May 11, 2021

Pages 556-566
Whole Number 34 MATTHEW SPARKS (died 1793)

by Russell E. Bidlack and William P. Johnson

In previous issues of the Quarterly, we have made reference to Matthew Sparks who was born during the early 1700's, probably in Maryland, migrated to North Carolina ca. 1758, and died in Franklin (later Jackson, now Clarke) County, Georgia, in 1793. We have been collecting data on Matthew Sparks and his family for a number of years. More information will be found later, but we believe that the time has come when we should make available to the members of the Association the information gathered thus far.

In the December, 1956, issue of the Quarterly, pp. 177-78, Whole No. 16, we designated Matthew Sparks as "the Elder" to distinguish him from his son, also named Matthew Sparks, whose Revolutionary War pension papers we published. Here it has been thought best to refer to the elder Matthew simply as Matthew Sparks, and to refer to his son as Matthew Sparks, Jr.

An important source for our research on Matthew Sparks and his descendants has been a letter written by one of Matthew's descendants, Bettie C. Smith, on March 11, 1899. Mrs. Smith was an old lady in 1899 and wrote this letter to her nephew, Sam Sparks, of McKinzie, Tennessee, to tell him what she remembered regarding her ancestors. A copy of this letter was placed in the Tennessee State Library several years ago where it has been copied a number of times and has been used as a basis for research by a number of Matthew Sparks's descendants. Unfortunately, Bettie Smith made a serious error in her letter that has caused a great deal of confusion ever since--when she mentioned her great-grandfather, Matthew Sparks, she erroneously gave his name as "John." The fact that Matthew had a son named Matthew, as well as a son named John, may have caused this confusion, but more probably Mrs. Smith just made a "slip." In reproducing Bettie Smith's letter here, it has seemed best to substitute the correct name of her great-grandfather rather than to perpetuate the mistake. Following is Bettie C. Smith's letter, with notes:

Sammie: The older ones are, or will soon be all gone; when you get to be older, you will want to know more than now, who was your ancestors. When I was a child old Uncle Matthew Sparks made his home with his brother, Isaac Sparks, but spent much of his time with Father and Mamma. I learned of him more than from anyone else. His Father was named Matthew Sparks (see explanation above), his mother was Sarah Thompson (Sally Tyson, was named for her), he crossed the waters, I never have known where he was raised; Sally Tyson thought he came from Wales. I do not know where he married. He went out to kill a turkey one morning, and was shot by Indians. He left eleven children, nine red-headed boys, and two girls. Here are the names of the boys:

David Sparks, James Sparks, William Sparks, Mathew Sparks, Absolom Sparks, Jessie Sparks, Nathan Sparks, Baily Sparks, Hardy Sparks & Isaac Sparks.

The girls names were Eady and Ann, one of them married FNU Traylor. Mathew fought in the Revolution, don't know how many more. They fought the Tories for all they were worth. John, Captain and Mathew, Lieutenant.

(Webmaster Note: here is the proper list from Article 197-A: John Sparks Mathew Sparks William Sparks, Eady Sparks, Ann Sparks James Sparks, Absolom Sparks, Jesse Sparks, Nathan Sparks, Bailey Sparks, Isaac Sparks Hardy Sparks

They got up one morning, horses all gone but one, (I guess that was in Georgia) they sit Granny, and a bed on her [the horse] and started for the fort, twenty-five miles bare-headed; there they stayed seven years. Uncle Isaac was five years old, and brother & sister swung by his arm all the way. Old Grandma buried at Old Pleasant Grove; the piece of shirt the ball went through when her husband was killed, was buried with her. I do not know so much of Thompson kin;

Grandma Thompson was Elizabeth Suduth; Grandma Sparks was Nancy Hancock. My notion is that if we have any mean streaks in us, it did not come through the Sparks', while many of them have become adulterated; but the good ones were sure enough good. You may not care to ever read this, but I don't care, I am going to send it anyway.

March the 11th, 1899
[signed] Bettie C. Smith.

