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(An old Chinese proverb.)


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THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by The Sparks Family Association.
John K. Carmichael, Jr., President, 3408 N. Rosewood Ave., Muncie, Indiana (47304-2025)

Russell E. Bidlack, Secretary-Treasurer & Editor, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104-4448)

A. Harold Sparks, Vice President, 500 1st St., N., #303, Newton, Iowa, (50208-3104)

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. Nine 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 (1953-1997), including the eight indexes, may be purchased for $310.00.  The forty-six years of the Quarterly (1953 -1998) comprise a total of 5104 pages of Sparks Family history.  The nine indexes  amount to 900 additional pages.  A table of contents is also available for $5.00.  Comprising 70 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 1998; 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.



As promised in the June 1999 issue of the QUARTERLY, an introduction to our new President is here provided . Again, your editor is most grateful to the Association's members who endorsed the recommendation that Mr. Carmichael assume this office following the death of Paul E. Sparks.

A member of the Sparks Family Association since 1966, "Jack" was born in Muncie, Indiana, where he attended public schools.   After graduation from high school, he served a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. Subsequently, he attended Indiana University, where he majored in government and minored in history, following which he received his degree in Political Science.


After teaching high school social studies a few years, Jack was asked by his Congressman to join his staff as Administrative Assistant .  Following six years of work in Washington, he returned to Muncie as a candidate for the office of Clerk of Courts in Delaware County, of which Muncie is the county seat. He was successful in his candidacy and, after completion of his four-year term, he was recruited by Ball Corporation of Muncie to join that company as Government Affairs Manager . During his work there, he established a corporate-wide, governmental relations network.

For the past 15 years, Jack has been the bookkeeper at his church in Muncie, Hazelwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) . He also serves as congregational historian in that church, which was established in 1868, making it one of the older ones in that denomination that originated in Kentucky in the early 1800s.

Jack has been working on genealogy for more than 50 years, having begun his research while in high school, in order to trace his paternal Irish heritage. He is descended, on his paternal side, from families that settled in Delaware County in the mid-1820s and early 1830s, including Carmichael, Gibson, Mansfield, and Harrold.

On his maternal side, he is descended from families that settled in Jackson and Lawrence Counties, Indiana, while the state was still a territory . His known Sparks forebears begin with Richard (the Elder) of Middlesex County, New Jersey, thence through the son, James; James's son, Stephen; Stephen's daughter, Amanda Catherine, who was married to Villorous Wray; their son, James Anderson Wray; and his daughter, Gertie Irene, who was married to John K . Carmichael, Sr. Jack's other forebears who settled in Southern Indiana around the time of the War of 1812 included Harrell, Dixon, Fo(r)ster, and Laraway.

The life and family of Richard Sparks (ca.1720125-1792), from whom Jack descends, was featured in the QUARTERLY of June 1999, Whole No.186, beginning on page 5149. James Sparks, son of Richard, and his children and grandchildren, were the subject on a lengthy article in the September and December 1994 issues of the QUARTERLY, Whole Nos. 167 and 168. A sketch and photographs of Amanda Catherine Sparks and her husband, Villorous Wray, with a record of their family, appeared in the September 1994 issue, pp. 4348-51.

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We have been saddened to learn of the death from cancer of Eleanor Russell (McCauley) Worley (Mrs. David P.) on October 22, 1998. Mrs. Worley had been born on April 10, 1922. A member of our Association since 1981, she has been a most generous and helpful supporter through the years. According to her son, David, her genealogical records have been placed with the Delaware County, Ohio, Historical Society.

Mrs . Worley was a descendant of Richard Sparks, subject of an article in the QUARTERLY of June 1999, Whole No. 186, beginning on page 5149. Her descent was through Richard's son, Walter Sparks (ca.1760-ca.1827) who was featured in in the QUARTERLY of December 1987, Whole No. 140. We quoted from Mrs. Worley's extensive research on Walter Sparks, Jr. (born ca.1802) whose first wife was Nancy King, beginning on page 3167. A photograph of Mrs. Worley's grandparents, John Samuel and Anna Cora (Power) Sparks, appeared on page 3159.





Brenda G. Daigle of 208 Hidalgo Dr., Houma, Louisiana, 70363, seeks information on her great-grandfather, Daniel C. Sparks. He was shown on the 1870 census of the city of Plaquemine in the Louisiana Parish of Iberville . His age was given as 56 (thus born about 1814), and as having been born in Maryland. The Sparks children living in his household were named on this 1870 census as: Daniel, Louisiana, Sarah, Emily, Anna, and Stephen, all shown as born in Louisiana. The son named Daniel, the oldest, was shown as 21 years of age. In our record of Sparkses found on the 1850 census of Louisiana (See the QUARTERLY of September 1985, Whole No. 131, pp.2794-96), no one named Daniel C. Sparks was found. In an obituary of his daughter, Emily (Mrs. Richard C. Johnson) at her death on February 22, 1959, age 101, it was stated: "Mrs. Johnson was born in Baltimore, Md., and came to Louisiana when she was quite young with her parents, the late Daniel C. and Amelia Lemmon Sparks." As noted, however, the census taker in 1870 recorded her place of birth as Louisiana, not Maryland .

