THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION
“He who careth not from whence he came, careth little whither he goeth.” Daniel Webster
|VOL. XX, NO. 1||MARCH, 1972||
WHOLE NO. 77a
|Index||Next Page||Previous Page||Previous Whole No.|
[Note: Here appears a photograph, beneath which is the following caption:]
WILLIAM SPARKS, 1772-1862
Born in South Carolina, Died in Indiana
Son of Zachariah Sparks
|THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, published by The
Sparks Family Association.
Paul E. Sparks, President, 155 North Hite
Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky (40206)
The editor of the QUARTERLY from March 1953 to September 1954 was Dr. Paul E. Sparks; since September 1954 the editor has been Dr. Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan (48104). Back issues and applications for membership are available through Dr. Bidlack. The QUARTERLY is printed by off-set at the Edwards Letter Shop, 711 North University Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan.
NEW MEMBERS OF THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION
It is a pleasure to report the names and addresses of fourteen new members of THE SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION. These Sparks descendants have joined the Association since our last report in the December 1971 issue of the QUARTERLY.
Brown, Cecil A., 1121 Harrison St., Missoula, Montana (59801)
Chandler, Mrs. Kenneth P., 142 North Second St., Ponca City, Oklahoma (74601)
Criswell, Judy (Mrs. Thomas), 3010 Cribbon Ave., Cheyenne, Wyoming (82001)
Felts, Mrs. Lavina, 1728 Parkamo Ave., Hamilton, Ohio (45011)
Francisco, Ann A. (Mrs. H. J., III), 4525 Middle Court, Bloomington, Ind. (47401)
Griffini, Mrs. Dorothy, 1427 South Highland Ave., Clearwater, Florida (33516)
Harrington, Don K., 837 West Elna Rae, Tempe, Arizona (8528l)
Hertel, Betty (Mrs. Paul), 1022 23rd St., South Bend, Indiana.
Larson, Mrs. Dorothy Sparks, 1332 Tahiti, Crestwood, Missouri (63126)
Potter, Betty J., 1029 Woodbridge Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan (48103)
Sparks, Bill W., Rt. 1, Blue Ridge, Georgia (30513)
Sparks, Catherine, Rt. 6, Box 171, Poplar Bluff, Missouri (63901)
Sparks, Chester H., 2413 Garfield Ave., Ashland, Kentucky (41101)
Sullivan, Charley Y., 1526 N. 57th St., Lincoln, Nebraska (68505)
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899)
By Ken Sparks
(Editor’s Note: The author of this sketch, Ken Sparks of 1657 N.W. 10th Ave., Camas, Washington, is a great-great-grandson of Stephen Sparks. The original of the photograph of Stephen Sparks and Francis Marion Sparks, as well as that of William Sparks which appears on the cover, are owned by an uncle of Ken Sparks.)
Stephen Sparks was born July 6, 1808, in Laurens County, South Carolina, the sixth child of William and Mary (Palmer) Sparks and a grandson of Zachariah Sparks who died about 1781 in Ninety-Six District, South Carolina. (See the QUARTERLY of September 1961, Vol. IX, No. 3, Whole No. 35, pp. 569-79.) William and Mary (Palmer) Sparks, with a number of other Baptists, left South Carolina and emigrated to Indiana in 1812. They first settled near Liberty, Union County, Indiana. They stayed there “until their land came into the market,” then sold and moved to Connersville Township, Fayette County, Indiana, settling on Section 36. They remained there until their deaths. They were charter members of the Village Creek Baptist Church, not far from Connersville, where they are buried. Mary Sparks died July 6, 1848, and William Sparks died on January 31, 1862.
On July 10, 1828, Stephen Sparks married Asenith Woolverton (spelling from marriage bond) in Fayette County, Indiana, They were married by the Reverend William Miller. Little is known of Asenith before her marriage. She supposedly was born in Tennessee about 1804. (Her age on the 1850 census was given as 46.) According to family tradition, she was a descendant of General Nathaniel Greene, of Revolutionary War fame, although the connection has not been substantiated. Some descendants feel that she had been married previously to a man named Woolverton and that her maiden name was actually Greene. In several family records her name was recorded as Asenath Greene Walverton.
Stephen and Asenath Sparks lived in Rush County, Indiana, where their eight children were born. Following is a brief sketch of the children:
1. William Sparks, born March 31, 1830, in Indiana. He married (1st)- - - - - Davis in Missouri after 1850, and (2nd) Jemima Roberts before 1860. He married (3rd) Mary - - - - - before 1880. He had at least six children. In 1860 and in 1880 he was listed on the census of Leavenworth County, Kansas. He died on January 18, 1911. From census records it would appear that he had the following children:(1) Susan Sparks, born about 1854 in Missouri.
(2) Elizabeth Sparks, born about 1857 in Kansas.
(3) Mary Sparks, born about 1859 in Kansas.
(4) Dora Bell Sparks, born about 1867 in Kansas.
(5) Lonzo Sparks, born about 1868 in Kansas.
(6) Craton Sparks, born about 1870 in Kansas.
2, Moses Sparks, son of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born January 3, 1831. He married Anna Kincade about 1854 in Missouri. She was born August 2, 1837. Moses Sparks died March 27, 1892, and Anna died June 15, 1915. According to the records of a granddaughter, Mrs. Pearl Sparks Sauer, Moses and Anna (Kincade) Sparks bad the following children:(1) Martha Alice Sparks, born Jan. 17, 1855, died Feb. 22, 1932. She married Scrates Clinkinbeard on March 15, 1872.
(2) Frances Anna Sparks, born March 14, 1857, died Oct. 9, 1919. She married Simon Corwine on Nov. 14, 1877.
(3) Nancy Jane Sparks, born Aug. 16, 1858, died April 14, 1859.
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
Children of Moses and Anna (Kincade) Sparks, continued:
(4) Mary Bell Sparks, born April 5, 1861, died March 26, 1932. Unmarried.
(5) Sarah Ellen Sparks, born June 22, 1863, died Feb. 22, 1866.
(6) Charles Grant Sparks, born Dec. 1, 1865, died Aug. 1, 1866.
(7) Thomas Andrew Sparks, born Feb. 1, 1868, died Dec. 23, 1924. He married Ida Fenerly,
(8) Laura Henderson Sparks, born Oct. 18, 1869, died Feb. 16, 1943. She married George W. Sanders on Nov. 30, 18 - -.
(9) William Wyatt Sparks, born April 16, 1874. He married Anna Bell Adams.
(10) Ernest Frank Sparks, born Aug. 23, 1879, died Sept. 2, 1879.
