May 30, 2019

Pages 170-171
Whole Number 16


The Tree-of-Life Quilt pictured on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly was located through the courtesy of Mrs. Meryln Houck, Route 3, Stillwater, Oklahoma. Mrs. Houck is a great-great-granddaughter of Augusta (or Augustine) and Rachel (Nichols) Lee of White and Putnam Counties, Tennessee, whose daughter married a Sparks.

We hope that through the publication of this photograph we will not only preserve the interesting family data which this old quilt contains, but that someone who sees it will be able to tell us more about the numerous Sparkses whose names are embroidered. Only two names are accompanied by dates: "Wm. Sparks Sean [i.e. Senior] died March 2 1869” and "Rhody Sparks died October 26 1871.” Probably this was the William Sparks listed on the 1830 and 1840 census of White County, Tennessee. (In 1840 there was also a "Michal Sparks” listed in White County.) In 1850, William Sparks was still living in White County where his family is listed as follows:

Page 103 William Sparks 67 Farming (property) $500 (born) N.C.
No. 1374 Rhoda     " 61       "
  William    " 22       Tenn.
  Sally Ann " 17       "

There was also a Levi Sparks (age 24) and a Mary Sparks (age 35) living in White County, Tennessee, in 1850. (For a complete record of Sparks families on the 1850 census of White County, see page 187 of this issue.)

In 1852 Putnam County, Tennessee, was formed from White, Smith and DeKalb Counties. It would appear that William Sparks and his wife Rhoda were living in the part of White County which became Putnam County, for the 1860 census of Putnam County lists two Sparks families, as follows:

(1860 census of Putnam County, Tennessee)

Page 33 William Sparks, Sr. 77 Farmer (property) $500 (born) Va.
No. 620 Rhoda   " 71       "
  William Sherley 18       Tenn.
Page 33 William Sparks 31 Farmer (property) $640 (born)  Tenn.
No. 619 Rachel D. " 28       Tenn.
  Versaley   " 2       Tenn.

It will be noted that in 1850 the census taker gave the birth place of William Sparks, Sr., and his wife as North Carolina, while in 1860 he gave their birth place as Virginia. Which is correct has not been determined.

A close examination of this quilt reveals the following names:

Eaf Sparks
James Sparks
Wm. Sparks
Sol. Sparks
Wm Sparks Sean [i.e.] Senior, 
        died March 2 1869
Rhody Sparks died October 26 1871
Joe Sparks
Levi Sparks
Ruth E. Sparks
Mary Sparks
J. J. Sparks
W. J. Sparks
Joe Sparks
Faney Sparks
J. W. Sparks
Rozy Sparks
H. F. Sparks
Oly Sparks
Rachel Sparks
Rebeckey Randolf
Pecy Bumbalow
Poly Suthird
Feby Scarbrough
Abby Judd
Nancy M. Jackson
Martha Welch
George W. Lee
Catherine Welch
James K. P. Lee
M. L. Lee
Loah Ann Clark
Wiet Clarke
A. J. Lee
N. C. Lee
Zack R. Lee
Z. E. Lee
Mag Ashburn
W. Ashburn
Ruth E. Harpe
D. B. Gooch
Augusta Lee
Rachel Lee
Mary Ann Lee
John W. Lee
Mary J. Lee
M. C. Sewell
N. S. Sewell
R. C. Jentry
T. M. Jentry
Thessaly Judd
N. J. Judd

[NOTE: Most of the people named above are identified in an article appearing in The Sparks Quarterly, September 1982, Whole No. 119, page 2453-57.]