A marriage record for Daniel C. Sparks and Amelia Lemmon, dated October 7, 1845, has been found in Baltimore County, Maryland. (See "Sparks Marriages, 1779-1851, in Baltimore County, Maryland," in the QUARTERLY of September 1957,
Whole No. 19, p.240.)

A family record taken from a Bible by a distant relative of Brenda Daigle gives the following family record, although Brenda Daigle has not seen this Bible herself:

Daniel Chilton Sparks, born March 1814 in Maryland; died 10-6-1879 at 2 a.m. Amelia Lemmon, born 2-18-1827 in Maryland; died 5-18-1864.


1. Richard Stephen Sparks, born 7-20-1846 in Maryland; died 10-6-1859.

2. Daniel C. Sparks, born 11-22-1848 in Louisiana; died 1-31-1912; married 1-30-1877, Mary Cornellia Brown who died 12-29-1937.

3. Louisiana Sparks, born 6-12-1851 in Louisiana.

4. Sarah Jane Sparks, born 1-13-1853 in Louisiana; died 9-19-1940; married 1-25-1876, William L. Briggs.

5. Emily Sparks, born 10-14-1854 in Maryland; died 10-20-1855.

6. Ann Amelia Sparks, born 8-3-1856; died 10-27-1876.

7 Emily Sparks, born 3-26-1857 in Maryland; died 2-22-1959; married Clarence Delano. Later she was married to Richard C. Johnson.

8. Stephen Richard Sparks, born 10-4-1863, in Louisiana.

While it was not unusual to give the name of a deceased child to another child born later, as in the case of the second Emily Sparks and the second Stephen Sparks, there is an obvious error in this record pertaining to the dates of birth of Ann Amelia Sparks and the second Emily Sparks - - the second Emily could not have been born less than eight months after the second Ann Amelia.

Ms . Daigle reports that her distant relative has reported that a Richard Lemmon Sparks had died 5-1872. She adds: "I'm sure if it was written in the Sparks's family Bible, he must have been closely related." She has also noted: "In the information above, if a state was included, it is because that information was given in the Bible . If no state is given, it was omitted in the Bible . Did Amelia go back to stay with relatives in Maryland when two of her babies were born?  I do remember my uncle telling me that D. C. Sparks was a conductor on a train, so maybe they did go back and forth from Louisiana to Maryland."

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Part IV

[Editor's Note: We began publishing David Rhodes Sparks's autobiography in the QUARTERLY of March 1998. Beginning on page 4938 of that issue, we provided an introduction, noting that Sparks had been born on October 15, 1823, in Harrison County, Indiana. His parents, Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, had been married in 1807 in or near Louisville, Kentucky. Baxter Sparks, born on May 6, 1777, was a member of the branch of the Sparks family that moved from Prince Georges County, Maryland, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in or about 1777, the year of Baxter's birth. (See "Family Record of Baxter Sparks" in the QUARTERLY of March 1972, Whole No. 77.)

[David Rhodes Sparks died on November 10, 1907, in Alton, Illinois. During his life, he participated in each of the major historical events of the mid-19th Century, and in his autobiography written for his children and grandchildren, he recalled his role in those events in fascinating detail. Part I, appearing in the QUARTERLY of March 1998, Whole No. 181, was devoted to his memories of his youth on what was then the American frontier. Part II in the issue for September 1998, Whole No. 183, included his experiences in the War with Mexico in 1847/48. Part III in the issue of March 1999, Whole No. 185, was devoted to Sparks's experiences in 1850 going over land to California in the Gold Rush that had begun the year before. Part IV presented here, covers his disappointments in seeking California's riches, the death of his brother, Edmund Sparks, and his return home by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Also included in this part is his struggle to establish a milling business and his re sponse to the siren call of gold discovery in Colorado. Part V, to be published in a future issue of the QUARTERLY will be devoted to Sparks's experiences in the Union Army in the Civil War.]

After resting a day at Placerville, we (that is, [Wesley] Best, [J.T.] Chapman, my brother, Edmund, and I) bought a small mule to carry our camp equipment . During the night some scoundrel stole him, and we had to repeat the buying next morning . Our first experience at packing a mule was laughable . We packed and piled in the most fantastic manner, and the very first move the mule made, the whole pack turned under his belly . He made no attempt at kicking, for in fact it would have been difficult for him to do so. Well, there was nothing left but to undo this pernicious load and repack the mule. So when we got our things all on the ground again, we concluded to stay and have an early dinner and made our second start about twelve, going to Caloma on the South Fork of the American River, where we stopped for the night. This is the location of the old Sutter's Saw Mill where, in digging a short water race, gold was first discovered. The old mill and dam was still standing, though I believe not in use, yet it had been used after the discovery and had not the gold fever set everybody crazy, there was a fortune in this old mill, but it was impossible to get men to chop wood when they could go almost anywhere and dig gold in considerable quantities.