3. John E. Sparks, son of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born about 1833 in Indiana. He married Susan Marrocks in Missouri about 1857. John, too, moved to Kansas about 1859. John died before 1870. Susan remarried to Absalom Hickerson. John and Susan Sparks had three children:(1) William Sparks, born about 1858 in Missouri.
(2) Albert Sparks, born about 1861 in Kansas.
(3) John Sparks, born about 1862 in Missouri.
4. Stephen Sparks, Jr., born about 1835 in Indiana. He lived at Easton, Kansas.
5. Lott S. Sparks, son of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born July 4, 1836, in Indiana. He married Rachel Townsend in Kansas after 1860. In 1860 he was living with his brother Moses Sparks and family. Lott Sparks died December 7, 1906.
6. Mary Jane Sparks, daughter of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born July 5, 1838, in Indiana. She married Jesse Ford Pyle. Mary died December 11, 1928.
7. Green C. Sparks, son of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born in October, 1840, in Indiana. He married Margaret A. McGee, possibly a daughter of his father’s third wife. Green Sparks died in June, 1917.
8. Francis Marion Sparks, son of Stephen and Asenath Sparks, was born April 20, 1843, in Rush County, Indiana. He returned to Indiana following the death of his mother before 1860 and lived with his uncle, Hiram Sparks, and his grandfather, William Sparks. He joined the Indiana Volunteer Infantry in 1861. He received a medical discharge in 1863. On December 1, 1863, he married Sarah Frances Warne at Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana. She was born Oct. 1, 1843, in Franklin County, Ind., the daughter of John H. and Eliza Jane (Martin) Warne. They returned to Kansas Nov. 4, 1865. They lived in Leavenworth County until November 1889 when they moved to Canadian County, Oklahoma, because Francis was suffering from tuberculosis and needed a drier climate. They had ten children, three dying in infancy. Sarah died on April 19, 1915, and Francis died on Dec. 9, 1930, in Canadian County, Okla. (In a later issue of the QUARTERLY we plan to publish a record of descendants.)
In1845, Stephen and Asenath Sparks, with their eight children, emigrated westward to Platte County, Missouri, and settled in Marshall Township. When the 1850 census of Platte County was taken, their post office was given as Weston; Stephen Sparks was listed as a farmer with real estate valued at $3,200. They again
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
moved in 1854, this time to Leavenworth County, Kansas, four miles south of Easton. There Stephen Sparks was active in the Free-State Party, which strongly opposed the introduction of slavery into Kansas Territory, and he served as a representative in the territorial legislature. Because of this role, his life and the lives of his family were threatened numerous times by the pro-slavery settlers. Because of the bloodshed and general unrest in the Territory, a committee from the United States Congress visited Kansas in the spring of 1856 and took testimony from the settlers. Both Stephen Sparks and his wife testified and their statements were later published in House Report No. 200, “Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Investigate the Troubles in Kansas” (34th Congress, 1st Session, Washington, 1856). Stephen‘s testimony appears on pages 1011-1015 and that of his wife on pages 1818-1820. These documents are reproduced below in full:
Stephen Sparks (1808-1899)
with his son
Francis Marion Sparks (1843-1930)
STEPHEN SPARKS CALLED AND SWORN: “I came to the Territory in October, 1854, from “Platte county, Missouri, where I had been living since 1845. An election was called to be held on Tuesday, the 15th of January, A.D. 1856, at Easton; and upon learning a rumor that prevailed through the neighborhood that Kickapoo Rangers were collecting in force to prevent the election, it was postponed until the Thursday following, the 17th. On the evening before that day I went up to Easton. The
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899, continued:
polls were opened about noon; everything was quiet then; but we saw a company at Janesville, half a mile or a mile from us, passing on horses once in a while on a bluff there, and several persons came in and complained of being insulted by them, and were stopped by them.
Among others, my son, Moses Sparks, was halted, also Mr. Pennock, and some two or three with them were stopped, and their guns taken out of their sleds and wagons. From a bluff near the polls we could see the party. It passed on so until a little before sundown. They came over into Easton across the creek, and stopped at a grocery near Dawson’s. About dusk, between thirty-five and forty-five men, as near as I could guess, came up towards Minard’s, where the election was held. I heard some one of the crowd, who appeared to be the leader, say, "Charge on them, Goddamn them, I aint afraid." About this time our men had nearly formed themselves from the door to the road. Upon seeing our force they halted, and returned without further difficulty. Some time after a note was sent to the house where we were, from them. The note was directed to me and Mr. Hinard, and had no name to it. After looking at it, we concluded to give no answer until some one would put his name to it. Another note was sent by a messenger with Dr. Hotter’s name signed to it. Mr. McAlear then came up, and Kookogey with him to reason with us, and said it would be better for us to give up the ballot-box, or it would turn out worse. We concluded there would be no difficulty. This was late at night, and I proposed that I would go home, and started home with my son and nephew. My road was through Easton. Snow was on the ground, and that was the only broken way to my house, and it is the road I always go. When getting near Dawson’s store, I saw several men, and heard several say, "God damn him, there he is," and called old man Sparks, and said they had got me now. There was a great deal of talk, and the men had been drinking. I walked on and came near the store door; several men threatened me very heavy, and demanded that I should surrender. They were then all round me, some in front and some behind, and on each side. I kept on until where the road turned off between the store and the grocery. They demanded that I should go in and drink with them, but I refused. My son wanted me to surrender, but I spoke to him low, and told him to keep near me and close by my side. We then turned south from Easton towards home. The company then fell back and gathered as if in consultation, so that I got several rods ahead of them. They then burst loose with a good many threats and cursings, and followed me. I kept on at my usual pace, and kept the boys close by me. They again stopped to consult, and then the crowd came on and made a heavy charge on me, and their common expressions were, God-damn him, shoot himI kill him! damned abolitionist! There were then two guns fired. Upon this I turned and levelled my gun, but my son dissuaded me and I did not fire, but started on again, and was then near Dawson’s house. I turned into the lane leading to his house, and part of the crowd formed a line across the lane, so that I could get neither way, and were making towards me. My son and nephew, at my suggestion, got into a corner of the fence - - a rail fence, staked and ridered. We were there at bay, and were prepared to make the best defence we could. I reasoned with them, and said there were plenty of my old neighbors in Platte county with them; that I knew I would not surrender to a drunken mob. Benjamin Foster then fetched his fist in my shoulder, and said, God damn you, I could (or would) smash you. I then told him to stand back, and told him if he laid his hands again on me he would regret it. They demanded our general surrender, and that we should go back to the grocery. They had guns, pistols, &c., and presented them at me, and told me to march or they would shoot me, I told them to shoot. No gun was fired there. I said they must shoot me, as I would not give up to a drunken mob. David Large then took hold of my son’s gun and demanded that he give it up. He refused, and in their struggling I presented mine and told him to let go. He did so. They then, with threats, hallooed several times; and we
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
remained in that position some fifteen minutes, until R. P. Brown came and rescued me
"At the time they fired, as I spoke of, the man who was riding my horse sent back to Minard’s and gave the word. I had no idea of this. The first I saw of Brown he was near by, and his party afoot, stretched across the road, and inquired if I was there. I answered that I was. He told me to march to him. I started and was about half way when Sam Burgess caught hold of my shoulder. I told him to let me go, and prepared for defence, and he did let me go. He marched forward around me, and my son and nephew also came into the ring. Brown told his men to march back, and all dId so, friend and foe going together in a crowd, I being in the centre. Then we went to the forks of the road; there the other party took the straightforward road, and we, with Brown’s party, turned to the left. About forty or fifty yards, Brown urged me to walk in, as they were going to shoot. This he told me three times distinctly. The last time, I told him I would obey him. He was marching backwards looking towards the other crowd, conversing with them not to fire, and told them that if they did, he would return the fire. When we were about sixty or eighty yards off, the fire was opened upon us. The first fire was from the north-west of their crowd. I am sure they fired first, as I saw the fire distinctly. Then Brown ordered a fire in return, and both parties fired, and a great many guns were fired. The men were scattered in Indian file, and the fire was kept up for some time. My son was wounded and knocked down, within six or eight feet of me, at the second fire, but he raised again and fired. He was wounded in the arm and head slightly. We finally marched back to Minard ‘s. I staid there all night, and started home before breakfast. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon I heard of Brown’s capture, and that Minard was also taken, and that they were to be hung. I never saw Brown afterwards.”
