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


Daughter of Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks

With Her Husband

Marion DeKaib Rodgers (1842-1921)

(See page 5437)

(View photograph)

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The Sparks Quarterly, published by the Sparks Family Association
John J. Carmichael, Jr., President, 3408 N. Rosewood Ave., Muncie, Indiana (47304-2025)

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

Russell E. Bidlack, Secretary-Treasurer & Editor, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104-4498)

The Sparks Family Association was founded in March 1953 as a non-profit organization devoted to assembling and preserving genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family in America. It is exempt from federal tax under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 503(c) (7). Membership in the Association is open to all persons connected with the Sparks Family, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, and to persons interested in genealogical research. Membership falls into three classes:
Active, Contributing, and Sustaining. Active Membership dues are $10.00 per year; Contributing Membership dues are $15.00 per year; and Sustaining Membership dues are any amount over $15.00 that the member wishes to con tribute for the support of the Association. All members receive The Sparks Quarterly as it is published in March, June9 September, and December. Back issues are kept in print and are available for $3.00 each to members of the Association and for $4.00 each to non-members. The first issue of the Quarterly was published in March 1953. Nine quinquennial indexes have been published for the years 1953-57; 1958-62; 1963-67; 1968-72; 1973-77; 1978-82; 1983-87; 1988-92; and 1993-97. Each index is available for $5.00.

A complete file of all back issues of the Quarterly, including the nine in dexes, may be purchased for $350.00. The forty-six years of the Quarterly (1953-1999) comprise a total of 5280 pages of Sparks Family History. The nine indexes (1953-97) amount to over 900 additional pages. A table of con tents is also available for $5.00. Comprising 72 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 1999; it is updated at the end of each year. The International Standard Serial Number that has been assigned to the Quarterly is ISSN 0561-5445.

Orders for individual back issues of the Quarterly and 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; he has no E-Mail address.




In The Sparks Quarterly of September 2000, Whole No. 191, pp.5396-5304 appeared an article devoted to William Z. Sparks (ca.1791-1858) of Yadkin County, North Carolina. (Until 1850, Yadkin County had been part of Surry County.) Based on quite compelling circumstantial evidence, we believe that William Z. Sparks was a son of George Sparks who had been born between 1758 and 1760 in Frederick County, Maryland; George Sparks had accompanied his parents, William and Ann Sparks, on their move to the Forks of the Yadkin, then part of Rowan County,

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North Carolina, in 1764. (See the QUARTERLY of June 1983, Whole No. 122, pp. 2520-24, for an article devoted to George Sparks.)

William Z. Sparks died in December 1858 in the Jonesville area of Yadkin County where he had spent most of his life. We have not discovered the name of his first wife, who was also the mother of his seven children. Sometime after her death, be tween 1840 and 1850, he was married, second, to a widow named Mary Benge.

Of the seven children of William Z. Sparks, we can be certain of the identity of only two. One was James Sparks who was shown on the 1850 census as 21 years of age, still living in his father's household. The other was Thomas Sparks who was married to Catherine Swaim in Surry County, North Carolina, in 1837. The marriage bond for Thomas and Catherine was dated February 28, 1837, and from Bible records that will be noted later in this article, we have learned that their marriage ceremony took place nine days later, on March 9, 1837. It is significant that their bondsman was William Z. Sparks, doubtless the father of Thomas.

As we noted on page 5401 of the QUARTERLY of September 2000, it is evident that Thomas Sparks was in informal partnership with his father, William Z. Sparks, both before and for a period of time after his marriage.

We have not been able to determine the parentage of Catherine (or Katherine) Swaim (sometimes spelled Swain). When the 1840 census of Surry County was taken, William Z. and Thomas Sparks were living in the southern part of the county, below the Yadkin River, that would become Yadkin County a decade later. There, also, were enumerated five Swaim (or Swain) families. The heads of these five families were: (1) Michael Swaim, Sr., age 50 to 60, with wife 40 to 50, and 4 children; (2) John Swaim whose household immediately followed that of Michael, Sr., age 50 to 60, with wife 40 to 50, a female 70 to 80, and 7 children; (3) William Swaim, age 40 to 50, with wife 30 to 40, and 10 children; (4) Solomon Swaim, age 30 to 50, with 7 children; and (5) Moses Swaim, age 20 to 30, with wife in the same age category, but no children.

From the ages of these heads of households, we can be fairly certain that Catherine (Swaim) Sparks, born in 1816 and therefore 24 years of age in 1840, was a daughter of either Michael Swaim, Sr. or John Swaim. It is interesting that Thomas and Catherine named sons Solomon, Michael, and John. Of these three names, however, only Michael was an unusual name in the Sparks family.