Notes on the above letter: We have not succeeded in getting in touch with any descendants or close relatives of Bettie C. Smith, and available census and official records have failed to reveal positively who she was. There seems little doubt, however, that she was a great-granddaughter of Matthew and Sarah Sparks. Nathan Sparks, one of Matthew's sons, had a son named Isaac Sparks, born ca. 1805, who married Orpha Thompson in Wilson County, Tennessee, in 1824 (bond dated September 27). When Isaac's estate was settled in Carroll County, Tennessee, following his death in 1878, one of his daughters was listed as Elizabeth E. Smith. Although in her letter of 1899, Bettie's middle initial appears as "C", we are inclined to believe that she was the daughter of Isaac and Orpha. If this is correct, her statement that "Grandma Thompson was Elizabeth Suduth" and "Grandma Sparks was Nancy Hancock" refers to Isaac's and Orpha's mothers. It seems certain, in any case, that she was not referring to the family of Sarah Thompson, wife of Matthew. We have numerous records to prove that Matthew's wife was named Sarah, but Bettie Smith's letter is our only record that her maiden name was Thompson. The Sally Tyson who, according to Mrs. Smith, was named after Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, was a daughter of Isaac Sparks, who was a son of Matthew and Sarah. A marriage record on file in Carroll County, Tennessee, reveals that Sarah Sparks and Samuel Tyson were married January 8, 1845.

Bettie Smith was confused regarding the part the family played in the Revolution--Matthew Sparks was killed by the Indians in 1793, long after the close of the Revolution. Likewise, Mrs. Smith seems to have been somewhat confused when she listed the names of the children of Matthew and Sarah. She stated that there were eleven children in all, but gave the names of twelve. From other sources, we know that there was a son, John Sparks, whom she failed to mention, making thirteen in all.

Although Bettie Smith stated that Sally Tyson had thought Matthew Sparks had come to America from Wales, it is probable that he was born in this country--perhaps one of Matthew' s ancestors had come over from Wales. Although we have no positive proof, we believe that Matthew Sparks was living in Frederick County, Maryland, before he moved to Rowan County, North Carolina. He and his wife, Sarah, were probably married ca. 1754. There can be little doubt that Matthew Sparks, was the son of William Sample Sparks (Note: this is a correction from the original stating they were closely related) and closely related to Solomon Sparks who came from Frederick County, Maryland, to Rowan County, North Carolina, in the early 1760's. (Matthew Sparks sold land to William S. Sparks on April 10, 1765, shortly after William's arrival in Rowan County.)

Matthew Sparks, William S. Sparks, and Solomon Sparks were all of the same generation--all were born ca. 1725-35--and they may have been brothers. If so, they were probably sons of 1.2.5 Joseph and Rachel Sparks. 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749; he did not leave a will, but the inventory of his estate names William Sample Sparks and Rachel Sparks as his next of kin. In the Revolutionary War pension application of William Sparks, son of Matthew, he referred to "my uncle James Sparks" who he stated was a member "of the foot company from Wilkes County." If this statement by Matthew's son is correct, then Matthew had a brother named James Sparks in North Carolina. (The 1774 tax list of Surry County, North Carolina, "Benjamin Cleavland's District", contains the name James Sparks. In a fragment that is preserved of the 1779 tax list of Wilkes County, "Capt. Allen's District," the name "James Sparkes" is listed with his property valued at 100 pounds. What became of this James Sparks after 1779 is not known.)

[NOTE: See the Quarterly for December, 1989, Whole No. 148 p. 3483. This article concluded that Matthew Sparks and the above James Sparks were sons of William Sample Sparks and nephews of Solomon Sparks, son of 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks who died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749. William Sample Sparks and Solomon Sparks were first cousins].

The earliest official record pertaining to Matthew Sparks found thus far in Rowan County, North Carolina, is the recorded deed dated April 4, 1761, by which he purchased 372 acres of land from John Carteret, the first Earl Granville. (The Earl was a great-grandson of Sir George Carteret, one of the original Lords Proprietors of the Colony of North Carolina; he owned vast tracts of "vacant land" which he gradually sold to planters for relatively small sums.) Matthew Sparks paid only ten shillings sterling for his 372 acres. The tract was described as follows in the deed (see Rowan County Deed Book 4, page 514): "that tract or Parcel of Vacant Land, Situate Lying and Being in the Parish of St. Luke, in the County of Rowan, in the Said Province, Lying in the forks of Yadkin River, Running up the South Yadkin N.20 x W.20 Chain to a hickery, then N.38.W.lO ch: to a Gum, then N.42.W.20 Ch: to a hickery, thence Due North, 90 chain to a black Oak, then Et. 40 Ch: to a White Oak on the Bank of the Main River, Then Down River to the beginning, Containing in the Whole Three Hundred and Seventy-two acres of Land."