(Stephen Sparks was then cross-examined by a member of the Congressional
D.A.N. Grover. Grover’s questions are not included in the published statement, only the reply by Stephen Sparks.)
“There was a rumor that the Kicicapoo Rangers were mustering on Sunday, in Kickapoo, for the purpose of taking the ballot-box at Easton. I heard this in my neighborhood before Tuesday; I think I heard it on Sunday or Monday. The election was put off from the l5th to the 17th, on account of this rumor. There was an election held by the free-State party at Easton on the 17th of January, 1856. The purpose of the election was to elect State officers under the state organization. I can‘t say, for my life, whether the organization was either a free-State or slave-State organization, but, as I understood, an organization of the people of Kansas. Robinson and Roberts were the candidates for governor; Miles Moore was a candidate for attorney general; I was a candidate for the legislature, and was declared elected to the lower branch, and was at Topeka, and served as such. Over fifty votes were cast at Easton that day. I belong to the free-State party, but am no abolitionist either.
“I can’t say whether the men at Minard‘s house were armed. There were arms at the house. I did not see men come there with arms, as far as I now recollect. I did not go to the polls that morning, and I did not go there that day. I went the evening before, but I did not take my gun with me. I had two sons there with me, and I did not see either of my sons or my nephew have guns the night of the election. I think Brown’s company had guns - - all, I think, who came for me. There was a rumor that the Kickapoo Rangers had taken the ballot-box at Leavenworth city, and were coming to Easton to get the ballot-box there. How true the rumor was I do not know. While I was at Minard’s I saw a company of men across on the bluffs, on the
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
other side of the creek, riding back and forth, during the day. I only know from hearsay whether these men were armed or not. I should think it was three-quarters of a mile from Minard’s to where these men were. I do not know who these men were, except from hearsay, where they were from, or where they were going. I do not think I went from the polls, during the day, alone down to Dawson’s store. I went to Bristow’s store, but I did not go alone. That was in the evening. I had no difficulty with the pro-slavery men at the time near the store; not a word, as far as I recollect. There was some whiskey at Minard ‘s. It was, I think, about sundown that I went down to Bristow’s. I had not a word of difficulty with any individual that I now recollect. I was there but a very short time when I saw a crowd coming up; I walked up to keep out of difficulty. I had no difficulty with John Moore. Did not see him, to my knowledge, until I started for home that night, and he pitched around me and said, Damn you, I have got you now. There has been a private difficulty between us, and my opinion was that he sought that difficulty. There had been unpleasant feelings between us for some time. Dr. Notter came to me in Dawson’s there, when more than twenty-five or thirty men were standing around me making threats, and said to the company "as Mr. Sparks is on his way home and has got thus far, let him go." He requested that of the company, and then went round between me and home, and the last I saw of him was standing there in the lane. I do not know as any messages were sent by the men at Minard ‘a down to the men at Dawson‘s to provoke them. I heard nothing of any challenge being sent down to the pro-slavery men to come up and fight. I sent none myself, and I never heard of any, though there might have been. A man by the name of Woodward came up to Minard’s with one of the notes, and I saw the same man around me in the lane. Shep Woodward was not sent back to the store to tell the boys to come on, as I recollect. My answer was, I think, that if they got the ballot-box they would get it at all hazards, as they said they would have it. I had but little to do with the notes, but handed them over to Mr. Minard: the second one; I never handed any more. I may have had a conversation with Shep. Woodward, but I did not know it. I felt a little fired when I was noted out as an individual, and the threats were made that they would have the ballot-box, and I may have said something harsh, but I do not recollect. I saw a crowd come up towards Minard’s house, and I heard one of them call out to charge; he was not afraid; but he did not charge. Our company were drawn out from the door, pretty much towards the road, and I think some had arms and some had not, but whether the most of them had arms or not I cannot say. I do not know as any one commanded our company at that time. I could have gone from Mr. Minard’s house on a bee-line home, which would have been nearer home than the way I went, but it would have been over rocks and drifts. I went the road I usually go - - and go yet. I saw one young man who was drunk on that day, and there were several who went down to Dawson’s for drink; and there was some whiskey at Minard’ s. Mr. R. P. Brown wanted me to go down with him once and get some liquor; but I did not go, and cannot say whether he went or not, but I think he did. I do not know that Brown got into any difficulty there that day, but I heard of such a thing, I think, a day or two afterwards;. I have no recollection of Brown coming back and making hard assertions against those down there; I think some one did, but I do not recollect who it was. I saw John Moore and his brother, in the crowd that surrounded me in the lane. There was one man laid his hand on my shoulder and said he would or could trash me, and a great many harsh threats were made against me. I do not know how many men staid at Minard’s that night. I remained there that night until 12 o’clock, in consequence of the threats made against the ballot-box. I did request a large number to stay, when reports were brought to me of what was said down town. After staying there a while I concluded that I would go home, as I thought the mob had gone away, or would go away, and there would be no difficulty.
