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[Note:  On the cover is a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]

For Identification, See Page 5773

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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)

A.    Harold Sparks, Vice President, 500 1st St., N., #303, Newton, Iowa
                                                                                                (50208—3 104)

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. By this term is meant descendants of immigrants to the United States during the past four centuries who have spelled their name Sparks, Spark, or Sparkes. There have been scores of such individuals, most of whom were natives of the British Isles. Their relationship to each other, however, can rarely be discovered, nor can the exact locations of their former homes. Surnames did not become common in Europe and England before the Fifteenth Century. An essay on the derivation of the name Sparks appeared in the second issue of The Sparks Quarterly (June 1953) and was reprinted in that of September 2002.

The Sparks Family Association 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 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 of the Association and for $4.00 each to non-members. 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 indexes, may be purchased for $370.00. The fifty years of the Quarterly (1953-2002) comprise a total of 5780 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 the future. A table of contents is also available for $5.00. Comprising 79 pages, this lists the articles and collections of data appearing in the Quarterly between 1953 and 2002; 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 ifie, 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.

The complete file of the Quarterly is now available on the Internet to current members of the Association at Information regarding this can be obtained from its Webmaster, Harold E. Sparks:  An additional web site to view the Quarterly is available at This site is still under construction. The Webmaster is Nancy Sparks Frank. Information Is available at the site.

By Russell E. Bidlack

[Web editor's note:  After this article was written, Dr. Bidlack passed away in September 2003.]

It is with the publication of the present issue of The Sparks Quarterly that the Sparks Family Association completes fifty years of existence. This issue of the Quarterly (Vol. L, No. 4, Whole No. 200, December 2002) also marks fifty years of publication.

It was in March 1953 that Issue No. 1, comprising the first six pages of “The Official Publication of the Sparks Family Association,” was mailed to thirty individuals with whom the three “founders” had corresponded regarding Sparks genealogy during the previous several years. These three “founders” were Paul E. Sparks of Louisville, Kentucky, born January 17, 1910; William Perry Johnson of Raleigh, North Carolina, born May 16, 1918; and the present writer, Russell E. Bidlack, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, born May 25, 1920. Although we stated in that first issue that we anticipated the Association would continue to be active for at least half a century, now, at the half-century mark, only the youngest of the “triumvirate” remains among the living, age 82.

William Perry Johnson’s Sparks ancestry had dated from his fourth great-grandmother, Susannah Sparks, daughter of John Sparks (born 1753) and his wife, Sarah (Shores) Sparks; Susannah was married to Charles Johnson in Surry County, North Carolina, about 1777. (A record of the lives of John and Sarah Sparks, with their children, appeared in the Quarterly of December 1955, No. 12, pp. 97-104.) William P. Johnson became a nationally known professional genealogist, his expertise being families of North Carolina. He died on October 17, 1980.

Paul E. Sparks, who served as the Association’s president from 1953 until his death on March 4, 1999, also descended from John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks, through their son, George Sparks. Paul also did much of the research and writing for the Quarterly up to the time of his death. We published Paul’s obituary in the Quarterly of June 1999 (Whole No. 186, pp.5146-48).

The present writer, Russell E. Bidlack, has served as the Association’s Secretary and Editor almost from its beginning.

From this point, I will use the first person in recalling the 50-year history of the Association and its Quarterly.

With the death of Paul in 1999, John K. Carmichael, Jr. took his place as president, and A. Harold Sparks became the Association’s vice-president. See the September 1999 issue of the Quarterly (Vol. XLVII, No. 3, Whole No. 187, pp. 5196-97) for a photograph and biographical sketch of John, whose nickname is Jack.

When we reached our 25th anniversary in March 1978, I prepared for that issue of the Quarterly a record of our Association to that point and included on the cover photographs of the three founders--then, all still living. Since few of our present members were then active, I will repeat or paraphrase below some paragraphs from that 1978 issue.

My own interest in genealogy had its beginning while I was a junior in college, in 1940. A favorite English professor, Dr. Harold Francis Watson, in explaining the historical events portrayed in a play by Shakespeare or novel by Hawthorne, would frequently refer to the whereabouts of one of his ancestors during that episode in English or American history. Thinking how much more interesting the study of the past would be, if one could relate his own family to historical events, I asked Dr. Watson after class one day how a person might go about tracing his ancestry. After a long pause, Dr. Watson responded: “I hesitate to tell you because the genealogical bug may bite you, in which case you will be lost forever.”



He did tell me, however, and I began the search--the genealogical bug did bite and, indeed, I have been a victim of this fascinating hobby ever since.

While serving in the U. S. Army in 1942, I was married to my college sweetheart, Melva Helen Sparks. Having searched my own family lines quite extensively by this time, it was natural that I should pursue my wife’s ancestry, also, which, incidentally, helped to establish a close friendship with my father-in-law, Oral A. Sparks; he entered enthusiastically into the search with me. We soon traced his Sparks line back from Iowa to Missouri, then to the Wilkes/Surry Counties area of North Carolina. Eventually, we found my wife’s 7th great-grandfather to have been an immigrant from Hampshire County, England, to Queen Annes County, Maryland. This William Sparks (1646-1709) proved, also, to have been the immigrant Sparks ancestor of both Paul E. Sparks and William Perry Johnson.

Several hundred family associations, such as that of the Sparks family, have been founded in the United States through the years, but very few have survived for half a century, and rarely has such an organization enjoyed the generous degree of financial support from its membership as has The Sparks Family Association. An important reason for our financial stability has been our provision for different types of membership and the resulting dues structure. Initially the founders provided for two memberships, with “active” at $1.00 per year and “sustaining” at any amount that the individual member wished to contribute. Later, active membership was increased to $2 .00, then to $3.00; in 1979 the active rate became $5.00 and contributing membership was set at $10.00. Since 1997, active membership has been $10.00 per year, contributing $15.00, and sustaining any amount over $15.00. From six pages in length, the Quarterly had grown to at least 24 pages by 1978. Since 1985, the year I retired from the University of Michigan, each issue has been at least 40 pages in length. As will be noted, the last page of this,  the 200th issue, bears the cumulative number 5780.