After stopping overnight, we started early next day to climb the mountain--about two miles hard climbing to the top--then we found ourselves on a kind of plateau, and by panning out a little dirt in a small branch, we found gold, as we thought, in paying quantities . So we stopped and sent back to Coloma for a miner's cradle and dipper, a pick or two, and shovels, and went to work . We found the pay rather dull, but moving up the branch half a mile or so we found better digging. Here my brother took sick, and after a week or ten days he died. We bought a plain pine box coffin at Coloma for $25.00, carried it up the mountain on our little mule, and by the aid of some miners nearby we rigged up a wagon and buried Brother in what was then called Greenwood, about four miles from where we were camped.


We continued our work after this sad rite was over, leaving now Wesley Best, J. F. Chapman, and myself. We had all been raised close together and, of course, were familiar with each other. Besides, as I have said before, Chapman and I were brothers-in-law, while Best and Chapman were cousins. After working here a few weeks, making fair wages, though not half that was promised, that is, sixteen dollars per day, we concluded to go into winter quarters on Slate Branch, about one mile from this place.

We built a log cabin and a little stone fire place and made a kind of shelf for our beds . We then laid in a hundred pound barrel of pork and also one hundred pounds of beef (that was very lean) . We also bought three hundred pounds of flour at twenty-five cents per pound; in fact, we paid the same for beef and pork. We also bought some dried apples as a relish and a supply of sugar and coffee . Thus supplied, we were prepared for winter which, however, was very moderate, freezing very slightly at most. We stayed here until March, when we pulled up stakes and went over to the Middle Fork of the American River. Here we worked a while for five dollars per day, but soon began prospecting again, but our Mr . Chapman determined to return home, and after dividing our little earnings - - less than $500.00 each - - Best and I moved over the mountain to another point, but prospects were not favorable, and Best became Discouraged and determined to return with Chapman.

I had lost track of all my old friends and began to feel very lonesome, even before the boys left, and soon determined to accompany them on their home journey, and so we all started soon after for San Francisco.

We walked to Sacramento and there took a steamboat of considerable size to San Francisco, down the Sacramento to the Bay. This river, I believe, is not now navigable, having filled up so badly from the washings of the mines. Besides, the railroads have taken the place of water navigation to a large extent, though at that time there was water for large steam crafts.

On arriving there, we found a bark of 250 tons almost ready to sail with about one hundred and fifty passengers. We joined them, and the vessel pulled out after a day or two. We were all first-cabin and at the same time steerage passengers, for there was no line drawn. We were all equals. Passing out of the Golden Gate, we found ourselves full of hope in the waves of the mighty Pacific. We sailed rapidly out of sight of land that day, sailing away down south to catch the trade winds, but got into a calm that lasted more than a month . Here, with out making headway, we were tossed about by the ever rolling sea until provisions and water began to grow scarce, and starvation stared us in the face. There was no wind and we were helpless--apparently nothing we could do.

About two-thirds of the passengers held a meeting and determined to take the ship and turn her away back to the Marquesas Islands, but the one-third of the passengers and the determination of the Captain rather overawed this wild scheme. Soon after, the next day in fact, we began to move in the right direction, and in seventeen days from the date of this little rebellion we arrived at Panama (arrived about two P. M.) our trip having lasted seventy-five days, and seventy days out of sight of land, or more than double the length of time Columbus was out of sight of land when he discovered America.

We were greatly overjoyed on landing once more . We stayed over night in Panama and started next mornlng about sunrise across the Isthmus of Panama, on the Chagras River. The distance was about twenty-eight miles. We reached this little town at sundown, thoroughly wet to the skin, as it rained hard on us during the trip . The next day we started with three others, or five perhaps, eight in all, besides two natives to row, and one boss. The skiff was not large, but sufficiently so and we made the trip during the day . It was a clear and beautiful day .


We saw little droves of monkeys climbing about like squirrels on the trees overhanging the water. They seemed not to care so long as they were seventy-five or a hundred yards away. Chagras was mainly a town of tents. The hotel in which we stopped was a kind of framework covered house with canvas on the sides. Here we stayed one day waiting for the steamer. She was a large side-wheel steamer of four thousand tons, but very slow as compared to our steamers of today, being eleven days from Chagras to Havana, Cuba.

The name of this steamer was the Falcon of four thousand tons and one of the largest then built. The screw has long since taken the place of the old side paddle wheel. That large and fine ship could make about eight knots per hour. We now [1893] have ships of eighteen thousand tons that will make twenty-two knots per hour, and cross the Atlantic to Liverpool in six to seven days. We now have twelve or fifteen armored cruisers of ten to fourteen thousand tons that can easily make twenty-two knots with immense armament of guns that will throw a shot eight or ten miles and at close range will easily penetrate eight inches of steel plate.

At Havana, we changed to the steamer Cherokee and in three days more we landed in New Orleans, stayed one day here and took passage on the steamer St. Louis for St. Louis, making the trip in seven days. This, however, was rather a pleasant trip as we took cabin passage and our big river steamers were very fine . This was the summer of 1851, of high-water fame. The bottoms opposite St. Louis were completely submerged. As there was not a railroad entering that city, we took a ferry boat for Alton, landing near where the Union Depot is now located. Here we took stage for Woodburn, arriving about 2:00 o'clock A.M. next day. We hired a wagon and two horses to take us home, near Staunton, and arrived during the afternoon, meeting our wives, children, and friends after an absence of sixteen months.