Leavenworth City, K.T.,
[Signed] STEPHEN SPARKS
May 22, 1856.”
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
(The wife of Stephen Sparks testified before the Congressional committee on May 24, 1856. Her name was given as “Esseneth Sparks” in this document.)
“My husband’s name is Stephen Sparks. We live on the other side of Stranger creek, about twelve miles from this place, and four miles south of Easton. My husband and son were arrested, as they told me, on the night of the 17th of January last, by the Missourians and Kickapoo Rangers, and they were rescued by R. P. Brown, and others. I know that they came home from some conflict by their wounds. My son was grazed by shots on his head and arm.
“In the evening of the next day, about 3 o’clock, a party of from 10 to 18, a right smart company of men, came to our house and inquired for Mr. Sparks, my husband. At the time they were coming, Francis Browning was at the house. He had just rode up, and asked two men, who were going along the road, to help him rescue Brown. One of them said he could not go. The other said he did not know how soon it might be his case, and took the harness off his horse, and one of the guns which the man had, and rode off with him. This was Francis Browning; the name of the other who went with him was Richard Houcks.
“Just as they started, two men rode up and called for Mr. Sparks. I told them he was out on business. They said they had private business with him.
“Just then Mr. Browning, seeing a party of horsemen on a little rise, coming from Dawson’s, turned back and asked these two men what it meant. They said ‘they did not know; there was a great excitement at Dawson ‘s, they had heard, but they had not been there.’ They then gave the sign by firing two pistols in the air, and motioning to the party with their hands. The party then came riding on as fast as they could, shouting. When they came up, they all joined in pursuit of Browning and Houcks, shouting ‘kill them,’ ‘kill them,’ ‘kill the damned abolitionists,’ and firing upon them; but they divided, one going one way, round the hill, and the other the other way, and escaped.
“The party of horsemen then returned, and stopped before the door, and held council for a few moments, and one man said, ‘Capt. Dunn, give orders;’ and the man he spoke to gave orders. He said, ‘Now we will take the house; shoot down Capt. Sparks at sight.’
“I then told them I had an afflicted son, and that anything that excited him threw him into spasms right at once; and that Mr. Sparks, and all but him were away from home. When I stepped to the door and looked in, I saw Captain Dunn, with a sixshooter presented at my son’s breast. I did not hear the question asked, but I heard my son’s answer - - ’I sin on the Lord’s side, and if you want to kill me, kill me; I am not afraid to die.’ Dunn then left him, and turned to my little son, about twelve years old, and put the pistol to his breast and asked him where his father’s Sharpe’s rifle was, and my son told him he had none. Dunn asked him where those guns were, pointing to the racks, and told him if he did not tell the truth, he would kill him; and my son told him the men-folks generally took care of the guns.
“When they came out, I asked Captain Dunn, ‘What does all this mean?’ He answered that they had ‘taken the law into their own hands, and they intended to use it.’
“McAleer, who formerly lived here in Leavenworth, was one of the party, and one of the Scotts, from Missouri, and some said there were two of them there. One John
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
Dunn, a brother of the captain, was there. I heard the name of Dunn from others, but the Scotts and McAleer I know myself. The Scotts were raised within a mile or so of where we lived, in Platte county, Missouri. The party then left.
“Late in February, eight men came to the house. Two men came up first, and the others followed to the house on foot, in the afternoon, and asked for Mr. Sparks, and left the following paper with me:
‘TO STEPHEN SPARKS:
‘The undersigned, as you are aware, are citizens of this neighborhood. Many of us have come here with our families, intending to make Kansas our permanent home. It is our interest and desire that peace and good-will prevail among us; and whatever may conduce to this desirable end, will meet our hearty approval.
‘The local excitements that have occurred in this vicinity, have been principally attributed to you, and, we believe, justly. You have figured in them conspicuously, and, in the affair at Easton, more reprehensible than ever.
‘Believing, therefore, that your further residence among us is
incompatible with the peace and welfare of this community, we advise you
to leave as soon as you can conveniently do so.
|Joseph Thomas||John Moore|
|Abner Foster||H. E. Kennedy|
|Reuben Sutton||George W. Brown|
|Lark Farrell||William Gill|
|Geo. W. Browning||James Foster|
|Wm. McLain||Simon B. Pankake|
|Carom Norvell||C. H. Allen|
|Augustine White||R. P. Briggs|
|Matthew A. Register||W. Z. Thompson|
|John N. White||0. S. Allen|
|Thomas Hickman||Morgan Wright|
|Benjamin Foster||Edward McClain|
|Joseph Moore||C. C. Harrison|
|Joseph Moran||Wesley Davidson|
|Andrew J. Scott||Edward N. Kennedy|
|Samuel Burgess||Andrew J. Davis|
|John C. Scott||John W. Burgess|
|John Burgess||James Norvell|
|Joseph L. McAleer||Joseph Gray.|
‘Only one of the signers is an actual resident in the neighborhood. Most of them are Kickapoo Rangers and Missourians. One of the two who first came to the door, said his name was Kennedy, from Alabama; the other, I think, emigrated from Missouri to Kansas. I asked him what he had against Mr. Sparks. He said he had nothing against him, but he was too influential in his party, and they intended to break it down. He told me to tell Mr. Sparks to leave by the 10th of March, or abide the consequences.
‘A night or two before the 10th of March, four men came into the house, about 10 o’clock, and searched for Mr. Sparks, but did not find him. They asked for the ‘notice to leave,’ and if I had given it to Mr. Sparks, and made many threats, and charged us to leave at that time, and said that if he was there, they would cut him in pieces.
THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899), continued:
This statement was signed by mark by "Esseneth Sparks" at Leavenworth City, Kansas Territory, on May 24, 1856.
Stephen Sparks and his family resisted the threats of their pro-slavery neighbors, and they had the satisfaction of seeing Kansas admitted to the Union in 1861 as a free state. According to family memories, Stephen Sparks was a large man of great strength and a quick temper. There is a family legend in which a pro-slavery man tried to kill him by hitting him with a club from behind. Stunned and bleeding, Stephen took the club from the man, hit him with it, killing him.
Asenath, wife of Stephen Sparks, died between1856 and 1859. When the 1860 census of Leavenworth County, Kansas, was taken, Stephen Sparks was listed in Alexandria Township, near his son Moses. His son Lott Sparks was living with Moses, while his youngest son, Francis Marion Sparks, was living with his uncle, Hiram Sparks, in Fayette County, Indiana. When our first search of the 1860 census of Leavenworth County was made, we thought that Stephen Sparks was living alone. Another search has revealed, however, that living in the same household was “Green C. Smith” aged 19 years. There can be little doubt that the census taker simply made an error and wrote “Smith” rather than Sparks. Green C. Sparks, seventh child of Stephen and Asenath, was born in October 1840; the census taker (J. M. Gallagher) visited the home of Stephen Sparks on August 24, 1860, at which time Green C. Sparks would have been 19 years old. (The name of Stephen was written on the bottom of page 861 of the census, while Green’s name appeared at the top of the following page, which helps to explain the census taker’s error.) Stephen’s age was given as 49.