Pages 2453-2457
Whole Number 119

WILLIAM SPARKS (ca. 1783-1869)

(Editor's Note: The December 1956 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 16, contained an article about a "Tree-of-Life Quilt" which was made of "quilting blocks" on which were stitched the names of William and Rhoda Sparks and a large number of their descendants. (A photograph of this quilt, then owned by Mrs. Clare Coffelt, appeared on the cover of that issue of the Quarterly; we have reproduced it here to accompany this article.) This William Sparks was also named, along with his brothers and sisters, in an application for War of 1812 bounty land which was published in the March 1961 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 33. He was born ca. 1783, probably in Wilkes County, North Carolina; he lived for a time in Washington County, Virginia, and then moved to White County, Tennessee. Census data indicate that he and Rhoda had twelve children.

The article which follows tells of the search for the names of these children. Since it also reveals the way in which a person can become involved in the fascinating hobby of genealogy, it is published as it was written. The writer, Donald Pugh, is a great-great-grandson of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks. He invites correspondence from other descendants of this couple. His address is Route 12, Box 504, Crossville, Tennessee, 38555.)

The Search by Donald Pugh

The first of March 1981 was about the time I decided to find out about my ancestors. I went out to my mother, Nancy Melissa (Sparks) Pugh, and ask her, "Who was my great-grandfather?" She said, "Sol Sparks." She had something about the SPARKS family that a daughter of George Welch (Mrs. Mildred Wolfe) had given her. She found it and gave it to me. I looked at it and noticed that she had given me The Sparks Quarterly, dated December 1956. A picture of a Tree-of-Life quilt was on the front page and there in the middle of the quilt was the name "Sol Sparks."

I came back home and immediately sent a letter to the Sparks Family Association at the address shown on the December 1956 issue. The letter was returned and marked "Unknown." I thought, "This Quarterly is over 24 years old, so I guess the Sparks Association is out of business." I examined the Quarterly again and noticed the address of Paul Sparks, President, was also listed. I got his telephone number from information and called his number. A strong friendly voice answered. I knew at once that I was talking with "kinfolks." I told him that my great-grandfather's name, Sol Sparks, was on a Tree-of-Life quilt. He knew about the quilt, about Sol Sparks, in fact he knew about fifty or more Sol Sparkses. He told me that he and I may have the same 4th great-grandfather, also a Solomon Sparks.

Paul sent me a letter with a lot of information about my branch of the SPARKS FAMILY. He listed William Sparks, Sr. as Sol Sparkses father, and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks as Sol's mother. He wrote, "We believe we can identify seven of the children of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks as follows: Ephraim Sparks, James Sparks, Jacob Sparks, Levi Sparks, William Sparks, Jr., Sarah Ann Sparks, and Solomon Sparks." He asked me to try to find the names of the other five children, four females and one male.

["Tree of Life" quilt without caption.]


I kept looking at the picture of the Tree-of-Life quilt trying to reason out an orderly way the names could have been stitched on the quilt. I copied the names of the persons named SPARKS who appeared on the quilt and put these names on separate pieces of paper. I moved these pieces of paper around on the picture of the quilt until I decided that the bottom row of squares running from the left edge of the quilt to the right edge contained the names of William and Rhoda Sparks and perhaps their entire family. From left to right these names were: Eaf Sparks, James Sparks, Pecy Bumbalow, Rebeckey Randolf, William Sparks, Sol Sparks, William Sparks, Sean., Rhody Sparks, Poly Suthird, Feby Scarbrough, Joe Sparks, and Levi Sparks. The quilt obviously was made after the death of Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks in October 1871.

I decided that maybe I could find a graveyard with some of these names on markers, so I drove west on U.S. 70 through Monterey and stopped at the Sand Springs cemetery and at the Dry Valley cemetery, but I had no luck. I drove on further west and turned left at the old sawmill site in Dry Valley and drove up Phifer Mountain and stopped at the Pleasant Ridge cemetery, but I still had no luck. I stopped a man who told me that if I continued on this road I would go down into Board Valley where they were two cemeteries, Upper Board Valley and Lower Board Valley.