As is repeated In each issue of the Quarterly, our association was founded “as a non-profit organization devoted to the assembling and preserving of genealogical and historical materials pertaining to the Sparks Family in America.”  By “family” we have meant descendants from a Sparks immigrant to America between 1607 and the present. As my annual financial reports to our members have noted, the officers receive no financial reward for their work; it is a “labor of love” for each of us. I believe that it is only with this kind of individual commitment that a family periodical can flourish.

The Sparks “family” encompassed in our project includes dozens of individual Sparks families that are unrelated--there is no common ancestor for all persons named Sparks in the United States.

The Sparks Family Association was not founded as a social organization, and the Sparks Quarterly is concerned only with Sparks genealogy and history, not the personal activities of its subscribers. We have not held, nor do we contemplate holding, any kind of reunion. Our communication with the association’s members is through the Quarterly, in which we are happy to include genealogical queries.  Some individual “branches” of the Sparks family do hold reunions and other social events, of course.

At the end of 1977, when our association had completed its 25th year, we proudly announced that our membership then stood at 544, an all-time high, and its income that year was $4,714.02. We noted then that, because the study of family history has always had greater appeal to people of retirement age than to youth, only 18 of our charter members were still living in 1977. None of those 18 is still with us today (with the exception of myself), but with the completion of 50 years, we can report a paid membership of 920, and dues amounting to $21,452.35.   Sale of back issues, donations, and interest brought that total to $23,247.27 in 2002.



The interest in genealogy of many who join family associations is short-lived, and the number that join in a given year, but do not renew, may be greater than that of new members. Through the past fifty years, a total of 4,814 Sparks descendents have been members of our association at one time or another. Many of these are no longer living, of course.

As editor, and since the death of Paul Sparks, the Quarterly’s principal author:  How much longer will there be new material yet to publish? My answer: We still have on hand enough to fill several thousand more pages; my chief problem is finding time to organize and compile these records for publication.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *


By Russell E. Bidlack

In the QUARTERLY of September 1970, Whole No. 70, we published the text of a letter written by a Confederate soldier to his wife on April 25, 1864. The soldier was Robert Sparks, born about 1824 in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He had been married there in 1845 to Susannah A. Durham, whose nickname was Susan. Although the original bond for their marriage has been so damaged that Susannah’ s name, as well as its exact date, are illegible, the will of her father, John Durham, probated in 1863 in Wilkes County, identifies her as his daughter:  “Susan wife of Robert Sparks.”

Robert Sparks’ letter is the most tragic document this editor has yet found among Sparks family papers that he has researched -- Robert’s message to his wife was that he had been court-martialed for attempting to “come home,” and that he would be shot for desertion three days later, on April 28, 1864. We have not been able to locate the original of Robert’s letter, but we published in 1970 a copy that had been made by a family member many years earlier. Recently, another copy of this same letter has come to our attention through a descendent of Robert and Susan Sparks, and we have also obtained a copy of a letter that Robert had written to his brother the day prior to his execution, dated April 27, 1864.

Here we present the second copy (with slight variations from the copy we published in 1970) of Robert’s letter to his wife, along with the newly discovered letter that he wrote to his brother. Both were copied by Laura F. (Wheeler) Smith on March 17, 1947, Mrs. Smith being a great-granddaughter of Robert and Susan Sparks. Mrs. Smith is no longer living; her daughter, Edna Hartong, has reproduced her mother’s copies for us. Mrs. Smith had written the following introductory note:  “These letters were published in the Tazewell  (Virginia) Republican dated Nov. 7, 1893.  the incident of horrows [sic] of our late Civil War.  Robert Sparks [was] an uncle of Hugh Sparks of Baptist Valley, a cousin of T. J. Sparks of Cedar Bluff.”  It appears that Mrs. Smith copied these letters from the weekly newspaper that she cited.  Richmond Sparks, brother of Robert, had moved from Wilkes County, North Carolina, to Tazewell County, Virginia, after the Civil War ended, which probably accounts for their publication in the Tazewell Republican.  Not included in Mrs. Smith’s copy was the postscript that fellow-soldier, Gideon Spicer, added to Robert’s letter to his wife that was part of the version of the letter we published in 1970.  We have added it here.


THE SAD LETTERS OF ROBERT SPARKS (ca. 1824-1864), continued:

Since we published Robert Sparks’s letter to his wife in the QUARTERLY of September 1970, we have learned considerably more about his family and his military experience. This information begins on page 5754. We have made no corrections in spelling in the transcription of the following letters, but we have added a few marks of punctuation for clarity.

Letter of Robert Sparks Written on April 25, 1864.

Dear and beloved wife, this will inform you that I am well of health though I am in great distress of mind ever praying that God’s blessing may be with you as long as you live. I will relate to you the tale of my woe.

I left my regiment on the 18th of March and started home and traveled nearly a week and was taken up and court martlaled and brought back and sentenced to be shot to death with musketry. The sentence will be executed on Thursday the 28th of this month between the hours of 12 and 2 oclock. With out some reprive and I don’t have much hope of that for they have just now set in shooting men for running away. So I havent much hope, but my dear wife I don’t want you to grive about me for I hope I shall be better off if they do shoot me for my life is but little satisfaction to me any how and I hope I shall go up younder where there is no more parting or shooting men, where I shall praise my God for redemption for ever and ever.

Oh my dear darling, the last letter that came to my regiment I did not get.  The officers said they burnt it, and have not wrote you since I was taken up. I thought I would wait until I heard my sentince, and an awfel sentince it is too. I am to be shot for an example to scare others and not for crime.

Thanks to God that I have not done any crime worthy of death. My dear, don’t grieve for me for that is all they can do, and I shall die quick and easy and not be punished to death as many solders that are shot on the battlefield. So my dear, don’t grieve for me for sometimes I think it will only be a blessing to me to take me out of this troublesome world, but oh dear the ties of nature are so binding that it makes my heart all most sink within me to think that I shall have to die and never see you anymore but when I think how good God is and how happy I hope to be and what a troublsome world I am going to leave, I do not dread it as much as you might think.