Thomas Sparks's household, as enumerated on the 1840 census of Surry County, then consisted of himself and his wife, along with their first two sons, both of whom were shown as under 5 years. On this 1840 census, the name of Thomas Sparks appeared just before that of William Z. Sparks.

By the time that the 1850 census was taken, Thomas and Catherine Sparks had moved with their children to Iredell County, which adjoins Yadkin County on the south. Thomas' occupation was given as "Stiller."

By 1857 Thomas Sparks had moved with his family to York County, South Carolina, the northern boundary of which is the southern boundary of three North Carolina counties: Cleveland, Gaston, and Mecklenburg.

Recently we received from Louise Pettus of 708 Harrell St., Rock Hill, South Carolina, who descends from Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks, the results of her research on this family in York County, South Carolina. Through her, we have also obtained copies of family records contained in two 19th-century Bibles now owned by another descendant of Thomas and Catherine, Pat Rodgers Murphy. The older of these two Bibles was published in 1846 by the New York Bible Society, and on a blank page at the beginning of the New Testament appear the dates of birth of Thomas and Catherine, with their date of marriage. Following, on the same page,

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were recorded the names and birth dates of their six children, Because the Bible was published in 1846, we know that only the last two children could have been entered at the time they were born. The information about the parents and the births of their first four children, and probably, also, the last two, were surely copied from another, earlier, record.

The second Bible owned by Mrs. Murphy was published in 1851. It appears to have been owned first by a man named John A. Marion. At a later date, this Bible came into the possession of Marion DeKalb Rodgers and his wife, Adeilne Josephine Sparks, daughter of Thomas and Catherine. In this 1851 Bible there is what Mrs. Murphy has described as "a very fragile piece of paper" containing, also, the record of births of Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks, their marriage, and the births of their six children. Besides this "fragile piece of paper" there is a smaller sheet giving the date of death of Thomas Sparks and the death dates of four of his children.

From these two Bible records, we learn the following: Thomas Sparks was born on December 25, 1816, and Catherine Swaim was born on April 11, 1816. They were married on March 9, 1837. (In the Bible published in 1846, Catherine's name was written "Catharn Sparks" while on the sheet in the the 1851 Bible her name was written "Katharine Swain.") The dates of birth for their six children are the same in both of these records.

The deaths recorded on the small piece of paper in the 1851 Bible were: Thus, of the six children of Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks, two (Solomon and Martha) died as children, while two others (William Ashley and Michael) died as young men, both at the age of 21, The cause of Michael's death on November 4, 1861, is not known. William Ashley Sparks was a victim of the Civii War.

William Ashley Sparks, born June 24, 1841, served in the Army of the Confederate States in the Civil War, having enlisted in Company H of the 12th Infantry Regiment of South Carolina. He was wounded in the battle called "Second Manassas" by the Confederates and "Second Bull Run" by the Federals, on August 29, 1862. He was discharged because of his wounds and died on March 5, 1863, from disease. He was unmarried.

John Calvin Sparks, born July 21, 1843, was the only one of the four sons of Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks who survived the period of the Civil War.  He was only 18 years old when, with his brother, William Ashley Sparks, he enlisted in Company H of the 12th Infantry Regiment of South Carolina. Like his brother, he was severely wounded at the battle called "Second Manassas" by the Confederates, but called "Second Bull Run" by the Federals. Shot in the left knee on August 29, 1862, he was discharged, and, according to family accounts, he was brought home in a wagon.


John Calvin was living with his widowed mother in York County, South Carolina, when the 1870 census was taken, but by 1873 he had been married to Nancy Dulsina Allison. On the census taken in 1900 of Catawba, York County, Nancy's date of birth was given as May 1845 in South Carolina; she was shown on that census as having had four children, three of whom were then living. These three are known to have been Martha M. Sparks, born ca. 1874; John Thomas Sparks, born November 1, 1876; and William Franklin Sparks, born July 16, 1881. (Further infor mation on these children of John Calvin Sparks is given below.)

According to  Reports and Resolutions of General Assembly of South Carolina, Vol. 1, 1903, in 1902, John C. Sparks applied to the state for an artificial leg, stating that he had been "shot through left leg and has since used a crutch." The state had set up an "artificial fund" for its Civil War veterans, and John stated that he had "not heretofore participated in [the] artificial fund." His application was rejected, probably because he had not actually lost his leg.