I stopped at Upper Board Valley, or Clouse Cemetery, which is in Putnam County, Tennessee, and the first gravestone I saw was marked "Phoeba Scarbrough, born March 31, 1821; died Nov15, 1898." (Phoeba was stitched on the Tree-of-Life quilt as "Feby.") Next to Phoeba's grave was her husband's tombstone inscribed as follows: "James Scarbrough, born October 20, 1820; died December 9, 1908." I found no other names in this cemetery.

I drove on through this very picturesque valley down a steep part of the mountain to another beautiful valley called Lower Board Valley which is in White County, Tennessee. In the Lower Board Valley Cemetery I found a tombstone marker, "Margaret Bumbalough, born May 19, 1814 died July 4, 1883." (Her name was stitched on the Tree-of-Life quilt as Pecy Bumbalow. Pecy was the way the quilter spelled Peggy, a nickname for Margaret.) Next to Margaret's grave was her husband's gravestone marked "Isic Bumbalough, born May 5, 1813; died August 22, 1897." (Isic was a misspelling of Isaac.) I also found a tombstone marked "Rebecca Randolph, born October 24, 1815; died December 1, 1891." (On the Tree-of Life quilt her name was stitched as "Rebeckey Randolf.") The graves next to her were unmarked and I could find no marker for her husband.

I drove through Lower Board Valley and down another steep part of the mountain to the fertile, scenic and historic Calfkiller River valley, noted for the Civil War battles and underground caves. It was in this valley that William Sparks bought 101 acres of land on October 24, 1843. He reserved one acre for a church building and for a cemetery. I stopped at Sparta, the county seat of White County, where I found the following marriage records at the Sparta Public Library:

Phoebe Sparks married James Scarbrough, October 14, 1839
Mary Sparks married Alfred Southard, October 2, 1838
Jacob Sparks married Minerva Jay, December 29, 1841
Levi Sparks married Mary Hennessee, February 19, 1850
William Sparks, Jr. married Rachel Lee, March 30, 1851

The librarian also gave me the printed volume of the 1850 census for the state of Tennessee in which I found the family of James Sparks in Hamilton County. I also found Rebecca (Sparks) Randolph on the 1880 census of Putnam County. She was listed as 65 years of age. Her husband, Lania Randolph, was 76 years of age.

I had now accomplished my mission. I had found the names of William Sparks's daughters and of their spouses. According to my findings, and from the information furnished by Paul Sparks, we could now name with certainty the twelve children of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks. Only two names had been omitted from the Tree-of-Life quilt. One was Jacob Sparks who, after marrying Minerva Jay in 1841, returned to Washington County, Virginia, where he lived next door to his uncle, Solomon Sparks, when the 1850 census was taken. The other name was that of Sally Ann Sparks, youngest child of William and Rhoda. Perhaps she had died before the quilt was made.

(Editor's Note: We are indebted to Mr. Pugh for letting us share his article with our readers. We are also taking advantage of the opportunity to publish brief sketches of the twelve children of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks. These sketches are from a proposed article for The Sparks Quarterly which has been prepared from several sources and which also deals with the families of the brothers and sisters of William Sparks. It is our hope that we can publish the entire article in a future issue of The Quarterly. Ephraim Sparks was born ca. 1809 in Washington County, Virginia. He accompanied his parents to White County, Tennessee, ca. 1825 and it was in that county that he was married ca. 1835 to Elizabeth MNU She was born ca. 1810 and died ca. 1846. She and Ephraim had four children: James Sparks, Solomon Sparks, Joseph Sparks, and Sarah Sparks.

After her death, Ephraim married (second) a widow, Lydia White, and to them one child was born, Henry Clay Sparks.