Oh my dear, I am here in prison amoung strangers and no one to tell my troubles to and none to help me in the lonsome valley of the shadow of death. When Jesus is my friends he can help me and I hope he will be with me through the lonesome valley of death and take me home to live with him for ever.  And my dear, I do hope that God will bless you and my poor little orphan children.  May he give you grace to live for him who died for sinners, that you all may meet me up yonder where my little babies is gone to praise God for redemption, for no more shooting men for examples, not where we will not have to live on half rations.

Oh my dear how sweet will Heaven be to me if I can only get there after suffering so much here. But one moment in Heaven will make


 THE SAD LETTERS OF ROBERT SPARKS (ca.1824-1864), continued:

Letter of Robert Sparks Written on April 25, 1864.

up for all. So I don’t want you to grieve about me, but pray for your self and little children that we all may meet in Heaven at last.  But Oh my dearest my heart, it allmost sinks within me to think of leaving you all to the mercies of a merciless world, but God is able to bless you, he is able to provide for you and keep you from all harm.

So I will leave you in God’s care, may he bless and keep you as long as you live.

I want you to send and get my body. I want it put at the corner of the sweet potato patch about where the old stable stood. Tell brother Richmond to come and get it if he please. Tell him that I want him to attend to my accounts for you. I would write to him but havent the chance. My dear wife, this is the last letter I expect to ever write to you, so farewell.  My little children, farewell.  My aged mother farewell, neighbors and friends farewell. To this world and all its pleasures, Tell my aged mother I have not forgot her and that I hope to meet her in Heaven. If you come after my body come to General Rhodes Provost Guard, they will show you where it is.

Oh my darling, may God bless you, may he give you strength to bear up under your trials, may he keep you from all harm. Farewell, Farewell.
                                                                                     [signed]  Robert Sparks

April 28th 1864

A few lines to Susan A. Sparks  [from Gideon Spicer]

    I can inform you that I witnesseth the death of your dear husband this day, and I never hated anything so bad as I did that, though it was nothing to me. I will inform you that he told me this morning to write to you. I went in at breakfast, and he requested I shave them, and help them put on their clothes. I asked them if they thought they had made their peace with God, and he said he thought he has. He said he felt better satisfied than he had since he was in the dungeon. He said he would not mind dying if he could see his poor wife and sweet children one more time. He told me to write to you and for you to stay on the place and that you live on as long as you can, and to do the best you can, and prepare to meet him in Heaven, for he thought this day he would would be in Paradise, and requested Richmond to come take his body home.

                                                                                This from Gideon Spicer
                                                                                        to Susan Sparks.

Letter of Robert Sparks to His Brother

Richmond Sparks

To Mr. Richmond Sparks, April 27, 1864

Dear Brother

This note will inform you that I am well in health though I am in great distress of mind, for I was persuaded to leave [the] regiment


THE SAD LETTERS OF ROBERT SPARKS (ca. 1824-1864), continued:

Letter of Robert Sparks to His Brother, Richmond Sparks, continued:

and come home. I traveled about two weeks and (was] sent back and court martialed and sentenced to be shot, the sentence is to be executed tomorrow between the hours of 12 and 2 oclock. Oh my dear brother, ties of nature is binding when I think of the golden hours we have spent togather. The many pleasures in this life is over, but I hope to meet you up yonder where parting is no more, where our pleasures will last for ever and ever.

J. F. Owens, Rev. John Owens’ son, and Wm. W. Wyatt is to be executed with me. Dear brother, I want you to attend to my things and wind up all my accounts. I want Susan to stay where she is as long as she can keep the children toghather. Tell the children I said for them to mind there mother. I want you to come after my body if you please. I want you to put it at the corner of my sweet pototo patch about where the stable stood. There is some money coming to me at my regiment. I want you to see to it and get it to Susan. I have sold some of my things and got 15 dollars that I will send to her in this letter. I will leave some little things in the hands of Gideon Spicer, he says he will try to sell them for me and send her the money. When they come after the bodies of the other to men, you can come togather. Come to General Rhodes Provost Guard. I started a letter to Susan yesturday. So my dear, Farewell. I hope we meet again.

                                                                                                    [signed]  Robert Sparks


 Robert’s letter to his wife first came to the attention of the late Paul E. Sparks in 1951. (Paul was one of the founders of our Association and served as its president until his death In 1999.) Earlier in his research on his own Sparks line, Paul had corresponded with a distant cousin, Annie Sparks Wilson of Traphill, Wilkes County, North Carolina. On November 17, 1951, Mrs. Wilson sent Paul a typewritten copy of Robert Sparks’ letter to his wife, Susan, with the following note to Paul from Mrs. Wilson: “Another headache for you and I."  I found this copy of letter in Father’s belongings today--the saddest letter I ever read, and I do not know anything of the parties.” Actually, Mrs. Wilson was a first cousin, once removed, of Robert Sparks. We can imagine that Robert’s relatives did not talk about his desertion and execution to younger family members.

As we noted on page 4757, the existence of a second copy of Robert’s letter came to the attention, of this writer In 1998, when an Association member sent us a clipping from a weekly column by Sam Venable appearing in the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Through Mr. Venable, we were able to identify Laura Smith who had copied not only Robert Sparks’s letter to Susan, but, also, his letter to his brother, Richmond Sparks, from the November 7, 1893, issue of the Tazewell [Virginia] Republican.  A comparison of the copy of Robert's letter to his wife that we published in the QUARTERLY in 1970 with that of Mrs. Smith reveals a few minor differences in spelling.

The fact that Robert Sparks's letters were published in the Tazewell Republican  in 1893 can probably be explained b y the fact that Richmond Sparks had moved from Wilkes County, North Carolina, to Tazewell County, Virginia, shortly after the Civil War ended.  In fact, both letters may have been written on the same sheet of paper.  Gideon Spicer's postscript on Robert's letter to Susan means that it was not mailed until after Robert's death.  In transcribing these letters here, we have retained the spelling, but added punctuation for clarity.


THE  SAD LETTERS OF ROBERT SPARKS (ca. 1824-1864), continued:

Our discovery of Robert Sparks's letter to his brother, Richmond Sparks, has helped to clarify some of Robert's statements to Susan.  There he had made no mention of any other men having accompanied him when he had "left" the regiment on the 18th of March.  He also told her that he was now, on April 25th, "in prison amoung [sic] strangers."   Gideon Spicer, however, in his addendum to the letter to Susan after the execution, referred to his having shaved "them" that morning and had helped them put on their clothes."

