April 18, 2021

Pages 879-885
Whole Number 49 MATHEW PATTON SPARKS (1855-1940)

by Robert R. Robinson, Jr.

(Note: This record of the family of Mathew Patton Sparks has been made possible largely through the efforts of Mrs. George W. Sparks to collect and preserve family records over a period of many years.) Mathew Patton Sparks was born in Shelby County, Texas, on February 17, 1855, the youngest of six children of Mathew and Malissa Sparks. The family had moved to Texas from Coffee County, Tennessee, at least part of the way by boat, between September 20, 1850, and January 11, 1851. In 1860 they were living in the Clay Mound Community, Shelby County, and by 1870 had moved to the Concord area in adjoining Rusk County.

The elder Mathew Sparks, father of Mathew Patton Sparks, was born ca. 1814 in Virginia, and it is probable that he was the son of Edmund and Patsey (Wright) Sparks, married in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1804, who moved to Bedford County (adjoining Coffee County), Tennessee, with Mathew B. Sparks (Edmund's brother) and his family prior to 1830. (See The Sparks Quarterly of March, 1956, pp. 109-121, Whole No. 13, and the March, 1962, pp. 636-637, Whole No. 37.) The elder Mathew Sparks and his wife were listed on the 1840 census of Coffee County and lived next to Thomas Sparks (probably Mathew's brother).

Malissa Patton, wife of the elder Mathew Sparks, was born ca. 1815 in Tennessee and was no doubt the daughter of Neelly S. Patton, born ca. 1782 in Ireland; he was living in the second house (the house being occupied by another Patton, named William, probably a son) away from Mathew and Malissa according to the 1850 census. Supporting such a proposition is the name of Mathew and Malissa's son, Edmund Neeley Sparks, who would thus be named for his two grandfathers, i.e., Edmund Sparks and Neelly S. Patton. Mathew Patton's name lends further support.

Malissa, wife of the elder Mathew Sparks and mother of Mathew Patton Sparks, died between 1860 and 1870 and is buried in a Methodist Cemetery near Concord, as is also Mathew who died between 1870 and 1880.

Mathew and Malissa Sparks were the parents of the following children: Martha Ann Sparks, born October 21, 1841. She never married; the man she was supposed to marry was killed in the Civil War. She lived with her parents until their deaths, living afterwards with Mathew Patton and family until they left East Texas and later with Edmund Neiley and his family until her death sometime after 1908. James Harvey Sparks, born January 10, 1844. He enlisted as a private on June 18, 1862, in Panola County, Texas, for three years or the duration of the War, in Captain William H. Tucker's Company G, Texas Lancers, Cavalry, 28th Regiment, Colonel Horace Randal commanding, Confederate States Army. He died either while still in active service or after having been released because of illness. Eliza Francis Sparks, born January 4, 1846. She married Sanford Bridwell. Fannie and Sanford's children included: Jim Bridwell, Jessie Bridwell, Minnie Bridwell, married Jim McElroy, and Eva Bridwell, married Bea Brooks.

Their descendants are still centered for the most part in the Rusk County area. Elizabeth Eualline Sparks, born April 30, 1848.Elizabeth married John A. Bridwell (he was called Al) and they were the parents of seven children: Bertha Bridwell, born ca. 1875, married FNU Briton; Rosa Bridwell, born ca. 1877; Edgar Bridwell, born ca. 1878; Sanford Bridwell; Ollie Bridwell, married FNU Hunt; George Bridwell; and Minnie Bridwell.

Their descendants are still centered for the most part in the Rusk County area. Edmund Neiley Sparks, born January 11, 1851. Edmund likewise remained in Rusk County. He married Emma Martin and they were the parents of seven children: Jim Sparks. Julian Sparks, married Lena MNU. They were the parents of: Gretchen Sparks. Mary Sparks, married Hillon. Vista Sparks, married McLeroy. Maurine Sparks, married Simpson. Walter Sparks. Elbert Sparks. Tommie Sparks. Virgie Sparks, married Dr. Lowe. Charlie Elmo (Buddy) Sparks, born March 9, 1884; married Roxie MNU who
was born October 3, 1890. They were the parents of: Ernest (Billie) Sparks, born October 13, 1913. Estell Sparks, born December 8, 1914; married FNU Stone. Helen Sparks, born January 1, 1916; married FNU Simpson. Frank Sparks, born March 18, 1920. Hazel Sparks, born September 1, 1923; married FNU Humphries. Mathew Patton Sparks, born February 17, 1855. Mathew was the third member of the family to marry into the family of Sanford and Helen Ellisa (Nolan) Bridwell, natives of Tennessee who moved to Texas via Alabama. (Sanford made the Gold Rush of 1849, but he remained in California for only a short time before he returned to Texas.)

