May 9, 2021

Pages 786-789
Whole Number 45 LUDLOW E. SPARKS, 1840-1922
Martha Sparks Smith A Sketch

by His Daughter/u>

(Editor's Note: Ludlow Ekillis Sparks, son of Achilles Knight and Martha Ann (Lake) Sparks, was born April 21, 1840, near Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia. A record of his branch of the Sparks family was published in the September, 1958, issue of the Quarterly (Whole No. 23) including a record that he prepared prior to his death in 1922 describing his experiences in the Confederate Army, 1861-1865. Ludlow E. Sparks was a great-grandson of 9.1.2 Charles Sparks of the Pee Dee River section of North and South Carolina (see the Quarterly of December, 1962, Whole No. 40). Mrs. Smith recently sent the editor the following sketch for his own information, but he found it so delightful that he asked permission to publish it here.)

My father's first wife (Note: Molly Innis Stanton) was a Roman Catholic, but he remained in the Methodist faith in which he had been reared. After her death, he married my mother (Note: Mary Ida McClary), a deeply religious woman descended from French Huguenots and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. My father then joined the Presbyterian Church, and in our home the Sabbath was observed in all the old Presbyterian ways. On Saturdays the baking and cooking were done for the next day so that nothing unnecessary need be done on the Sabbath. No music was permitted on Sundays except sacred music, and the reading material was restricted to the Bible, the Christian Observer, or Sunday School papers. On every day of the week, there was grace at the table and family worship in the evening, with scripture reading and a long prayer--with all kneeling. I often went to sleep!

The Presbyterian Church was four miles from our home, with services only twice a month, and on those Sundays the carriage was ready to take us all to Sunday School and church. My father sat in the 'Amen Corner,' while my mother sat on the opposite side of the church with the other wives, as was the custom. We children had to learn the Shorter Catechism and go before the Elders to recite it. In addition to services at the church, there was Sunday School in our front yard in the afternoon (during good weather). The entire community was invited, services were held under a huge oak tree, and were followed by refreshments of some kind.

There was a Methodist Church near our home, with Saturday and Sunday services once a month, at which time the pastor and his wife stayed with us. Naturally, we attended those services, as well as the prayer meeting during the week.

After we moved from the farm to the little village of Morrow Station, we no longer attended the Methodist Church, but became active in the Baptist Church in the village, attending those services when they did not occur on the same Sundays that the Presbyterians met. My mother did much work in this Baptist Church, getting lecturers, people to show magic - lantern slides, etc. When we attended services there, I resented, as a child, the fact that when the Sacrament was passed it was not offered to my mother. I did not understand then that it was because she was not a member of that church.

My parents did much for the community in which they lived, taking the responsibility for getting a school teacher or a music teacher and providing a home for them. Often they helped parents of other children to pay for books and tuition, which were not free at that time. When anyone in the vicinity was in trouble, he came to our house. I recall one time a mother, with several children, came to our home for protection against a drunk and abusive husband. My mother was sure the man would come there to look for his family, so she had them go and hide in the orchard. When he did come, she was able to tell him In all honesty that they were not there. Boys who ran away from the Correctional Institution near Atlanta would come to the house, be taken in, fed, and cared for until the next morning. My parents would talk to the boys and persuade them to return, or intercede for them with the authorities.

During a race riot in Atlanta (I think it was early in the 1900's), the colored people streamed out of the city, and several came to our house for protection. And they were fed and taken care of until the riot was over, and they could return to their homes.

Our home at this village was not far from the railroad, and many, many hoboes stopped and were taken care of, as well as the old Jewish peddlers who came along with packs of merchandise on their backs. Some of their descendants are probably heads of big merchandising firms now. My parents visited the sick and those who were in trouble. I recall they obtained wheel chairs for two people who could not walk, possibly buying them themselves. Through the week my mother drove around to tenant houses in the community, white and black, and distributed literature.

Among other community activities, my parents made several lasting contributions to the lighter side of local life. They introduced the annual Easter Egg Hunt, which was held in our grove, an area between the main road and the circular driveway leading from it up to the front of our house. After the hunt, there was food for everyone at long tables. (Before the eggs were hidden, all children were sent down the hill to a tenant house, and when the big farm bell rang, that was the signal for us to come to hunt the eggs.) When my family moved away from this neighborhood, 'the hunt' was taken over by a local church as an annual event, and has been continued there ever since.