According to records in the possession of descendants of his son Moses, Stephen Sparks married as his second wife, Emma Piper. A death notice in the Leavenworth Daily News of March 9, 1860, states that “Emilie Sparks, wife of Stephen Sparks, aged 27 years, died on Walnut Creek, March 6, 1860.” A “Schedule of Mortality for the Year 1860” was taken as part of the 1860 census, and among those listed as having died that year in Leavenworth County, Kansas, was “Emma Sparks, age 26, died March, 1860, in confinement.” It would appear that this was Stephen Sparks‘s second wife, even though she was a great deal younger than Stephen. There is the possibility, however, that she could have been the wife of his son, Stephen Sparks, Jr. We have found no record of Stephen Sparks, Jr., having married. He was not listed on the 1860 census of Leavenworth County. Perhaps he was the "afflicted son” to whom Asenath Sparks referred in her testimony in 1856 and may have died by 1860.
On October l5, 1860, Stephen Sparks was married again to Mrs. Elizabeth McGee, a widow with children. The marriage was performed in Fayette County, Indiana, by the Rev. John Sparks, Stephen’s older brother. We may speculate that Stephen Sparks and Mrs. McGee had known each other during their youth in Indiana; Stephen obviously returned to Indiana in the autumn of 1860 to marry her and to bring her back to Kansas. Her sons, James and Charles, were living with them in 1870 and Charles was still with them in 1880.
Stephen Sparks lived in Leavenworth County, Kansas, until his death on February 11, 1899, at the age of’ 90½ years.
[Scanner's Note: See THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, December, 1974, Whole No. 88, pp 1692-4 for an article entitled: "SUPPLEMENT TO 'THE LIFE OF STEPHEN SPARKS (1808-1899)' ".]
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mae A. Collins has called our attention to an unfortunate error in the
1971 issue of the QUARTERLY. On the cover as well as in the sketch of Ephraim
Ellis Sparks on page 1417 his death date should be given as January 6, 1901.
[Scanner's Note: Corrections made.]
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840)
AND HIS WIFE
ELIZABETH (GWIN) SPARKS (1786-1844)
Valuable family records are frequently destroyed by uninterested people into whose hands they happen to fall. We know that this has been the fate of many Sparks family records, but once in awhile good luck prevails, and not only is a set of Sparks family records saved from destruction, but they are even made available for us to preserve permanently in THE SPARKS QUARTERLY. Such is the case of the following records.
A few months ago, a sixteen-year-old boy named Klem P. Chandler of 842 No. Second St., Ponca City, Oklahoma, purchased a box of old papers and letters. Klem is a collector of all sorts of things and his interest in this box of papers was simply that they were old. Klem’s mother, Emma Chandler, who is interested in genealogy, noted that one packet of material related to a branch of the Sparks family. Through a genealogical publication, she learned of your editor’s interest in the Sparks family and very kindly arranged to xerox these records for us.
These records were contained in an envelope on which is written: “Sparks Family Record.” There are eleven pages of tablet paper tied together with ribbon. From the manner in which they were written, there can be little doubt that they were copied from a family Bible which probably belonged to one of the children of Baxter and Elizabeth Sparks, whose births appear at the top of the first page. The last entry is dated July 28, 1873. Following is an exact transcription:
|Baxter Sparks||Wesley H. Sparks|
|May 8th 1777||May 23th 1816|
|Elizabeth Sparks||George T. Sparks|
|May 1th 1786 i.e. May 1st||Sept 18th 1818|
|Mary L. Sparks||Edmond B. Sparks|
|March 13th 1808||Aug 22th 1820|
|Thomas P. Sparks||David R. Sparks|
|Oct. 24th 1809||Oct. 15th 1823|
|John G. Sparks||Harvey A. Sparks|
|Sept. 22th 1811||Jan. 19th 1826|
|Mathew N. Sparks||Wm A. J. Sparks|
|March 21th 1814||Nov. 15 1828|
|George W. Sparks|
|Jan. 30th 1832|
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840) continued:
|Marion Sparks||[Fourth page]|
|Jan 22th 1834|
|James H. Ferris|
|Mary E. Sparks||May 17th 1821|
|Oct. 4th 1836|
|Mary Ann Ferris|
|Nansy I. Sparks||Feb. 21th 1828|
|Sept. 19th 1839|
|Orsey Ann Lovejoy|
|Maria Sparks||June 26th 1856|
|[Note: Although the name of Maria||John Aldrich West|
|Sparks appears on the bottom of||April 20th 1840|
|the 3rd page, she was probably|
|connected with the family listed||Annie Pearl West|
|on the fourth page]||Jan. 17th1873|
|[Fifth page]||[Sixth page]|
|John G. Sparks [children of]||N. N. Sparks [children of]|
|Mary Sparks||Maria J. Sparks|
|Jan. 2nd 1836||Feb. 24th 1841|
|Elisabeth S. Sparks||Mary E. Sparks|
|Feb. 18th 1838||Feb. 24th 1843|
|Francis N. Sparks|
|May 21th 1840||Edmunds Family|
|Wesley Sparks [children of]||John B. Sparks|
|Jan. 13th 1844|
|Elisabeth E. Sparks|
|Oct. 26th 1838||Elizabeth Malinda Sparks|
|March 21st 1846|
|April 20th 1840||Melinda E. Sparks|
|June 5 1847|
|Baxter Sparks||John G. Sparks|
|Sept. 20th 1806||Jan. 16th 1834|
|Thomas P. Sparks||Wesley H. Sparks|
|Dec. 31th 1829||Dec. 1st 1838|
|Mary S. Sparks||N. N. Sparks|
|Aug. 28th 1830||March 1st 1840|
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840) continued:
|[Eighth page]||[Ninth page]|
|Edmund B. Sparks||George T. Sparks|
|Oct. 28th 1841||Oct. 18th 1822|
|Melinda E. Sparks||Baxter Sparks|
|Dec. 31st 1865||Sept. 7th 1840|
|Mary Ann Ferris||Elizabeth Sparks|
|Jan. 3rd 1847||March 24th A.D. 1844|
|John A. West||Harvey A. Sparks|
|to||Sept. 1st 1845|
|Orsey Ann LoveJoy|
|Dec. 17th 1871||Wesley H. Sparks|
|Aug. 7th 1852|
|Marion F. Sparks|
|Oct. 1st 1849|
|[Tenth page]||[Eleventh page]|
|Elizabeth N. Sparks||Orsey Ann West|
|April 11th 1846||Jan. 23rd 1873|
|John B. Sparks||Anna Pearl West|
|April 29th 1848||Monday July 28th 1873|
|Edmund Calvin Sparks|
|July 25th 1851|
|Edmund Baxter Sparks|
|died in California|
|Oct. 5th 1850|
|Alva C. Chapman|
|April 12th 1861|
|5 years 5 months 28 days old|
A biography of William A. J. Sparks, youngest son of Baxter Sparks, appears in a volume called Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties published in Chicago by the Chapman Pub. Co. in 1892. In this sketch (page 440) his parents are identified as Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, and it is stated that both parents were “natives of the Old Dominion,” i.e., the state of Virginia, their ancestors having been “of English descent, and were among the very earliest settlers of Virginia." It is also stated that the father, Baxter Sparks, " about 1805-06 ... came west, settling upon and improving a farm in Harrison County, Ind., about nine miles west of the present city of New Albany.” It is also stated in this sketch that Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks were the parents of ten children, which is the number named in the above Family Record.