He and Martha Susan Bridwell, born January 19, 1862, in Texas, were married in Rusk County in 1876 and were the parents of ten children, eight of whom reached maturity and six of whom are still living. A farmer, Mathew Patton Sparks lived on land adjoining his father-in-law's before he moved to Navarro County in 1897. After staying a year, they returned to Rusk County and remained until 1901, moving then to Hunt County. In 1906 another move was made, to Cook County, where they lived on Judge Lindsey's land; before 1911 they moved to Dundee in Archer County. A bad drought came along, making conditions so bad they had to get drinking water from the Wichita River (from bogs knee deep in mud and leaves), so a son, George, went by train to Floydada (Floyd County) on Texas' South Plains to investigate land there. He returned and said he was moving his family to "where I can get some drinking water." He and his brother, Adrain, and their families moved by wagons (the trip taking five days, with overnight stops at Seymour, Benjamin, Guthrie, Dickens and Lakeview) in August 1913. Mathew Patton, Martha, and their three youngest children followed in December A daughter, Mollie Robinson, and children and a son, Wallace, and family made the move by train in March of 1914, while Mollie' s husband and George's wife's parents and brother came by wagons. Another daughter, Annie Dalton, and family arrived later. At the time of the family's arrival in Floyd County, land on the South Plains was selling for about $7.00 per acre, but no one had $7.00 or could borrow it in those days. Today, the average price for this same land (which is now mostly irrigated) centers around the $450.00 per acre figure.

Mathew Patton and Martha Sparks remained in Floydada until they died and both are buried in the Floydada Cemetery. Martha, bedfast for a number of years before her death, died January 15, 1924; Mathew Patton Sparks died of an appoplexy stroke and a brain hemorrhage January 25, 1940, thirty-one days before his 85th birthday. Until six months before he died, he was active.

Martha Susan Sparks, wife of Mathew Patton, was a member of a Baptist family, but later attended the Methodist Church; Mathew Patton Sparks, reared a Methodist, joined the Church of the Nazarene several years before his death. (Today the family is predominantly Methodist; among other churches represented are Baptist, Church of Christ, and Roman Catholic.)

Family members, occupation-wise, are found in many different fields, e.g., merchant marine, teaching, restaurant, commercial airline, movie theater, farming, cotton gin, nursing, professional, business, aircraft industry, etc. Location-wise, the family is settled today in order of predominance in Texas (primarily on the South Plains), California, Arizona, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

