April 26, 2021

Pages 1164-1166
Whole Number 63


by Her Daughter, Lida Mary Tennessee Sparks Dowell passed away on May 4, 1968, and was buried in the Spring Ridge Cemetery near Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, beside her husband, who had died seventeen years earlier.

"Little Merry" or "China Doll", as she was affectionately called, was a descendant of Richard and Sarah (Peterson) Sparks. Richard Sparks, born in Virginia in 1781, was living in Rutherford County, North Carolina, in 1810, but by 1840 had moved with his family to Roane County, Tennessee, where he and his wife remained about ten years before moving to Carroll County, Arkansas, to be near their son, Joshua Sparks. Richard Sparks died between 1860 and 1870; Sarah died after 1870.

Mrs. Dowell's grandfather, Peterson B. Sparks, was a son of Richard and Sarah (Peterson) Sparks and was born in 1806 in North Carolina; later he lived in Blount County, Tennessee, Jefferson County, Alabama, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, and Carroll County, Arkansas. (See the Quarterly for June, 1964, Whole No. 46, p. 811.) Mrs. Dowell's parents were Robert T. and Jane H. Sparks and she was born at Gaither, Arkansas, on June 9, 1874. She had one brother named John Sparks who was killed in an accident ca. 1912.

The heritage of pioneer hardiness coupled with hardships experienced while growing up on a small farm in a war-blighted area developed a fortitude in this petite girl that enabled her to overcome many seemingly unsurmountable problems in her life.

After she had completed the formal education offered by the schools of Gaither, her father, believing that a girl's place was in the home, denied her pleas to attend boarding school. But being an avid reader, she amassed a storehouse of knowledge far beyond that of her contemporaries. She possessed a keen understanding of human nature and was always ready to sympathize with and encourage those in need.

On August 28, 1896, Mary Sparks and W. M. Dowell, a Peabody graduate, were married at Gaither, Arkansas. From that date on to her last day, she was indirectly connected with schools through her husband or children. Some early years were spent in Arkansas and Texas before moving to Louisiana. They left six living children who consider themselves highly privileged to have had such parents.

Life was far from easy rearing and educating six children principally on a teacher's meager salary, but by wise planning and hard work, these parents lived to see their children become well-established, respected citizens.

Mary's sharp sense of humor, love of beauty, and her multi-talents added much enrichment to the family life. For her 88th birthday party, she designed an original pattern and then made the dress by it.

She was a devout Baptist and reared her children accordingly. During her later years she found much happiness in church activities and the frequent family reunions.

Someone said, "She loved people and people loved her." This was evidenced by the many tributes paid her at her funeral. Her numerous interests kept her active and alert to the day she suffered the fatal stroke. The children born to this union were: Lida Dowell, born August 28, 1897; she married Harvey G. Phillips on July 29, 1923. They have a daughter, Dorothy R. Phillips, born June 25, 1925, in Opelousas, Louisiana. James R. Dowell, now of Little Rock, Arkansas, was born December 30, 1898; he married Alpha Lou Thomas on January 9, 1923. They have a son, James R. Dowell of Atlanta, Georgia, born March 6, 1930, married Marilyn McQuery. They have daughters: Karen Dowell, Tania Dowell, Cynthia Dowell
, and Gail Dowell. William Dowell, born March 27, 1901, died August 30, 1902. Jewell Dowell, now of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, was born February 28, 1903. Lewis Dowell, born May 5, 1906, died June 8, 1907. Verna Dowell, born August 1, 1908; she married Dewitt Jackson on January 13, 1939, and now lives in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana. They have a daughter named Dianna Jackson. Odessa Dowell, born September 14, 1912; she married Ernest D. Copeland on June 15, 1941, and lives in Mansfield, Louisiana. Norma Dowell, born April 26, 1915; she married Bruce McCullough on July 2, 1937, and now lives in Mansfield, Louisiana. They have a daughter: Janell McCullough who married Edward R. Price and lives in Dallas, Texas; they have children named Edward Janell Price, III and Susan Price.

The McCulloughs also have two sons, Bruce McCullough Jr. and Thomas McCullough.