In Robert's letter to his brother, written on April 27, 1864, he stated that he had been "pursuaded to leave the regiment and come home," and he also named two comrades who were to be "executed with me."  They were J. F. Owens and Wm. W. Wyatt.  Whether Owens and Wyatt had been captured at the same time as Robert, we cannot be sure; they may have traveled separately, although they were all from Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Robert Sparks had been conscripted into the Confederate Army and had been enrolled on April 28, 1863, in Company E of the Fourth North Carolina Infantry.  More correctly known as the Fourth Regiment, State Troops, North Carolina Infantry, it was one of ten regiments that had been authorized by the North Carolina Legislature at the end of April 1861.

In an article entitled "Wilkes County and the American Civil War," by local historian Chris J. Hartley in Vol. II of the Heritage of Wilkes County,  it is noted that Governor Zebulon Baird Vance made a speech in the village of Wilkesboro in February 1864, urging citizens to continue to support the Confederate cause.  Hartley added that Wilkes County was known for its Unionist sentiment.  "The people of Wilkes were bitterly divided; brothers, families, and neighbors were pitted against one another."

A reason that Wilkes County was so divided in the Civil War was that very few of the families there owned slaves.  According to the 1860 census of the county,  there were 23 Sparks households with a total of 138 individuals (men, women, and children named Sparks, along with six others living in other households).  All of the adult males were farmers living on small farms, few of which produced money-making crops, and there was little manufacturing in all of Wilkes County.

In April 1862, the Confederate government had passed its Conscription Act, constituting the first draft in American military history.  Nine men named Sparks in Wilkes County are known to have served in the Confederate Army, according to Appendix F of Judge Hayes's Land of Wilkes taken from Moore's Roster of Confederate Troops in the War Beween the States.  Of these nine, five served in Company E of the Fourth Infantry, all having been enrolled in 1863:  Abner Paschal in February; J. F. Owens on April 26; and J. H. Owens, Robert Sparks, and William W. Wyatt on April 28th.
   [The preceding is printed as written.  The information may be incomplete.]

The fourth Regiment was a part of Stephen Ramseur's Brigade in D. H. Hill's Division, Second Corps,  Army of Northern Virginia, at the time of Robert's Sparks's enrollment.  The Chancellorsville Campaign was then in progress.  Robert probably participated in the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville on May 4, 1863, and in its defeat at Gettysburg two months later.

The other two men from Wilkes County executed with Robert Sparks on April 28, 1864, J. F. Owens, whose full name was Jesse Franklin Owens, and W. W. Wyatt whose first name was William, were both privates in Company E of the Fourth Regiment, as was Robert Sparks.  As identified by Robert in his letter to his brother, Owens was a son of the Rev. John Owens, a sketch of whose life appeared in Vol. II of The Heritage of Wilkes County, North Carolina (pp. 383-84) published in 1990.  The Rev. John Owens (1794-1859) was a Baptist Minister in the Roaring River Association in Wilkes County.  He had been married in Wilkes County to Mary Vannoy in 1815. She was a daughter of Andrew and Susannah Shephard Vannoy.



 Their household was enumerated on the 1850 census of Wilkes County, where their son Jesse was shown at 15 years old.  Jesse was married about 1857 to Elizabeth Long.

Rev. John Owens died In 1859. On the 1860 census, Mary Owens, age 64, widow of John, was shown as living with her sons: James, 20, and Daniel, 18. Jesse Franklin Owens, called by his middle name on this census, was living very near his mother. Both he and his wife were 25 years of age; they had a son named James, age 2, and a daughter, Martha, age 7 months. All were living in Reddies River Township.

Also living in Reddies River Township in 1860, within a short distance of the Owens family, was W. W. Wyatt, age 33, with wife Lucinda, age 37. Their five children in 1860 were: Mary Ann, 13; Finley, 10; Nancy, 7; John 4; and Susan, 2. There can be little doubt that he was the William W. Wyatt who had been enrolled in Company E of the Fourth Regiment on April 28, 1863, on the same day as was Robert Sparks.

It was in Robert’s letter to his brother, written on the day before his execution, that we learn of Gideon Spicer having promised to try to sell some of his “little things” and send the money to Susan Sparks. It was also Gideon Spicer who penned a paragraph to Robert’s letter to Susan informing her that her husband’s execution had taken place.

Gideon Spicer was Identified in Moore’s Roster of Confederate Troops in the War Between the States as being from Wilkes County; he had enlisted there on October 1, 1862, at the age of 26, placing his birth in about 1836. When the 1850 census of Wilkes County had been taken, Gideon was enumerated in the house of his parents, William and Jane Spicer; his age was 18. From census records, it appears that Gideon was married to Mary Byrd, daughter of Braxton and Jane Byrd,  prior to the taking of the 1860 census. There he was shown with his wife living in the household of Mary’s parents.

Gideon Spicer was obviously stationed near Robert Sparks and his two comrades in the  days leading up to their execution. When he had been enrolled in the Confederate Army in October 1862, however, it had been as a private in Company  I of the Thirty-second North Carolina Regiment. Whether Gideon was later transferred to the Fourth Regiment, or the two units had happened to be stationed near each other in April 1864, is not known to this writer, but Gideon was with Stephen Ramseur’s Brigade in the Spotsylvania Campaign of May 1864, during which he was taken prisoner at Spotsylvania Court House by the Army of the Potomac under the command of General Grant. We have not discovered the nature of Gideon’s ultimate fate.

When the 1860 census was taken in the United States, no county in any state was found to contain more Sparks households than did Wilkes County in North Carolina, there being twenty-three, with six single Sparkses enumerated in other families. In all, there was a total of 138 men, women, and children named Sparks living in Wilkes County on the eve of the Civil War. All were descendants of the six Sparks brothers and cousins who had migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin, then Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1754 and 1764. Every adult male named Sparks In Wilkes County in 1860 was a farmer, although 59-year-old Colby Sparks was also a Baptist preacher. None of them was a slave owner.

Included among the Sparks heads of families enumerated in Wilkes County on the 1860 census was Robert Sparks, age 34. His wife, Susan, was 33; their four living children were then: Martha, 12; Sarah, 9; Huldah, 6; and Byrum, 4.


