March 6, 2021

Pages 570-575
Whole Number 35

27. ZACHARIAH SPARKS (died ca. 1781)

by Russell S. Bidlack

Our earliest record of a 27. Zachariah Sparks in South Carolina is a land grant dated March 5, 1754, a photostat of which has been obtained from the South Carolina Archives Department. This grant reads as follows: 'South Carolina-- Pursuant to A Precept from George Hunter, Esqr Surveyor Gen. Dated the fifth day of March 1754 I have Measured for Zachariah Sparks [torn--looks like 'of Berkley Co.'] one hundred and fifty acres of Land on the South Side of Collins's River bounding to the South Westward and South eastward on Vacant Land and to the North westward on Jacob Pennington's Land and to the Northeastward on the Said River and hath Such form and Marks as the Above platt Represents. Certified This 1st Day of May 1754.'

Zachariah Sparks does not appear to have taken up this grant, for on July 1, 1766, the same land was issued to Charles King, son-in-law of Jacob Pennington, whose land this tract adjoined.

That the Zachariah Sparks named in the above land grant of 1754 was the same Zachariah Sparks who was living on the Enoree River in what is now Laurens County, just over the line from Newberry County, South Carolina, at the time of the American Revolution cannot be proved conclusively on the basis of records found thus far. However, this tract of land was located in Newberry County, South Carolina. 'Collins River' was the original name for Enoree River and flows along the north side of both Laurens and Newberry Counties. The Jacob Pennington, whose land is described in the above grant, was a resident of Newberry County where he died sometime between 1775 and 1779. According a book by George Leland Summer, Sr., entitled Newberry County, South Carolina, Historical and Genealogical (Privately Printed, 1950) page 371, Jacob Pennington left a widow Mary and children named Mary Noble, Abigail Cafey, Sarah Bright, Charity, Elizabeth, and Deliah; the daughter Charity married Charles King, also a resident of Newberry County, who died ca. 1790 (see Summer, page 354). This is the Charles King who eventually acquired the land granted to Zachariah Sparks in 1754.

Our next earliest record pertaining to Zachariah Sparks of South Carolina is a land grant dated February 5, 1771. This document, with the plat which accompanies it, was reproduced on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly from a photostat obtained from the South Carolina Archives Department. The grant reads as follows: 'South Carolina--Persuent to a precept Directed under the hand and seal of John BreMarch Esqr D. Survr. Gonri. and Baring Date the 5 Day of FebrY 1771-- I have admeasured and laid out unto Zachariah Sparks a Plantation or tract of land in Barkly County Containing One hundred Acres situate lying and Being on the south side of Enoree River and Binding East by John Clarks land and N westerly by Avery Nolens land and on all other sides by Vacant land and hath such shapes form and Markes as the above Plat Represents-- Certifyed under my hand this 13 Day of Feby 1771 [signed] W. Gist DS.'

It should be noted that in this grant, Zachariah Sparks is identified as a resident of Barkly (i.e. Berkley) County. South Carolina was originally divided into four colonial counties (Granville, Colleton, Berkley, and Craven). The exact boundaries of these four original counties was often confused, however, largely because exactness was not of great importance since, for judicial purposes, South Carolina was also divided into districts, and these judicial districts had nothing to do with county organization. All of what is now Laureris County, along with nine neighboring counties, was included in the judicial district known as 'Ninety-six District.' It was in 1783 that these judicial districts were divided into the present counties of South Carolina.

From various bits of evidence, it appears that Zachariah Sparks lived, at least during the latter years of his life, in what is now the north-eastern tip of Laurens County, on the south side of the Enoree River (once called Collins River), not far from the present town of Clinton. Union County lies to the north, on the opposite side of the Enoree River, and Newberry County is just to the east of this section of Laurens County. In fact, Zachariah Sparks may have lived right on the line between Laurens and Newberry Counties. John Clark and Avery Nolen, whose land adjoined the tract granted to Zachariah in 1771, were extensive land owners along the Enoree and appear to have lived in Newberry County.

When the four original counties of South Carolina were laid out by the Crown in 1683, the north-eastern section of present-day Laurens County lay in Berkley County, but in actual practice, this area was considered to be a part of Craven County. Thus, the land granted to Zachariah in 1771 was described by the Colonial government as being in 'Barkly' County, but in 1775, when Zachariah sold this tract, the deed described him as a 'planter of Craven County.' Claude Sparks of Union, South Carolina, who has done extensive research in South Carolina courthouses, reports that frequently the same tract of land in this area will be described in one early deed as being in Craven County while in another deed will be described as being in Berkley County.

