"To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root."
(An old Chinese proverb.)

VOL. XLIX, NO.1 MARCH 2001  WHOLE NO. 193a

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[Here appear two photographs, beneath which is the following caption:]



Matthew Addison Sparks (called Addison), Born August 2, 1850


Mary Elizabeth Sparks, Born September 28, 1851

(see pp.5472-73)

(View photographs)


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-seven years of the Quarterly (1953-2000) comprise a total of 5470 pages of Sparks Family History. The nine indexes (1953-97) amount to over 900 additional pages. An index for 1998-2002 will be published in 2003.  A table of contents is also available for $5.00. Comprising 72 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 2000; 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 QUARTERLY of September 1977, Whole No.99, pp.1936-37, we published an abstract of the Civil War pension papers of Thomas Sparks, who was born about 1827 and died on September 18, 1864. He was a son of Matthew Brooks and Nancy (Sutton) Sparks. Thomas had been born in Bedford County, Tennessee. He had been married on July 2, 1848, to Sarah Anh Harp (sometimes spelled Harpe), in Morgan County, Illinois. On May 25, 1861, he had volunteered to serve in Company C, 14th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry commanded by Capt. A. H. Cornman. He gave his age then as 34.

Thomas Sparks made application for a Civil War pension on July 8, 1864, stating that in the fall of 1861 and the spring of 1862, while on duty in Missouri and Tennessee, he had contracted diabetes for which he had received a disablilty discharge.


Thomas Sparks was living in Girard, Illinois, when he made his application for a pension, and it was there that he died on September 19, 1864, before his application was acted upon. His widow, Sarah Ann (Harp) Sparks, then applied for a widow's pension on August 15, 1865, giving her age as 33.

The widowed mother of children under the age of 16 was entitled to an additional payment of $2.00 per child per month. Six of Sarah's children so qualified in 1865, but the eldest, a daughter named Harriet L. Sparks, was then over the age of 16. Except for Harriet, Sarah provided dates of birth for her children, as follow:

Harriet L. Sparks, born about 1849.
Matthew Addison Sparks, born August 2, 1850. (He was called Addison.)
Mary Elizabeth Sparks, born September 28, 1851.
William E. T. Sparks, born January 4, 1854.
John S. Sparks, born March 25, 1856.
Nancy E. Sparks, born July 27, 1860.
George H. Sparks, born June 13, 1862.
Sarah Sparks's application was approved, and she drew a widow's pension until April .4:87:3 when she was married, second, to John A. Jackson. Her children had ceased receiving their allowance as they reached age 16, so only the two youngest, Nancy E. and George H., continued to qualify after their mother's second marriage, at which time her pension was cancelled.

On page 1937 of the September 1977 QUARTERLY, we gave information about George Sparks' ancestry. We will not repeat that here. Following her marriage to John A. Jackson in 1873, Sarah bore another child named Al Jackson. A photo of Sarah and this son appears below.

A great-granddaughter of Thomas and Sarah (Harp) Sparks, Thelma F. Christiansen, was a member of our Association from 1977 until her death at Hales Corners, Wisconsin, on December 2, 1999. Her mother was Mary E. Sparks. Recently Mrs. Christensen's daughter, Mrs. Elin Rogahn, sent us photographs found among the papers of her mother. We are pleased to reproduce them here. Those of Matthew Addison and Mary Elizabeth Sparks appear on the cover.

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

Sarah Ann (Harp) Sparks Jackson
and her son, Al Jackson,
by her second husband,
John A. Jackson

(View photograph)


[Here appear three photographs, beneath which is the following caption:]

William E. T. Sparks, born 1854, 
John S. Sparks, born 1856, 
Son of Thomas a Sarah Ann Sparks
Son of Thomas a Sarah Ann Sparks
(View photograph)
(View photograph)

George H. Sparks, 
Son of Thomas a Sarah Ann Sparks
(View photograph)




By Russell E. Bidlack

Early lists of taxpayers, usually compiled in counties, often provide valuable clues in tracing ancestors, in that they indicate that an individual owned taxable property and lived with his/her family in a given locality in a particular year. It was land that was usually taxed, but not all heads of household owned land. Where personal property was taxed, such as livestock, most were included in such lists, particularly in states where there was also a poll tax. A poll tax was typically levied on white males 21 years of age and older. Court action could excuse a man from paying this tax because of age or disability; clergymen and elected public servants were usually excused.

In the colony of Virginia and later when it became a state, it was required that heads of households travel to their county's seat of justice each year to report the taxable property they owned and to make the required payment. Taxpayers knew that there was a record of land ownership in the county courthouse, so they were motivated to make their annual pilgrimage, but where they had only personal property to be reported and taxed, the pilgrimage might be neglected.

In Virginia in 1787, besides the poll tax, there was also a property tax on slaves, horses (including "mares, colts, & mules"), cattle, carriage wheels, billiard tables, and stud horses (with rates of "covering prices thereon"). There was an added tax for "physicians, apothecaries, and surgeons.

In 1786, the Virginia Assembly passed a law designed to identify all owners of taxable property simply by requiring county tax commissioners to visit every household in their respective counties and, by observation and quizzing, record his/her personal property subject to tax. These visitations were to begin in March 1787. The name of the head of each household was to be noted resulting, in effect, in a census. The tax commissioner was also required to note the date on which he visited each family unit. Even if an adult white male owned no taxable property, his name was still to be recorded as a poll. Because Virginia had a state church, as in England, all adult males were to be recorded as "tithables."

Slaves, both male and female, were to be reported together in two age categones:  those over 16 and those under 16, but not by name. Although white males were not subject to the poll tax in Virginia until they reached the age of 21, young men in a household, whether sons, relatives, or employees, who were between 16 and 21, were to be enumerated as tithables. Their names, however, were not required.

Unfortunately for genealogists, the tax law of Virginia was changed for 1788, thereafter making the state's "tax census" less complete after 1787. A number of years ago, the late Netti Schreine-Yantis, with the aid of Florence Speakman Love, gathered and copied the 1787 tax lists that were still extant for Virginia counties, which they then published in pamphlet form. Ms. Schreiner-Yantis very kindly provided this writer with a list of the counties in which one or more persons named Sparks appeared, and he purchased those, enabling him to prepare this article.

Male and female heads of Virginia households taxed in Virginia in 1787 were found to be extant in ten Virginia counties, as well as in three others that became Kentucky counties when the state of Kentucky was set apart from Virginia in 1792. The ten counties that remained part of Virginia in which a Sparks was taxed in 1787 were: Bedford, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Gloucester, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Prince William, Shenandoah, and Westmoreland. The three Kentucky counties were: Bourbon, Fayette, and Lincoln. The tax list for Jefferson County, where we know there were several Sparks households, has been lost.


Another item required for notation under the 1787 tax law was: Who should be charged for the household head's tax? With relatively few exceptions, the answer was "Self." Where "Self" was not given, and another name substituted, it was often that of the father of the individual or his employer. As noted earlier, women were not subject to the poll tax, nor were they "tithables."