THE SAD LETTERS OF ROBERT SPARKS (ca. 1824-1864), continued:

[Here appears a handwritten document beneath which is the following caption.]

Record of the Sale of the Land of Robert Sparks

by His Widow, Susan Sparks, April 2, 1867.

(View document)

Although Robert Sparks, in his letter to his wife written before his death, urged her to remain living with their children on their farm, she appears not to have done so. Although the above document is all that remains In the Wilkes County Court records pertaining to Robert’s estate, it is apparent from this that Susan Sparks had been appointed administrator, and that on April 2, 1867, she had sold (at least her widow’s share) of the farm to Jacob S. Lyon for $90 .00. Jacob S. Lyon was the husband of Robert Sparks’s
sister, Malinda Sparks, who had been married in June 1846 (marriage bond dated June 6, 1846, with James Durham as Jacob’s bondsman).

When the 1860 census was taken, Jacob S. Lyon, age 47, and Malinda, age 36, were shown as living in Traphill Township of Wilkes County. Their household appeared immediately before that of Nancy Sparks, Robert’s 70-year-old mother, who was living with her youngest son, Hugh Sparks.

Ten years later, when the 1870 census of Wilkes County was taken, Susan Sparks (called here by her full name, “Susannah”) was still living in Traphill Township, “keeping house,” without either real or personal property. Her age was given as 40, and living with her in 1870 were her son Byrum (spelled “Bynum”), age 12, and her youngest son, Thomas Sparks, age 9. Thomas had been born, apparently, in 1861.

From census records noted above, it appears that Robert and Susannah (Durham) Sparks were the parents of five children:    (1) Martha Sparks, born ca.1848; (2)    Sarah Sparks, born ca.1851; (3) Huldah Sparks, born ca.1854; (4) Byrum Sparks, born ca.1856; and (5) Thomas Sparks, born ca.1861.



By Russell E. Bidlack

In the preceding article devoted to Robert Sparks (ca.1824-1864), we noted that he was a son of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks.  Joel and Nancy had been married in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1814, their marriage bond having been signed and license issued on July 17, 1814.  Joel Sparks was a son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks.  Joel must not be confused, however, with another Joel Sparks, also at one time of Wilkes County, but who moved to Missouri before 1850.  A son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, this “other” Joel Sparks died in Bates County, Missouri, in about 1861.

These two men named Joel were actually third cousins, once removed, both being descendants of William Sparks, immigrant from Hampshire County, England, to Maryland where he died in Queen Annes County in 1709.  (See the QUARTERLY of March 1971, Whole No. 73 [pp.1371-89] and that of December 1991, Whole No. 160 [pp.4025-34] for articles devoded to the immigrant, William Sparks, died 1709.)  Following is a chart showing the relationship between the two men named Joel Sparks.  Both named sons Joel, adding to possible confusion.

William Sparks, immigrant, died 1709
William Sparks Jr.
   died ca.1734
              [brothers] Joseph Sparks
   died 1749
William Sample Sparks
   died ca.1765
           [first cousins] Solomon Sparks
   died ca. 1790
William Sparks
   died 1800/01
           [2nd cousins] John Sparks
   died 1840/41
Matthew Sparks
   died 1819
           [3rd cousins] Joel Sparks
   died 1849
Joel Sparks
   died 1861
[Joel Sparks, died 1861, and Joel Sparks, died 1849, were 3rd cousins, once removed]

In the QUARTERLY of December 1955, Whole No. 12, beginning on page 95, appeared a transcription of the pension application of John Sparks (1753-1740/41).  He made application for a pension based on his service in the American Revoluon under the Congressional Act of 1832 authorizing such pensions. He appeared on October 31, 1832, before the Wilkes County Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions where the clerk of that court, R. Martin, wrote the application for John to sign. This document, with affidavits signed by Reuben Sparks and Samuel Johnson supporting John’s claim of service, was published in full in the issue of the QUARTERY cited above. It begins;

On this 30th day of October 1832 personally appeared in open Court before
the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of the County of Wilkes & State of
North Carolina, now setting, John Sparks, Esquire, a resident of the County
of Wilkes & State of North Carolina. aged seventy-nine years, who being
first duly sworn according to law, doth on his


oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of
the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

    That he was born on the 25th dayof February 1753 in the County of
Rowan in the State of North Carolina, where he lived until he removed with
his father to what is now Wilkes (then Surry) County, N.C. about the year
1772.  He resided in Wilkes until the commencement of the Revolution, and
about the year 1775 or 1776 he volunteered himself and entered the service
of the United States in Captain Jesse Walton’s company of minute men who
had volunteered for two years....

    In his application, John Sparks described in considerable detail the nature of his service that involved primarily fighting the Indians and the Loyalists, in N.C. He closed his application as follows:

The capture of Lord Cornwallis being considered the closing scene of the
war, this deponent was not again called upon to perform any other service.
He has no documentary evidence to prove his service, nor never received a
written discharge that he has any recollection of.  He refers to a Captain
Samuel Johnson as a witness who can testify to part of his services.  And he
also refers to Captain Samuel Johnson and Reuben Sparks as persons to
whom he is will acquainted in his neighborhood, and who can testify as to his
character for veracity , and their belief of his services.  This Deponent has
no record of his age, but the information herein given on that subject was
derived from his mother many years ago, and he believes it to be correct.

The Reuben Sparks who, with Samuel Johnson, signed affidavits supporting John Sparks’s application, was actually John’s son, born in 1799.  Following is a list of the 11 children of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks reprinted from page 2272 of the March 1981 Issue of the QUARTERLY, Whole No. 113.:

1.  Levi Sparks, born October 2,  1778, died October 12, 1851; married (1st) ----- Walsh; married (2nd) Sarah Lyon; appeared on the following censuses:. 1810 and 1820 of Wilkes County, North Carolina; 1830, 1840, and 1850 census of Lawrence County, Kentucky.

