“He who careth not from whence he came, careth little whither he goeth.” Daniel Webster

VOL.  II, NO. 1  MARCH, 1954

Index Next Page Previous Page Previous Whole No.

[NOTE: Here appears an illustration of Pocahontas, beneath which is the following caption:]


(View Illustration)

The Indian maid, Pocahontas, through her friendship with Captain John Smith and marriage to John Rolfe, became a real aid to the colony. This illustration is from the Seventeenth-century portrait formerly at Booton Hall, Norfolk, England, and now in The National Gallery of Art, Mellon Collection, Washington, D. C. Reproduced through the courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

From: James Towne In The Words Of Contemporaries, edited by Riley & Hatch;
published 1944 by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington.

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




(Note: This material comes to us through the courtesy of Ina (Sparks) Bassett, of Minocqua, Wisconsin. The Sparks family of Baltimore, Maryland, claims descent from the “Master Sparks” mentioned below. Even though this descent is as yet unproven, it is interesting that this Sparks is undoubtedly the very first of the name to tread on American soil. PES)

The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and The Summer Isles, with the names of The Adventurers, Planters, and Governours, from their first beginning on 1584 To this present 1626. With the proceedings of these severall Colonies. By Captain John Smith, Sometymes Governour in these Countryes and Admiral of New England. From the London edition. This book was first printed at London for Michael Sparkes in l624. In 1819 it was reprinted at Richmond, Virginia, by the Rev. John Holt Rice, along with the True Travels of 1630. (Ref. 1, page 219)

Captain John Smith wrote (after the capture of Pocahontas by Sir Thomas Dale to force Powhatan to terms), “We sent Master John Rolfe and Master Sparkes to Powhatan, to acquaint him with the business: kindly were they entertained, but was not admitted to the presence of Powhatan, but they spoke with Opechanoanough, his brother and successor; hee promised to doe the best he could to Powhatan, all might be well. So it being Aprill, and time to prepare our ground and set our Corne, we returned to James Towne, promising the forbearance of their performing their promise, till the next harvest.” (Ref. 1, page 310)

Another source states: “John Rolfe and another of the Englishmen named Sparks were dispatched to let Powhatan know these proceedings. He entertained them hospitably but would not admit them to his presence, they however, saw his brother Opechanoanough, who engaged to use his influence with Powhatan in favor of peace.” (Note by Ina (Sparks) Bassett: “This book states that this was in 1611.”) (Ref. 2, page l08)

No further mention is made of Master Sparks, and it is not known whether he remained in Virginia, or returned to England. His companion, the famous John Rolfe, married in 1613 to Pocohontas, the Indian Princess, daughter to the Indian Chief, Powhatan, and the couple made their home in England. The above portrait of Pocahontas was made the year before she died in 1617, at the age of twenty-two.

The above account mentioning Master Sparks also appears in The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and The Summer Isles, Volume One, page 220, published in MCMVII, by James MacLehose and Sons, Glasgow, Scotland.

Reference 1. - Original Narratives of Early American History, Narratives of Early Virginia, Scribners, 1907.

Reference 2. - History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia, by Charles Campbell.




By: William Perry Johnson

(Continued from Vol. I, No. 4, page 23)

(Note: On page 22 of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, Vol. 1, No. 4, reference is made to “Nugent’s Cavaliers and Pioneers (Ref. 1)” which “lists the earliest land patents and grants in Virginia, from 1623 to 1800.” Actually, this book covers only from 1623 to 1666, and was designated as Volume One, and was published several years ago. If a second volume is forthcoming, I have not heard of it. Therefore data on the Sparks immigrants to Virginia after 1666 must be obtained directly from the Land Patent and Land Grant books on file in the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia. I have gone through the Index to Patents and Grants from 1623 to 1776, for Virginia, and have found but two Sparkses listed as having been granted land. One was the John Sparks who obtained 750 acres in 1635 (see THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, Vol. I, No. 4, page 23), and the other was a James Sparks who obtained 1,000 acres in 1729 (details below). It would be a tedious and time consuming task to ascertain the number of Sparkses brought into Virginia from 1666 to 1776 as headrights, a task that could be accomplished only by reading the voluminous land patent and land grant records page by page. Someday I hope to be able to do this needed research. William Perry Johnson.)

(The article EARLY SPARKS IMMIGRANTS TO AMERICA -- Part One: Virginia -- now continues with a few more items from the records of 17th Century Virginia.)