Ephraim Sparks moved to Kansas following the Civil War, but returned eastward ca. 1879, and when the 1880 census was taken, he was living in Grayson County, Kentucky. Lydia died in 1875; Ephraim apparently died sometime after 1880. James Sparks was born ca. 1810 in Virginia. He married Luvania MNU, ca. 1832. When the 1850 census was taken, they were living in Hamilton County, Tennessee, with their nine children: Martha Sparks Mary Sparks Andrew J. Sparks Jane Sparks Charles Sparks Celia Sparks Catherine Sparks Rhoda Sparks Lucinda Sparks. Joseph Sparks was born ca. 1811. We have no further information about him. Margaret ["Peggy"] Sparks was born May 19, 1814. She died July 4, 1883, in White County, Tennessee. She married Isaac Bumbalough, ca. 1834. He was born May 5, 1813, and was a son of Isaac and Susannah Bumbalough. He died August 22, 1897. He and Peggy had eight children: Susan Bumbalough, Leah Ann Bumbalough, William J. Bumbalough, Levi L. Bumbalough, Jessie Sewell Bumbalough, Elijah Bumbalough, Sylvester Bumbalough, and James Bumbalough. Rebecca Sparks was born October 24, 1815. She died December 1, 1891. She married, first, Noah Shirley and they are listed on the 1850 White County, TN census. They were married ca. 1835. Noah Shirley died about 1854, age 45. Their children: Polly Ann Shirley, born ca. 1838; Rhoda Jane Shirley, born March 6,1844 and died October 8,1910. She married Ike Hill. William Shirley, born June 6,1843 and died November 23,1919. He married first, Sarah S. ca. 1865 and had 5 children. He married second, Mary Ann Jackson, daughter of Andrew and Nancy Hicks Jackson ca. 1875 on Blackman's Fork, Jackson County, TN. With both wives, there were 12 children. He lived and died in White/Putnam County TN. Thomas Carroll Shirley, born May 17,1845 and died January 5,1929. He married Nancy Elisabeth Randolph on October 24,1871, in TN. They moved with her family on a wagon train to Denning, Arkansas. Betty Shirley, born September 1847 and died April 23,1919.She married a Cherokee, Ed Hall. Margaret ["Peggy"] Shirley, born November 1,1849 and died September 25,1924. She was married first to Press Conley and second to Joe Judd.

Rebecca married, second, Lanier Lancaster Randolph on November 27,1854. Lanier's first wife was Nancy Rice. Lanier and Nancy Rice Randolph had the following children before Nancy died in 1954, after the birth of Nancy Randolph.

James Randolph,
Joseph Randolph,
C. R. Randolph (male),
Jesse Randolph, and
Nancy Randolph

Rebecca and Lanier Randolph had 2 children: Martha B. Randolph born in 1857, and Phoebe Randolph born in 1859.

For a while they lived in Cumberland county TN.