John Calvin Sparks died a tragic death on December 2, 1902, having been shot accidentally by his 15-year-old grandson, Thomas Calvin Collins, whose nickname was Cally. Ms. Pettus has provided us with a transcript of the detailed account of the incident and of the inquest that followed, as they appeared in The Record, a news paper published in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on December 5, 1902. The inquest resulted in

a verdict by the jury that the deceased came to his death at the hands of Cally Collins as the result of criminal carelessness in the handling of a pistol.... Collins in default of a $1,000 bond was placed in the city lock-up pending efforts to secure the bond or have it reduced. It was signed Thursday.
In reporting the incident, The Record of December 2, 1902, had described John Calvin Sparks as "a leading Friendship farmer, 59 years old," adding that the accident had occurred "at the home of his son-in-law, J. J. Collins, in White Street near the Laurelwood Cemetery." In the issue of December 5, 1902, the paper quoted the testimony of Martha M. (Sparks) Collins, Cally's mother:
She said that the family were at the table eating supper, all laughing and talking and in a "good humor." The father had threatened to whip the boy during the day. Cally had finished eating and arose from the table and was in the act of showing his father how he would trip him off his feet if he should attempt to whip him when the pistol dropped from his pocket and fired.
Nancy Dulcina (Allison) Sparks, widow of John Calvin Sparks, lived until 1909. She was buried in the Old Friendship Cemetery near Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The three children of John Calvin and Nancy Dulcina (Allison) Sparks to survive childhood were:

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Adeline JosephineSparks, daughter of Thomas and Catherine (Swaim) Sparks, was born on April 11, 1849. She was married to Marion DeKalb Rodgers. He had been born in York County, South Carolina, on April 10, 1842, a son of John R. and Priscilla Jane (Riggins) Rodgers. A photograph of Adeline and her husband appears
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on the cover of the present issue of the QUARTERLY.   Adeline Josephine (Sparks) Rodgers died in Indian Land Township, Lancaster County, South Carolina, on August 5, 1921. Her husband, Marion DeKalb Rodgers, had died on February 2, 1921. Both were buried in the Belair United Methodist Church Cemetery at Belair, South Carolina. They were the parents of the following children:



[Editor's Note: As we noted on page 5433 of the present issue of the QUARTERLY, it was Louise Pettus of Rock Hill, South Carolina, who provided the family records enabling us to compile the above article on Thomas Sparks (1816-1863) and many of his descendants. Ms. Pettus is a great-great-granddaughter of Thomas. Her mother, Bessie Katherine (Rodgers) Pettus, recorded some of her memories in Feb ruary 1993. Ms. Pettus has shared these with the editor. As shown on page 5438, Bessie (Rodgers) Pettus was born in 1904. We believe that our readers will find these memories to be interesting. We begin with her memory of Camp Meetings at Belair Church in Lancaster, South Carolina.]

I first attended camp meeting at Belair Church, originally called Mount Arrarat, around 1910 or 1912. My grandparents, Marion DeKalb and Adeline Josephine Rod gers, lived near the church.

My grandmother Rodgers said she helped to cook breakfast for forty people who had come from her old home at Catawba in York County to camp meeting at Mount Arrarat. People would come in wagons with their children and stay overnight. The men would sleep in the wagons. These wagons were loaded with chickens, eggs, food, quilts for the children, and feed for the mules. Some that lived near enough would go home for the night, leaving their wagons and buggies at the church. They would unhitch their mules from the wagons and tie them to trees in the woods.

Services were morning and afternoon. If they had a night service, they had to have lanterns in the trees to be able to see to get around outside.

We had a lemonade stand and sold it for 3 cents a cup. After camp meeting was over my grandmother would sweep up corn spilled by the mules for her checkens, and I would hunt for pennies in the sawdust where the lemonade stand had been.  I have been a member at Belair for seventy-seven years [1993].

I also would ride the train to Catawba Junction with my grandmother Rodgers to visit the John Sparks family. We would stay a week during the summer. They had

a small store and house near the railroad track. Cousin Nannie would meet the train each day with lunch for the conductor, engineer, and fireman. I would help her carry the tea, sandwiches, fried chicken, and pies as the train stopped to pick up food. Seeing the trains daily, you learned to love the sound of the whistle, the rumble of the wheels, and the men as they waved each day to us children.

Marion DeKalb Rodgers was in the Civil War. He slept in the snow in Virginia. When he woke up he was covered with snow and there would be a little hole where he breathed. When I knew him, Grandfather had a beard. He had a little short beard in his earlier years. Later he had a large beard. He was of small to medium height and had pretty blue eyes. Josephine [Bessie's grandmother] was probably about 5' 2". She had brown hair and brown eyes. She wore her hair twisted in a bun on top of her head.

Once, Grandfather Rodgers said he was going to spank me. I hid under Grandmother Josephine's apron. I had laughed out loud and he told me to be quiet. I laughed again, and when he started after me, I ran to the kitchen where Grand mother was making bread. The next day they took me home in the wagon. When they left, I was back in the wagon.

Pat Rodgers Murphy has M. D. and Josephine's Bible. Each night I read the Bible Grandmother Josephine gave me. She asked me what did I want that belonged to her. I replied, "Your Bible." This was said to Grandmother after M.D. 's death (after she moved in with us up on the hill). She said she wanted her son, James Mitchell Rodgers, to have the Bible. She gave me $5 .00 to buy a Bible which I have today. I bought the Bible from a mail order firm in 1921.