Bedford County, Virginia

Bedford County had been created in 1753 from parts of Albemarle and Lunenburg Counties. Located in the southern portion of the state, Bedford County today adjoins the Virginia counties of Pittsylvania, Franklin, Roanoke, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Amhearst, and Campbell.

One Sparks was taxed in Bedford County in 1787, his name being Charles Sparks. He was subject only to the poll tax, and It was John Dawson who was charged for his tax. John Dawson was also charged with the tax for Jeremiah Dawson, who, like Sparks, was taxed only as a poll. John Dawson, himself, was taxed for 5 horses and 7 cattle. It was on April 10, 1787, that Tax Commissioner Thomas Logwood recorded the names of these three men; he visited no other household that day.

As will be noted under Fauquier County, a James Sparks there is known to have been married on December 15, 1785, to Margaret Dawson. We may wonder whether this Margaret Dawson could have been of the same Dawson family as that of John Dawson.

Culpeper County, Virginia

Culpeper County had been created in 1748 from Orange County. Located in the northern part of the state, Culpeper adjoins today the counties of Orange, Madison, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Stafford, and Spotsylvania. Madison County was cut off from Culpeper in 1792/3; Rappahannock County was cut off from Culpeper in 1833. Culpeper was divided into three tax districts in 1787, but we do not know their boundaries. Six persons named Sparks were identified as subject to tax there in 1787.

Elizabeth Sparks was designated as "not tithable" because of being a woman, but she was taxed for 2 horses and 7 cattle. A male living in her household was enumerated as between 16 and 21, thus a tithable but not a poll. His name was not given. Tax Commissioner Goodrich Lightfoot called on her on March 17, 1787.

John Sparks was also visited by Goodrich Lightfoot on March 3, 1787. He was taxed for one slave over 16 years of age, along with 5 horses and 9 cattle.

Henry Sparks, also heading a household in Lightfoot's tax district, was visited by him on March 23, 1787. His taxable property was reported as being one slave under 16, one horse, and 6 cattle.

Mary Sparks, also living in Lightfoot's tax district, was visited by him on April 4, 1787. As a woman, she was marked as "not taxable," but she was taxed for one slave over 16 years of age, along with 3 horses and 7 cattle.

Humphrey Sparks was living in Daniel Brown's tax district in Culpeper County and was visited by him on April 3, 1787. He was shown as "not tithable" (meaning, also, not subject to poll tax) for a reason not shown, but he was taxed for one slave over 16; also 3 horses and 7 cattle. Some men were excused from paying the poll tax because of old age and infirmity. Clergymen and government officials were also excused from paying the poll tax, but we doubt that Humphrey was either a preacher or a publlc servant.


Humphrey Sparks (second of the name), like the other Humphrey Sparks, was shown in Daniel Brown's district, but he owned no taxable property; Martin Nalle was charged with paying Humphrey's poll tax. Martin Nalle was visited by the tax commissioner on April 3, 1787, the same day as the first Humphrey Sparks. See the notes that follow to explain young Humphrey's relationship to Martin Nalle.

Editor's Note: regarding the Sparkses of Culpeper County: The six individuals shown as taxed in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1787, were members of the family of John and Mary Sparks who had moved to Orange County, Virginia, from Caroline County, Virginia. After the death of John Sparks about 1732, his widow, Mary, was married later to Spencer Bobo. They, with Mary's orphaned children, came to Orange County, Virginia, in 1737. They lived in that part of Orange County that became Culpeper County in 1748. See the SPARKS QUARTERLY of June 1956, Whole No. 14, for a lengthy record of this family entitled: "The Sparks Family of Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Counties, Virginia," beginning on page 129.

John and Mary Sparks were the parents of four sons and two daughters:

Elizabeth Sparks, a daughter of Jasper Haynes, Sr., was the widow of William Sparks (son of John and Mary Sparks). William Sparks had died in 1781. The text of his will appears on pp.143-44 of the QUARTERLY. The male between 16 and 21 shown in Elizabeth's household in 1787 was doubtless her oldest son, John Sparks, believed to have been born in or about 1769.

The John Sparks appearing on the 1787 tax list was doubtless the eldest son of Thomas Sparks who had been the eldest son of John and Mary Sparks, and had been born about 1715. Thomas Sparks had been married to Mary Towles. Thomas had made his will on December 10, 1784 (see pp.134-35 of the QUARTERLY) which was probated on February 19, 1787, in Culpeper County. John Sparks was married to Phoebe Smith; he died in Madison County, Virginia, in 1803.

Henry Sparks, born June 16, 1753, was a son of Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks. He served in the American Revolution and had the distinction of being a member of General Washington's body guard. He was married to Lucy Clark in January 1776. See the QUARTERLY of June 1957, Whole No. 18, pp.21l-lB, and December 1960, Whole No. 32, pp.511-17, for further information about him and his family.

Mary Sparks, a daughter of Stokeley and Ann (Vallott) Towles, was the widow of
Thomas Sparks (son of John and Mary Sparks) who had died shortly before the
1787 census was taken. See the QUARTERLY of June 1956, Whole No. 14, for an
article about him and the text of the will of Thomas Sparks.

Humphrey Sparks, born about 1749, was the second son of Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks. He was married to Milly Nalle, daughter of Martin and Isabel Nalle. Humphrey moved to Scott County, Kentucky, in 1795, and. later to Owen County, Kentucky. See the QUARTERLY of March 1981, Whole No.113, pp.2273, for the article: "Humphrey Sparks (ca.1749-ca.1827) of Culpeper County, Virginia, and Scott and Owen Counties, Kentucky."


The Humphrey Sparks shown without taxable property but subject to the poll tax,  and apparently living in the household of Martin Nalle in 1787, was a son of Humphrey and Milly (Nalle) Sparks. Martin Nalle, to whom Humphrey's poll tax was charged, was Humphrey's maternal grandfather.

Fauquier County, Virginia

Fauquier County had been created in 1759 from Prince William County, Virginia.  It is located in the northeast part of the state and today adjoins the Virginia counties of Culpeper, Stafford, Prince William, Loudoun, Clarke, Warren, and
Rappahannock. Clarke and Warren Counties, however, were part of Frederick in 1787, while Rappahannock was then part of Culpeper County.

James Sparks was the only Sparks taxed in Fauquier County in 1787, he being in Travers Nash's tax district. From a record made by Nash, his district lay along the border of Prince William County. Nash visited James Sparks on March 19, 1787, and reported that he owned 3 horses and 2 cattle.

Editor's Note: James Sparks was born about 1760 and was a son of William and Kesiah Sparks. William Sparks, father of James, was taxed in Prince William County, Virginia, from which Fauquier County had been created in 1759, and it was there that James had been born. William Sparks made his will on March 7, 1787, and it was probated on December 1, 1788. He left his son James "one shilling sterling," and he designated his wife, Kesiah, and James to execute his estate.