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:
From the record of births, marriages, and deaths appearing on the three previous pages, we know that Baxter Sparks was born in 1777 and was thus about 28 years old when he settled in Indiana. There is strong reason to believe that Baxter Sparks was a member of the branch of the Sparks family that moved from Frederick County, Maryland, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in the 1760’s. The Gwin family also lived in Pittsylvania County, and it was probably there that Baxter Sparks and Elizabeth Gwin were married on September 20, 1806, perhaps moving to Indiana shortly after their marriage. (See William Perry Johnson’s article on the Sparks family of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, which appeared in the QUARTERLY of September 1955 VoL. III, No. 3, Whole No. 11, pp. 79-85, and Vol. IV, No. 1, Whole No. 13, pp. 109-121. Baxter Sparks was probably related to the Matthew Brooks Sparks who served in the War of 1812 from Pittsylvania County; see the QUARTERLY of March 1962, Vol. X, No. 1, Whole No. 37, pp. 636-37.)
The earliest official record that we have found thus far of Baxter Sparks in Indiana Territory is his signature on a petition by a group of citizens who were identified as being from Clark County. (Clark County at that time adjoined Harrison County and some of the signers were probably living over the line in Harrison County.) This petition was dated 1809, without a month or day. It was a request to Congress and the President to remove William Henry Harrison as governor of the Territory because of his having sanctioned a law permitting the introduction of slavery into the Territory. (See Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. VIII, Indiana Territory, Washington, D.C., Government Printing Office, 1939, pp. 705-07.)
On March 5, 1812, Baxter Sparks was appointed an ensign in the 4th Regiment of Indiana Militia. (See “Executive Journal of Indiana Territory, 1800-1816” in Indiana Historical Society Publications, Vol. 3, Indianapolis, 1900, p. 180.) According to his son’s biographical sketch cited earlier, Baxter Sparks served in the War of 1812, but we have not confirmed this service in official records. On October 23, 1824, and again on November 9, 1829, Baxter Sparks was commissioned a justice of the peace for Harrison County (“Executive Proceedings of the State of Indiana, 1816-1836,” in Vol. XXIX of the Indiana Historical Collections, Indianapolis, Indiana Historical Bureau, 1947, pp. 1456-57.) As justice of the peace, he performed the marriage of John Sparks and Anna Owen there on April 20, 1825. (How this John Sparks was related to Baxter Sparks is not known.)
Various deeds are on file in Harrison County recording the purchase and sale of land by Baxter Sparks and his wife. Her name was always given as "Betsy" in these records. They sold land to Thomas Carr on February 16, 1822 (Book D, p. 79) and to John Given on April 22, 1828 (Book E, p. 357). The last record of such a sale was dated December 12, 1837, by which Baxter Sparks and Betsy his wife sold land to Jeremiah Pritchett. Their residence in this deed was given as Macoupin County, Illinois. (Book L, p. 60)
Baxter Sparks also owned land in Floyd County which was created in 1819 from portions of Harrison and Clark Counties. (Harrison and Floyd Counties adjoin and are separated from the Kentucky counties of Jefferson, Hardin, and Meade by the Kentucky River.) Baxter Sparks purchased land from Preston F. Tuley on October 16, 1827 (Book B, p. 321) and sold land to Thomas Smith on January 12, 1817 (Book A, p. 125), to John Thomas on April 17, 1829 (Book D, p. 210), and to James Mitchell on January 1, 1836 (Book H, p. 14) in Floyd County.
On July 2, 1828, Baxter Sparks was appointed administrator of the estate of Tillotson Sparks in Floyd County (see Floyd Co. Will Book A). Tillotson Sparks, whose name is spelled many different ways in the records (Tillitson, Tilliston, etc.), is also listed as having served in the War of 1812 from the Territory of
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:
Indiana. He was doubtless the Tilleston Sparks who was listed as a taxable on the 1812 land tax list of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He was also listed as a witness (with David Gunn, Mathew Sparks, and Henry Beggerly) to a Pittsylvania County deed dated October 24, 1810, between David Beggarly and Thomas Sparks. The land was described in that deed as adjoining “Thomas Sparks‘s old plat” as well as land belonging to John Gwin. (Note that Baxter’s wife’s maiden name was Gwin.) On this deed, Tillotson Sparks’s name was written as “Tilliston Sparks.” (Pittsylvania Co., Va., Deed Book 17, p. 245.)
Tillotson Sparks, who was probably closely related to Baxter Sparks, probably followed Baxter to Indiana in 1812 or 1813. He sold land in Floyd and Harrison Counties to John Wesley Nance on March 6, 1821 (Harrison Co. Deed Book C, p. 441, and Floyd Co. Deed Book called “Clark Grants”, p. 528.) He was married and had five children at the time of his death in 1828. As mentioned earlier, Baxter Sparks was appointed administrator of his estate. It seems highly likely that Baxter Sparks and Tiflotson Sparks were brothers. (David Gunn and Richard Watson signed as sureties for Baxter Sparks ‘s bond of $500 to administer the estate.)
A court record dated October 15, 1833, in Floyd County reveals the names of the children of Tillotson Sparks. This resulted from a suit against the estate of Tillotson Sparks by Charles Evans. The children were identifed as: “David, Elizabeth, James, Oswell, and William Sparks, children and heirs of Tillotson Sparks, late of this county, deceased.. .“ (Book F, p. 395) Another record, dated April 27, 1835, identifies Shallam Thomas as the “guardian of the infant heirs of Tillotson Sparks, deceased.” (Book J, p. 157)
In 1836, according to the biographical sketch of W. A. J. Sparks, Baxter Sparks moved to Macoupin County, Illinois, where he and his family settled on a farm. A volume of election returns for Illinois indicates that Baxter Sparks was a candidate for county commissioner in Macoupin County in August 1838. He died there at the age of 63 on September 7, 1840. His wife, Elizabeth, died on March 24, 1844.