Soon after arriving home from California I began to look about for a beginning, and I will say here that I returned with almost exactly $300 .00 in money and no other property whatsoever. With this small beginning, I entered eighty acres of fine prairie land two miles from the timber line, for which I paid $100.00. This land lies about one and a quarter miles south and east of what is now the prosperous little city of Mt . Olive, on the Wabash Railroad and is now one of the finest coal fields in the state. My land was two miles from the timber, and it looked lonely, but I was not discouraged by this . I next bought twenty acres of good timber land of my father-in-law, which was one and one-half miles inside the timber line, thus making the whole distance from my farm land three and a half miles . This timber was bought on time. I then purchased two common horses, a cheap set of harness, and a wagon. By this time, my money was gone, but I still made my home with my good father-in-law, Richard Chapman . Now it was about the first of July, when no one thought of working in the timber where it was very warm, yet I made it my daily job to start out and drive about three and a half miles to the timber. Here I select ed a good sized saw log, such as would make a load for my two horses, I would then take off the two wheels of the wagon next to the log, putting the point of the axle in the end of the hub of the wheel, turned down, then with the use of two sticks or young trees strong enough to bear the log, I would, with the aid of what we called a "cant hook," roll this up on the wagon. At my present age, it seems almost incredible, but I did it, and that "by main strength and awkwardness," to use an old phrase . I would then take hold of the rim of the wheel and lift it up and force it back on the axle and drive home for dinner (which, by the way, was on the road to Staunton where they had a little steam saw mill and would saw the logs into lumber for one-half of the lumber) . After dinner, my horses fed, I would drive to Staunton, about four and a half miles, unload my log and return home. This I did day in and day out, right in the very midst of the hot summer of 1851.


After getting logs enough in this way to furnish lumber for a small frame house, 14 x 22 feet and one story high, I then went into the woods to make shingles for the roof. This work was new to me, but good old Father Chapman went with me one day, showing me how to split out the blocks and how to divide them into proper thickness. I had the use of the drawing knife and proceeded to make the shingles for the little house . This done, and my lumber now ready, I hauled it to the place where the house was to be erected, which was fully seven miles from Staunton. Then, by swapped work with Father Chapman again (he was a kind of "jack-at-all-trades" and though old and trembly, he knew how to lay off the work), I could do the hard part of it. So in this way, by the first of December I had the little house closed in, but not plastered . A temporary plank partition was put up to divide the room, and a small cooking stove, which answered also as a heating stove, was bought . We moved into this new but unfinished little house, two miles out in the bleak prairie, about the first of December 1851. Our furniture consisted of two common feather beds and plain bedsteads, a few wood- bottom chairs, some kind of a little table, and stove referred to, and that was all--except a new rag carpet, the work of my good wife while I was building the house. This carpet was cut from rags and sewed together by her own hands, save perhaps some help in this from her mother and sister; the weaving was her own handiwork. Thus, furnished with our warm brand new carpet, a thing many old settlers never had, we took our loved little girl out in this frail building to spend a very severe cold winter. Of course, I had no time to play. I had to haul wood three and one-half miles to keep my wife and dear little one warm . (This child is now Mrs . Milnor, living in Litchfleld, with two small children, a daughter now at Monticello Seminary, the son at home with them, in one of the most comfortable houses in that city.) Besides this - - and it was no small job - - I would make daily trips to this timber to make rails with which to fence part of my land for the next spring. Sometimes it was so cold I would walk the entire distance, three and one-half miles, cut and split one hundred large fence rails, and then walk home. Thus, you see the walk was seven miles besides the work. Other times I would ride one of my horses . Enfeebled by the hardships of forty - two years since then, I can hardly credit my own story, yet I know it is literally true - - and much more that I cannot note here.

After spending this cold winter in this way, about the first of March I swapped my wagon and one horse to old farmer Jesse Boyd (who lived one and a half miles east of me) for four pairs, or yoke, of oxen, as we called them, with a prairie plow to break the thin, tough sward (or sod). I also got an old-time wagon . For all this, besides the horse and wagon, I agreed to break seventy acres of his new prairie land, he to furnish dinner and supper to me and board my driver. This was a big job, but I stood not upon hard work, for I needed the team to break my own land, or part of it. So as early as practicable, I began my work . One who has followed the slow movement of the ox can better judge how exceedingly tedious such a job would be, without which he can hardly realize the work . However, by patient, steady work, the job was accomplished in due time . But during the spring, I also hauled out the rails already referred to, to fence ten acres of land, which I also broke before finishing the other job. I planted this ten acres in what we called sod corn, and in this way raised considerable feed. After Mr. Boyd's job was completed, I broke ten acres more of my own land, also five acres for a brother-in-law, Dr. Mitchell . This land is now a part of Mt. Olive.

I now laid by the old plow, turned my cattle on the prairie to rest, save one yoke that I sold to pay my dnver as helper. The net of this job was twenty acres of my own land broken and ten acres fenced, and I had one horse and three pairs of oxen left besides the old plow and wagon, and it was then about the first of July [1852]. So I traded one pair of my cattle for a good work horse and one pair for a two-horse wagon . Thus equipped again with my two horses and wagon, twenty acres of my land broken, partly fenced, and one yoke of oxen to go, I felt that I had done a big spring and summer's work, and so I had.