This tract of land is easy to locate from the description given in the deed--it is located in what is now Davie County at the point where the South Yadkin flows into the Yadkin River.

On April 10, 1765, Matthew Sparks and Sarah his wife sold 200 acres of this tract to William Sparks for 50 pounds (see Rowan County Deed Book 6, page 139). The witnesses to this deed were William Frohock, John Huston, and Thomas Frohock. Matthew and Sarah both signed by mark. (William S. Sparks sold this same tract of 200 acres to William Frohock for 150 pounds on January 27, 1773--see Rowan County Deed Book 8, page 104.) On September 17, 1767, Matthew and Sarah Sparks sold the remaining 172 acres of their tract to William Haden for 150 pounds (Rowan County Deed Book 6, page 482). The witnesses were Benjamin Taylor and James Whitafeur (or Whitakor?); Matthew and Sarah both signed by mark.

Exactly when Matthew Sparks and his family came to Rowan County is not known, but they must have come ca. 1758; their son, Matthew, Jr., stated in 1832 that he had been born January 20, 1759, "in Rowan County, near Salisbury." The earliest reference to Matthew Sparks in the Rowan County Court Records is dated 1761 (page 335)--he was listed as being on a jury. The first tax list of Rowan County on which his name appears is that of 1761--Matthew Sparks, Jonas Sparks, and Solomon Sparks were all listed in Caleb Osborn's District. (Jonas Sparks, who died in Rowan County in 1805, may also have been a brother of Matthew. [NOTE: It was later determined that Jonas Sparks was a brother of Solomon Sparks]) Matthew Sparks was "on Jury" again in 1762 (page 385), in 1765 (page 522), and in 1766 (page 634). An interesting court record dated "Second Tues. in July 1763" (page 469) reads as follows:

On Motion It is Ordered that a Waggon Road the best and nearest and Best way from the Shallow ford upon the Yadkin River to the Town of Salisbury and the following persons are appointed to Lay off and mark the same, to wit Samuel Bryan Morgan Bryan James Bryan Roger Turner Mathew Sparks Edward Roberts Daniel Boon Bernet Stagner David Johnston James MeMahen Robert F'ur bush & Thomas Turner and accordingly they appear upon Notice and be Qualified be fore the nearest Majistrate for their Faithfull discharge of this Office &c.

An undated entry in the Rowan County Court Records (page 608) for either 1765 or 1766, records that Matthew Sparks and Daniel Lewis were "suretys in £ 100" for Gatry Willcocks (or Willcox), widow of Isaac Wilcocks, and George Wilcox, administrators of the estate of Isaac Willcocks. The following court record, dated Thursday, February 4, 1773, is of interest (Book 3, 1773-1786, page 10):

Overseers of Roads. Ordered on petition that the following jury lay out & open a Road from the Shallow Ford to William Morrisons Mill Upon Third Creek - Viz: Roger Turner, Patrick Morrison, John Bryan, Andrew Morrison, James Wilison, George Lock, Mathew Sparks, John Reed, John Heren [?], Jas Cooper, Isaac Holman & Moses Potts.

Charles Vandever and James Cooper are appointed Overseers of sd Road.

