November 2, 2017

Pages 916-924
Whole Number 51

THE SPARKS FAMILY OF KEENE TOWNSHIP, IONIA COUNTY, MICHIGAN

by Floyd B. Sparks



The earliest ancestor of the Sparks family of Keene Township, lonia County, Michigan, on whom we have definite information was 43.2.5 Joseph Sparks who married Mehetabel Johnson on April 29, 1747, in Windham, Connecticut. Mehetabel was a daughter of Caleb Johnson who deeded a farm to his 'well beloved son and daughter, Joseph and Mehetebel Sparks' on September 4, 1748 (Deed Book C, pp. 51-2). The parentage of Joseph Sparks has not been determined, although he may have been the Joseph Sparks born October 8, 1720, son of Henry and Jane (Shembrey) Sparks of Concord, Massachusetts. (For a complete list of Henry Sparks's children, see the Quarterly of March, 1960, Vol. VIII, No. 1, Whole No. 29, p. 464.)

43.2.5 Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks moved from Windham to Tolland, Connecticut, sometime prior to 1750. From the town records of Windham and Tolland, it appears that Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks were the parents of the following children, the first born in Windham, all the rest born in Tolland:

43.2.5.1 Lemuel Sparks, born September 11, 1747
43.2.5.2 Melvin Perlye Sparks, born February 15, 1749/50.
43.2.5.3 Elizabeth Sparks, born November 2, 1751.
43.2.5.4 Uriah Sparks, born April 17, 1752 [or 1753?]
43.2.5.5 Isaiah Sparks, born November 3, 1754.
43.2.5.6 Jeremiah Sparks, born October 1, 1757.
43.2.5.7 Stephen Sparks, born April 24, 1759.
43.2.5.8 Joseph Sparks, born February 3, 1761. (See the Quarterly for March,1961, Vol. IX, No. 1, Whole No. 33, for a record of Joseph's descendants.)

43.2.5.5 Isaiah Sparks, son of Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks, was married in Ashford, Connecticut, to Filisity Dawset on December 9, 1779. Isaiah had apparently moved to Ashford prior to his marriage and it was there that his children were all born according to the Ashford town records. Isaiah Sparks died on December 7, 1794. Isaiah and Filisity (Dawset) Sparks were the parents of the following children:

43.2.5.5.1 Stephen Sparks, born August 24, 1780, died in 1860 in lonia County, Mich.
43.2.5.5.2 Lawrence Sparks, born March 18, 1782.
43.2.5.5.3 Isaiah Sparks, Jr., born December 16, 1783; died May 27, 1785.
43.2.5.5.4 Martin Sparks, born August 30, 1785.
43.2.5.5.5 Mehetabel Sparks, born September 14, 1787.
43.2.5.5.6 Erastus Sparks, born September 29, 1789.
43.2.5.5.7 Amos Sparks, born September 24, 1792.

Following the death of Isaiah Sparks in 1794, his widow, Filisity (Dawset) Sparks, and her children all moved to Cortland County, New York, exact date not known, and settled near the town of Homer. There the sons married and reared families. In 1830, Erastus Sparks moved with his family to Trumbull County, Ohio, and ten years later other members of the family moved to Michigan. by 1850, there was not a single Sparks living in Cortland County.

43.2.5.5.1 Stephen Sparks married Mercy MNU who had been born in Massachusetts. (Our only information on her is what is found in the 1850 census, where her name is given as Mercy, her place of birth as Massachusetts, and her age as 66 years, thus born ca. 1784.) They were the parents of two sons, Stephen Sparks, Jr. and William Sparks, and five daughters. In June, 1840, Stephen's son, William,, a young man barely twenty years old, set out with his brother-in-law, Zelotus B. Frost, and an older neighbor named Ephraim Abbott to search for new land in the west. They found their way to lonia County, Michigan, which had just begun being settled, and each of the three selected a tract in Section 15 in what became Keene Township, paying the normal government price of $1.25 per acre.