Later on the same year [1852], Captain Dan Henderson and I borrowed the money to pay for a threshing machine and ran this machine all the fall and paid for the machine. I felt well pleased with the years work, and now I fully expected to run my little farm the next spring. But during the winter, Wesley Best's wife died. This left him somewhat broke up and, having been raised close together on adjoining farms, and having just made our long trip to California, he naturally came to me, and we soon had a scheme to buy out a small steam saw mill on Macaupin Creek in Macoupin County . Best, in the meantime, sold his little farm for cash and we paid cash--I believe about $700.00--for the little mill. After sawing up a large lot of logs there, we took up the mill and moved it to Kahokia Creek, about five miles nearly south of where Gillespie now stands. Here we built a small log cabin before the mill got into place, and I rented my little farm and moved into this log cabin about April 1853. We had then two children, a girl and boy. Here we lived for some time, with no doors or shutters, save only a bed quilt to keep out the wind and rain . We were in the woods where wild deer might be found almost any day, and our nearest neighbor was at least one and a half miles distant, and the next would have carried us over two miles.

Soon, however, the little mill was put in place and the sound of the ax and hum of the saw made it look quite business like . We made some money from the start, and during that fall I bought Best's interest, paying mainly with my little farm, he going into a small store in Staunton with my brother-in-law, Isaac Sturges. I worked the mill until the next July, during which time I furnished some nine thousand railroad ties for what was then known as the Terre Haute and Alton Railroad, in the course of construction. I delivered the ties at a point about two miles west of where Gillespie now stands .

Sometime in July 1854, Mr. B. J. Henderson and I determined to build a flour mill in Staunton, and I sold my saw mill to a brother-in-law, now Major J. F. Chapman.

I soon found my new partner, Henderson, had little or no money, and as Best was anxious to go into the mill, I was only too glad to have him do so He sold out his interest and we again became partners, and we soon bought Mr. Henderson's little interest, and he went out. This partnership, with a slight break in 1861, lasted for twenty-five years.

The new mill (Big Mill as she was called) was started in May 1855, and I have been constantly in the milling business ever since. I think I am the oldest continuous miller in the state--over thirty-eight years as you will see.

But I must go back to the little saw mill, of which, after Best went out, I was sole proprietor. My business was to fire the boiler with green oak slabs, which I had to cut and split up for the furnace . I also had to look after the choppers, haulers, and selling the lumber. So the labor I performed was plenty for two men. There our third child, Wesley David, was born. I look back with wonder that either my wife or I could stand such hardships. Think of this mother, with two little children on her hands, and here a third is born, and yet she did most of the work, cooking, etc., for one to three or four men .  It is almost past belief-- yet no word of complaint. Indeed, she knew I was doing all a man could do, and she not only bore her full part without complaint, but rather with cheerfulness . Often, when [I was] badly overcome by overwork and heat, her cheering words were ever present, overlooking her own hard work. No man ever possessed a better wife, or children a better mother . My children should mark this heroic work of this dear, devoted mother and wife .


But I must not dwell here too long. I will, however, give a few more of the little incidents of this . I may say, "camp life," for it was little better . During the spring of 1854, we had some very heavy rains. At one time I was at old man Sawyer's, near Staunton, looking at some work cattle, and, owing to a very heavy rain storm, I had to stay overnight . Next morning I hurried forward to find the creek full from bank to bank, and about ten feet deep . There was a fix, but I did not like to lay around on the opposite bank, so I had one of the men throw an ax across the stream, about sixty feet. The ax was landed all right, and I proceeded to cut down a small cottonwood tree. It fell across the stream, its top barely reaching the bank and rather floating on the water. On this doubtful bridge I started, feeling sure that if I fell off I could swim to the shore, though the water was quite cold. My weight bent the little tree below the water, but I succeeded in crossing without a cold bath as the boys expected to see. At another time, the creek was still higher and ran over our saw; it was waist deep in our lumber yard and was about to float off a lot of lumber. So I waded in and piled up lumber for hours, working most of the time up to my waist, and the water not too warm . These and many more little incidents helped to make up that part of my hard spent life.

I will now turn again to the building of the Staunton Mill . . . . After selling my saw mill, I had about $2,200.00 all told, not all in money, but some money. Best had more, perhaps $4,000.00, but it was scattered, and he could bring little, if any more, to our work. Between us, I doubt if we could have mustered more than thirty or thirty-five hundred dollars . However, we each had a team of horses and a wagon and did a very large portion of the hauling and other work. So we contracted for the mill machinery [to be] put up complete for $5,600.00, with Stiggleman and Johnson of Alton, and we had the first engine built by them in what is now called the old Woolbin Mill. We furnished the building; the contract was for the machinery only. We had to pay all freight of the machinery, lumber, etc . The mill was guaranteed to make thirty-five bbls. in twelve hours, or seventy bbls. in twenty-four hours. We had no use for so large a mill, nor could we see what we could do with thirty-five bbls. of flour daily . However, these builders thought they could not build a complete merchant mill and make it less, so we made the venture, agreeing to pay one-half cash as the work progressed and when finished, one-half of the remainder in twelve months after the mill was finished, and the last in eighteen months after the completion of the mill . The mill cost us about $9,000.00 or $9,500.00, but it must be remembered that Best and I did a large percent of the work of hauling and building. . . .