James Sparks was married to Margaret Dawson on December 15, 1785, in Fauquier County. John Perkins was his surety and George Brooke was his witness. We may wonder whether she may have been related to the John Dawson in Bedford County who was shown on the 1787 tax list there as responsible for paying the poll tax for Charles Sparks, whom we cannot identify. For a rather full account of the life of James Sparks, see the article entitled "Some Descendants of William and Kesiah Sparks of Prince William County, Virginia, " in the QUARTERLY of June 1993, Whole No. 182, beginning on page 4110. James Sparks was married (second) to Nancy Matthew on May 25, 1801. Catherine Matthew gave her consent for her daughter to be married to James Sparks.

Frederick County, Virginia

Frederick County had been created in 1738 from Orange and Augusta Counties, Virginia. It is located in the northern part of the state adjoining the West Virginia counties of Hardy, Hampshire, Morgan, and Berkeley. (West Virginia had been cut off from Virginia to form a second state during the Civil War.) Frederick County borders the Virginia counties of Shenandoah, Warren, and Clarke on the west and south.

James Sparks was taxed in Frederick County in 1787. Tax Commissioner John White visited him on May 12, 1787, and reported that John Painter should be charged for James's poll tax.

Editor's Note: We have been unable to Identify this James Sparks. It would seem probable that James Sparks was employed by John Painter. Besides John Painter, two other men were called upon by John White also on May 12, 1787: David Painter and Isaac Painter.

We have a record of the marnage of a William Sparks and Mary Robertson in Frederick County, Virginia, on August 15, 1795.


Gloucester County, Virginia

Gloucester County had been created in 1651 from York County, Virginia. It is located on the eastern shore of Virginia, bordering the York River on the west and south. The Piankatank River flows on its north side separating it from Middlesex and Matthews Counties. Until 1790, Matthews was part of Gloucester County.

James Sparks was taxed in Gloucester County in 1787 in Tax Commissioner George Green's district. Green visited James Sparks on May 17, 1787, and reported that, besides his poll tax, he should be taxed for 8 slaves over 16 and 11 under 16. He was also taxed for 3 horses and 17 cattle. We have not been able to identify this James Sparks.

Mecklenburg County, Virginia

Mecklenburg County had been created in 1764/5 from Lunenburg County. Today, on its southern side, it borders three North Carolina counties: Granville, Vance and Warren. It borders the following Virginia counties: Halifax on the west, Charlotte on the northwest, Lunenburg on the north, and Brunswick on the east.

Samuel Sparks. Tax Commissioner William Starling for the "Lower District" of Mecklenburg County called on Samuel Sparks on April 17, 1787, reporting that, besides his poll tax, his taxable property consisted of one horse.

Editor's Note: We have not been able to identify this Samuel Sparks. A Matthew Sparks, born about 1782, is known to have served in the War of 1812 from Mecklenburg County. (See the QUARTERLY of June 1962, Whole No.38, pp.640-42.)

Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Located on Virginia's southern boundary with North Carolina, Pittsylvania County was created from Halifax County, Virginia, in 1766/7. On the south, it adjoins the North Carolina counties of Rockingham and Caswell. On the west, it adjoins the Virginia counties of Henry and Franklin, on the north Bedford and Campbell, and on the east it adjoins Halifax County, Virginia. (Note that there is a county in both Virginia and North Carolina named Halifax.) A part of Henry County was included in Pittsylvania County until 1776/7.

Eight persons named Sparks were included on the 1787 tax list of Pittsylvania Coun ty, all in Tax Commissioner William Short's district. The following were visited by Short on March 27, 1787:

Josiah Sparks. Josiah owned no taxable property; his poll tax was charged to Thomas Sparks.

Thomas Sparks. Besides his poll tax and that of Josiah, his 'taxable property consisted of 3 horses and 3 cattle.

Matthew Sparks. He was taxed as a poll with 3 horses and 9 cattle. He was also shown with having a male (doubtless a son) in his household be tween 16 and 21 years of age.

Leonard Sparks. He was taxed on 2 horses and 1 cattle along with his poll tax.

Matthew Sparks (second of this name). William Short called on him on March 30, 1787; he was taxed as a poll, also on one horse and 6 cattle.

On April 10, 1787, William Short called on:

Thomas Sparks. (second of this name). He was taxed as a poll along with 3 horses and 6 cattle.

On April 11, 1787, Tax Commissioner Short visited two Sparks households:

Elinor Sparks. She was not taxed as a poll because she was a woman, but she was shown as owning one horse and 5 cattle on which she was taxed.

Josiah Sparks. Besides his poll tax, he was taxed only on one horse.


Editor's Note: The Sparks familles taxed in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1787, except for the widow, Elinor Sparks, were sons or grandsons of one or the other of two brothers, Thomas Sparks and Matthew Sparks. These brothers had been land owners in Prince Georges County, Maryland, from the 1740s until 1777 when both men sold their land there in preparation for moving to Pittsylvania County. In 1776, the year prior to their departure a census was taken of Prince Georges County, Maryland, on which Thomas and Matthew were recorded as heads of households. The age of Thomas was given as 65 in 1776, thus placing his birth in or about 1711. Thomas's wife, Elizabeth, was shown as 58, placing her birth in or about 1718. The age of Matthew Sparks appearing on this Maryland census of 1776 was 61, meaning that he had been born in or about 1715. Matthew's wife, Elinor, was shown as 45, thus her year of birth had been in or about 1731.

The children of these two households were not named on this 1776 census, but they were enumerated by sex and age. There were two males (ages 18 and 14) and two females (ages 16 and 14) in the household of Thomas and Elizabeth Sparks. The household of Matthew and Elinor Sparks included five males (ages 27, 17, 15, 11, and 5) and two females (ages 23 and 3). Because Elinor was some 16 years younger than Matthew, and because the ages of  Thomas' children apparently ranged from 27 to 3, we believe that Elinor was a second wife of Matthew. As seen above, she was still living in 1787, a widow. (For the listing of Sparkses on the 1790 census of Pittsylvania County, see the QUARTERLY of June 1953, Whole No.2, p.11.)

A lengthy article on the Sparkses of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, is planned for the QUARTERLY in which each of these 1787 households will be identified. An article listing their land holdings, etc., appeared in the QUARTERLY of September
1955, Whole No. 11, pp.79-85, and March 1956, Whole No. 13, pp..109-121.

Prince William County, Virginia

Prince William County, Virginia, had been created in 1730/1 from King George and Stafford Counties. Located in the northeast part of Virginia, it borders Charles County, Maryland, across from the Potomac River on its eastern side. Virginia counties adjoining Prince William are Fairfax on the northeast, Loudoun on the north, Fauquier on the west and southwest, and Stafford on the south.

There were two Sparks households in Prince William County according to the 1787 personal property tax record. Both were visited by Tax Commissioner John Brown on March 28, 1787:

Elizabeth Sparks. As a woman, she was not subject to the poll tax, but she was taxed for 2 horses and 3 cattle.

William Sparks. Besides his poll tax, he was taxed on 5 horses and 11 cattle.