Another innovation was that of Christmas Eve visits by the Fantastics-'usually local young men in fancy costumes and wearing masks, riding horses similarly decked out. They went from house to house, providing quite a thrill for the children, and, at our house, were served pound cake and something to drink-probably coffee.

I remember my father always wore a white shirt, a black bow tie, and a suit. In winter he wore a derby when outside, and in summer a panama. He would ride a horse over the farm dressed as if he were going to church. (When I referred to the 'farm' once, I was corrected by a relative and told that it was a plantation. I never thought that a few hundred acres of land and several tenant houses constituted a plantation!) Sometimes my father would let me ride with him, placing me in front of him on his horse. He would not have colored folks (we always had to refer to them that way, never as negroes or niggers) working in the house, although he did have them in the fields. This may have been based in a distrust he had of them from an attempt just after the Civil War to poison the family. At any rate, the household help was chosen from what the colored people called 'po' white trash' as opposed to "quality folks." In my adult years, the colored help would not work for any but those they considered quality folks. I was not permitted to play with the children of these white tenants, although no such ban existed for playing with the colored children. Although my father did not employ colored people in the house, he did give them land for a meeting house and graveyard. My little brother and I were fascinated and would creep close to that church to hear the shouting, and we were most interested in the graveyard. All sorts of things were placed on top of the graves--sometimes toys, and a great amount of cheap glass. Years later, antique dealers took this sun-colored glassware and sold it in their shops--the colors were very beautiful.

My father did some surveying--why, I do not know. I know that my little brother and I would come across him in our rambles and see him sighting through an instrument. Perhaps he was measuring certain sections of the farm--the Four-Acre Field or the Fifty-Acre Pasture, etc. He also had a cider mill to which neighbors from miles around would bring their apples. He had made frames for drying peaches and apples, which were sliced and laid out on the frames. I remember a daily chore of mine was to help turn the slices so that both sides were sun-dried. After the fruit was dried, it was placed in muslin bags. They, too, were put out in the sun for many days and brought in at night, and finally stored for the winter. We also had barrels of apples to eat whenever we wanted them. The neighbors brought grain (wheat??) to my father's threshing machine.

While my father had the farm, he also had some kind of a factory at Rex, which was not far away. I think it was a chair factory, and barrels were also made there. Following the Civil War, my father had been apprenticed to a cabinet maker and I remember that in our house there were several pieces of beautiful furniture that he had made. For several years he was Tax Receiver for his district.

My father never used tobacco or alcohol in any form, and was never known to use a swear word. (Once when I used an ugly word I had heard at school, my mouth was washed out with soap--I never used that word again!) He was a strict disciplinarian, although often he did not need to say anything if were were doing something wrong- - he just looked at us with those gray eyes. My sister and I were never permitted to cross our legs -- that was not lady-like. I wonder what he would think of short-shorts! The few times I remember his getting cross with anyone, he would take me on one knee and my little brother on the other and sing--usually some religious tune.

I remember very little reminiscing about the war from my father. I do remember his saying that he was often hungry when on the march and that he would gather berries to eat. He also told about making a bed out of fence-rails by taking some top rails and placing them across the corners of a zig-zag fence so he would not have to sleep on the wet ground. When he was stationed at Memphis, he saw the Mississippi River grow to forty miles wide at flood time.

As my father served in the Civil War, so his youngest son, Robert Ludlow Sparks, served in the First World War. He volunteered on June 21, 1917, and received his training first at Fort McPherson, then at Camp Gordon in Atlanta, Georgia. He sailed from New York Harbor on April 25, 1918, aboard the British steamer Caronia and landed at Liverpool, England, on May 7, 1918. He sailed from Southampton, England, on May 12 and landed at LeHarve, France, on May 13. He was in the reserve lines in the Somme Sector from May 15 to June 16. He served in the Toul Sector from June 27 to August 20, at Saint Mihiel from September 12 to September 18, and in the Argonne Forest from October 6 to November 7. Originally With the 29th Ambulance Corps, he was transferred to the 82nd Division Headquarters. He was in the Base Hospital 208, Bordeaux, France, from March 13 to April 12, 1819, convalescing, and sailed from Bordeaux on April 18 aboard the U.S. Hospital Ship Siboney, and landed in New York on April 27. He was discharged, with the rank of Sergeant, on May 15, 1919, at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia. The above picture was taken in France.