Young Sparks, Frost, and Abbott returned to New York and in October of the same year their families set out for their new home in Michigan. The family of William Sparks was actually that of his parents, brother, and sisters, (One sister, Laura, had married Zelotus B. Frost.) When the party reached Buffalo, Ephraim Abbott with his son, Ephraim Jr., left the rest to follow a land route through Canada. Frost and the Sparkses, with the party's belongings, continued by steam boat to Detroit and from there to lonia County. They found that Abbott and his son had arrived eight days earlier and had found an abandoned shanty near their land. The entire party, numbering twelve members, moved into the shanty. John S. Schenck in his History of lonia and Montcalm Counties, Michigan, wrote in 1881: 'All told, the occupants of that exceedingly smaII habitation numbered a total of twelve persons, and in it they managed to live two weeks. At night the floor of the one room was just about covered with beds necessary for the twelve, but in the morning, by piling the beds in a heap, sufficient room was made to allow the women-folks to get about in the performance of their household duties. In the northern half of the town i,e. township there were but few settlers when Abbott, Frost, and Sparks came upon the scene. Schools they had none, and, indeed, needed none, for school-children were scarce, and when they wanted to go to meeting they could not get there short of the Welch school- house in Easton.'

Stephen and Mercy Sparks were the parents of seven children:

43.2.5.5.1.1 Sophorna Sparks was born in Cortland County, New York. When the 1850 census was taken of lonia County she was listed as living with her sister, Eveline. It is believed that she died unmarried shortly after this.

43.2.5.5.1.2 Stephen Sparks, Jr. was born December 2, 1813, in Cortland County, New York, and died August 24, 1876, in Keene Township, lonia County, Michigan. He came to Michigan in Oct, 1840, with his parents and took up 120 acres of land in Section 15, Keene Township, on which he built a house in the summer of 1841. He was married in his new home on September 15, 1841, to Angeline Abbott by the Rev. Allen Staples. The Frost and Abbott families witnessed the ceremony. Stephen Sparks, Jr., was more of a woodsman than a farmer and became famous as a deer and bear hunter. Following the death of his wife Angeline in 1860, Stephen Sparks, Jr,, was married a second time ca. 1864 to Ellen Scott, who had been born in Scotland in 1836. She died in May, 1909. by his first wife, Angeline Abbott, Stephen Sparks, Jr., had two sons:

43.2.5.5.1.2.1 James Harris Sparks was born in 1844 and died in 1926. He married Midella Hodley on July 4, 1867; she was born in Easton Township, lonia County, Michigan, and died May 14, 1939. To this union were born the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.2.1.1 Royal H. Sparks, born August 20, 1869; died January 9, 1958. He married Grace Berry of Shelby, Michigan. Their children were:

43.2.5.5.1.2.1.1.1 Robert Royal Sparks, born April 21, 1901;
43.2.5.5.1.2.1.1.2 Bernice Sparks, born February 8, 1904; and
43.2.5.5.1.2.1.1.3 Theodore F. Sparks, born December 23, 1905.

43.2.5.5.1.2.1.2 James Sparks, Jr., born 1871; he married Alice Stedman; he died in the state of Washington.
43.2.5.5.1.2.1.3 Midella Sparks, died in infancy.
43.2.5.5.1.2.1.4 Charles Sparks, born August 24, 1875; he married Maude Lee and they now live in Kissimme, Florida. He was 90 years old on August 24, 1965.

43.2.5.5.1.2.2 Aipheus Sparks was born November 12, 1847, and died in 1922. He married Welthia Hull in lonia County, Michigan, in 1870. They were the parents of five children:

43.2.5.5.1.2.2.1 Erastus Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.2.2.2 Albertus Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.2.2.3 Claudia Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.2.2.4 Lena Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.2.2.5 Clarence Sparks.

by his second wife, Ellen (Scott) Sparks, Stephen Sparks, Jr., had two sons:

43.2.5.5.1.2.3 Martin Sparks, son of Stephen Sparks, Jr., and his 2nd wife, Ellen (Scott) Sparks, was born in 1865 and died January 9, 1873.

43.2.5.5.1.2.4 Robert N. Sparks was born April 13, 1867, and died January 2, 1950. He married Harriet Wilkinson of Keene Township, lonia County, Michigan, on November 13, 1888. (The wedding picture of Robert N. and Harriet (Wilkinson) Sparks appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly.) To this union was born Floyd B. Sparks.