Editor's Note: An article about this William Sparks was published in the QUARTERLY of June 1993, Whole No. 162, pp.4109-10. William Sparks's wife's name was Kesiah. He made his will on March 7, 1787, and it was probated on December 1, 1788. The text of his will appears on Page 4110 or the QUARTERLY. In his will,


William Sparks left "one shilling sterling to my grandson, James Sparks, son of John Sparks, decd." It is probable that the Elizabeth Sparks shown on the 1787 tax list of Prince William County was the widow of John Sparks, the son of William and
Keziali Sparks, who had died before William Sparks made his will in 1787.  William Sparks also named his son William Sparks [Jr.] in his will, as well as a son named Thomas. To the latter, he left 31 pounds specie to be put to interest "till he comes of age.." He mentioned only one daughter, Nancy Wingate. The only white male named Wingate appearing on the 1787 tax list of Prince William County was John Wingate whose poll tax was charged to John Hill.

The son of William and Keziah Sparks named James Sparks was living in Fauquier County, Virginia, when the 1787 tax lists were created, and was identified earlier on page 5478 of the present issue of the QUARTERLY.

Three sons of William Sparks, William, Jr., James, and Thomas, moved together to Bourbon County, Kentucky, about 1805. See the QUARTERLY of June 1994, Whole No. 166, pp.4291-4301, for further information on this line.

Shenandoah County, Virginia

Shenandoah County, Virginia, had been created in 1772 from Frederick County, Virginia. It was called Dunmore County until 1778. It is located in the northern section of Virginia, and today it borders Hardy County, West Virginia, on the north west. It adjoins Frederick County on the north, Page and Warren Counties on the east, and Rockingham County on the south, all in Virginia. Part of Warren County, which was created in 1836, was taken from Shenandoah County; likewise, a portion was taken in 1831 to form Page County. One white male named Sparks appears on the 1787 tax list of Shenandoah County.

Austin Sparks. He was shown as living in that portion of Shenandoah County that was visited by Tax Commissioner Taverner Beale on September 19, 1787. Besides being taxed as a poll, he was shown as owning one horse and 3 cattle.

Editor's Note: According to Bernice Ashby's 1967 compilation of marriage bonds in Shenandoah County, there are three early marriage bonds on record there involving persons named Sparks; we can assume that the actual marriage in each case took place within a few days following the date of the bond in each case.

Arthur Sparks and Betty Kesterson, June 22, 1787. Bondsman: Colin Brayhour.

There is a deed dated September 26, 1787, recorded in Shenandoah County (Deed Book 1772-1820), by which Auston [sic] Sparks and wife Elizabeth, "late Elizabeth Cesterson," sold to William Mulen for 50 pounds Elizabeth's "dower of the estate of

her former husband, William Cesterson, decd."   The land adjoined land owned by Joseph Hawkins, George Bird, and John Moore. There is a marriage record in Rockingham County dated 1784 for Charles Sparks and Jane Nielson, daughter of David Neilson, in which Austen [sic] Sparks was surety for CharlesSparks.

Betty Kesterson, whose marriage bond, above, with "Arthur" Sparks dated June 22, 1787, was probably the Elizabeth Cesterson shown as the wife of "Auston Sparks" in the above deed. We may speculate that Austin (or Auston) Sparks was miscopied as "Arthur Sparks" in Bernice Ashby's 1967 compilation of marriage bonds in Shenandoah County from which the record of the above three marriages was taken.


Westmoreland County, Virginia

Westmoreland County had been created in 1653 from Northumberland County. A portion of Westmoreland was cut off to help form King George County in 1720. Its boundaries were the same in 1787 as today. It borders the Potomac River on its northeast side, across from St. Marys County, Maryland. It adjoins the Virginia counties of King George on the west, Essex and Richmond on the south, and Northumberland on the east. Two white males named Spark/Sparks were taxed in Westmoreland County in 1787.

William Sparks was living in Tax Commissioner William Harwar Parker's District when the 1787 tax list was prepared. Parker called on William Sparks on May 5, 1787. Although William Sparks was not required to pay a poll tax (the reason is not known), he was taxed on 10 slaves over 16 and 7 under 16, as well as 5 horses and 33 cattle. He was also charged with paying the poll tax for a man named Job Thomas, probably an employee, who had no taxable property.

James Spark [sic] was also taxed in Westmoreland County, but he was in the dis trict of Thomas Muse who visited him on June 9, 1787. Like William Sparks, James Spark was not required to pay poll tax (the reason is not known), but he was taxed for one slave over 16, along with 2 horses. A white male between 16 and 21 was enumerated as living in James Spark's household.

Editor's Note: The above William and James Spark/Sparks were brothers, the sons of Alexander Sparks who had died in 1783. See the article beginning on page 5485 of the present issue of the QUARTERLY for further information on this branch of the Sparks family. We believe that the name "Spark" gradually became "Sparks" in this Scottish family.

Two marriage bonds for Sparkses in Westmoreland Cdunty are known to exist:
James Sparks and Harnar [Hannah ?] Parker, July 10, 1791; and William Sparks and Lucy Redman, January 6, 1801. In adjoining King George County, in the register of St. Paul's Parish, there is the following marriage record: "John Hannidge and Molly Sparkes were married on 22 October 1785."

It is interesting to note that on the day (June 10, 1787) the Tax Commissioner Thomas Muse visited James Spark in Westmoreland County, he called upon Jemima Redman who was taxed for 2 slaves over 16 and 4 slaves under 16, as well as 3 horses and 11 cattle. Might she have been Lucy Redman's mother? John Hannage [sic] was taxed in William Harwar Parker's district in Westmoreland County in 1787; he was called upon on May 2 while William Sparks was visited on May 5. "Hannage" was doubtless an alternate spelling of Hannidge. He was taxed as a tithable as well as for 2 horses and 4 cattle. A white male between 16 and 21 was enumerated as a member of his household in 1787.

A petition dated May 13, 1784, signed by a large number of "inhabitants of West- moreland, Northumberland, Richmond, and Lancaster Counties" is extant. The signers of this petition requested the Virginia Assembly to create a town and warehouse "at a place called Kinsale belonging to Mr. Catesby Jones in Westmore land County." Among the signers was "Jas. Spark." Other signatures near that of Jas. Spark were "Wm. Harwar Parker" and "Henry S. Redman." Again we refer the reader to the article on Spark/Sparks probate records in Westmoreland County beginning on page 5485.


Bourbon County, Virginia (later Kentucky)

Bourbon County, Virginia, was created in 1786 from Fayette County and continued, as did Fayette County, to be part of Virginia until Kentucky was set off from Virginia in 1792 as a separate state. At the time the 1787 tax was taken, Bourbon County included parts of 20 other future counties of Kentucky. The area comprising Bourbon County in 1787 was divided into three tax districts, one of which was assigned to Tax Commissioner Edmond Mountjoy. His record of the dates on which he visited inhabitants of Bourbon County was either not made or has been lost. We can only imagine the distances that he was required to travel to find settlers. He listed two different men named Sparks, each with the same forename, William. Both were taxed as polls, but how near or far they lived from each other is unknown.

William Sparks, perhaps the elder of the two men having this name, was reported as a white male tithable and taxed for 3 horses and 7 cattle. In his household there was also a white male between the ages of 16 and 21.