Two of the sons of Matthew and Sarah Sparks applied for pensions on the basis of their service during the American Revolution. These two sons, Matthew Sparks, Jr., (1759-1841) and William Sparks (1761-1848), gave information in their applications that helps to trace the activities of their parents, Matthew and Sarah Sparks. (The pension papers of William Sparks were published in the June, 1954, issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 6; those of Matthew Sparks, Jr., appeared in the issue of December, 1956, Whole No. 16. Matthew Sparks, Jr., stated that he had been born in Rowan County, near Salisbury, on January 20, 1759, and "there lived with his father until he was between fourteen and sixteen years old"--thus until 1773-1775, or just before the outbreak of the Revolution. He stated that the family moved from Rowan County to "New River in Wilkes County" in North Carolina. William Sparks stated in his application that he was "born within one mile of the town of Salsbury [i.e. Salisbury] in the County of Roan [i.e. Rowan], State of North Carolina" on April 3, 1761. He entered the service in 1778. William Sparks stated that shortly before he entered the service, his father, Matthew Sparks, had moved from the Yadkin River "across the Blue Ridge to a place on New River" in Wilkes County. Thus, the statements by Matthew, Jr., and his brother, William, agree regarding the family's removal, although neither gave the exact date. The 1774 tax list of Surry County, which then included the New River area of what later became Wilkes County, does not contain the name of Matthew Sparks. However, his name does appear on the 1775 tax list. He was listed in "Benjamin Cleaveland's List" as "Matthew Sparks Sr." with three taxable polls, i.e., males over 16 and under 60. The two polls besides his own were given as "John Sparks and Matthew Sparks Junr." From this it would appear that the family moved over on New River in 1775, and that John, who was born in 1755, and Matthew, Jr., who was born in 1759, were the two oldest sons of Matthew and Sarah. Apparently no other son had reached the age of 16 in 1775.

Wilkes County was formed in 1777 from Surry County and the District of Washington. The area in which Matthew Sparks settled on New River had been a part of Surry County and is now a part of Ashe County (Ashe County having been formed from Wilkes in 1799). Matthew lived near the present town of Jefferson in Ashe County.

On March 3, 1779, Matthew Sparks obtained a grant of 400 acres in Wilkes County "at the mouth of Little naked Creek." Following is the description of this land taken from the file in the Land Grant Office, Raleigh, North Carolina:

Wilkes County, North Carolina.
File No. 22.
Warrant No. 163 -- to Matthew Sparkes -- 400 acres "on the North side of New River Begining on Little Naked Creek Runing Down Including his Impt. [i.e.improvement]" 5 November 1778.

Surveyed 21 December 1778. "Beginning at the mouth of little naked Creek Running South Fifty five degrees along the line of Andrew Baker Seventy one pole thence with sd Bakers line South forty one degrees East thirty two pole to a stake thence North Twenty eight degrees East Eighty four pole to two Chesnuts thence with the line of land of William Sturdie North Seventy four Degrees East fifty two pole to two white oak Saplins near the bank of the South fork of New River thence down the several Courses of the river to the mouth of a Small Branch thence West Eighty pole to a red oak thence South twelve degrees East to the Beginning." (signed) Joe. Herndon, C.S. Chain Carriers: James Vaningle

Matthew Sparkes, Jur.

by 1797 the above land was in the possession of a man named John Dick. In 1797, Dick petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly to the effect that the land, as described, embraced only about half of the 400 acres. Thus in the foregoing File 22 there is a resurvey of the 400 acres dated November 2, 1797, which reads as follows:

"by Order of Court ReSurveyed for Mathew Sparks -- 400 acres now deeded to John Dick: Begining at a Stake at the Mouth of little Naked Creek a branch of the South fork of New River runing South 12° East 71 pole to a Stake then South 55° East 71 pole to a White Oak then South 41° West 32 pole to a Stake then South 28° East 84 pole to Two Chesnuts then North 70° East 52 pole to Two White Oak Saplings on the Point of a Hill on the West side of the South fork of New River then down the Meanders of said River to a Locust at the Mouth of a Small branch then North 100 pole to a Spanish Oak then West 80 pole to a White Oak then to first Station.
(signed) Robt. Nall, D.S.
for H. Roussau, C.S.

This Grant is issued under the authority of a resolution of the General Assembly pass'd. at Raleigh 1797."

The earliest extant complete tax list of Wilkes County, that of 1782, credits Matthew Sparks with the ownership of 650 acres of land, six horses, and eight cattle--the whole valued for tax purposes at $144.00. He was listed in Capt. Cleveland's District; his son, John Sparks, was listed in the same district as owning livestock but no land. Likewise, James Sparks was listed as owning livestock but no land. We feel certain that this James Sparks was Matthew's son, not his brother.