Zachariah Sparks sold this tract for 225 pounds to William Wadlington, a son of Thomas Wadlington, Sr., who was one of the original settlers on the Enoree River, having come from Frederick County, Virginia, in 1767. The tract was described in this deed as follows: 'a certain Plantation or Tract of land containing in the whole one hundred acres more or less situate lying and being between Broad and Saludy Rivers on a branch of Broad River called Enoree River butting & bounding on the South side of Enoree River bounding East on land Granted to John Clark Westerly on Aubry Nolands land all other sides on vacant land.' This deed was signed by 27. Zachariah Sparks and by Mary, his wife, the latter signing by mark. It was witnessed by Daniel Johnson, Joel Chandler, and John Hogg. The deed is recorded in Book A, page 580, in Newberry County. It was not recorded until May 11, 1785, on which date John Chandler appeared before Edward Wadlington, a justice of the peace, and swore that he had seen Zachariah Sparks and his wife sign the deed, and also that he had seen Daniel Johnson and John Hogg sign as witnesses.

No other records have been found pertaining to the land holdings of Zachariah Sparks in South Carolina. Early records of all kinds are extremely meager for this section of South Carolina, however, for most of its inhabitants suffered greatly during the Revolution. There were many Tories in this area, several battles were fought in the neighborhood, and there was extensive plundering. Countless records were thus destroyed, and all civil government was suspended for a number of years.

No clue has been found among South Carolina records to suggest where Zachariah Sparks was born or where he lived before coming to South Carolina. The name 'Zachariah' is not common in any branch of the Sparks family, although 21. John and Mary Sparks of Orange County, Virginia, had a son named 21.2 Zachariah (sometimes called Zachary) who was born ca. 1715 (see the Quarterly of June, 1956, pp. 137-38, Whole No. 14). He married Sarah MNU and apparently died sometime after 1745. His widow, Sarah, married, as her second husband, Anthony Foster of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, who died in 1763. In his will, Anthony Foster mentioned his wife's daughter, Sarah Sparks. Is is probable that there were other children of Zachariah and Sarah Sparks besides this daughter, Sarah, and it is possible that the Zachariah Sparks of South Carolina was a son.

Our knowledge of 27. Zachariah Sparks of South Carolina would be limited, indeed, were it not for a sketch written before 1899 by a grandson of Zachariah named 27.2.10 Hiram Sparks. This was published in the Biographical and Genealogical History of Wayne, Fayette, Union and Franklin Counties, Indiana (l899) page 896, and reads as follows: '[Zachariah Sparks, a native of South Carolina] was an officer in the American Army in the War of Independence, and had many interesting and thrilling experiences and lost his life in that struggle. On one occasion he was taken prisoner by soldiers of Cornwallis and in the march which followed, while he and others were prisoners, the British encamped near his home. It is related that his wife went to the British camp at night and cut loose the bonds that bound her husband, and several other prisoners who made their escape. Not long after this remarkable escape, Zachariah Sparks reentered the army and was again taken prisoner. Pretending to be reconciled to the situation he was given much liberty and was finally placed on guard duty, but he had no intention of remaining with the enemy in his country and soon found an opportunity to escape to the American lines. His escape was attended by unfortunate results. As he approached the American lines he was taken for the enemy and fired upon, receiving a severe wound in the hip. After his recovery from the wound he served under General Greene with whom, it is related, he was quite intimate. One day while Mr. Sparks was being visited in his home by General Greene, the former was given, as a keepsake, a coat the latter had worn. Putting it on, Mr. Sparks stepped outside his home quite early the next morning and was immediately shot down by an enemy who had the view of shooting General Greene. Thus Zachariah Sparks' life was sacrificed and General Greene's saved. Zachariah Sparks left two sons, and of these, 27.2 William Sparks, the father of Hiram was younger and but a small child when his father was killed. The other son was 27.3 John Sparks. He disappeared in early life and no trace of him was ever found. 27.2 William Sparks grew to manhood in his native state and married Mary Palmer, who like himself was of English origin.'

