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

VOL.  II, NO. 2  JUNE 1954

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(Note:  Here appears a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:)

Photo courtesy Birmingham News Magazine.

L I V I N G    T H E    L I F E    O F    A    F O R M E R    G O V E R N O R

(View photograph)

(NOTE: In November 1953, The Birmingham News Magazine published a feature article about one of Alabama’s former Governors. We are happy to reprint this article about one of the members of THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION. P.E.S.)

Ex-Gov. CHAUNCEY SPARKS, one of Alabama’s best-known bachelors, has quietly slipped into the role of elder statesman here in his old home town of Eufaula by the Chattahoochee River. The graying, bespectacled Barbour County lawyer with the homespun manner told a newsman in an interview recently that he no longer has any political ambitions. "I’m 68 years old," he pointed out, "and that’s no age for a man to start thinking about running for office again. Anyway, I’m glad to be a private citizen."

Alabama’s chief executive from 1943 to 1947, Sparks is still known as "governor" to many friends of Barbour County, and he likes to reminisce about his days in Montgomery. His record at the helm of the state is highlighted by such accomplishments as the inauguration of a farm-to-market road program; establishment of regional farm markets and


regional livestock coliseums; the foundation of recreation programs along with parks, playgrounds and public fishing lakes, and the liquidation of Alabama’s bonded indebtedness. The former governor is proud, too, of his part in a successful fight to bring equal freight rates to the South.

Sparks remains a deep-dyed democrat, although he has met Dwight Eisenhower and personally admires the president. He is anything but ashamed of the fact that, unlike many Southerners, he came out openly for Adlai Stevenson and the Democratic Party in l952. "I’m a New Dealer and proud of it," says Sparks. He favors the New Deal program of higher wages for the working man.

Nowadays, Chauncey Sparks is content with running his law practice in a spacious, high-ceilinged office here and managing his Barbour County cattle farm, but he takes great interest in reading about the affairs of Alabama and the nation and ventures to predict the Democrats will win the 1956 presidential election.

He was born Oct. 8 1884, on a farm fourteen miles west of Eufala. His grandfather, Samuel Sparks, and wife migrated from Muscogee County, Georgia, to Barbour County in the early 1880’s. His father, George W. Sparks married Sarah E. Castellow. To this union were born four children and three are still living--the governor, H. C. Sparks, and Mrs. Louise Fleweller. Sparks’ father died when Chauncey was three years old. His mother bought a farm in Quitman County, Georgia, and reared the children there.

"I attended old Woodland Academy in Quitman County" Sparks recalls. "It’s now a cotton house. You might say I went to school at Woodland until I was too old to learn any more there."

From public school, young Chauncey turned to college. He attended Mercer University in Macon, Ga., and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in 1907. "I became a school teacher," he says. I taught at Joe Terrell School near Shellman. Incidentally, that school is named for a governor of Georgia. Later I taught at Omaha, Ga., in Stewart County.

Sparks returned to Mercer in 1910, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in November, 1910. He immediately started practicing law in Eufaula.

"The prohibition movement put me in politics," the former governor said. "My interest started in the prohibition days of 1918. I was strong for ratification of the 19th amendment and ran for the Legislature for the purpose of voting for the amendment’s ratification. I was elected and completed my four year term. I then resolved never to dabble in politics again. However, 1n 1930, I was persuaded to offer for the legislature again. I got good and wet in politics that time."

Sparks became a leader of the minority group of the Alabama Legislature. In 1938, the Eufaula attorney ran for governor and was second man in the race. Frank M. Dixon was elected. In 1942, Sparks again tossed his hat into the race for governor and was elected.

He makes his home in Eufaula with his sister, Mrs. Fleweller. "I’m happy here with all my old friends," says Sparks. "You know, some of the best people in the world live right here in Barbour County."

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


William Perry Johnson

To those of us who delight in claiming kin with celebrities, whether the relationship be close or distant, this article will be of more than passing interest.

A recent discovery was the fact that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independance and third President of the United States, was a Sparke descendant!