An interesting picture of life in the New River Settlement during the Revolution was given by Matthew's son, William Sparks, in his pension application. He stated that when he was in his seventeenth year he joined a military unit which conducted a campaign against the Cherokee Indians. Apparently this was in 1778. "Upon my return from this campaign," William Sparks testified, "the military 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 abe. 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 [i.e. delftware] in those days) 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 between 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 ballance 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."

The earliest mention of Matthew Sparks in the Wilkes County Court Records is dated June 3, 1778--he was among a group of men appointed to lay out a road. This record reads as follows:

Ordered by the Court that Rowland Judd John Robins Jur John Tyrah William Owen Jur John Shepperd Nethaniel Judd Barnet Owen John Baker Matthew Sparks Andrew Baker Jur Thomas Cailoway Robert Bake Zacariah Wells Abel Penington James Ward and James Lewis or any 12 of them be a Jury to Lay out a Road the best and most Convenient way from the Deep fourd on Reddies River to Benajah Penington's mill and make Report there of to the next Court.

On September 7, 1778, it was "Order'd that Matthew Sparks Snr. be appointed Overseer of the new marked Road from the Top of the Blue Ridge to the Fourd on the south Fork of the new River, and all the hands Convenient work thereon." On December 10, 1778, it was "Ordered that all hands in Capt. Bakers Company below Benjamin Taylors work on the Road under Matthew Sparks overseer." On June 7, 1780, it was "Ordered by the Court that Charles Rowland be appointed overseer of the Road in stead of Matthew Sparks and all the hands work thereon."

Exactly how long Matthew Sparks and his family remained on New River in Wilkes County (now Ashe County) is not known. Matthew's son, William Sparks, in his pension application, stated that he remained in Wilkes County "till the close of the Revolutionary war when he removed with his father to what was then Franklin County, afterwards Jackson, and now Clarke County in the State of Georgia and settled about four miles from Athens in that State." Matthew Sparks, Jr., in his pension application, stated that the family remained in Wilkes County "until three or four years after the close of the Revolutionary War." The fact that on June 7, 1780, Matthew Sparks was replaced as overseer for the new road may indicate the family was making plans to move. They were still in Wilkes County in 1782, however, for on the tax list of Wilkes County for that year Matthew Sparks, Jr., was listed in Capt. Sam Johnson's District as "single," without land--his taxable property consisted of one "horse or mule" valued at six pounds. Matthew Sparks, Sr., was listed in "Capt. Cleveland's Dist." with taxable property consisting of 650 acres of land valued at 100 pounds, 6 horses or mules valued at 36 pounds, and 8 cattle valued at 8 pounds, making a total of 144 pounds of taxable property. Listed in the same district, as stated earlier, was James Sparks (with 5 cattle valued at 5 pounds) and John Sparks (with 2 "horses or mules" valued at 12 pounds and 5 cattle valued at 5 pounds).

A deed by which Matthew Sparks sold 400 acres of land to Edward Cross was proven in the Wilkes County Court on October 27, 1784, by James Bunyard. The fact that Matthew Sparks himself did not appear in court to prove the deed may mean that he had left the county by the fall of 1784. Unfortunately, the deed itself was not recorded--we have only the court record of its being proved. Neither Matthew Sparks nor his sons appeared on the 1784 tax list of Wilkes County.

From the pension papers of Matthew's two sons, we know that he, with most of his sons, were among the first settlers in the lands east of the Oconee River in Georgia, which, prior to the close of the Revolution, had belonged to the Creek Indians. This vast area was given to the State of Georgia and in February, 1784, the Georgia Legislature passed an act throwing open to settlement this newly acquired territory. It was designated as Washington and Franklin Counties. (Many squatters had moved into the area, however, prior to February, 1784, and perhaps Matthew Sparks was among them.)

The Creek Indians strongly protested the loss of their land and, under their able leader, Alexander McGillivroy, a half-breed with Scottish ancestry, they kept up for several years, in that irregular, desultory manner so common in Indian war, a series of depredations on the white settlements along the Georgia frontier. Spain also claimed this land and signed a treaty with MoGillivroy in 1784 under which the Spanish gave the Indians aid and encouragement. This struggle, which lasted twelve years, is called the Oconee War.