“King and Queen Co. Patents. Book 9, page 209. William Jones, junr. 6 June 1699. 700 acres in King and Queen Co. Boundary begins at corner red oak of Robinsons land on a brow in sight of Spark’s house on the lower side of his plantation. Adjoins run of Dragon Swamp, the land of Margaret Todd and Frances Todd orphans to Mr. Mm. Todd, the mouth of mirey meadow, etc. Due for importing 16 persons.” (Ref. 5, Vol. 27)

“Ages of Lower Norfolk Co. People - 1666-1675. John Sparks aged 30 years 1671.  (Ref. 6)

“Anne, widow of John Stradder, was granted 1. c. on his estate with John Sparkes and Henry Asbury as her sec. Westmoreland County, Jan. 11, 1687/8.” (Ref. 7)

“Minutes of Council and General Court. 1622-1629. John Sparke, gentleman, sworn and exam’d sayeth that he was a Wittnes did set his hande to Mr. Mansteeds Will butt did not see Mr. Mansteed signe seal and deliver the same but , yt the Will was brought brought (sic) by Mr. Bruster to have his hande thereto. Robert Dennys also being sworne and exam’d as a Wittness affirmeth as much as Mr. Sparkes hath done. (Footnote: In the census of 1625 John Sparks who came in the GEORGE in 1621 is included among the ‘servants’ of George Sandys.)” (Ref. 8, Vol. 23, page 15)

“Minutes of Council and General Court. At cort of James Citty, 9th of February 1632. Mr. Thomas Harwood desired the Cort to take Notice that he is readie on the behalf of Mr. Edward Hurt to satisfie unto Thomas Sparkes such Clothes and other things As are due unto him by Covenant.” (Ref. 8, Vol. 31, page 294)

There was a Rent Roll of Virginia taken in the years 1704 and 1705. The twenty-five counties at that time were: Accomack, Charles City, Elizabeth City, Essex, Gloucester, Henrico, Isle of Wight, James City, King and Queen, King William,


Lancaster, Middlesex, Nansemond, New Kent, Norfolk, Northampton, Northumberland,  Prince George, Princess Ann, Richmond, Stafford, Surry, Warwick, Westmoreland, and York. All of this Rent Roll has been preserved with the exception of the following five counties, whose Rent Roll was sent direct to England, and has apparently not been preserved: Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Stafford and Westmoreland. These five were vital counties, and the loss is great. Sparks families are known to have been in at least two of the five. However, it is very significant that in the twenty counties remaining on the Rent Roll, there was but ONE SPARKS LANDOWNER!  He was JOHN SPARKS, in King and Queen Co., Va., 1704, with 200 acres of land. (Ref. 4) This is rather startling, in view of the fact that we have record of so many of the name immigrating to and settling in Virginia in the 1600s. One might expect there to be literally hundreds of the name by 1708/5, scattered throughout the entire colony. Even three or four generations later (the 1790 Census of Virginia compiled from Tax Lists taken in the 1780s--see the QUARTERLY, Vol. I, No. 2, p. l l) the name Sparks is comparatively rare in Virginia. There can be but one explanation, and that is that the early Sparkses in Virginia were not very prolific, at least not as far as sons were concerned. The name Sparks very nearly died out, or, as one genealogist so aptly expressed it, the name almost “daughtered” out!

Shortly after 1700 the name Sparks begins to occur more frequently in the records of Virginia. On the 27th of September 1729, James Sparkes of  St. Georges Parish, Spotsylvania Co., Virginia, was granted 1,000 acres of land on the North side of Rappidan River. (Land Patent and Grant Book No. 13, page 414, Va. State Library, Richmond, Va.) This was no doubt the James Sparks who died intestate (i.e. without leaving a will) in 1758 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Torrence, in his Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800, (Ref. ll), lists all the wills on record in Virginia up to 1800, as well as all the administrations. Of course, this record is far from complete, but this is no fault of Mr. Torrence, for the court records of many of the oldest counties in Virginia have been forever lost or destroyed. There are ten Sparks wills on record in Virginia up to 1800, two administrations, and one inventory, making a total of 13 Sparkses who died in Virginia before 1800- -but there is no way of ascertaining the extent of the loss of Sparks wills and administrations, inventories, etc., due to the destruction of court records as mentioned above. Surely there were dozens of Sparkses who died in Virginia in the l600s and 1700s.

