January 14, 2020

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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.

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(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 1624. 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 April, 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.