Matthew Sparks, Jr., in his pension application, stated that soon after coming to Georgia, he, "with his father and other settlers, erected a fort which was then and probably still is called Sparks Fort." He made this statement in 1832. This was probably the fort to which Bettie Smith referred in her letter.

During the years that Matthew Sparks lived in Georgia (from ca. 1784 to 1793). the constant Indian depredations and unsettled times resulted in few records being maintained. Fortunately for our research, during the period of many years following the death of Matthew Sparks, his heirs made a number of claims against both the Federal and State government for the losses that the family had suffered. From these claims and the surviving correspondence involving them, we are able to gain some knowledge of Matthew's closing years. Some of these documents are contained in a file called "Indian Depredations" in the Georgia Department of Archives and History, Atlanta. Others have been preserved by a great-great-grandson of Matthew and Sarah Sparks, J. Kent Sparks of Linden, Tennessee.

The document that provides the most detailed account of Matthew's troubles with the Creek Indians is a statement sworn to by Nathan Sparks, son of Matthew, in Wilson County, Tennessee, in September, 1828. This document reads as follows:

Matthew Sparks lived in the State of Georgia in the year 1786 untill 1793 and was killed by the Indians in Franklin County near where Atheans sic. flOW i.S and in said date 1766 McGilbrey ci.e. McGillivroy, and his warriors made their first brake on Sparks's property (To Witt)

2 Spinning Whells one large patch, one Garden other things (too tedious to mention) value of 30.00
In the year 1787 one Sorrel mare was stolen to the value of 200.00
one large Bell also 2.00
one Eagle Horse 100.00
one Roam Mare 100.00
one Black " 70.00
1 Brown Bay Horse 75.00
In the year 1788 one Fort burnt 3 dwelling Houses one Block House and all the stockading around said Fort to the value of 175.00
Also the fencing around 20 Acres was burnt at the same time to the value of 70.00
Also in the year 1790 one large hewn log house burnt by said Indians to the value of 50.00
Also about 20 large hogs and many small ones of the same gang was stolen about the same time val of 90.00
In the year 1793 one Bay horse Stolen to the value of 100.00
Also one Brown mare 50.00
Also the said Matthew Sparks was in service of the United States in theYear 1792 and his horse died to the value of 100 Dollars while in service. 100.00

State of Tennessee
Wilson County County Court September Term 1828

This day Nathan Sparks appeared in open Court, and made Oath that the foregoing is a fair and correct Schedule of the property, which Matthew Sparks was in possession of and was the rightful owner of, and which was destroyed by the Creek Indians, under the command of McGlibry their Cheif & others who first attacked the whites on the frontier settlements of Georgia - in the year 1786: and the Creek Indians continued their depredations from the year 1786 up to the year 1793, and the said Matthew Sparks was killed in the Month November 1793, after the great part of his property was either stolen or destroyed by the Creeks. The sorrel mare mentioned in the foregoing schedule as having been stolen in the year 1787 was an animal of uncommon value in those times, and this affiant knows that a negro boy about fourteen years of age was offered for said mare and refused to be taken by said Matthew Sparks. This affiant also states that the rates at which the several items of property are estimated he believes to be upon a fair and reasonable calculation. Septr. 23rd. 1828
[signed] Nathan Sparks.

[Note: On November 6, 1828, Nathan Sparks and William Sparks, sons of Matthew Sparks, appeared in Baldwin County, Georgia, and swore to the above.]

From this claim, it is apparent that the family suffered most severely in 1788 when what must have been Sparks Fort was burned, along with their "3 dwelling Houses." Again in 1790 they appear to have been burned out, and finally in November, 1793, Matthew Sparks was killed by the Indians. Bettie Smith, it will be recalled, stated that he "went out to kill a turkey one morning, and was killed by the Indians." It is not clear, however, to what Bettie Smith referred when she stated that "they got up one morning, horses all gone but one ... they sit Granny, and a bed on her [the horse,, and started for the fort, twenty-five miles bare headed; there they stayed seven years." Perhaps this was in 1786 when the Indians first attacked.

