 1850 he was in Carroll County, Arkansas. Descendants believe that his last move was to Johnson County, Texas, where he died, perhaps during the Civil War.

A son of Peterson Sparks was Robert Turner Sparks, born in Mississippi, in 1847; he died in 1936. He was married in Harrison, Boone County, Arkansas, to Jane Hankins, born 1850, died 1928. (See p. 2000 of the QUARTERLY cited above.)

The only son of Robert Turner and Jane (Hankins) Sparks was John Walker Sparks, born July 5, 1871, in Boone County, Arkansas. He was married in 1891 to Katherine Hickey. She died in 1906; he lived until 1927.

Among the six children of John Walker and Katherine (Hickey) Sparks was John Albert Sparks. Several of the dates given in his record on page 1001 of the QUARTERLY are in error, according to research done by his granddaughter, Donna Isbell of Wiggins, Colorado. These corrections have been incorporated in the additional information provided by Mrs. Isbell; she has also provided the photographs appearing on page 5057.

It was in Gaither Township, Boone County, Arkansas, that John Albert Sparks was born on March 12, 1899; he died on January 1, 1947, in Denver, Colorado. He was married at Harrison, Arkansas, on May 17, 1924, to Verlie Josephine Hayes, daughter of James Buford and Hannah Alice (Hendricks) Hayes. She had been born on April 28, 1904; she died on September 25, 1933, at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; she was buried there, in the Rose Hill Burial Park. John Albert Sparks was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Denver County, Colorado. John Albert and Verlie Josephine (Hayes) Sparks were the parents of five children:


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Query: Where is Gertrude Marie Sparks? She may be known as Gertrude Marie Turner. She was born on September 28, 1931, so would be 67 years old today. When Gertrude was two years old, her mother, Verlie Josephine (Hayes) Sparks, died. The Edgar Turner family of Center, Oklahoma, was caring for Gertrude and took her to raise following her mother's untimely death . The Turner family moved to Kiamath Falls, Oregon, about 1936. Gertrude's father, John Albert Sparks, took his two other surviving children (Lois Alberta and James Kenneth), to Monte Vista; Colorado, to live. My grandfather, John Albert Sparks, tried to keep in touch with the Turners, but lost track of them. He died in 1947, but I would love to have information about his daughter, Gertrude Marie, because she is my aunt, and I was named after her. My mother is Lois Alberta (Sparks) Priest Nuss, John Albert's oldest daughter to survive infancy . Please respond to the address given above.


Query: Does anyone know the whereabouts of James Kenneth Sparks, son of John Albert and Verlie Josephine (Hayes) Sparks, who was born on January 17, 1930? He would now be 68 years old. His last known whereabouts was Elmira, New York. He was a truck driver for Transit Homes, Inc. He left for work and after three weeks called us one time from Elmira, New York. He was never heard from again. This was in 1971. We have no idea of what happened to him. His home was in Denver, Colorado. If anyone has information on James Kenneth Sparks, please write to: Donna Marie Isbell, 16524 C.R. #3, Wiggins, Colorado, 80654.

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June 3, 1860

In the QUARTERLY of March 1997, Whole No. 177, appeared an article entitled "Additional Descendants of Walter and Susan M. (Prewett) Sparks, Through Their Sons: Walter K. Sparks (1815-1872), Richard W. Sparks (ca.1816-1883), & William Sparks (ca.1818-ca.1890).  In that article (page 4763), we noted that one of the thirteen children of Walter K. Sparks and his wife, Mary Jane McCoskey, was Christopher C. Sparks, born August 3, 1838, died June 3, 1860. While his birth and death dates, like those of his parents and siblings, had appeared in The Pound and Kester Families compiled by John E. Hunt and published in l904, we had no knowledge of the cause of young Sparks's death. We now know that his full name had been Christopher Columbus Sparks and that he was a casualty of a tornado that swept through Linn County, Iowa, not far from the town of Mt. Vernon, on the evening of June 3, 1860.

Christopher Columbus Sparks had been born in Vigo County, Indiana, where his parents had been married on October 26, 1837. His father, Walter K. Sparks, had been born on December 19, 1815, probably in Henry County, Kentucky, and was a son of Walter and Susan (Prewett) Sparks. (See the QUARTERLY of September and December 1994, Whole Nos. 167 and 168, and March 1983, Whole No. 121, for further information on this branch of the Sparks family.) Mary Jane McCoskey had been born in Vigo County, Indiana, on June 15, 1821; she was a daughter of Thomas and Ruth (Kester) McCoskey (sometimes spelled McCaskey) .

Apparently Walter K. Sparks was in the process of moving his family from Vigo County, Indiana, to Linn County, Iowa, in 1860; in neither county was he and his family listed on the 1860 census . The enumerators, called "Assistant Marshals," for the 1860 census of the United States, were instructed to record families as they had existed on June 1, 1860. It is possible that this Sparks family arrived in Linn County, Iowa, just after June 1, 1860, but we know that the son named Christopher Columbus Sparks was there, and that he was killed when the tornado struck on June 3, 1860. It appears that he was called by his middle name, Columbus.