William Sparks, perhaps the younger of the two men having this name, was reported by Mountjoy as a taxable poll (tithable) owning 2 horses.

Editor's Note: Because we do not have the record of dates on which Tax Commissioner Mountjoy visited households in his district, we have no clue whether these two men lived near one another. Sparks marriages in early Bourbon County were published in the QUARTERLY of December 1985, Whole No.132, pp.2824-26. At least five of these marriages probably pertain to the families of one or both of these two men named William Sparks.

George Sparks and Elizabeth Wells, June 14, 1791. Bondsman: William Perrin.
John Sparks and Katy Waddel, August 22, 1792. Bondsman: James Cleaver.
Michael Sparks and Elizabeth Wells, August 15, 1794. Bondsman: William Perrin.
Joseph Sparks and Anne Wilson, January 1, 1797. Married by J. Whitakere.
Caleb Sparks and Rebecca Wilson, October 19, 1805.
Fayette County, Virginia (later Kentucky)

Long claimed by Virginia as part of her vast Augusta County, Fayette County was later made part of Fincastle County. During Daniel Boone's explorations of the area in the 1760s, it was designated as Kentucky County. In 1780, Kentucky County was divided into three counties: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. As noted above under Bourbon County, Bourbon had been cut off from Fayette in 1786. Today, Fayette County adjoins Scott County on the north, Bourbon County on the northeast, Clark on the east, Madison on the south, Jessamine on the southwest, and Woodford on the west. When the 1787 tax was taken in Virginia, Fayette County was divided into three tax districts. A taxpayer named Sparks was found only in one of the three.

Isaac Sparks was the only person named Sparks appearing on the 1787 tax rolls of Fayette County; he was visited by a tax commissioner (name not recorded) on July 7.  It was reported that, besides his poll tax (tithable), he was taxed for one horse and 6 cattle. Living in his household was a male between 16 and 21 years of age.


Editor's Note: We are able to identify this Isaac Sparks. He had been born about 1740 and died in or about 1815. It appears that he lived in that part of Fayette County that was cut off to form Clark County in 1793. He lived in that part of Clark County from which Estill County was formed, also with a portion of Madison County, in 1808. It was in Estill County that he died about 1815. He probably died on the same land where he had been taxed in 1787--counties had changed. Tax records of Estill County reveal that after 1810 Isaac Sparks was excused from paying taxes because of "age and infirmity."  Records pertaining to Isaac Sparks and many of his descendants were published in the QUARTERLY in 1974, the March and June issues, whole numbers 85 and 86.

Lincoln County, Virginia (later Kentucky)

Lincoln County, Virginia, was created in 1780 when Kentucky County was divided into three counties, Fayette and Jefferson being the other two. Unfortunately, the 1787 tax records for Jefferson County have been lost. These three counties had been further divided into nine counties by 1790, Madison and Mercer having been carved from Lincoln, both in 1786. Today there are no fewer than 39 counties that were once contained in Lincoln, along with portions of 8 others. It is thus extremely difficult to determine where it was on today's map that the one Sparks taxed in Lincoln County in 1787 was living.

Thomas Sparks was listed on the 1787 tax list for Lincoln County. He was visited by Tax Commissioner William Lewis on June 12, 1787, Lewis being commissioner for one of the three tax districts in Lincoln County. Besides his poll tax, Thomas Sparks was taxed for 3 horses and 11 cattle.

Editor's Note: It was also in 1787 that Thomas Sparks served as bondsman for the  marriage of John Ping, Jr. and Elizabeth Bryant in Lincoln County dated April 5 of that year. John Ping, Jr. (as well as John Ping, Sr.) appeared on the 1787 tax list of Lincoln County, but in the district assigned to John Bryant. (Might he have been the father of Elizabeth Bryant?) A descendant of John, Jr. and Elizabeth (Bryant) Ping reported many years ago that Elizabeth may have been the granddaughter of James Bryant, Sr. who died in Powhatan County, Virginia, in 1783. This James Bryant, Sr. had mentioned in his will a granddaughter named Elizabeth Bryant, daughter of his son, Thomas Bryant.

Tax records for Lincoln County continue to include Thomas Sparks between 1788 to 1793.

We have the record of one early Sparks marriage in Lincoln County. This is a marriage bond for David Sparks and Araminta Cox, with Thomas Cox serving as bondsman, dated December 30, 1797. It is highly doubtful, however, that there was any close relationship between Thomas Sparks and David Sparks. As was reported in the QUARTERLY of June 1955, Whole No. 10, pp.76-77, the family Bible of David and Araminta (nicknamed "Minta") Sparks survives, and their family record therein was copied for us by their great-great-granddaughter, Mrs. Helen A. Spraker, now deceased. David and Araminta were married, according to the Bible record, on January 2, 1798, three days after the marriage bond had been obtained in Lincoln County, Kentucky.

David Sparks was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on August 11, 1770. He was a son of Joseph and Mary Sparks. Araminta Cox had been born on December 18, 1774, and was a daughter of Edward and Susie Cox. About 1815, David Sparks moved his family to St. Clair County, Illinois, and it was there that he died on April 25, 1845. The Bible record contains the names and dates of birth of their nine children. These may be found on page 77 of the QUARTERLY.


WILLIAM SPARK (died 1767) & ALEXANDER SPARK (died 1783)



In Westmoreland County, Virginia, a will was recorded in "Wills & Deeds, No. 14," page 490, for William Spark [sic] dated January 1, 1764. It was probated on August 25, 1767, thus proving that he had died that year, probably in the summer, 1767. In his will, William Spark described himself as being "of the Parish of St. Thomas in the East, in the County of Surry, Colony of Virginia." Because he died in Westmoreland County three and one half years after making his will, having gone there, perhaps, to be near his brother, Alexander Spark, it was in Westmoreland that his will was probated.

The will of William Spark is especially interesting because in it he not only identified Alexander Spark as his brother, but he also named his mother and three sisters who were still residents of Arbuthnott in the County of Kincardine in Scotland. This had doubtless been his and his brother's home before they migrated to Virginia.

In his will, William Spark made the following provisions:

To Elizabeth Cooper of the Parish of St. Thomas in the County aforesaid [i.e., Surry], the two following negro [sic] coopers, vizt., Warrick and Samson, during the term of her natural life, and this I give her as a small acknowledgment of her great kindness and care of me during my long sickness.

The sum of fifty pds. [pounds] sterling unto my dear mother, Margaret Duthie in the Parish of Arbuthnott in the County of Kincardine, in Scotland. If my mother die before me, then the 50 pds. to my three sisters, June, Rebecca, and Mary, all of the County of Kincardine aforesaid, and also to each of my sisters the sum of 40 pds. sterling to be paid by my heir hereafter named. To my mother an annuity of 10 pds. sterling to be paid her yearly out of the residue of my interest or estate, by my brother, Alexander Spark, Merchant in Westmoreland County, Virginia, unto whom I doe hereby give and devise all my estate or interest, whether reall [sic] or personall [sic].