27.2.10 Hiram Sparks, the author of this sketch, has been dead for many years, making it impossible for us to determine today what may have been the source of his account. In all probability, it was based on stories that Hiram had heard from the lips of his father, William Sparks. It should be noted, however, that William Sparks was only about nine years old when his father, Zachariah, was killed, and that William died in 1862, almost forty years prior to the publication of Hiram's account.

Stories such as this, handed down from one generation to the next, frequently become distorted. It should also be pointed out, however, that there is always an element of truth in a family legend. Our problem here is to attempt to verify what we can in Hiram's story through official records.

There can be no doubt but that Zachariah Sparks died sometime during the Revolution. There are preserved among the records of Ninety-Six District in Abbeville, South Carolina, two papers pertaining to the settlement of his estate, both dated 1786. He did not leave a will, and the fact that these papers are dated 1786 does not help in determining exactly when he died--civil affairs were in such chaos in that section of South Carolina following the Revolution that several years often passed before estates were settled. One of these papers is an administrator's bond dated September 1, 1786, by which Francis and Mary Luffsey were acknowledged as administrators of the estate of Zachariah Sparks, with Edward Gideon and Alexander Menary as bondsmen. From this and other scraps of evidence, it appears that Zachariah's widow, Mary, had married Francis Luffsey (spelled Lufsoy on the 1790 census) prior to 1786. The other document is an inventory of Zachariah's estate made September 29, 1786, by Adam Gordon, Joseph Glenn, and Andrew Endsley. It is important to note that all of these men mentioned in these papers (Francis Luffsey, Edward Giddeon, Alexander Menary, Adam Gordon, Joseph Glenn, and Andrew Endsley), were listed on the 1790 census of Laurens County, South Carolina, very near the name of William Sparks. The name of Francis Lufsey immediately precedes that of William Sparks (spelled Sparkes). On the 1800 census of Laurens County, however, no one named Lufsey or Luffsey was listed.

It has not been possible to obtain a sufficiently clear photostat of the inventory of Zachariah Sparks's estate to reproduce it here. It lists only a modest amount of personal property, with a total value of 14 pounds and 11 shillings. Among the items listed are: 'one Cow and Calf,' 'one fether Bed,' 'one oven,' 'one plane whel,' 'one flat inn,' '4 puter plate,' '2 puter Basons and one pint pot,' '1 Bell,' '1 Bible,' and '3 forks 1 knife.'

The story of Zachariah Sparks being shot by mistake for General Nathaniel Greene, as told by Hiram Sparks, is of great interest and surely must have some basis in fact. The present writer, however, has searched the papers of General Greene, which are preserved in the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan, but has not been able to find a single reference to Zachariah Sparks. It seems very doubtful that Zachariah was an officer, for surely his name would [be] in extant rosters if he had been. It is true, however, that during the Southern Campaign of 1780-83, General Greene camped near Zachariah's home. On May 12, 1781, for example, he camped on Sparks Creek which is located just over the line in Union County (see thethe Quarterly of March, 1960, page 457, Whole No. 29), and on June 24, 1781, he camped on the Enoree River.

With all family legends, one can expect that different branches of the family will have different versions. Mrs. Esther Stanley of Connereville, Indiana, whose grandfather, 27.2.7 William Lewis Sparks, was a brother of Hiram Sparks, has given us the following account: 'Many years ago Uncle Hiram (Grandfather's brother) and a friend took a trip to Atlanta, Ga. They found an owner of a drugstore there who also had the name of Hiram Sparks. They asked him about his family and he told them this same legend: That during the Revolutionary War the family home was near King's Mountain on the Yadkin River. Several of the boys were in the army under General Greene who was a friend of the family and stayed overnight at their home when they were encamped nearby. In fun next morning, before the General was awake, the father tried on the General's coat and hat, and strutted around for the merriment of his family. Hearing a commotion outside among the farm animals, he stepped to the door and was shot. The enemy thought they were shooting General Greene. After that the family scattered.'

It is interesting to note that in this version of the legend, the circumstances under which Zachariah happened to be wearing the General's uniform are perhaps more plausible than in the other. However, the place of residence of the family (on the Yadkin) is quite in error.