Children of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks (all born in Rusk County, Texas): Bruce Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born in 1878 and died in 1895. His grave is in the old Bridwell Family Cemetery near the Countyline Baptist Church, Rusk County, Texas. Adrian Leland Allen Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born September 19, 1880; he married on October 11, 1909, in Wichita Falls, Texas, Bessie Merrill (born September 9, 1889 in DeQueen, Arkansas, and died November 17, 1964, in Lubbock, Texas). He lives in Lubbock. They were the parents of the following children: Lena Mae Sparks, born July 17, 1910, at Dundee, Archer County, Texas; married (first) Vernon C. Anderson (born July 22, 1887, died August 4, 1939) and (second) C. W. (Charlie) Mason (born April 19, 1893); lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She and her first husband had one child, Charles Lee (Chuck) Anderson, born January 7, 1937; he is married and has two children. Ruth Sparks, born June 16, 1912, at Dundee; married Edgar Thedford Borum (born April 20, 1907); lives at Earlh, Texas. They are the parents of two children: Billy Ted Borum, born September 5, 1930, at Port Arthur, Texas; married, and has four children. Bobby Ray Borum, born May 24, 1946, at Plainview, Texas. Annie Opal Sparks, born April 25, 1913, at Dundee; married Shirley Sandefur (born May 30, 1913); lives at Paducah, Texas. Children: Hal Sandefur, born January 21, 1937, at Paducah; married; he has one child and lives at Lubbock. A. L. Sandefur, born October 14, 1939, at Paducah; he is married and has two children; lives at Lubbock. Carol Ann Sandefur, born October 24, 1945, at Paducah. Beatrice Sparks, born July 5, 1916, at Floydada; she married (first) FNU Stone and (second) Willard Herbert Rylatt (born August 12, 1912, at Spokane, Washington); lives at Colorado Springs, Colorado. Children: Darrell Bert Rylatt, born October 11, 1936, at Jerome, Arizona; he is married and has one child. Adrain Lynn Rylatt, born June 16, 1949, at Colorado Springs, Col. Pauline (Polly) Sparks, born September 28, 1918, at Floydada; she married Newell Parker (born November 23, 1915); lives in Floydada. Georgie Lee Sparks, born April 25, 1920, at Floydada; married James Cox (born October 14, 1914); lives in Plainview. Children: Jimmie Dale Cox, born November 23, 1940, at Plainview. Joy Gayle Cox, born May 2, 1944, at Plainview. Patsy Cox, born May 2, 1952, at Plainview. George Washington Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born October 4, 1882; he was married on October 25, 1910, to Mamie Ethel Mince (born March 4, 1895, at Bluntsville, Alabama), daughter of Joseph David and Carrie Neil (Logan) Mince; lives in Crosbyton, Texas. They have had five children: Charles Elmer Sparks, born September 27, 1911, at Dundee, and died January 12, 1912, at Dundee. Loy Hubert Sparks, born February 11, 1913; married Sylvia Nell Patton (born January 11, 1918, at Matador, Texas); lives at Sacramento, California. Jueanice Sparks, born January 24, 1914, and died on the same day, at Floydada. Stanley Earl (Bud) Sparks, born March 22, 1915, in Floyd County; married Maude Evelyn Beck (born January 2, 1919, in Floyd county) on April 3, 1939, in Matador; lives in Floydada. Children: Iwana Joy Sparks, born September 29, 1940, in Floydada; married Laron Fulton (born October 20, 1937); lives in Floyd County. They have two children: Shonda LeAnn Fulton, born April 6, 1961; and Lanny Chris Fulton, born December 18, 1963. Gloria Jeanne Sparks, born January 23, 1945, in Floydada. Juanita Merle (Nita) Sparks, born July 10, 1916, at Floydada; married Robert B. Welborn (born November 17, 1910, at Cooksville, Texas); lives in Floydada; they have one daughter: Linda Lea Welborn, born January 7, 1941; married Vaughn Ginn (born December 19, 1939), son of Guy and Margaret (Smith) Ginn; lives in New Deal, Texas. They have had three children: Philip Vaughn Welborn Ginn, born November 1, 1961; Kaylan Kay Ginn, born January 18, 1964, died January 19, 1964 Caryn Mylea Ginn, born February 14, 1965. Mary Effie (Mollie) Sparks, daughter of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born October 16, 1885. She was married on February 4, 1906, in Commerce, Hunt County, Texas, to Robert Lemuel Robinson (born March 5, 1880, in Scott County, Arkansas, and died January 5, 1933, in Floydada), son of Simon Columbus Augustus and Martha Ann Maranda (Simpson) Robinson; lives in Fort Worth, Texas. They were the parents of three children: Thelma Lucille Robinson, born February 6, 1907, at Gainsville, Texas; married Thomas Calvin (Jack) Dempsey (born May 15, 1892, in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) where his father built the first cotton gin in the Territory), on April 3, 1933, in Frederick, Oklahoma; lives at Dempseyville, (near Silverton) Texas, and at Lubbock, Texas. They have one son: Thomas Keith Dempsey, son of Thomas C. and Thelma Lucille (Robinson) Dempsey, was born November 19, 1937. He married (first) in 1955 Delphine Black (born April 21, 1937, at Brownfield, Texas.) They were divorced and he married (second) on August 24, 1958, Shirley Scott. He lives in Lubbock. Children: