May 9, 2021

Pages 912-913
Whole Number 50 JOSEPH S. SPARKS, 1794-1868
Proof of his Parentage

In The Sparks Quarterly of September, 1961 Whole No. 35, pp. 585-87 we published abstracts of the bounty land application papers of Joseph S. Sparks and the pension application papers of his widow, Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks. Joseph S. Sparks was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and moved to Bureau County, Illinois in 1851 where he died in 1868. In the editor's note to these papers, it was suggested that Joseph S. Sparks was probably the son of Solomon Sparks who had served in the American Revolution. We lacked documentary proof of this relationship, however. Fortunately, one of our new members, Mrs. Howard W. Brieser, of Princeton, Illinois, has supplied the proof needed to establish this relationship.

Mrs. Brieser is a great-granddaughter of Rachel Sparks, born February 19, 1823, who was a daughter of Joseph S. and Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks. Rachel Sparks married Isaac Lysinger. Mrs. Brieser has a letter written to Rachel to her daughter, Hattie Harrington, in which she copied some records from the family Bible that had belonged to Joseph S. Sparks. This was the same family Bible from which the births of the children of Joseph S. and Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks were copied in 1878 to support Elizabeth's claim for a pension.

Not only does this record owned by Mrs. Brieser prove that Joseph S. Sparks was the son of Solomon Sparks, but it also provides additional data on Solomon and his wife. Solomon Sparks, according to this Bible record, was born July 4, 1760. When he made application for a pension in 1832, Solomon stated he had been born in 1758, adding that he had "a record of my age at home." It seems apparent that he made a slight error of two years in calculating the year of his birth, and we can be quite sure that the Bible record provides the correct date.

Solomon Sparks had been born in Frederick County, Maryland, according to his sworn statement of August 29, 1832. (See the Quarterly for March, 1955, Whole No. 9, p. 59). He was a son of Joseph Sparks, jr. who had moved with his family from Maryland to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, ca. 1778. Joseph died in 1809. In 1782, Solomon Sparks enlisted in a Pennsylvania unit whose function it was to protect the frontier against the Indians. He served some 18 months. During the War of 1812, Solomon Sparks was captain of a company of 50 men organized in Bedford County. He died, according to the Bible record found by Mrs. Brieser, on April 8, 1838. His wife's name was Rachel Weimer; she was born September 23, 1754 (this may have been intended for 1764) and died February 13, 1842. Joseph S. Sparks, son of Solomon and Rachel Sparks, was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 1793, and died in Wyanet, Illinois, on March 31, 1868. He married Elizabeth Naill at her father's home near Taneytown, Frederick County, Maryland, on March 27, 1817. She then moved to Bedford County, PA, with her husband. From this record from the family Bible, we now know that Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks was born April 2, 1799, and that she was a daughter of Christian and Mary Naill, who were married on March 24, 1796. (Christian Naill was born March 10, 1774, and died Novemher 26, 1820; his wife was born February 27, 1778, and died November 17, 1815.) Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks, widow of Joseph S. Sparks, died August 25, 1892, at the age of 93. Following is a list of the children of Joseph S. and Elizabeth (Naill) Sparks as copied from Joseph's family Bible in 1878 to support Elizabeth's claim for a pension: Mary Ann Elizabeth Sparks, born December 19, 1818 Solomon Christian Sparks, born December 3, 1820 Rachel Rebecca Sparks, born February 19, 1823 Maria Sparks, born August 28, 1825 Susanna N. Sparks, born December 18, 1827 Abraham Sparks, born December 3, 1830 David W. Sparks, born July 15, 1833 Joseph R. Sparks, born December 17, 1835 John E. N. Sparks, born August 26, 1839