Following is a record of what we have been able to learn about the ten children of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks:
1. Mary L. Sparks, only daughter of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born March 13, 1808. In the Family Record quoted quoted at the beginning of this article, under marriages, her name is written as Mary S. Sparks, with the date of her marriage as Aug. 28, 1830. In the marriage bonds of Harrison County, Ind., is the bond of Mary Sparks and Luke Coon, dated Aug. 27, 1830. Thus, they were married one day after the bond was obtained. No further information.
2. Thomas P. Sparks, oldest son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born October 24, 1809. His marriage is recorded in the Family Record as occurring on Dec. 31, 1829; recorded in Harrison County, Ind., is the marriage bond of Thomas Sparks and Nancy Chapman dated Dec. 31, 1829. According to the Family Record they had the following children:
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:(1) George W. Sparks, born Jan. 30, 1832Thomas Sparks was listed on the 1830 census of Harrison County, Ind., but his whereabouts thereafter are uncertain.
(2) Marion Sparks, born Jan. 22, 1834
(3) Mary E. Sparks, born Oct. 4, 1836
(4) Nancy I. Sparks, born Sept. 19, 1839
3. John G. Sparks, second son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born September 22, 1811. According to the Family Record, he was married on. Jan. 16, 1834, but the name of his wife is not given. His children, as listed in the Family Record, were:
(1) Mary Sparks, born Jan. 2, 1836
(2) Elizabeth S. Sparks, born Feb. 18, 1838, probably the Elizabeth Sparks who died Mar. 24, 1844.
(3) Francis N. Sparks, born May 21, 1840.
This family was living in Jackson County, Illinois, when the 1850 census was taken. John G. Sparks’s profession was given as Lawyer. His wife’s name was given as Rebecca, aged 32 (therefore born about 1818) in the state of Illinois. Living with John G. and Rebecca Sparks in 1850 were their daughter Mary S. Sparks, aged 14, and their son Francis N. Sparks, aged 10. Since their daughter Elizabeth was not listed, it is probable that she was the Elizabeth Sparks who, according to the Family Record, died on March 24, 1844.
We have not searched the Jackson County census records after 1850. A John G. Sparks is recorded in Illinois records as having been an original incorporator and trustee of Marion Academy located near Marion in Williamson County, Ill., in 1841, but whether he was the same John G. Sparks with whom we are concerned here is not known.
4. Mathew N. Sparks, third son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born March 21, 1814. According to the Family Record, he was married on March 1, 1840, but the name of his wife is not given. From the listing on page 6 of the Family Record, it appears that Mathew Sparks was called “N. M. Sparks” and that he was the father of:
(1) Maria J. Sparks, born Feb. 24, 1841
(2) Mary E. Sparks, born May 12, 1843
We have a record of an N. M. Sparks listed on the 1850 census of Jackson Co., Ill. (in the same district as John G. Sparks). His age was given as 34, born in Indiana, and a School Teacher by occupation. His wife’s name was given as Sarah A. Sparks, aged 23, born in Kentucky. No children were listed on this census record for N. M. Sparks, so we may doubt that he is the same person.
5. Wesley H. Sparks, fourth son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Owin) Sparks, was born May 23, 1816. According to the Family Record, he was married on Dec. 1, 1838, but his wife’s name is not given. His name appears on the 1840 census of Macoupin Co., Ill., near that of his father. According to the Family Record, he died on Aug. 7, 1852. His children were, according to the Family Record:
(1) Elizabeth E. Sparks, born Oct. 26, 1838
(2) Vanburen Sparks, born April 20, 1840
6. George T. Sparks, fifth son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born Sept. 18, 1818, and died on Oct. 18, 1822.
7. Edmond Baxter Sparks, son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born August 22, 1820. According to the Family Record, he was married on Oct. 28, 1841, but his wife ‘s name was not recorded. He died in California on Oct. 5, 1850, according to the Family Record. He was doubtless a victim of the California Gold Rush which began in 1849. His brother, David R. Sparks, went to California in 1850. According to the Family Record, he had the following children:FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:
Children of Edmond Baxter Sparks:
(1) John B. Sparks, born Jan. 13, 1844, died April 29, 1848.
(2) Elizabeth Malinda Sparks, born March 21, 1846, died April 11, 1846.
(3) Melinda E. Sparks, born June 5, 1847. She was probably the Melinda E. Sparks who, according to the Family Record, was married on Dec. 31, 1865.
8. David R. Sparks, son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born Oct. 15,1823. He was married to Anna Davenport Chapman in 1849. He was living in Madison County, Ill., when the 1870 and 1880 censuses were taken, and from these records we know that he had the following children:On a separate slip of paper in the Family Record appears the following:(1) Mary Sparks, born about 1850; she married Frank Richmond Milnor in 1874.
(2) Wesley Sparks, born about 1854; he married Emma
(3) Hosey B. Sparks, born about 1857.
(4) Charles T. Sparks, born about 1861.
(5) William Lincoln Sparks, born about 1867.
(6) Annie Sparks, born about September 1869.
(7) E. W. Sparks, born about 1870.
(8) Fletcher Sparks (?)
“David R. Sparks joined the United States Army in 1847 and went to fight in the war with Mexico, serving in the New Mexico area until the end of the war. In 1850, Sparks, Best and others joined the California “Gold Rush” and made the journey from Staunton to California with a covered wagon and three yoke of oxen. They ferried across the Mississippi at Alton in April and finally reached Placerville, California, in August of that year. The mining operation was unsuccessful and Sparks, Best and others returned via San Francisco in a sailing vessel. At Panama they crossed the Isthmus on foot and came home via Havana, Cuba, New Orleans and the Mississippi River.
“In 1852 they made the trip by steamboat and wagon to the Colorado gold mines, near the present town of Central City, where they established the first stamping mill in that locality. In the Civil War, at the first call for three-year troops, Sparks organized a troop of cavalry of which he was captain, with recruits mostly from around Litchfield. They furnished their own horses and served in many campaigns, including the seige of Vicksburg.