[Editor's note: Here we omit the portion of the Sparks autobiography devoted to further details of the building and success of his and Best's mill. They were able to pay off their creditors as scheduled . He recounted in this part of his story that local farmers complained regarding the price he and Best were willing to pay for wheat and how, in 1859, two local merchants named Stephenson and Barnett, with funds loaned them by the disgruntled farmers, built a rival mill in Staunton. We continue from Sparks's autobiography at this point.]

So they contracted with the same parties who had built ours to build a copy in every way of our mill, only their house covered less ground. They had the same head mill-wright, James Van Sant. They disposed of their store and the new mill was built and started the spring of 1860, or five years after ours. This five years of experience was not lost and now, as competing mills, we "locked horns, " to use an old western phrase . The result was that in four years they went into bankruptcy, with liabilities amounting to about $70,000.00, about $40,000.00 of which was to the farmers in whose interest the mill was built . The mill and all they had was mortgaged to a St . Louis party for about $25,000.00 of this money, leaving the farmers with the empty bag to hold, while they themselves were completely broken and now cursed and abused by those farmers who, by the way, were still holding the empty bag . Mr . Stephenson got a clerkship and travelling position in St. Louis and never entered into business again. Barnett worked afterwards in Litchfleld, lugging grain around on his back . Poor fellow - - he was a good hearted man - - deserved a better fate and got it, for a few years after his wife died, he married a widow near his boyhood home and is now living on her farm and I believe is doing fairly well and living comfortably . Of course, he is now old .


Barnett moved to Edwardsville some years ago and by dint of trading around, made a bare living, the farm I believe going to the children of his wife . Two years ago, while I was in the State Senate, I managed to get him appointed as Inspector of Stock in the East St. Louis Stock Yards, where he still holds his position at a salary of $100.00 per month. How strangely things turn around in life.

But to go back; this same year of 1859 was the counter, on a smaller scale, to the 1849 of California, and large numbers flocked to the newly discovered gold mines of Pike's Peak, though in fact 80 to 100 miles away and much nearer Long's Peak that raises its hoary head nearly fifteen thousand feet above the ocean . Well now, as to this great gold discovery, it was well nigh a failure, as I have remarked of it. At the time it was as a mouse to an elephant, as compared to the great gold fields of California. However, some gold was found and that was enough; so by the next year, like the 1850 of California, the 1860 of Pike's Peak saw thousands of ox teams wending their way across the desert plains, either to get rich digging gold or to trade.

Well, it so happened that my brother-in-law, Isaac Sturges, with other friends, Robert Hunter and William Patrick, fitted out a team in 1859 and went to the mines. They managed to get a claim on Russell's Branch. Here they worked during the summer and took out a few hundred dollars in gold, but the great gold lodes that were being discovered was to be the great thing, but it took machinery to work them . So they secured a long run on the Mammoth Lead, which they discovered about half a mile from where the little city of Central City now stands, and returned home in the fall, flushed with the hope of great things from this great gold lead.

So they came to us, Best and me, to go in and furnish money for the machinery, which we gladly did, excepting, of course, we had but little money. However, it did not take much, so we commenced securing the machinery and cattle and wagons for an early start in the spring. The whole outfit cost about $4,500.00. We found it quite difficult at that time to get machinery, for no one seemed to know what was required . However, we agreed with our Alton friends, then Johnson and Emerson, to furnish us an engine and boiler with six stamps. Thus equipped, we started with this outfit; that is, wagon and teams, as the machinery was shipped to St. Joseph, Missouri. I was to accompany the machinery. I started from my home in Staunton about the 20th of March, cheerfully kissing my dear wife and loved little children, Mary, Dicky, Wesly, Josie, and Hosie, as we lovingly called them, never dreaming that I would never see the bright face of little Josie again . So on we marched with four ox wagons.

I had charge and, in addition, was chief cook and general worker, actually doing most of the cooking myself on this trip. Mind you, this whole trip was about 1100 miles with ox teams, camping out along the way, but we got all the fun there was out of it.

We arrived at the mines early in June and in a few days had the mill set up, and I turned the steam on the second engine ever started in these mountains . The first was a very insignificant concern, very nearly where Central City now stands. Ours was about a half mile up what was then called Spring Branch. We soon had up a lot of the (to be) famed Mammoth Lead Quartz and started the mill. After stamping out a measured cord or two of this quartz, we stopped to clean up and see what we had. Our disappointment and amazement knew no bounds when it dawned upon us that we had not so much as the color of gold . This was a damper, and you could have bought out the whole lot of us for about 10 cents apiece. However, we did not propose giving it up yet.


On arriving, and before this trial was made, I had written to Mr. Best for more stamps and other material to follow, but after this trial I wrote him to hold up a short time. About two weeks after, I wrote him to stop any further machinery. Even though it might be started, he must turn it back. He had acted on my second letter and had gone to but little expense, and any further outlay was thus saved. Of course, we did not give up all hope and kept trying. We finally stamped about a cord of quartz for some parties and took out over six hundred dollars. This so excited us that we bought this claim, paying some little down and a large part of the net earnings for quite a sum. I don't now remember, but I think about $3,000.00.  Here we spent the summer and some money sinking a shaft on this lead.