In 1940, a 27.2.6.x.y William P. Sparks of Maysville, Arkansas, since deceased, wrote to Mrs. Edna Briggs of Casper, Wyoming, an account of his ancestry. His great-grandfather was 27.2 William Sparks, son of 27. Zachariah. However, he stated, erroneously, that William's father's name was 'Major William Sparks'; that he served with General Francis Marion (who in turn was under General Greene) and 'was killed by Tories on the Banks of the Yadkin River in North Carolina at the end of the War in 1783.' Note that in this latter version, although William P. Sparks was in error regarding his great-greatgrandfather's name, he did state that he was killed by Tories; whereas the Hiram Sparks of Atlanta had thought the family lived on the Yadkin, William P. Sparks stated that it was on the banks of the Yadkin that his ancestor was killed. This version also suggests the possibility that it might have been some other general rather than General Greene, (Francis Marion, perhaps) for whom Zachariah was mistaken when he was shot. Curiously, a grandson of Zachariah Sparks, 27.2.6 Stephen Sparks (a brother of Hiram), married Asenath Greene who, according to family tradition, was a descendant of General Greene, and they named one of their children Francis Marion Sparks. The William P. Sparks quoted above was a son of this Francis Marion Sparks.

As noted earlier, the present writer has searched the Greene papers without finding any reference to Zachariah Sparks. Two scholars currently writing biographies of Greene have also assured me that they had never heard of such a story. A possible explanation for this absence of references in the Green papers to Zachariah Sparks is provided by a descendant, Kenneth Sparks, of La Fontaine, Indiana. He states that it has always been his impression that Zachariah Sparks was a personal scout to General Greene, a spy in other words, whose identity was known only to the General and to his staff. There is one letter in the Greene papers that may possibly refer to Zachariah Sparks, although the name is clearly written 'Starks.' On the chance that it was intended for 'Sparks,' it is perhaps worth quoting. It is preserved in the William L. Clements Library and was written to General Greene by one of his scouts named John Butler.

At Col. Lanes 11th May 1781
11 0 clock morn
Since writing this morning informing you of the Enemy's movements toward Halifax, your favors of the 3d instant is come to hand by Edwards & Starks. They informe me that your letters sent by Seymore, who left your camp two days before they did, were taken from him at Deep River by one Pile & 7 other tories and himself badly beaten Robbed of his Horse & his Clothes stripped of him.

I am your obedient Servant
John Butler.

On May 3, 1781, when the letters were written by Greene mentioned as having been delivered to Butler by Edwards and 'Starks,' General Greene was camped at 'Sawney's Creek, Taunts Ford, west side of Wateree.'

According to the sketch by Hiram Sparks, Zachaniah Sparks was involved in a number of battles and was twice taken prisoner. Again, no official record has been found of his service. Irene McDaniel Titus, in her History of the McCray Family, in which a chapter is devoted to Zachaniah Sparks and his descendants, points out that many South Carolinians fought in skirmishes and minor battles that went unrecorded in military history. One of the engagements in which Zachariah may very well have participated was the Battle of Clark's Ford. This was fought on the Enoree River near the home of John Clark, whose land actually adjoined Zachariah's grant of 1771.

According to Hiram Sparks, Zachariah had two sons, 27.2 William Sparks, born August 16, 1772, and 27.3 John Sparks. John, it is said, 'disappeared in early life and no trace of him was ever found.' It is not unusual in family traditions to find statements similar to this regarding a relative with whom the family has lost contact. In the days when letter writing was much less common than today, relatives frequently lost track of each other as they moved from one place to another, simply because they failed to write. This is probably what happened to John. It also seems probable that there were other children of Zachariah Sparks besides William and John. There was another Zachariah Sparks who, according to his tombstone, was born January 12, 1756, and died April 16, 1852. This 27.x Zachariah Sparks, who was probably a son of the elder 27. Zachariah, lived much of his life in Union County, South Carolina, which borders Laurens County on the north-east. He owned a farm in Union County located near the present town of Cross Keys, on which there is an old cemetery known as Sparks Graveyard. 27.x Zachariah Sparks (1756-1852), however, was buried in Cedar Springs Cemetery in Spartanburg County. In 1850, this Zachariah was living with his daughter Catherine (born ca. 1795) in the home of William Lawson in Union County. Claude Sparks of Union, South Carolina, who located the grave of this Zachariah, states: 'I am not certain why Zachariah Sparks, who owned land near Cross Keys and in later life lived with the William Lawson family until shortly before his death, happened to be buried in Cedar Springs Cemetery in Spartanburg County. However, there was a Drury Sparks who was a member of Putman Baptist Church, located in the north-western part of Union County, and the indications are that he lived close to the Spartanburg-Union County line about the time Zachariah Sparks died in 1852; so this Drury Sparks may have been a son of Zachariah, and was living in the vicinity of Cedar Springs at that time.'