The 13 Sparkses listed by Torrence are:

Culpeper County, Virginia:  Henry Sparkes - 1770 - will
Thos. Sparks - 1787 - will
Wm. Sparks - 1781 - will

Essex County, Virginia:  John Sparks - 1786 - will

Fairfax County, Virginia: Jeremiah Sparks - 1750 - administration

Prince William County, Virginia:  John Spark - 1787 - inventory 
Wm. Sparks - 1788 - will
Wm. Sparkes - 1735 - will

Spotsylvania County, Virginia: James Sparks - 1758 - administration

Westmoreland County, Virginia:  Alex. Sparks - 1783 - will
Wm. Sparks - 1767 - will
Wm. Sparks - 1767 - will
York County, Virginia:  Nimrod Spark - 1795 - will

Note that the earliest extant Sparks will is dated 1735 and is for a William Sparkes of Prince William Co., Va. The various Sparks families of Virginia will be taken up in subsequent articles in the QUARTERLY in the future. These families will be grouped more or less according to locations (counties), and the above Sparks wills of Virginia will be included and in more detail.



1. Nugent, Neil Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800.
2. Everton, Walter M., The Handy Book for Genealogists, Herald-Journal Printing Co., Logan, Utah, 1949.
3. Hotten, John Camden, The Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants; Religious Exiles; Political Rebels; Serving Men Sold For a Term of Years; Apprentices; Children Stolen; Maidens Pressed and Others Who Went From Great Britain to the American Plantations 1600-1700. Chatto & Windus, Publishers. London, Eng., 1874.
4. Wertenbaker, The Planters of Colonial Virginia, Princeton Univ. Press, 1922.
5. Fleet, Beverly, Virginia Colonial Abstracts.
6. William and Mary College Quarterly. First Series.
7. William and Mary College Quarterly. Second Series.
8. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.
9. Wright, Louis B., First Gentlemen of Virginia, 1940.
10. Bristol and America - Servants to Foreign Plantations.
11. Torrence, Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800.

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


By: William Perry Johnson

The Sparks family was well represented in the American Revolution. Thirteen of the name applied to the Federal Government in their old age for a pension and their papers are on file in the Nation Archives, as follows:

Abraham Sparks or Abraham Leah - New York - File No. W20064.
David Sparks - Massachusetts - File No. S37437.
Ebenezer Sparks - Connecticut - File No. W19395.
Henry Sparks - Virginia - File No. R9959.
James Sparks - Pennsylvania & Virginia - File No. S32533.
John Sparks - New Jersey - File No. S33707.
John Sparks or Sparkes - New Jersey - File No. Wl9391. (His papers appear to be mixed up with those   for a John Sparks from Washington Co., New York. WPJ)
John Sparks - North Carolina - File No. S7580.
Joseph Sparks - Connecticut - File No. W20063.
Mathew Sparks - North Carolina - File No. S31385.
Pearl Sparks or Sharks - New York - File No. S27510.
Solomon Sparks - Pennsylvania - File No. S4874.
William Sparks - North Carolina - File No. 9960. (Rejected)

The pension papers for these thirteen Sparkses are very interesting, and for the most part they contain a lot of valuable genealogical and historical material. We plan to publish the pension papers in full for these thirteen patriots, and we shall begin with No.13, above, William Sparks, whose application was rejected, apparently for lack of sufficient proof of his service. As one reads this interesting account, one is impressed with its apparent authenticity and with the remarkable memory of this old man as he recalls events which occurred nearly seventy years earlier.

Nacogdoches County, Texas -- 14 September 1846 -- Application of William Sparks, “a resident of Spark’s settlement in said county,” aged 85 years the 3 day of April last. Shortly before this applicant entered the service his father Matthew Sparks removed with him from the Yadkin River in the County of Wilkes and State of North Carolina across the Blue Ridge to a place on New River in the said County of Wilkes, which is now about two miles from the County seat of Nash County, North Carolina. [He intended Ashe County, N.C. - WPJ.] Also shortly before I entered the service the Cherokee Indians had committed depredations and murdered five persons, I think, three children and two women, near the head of the Catawba River, at least, above