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1 Floyd B. Sparks, only child of Robert N. and Harriet (Wilkinson) Sparks, was born February 6, 1891. He married Wilma Hull of Keene Township, lonia County, Michigan, on October 24, 1910. Floyd B. Sparks, with his son Stephen A., own the land consisting of 220 acres which his Grandfather and his Grandfather's brother took up from the United States government in 1840, the deeds being signed by President Polk in 1845. This farm Is operated as a dairy farm. Following is a record of Floyd B. Sparks's three children:

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.1 Alden N. Sparks was born January 16, 1913. He married Esther Monroe of Belding, Mich., on February 18, 1938, and to this union were born

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.1 Robert N. Sparks, born August 6, 1939; and
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2 Gayala Marie Sparks, born December 3, 1940; she married Herbert Haines on May 7, 1960 and they have three children:

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.1 Richard Haines,
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.2 Jeanette Haines,
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.3 Michelle Haines.

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.1 Alden N. Sparks's first wife, Esther, died on April 10, 1942, and he married, second, Pauline Shindorf on November 27, 1943. To this union were born

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.3 Clarence Sparks, born May 21, 1945;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.4 Linda D. Sparks, born November 25, 1948.

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2 Evelyn Sparks was born September 27, 1916. She married Ernest Geiger of Otisco Twp., lonia County, on July 1, 1939. To this union were born:

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.1 Sharon Geiger, born November 22, 1944;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.2 Glenn Geiger, born July 4, 1947; and
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.2.3 Susan Geiger, born March 29, 1952.

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3 Stephen A. Sparks was born September 22, 1920. He married Ila Dickson of Keene Twp., on June 17, 1942, at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. To this union have been born six children:

43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.1 James F. Sparks, born September 6, 1943;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.2 Marquis D. Sparks, born December 8, 1945;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.3 Dan E. Sparks, born January 16, 1949;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.4 Sonya Lee Sparks, born February 26, 1950;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.5 Michael R. Sparks, born November 24, 1953;
43.2.5.5.1.2.4.1.3.6 Silvia Ann Sparks, born July 24, 1956.

43.2.5.5.1.3 Laura Sparks was born February 8, 1815, in Cortland County, New York. She married there, on May 15, 1840, Zelotus B. Frost. They migrated with her parents to Keene Twp., Ionia County, Michigan, in Oct, 1840. They were the parents of the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.3.1 Helen May Frost was born May 19, 1841. She married William Higgins of Keene Twp. and they were the parents of:

43.2.5.5.1.3.1.1 Ruth Higgins.
43.2.5.5.1.3.1.2 Walter Higgins.
43.2.5.5.1.3.1.3 Clare Higgins.

43.2.5.5.1.3.2 Laura Frost; she married Hugh Henry Ward of Ada, Michigan. They had one child named

43.2.5.5.1.3.2.1 H. Z. Ward.

43.2.5.5.1.3.3 Marcus Frost was born November 29, 1843. He married Angie Bisbee and they were the parents of the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.1 Belle Frost; she married Eugene Peck of Keene Twp., in 1885. They were the parents of eight children.
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2 Grace Frost; she married Orb Weeks of Kent County, Mich., in 1892. They were the parents of:

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.1 Verle Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.2 Lillian Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.3 Robert Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.4 Clarence Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.5 Glen Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.6 Hilton Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.7 Leen Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.8 Angie Weeks;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.2.9 Edith Weeks.

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3 Abonzo Frost; he married Meryle Holland and they were the parents of:

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.1 Leon Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.2 Marcus Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.3 Maxie Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.4 Audie Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.5 Ned Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.6 Guy Frost;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.3.7 Carl Frost.

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.4 Nancy Frost; she married Adelbert Lee of Keene Twp. on May 4, 1904. To this union were born:

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.4.1 Delva Lee, born February 28, 1905;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.4.2 Hiram Lee;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.4.3 Judson Lee.

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.5 Edwin Frost; he married Alberta Hoskins of Keene Twp. They had the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.3.3.5.1 Harold Frost, born 1900;
43.2.5.5.1.3.3.5.2 Stella Frost, born 1903.

43.2.5.5.1.4 Mercy Sparks was born in Cortland County, New York in 1818; she was married in lonia County, Michigan, on February 21, 1844, to John Butterworth by the Rev. Newcomb Godfrey. No further record.