My executors to be: John Henry, David Fife, and John Robertson of the Parish of St. Thomas aforesaid, gentlemen, with my brother, Alexander. To each of the two first named, 10 pistoles to buy rings.

Note: A pistole was a Spanish gold coin then worth about $4.00. These coins were commonly used as specie in Colonial Virginia. Gold rings were frequently given to friends in memory of a well-to-do person after his death.

The above abstract of William Spark's will was provided to us by Charles Hughes Hamlin, a professional genealogist of Richmond, Virginia, many years ago. Mr. Hamlin added:

In recording the probate, the clerk stated that the Will was presented to the Westmoreland County Court for probate by Alexander Spark, and no witnesses being subscribed thereto, John Ballentine, Jr., Jeremiah Rust, and Richard Parker severally made oath that they were "well acquainted" with the testator's handwriting. Securities on the Bond were Richard Parker and Alexander Rose.

Of these four men who either witnessed the will of William Spark or served as securities, Richard Parker serving in both roles, all but Alexander Rose appeared on the 1787 tax list for Westmoreland County and all were men of wealth.

William Spark mentioned neither a wife nor children in his will. We may assume that if he had married, his wife was no longer living in 1764. Whether Elizabeth Cooper, to whom Spark left two slaves named Warrick and Samson, who were apparently skilled coopers (i.e., barrel and tub makers), was a relative or just a friend, we do not know. His mother in Scotland to whom William Spark referred to as "Margaret Duthie," had probably been married to a man name Duthie as her second husband.

Because the will of William Spark had been drawn up in Surry County, the executors whom he had named, other than his brother, Alexander Spark, were not available in Westmoreland County to administer William's estate. Alexander served as the sole executor, with Richard Parker and Alexander Rose securing his bond to do so.

Alexander Spark, brother of William, was surely the same Alexander Spark for whom there is a marriage bond in Richmond County, Virginia. Dated November 21, 1765, this bond was for the marriage of Alexander Spark and Elizabeth Lawson, the bondsman being Thomas Yeatman. This was probably a second marriage.

Alexander Spark lived until 1783. He must have died from a sudden illness or from a severe accident because he dictated to Richard Parker how he wished to divide his estate, but he died before Parker was able prepare a will for him to sign. Parker, who had been one of his securities in executing his brother's will, had made notes regarding what Alexander had intended to include in his will. The Westmoreland Court accepted Parker's notes as constituting Alexander's will as recorded in the county's "Deeds and Wills No. 16, 1773-1787," page 297.

At a Court held for Westmoreland County the 20th day of February 1783.

It appearing to the Court that the notes offered to them as the last Will and Testament of Alexr Spark, decd., were taken by Richard Parker at the Instance of the said Alexander in order to Draw his will by, but the said Alexander dying before the execution of the will so drawn by the said Richard, and their [sic] appearing several concurring circumstances to induce them to a belief thereof, ordered that the said Notes be admitted to Record as the last Will and Testament of the said deceased Alexander Spark, so far as it relates to personal Estate, and at a Court held for the said County the 29th day of April 1783. On the motion of Thomas Thomson who made oath thereto according to Law and together with Richard Buckner & Thomas Rowan, his securities, entered into and acknowledged Bond with condition as the Law directs, Certificate is granted him for obtaining letters of administration of the Estate of the said Spark decd. with the said Notes annexed in due form.

The notes taken by Richard Parker were then recorded by the Court as follows:
Alexander Spark's Win Compd.
The land bought of Strother and the Land bought of Neale, & the plantation in Gloucester purchased of Major Roswell called Masrous [?] to James. The land purchased of Richard Neale, John Treplett & Jno. Nichols, near the Bristol mine in this County, to William. The stock on the Plantation together with them, Negroes equally divided among the three. The personal Estate except the stock divided among the three; four negroes living with Betty Davis: Sam, Hannah, & two children, to her and her Daughter Betty Davis and longer liver, afterwards to be equally divided. Negro formerly called Rose changed to Fanny to Grace Fisher, the natural Daughter of Thomas Shadricks Wife for life, and after her death to go with her future increase to James and Sophia Fisher, children of the said Grace forever.
Mr. Thomas Smith, Richard Parker, and Doctor Steptoe.


A Westmoreland County tax list for 1783 survives showing "Alexander Spark, estate" with 49 slaves. Also taxed that year in Westmoreland County was a Caty Sparks. We have no clue regarding this person's identity.

Athough the wording of the notes taken by Richard Parker as Alexander Spark had told him the provisions that he wished to include in his will are somewhat confusing, it seems apparent that Alexander Spark had two sons, James and William. (William had doubtless been named for Alexander's brother.) The three men whose names appear at the end of the notes probably signed their names at the end of the original "notes" as witnesses. The two references to "the three" heirs of Alexander to receive slaves and personal estate suggest that Betty Davis may have been a daughter of Alexander.

The two sons of Alexander Spark named James and William were doubtless the men of these names appearing on the 1787 tax list of Westmoreland County (see page 5482 of the present QUARTERLY). There, William's name was recorded as Sparks, however. Both James and William were shown as "not tithable," the reason we imagine being that both were under the age of 21. Both had taxable property, however; James had one slave and 2 horses while William had 26 slaves and 5 horses and 33 cattle. The Betty Davis mentioned in the notes taken by Richard Parker in his interview with Alexander Spark in preparation for drafting his will was probably the Elizabeth Davis shown on the 1787 tax list of Westmoreland County in the district for which Thomas Muse was the tax commissioner. It was also called Washington Parish. Muse called on Elizabeth Davis on May 28, 1787, and on James Spark on June 9th. She was taxed for 2 slaves over 16 and 4 slaves under 16, along with one horse and 9 cattle. Grace Fisher, the "natural Daughter of Thomas Shadricks Wife" means, of course, that Grace was illegitimate. Two men named Thomas Shadrick were taxed in Westmoreland County in 1787. One was in the tax district of William Harwar Parker, as was William Sparks; Parker called on William Sparks on May 5, 1787, and on Thomas Shadrick on May 10th. The other Thomas Shadrick was taxed in the district assigned to Thomas Muse, the same district in which James Spark was taxed; Muse called on this Thomas Shadrick on April 30, 1787, and on James Sparks on June 6th. We may wonder whether Grace Fisher could have been a daughter of Alexander Spark born out of wedlock. There were three men taxed in Westmoreland County in 1787 named Fisher: James, John, and Martin.

Although it seems apparent that the brothers, William and Alexander, had the surname Spark, we believe that the spelling gradually became Sparks, as was given for Alexander's son, William Sparks, on the 1787 tax list.

As was noted on page 5482, James Sparks was married in Westmoreland County to Harnar [Hannah?] Parker on July 10, 1791, and William Sparks was married there on January 6, 1801, to Lucy Redman. There can be little doubt that these were the sons of Alexander Spark.