2.  Robert Sparks, probably born about 1782, died probably about 1815; married Margaret Pigg about 1804.

3.  Mary Sparks, probably born about 1782, probably died about 1855; married Robert Bauguess, probably about 1801.

4.  Joel Sparks, probably born about 1784; died in December 1849 in Wilkes County, North Carolina; married Nancy Blackburn in 1814; appeared on the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses of Wilkes County, and on the 1850 Mortality Schedule of deaths In Wilkes County between June 1, 1849, and May 31,1850.

5.    John Sparks, Jr., probably born about 1785, probably died about 1865; mar ned Mary Fields, probably about 1815; appeared on the 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1860 censuses of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

6.  An unidentified daughter of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks was born about 1887.

7.  Solomon Sparks, born about 1790; probably died about 1860; married (1st) -----  -----  probably about 1811; married (2nd) Judah or Julia A. -----, probaby about 1824.  Appeared on the 1820 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina, and the 1850 census of Cherokee County, North Carolina.



Children of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks, continued:

8.    Sarah Sparks, born about 1792; died after 1860; married William Alexander on March 18, 1820; appeared on the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

9.    George Sparks, born November 9, 1796, died May 11, 1879; married (1st) a Miss Mainer or Maynard, probably about 1815; married (2nd) Nancy Short on August 6, 1822; appeared on the 1830 and 1850 censuses of Lawrence County, Kentucky, and on the 1860 census of Carter County, Kentucky.

10.    Reuben Sparks, born September 26, 1799, died March 9, 1878; married Phoebe Blackburn on October 10, 1828; appeared on the 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

11.    Colby Sparks, born about 1801, died 1869; married Sarah Pruitt on December 28, 1822; appeared on the 1830, 1840, 1850, and 1860 censuses of Wilkes County, North Carolina.

A confusing factor in our early research on John Sparks was that his service in the Revolutionary War, supported by his pension application, had been used by a descendant of an entirely different John Sparks in South Carolina and Georgia to gain membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. This was eventually corrected by the D. A. R. For information regarding the John Sparks of South Carolina, later Georgia, and his family, see the QUARTERLY of March 1989, (Whole No. 145, beginning on page 3380). This John Sparks had been born on February 27, 1755, according to his family Bible now in the hands of a descendant. As a young man, he lived in Newberry County, South Carolina. He was related to (probably a son of) Zachariah Sparks. Zachariah Sparks died during the Revolutionary War in Laurens County, South Carolina (see the QUARTERLY of September 1961,Whole No. 35, pp.569-575). John Sparks was married to Margaret Hampton on January 13, 1779.  In 1795, John and Margaret Sparks moved to Washington County, Georgia, where he died in 1820. They were the parents of 11 children.

John Sparks of Wilkes County, North Carolina, and his wife, Sarah (Shores) Sparks, were the parents of 11 children, as were the John and Margaret (Hampton) Sparks of South Carolina and Georgia. As shown in the list of children for John and Sarah given above, their fifth child was Joel Sparks, born about 1784, and died in 1849, in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Joel was married in Wilkes County to Nancy Blackburn in 1814. (Their marriage bond was dated July 27, 1814, as we noted at the beginning of this article, page 5754.) Both Joel and Nancy spent the rest of their lives in the Traphill community of Wilkes County where they reared their eight children, including their son, Robert Sparks, subject of the preceding article. It was on September 25, 1849, that Joel made his will. The original, bearing his signature, has been preserved among the court records of Wilkes County now at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. The original spelling in this document has been retained in this transcription.

[Will of Joel Sparks, September 25, 1849]

I Joel Sparks of the County of Wilkes and State of North Carolina. Being of
sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly
existance do make and declare this my last Will and testement in manner and
form following that is to say:

First that Executors hearin after named, Shall provide for my body a decent
burial suitable to the wishes of my relatives and friends



Will of Joel Sparks, September 25, 1849 (continued:

and pay all funderal expenses, together with my just debts howsomeever and
to whomsoever owing, out of the money that may first come into his hands as
a part or parsel of my estate. Item--I give and Devise to my Beloved wife
Nancy Sparks all my land whare on I now live Containing one hundred and ten
acres during her natural life or widowhood. and at the death of my wife or
marage I give and Devise said land to my youngest son Hugh Sparks who is a
miner seventeen years old the said one hundred and ten acres of Land to
have and to hold to him and his heirs in fee simple for evir. Item I give and
Devise to my wife Nancy Spark all my stock of every kind to be hers during
her natural life or widowhood also all my house hold and kitchen furniture
and at her decease or marage I give and Devis the said Stock household and
ketchin furniture to my youngest son Hugh Sparks for ever: Now tharefor
my will and desire is that my Brother Ruben Sparks is hereby constituted
and appointed guardin of my son to have and hold the custody and
guardinship of his respective person and estate untill he the said Hugh
Sparks arrive at full age of twenty one years.

I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty friend Ruben Sparks my lawful
executor to all intents and purposes to excute this my last Will and
testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every
part and every caues thereof--hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all
other Wills and testaments by me made heretofore. In witness whareof I
the said Joel Sparks do hereunto set my hand and seale September this 25
day of A.D. 1849

                                                              [signed] Joel Sparks (Seal)

signed sealed published and declared by the Joel Sparks to be his last Will
and Testament in presents of us, who do at his request in his presents and In
the presents of eachother, do subscribe our names as Witnesses thereto.

                                                              [signed] George W. Sparks Jt.
                                                                     “       Lewis W. Sparks

Below is a Photocopy of the Final Sentence of

Joel Sparks’s Will, With His Signature
(View photocopy)



Reuben (or Ruben) Sparks, brother of Joel whom he named as executor of his estate, had been born on September 26, 1799; he died on March 9, 1878. He was thus some 15 years younger than Joel; he was married in Wilkes County in 1828 to Phoebe Blackburn, and they were the parents of five children: (1) George Washington Sparks, born 1829; (2) Lewis Williams Sparks, born 1831;
(3) Sarah Sparks, born 1837; (4) John Sparks, born 1841; and (5) William C. Sparks, born 1843.

The two oldest sons of Reuben Sparks served as witnesses for their uncle, Joel Sparks, when he signed his will in 1849. George W. Sparks and his younger brother, John, joined the Confederate Army and both were killed during the Civil War. The son of Reuben and Phoebe named William C. Sparks joined the Union Army. For more information on the family of Reuben and Phoebe, see the QUARTERLY of December 1955 (Whole No. 12, pp.103-04).  Photographs of this couple appeared on the cover of this December 1955 QUARTERLY.