43.2.5.5.1.5 William Sparks was born in Cortland County, New York, in 1820 and died in Keene Twp., lonia County, Michigan, in 1873. He came to Michigan in 1840, as stated earlier. He married Mary M. Covert in the home of H. V. Covert in Keene Twp. on January 18, 1846, by the Rev. Alfred Allen. She was born in 1824 and died in 1918. William and Mary M. (Covert) Sparks were the parents of the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.1 William Sparks, Jr. was born; he married Hattie Kilborn. They were the parents of:

43.2.5.5.1.5.1.1 Chattie Sparks, married FNU Cozier.
43.2.5.5.1.5.1.2 Freeman Sparks, married Ida Shooks.
43.2.5.5.1.5.1.3 Melvin Sparks, married Bell Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.5.1.4 May Sparks, married Edgar Carter.

43.2.5.5.1.5.2 Mercy Sparks was born September 17, 1855, and died July 31, 1910; she married Wesley Hare. They had no children.

43.2.5.5.1.5.3 Stephen B. Sparks was born July 1, 1858, and died December 17, 1949. He married Belle M. Purdy; they had the following children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1 Gladys L. Sparks, born June 4, 1896; she married Frank A. Slayton in Nov, 1919. To this union were born:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.1 Carroll A. Slayton, born December 14, 1920; married Marian Sturgeon on June 7, 1941; children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.1.1 Kenneth A. Sturgeon
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.1.2 Robert N., Sturgeon
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.1.3 David Sturgeon,
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.1.4 James Sturgeon.

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.2 Maurice S. Slayton, born April 17, 1923; married Evelyn Coleman on October 31, 1949; children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.2.1 Janice Slayton,
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.2.2 Bonnie Slayton
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.2.3 Alan Slayton.

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.3 Iris M. Slayton, born August 30, 1927; married Alfred Bennett, April 2, 1949; children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.3.1 Cindy Bennett,
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.3.2 Ann Bennett,
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.3.3 Mark Bennett,
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.3.4 Gary Bennett.

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.4 Ray W. Slayton, born October 7, 1932; married Phyllis A.Wheaton on February 8, 1957; children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.4.1 Michael R. Slayton
43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.4.2 Peggy Sue Slayton.

43.2.5.5.1.5.3.1.2 Everett G. Sparks, son of Stephen B. and Belle M. (Purdy) Sparks. No further record.

43.2.5.5.1.5.4 Nettle Sparks, daughter of William and Mary M. (Covert) Sparks, married Richard Cannon. They had one son,

43.2.5.5.1.5.4.1 William Cannon.

43.2.5.5.1.5.5 Ophelia Sparks was born February 8, 1863, and died September 14, 1947. She married, first, William Cannon, and second, Walter Stokes. by her first husband she had two children:

43.2.5.5.1.5.5.1 Mercy Cannon.
43.2.5.5.1.5.5.2 Chauncey Cannon.

43.2.5.5.1.5.6 Peter Sparks was born April 10, 1866, and died on September 20, 1956. He married Orpha Brower. They had no children.

43.2.5.5.1.5.7 Chauncey L. Sparks was born in April, 1868, and died on July 31, 1946. He married Lillie Parker and they were the parents of:

43.2.5.5.1.5.7.1 Anson L. Sparks.
43.2.5.5.1.5.7.2 Leonard G. Sparks.

43.2.5.5.1.6 Amanda Sparks was born in Cortland County, New York, in 1822. When the 1850 census was taken of lonia County, Michigan, she was listed as living with her sister, Eveline. It is believed that she died, unmarried, soon after 1850.

43.2.5.5.1.7 Eveline Sparks was born in Cortland County, New York, in 1827. She married Samuel Hart on April 12, 1847. When the 1850 census was taken, she and her husband were listed with one daughter named:

43.2.5.5.1.7.1 Almeda, born ca. 1848.

43.2.5.5.2 Lawrence Sparks did not come to Michigan, although one of his sons did. This son's name was Danforth Sparks and he was born February 9, 1820, in Cortland County, New York. He died at Saranac, Michigan, on October 13, 1897. Danforth Sparks married Lydia Pray, who was born September 26, 1830, and died November 18, 1898. They were the parents of nine children,