John’s River, at a place then, I think, in Burke County, North Carolina. In the part of the country in which I lived, after the war had lasted. several years, all of us capable of bearing arms were divided into four classes, as well as I remember, by lot. I fell into the fourth class. About this time it came to the turn of my class to enter the service; and while we were making preparations to do so Capt. John Cleaveland (Nicknamed as Devil John) son of Col. Benjamin Cleaveland, who afterwards fought at King’s Mountain, and who resided near our former residence on the Yadkin, come over to our settlement on New River, and proposed to my class to volunteer to go with him against the Cherokee Indians, saying that this tour would be accounted the same as the same length of service against the British, against whom we were then preparing to go. Four of my neighbours of my class viz. John Baker, Israel Campbell, John Waters, and George Humprhreys, with myself accepted John Cleaveland’s proposition, and in obedience to his order rendezvoused at Wilkes Court-House (Wilkesboro) and entered the service under the said John Cleaveland as our Captain on the 15th day of August --from old age and consequent loss of memory this applicant cannot state positively in what year this was, but he does recollect, that it was when he had just entered his seventeenth year, and several years before the battle of King’s Mountain. [Since William Sparks was born on 3 April 1761, then it was in the year 1778 when he joined up with Capt. John Cleaveland; the Battle of King’s Mountain was in 1780. WPJ.]

(To be Continued)

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


By William Perry Johnson

In the December, 1953 issue of the QUARTERLY (Vol. I, page 24) it was announced that I would begin in this issue a query and answer department. Several readers have asked why we did not incorporate such a department into our publication, and since we announced our intention of doing so, several have asked for further details regarding the purpose, functioning, benefits, etc., of this new department.

To begin with, the purpose -- the sole purpose of operating a query and answer department in THE SPARKS QUARTERLY is to lend a helping hand to those of you, our readers, who are anxious to trace your Sparks lineage. Many readers have observed that to date all the material we have published is so far back that they have no idea whether or not it pertains to their own ancestry, and each reader is naturally more interested in his own ancestry than in all Sparks data in general. Since THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION was planned as a long-range project, it is the intention of the officers and founders of this Association to publish over the years a vast amount of Sparks family history, from the present back several hundred years. But to start out with it was thought best to begin with articles pertaining to the earliest Sparks families in America, then, later, material will be published on both the ancestors and descendants of these early Sparks families in America. This is, of course, a gigantic undertaking, one that will takes years of hard work, and the cooperation of all our readers, if it can be accomplished at all. We will do our best to publish material pertaining to the ancestry of all our members all over the United States, but it may be months, or even years, before data on your own particular family appears in this publication. You, the reader, can hasten the publication of data on your own family by sending us a sketch of your family, beginning with yourself and your immediate family, and tracing back as far as you can, including names, dates, locations, interesting incidents, traditions, etc. The Association will publish these family sketches from time to time in the QUARTERLY, and endeavor to tie your family in with one of the various Sparks immigrant families, and to other Sparks families in America.

Another way to stimulate interest in your particular branch of the Sparks family is to send queries to this department, and, of course, to lend a hand to another member whenever possible. Many of our readers have Sparks ancestry in common just


a few generations back, and if all members will cooperate, we shall all benefit by the exchange of Sparks family data. Most of the copies of the QUARTERLY are sent to private homes all over America, but at the same time a number of the largest libraries in the United States are on our mailing list, and your query placed in this department will be read by people all over America. Also, anyone going to any one of these libraries to do research on the Sparks family will readily find THE SPARKS QUARTERLY and your query, not only now, but for many years to come there will be Sparks searchers reading all issues of the QUARTERLY. The “missing link” in one’s lineage often has a way of turning up unexpectedly, and there is no telling when or where some one will see your query and have just the information you have been looking for!

Further, I have in my library a large manuscript collection of Sparks material, covering Sparks families in several states. This will all be published eventually in THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, but in the meantime if I have anything in my files that would answer or help to answer any of the queries sent in to this department, I shall make use of this storehouse of material to aid you in the immediate tracing of your Sparks lineage, and all answers to all queries will appear in this department as one answer may benefit many readers.

The cost of having a query appear in this department is a nominal one, at but three cents per word. The money received for queries will go to help defray the expenses of conducting this department, which is a time-consuming task, and the majority of the hours devoted to this new department will be donated to the “cause.” Amounts under $1.00 may be sent to me in the form of postage stamps.

The method of counting words in a query may be demonstrated by query 1, below, which has 29 words, amounting to a cost of eighty-seven cents. Query 2 has 67 words, at a cost of $2.01.


1. Who was the father of Solomon Sparks, of Frederick Co., Md., born c.l720-30,  probably in Queen Annes County, who removed with wife Sarah to Rowan Co., N.C.,  1753?