Following the death of Matthew Sparks in 1793, the family continued to live in what is now Clarke County, Georgia, for a number of years. In 1802, Matthew's son, Absolom Sparks, still a resident of Georgia, made the following sworn statements State of Georgia, Clark Co. -

Personally appeared before me Absolom Sparks and made oath that sometime in 1793 about the firs [sic] week in November in said year he the Sd Sparks Lost one horse and in May 1794 he Lost one horse which property was taken by the Creek Indians which Creatures was taken upon the warters [sic] of the Oconee Franklin County Sparks fort Which property he has never recd. any sattisfaction for also his mother Sarray Sparks Lost about the year 1794 in the spring three head of horses which was taken on Shole Creek warters of Ocone franklin County & which property he the said Sparks has Jus [sic] Reason to beliave was taken by the Creek Indians & has Recd. no satisfaction for the same. Sworn to and subscribed befor me this 14th 1802

[month not given]
[signed] Absolom X Sparks
Pr. by Jesse & Wm Sparks mark

Although, as seen in the above statement, sufferers from the Creek Indians made claims against the State as early as 1802, it was not until many years later that provision was made by the Federal government to pay these claims. by that time, the heirs of Matthew Sparks were scattered and some of the sons had completely lost track of some of the others. (This was by no means an unusual situation in the early nineteenth century when distances were greater, letter-writing more difficult, and mail service less dependable.) Five of Matthew's sons, Isaac, Hardy, Bailey, Jesse, and Nathan, along with their mother, Sarah, had settled in western Tennessee by 1828, in which year these heirs decided to make a serious attempt to collect their father's claims. Jesse Sparks, who was living in Hickman County, and Nathan Sparks, who was a postmaster in Wilson County, agreed to journey to Georgia in order to present their claims. Jesse Sparks was appointed administrator of his father's estate on September 14, 1829. by the following document (now in the possession of J. Kent Sparks, greatgrandson of Jesse Sparks), Jesse and Nathan were appointed the lawful attorneys of their mother and the other three brothers. This document reads as follows:

Know all men by these present that we Sarah Sparks, Isaac Sparks, Hardy Sparks, & Bailey Sparks have this day nominated constituted and appoint and do by these present nominate constitute and appoint Jesse Sparks of the County of Hickman and State of Tennessee, and Nathan Sparks of the County of Wilson and State aforesaid, our true and lawfull Attornies in fact for us and in our names and for our use and benefit, to demand and receive any sum or sums of money which may be due or coming to us or either of us, under or by virtue of any act of Congress in consequence of the destruction or loss of the property of Mathew Sparks by the Creek Nation of Indians and any sum or sums of money that may be due or coming to us or either of us, in any way from the Government of the United States or the agent there of, for the destruction of the property aforesaid or for the use of the same by the officers and soldiers of the United States in the year 1787 or at any other time, and we do hereby authorize and empower them or either of them to execute and deliver receipts and acquittances for the same. . .

In witness where of we hereunto set our hands and ff ix our seal this the11th day of September 1828
[signed] Sary X Sparks (Seal)
Test. [signed] Isaac Sparks mark
Bailey Sparks Isaac Sparks (Seal)
Hardy Sparks (Seal)
Bailey Sparks (Seal)

The following agreement was then drawn up regarding the expenses of the journey of Nathan and Jesse Sparks (document in the possession of J. Kent Sparks):

Know all men by these present that we Sarah Sparks, Isaac Sparks, Hardy Sparks and Bailey Sparks do jointly agree hereby to give unto Jesse Sparks and Nathan Sparks for the trouble and expense in seeking after the property that was stolen and destroyed on the frontier of Georgia belonging to their father Mathew Sparks to give them one half of' what they can get out their expenses paid out of our part and if they get nothing they bear their own expenses and we do agree to pay the attorney that they employ as counsel for their fixing all these papers respecting to get pay for said property for which we bind ourselves and each of our heirs for that sum that they shall give said counsel and said fee to be paid out of our part. In witness we have hereunto set our hand and seals this 11 day of September 1828.