Living in the city of London, England, in the latter half of the 16th Century was a Mr. Sparks who was, by occupation, a draper. (A draper in those days was one who made cloth; later the term came to apply to one who was a dealer in cloth or any goods.)  In the year 1596, one Lionel Branch applied in London for a license to marry Valentia Sparke. The license reads as follows:

"Leonell Branch, of London, gent., and Valentia Sparks, of St. Martin, Ludgate, said city, spinster, daughter of ----- Sparks, late of said city, draper, deceased, gen. lic., 7 July 1596." Copied from London Marriage Licenses, 1521-1869, edited by Joseph Forster, page 174. (Ref. 1, page 73)

Lionel Branch was a native of Abington, Berkshire, England, and a son of William and Katherine (Jennings) Branch. His paternal grandparents were Richard (born before 1500) and Elizabeth (Beauforest) Branch. (Ref. 2, page 457. )

Christopher Branch, son of Lionel and Valentia (Sparks) Branch, was the immigrant to America. He settled in the early 1600s in Henrico County, Virginia, where he was a member of the House of Burgesses in 1639, and a Justice of the Peace in 1656. He had married in England in 1619 to Mary Addie. (Ref. 2, page 457.)

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) descended from Lionel and Valentia (Sparks) Branch as follows:

Lionell Branch m. 1596 Valentia Sparks
Christopher Branch m. 1619 Mary Addie
William Branch m. Jane ----- (who married 2d Abel Gower)
Martha Branch m Thomas Jefferson I (Left a will in Henrico County, Virginia in 1677.)
Thomas Jefferson II m. Mary Field
Peter Jefferson m. 1753 Jane Randolph
THOMAS JEFFERSON (Refs. 2 and 3.)

Reference 1. - Branch of Abingdon, by James Branch Cabell; William Ellis Jones’ Sons, Inc., Richmond, Va.; Dec. 1911.

Reference 2. - Genealogy of Members, Sons of the Revolution in the State of Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Mitchell & Hotchkiss, Printers; 1939.

Reference 3. - Virginia Magazine, Vol. 14, page 227.



by William Perry Johnson

(Continued from Vol. II, No. 1, page 30)

"At Wilkesboro, which was the place of general rendezvous for the North Carolina raised for this expedition. Capt. Cleaveland’s Company was filled to the number of about sixty, and about one thousand in all rendezvoused here. We were all mounted gunmen, and nearly all armed with Rifles, tomahawks, and butcher knives, each man, and myself amongst the rest, furnishing his own horse arms and equipuent. At the end of about two days we took up the line of march by Pleasant Gardens on the Catawba, crossed John’s River, then by Cathey’s Fort to Turkey Cove on the Catawba, a distance, I supposed, of about one hundred miles in all from Wilkesboro. At Turkey Cove we remained about two weeks collecting Beef and other provisions for the Campaign. Here we were joined by the rest of the North Carolina forces, making our number from twelve to fifteen hundred, and here the Command-in-Chief was taken by Genl. Charles McDowell of Pleasant Garden, Burkes County North Carolina, in which he continued throughout the Campaign. At this place my Capt. John Cleaveland was informed by letter that his wife was dangerously ill, and went home, and did not again return to us. Myself and my New River neighbours, Bake, Campbell, Waters and Humphryes, at the request of Capt. Cleaveland were then permitted to join Capt. John Beverley’s Company, in which we remained to the end of the Campaign.

"I do not remember positively what disposition was made of the rest of Cleaveland’ s company, but I believe that as Beverly had not before a full company they all joined him. My Regiment was commanded by Cob. Benjamin Hiorn [?] of Wilkes County. [This was, I believe, Benjamin Herndon, of Wilkes Co., N.C. - WPJ] The Captains under him were as far as I remember, John Cleaveland and John Beverly and I think others whom I do not recollect. Cob. Joseph McDowell brother of our Genl. commanded the Burkes County Regiment. There was also a Maj. McDowell in under Colo. Joseph McDowell. I think his given name was also Joseph, and that he was a cousin of the General and the Colonel. I do not remember any of the other North Carolina officers.