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Thomas L. Zumwalt, 234 E. Nottingham Place, San Antonio, Texas (78209), a long time member of the Association, extends an invitation to Sparks relatives to attend a ceremony scheduled for March 31, 2001, at 11:00 A.M. at the Masonic Cemetery in Eagle Lake, Texas. It will be in conjunction with the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, that members of the Sparks family will place markers on Nancy Johnson Sparks Roberts' grave as a "Citizen of the Republic of Texas" and on Thomas Jefferson Roberts' grave as a receiver of the "Southern Cross of Honor." Mr. Zumwalt writes that his mother, Dorothy Maye White, "and several other relatives have joined the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the United Daughters of the Confederacy on the Jacob E. Sparks and Nancy Johnson and Thomas Jefferson Roberts names."

For further information, Mr. Zumwalt can be reached by telephone (210-824-7809) or by E-Mail

Mr. Zumwalt is related to the Sparkses through both his mother and his father. On his father's side, it was Nancy Caton, daughter of Esther Sparks and Jesse Caton, who was married toAdam Zumwalt on May 6, 1813, in St. Charles County, Missouri. They became the great-great-great-grandparents of Thomas. Esther Sparks (born March 20,1770) was a daughter of Jonas Sparks about whom an article appeared in the QUARTERLY of June 1964, Whole No. 45. Mr. Zumwalt's mother is a daughter of Vivian Sparks (1894-1971) who was married in 1913 to Charles Thomas White. (Vivian's photograph appears on the following page.) Vivian's paternal grandparents were Jacob and Nancy (Johnson) Sparks. (See the QUARTERLY of March 1989, Whole No.145.) Mr. Zumwalt thus descends through each of his parents from the 17th century immigrant from Hampshire County, England, William Sparks, who died In Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709.

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

VIVIAN SPARKS (1894-1971)

Daughter of James Albert and Irene (Roberts) Sparks

Granddaughter of Jacob and Nancy (Johnson) Sparks

Wife of Charles Thomas White

(View photograph)



The following record of Confederate soldiers named Sparks from South Carolina was copied by the late William Perry Johnson from "Soldiers from South Carolina in the War between the States, South Carolina Historical Commission, Columbia, South


Thomas Spark: 1st Regiment Regulars, Company I, Private.

M. Sparkes: 1st Regiment Regulars, Company A, Private.

A. D. Sparks: 20th Regiment, Company L, Captain. Remarks: Marl boro District: Discharged Mt. Pleasant.

Absolom Sparks: 6th Regiment, Company D, Private. Remarks: Dis charged January 18, 1863, for disability.

B. Sparks: 1st Regiment Regulars, Company H, Private. Remarks: Spartanburgh District.

Dreirry Sparks: 3rd Battalion, Company D, Private. Remarks: Lan rens District.

Gary Sparks: 18th Regiment, Company C, Age 26, Private. Remarks:  Union District; Surrendered at Appomattox.

George Sparks: 8th Regiment, Company K, Age 22, Private. Remarks:  Marlboro District; Discharged 1861.

J. C. Sparks: 12th Regiment, Company H, Age 20, Private. Remarks:  York District; Wounded 19 August 1862 at 2nd Manassas; Discharged for wounds.

Jesse Sparks: 13th Regiment, Company D, Age 32, Private. Remarks:  Newberry District; Died at Fredericksburg.

Jesse Sparks: 18th Regiment, Company C, Age 35, Private. Remarks: Union District: Discharged at Charleston.

John F. Sparks: 18th Regiment, Company A, Private. Remarks: Union District; Enlisted January 1862; Died at hospital in Virginia.

John W. W. Sparks: 1st Regiment Regulars, Company A, Private &
6th Sergeant; Remarks: Spartanburgh District.

Levi Sparks: 18th Regiment, Company C, Age 36, Private. Remarks:
Union District; Discharged at Charleston.

W. A. Sparks: 12th Regiment, Company H, Age 21, Private. Re marks: York District; Wounded 29 August 1862 at 2nd Manassas; Discharged for wounds.

Cavalry -

B. U. Sparks: 5th Regiment, Company K, Private. Remarks:  Union District.

Barham Sparks: 18th Regiment, Company A, Private. Remarks:  Union District; Transferred to in exchange; Enlisted 12 Nov. 1861; Exchanged back.

D. Pierce Sparks: 2nd Regiment, Company K, Private. Remarks:   Enlisted 14 June 1861.

J. Calhoun Sparks: 2nd Regiment, Company K, Private. Remarks:   Enlisted 14 June 1861; Killed while scouting near Fredericksburg.

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Scanned and edited  by Harold E. Sparks