43.2.5.5.2.1 Eliza B. Sparks was born January 15, 1847.

43.2.5.5.2.2 Abby G. Sparks was born May 15, 1849, and died April 14, 1900. She married Charles Wandle.

43.2.5.5.2.3 George W. Sparks was born November 8, 1851, and died May 6, 1932. He married Ella A. Raymond on August 31, 1873, in Keene Twp., lonia County, Michigan. He moved to Fort Twp., Mecosta County, Michigan, on 1 April 1904. After being burned out there, he moved to Chippeway Twp., Mecosta County, in February, 1911. He later moved to Montcalm County were he died on May 6, 1932. His wife, Ella, died on January 7, 1934. They were the parents of four children:

43.2.5.5.2.3.1 Marvin R. Sparks was born July 23, 1876; he married Carrie LNU, who was born August 20, 1874. Their children were:

43.2.5.5.2.3.1 Myrtle B. Sparks, born April 29, 1900.
43.2.5.5.2.3.2 Forrest A. Sparks, born September 19, 1901.
43.2.5.5.2.3.3 Truman R. Sparks, born September 25, 1903.
43.2.5.5.2.3.4 Beulah Sparks, born March 30, 1906.

43.2.5.5.2.3.2 Alice E. Sparks was born February 28, 1800, and died September 23, 1956. She married Charles Brunner in 1899; he was born March 15, 1871. They were divorced in 1935 and she married, second, Randy Lipscomb on June 26, 1936. He died January 4, 1956. by her first husband, Alice had two children:

43.2.5.5.2.3.2.1 Raymond Brunner, born December 18, 1902.
43.2.5.5.2.3.2.2 Ransom Brunner, born January 16, 1905.

43.2.5.5.2.3.3 Leonard Sparks born October 29, 1889; he married Mable Belle on December 17, 1910. She was born May 9, 1894. To this union were born:

43.2.5.5.2.3.3.1 Jesse Sparks born June 25, 1911.
43.2.5.5.2.3.3.2 Eula Sparks born 3 February 1913; died February 6, 1913.

43.2.5.5.2.4 Catherine C. Sparks was born March 31, 1892. She married John Haach on July 25, 1910. He was born June 25, 1885, and died May 8, 1942. To this union were born two children:

43.2.5.5.2.4.1 Margaret Joye Haach, born November 18, 1911, married Martin Perry on June 28, 1942.
43.2.5.5.2.4.2 Russell Lewis Haach, born January 22, 1914; married Laura Peake Mitchell, December 29, 1936.

43.2.5.5.6 Erastus Sparks was born September 29, 1789. He married Philatha Higgins and moved with his family to Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1830. We have not been able to determine the names of his children, with the exception of a son named Erastus Sparks, Jr., and a daughter named Philotha. It is probable that the Ainasa or Amasor Sparks who married Lucy Higgins in Trumbull County, Ohio, on January 27, 1837, was a son of Erastus and Philatha (Higgins) Sparks. (When the 1850 census was taken of Trumbull County, Amasa and Lucy Sparks were listed with children named Eliza Ann, Melissa,Sophronia, Lorenzo, Mary E., and Lucinda.) It is also probable that the Sylvester Sparks who married Calista Sprague in Trumbull County on November 6, 1844, was a son of Erastus and Philatha (Higgins) Sparks. (When the 1850 census was taken of Trumbull County, Sylvester and Calista Sparks were listed with children named Celia Sparks, Wilbor S. Sparks, and Pluma Sparks.)

43.2.5.5.6.1 Philotha Sparks married Elsander Pelton in Trumbull County, Ohio, on November 4, 1841. According to a Pelton family history, they had children named Alonzo E. Pelton, Mina J. Pelton, and Frances Pelton.

43.2.5.5.6.2 Erastus Sparks, Jr. was born in Cortland County, New York, on August 19, 1820. He was married in Trumbull County, Ohio, to Pheme A. Moore on September 6, 1843. In 1856, he moved to Leoni, Michigan, where he entered the flouring business. He and his wife were still living in 1881. They were the parents of three children:

43.2.5.5.6.2.1 Leman E. Sparks, born August, 1844; lived in Chelsea,Michigan, in 1881.
43.2.5.5.6.2.2 Almira Sparks, born 1846, died July, 1877.
43.2.5.5.6.2.3 E. R. Sparks, born September 14, 1852.

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