[Scanner's Note:  Ans: Joseph Sparks of William (d.1709)

2. Who was the father of Wesley and William Sparks who appear on the 1830 census of Lawrence Co., Ky.?

[Scanner's Note:  Ans: Robert and Margaret (Pigg) Sparks, son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks.]

Wesley was born c.l805 in N.C. and married Nancy Kasee in 1835 in Lawrence Co., Ky.; William was born c.l8l2 in N.C. and married Mary Lyon  in 1832 in Morgan Co., Ky. Were these two brothers also brothers of Nancy Sparks, who married Martin Ison c.l829?

[Scanner's Note: Ans: Yes.  But Wesley's wife was Nancy Kozee.]

3. Wanted: Ancestry and Descendants of a Henry Sparks who lived in Dorchester County, Maryland, in the early l700s.

William Perry Johnson, Professional Genealogist
 Historian-Genealogist for THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION
Address: Box 531, Raleigh, North Carolina.
(Note added to the 1981 reprinting of this issue of the QUARTERLY. As Mr. Johnson predicted in the above statement, The Sparks Family Association has grown through the years and a vast amount of Sparks genealogy has been published in the QUARTERLY. We no longer charge for queries, however, but continue to welcome them for publication. William Perry Johnson, who served for some 27 years as the Association’s Historian-Genealogist, died on October 17, 1980.)


 S K R A P S

This is the fifth issue of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, and we are happy to announce that our project has been a success. Our membership is now over two hundred, and is continually growing. We will be able to continue publication of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY; and with the cooperation of all members, we can make this into a well-knit,

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

smoothly-functioning organization; and we can soon boast of having assembled the largest collection of Sparks lore in the world! If you are interested in any phase of the history and genealogy of the Sparks family, and have not already joined us, won’t you do so soon? Also, if you have just overlooked sending your renewal for your subscription, won’t you sent it in soon?

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

We are indebted to Charles H. Smith (No. 16), 213 Dewey Street, Edgewood, Pittsburgh, 18, Penn., for the motto which appears underneath the heading of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY. As Mr. Smith wrote: “This affords our members something to think about, and is a source of family pride.”

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

All members of THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION are requested to send in at their earliest convenience (Many have already done so) a sketch giving as much information as they can regarding their branch of the Sparks family, as far back as possible. The staff of the Association will endeavor to bridge the gap between these lineages submitted by the members and the early Sparks immigrants to America. This will be a slow and tedious process, but it can be accomplished if we all work together on it. All members are urgently requested to search their attics, basements, old trunks, bureaus, and any other place that they might find old Bibles, letters, family records, pictures of older members of the family, or anything pertaining to the past generations of the Sparks family. We would be happy to feature on the front page of each issue of the QUARTERLY one or more pictures of the past generations of Sparkses, say those over 100 years old. Does anyone have a picture of a Sparks born in the 1700s? (Photography became increasingly popular following the Civil War.) Which member of the Association has the oldest Sparks picture?

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

                                                                                February 2nd, 1954, Indian Creek Lodge, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Dear Mr. Sparks:

My sister, Julia McIntosh Sparks, passed away January 12th. She was loved by so many and will be greatly missed by friends and relatives. Julia was so much interested in your work, and enjoyed the SPARKS QUARTERLIES so much. I have all my sister’s records of the Sparks family, and if I can be of any help, I hope you will let me know.
                                                                       Sincerely, Mrs. Nellie (Sparks) Allen
                                                                                         2310 E. Genesee St.,
                                                                                         Syracuse, New York.

(Editor’s Note: To Mrs. Allen, and to her brother, Dr. George W. Sparks, we extend our deepest sympathy. We, too, will miss “Cousin Julia.”)

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

Back numbers of THE SPARKS QUARTERLY are available, at twenty-five cents per copy, or $1.00 for each volume of four issues. Make your request to the Editor, Paul E. Sparks, 155 North Hite Ave., Louisville 6, Ky. Readers may wish to send an extra copy of a particular issue to a friend or relative. Also, members who join THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION in 1954 will want to obtain for their files the four issues published in 1953.

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

It has been suggested that members of THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION obtain from their local newspapers items pertaining to anyone named Sparks, and send them to the Editor of the QUARTERLY. Items such as births, deaths (obituaries), marriages, or any item of historical or genealogical interest that pertains to any person named Sparks will be of interest and future importance. In this way we can build up a file on present-day members of the family, and thus contact relatives that we heretofore have not known about.


Home Page Next Page Previous Page Previous Whole No.

Scanned and Edited by James J. Sparks