During the summer, I had arranged with two others to go to the summit of the Rocky Mountains, about twelve miles distant. You could almost think you could see a deer on its snow-capped summit. Just at this time, without the least warning of what was to come, I received a letter from home. It was hurriedly opened, for I saw it was from my wife, and there in a few lines I read that my dear little Josie was dead. She was about four years old and exceedingly bright. This shock seemed to change the whole outlook of the mountains, for what had seemed too splendid and interesting was now as suddenly covered in gloom, and my trip to the summit was abandoned. Now I longed for the time to come when we should start home.

Finally, about the last of September, we struck an open space [in the shaft] at the depth of one hundred feet . I panned out about one gallon of the decomposed quartz here found about 60 cents in gold . I tried a second pan with about the same results . This was considered very satisfactory, but, as the first of October was set as our time to start home, we gathered up a pair of horses and a pair of mules which we had got from the Russell Creek claim, and Patrick, Sturges, and I started for home in company with three or four others who had one of the teams . Mr . Hunter had his wife with him, and he stayed to manage the business .

We left the mines about September 28th and arrived home about the first of November, 1860, just in time to vote in that memorable election. I should have stated here, though we got a few hundred dollars out of this rich spot, the whole thing was a failure and abandoned with the total loss of what we put in it, Mr. Best and I losing one-half.

[Editor's Note: The "memorable election" of November 1860 to which Sparks referred was, of course, that which made Abraham Lincoln the next President, thus heralding the imminence of the South's secession and the Civil War that would follow . When, following the Union's defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run, Lincoln called for 300,000 volunteers to enlist for three years, David Rhodes Sparks organized and became captain of a company in the Third Regiment of Illinois Cavalry Volunteers. When we next publish a portion of Sparks' auto-biography it will pertain to his memories of his Civil War experiences.]




Compiled by Russell E. Bidlack

We have published Sparks (Spark, Sparkes) census records over the years, from the first census taken in 1790 through that for 1850. In the March 1995 issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 169, we began what will be a long-term project: Sparkses found on the 1860 census. We began with the 1860 census for Indiana. We now present our findings for Texas .

Here your editor must pay tribute to the late Paul E. Sparks whose Sparks records that he gathered over half a century have been sent to me by the executor of his estate, Robert L. Sparks, Paul's eldest grandson. Paul had made a number of notes regarding the identity of Sparkses in Texas prior to the Civil War which have been most helpful in this compilation.

The U.S. census of 1860 was very similar to that of 1850. The 1850 census has long been a major source for the American genealogist concerned with mid-l9th century families because it was designed to include the name and vital information for each "free" member of every household . Prior to 1850, only the head of each household was actually named in the six preceding censuses, with the other members simply enumerated by sex in various age categories. In 1860, as in 1850, the age of every one was to be recorded following his/her name, along with occupation (if any), place of birth, and the value of his/her property, both real and personal. Also, a check mark was to be added for each person married within the year ending on June 1, 1860, and if the person had attended school between June 1, 1859, and May 31, 1860. In another column, the census taker was to note any person over 20 who could not read or write. There was still another column in which to note whether the individual was deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict .

No precise direction was given regarding the form of the name to be recorded, and, as will be seen in the following compilation, some census takers recorded only initials for forenames.

The census taker was instructed to ascertain and record the specific age of each person at his or her last birthday previous to the first of June 1860. "If the exact age in years cannot be ascertained, insert a number which shall be the nearest approximation to it." Everyone living in a household on June 1, 1860, was to be included, even if no longer present, or deceased, when the census taker actually called . Census takers were to begin their visitations on June first, but it was often two or three months later when they finished . Infants born after June first were not to be included. The age of an infant born between June 1, 1859, and May 31, 1860, was to be given as a fraction, e.g., 6/12 for an infant six months old on June 1, 1860. A separate form was provided to record family members who had died between June 1, 1859, and May 31, 1860.

There was also a separate schedule to be completed for slave owners. His/her slaves were not listed by name, but they were recorded individually by age, sex, and color . Also to be noted was the number of "Slave Houses" provided by the owner. (Under color, Blacks were to be identified with a "B" and Mulattoes with an "M.")

Census takers were appointed by the federal Marshall of the Census, their selection often based on political considerations . Each was given the title "Assistant Marshall." They were paid on the basis of the number of names they recorded and the distances they travelled. The "Census District" assigned to an Assistant Marshall was supposed to amount to no more than about 20,000 individuals.


The printed forms (schedules) provided to the Assistant Marshalls required that each be headed by the identification of the state and county as well as township, if a county was divided into townships. The post office for the persons included on a schedule was to be identified; also the date of the visitation, with the signature of the census taker. The census taker was to assign a number to each dwelling house "in the order of visitation" and to each family "in the order of visitation."  In many instances, these would be the same, of course, but if there were more than one family in a dwelling, or an empty house, the family number would thereafter be different. Many census takers were careless in this regard .