Wallace E. ("Sonny") Sparks of Victoria, Texas, a sustaining member of our Association for many years, has asked us to record the deaths of two of his brothers:  Willie Warren Sparks, who was born on March 22, 1911, died on December 25, 1991, in Victoria, Texas, and Walter Jackson Sparks, Jr., known as W. J. Sparks, who was born on November 24, 1914, died on April 20, 1997, also in Victoria. They were sons of Willie Walter Jackson Sparks, Sr. Warren Sparks, as he was known, is survived by his wife, Melese Sparks; W. J. Sparks is survived by one son, W. J. Sparks, III.

A record of the Sparks ancestry of Sonny Sparks and his siblings was published in the QUARTERLY of September 1989, Whole No. 147, under the title "Jeremiah Sparks, Jr., born ca.1773, Son of Edward Sparks." This article was preceded by "Edward Sparks (Died 1785/86) From Maryland to Pittsylvania & Fluvana Counties, Virginia." See page 3455 for a record of the family of Willie Walter Jackson Sparks (1885-1975).

Sonny Sparks writes:

Our family came together with The Sparks Quarterly published in September 1989. Our heartfelt thank you goes out to Russell E. Bidlack, Editor of the Quarterly. Thank you to Major Gerald H. Sparks of Runge, Texas. Thank you to B. J. Sparks, Jr. of Yakima, Washington. Thank you to Doris Adcock of Victoria County, Texas. Yall did a wonderful job. May God Bless You All.

See Henry S. Sparks (1804-1864), pp. 3448 through 3455. Henry S. Sparks was my great-grandpa.

There were five Sparkses who moved from Arkansas to Victoria County, Texas, in the early 1900s.

Three sons of John Britton J. Sparks (1840-1886) came to Victoria County, Texas:


By Russell B. Bidlack

In the SPARKS QUARTERLY of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp.3512-14, we published a query regarding the parentage of a John Sparks who was born about 1802. We noted that when the 1850 census was taken, his place of birth was shown as South Carolina, but on the 1860 census it was given as Kentucky. We knew that he was in Pickins County, Alabama, in 1835 when he purchased land there. By that time he had been married to Elizabeth Webb; her maiden name was given on the death certificate of their son, Matthew Sparks, who died in Pickins County on November 12, 1891, a copy of which has been provided by Tonya Sparks Reep of Warren, Arkansas. John and Elizabeth spent the remainder of their lives in Pickins Cotinty, both dying there between 1860 and 1870. They were the parents of nine children born between about 1827 and about 1848, the first two of whom, James and John, Jr., had been born in Kentucky according to census records, while the other seven were born in Alabama. (These seven were named Mary A., Eli, Minerva C., Catherine, Diadema, Matthew, and William Harvey Sparks.) A more detailed record of these children of John and Elizabeth Sparks can be found in the QUARTERLY cited above.

In this query in 1989, we speculated that John Sparks might have been a son of Jesse Sparks of Greenville County, South Carolina, whose will there, dated November 5, 1824, included a reference to his four children in Kentucky named John, Isabella, Elsa, and Polly. Jesse mentioned these children in his will as an apparent afterthought, suggesting that he had had little personal contact with them over the years. He left only one dollar to each of them.

We now have considerably more information regarding Jesse Sparks and his separation from these four children born to his first wife, Isabella (Armstrong) Sparks. She had died in Greenville County, South Carolina, prior to July 1809, after which Armstrong relatives had taken the four Sparks children into their homes. Later, when members of the Armstrong family moved to Christian County, Kentucky, they had taken the four Sparks children with them. If we are correct that circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that the John Sparks of the 1989 query was, indeed, a son of Jesse Sparks, it may explain why John Sparks's place of birth was later confused in census records (South Carolina or Kentucky). We will document these events later in the present article.

Our earliest record of Jesse Sparks in Greenville County, South Carolina, is a deed dated June 13, 1797, by which he purchased from William Cox, Jr. for 50 pounds, a tract of land comprising 200 acres on a branch of Reedy Fork of Reedy River. (Book N, p.335) Both Jesse Sparks and William Cox, Jr. were identified in the deed as residents of Greenville District, the judicial area that included Greenville County. The witnesses to this deed were Benj. Pollard, Sr., George Craft, and Abraham Cox. From later records, we know that Jesse Sparks spent the remainder of his life in Greenville County.

Other Sparkaes In Greenville County Not To Be Confused With Jesse

Three years prior to the above record of Jesse Sparks's presence in Greenville County two brothers from Georgia appeared there, and because there is a slight possibillty that there was a family relationship among these men, we give information here regarding these Georgia Sparks brothers named John Sparks and Matthew J. Sparks.  John and Matthew J. Sparks were sons of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. The parents had migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin River in North Carolina in 1754. John had been born there in 1755 while Matthew J. Sparks had been born there in 1759. They were among the eldest of the eleven sons of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. John Sparks was married to Mary Parmely in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1781 (marriage bond dated August 14, 1781) and Matthew J. Sparks was married to Margaret Traylor there in or about 1782. (An article on this John Sparks and his descendants appeared in the
QUARTERLY of March 1966, No.53, pp.960-68, although we thought then that he had been born before his parents left Maryland. An article on Matthew J. Sparks and his descendants appeared in the September 1984 issue of the QUARTERLY, No. 127, pp.2644-69.)


Matthew J. Sparks had accompanied his parents and several siblings in their move inor about 1784 from North Carolina to land located east of the Oconee River in Franklin County, Georgia, now Clarke County, near the present town of Athens. John Sparks had remained in North Carolina until 1791 when he had joined his parents and siblings in Georgia. The land on which the Sparkses settled had been occupied by the Creek Indians, and in 1793 the elder Matthew Sparks was killed during an Indian attack, after which his widow and sons fled from the area. John and Matthew J. Sparks came together with their families to Greenville District in South Carolina in 1794.

On February 17, 1794, John Sparks purchased two tracts of land in Greenville District adjoining land owned by John Childress "on Beaverdam Creek, a branch of Tygar River." (Greenville County Deed Book C, p.432 and p.433) There were two deeds, in each of which John Sparks was identified as a resident of Greenville District whereas the man from whom he purchased the land, John Stiles, was from Oglethorpe County, Georgia. For the first tract of 380 acres, Sparks paid Stiles 200 pounds; for the second tract of 240 acres he paid only 10 pounds. The witnesses for both deeds were Matthew J. and Margaret Sparks. John Stiles's wife, Agnes, signed these deeds with her husband--both by mark. It is possible that John Sparks had known John Stiles in Georgia because Oglethorpe County and Clarke County adjoin.

We know from the Revolutionary War pension application of Matthew J. Sparks made in 1832 that he and Margaret remained in Greenville County "seven or eight years" before moving to Jackson County, Georgia. John Sparks remained in Greenville County until shortly after the 1830 census was taken when he moved with his wife, whose nickname was Mollie, to Franklin County, Alabama, to live with their son, William Sparks (1782-1857). There John died in February 1831. It is from his tombstone in the Sparks Cemetery near Russellville, Alabama, that we have learned his year of birth as 1755; his wife lived until 1853. It is from the pension application of Matthew J. Sparks that we have his year of birth as 1759.