This information about Rebecca Sparks was provided by Anita Shirley, a direct descendant of William Shirley. Mary ["Polly"] Sparks was born ca. 1818. She married Alfred Southard on October 2, 1838, in White County, Tennessee. He was born ca. 1818 and was a son of Marlin Southard. According to census records, Alfred and Polly had at least six children: William G. Southard, John A. Southard, James Southard, Mary Jane Southard, Rhoda Southard, and Alfred Southard, Jr. Phoebe Sparks was born on March 31, 1821. She died November 15, 1898. On October 14, 1839, she married James Scarbrough in White County, Tennessee. He was born October 20, 1820, and was a son of William Scarbrough. When the 1860 census was taken of Putnam County, Tennessee, James and Phoebe had five children (there may have been others). Those listed on the census were: Susan Scarbrough, John Scarbrough, William Scarbrough, James P. Scarbrough, and Margaret Scarbrough. Jacob Sparks, son of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks, was born ca. 1823 in Virginia. On December 31, 1841, he married Minerva Jay in White County, Tennessee. Apparently, they went to Washington County, Virginia, immediately afterwards, for it was there that their first child was born in 1842, and it was there that the family was listed on the 1850 census. Jacob's brother, Solomon Sparks, was also living in the household in 1850. by 1860, Jacob and Minerva were in Knox County, Tennessee. They were the parents of five children: William Sparks Catherine Sparks Amanda Sparks Adeline Sparks Caroline Sparks
. Levi Sparks was born ca. 1825 in Tennessee, shortly after the family had moved there from Virginia. On February 19, 1850, he married Mary Hennessee, a widow with four children. When the 1850 census was taken, they were living in White County, Tennessee, and were listed as follows: Levi Sparks, 24; Mary Sparks, 38; Rachel Hennessee, 16; Patrick Hennessee, 13; William Hennessee, 8; and Sarah Hennessee, 4. Levi and Mary (Hennessee) Sparks had only one child, a son, named John Sparks. William Sparks, Jr. was born April 3, 1828, in Tennessee. He died March 20, 1915. He served in the 28th Regiment Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A. On March 30, 1851, he married Rachel Elina Lee in White County, Tennessee. She was born February 6, 1832, and was a daughter of Augustine and Rachel (Nichols) Lee. William and Rachel had ten children. They were: Nancy Malinda Sparks Mary Jane Sparks Thad James Sparks Thessaly Sparks John Wesley Sparks Margaret Sparks Rhoda Sparks Henry Augustus Sparks William Joseph Johnson Sparks Martha Sparks. Solomon Sparks was born ca. 1830 in Tennessee. He died in 1912. He served in the 28th Regiment Tennessee Infantry, C.S.A. He was married three times. We have not learned the name of his first wife by whom he had three children: Vica Sparks, William Sparks, and James L. Sparks. His first wife apparently died sometime between 1859 and 1869, and he married (second) Malissa Jackson, daughter of Andrew and Nancy Jackson. Solomon and Malissa had two children: John Thomas Sparks and Mary Sparks. Malissa died ca. 1871. Solomon Sparks married (3d) Permelia ["Milly"] Jackson, a sister of his second wife. To this union were born eleven children: James Sparks Josiah Sparks Lewis Sparks Sarah Sparks Jennie Sparks Morgan Sparks Joseph Sparks Levi Sparks Enoch Sparks Robert Sparks Cora B. Sparks. Sarah (or Susan) Ann Sparks was born ca. 1833 in Tennessee. She was living with her parents when the 1850 census was taken in White County, Tennessee, but when the 1870 census was taken she was living in the household of her sister, Margaret (Sparks) Bumbalough. Apparently she never married.

Hello again! My name is Anita Shirley. I grew up around the Calfkiller Valley of Putnam/White County TN.I have some information about Rebecca Randolph on the tree-of-life quilt. I'm her direct descendant. Rebecca Sparks was first married to Noah Shirley and they are listed on the 1850 White county TN census.I haven't found their marriage certificate, but believe they were married about 1835.

With both marraiges they had 12 kids.Rebecca's next child was Thomas Carroll Shirley May 17,1845-Jan 5,1929 married to Nancy Elisabeth Randolph Oct.24,1871in TN.They moved with her family on a wagon train to Denning, Arkansas.The next child was Betty Shirley Hall,Sept.1847-April 23,1919.She married a Cherokee,Ed Hall.The next child was Margaret/Peggy Shirley Conley Judd, Nov.1,1849-Sept.25,1924. She was married to Press Conley and Joe Judd. There was also a James Brewington, Dec.1828-Jan.3,1926 who married Winnie France and died in MO. I think he may have been a nephew on Rebecca's side. I think my Noah Shirley died about 1854, age 45.Rebecca remarried to Lanier Lancaster Randolph Nov.27,1854.Laniers first wife was Nancy Rice.He had children with her, I think she probably died from childbirth complications with the birth of Nancy Randolph born in 1854. Lanier and Rebecca had 2 childrenMartha B.Randolph born 1857, and Phoebe Randolph born1859.For a while they lived in Cumberland county TN.I hope this adds a little to the Sparks story. Do you know if Donald Pugh's address is current? I would like to contact him.Thanks! Anita Shirley