“On his return in 1863 from two and one -half years’ service in the Union Army as Captain, Company “L,” 3rd Illinois Cavalry, David Sparks moved his family from Staunton, Illinois, to Litchfield. With his partner, Mr. Wesley Best, they purchased property near what is now the northeast corner of the crossing of the Big Four and Wabash Railroads. In that year the construction of a stone and brick flour mill was begun. The installation of machinery and equipment was completed and the mill started in the summer of 1864 with a daily capacity of 350 barrels of flour. At that time the mill was believed to have been the largest mill in Illinois. Captain Sparks and family continued to reside in Litchfield until 1869, at which time the partnership purchased a mill in Alton, Illinois. Sparks moved his family to Alton and became the manager of the mill there. Wesley Best continued to operate the Litchfield mill until it was destroyed by fire in 1879. In
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:
the meantime, Best and Sparks had purchased what was known as “The Old Gage Mill” in Litchfield, which they operated until it, too, was destroyed by fire.
“Captain Sparks continued in the milling business at Alton until his death in 1907. In 1877 he and other flour millers formed the Millers Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Illinois with principal office at Alton. He served as President of the company from 1877 until his death in 1907. Sparks married Anna Davenport Chapman in 1849. They had nine children, one of whom, Mary Ann Sparks, the oldest, became the wife of Frank R. Milnor in 1874. One of the children, William Lincoln Sparks, was born in Litchfield in 1867.
“Captain Sparks was a Unitarian and a Mason. A staunch Republican, he was a representative in the 36th Illinois General Assembly and a Senator in the 40th Illinois General Assembly.” He died November 10, 1907.
9. Harvey A. Sparks, son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born Jan. 9, 1826, and died Sept.1, 1845.
10. William Andrew Jackson Sparks, son of Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, was born Nov. 15, 1828. He married Julia Parker of Edwardsvill, Ill., on April 16, 1855. They had no children. W.A.J. Sparks was a prominent political figure in his day and much has been written about his colorful career. The following are excerpts from a sketch which appeared in 1892 in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion, and Jefferson Counties, Illinois, published by the Chapman Pub. Co. of Chicago, pp. 440-43:“Hon. W.A.J. Sparks, one of the eminent men of Illinois and an honored citizen of Carlyle, was born near New Albany, Lid., November 19, 1828, and is a descendant of good old Revolutionary stock. His ancestors, both paternal and maternal, were of English descent, and were among the very earliest settlers of Virginia. His parents, Baxter and Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks, were both natives of the Old Dominion. During the War of 1812 the father was in the military service defending the pioneer settlers of the frontier against the hostile Indian tribes. About 1805-06 he came west, settling upon and improving a farm in Harrison County, Ind., about nine miles west of the present city of New Albany. There he continued to live (except a short time in New Albany) until 1836, when he again removed westward and settled on a farm in Macoupin County, Ill. There his life career was closed in 1840. Three and a-half years afterward the mother passed away.
“In a family of ten children, the subject of this sketch was the youngest, and his boyhood years were mainly passed amid the primeval scenes of Illinois, his education being gained in the log “temple of learning” near the home of his father. At the death of his mother he was thrown upon his own resources, and securing employment upon a farm, was thus engaged for several years. He then began to teach school, and continued in that occupation until he had saved enough money to pay his tuition in college. In 1847 he entered McKendree College, at Lebanon, Ill., and there prosecuted his literary researches with diligence, graduating in 1850 with the degree of B.S.
“His schooling finished, Mr. Sparks came to Carlyle, where after having taught school for three months he began the study of law with Chief Justice Breese, afterward his neighbor and life-long friend. He continued his studies under the tutelage of Judge Breese until 1851, when he was admitted to the Bar, and at once began the practice of his profession in Carlyle. Two years later President Pierce conferred upon him the appointment of “Receiver of the United States land
FAMILY RECORD OF BAXTER SPARKS (1777-1840), continued:
office” at Edwardsville, Ill., which position he held until all the lands were sold and the office closed.
“His duties as Receiver terminated, Mr. Sparks returned to Carlyle and resumed his professional duties, continuing thus engaged until his retirement from the Bar about 1874. In 1856 he was chosen an elector on the Buchanan-Breckinridge ticket as a representative of the Eighth Congressional District, and at the same election he was chosen a member of the House of Representatives of the Illinois Legislature in the Twentieth General Assembly, representing the counties of Bond and Clinton. In 1863 he was elected to the State Senate to represent in the Twenty-third General Assembly the Fourth Senatorial District, composed of the counties of Clinton, Bond, Fayette, Perry, Washington, and Marion. He was a prominent member of both branches, and took part in the principal debates, serving with credit to himself as well as to the satisfaction of his constituents. He was Chairman of the Committee on Internal Improvements, and also took a prominent part in furthering the present school law, which was enacted during his term of service in the House of Representatives.
“Mr. Sparks has been an active and leading member of the State Conventions since 1851, and was a delegate to the National Democratic convention held at New York in 1868, and the convention at Chicago in 1884, in both of which he took an active part. He also served in Congress, representing the Sixteenth District of Illinois ... and served his constituents with such faithfulness and efficiency that he was elected to succeed himself for three additional terms, making his entire period of service eight years, or from 1875 to 1883. He served as a member of the Committee on Appropriations, and was Chairman of the Committees on Military Affairs, Expenditures of the Interior Department, Indian Affairs and the Revision of the Laws. His service was marked by close attention to all matters of business before the House, and he was noted as a hard-working, able and influential Congressman.
“During his entire life Mr. Sparks has been an active member of the Democratic party, and has taken a lively interest in all the campaigns, being regarded as one of the ablest stump speakers in the state. . .
“For over forty-three years General Sparks has substantially been a resident of his present home, Carlyle, and is one of the oldest settlers of the place. He is now [written in 1892] retired from all active duties and is spending his declining years in his pleasant home, which is one of the finest residences of the town. As in former years, he is deeply interested in political and public affairs. His name has frequently been mentioned as candidate of his party for Governor, and doubtless he could have secured the nomination had he put forth the energy and ability that he possesses; but as he himself says, he is well satisfied to fill the position of a private citizen.
“General Sparks has been happily wedded for thirty-nine years, his marriage to Miss Julia Parker, of Edwardsville, Ill., having occurred April 16, 1855. They have had no children of their own, but have reared and educated a nephew and several nieces, one of whom, Miss Sadie Norton, now resides with them. Mrs. N.J. Alexander, widow of the late Col. G.C. Alexander, a sister of Mrs. Sparks, has made her home with them for nearly a score of years. General Sparks is not a member of the church, but his wife and other members of his family are devout members of the Catholic Church.” William A. J. Sparks died May 7, 1904.
Your editor would be pleased to hear from descendants of Baxter and
Elizabeth (Gwin) Sparks who could add further information regarding this
branch of the Sparks family.
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Scanned and Edited by James J. Sparks