Although it would seem possible, even likely, that Jesse Sparks was related in some way to John and Matthew J. Sparks, we have found no evidence of a relationship. Since Jesse must have been of age (21) when he purchased land in Greenville District in 1797, we do not believe he could have been a son of either John or Matthew J. Sparks. Likewise, he could not have been a brother because Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks had a son named Jesse Sparks (1773-1858). A record of this Jesse Sparks and his descendants appeared in the QUARTERLY of March 1990, No.149, pp.3530-53 and the issue for September 1990, No. 151, pp.3630-49. He went from Georgia to Hickman County, Tennessee; we have a complete list of his children by each of two wives.


We Now Return to Jesse Sparks (Died 1824)

As will be discussed in greater detail later in this article, we know that Jesse Sparks of Greenville County, South Carolina, was married, first, probably in the mid-1790s, to Isabella Armstrong. Her nickname was "Ibe." Jesse Sparks was listed as heading a household in Greenville County when the 1800 census was taken. His age was given as between 16 and 26, placing his birth between 1774 and 1784. Because he must have been at least 21 years of age when he purchased land in 1797, he was probably born about 1775, if the census taker recorded his age in the correct category. The female enumerated in his household in 1800, who was doubtless his wife, Isabella, was shown as between 26 and 45 years of age. If accurately recorded, Isabella must have been somewhat older than Jesse. There were three children in Jesse's household in 1800, all under the age of 10 years, two boys and one girl. From later records, it seems probable that one of the boys died in youth and that two other daughters were born after 1800. The four children of Jesse and Isabella named in Jesse's will were: John, Isabella, EIsa, and Polly. ("Polly" was a commonly used nickname for Mary.)

Early in the 1800s, Isabella died, and Jesse was married later to the widow of Daniel Cockrum whose maiden name had been Judith Cooley. Her nickname was "Juda" or "Judy."  By Judith, Jesse was the father of two children according to his will.

Here we quote in full the will of Jesse Sparks since it proves to be a vital document in identifying his family members. The recorded copy is found in Greenville County Will Book B, p.68.

In the name of God Amen
I Jesse Sparks of the state of South Carolina and district of Greenville - being weak of body but of perfect mind and memory, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die - do therefore make and ordain this to be my Last Will and testament - first recommending my soul to God who gave it, and my body to be buried in a decent christian like manner - Second as touching the worldly Estate wherewith God has blessed me after the payment of my just debts in whatever way may appear most advantageous to my Executors, I leave it in toto, that is to say all my goods and chattels monies debts and dues and property of every description both real and personal to my beloved wife Juda Sparks during her life time or widowhood, to have and to hold the same as above without hindrance or control. Thirdly at the decease or marriage of the sd. Juda - then the property of every description as it is then, to be sold by the surviving Executor or Administrator and Equally divided between my two children Jacob Sparks and Sarah Sparks, and in case of the death of either everything is then to devolve to the other - provided nevertheless that if the sd Jacob and Sarah are of age at the time of distribution they can then settle without the aid of an Executer or Administrator - Fourthly I do appoint my beloved wife Juda Sparks and my friend Jacob Cooley to be my Executors to put this will in Execution according to the true Intent and meaning thereof this 5th November 1824. Witness my hand and seal.

On hearing the above Items read and recollecting that I have children in Kentucky, namely John, Isabella, Elsa and Polly Sparks, for certain reasons I do fifthly will and bequeath to the sd. John Sparks, Isabella Sparks, EIsa Sparks and Polly Sparks, at the decease of my wife Juda, one dollar each the above items then to stand as above expressed.

Enos Cockrum was a son of Juda Sparks by her first husband, Daniel Cockrum, while Dennis Crain was her son-in-law.


The will of Jesse Sparks was filed for probate on December 14, 1824. It was recorded in Greenville County Will Book B, page 68 (Department 7, File 451).

As seen in his will, Jesse Sparks left everything that he owned to his second wife, Judith ["Juda"] (Cooley) Sparks, "to have and to hold... .without hindrance or control," but he directed that with her death or remarriage, his property "as it is then" should be sold and the proceeds equally divided between his and Juda's two children, Jacob Sparks and Sarah Sparks. That Jacob and Sarah were not yet of age in 1824 is indicated by his provision "that if the sd. Jacob and Sarah are of age at the time of distribution, they can then settle without the aid of an Executor or administrator." He then appointed Juda and "my friend Jacob Cooley to be my Executors." The latter was Jacob Cooley, Jr., who was a brother of his wife; Juda and Jacob, Jr.'s father, Jacob Cooley, Sr., had died in Greenville County in 1816.

Because Jesse Sparks signed his will by mark, we can be sure that he had told someone, what provisions he wanted included in his will, and that person then wrote the will for him. It is apparent that before Jesse made his mark, what had been written for him was read aloud to him and his two witnesses, Enos Cockrum and Dennis Crain. It was then that he directed that mention be made of his children in Kentucky. Although he did not identify them as children by his first wife, we know from other documents that their mother had been Jesse's first wife, Isabella ["Ibe"] Armstrong. Perhaps Jesse was reminded by one of his witnesses that he should provide at least a token inheritance for these four children because, following his death, they might claim that Jesse had simply forgotten to include them in the division of his estate and demand their rightful share of his estate.

Although Jesse Sparks did not reveal in his will where in Kentucky his four children were living, we have learned that they were in Christian County, Kentucky. Our source is the record of a lawsuit brought against the estate of Matthew Armstrong by one Benjamin Armstrong. (See Christian County, Kentucky, Will Book G, p.375.

This writer is deeply indebted to two researchers in identifying Jesse Sparks's first wife, Isabella Armstrong, a daughter of Matthew Armstrong, They are Peggy B. Chapman of Lubbock, Texas, and Jeannie Lancaster of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, who have shared copies of documents that they have located.

Matthew Armstrong died in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1826 without leaving a will. This was two years after Jesse Sparks died In Greenville County, South Carolina. It was in the February 1831 term of the Christian County Court that Benjamin Armstrong brought suit against the heirs of Matthew Armstrong. Benjamin Armstrong was the guardian of Alsey Sparks (nickname for Elsa Sparks). A son of Matthew, John Armstrong, had become administrator of his father's estate, so the suit was primarily against him. It was dismissed, however, by the Christian County Circuit Court in 1831, after which John Armstrong was able to settle his father's estate. It was in this suit that the heirs of Matthew Armstrong were named, including the four children "of Ibe [Isabella], dec'd." Ibe, or Isabella, Armstrong's children were identified in this document as "John Sparks, Isabella Sparks, Elisha Gillum and Polly his wife, heirs of Jesse Sparks, decd. and James Bowden and Alsey his wife." [Punctuation has been added in this quotation.

While the wording is confusing., Alsey. wife of James Bowden, was the fourth child of Jesse and Isabella ["Ibe"] (Armstrong) Sparks. "Alsey" was a nickname for the Elsa Sparks identified in Jesse Sparks's will as one of his Kentucky children. The husbands of female heirs were then considered to be the financial protectors of their wives in matters of inheritance.

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