"At the end of about two weeks we marched from Turkey Cove up the Catawba on the East side along an old Indian Trace, and crossed the mountains through a gap the which I do not recollect -struck the waters of Swano River, went down the same andcrossed french Broad River just above the mouth of Swanano--Here the foot company from Wilkes County in which was my uncle James Sparks, and which marched behind us built a station, and remained to guard the frontier until our return from the Indian Country. (Here I saw my uncle on my return.) from the mouth of Swanano we proceeded across Richland Creek, and then Hominy creek. Here we met and were joined by twelve or fourteen hundred mounted gun-men from South Carolina. I do not remember their commander, or any of their officers except a Maj. Lytle, and him I recollect only from his afterwards in the course of the Campaign accidentally killing one of his own men by the name of Morrison in an Indian skirmish. The whole Army then proceeded across another ledge of mountains and then crossed Tuckasegea River. The night of the day we crossed this River a scouting party of thirty or forty of our men under Maj. McDowell were attacked by a party of Indians of whom they killed two or three, and made prisoners of a woman and child, an old man and one or two boys. The old Indian was shot the next day by a friendly Indian, servant of Colo. Miller N.C. who I think was with us, but in what capacity I do not recollect. I regret to say that I believe all the prisoners were murdered except one or two boys. We then marched on to the Tennessee River a distance of some 20 or 30 miles, here we found several Indian Villages on the South East side of the River, which gave every indication of having been but recently deserted. We remained some two weeks destroying the houses, corn, beans and everything of utility in and about these villages, we then received orders one evening that on the next morning we were to march to the Valley Towns some 70 or 80 miles further on, but in the morning these orders were counter-manded, I have never known why. We next proceeded


about a day’s march up a River, the name of which I forget, on the South-East side of the Tennessee, to a large town surrounded by villages where we spent several days more in destroying the town and Villages and everything in and about them. Rumor afterwards stated, and I believe truly, that the devastation committed by us on this campaign was the cause of the death of many hundreds of Indians from starvation. After spending a week or two more in endeavoring through our scouts in vain to find the Indians we commenced our return march, and retraced the same route as well as I can recollect. When we repassed the station near the mouth of Swanano the foot company were still left there to protect the frontier, and remained there for some time afterwards. To the best of my recollection the South Carolina troops parted from us at Hominy creek where they had joined us. The North Carolina troops then marched on and returned to the Yadkin at or near Wilksboro where we were disbanded. From this service I received a written discharge from Capt. John Beverly which I kept for many years, but at length not deeming it of any use it was long since lost or destroyed. On this tour we marched a distance which we deemed about five hundred miles and back; and I served in it as a Private Mounted Rifle-man (furnishing my own horse and equipments) at least four months, and I believe longer for I feel confident that I did not return home [sic] untill after Arnstmess [? Armistice], and I know I returned home as soon as I was discharged. On this expedition I know I received no pay but to the best of my recollection the privates were promised twenty Dollars pr months each, and the same remarks will apply with truth to all my revolutionary services; for I received no pay for any of them.