[signed] Isaac Sparks (Seal)
Hardy Sparks (Seal)
Bailey Sparks (Seal)

Nathan and Jesse Sparks were unsuccessful in their attempt to collect for their claims in 1828. In 1832, a member of Congress, Representative Cave Johnson, presented a petition to the House of Representatives from Jesse Sparks. (See Journal of the House of Representatives of' the United States, 22d Congress, page 293.) This brief record, dated February 6, 1832, reads as follows::

Mr. Cave Johnson presented a petition of Jesse Sparks, administrator of Matthew Sparks, deceased, praying indemnity for depredations committed on his own property, and on the property of his intestate, by Creek Indians.
Ordered, That the said memorials and petitions be referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

On March 13, 1834, it was ordered "That the Committee on Indian affairs be discharged from the further consideration of the case of Jesse Sparks, and that it lie on the table." On September 22, 1835, Cave Johnson wrote on behalf of Jesse Sparks to the Commissioner of Indian Claims in Milledgeville, Georgia, as follows:

Dear Sir,

Two claims have been filed sent on from Washington City--a great part of which is on the Books of the Georgia Commissioners one claim in the name of the admr. of Mathew Sparks & one in the name of Jesse Sparks--Jesse Sparks has the control of the claims as Admr. of Matthew & in his own right--he is verry anxious to know what has been the decision & the amount allowed and desires me to ask of you the favor of informing him what has been done--he is now advanced in life & desires to avoid an useless trip & will be greatly obleged to know when the money is ready--be pleased to address Jesse Sparks Esqr. Duck River furnace, Hickman County, Tennessee.

I am verry respectfully
Your friend
C Johnson

The letter notifying Jesse Sparks that settlement had at last been made has been preserved by J. Kent Sparks. It reads as follows:

Executive Department Georgia
Milledgeville, 20 November 1835.


Your letter to Gov. Lumpkin dated 4th inst. reached this department today. About the date of your letter Gov. Lumpkin's official term expired and he has retired. Gov. William Schley directs me to give you the information requested in your letter.

by the report of the commission appointed to adjust the claims against the Creek Indians, Jesse Sparks is entitled to $70.00 principal and $17.25 interest making $87.25 and Mathew Sparks is entitled to $1112.00 principal and $316.10 interest making $1,428.10. If you apply in person, you will bring with you legal and satisfactory evidence that you are the administrator on the estate of Mathew Sparks dec., which will entitled you to draw the money due him. If you should not come in person you should send a duly executed power of attorney authorizing the person to draw your money and also one made by you as admr. of Mathew Sparks, and in this case be sure to send the evidence to show you are the adinr.

Your obt. serv.
N.B. The money will be paid when called for. R. A. Green Secretary.

At about the same time that Cave Johnson wrote on behalf of Jesse Sparks, he wrote also on behalf of Sarah Sparks (widow of Matthew) and her son, Absolom. This claim pertained to Sarah's losses following her husband's death in 1793, and to Absolom's own losses. This was the claim made in 1802 and quoted earlier. Cave Johnson's letter, written at Clarksville, Tennessee, was dated July 13, 1835, and reads as follows:

John A, Cuthbert, Esqr.

Dr. Sir,

Sarah & Absalom Sparks are claimants under the late law authorizing Georgia to pay for Indian Depredations prior to 1800 & their names on the Books of the Georgia claimants & their papers also forwarded from Washington they are desirous of knowing what time the claims will be acted on & whether the money could be paid to me for them at Washington City, so as to save them the trouble of coming to Georgia--if it be necessary for them to come or send, be pleased to write me the time, they should be there.

I am verry respectfully

Your obdt. Servt
C: Johnson.

No records have been found regarding the settlement of the claim of Sarah and her son, Absolom, but in all probability their claim was paid. Our knowledge of Sarah Sparks, widow of Matthew, is limited to the references contained in these claims and to Bettie Smith's statement that she was "buried at Old Pleasant Grove; the piece of shirt the ball went through when her husband was killed, was buried with her." We have not succeeded in locating "Old Pleasant Grove," but it was probably in Carroll County, Tennessee. The date of Sarah's death is not known. She was still living on September 11, 1828, when she signed (by mark) the document making her sons Jesse and Nathan the family lawful attorneys. Although from the above letter it would appear that Cave Johnson thought she was still living in 1835, it seems doubtful that she was, for she would have been close to 100 years old. She probably made her home with one of her children, but which one is not known.

Over a long period of time we have succeeded in collecting material on a number of the children of Matthew and Sarah Sparks, although our data is far from complete. In future issues of the the Quarterly we plan to publish what we have been able to collect on these children and their descendants.