It seems probable that this 27.x Zachariah Sparks (1756-1852) also had a son named 27.x.1 William Sparks who married Sarah Dodd and had children named

27.x.1.1 Drury Sparks;
27.x.1.2 Zachariah Sparks;
27.x.1.3 Sarah Sparks;
27.x.1.4 Frances Sparks; and
27.x.1.5 Elizabeth Sparks.

William Sparks lived near the farm owned by Zachariah Sparks in Union County and died on April 9, 1859. His daughter, Frances, was postmistress at Cross Keys at the time of the Civil War.

27. Zachariah Sparks, who, according to legend was shot by mistake for General Greene, was probably the father of 27.1 Stephen Sparks who was born ca. 1760 and lived in Newberry County, South Carolina, just over the line from Laurens County. Stephen Sparks owned 300 acres on Indian Creek in Newberry County and 227 acres on the south side of Duncan's Creek in Laurens County. There are a number of references to Stephen Sparks among the official records of Newberry County, one being a deed dated February 12, 1810, by which Stephen Sparks, Daniel Loftin and William Loftin gave to the 'Baptist Society of Christians' 3 acres 'on the waters of Indian Creek, part of our respective lands.' 27.1 Stephen Sparks died intestate on July 10, 1816, leaving the following children:

27.1.1 Zachariah Sparks was born ca. 1780. He served in the War of 1812 (in Capt. Benj. Lewis's Company, Col. S. Tucker's Regiment of South Carolina Militia). He was a resident of Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio, in 1850 and gave his age as 70 on the census of that year. He was living with his brother, Joseph K. Sparks. He received bounty land for his war service.

27.1.2 Jesse Sparks was born ca. 1785. He moved to Shelby County, Alabama, before 1820. He was listed on the 1820 and 1830 censuses of Shelby County and appears to have had at least five sons and five daughters. Apparently the entire family moved from Shelby County after 1830. No further record.

27.1.3 Joseph K. Sparks was born ca. 1791. He served in the War of 1812 (in Capt. Nat. Martin's Company of South Carolina Militia) and received bounty land and a pension for this service. Much of our information regarding him has been taken from these papers (see the present issue of the Quarterly, page 588, for an abstract of these papers). Joseph K. Sparks was a resident of Shelby County, Ala., in 1820, but by 1827 he was in Cincinnati, Ohio, where on May 10, 1827, he married Elizabeth Goodwin. He studied medicine and became a physician in Wilmington, Clinton County, Ohio. There his wife died ca. 1839. He married, second, Abi (Linton) Farquhar, widow of Josiah Farquhar, in Wilmington on November 10, 1842. Joseph K. Sparks died September 17, 1873, in Wilmington. His widow, Abi, later received a pension for his service in the War of 1812. It would appear from census records that Joseph K.Sparks had two children by his second wife, Stephen L. Sparks, born ca. 1845, and Josiah W. Sparks, born ca. 1848.

A George Sparks, born ca. 1829, who was a resident of Wilmington in 1850, may have been a son by the first marriage.

27.1.4 Isaac Sparks, son of Stephen, born ca. 1795. He was still a resident of Newberry County, S.C., in 1820, when he was given a power of attorney by his brothers, Jesse and Joseph, and his sister, Elizabeth, all of Shelby County, Ala. It is probable that this is the same Isaac Sparks who married, as a second wife, Christiana Thomas in Shelby County, Ala., on October 17, 1821. On the marriage bond his name appeared as Isaac E. Sparks and by 1830 he was a resident of Perry County, Ala. He died in Perry County ca. 1834. In the papers settling his estate, his childiren were identified as Mary Ann Sparks, married William R. Seal prior to 1839; Sarah A. Sparks, married James R. Sparks prior to 1841; Elizabeth Sparks; Stephen Sparks; William Sparks; and Andrew Sparks.

27.1.5 Phoeby Sparks She had married FNU Lewis by 1816.
27.1.6 Elizabeth Sparks married William Poole.
27.1.7 Sarah Ann Sparks was under 21 in 1816; she married in Shelby County, Ala, February 13, 1820, George R. King.
27.1.8 Mary (Polly) Sparks was under 21 in 1816. She married in Shelby County, Ala., on November 9, 1821, James H. Camron.