Census takers used a variety of abbreviations for states to record places of birth . Here we have used the standard two-letter abbreviations of the U.S. Post Office.

The printed forms, or schedules, provided to the census taker in 1860 measured 12" x 17 1/2" and they were printed on both sides, with spaces for 40 entries on each side. While each census taker assigned page numbers to his completed forms, the page numbers given in this compilation are those that have been assigned at the National Archives where these records are preserved. Each number is for a schedule sheet, front and back.

The record of Sparkses appearing on the 1850 census of Texas was compiled by William Perry Johnson, one of the association's founders, and published in the QUARTERLY of March 1956, Whole No. 13, pp. 122-25.

To compile the record of Sparkses on the 1860 census of Texas, your editor has used an index to this census prepared by Ronald Vern Jackson and published by Accelerated Indexing Systems, Inc. It is not an "every name" index; heads of households are indexed, but not the members of households where the surname is the same as that of the head . Any individual living in a household whose head had a different surname is indexed, however . This index is quite well done, but handwriting is often difficult to interpret, so some individuals named Sparks may have been missed. The W. J. Sparks found in Wood County, for example, is not included in the index, but he had been noted by one of our members several years ago. On the other hand, the name "Hanan Sparks" of Lavaca County appears in the index, but actually his name is spelled "Speaks" on the census.

Knowing from this index in which Texas counties one or more Sparkses should be found, your editor then rented the films for those counties from Heritage Quest of Bountiful, Utah, which is a company specializing in providing historical records on microfilm for either rental or purchase . As noted earlier, the filmed census records are from the original handwritten schedules in the National Archives .

When Mr. Johnson searched the 1850 census of Texas in 1956, he found 117 persons named Sparks (including Spark and Sparkes) in 13 counties. Your editor has found 248 Sparkses on the 1860 census in 32 Texas counties. There were 37 households headed by a Sparks in which all but 25 of the 248 were living. These 25 "other Sparkses" were found in 17 households headed by an individual not named Sparks . Because in some households in which a Sparks was found may provide a clue regarding family relationship, all names in such "mixed" house holds have been copied here.

Of the 37 Sparks heads of households, 14 owned a total of 111 slaves. The largest number owned by one individual was 25; he was H. B. Sparks in Upshur County. Jane Sparks, widow of William Crain Sparks in Bell County, owned 24. The slave records for the 1860 census are on films apart from the so called "free" schedules. Films of these slave schedules were also rented, and the data found on them have been added to the appropriate family record from the free schedule .

Where we have been able to provide family information pertaining to Sparkses on this census, we have done so in notes following the entries . Should readers have data that supplement these notes, your editor would be pleased for you to share them.



Anderson County, Texas --1860 Census

Post Office: Palestine
Page 10. Census taken by B. T. Duval on June 23, 1860

Note: G.J., F.J., and Y.J. Geoch attended school within the year.

Post Office:    Bethel
Page 66. Census taken by B. T. Duval on September 3 & 4, 1860.

Note: The N. F. Sparks, age 42, shown above was Nathan Fowler Sparks; he was a son of John and Sarah (Brooks) Sparks and had been born on May 16, 1811, in Bedford County, Tennessee, according to the family Bible of John and Sarah (Brooks) Sparks described on pp. 2647-48 of the QUARTERLY of September 1984, Whole No. 127, in an article entitled "Matthew J. Sparks (1759- 1841), Son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, and His Descendants."  Matthew J. Sparks was the grandfather of Nathan Fowler Sparks . For further information regrading Nathan Fowler Sparks and his family, see the above article, pp. 2657-59. The age and place of birth of N. F. Sparks given in the 1860 census, above, was obviously in error. The N. F. Sparks, age 12, was a son of Nathan and his first wife, Elizabeth (Taylor) Sparks. Elizabeth had died in Anderson County, Texas, on December 3, 1857.

Bee County,Texas --1860 Census

Post Office: Beeville
Page 153. Census taken by A. S. Harmand on July 6 & 7, 1860.
Note: Susan and Mary had attended school within the year. Although on the above census the writing of Lucinda's name more resembles "Levintha," than Lucinda, and "Sparks" almost illegible, her entry on the slave schedule was written clearly as "Lucinda Sparks." She was shown there as owning one slave, a Black female, age 65 . This, with listing of her four children on the census, proves that she was the Lucinda J. Reed who was married to James Sparks in Rusk County, Texas, on September 20, 1849. They had appeared on the 1850 census of Rusk County. From family records, we know that the full names of their four children were: Thomas Bennett Sparks, Susan Rebecca Sparks, Mary Alice Sparks, and John Bailey Sparks. See pp.2869-70 of the QUARTERLY of June 1986, Whole No. 134, for a record of this family. James Sparks, husband of Lucinda, had been born about 1827 in Mississippi, a son of John and Joanna (Parkman) Sparks, and a grandson of William (1761-1848) and Mary (Fielder) Sparks. As noted on p.2869 of the QUARTERLY, it has been known that James Sparks died prior to 1885 and was buried on Medio Creek in Bee County. This census record without James suggests, however, that he may have died even prior to 1860. Lucinda died on July 9, 1907, in Live Oak County, Texas.
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Scanned and Edited by Harold E. Sparks