"Upon my return from this campaign the militia company, in the bounds of which I resided, was organized into a company of mounted minute men under Andrew Baker as Captain and my Brother John Sparks as Lieutenant. In this company I served till the close of the revolution. We furnished our own horses arms and equipments. Our part of the country was almost constantly infested with robbing and murdering parties of tories, british and Hessians, and I was constantly either out in pursuit of such parties, or, in obedience to the orders of my Captain, held myself in readiness to march at a moment’s warning. Of the many and almost constant scouting parties, pursuits, and expeditions in which I was engaged during this period from my great age and infirmities I can recollect but one, so as to be able to state the particulars and that only from the personal interest of my family in it, I will proceed to state it. In less than a year after my return from the campaign against the Cherokees above detailed a party of tories, about 150 in number, robbed my Father, taking a horse saddle and bridle, six guns, all our pewter (we had no delf ware in those days) [He refers to delf or delftware, a brown pottery covered with an opaque, decorated white glaze, made in Delft, Holland; in England, a cozanon glazed pottery for table use, etc. WPJ] and whatever else they could carry. My company was immediately called out and others amounting in all to about one hundred and fifty mounted Gun Men under the command of Cob. Benjamin Cleaveland. We pursued the above named tories a distance of betwen 60 and 70 miles and overtook them in Boxe’s settlement near the Virginia line. They were feasting, frolicing and many of them drunk. We killed and wounded 25 or 30 of them in a fight, made prisoners of nearly all the rest, of whom hung five or six, the bablance of the prisoners were discharged by Colo. Cleaveland upon their promise not to molest the patriots for the future. In this expedition I was engaged three weeks. I received no written discharge during the war except the one from Capt. Beverly above mentioned. I have no documentary evidence of my service, and I know of no person whose testimony I can procure who can testify to my service. This applicant further states on oath that by reason of old age and the consequent loss of memory he cannot swear positively as to the precise length of his service, but according to the best of his recollection he served not less than three years as a private volunteer mounted Rifleman, always furnishing his own horse, Arms and Equipment, and for service he claims a pension. This applicant was born in Rowan County near Salisbury in the State of North Carolina on the 3rd day of April A.D. 1761. He has no record of his age, but he believes his brother Jessee Sparks residing in Hickman County in the State of Tennessee has a copy of the record of his age, the originals have been lost. When called into service this applicant lived in Wilkes


County North Carolina, and remained there till the close of the Revolutionary war when he removed with his father to what was then Franklin County afterwards Jackson, and now Clark County in the State of Georgia and settled about four miles from Athens in that State. There this applicant resided tifl the year 1811 when he removed to Lawrence County Mississippi, thence to Holmes County in that state where he lived till March 1836 when he removed to this county and vicinity, where he has ever since resided. In his service be was at all times a volunteer. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present; and declares that his name is not on the pension Roll of the agency of any State.

                                                                                                                    William his X mark Sparks

Sworn to & Subscribed before me this 14th September l846

                                                                                                                    R. Pannalu ? C S C
                                                                                                                    by H. Nelson Depty."

In an obvious effort to "trap" the applicant in a falsehood, William Sparks was questioned regarding some of the pertinent facts given in his application. Some of his answers, it will be noted, were even more informative than those appearing in his application. WPJ

Question:   "Where & in what year were you born?"

Answer:    "I was born within one mile of the town of Salsbury in the County of Roan, State of
  North Carolina on the 3rd dayof April, in the year 1761."

Question:  "Have you any record of your age & if you have where is it?"

Answer:    "I have no record of my birth--but my brother has who lives in Hickman County
Tennessee he furnished me with a copy which I lost Severall years Since with a trunk of papers near Natchez Mississippi."

Question: "Where were you living when called into Service?"  Where have you lived Since the
revolutionary War--and where do you now live?"

Answer:   "I was living in Wilkes County North Carolina. My father emigrated from Wilkes
County to Georgia Shortly after the revolutionary war, and Settled in what was then Franklin County, now Clark County, near Athens, where I remained till about A.D. 1811 when I moved to the Territory of Mississippi on Pearl River now Lawrence County. I remained there a number of years and then removed to Holmes County where I remained until I moved to the then Republic of Texas. I Stoped in Nacogdoches County where I have lived ever Since."

Question: "How were you called into Service were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you
Substitute, if a Substitute for whom?

Answer:   "I volunteered and regret that I am not able to do so again. I was not a Substutt, nor
was  I drafted."

(Editor’s Note: The application for a pension by William Sparks was rejected for lack of evidence of service, des:pite his good character and need of financial assistance being amply vouched for by several reliable citizens of Nacogdoches, Texas.)

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This concludes the first set of Revolutionary War pension papers for persons named Sparks. Others will follow in subsequent issues of the QUARTERLY.


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