Thomas Keith Dempsey, Jr., born December 10, 1956, in Lubbock; Lanan Dempsey, born January 21, 1961, in Lubbock. Bonnie Edra Robinson, born September 14, 1908, at Gainsville; she married Dean Angus (divorced); lives at Fort Worth. Robert Rex Robinson, born August 19, 1912, at Dundee; he married Else (Elsie) Frieda Martha Zwahr (born February 12, 1917, at Port Arthur, Texas), daughter of Karl Ernst and Bertha Caroline (Seiler) Zwahr, on February 6, 1938, at Lubbock; lives in Spur, Texas. They have one son: Robert Rex Robinson, Jr., born September 27, 1940, at Plainview, Texas. William Wallace Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born February 8, 1888, and died December 12, 1932, in Floydada. He was married first to Lottie Maxwell (born November 3, 1897, at Dundee and died December 25, 1946, at Newport, Virginia); they were divorced and he married (second) Grace. Children: Helen Sparks, born September 22, 1913, in Dundee; married (first) Altman, (second) Rivers, (third) George Brenchly, (fourth) Freddie Armstead, (fifth) Carl Epley, who was killed in the maritime service, (sixth) J. W. Mehlmann, and (seventh) W. M. (Bill) Wright; lives in California. Adeline Sparks, born October 23, 1915, in Floydada; married Thomas De Temple; lives in Philadelphia, PA. Children: Donald Wayne Martine, Jr., born January 2, 1932, in Fort Worth; married and has two children; stationed with the Navy in California. Ronald Layne De Temple, born November 23, 1948, in San Francisco. Jeffery De Temple, born ca. 1950 in Pennsylvania. Annie Elmer Sparks, daughter of Matthew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born in 1889. She married Jesse W. Dalton (born October 15, 1886). She died in 1920 at the Blanco Community (near Floydada) and was buried with her baby which was born and died on the same day as she did. Children of Annie E. and Jesse W. Dalton: Lowell Wallace Dalton, born October 9, 1910, at Dundee; married Nellie Dean (born October 28, 1913, in Grant County, Arkansas, and died January 21, 1956, in Muleshoe, Texas), daughter of John Yates; lives in Muleshoe, Texas.
Children: Laquinta Dalton, born May 22, 1940; married. Caroline Dalton, born November 16, 1942. Johnnie Dalton, born May 9, 1947. Leland Eddie Dalton, born February 14, 1912, at Dundee; married Exa Merle Lavvorn (born July 15, 1912); lives in California. Children: Gwendolyn (Gwen) Marlene Dalton, born June 10, 1931, in Plainview; married Thomas Ford Guinn (born May 14, 1932). Leland Elvie Dalton, born February 1, 1934, at Plainview; married Lu Ann Risk (born February 16, 1935). Jessie Dalton, born October 29, 1913, at Dundee; married FNU Robinson; lives at Muleshoe, Texas. Children: Robert Robinson, born August 6, 1941; married; one child. Tabitha Monette Robinson, born March 16, 1946. Choice Windell Dalton, born May 11, 1915, in Floyd County; married (first) Louise Christine Wood (born July 18, 1913), divorced; he married (second) Surratt; lives in California. Children: Choice Windell Dalton, Jr., born November 12, 1937. Jackie Wade Dalton, born January 15, 1939. Marie Annette Dalton, born May 13, 1941. Eddie Lynn Dalton, born July 1, 1943. Deborah Joyce Dalton, born February 12, 1951. Wayland Harrell Dalton, born May 15, 1918, in Floyd County; married Mary Ruth Surratt (born April 27, 1919); lives in Riverside, California. Children: Sonja Ruth Dalton, born March 22, 1938; married FNU Edwards. Bobby Reeves Dalton, born August 23, 1941 and died August 25, 1941. Wayland Wallace Dalton, born April 25, 1943, and died January 30, 1945. Brenda Marlene Dalton, born June 20, 1946. Robert Lynn Dalton, born January 6, 1955. Herbert Sanford Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born December 15, 1891. He married (first) Minnie Annon Steen (born September 1, 1897, and died October 15, 1917); he married (second) Eula Mae Allen (born August 25, 1902), they were divorced and he married (third) Jeannie Stinson (born September 30, 1926), also divorced. He lived in Phoenix. He died on August 24, 1966. He has one daughter: Martha Lee Sparks, born July 24, 1924; appeared as a child actress in many movies including Daddy Long Legs and Goodby to London (with Will Rogers); she married Bob Stamin (divorced); lives in Phoenix. One daughter: Nancy Lee Stamm, born October 28, 1946. James Harvey Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born in 189?. he died when he was eleven days old; buried in Rusk County. Eddie Nolan Sparks, son of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks, was born August 2, 1895; he married Clara A. McKee (born May 17, 1897, in Fayetteville, Arkansas). He died January 7, 1950, in Prescott, Arizona. His widow is now Mrs. Guy Freeborn of Phoenix, Ariz. They were the parents of two children: Teddy Nolan Sparks, born February 18, 1917; married Thelma MNU; lives in Prescott. Eddye Lois Sparks, born October 31, 1921; married Jack Shira; lives in LasVegas, Nevada. They have one son, Jack Shira, Jr., born June 20, 1959. Wilma Sparks, daughter of Mathew Patton and Martha Susan (Bridwell) Sparks; was born March 12, 1900; married November 29, 1928, in Plainview, Texas. Stanley (Stan) Johnston (born April 25, 1903); lives in Garden Grove, California.