When the 1850 census was taken, for which census takers were instructed to list all free persons living on June 1, 1850, a “Mortality Schedule” was also compiled of residents of each county who had died during the previous year, i.e., between June 2, 1849, and May 31, 1850. The “Mortality Schedule” for Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1850 included Joel Sparks. He had died during the month of “December 1849 from Dropsy, age 64.”

On the 1850 census of Wilkes County, Nancy Sparks, widow of Joel, was shown as 59 years old; Joel’s farm, now owned by Nancy, was valued on the census at $600. Living with her was her son, Hugh Sparks, age 17, “Farmer.” Nancy’s brother-in-law, Reuben Sparks, age 50, and his wife and 5 children, were enumerated on the 1850 census just above Nancy, suggesting that their farms probably adjoined.  Reuben’s land was valued at $800.

Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks were the parents of nine children:

1.    Richmond Sparks was born about 1815. He was married about 1835 in Wilkes County to Sarah Privett. It was to Richmond Sparks that his brother, Robert Sparks, wrote his letter of April 28, 1864 (see page 5749).  Shortly after the Civil War ended, Richmond Sparks moved his family to Tazewell County, Virginia. Both Richmond and Sarah were still living in Tazewell County when the 1880 census was taken. He was then 67 and Sarah was 62.

Richmond Sparks was probably influenced in deciding to move to Tazewell County by members of the family of Jonas Sparks who had gone there from North Carolina in 1848. Jonas was a son of Reuben and Cassa  Sparks, Reuben (1755-1840) being a brother of John Sparks (1753-1840/41), the Revolutionary War pensioner. Jonas and Joel Sparks were thus first cousins.  (See the QUARTERLY of September 1967, Whole No. 59, pp.1082-89, for a record of the family of Reuben, Including his son, Jonas.)

A 2-volume work entitled Annals of Tazewell County, Virginia by John N. Harman, published between 1922 and 1925, includes a record of the children of Richmond and Sarah  Sparks. With this and Information from census records, we are able to identify them as follows:

(1)    Hugh Sparks, born about 1836; he was married three times: 1st to Mary Hankins, daughter of Robert Hankins; (2nd) to Patsy Hankins, also a daughter of Robert Hankins; and (3rd) to Mary Ellen (Harman) Whitt. We do not have dates of Hugh’s marriages, but by one or more of them, based on the 1880 census of Tazeweil County, he appears to have had the following children:


Children of Hugh Sparks, son of Richmond and Sarah (Prlvett)

(a)    Sarah Sparks, born about 1861; (b) Susan Sparks, born about 1863; (C) Elizabeth Sparks, born about 1865; (d) William Sparks, born about 1868; (e) Rufus Sparks, born about 1870; (f) Robert Sparks, born about 1873; (g) Martha Sparks, born about 1874; (h) Hugh Sparks, Jr., born about 1876;  (I) Moses Sparks, born about 1879. Hugh’s sister, Susan Sparks, age 34, was listed as a member of his household when the 1880 census was taken.

Children of Richmond and Sarah (Privett) Sparks, continued:
(2)    Tacie (or “Tassy”) Sparks was born about 1839. She was married to Joseph H. Porter according to Harman’s Annals...

(3)    John T. Sparks was born about 1841. According to Harman’s Annals..., he was married on July 7, 1867, to Elizabeth Sparks, born in 1851, died in 1920, daughter of Joshua William (ca.1830-1902) and Cynthia (Hankins) Sparks. John T. Sparks’s household was listed on the 1880 census of Tazewell County, in Jeffersonville District. His age there was given as 34 and Elizabeth’s as 29, with the following children, although three of these (see below) seem not to have been their own: (a) Cynthia Sparks, age 12; (b)
Sarah Sparks, age 9; (c) William Sparks, age 6; (d) Sarah Sparks, age 4; (e) Rebecca Sparks, age 2; and (f) Lucie Sparks, age 1 month. (In this list, William, age 6; Sarah, age 2, and Rebecca, age 2, were shown as “NR,” i.e., “Not Related to Head of Household”. )

(4)    Joel Sparks was born about 1843. He was married to Lydia Hankins, daughter of Carter Hankins according to Harman’s Annals... He was doubtless the Joel Sparks listed on the 1880 census of Tazewell County, Jefferson District, age 39, with wife Lydia, age 35. Their children were listed on this census as follows: (a) Nancy E. Sparks, age 8; (b) Mary S. Sparks, age 4; (c) Frankie Sparks, age 2; and (d)    Joel Sparks, Jr.], age 1 month.

(5)    Susanna  Sparks was born about 1846. She was living with her brother, Hugh Sparks, when the 1880 census of Tazewell County was taken.  Harman In his Annals... stated that Susan had been married to Finley Mayhappy.

(6)    Rufus Sparks was born about 1848. His name appeared in his parents’ household on the 1860 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina, but he was not listed as a son of Richmond Sparks in Harman’s Annals...

(7)    Nancy Sparks was born about 1850. She was married to Charlie Hunt according to Harman’s Annals...

(8)    Lillie Sparks was listed as a daughter of Richmond and Sarah (Privett) Sparks by Harman in his Annals... and that she was married to James Whitaker. On the 1860 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina, a daughter of Richmond and Sarah was listed named Sarah, age 4, thus born about 1856.  Might she and the Lillie named by Harman have been the same person?

(9)    William B. Sparks was born about 1858. According to Harman’s Annals..., he was married to Sarah Christian. A William Sparks was listed on the 1880 census of Tazewell County, Virginia, age 20,

Children of Richmond and Sarah (Privett) Sparks, continued:

with wife, Sarah, age 24, and children: Rosabell Sparks, age 1, and Hugh Sparks, age 1 month. Also living in William’s household in 1880 were Richmond Sparks, age 68, and Sarah Sparks, age 62, both born in North Carolina. They were doubtless his parents.