The Mt . Vernon News, a weekly newspaper, issued an "extra edition" following the storm, and this account was reprinted in the Davenport [Iowa] Weekly Democrat and News of June 7, 1860. This latter paper is preserved at the Library of Congress, and the following account has been copied from that:


About six o'clock Sunday evening the tornado was seen approaching some six miles distance . It had the appearance of a large black shaft or column shaped like an upright hour-glass extending from a tremendous threatening cloud, which for some time had been hanging over the west, to the ground. Hundreds watched it as it swept on its course seemingly bearing directly toward Mt . Vernon. It was attended with a heavy roar as of a hundred trains of cars. Branches of trees could be seen in the air, while its changing form, and the flakes of clouds from its sides, showed its swirling motion.
Then about two miles from Mt. Vernon, and while people were seeking safety in cellars, or, as in some cases, running wildly about the streets, it veered on its course and swept by in full sight--sublime but fearful.
Hardly had it passed, ere a half-dressed man, bleeding from the wounds upon his head, reeling upon his horse, rode furiously into town calling for help . Talking incoherently, he reported persons killed and others injured at a little village, or hamlet, 1 1/2  miles west, known as St. Marys.

In a few minutes, hundreds were on their way there, including Drs. Carhart, Belden, Gordon, and Carson. The wild scene of desolation they found beggars description .

On every side the dead and dying were scattered with ghastly wounds upon every part of their persons. The wounded were quickly removed to comfortable quarters and physicians and nurses set at work dressing their wounds. Houses and barns felled in the way of the storm demon were all mashed to atoms, and every living thing killed or badly injured. The track of the storm was not over 20 rods in width. As an instance of the fury of the wind, we will state that a shovel blade was found entirely bedded in a tree. Men assert that, as the storm passed, they saw human bodies whirling in the air. West of the Cedar [River], five persons were reported killed. At Mechanicsville, ten bodies were brought in from the county north . It is also reported that several persons were killed at Cedar Rapids. . . .

Among those listed as killed in the storm at the close of the above article was "Columbus Sparks."

The 1860 census taker for the area of Linn County, for which Mt Vernon served as post office, was Sarnuel W. Durham . In his recording of families after the tornado, he noted on the census a number of persons who had been killed or injured. On June 9, 1860, he visited the rural family of Minor Burge, in which he reported that a member named Stephen Sparks, age 21, had been killed. Following is the enumeration made by Durham of the Minor Burge household (Franklin Township):

Name Sex Age Occupation Place of birth
Burge, Minor (M) 49 Farmer Pennsylvania
    " Elizabeth (F) 57        "
    " Zach Taylor (M) 13 Iowa
    " Elizabeth (F) 84 Pennsylvania
Craig, Frances (F) 30 Virginia 
    " George (M)   9 Iowa
     " Elizabeth (F)   5 Iowa
     " Frances E. (F)   2 Iowa
Sparks, Stephen (M) 21 Killed in Tornado
Reed Henry (M) 20 Pennsylvania
Hurlbut Milton (M) ? Ohio


The above household on pp. 35=36 of this census record; entry dated June 9, 1860; Minor Burge's real estate valued at $7500; his personal estate at $2650; Frances Craig's real estate valued at $4500; her personal estate at $300.  Stephen Sparks had owned real estate valued at $360. Zach Taylor Burge, age 13, was noted on the census as "Idiotic."

It would seem that this Stephen Sparks had been living in the household of Minor Burge, perhaps as a farm laborer. It is possible that the census taker recorded his name as "Stephen" when he should have written "Columbus Sparks," as reported in the newspaper's death toll. The name of Columbus Sparks does not appear elsewhere on the 1860 census of Linn County. Walter K. Sparks, father of Christopher Columbus Sparks, did not have a son named Stephen.

In the article in the QUARTERLY of March 1997 pertaining to Walter K. Sparks (p.4763), we noted the date of his death, as well as that of his wife, in Linn County, Iowa, but not their place of burial. Grave markers for them, as well as for one of their sons, have been found, and the inscriptions copied, in the Springville Cemetery in Linn County. Copied in 1962, this record is preserved in the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., as follows:

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of Norwich, Connecticut

[Editor's Note: The following obituary was found by one of our members, Douglas C . Schenk of Monson, Massachusetts, while he was perusing a bound volume of the Hartford, Connecticut, Daily Times, for the year 1911. Mr. Schenk very kindly xeroxed this for our use in the QUARTERLY.

[Albert A. Sparks was a son of John and Selinda (Field) Sparks. He was mentioned, with brief biographical information, in the article by Thomas F. and Virginia N. Sparks entitled "The Sparkses of New England" that appeared in the March 1987 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 137 (see page 3013).]


Albert A. Sparks,  editor of the Norwich Bulletin, died suddenly Monday morning at his home . He arrived home about 4:30 and, as usual, started to fix the kitchen fire and the furnace fire . His wife arose at 6:15 and when passing the room of her husband noticed that it was vacant. She kept on to the kitchen and found Mr. Sparks on the kitchen floor near the stove . Drs . Stark and Kimball were called . They decided that apoplexy was the cause of death .

Mr. Sparks was born in Killingly, 65 years ago, the son of John Sparks and Selinda Fields Sparks. [His mother's maiden name is believed to have been "Field" rather than "Fields."] He entered the Bulletin office and mastered the trade of a pninter about the time of the Civil War. He be came an expert workman and later he went to San Francisco, and was there during the time of a big earthquake . He returned to Norwich and on August 5, 1869, was married to Margaret L. Andrews of Preston. Mrs. Sparks died and left a daughter, who is now the wife of Judge George E. Parsons, the clerk of the superior court. On October 25, 1876, Mr. Sparks was married to Lucy A. Rogers, a native of Groton. She survives her husband, together with two sons--Merton F. Sparks of Elgin, Ill., and Earl L. Sparks of Norwich.

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