Children of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks, continued:

2.    An unidentified daughter was born about 1820; she probably died young.

3.    Malinda Sparks was born about 1824. She was married in 1846 to Jacob Lyon (later spelled Lyons). Their Wilkes County, North Carolina, marriage bond was dated June 6, 1846, with James Durham serving as bondsman for Jacob. Malinda’s name was spelled “Malindy” on the bond. They were living in Elkin-Surry Township of Wilkes County when the 1860 census was taken, adjoining Malinda’s mother, judging from the sequence of households on that census, Nancy’s age was given as 70 and she was still
living with her son, Hugh Sparks. The age of Jacob J. Lyons was given as 47 and that of Malinda as 36. Their children in 1860 were, according to the census: (1) Nancy L. Lyons, age 9; (2) Gabriel M. Lyons, age 7; (3) Hiram Lyons, age 3; and Ira W. Lyons, age 1 year. Also living in this household in 1860 was Frances Lyons, age 72. Perhaps she was the mother of Jacob Lyons.

4.    Nancy Sparks was born about 1825 and was married to Meredith Lyon (or Lyons). When the 1850 census was taken of Wilkes County, North Carolina, their household then consisted of Meredith Lyons, age 35, and Nancy, age 25, with the following children: (1) Emily Lyons, age 13; (2) Hanson Lyons, age 25; (3) Mary Lyons, age 8; (4) Thomas Lyons, age 6; (5) Nancy Lyons, age 5; (6) John Lyons, age 2; and (7) Joshua Lyons, age 1 year. Nancy Sparks must have been the second wife of Meredith Lyons because, at age 25 in 1850, she could scarcely have been the mother of 13-year-old Emily and 11-year-old Hanson; she was probably the mother of
the five younger children. Nancy (Sparks) Lyons headed her own household when the 1860 census was taken of Traphill Township in Wilkes County.

5.    Robert Sparks, born in 1824 or 1825, was the writer of the letter to his wife, Susan, and that to his brother, Richmond, transcribed on pages 5748-50, before his execution on April 28, 1864.

When the 1860 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina, was taken, Robert Sparks and his family were enumerated In household #749 in Traphill Township. Robert was shown as 34 years old and Susan as 33. See page 5753 of this issue of the QUARTERLY for a list of their children. The household following that of Robert Sparks on the 1860 census was that of George Sparks, age 29, with wife Elizabeth, age 31. and three children. George Sparks was a first cousin of Robert, being a son of Reuben and Phoebe
(Blackburn) Sparks. Joel Sparks, Robert’s father, and Reuben Sparks were brothers. The household immediately before that of Robert in 1860 was headed by a widow named Susanna Evans, while that preceding her was headed by James P. Sparks.

6.    Joel Sparks, Jr. was born about 1826. He was married in 1846 to Charlotte Durham (marriage bond dated June 21, 1846, with James Durham as Joel’s bondsman). Charlotte, whose name was spelled “Charloty” on the marriage bond, was a daughter of John Durham. In the latter’s


Children of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks, continued

will probated in Wilkes County in July 1863, she was identified as one of his “four daughters. . . Charlette wife of Joel Sparks.” This Joel Sparks, Jr. should not be confused with the Joel Sparks, Jr., born in May 1824, son of Joel Sparks, Sr. and a grandson of Matthew and Eunice Sparks. (See the QUARTERLY of June 2000, Whole No. 190, pp.5363-67, for information on the Joel Sparks, Sr., son of Matthew and Eunice, including page 5366 for this Joel’s son, Joel Sparks, Jr. 1824-1862. This Joel, Jr. was married in
Wilkes County to Almyra Lane in 1844 and thereafter moved to Missouri.) He volunteered to serve in the Missouri Mifitia at the beginning of the Civil War and was mortally wounded as a Union soldier during the Battle of Lone Jack in Jackson County, Missouri, on August 16, 1862.

When the 1860 census of Wilkes County, North Carolina, was taken, Joel Sparks, Jr., son of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks, and his family were enumerated in Traphill Township. His age was given as 36 and Charlotte’s as 34. Their nine children shown on that census were: (1) Caroline Sparks, 14; (2) George W. Sparks, 12; (3) Nancy Sparks, 10; (4) Andrew J. Sparks, 9; (5) Julia Sparks, 7; (6) Martha Sparks, 5; (7) Livia Sparks, 3; (8) Joel Sparks, 2; and (9) Mary J. Sparks, 11 months. The household of Richmond Sparks, Joel, Jr.’s uncle, was enumerated immediately following that of Joel, Jr.

7.    Mittie Sparks was born about 1828. She was married in 1846 to James Durham (marriage bond dated August 15, 1846, with Meredith Lyon as James’s bondsman). James Durham was a son of John Durham whose will was probated In Wilkes County in July 1863. His sisters, Charlotte Lyon and Susan Lyon, were married, respectively, to Joel Sparks, Jr. and Robert Sparks, also in 1846. James Durham died in Wilkes County in 1887 or 1888, hIs will being probated there at the March 1888 term of the Wilkes County
Court. Written some 8 years before his death, his will mentioned his wife, Milly, (“Mittie” apparently being a nickname) his son, J. S. Lyon (who was designated to be his executor), and a grandson named Thomas N. Durham. He also mentioned Susan Durham and Lura Jane Durham, who were probably granddaughters. When the 1860 census of Traphill Township in Wilkes County was taken, James, age 37, and Mittie (Sparks) Durham, age 32, were shown with two children: (1) Thomas Durham, age 13; and (2) Mary Durham, age 9.

8.    Hugh Sparks, youngest child of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks, was born in or about 1833. In his will, transcribed earlier, Joel had named his 17-year-old son as heir to his land and personal property following the death or re-marriage of his wife, Nancy. Hugh was shown on both the 1850 and the 1860 censuses of Wilkes County as living with his mother. On September 27, 1862, Hugh Sparks, age 30, enlisted in the Confederate Army and was enrolled in Company C of the 13th North Carolina Infantry Regiment.   He was captured by the Union Army on May 6, 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness. He was taken to the Union Prisoner of War Camp at Elmira, New York, where he died of chronic diarrhea on September 11, 1864.

Editor’s Note: As seen in the above record of this branch of the Sparks family there are numerous gaps in our information. Should this article come to the attention of a reader having additional information, or corrections, your Editor would be pleased to hear from you.]

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