March 7, 2021

Pages 1248-1255
Whole Number 67

26.1 JESSE R. SPARKS (born ca. 1780, died 1865)

In the Quarterly of March 1962 (Whole No. 37, pp. 618-621) appeared a sketch of the 26.2 Rev. Amos Sparks, born in Queen Anne's County, Maryland, on June 7, 1785, died on January 11, 1867, in Indiana. In that article, reference was made to Jesse R. Sparks, believed to have been closely related, probably a brother, to the Rev. Amos Sparks.

26.1 Jesse R. Sparks was born ca. 1780. (On the 1850 census his age was given as 66, while on the 1860 census it was given as 78.) According to a biographical sketch of his son (Dr. 26.1.5 Nathan B. Sparks), Jesse R. Sparks was a native of Maryland. (See the History of Knox County, Indiana, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1886, p. 513.) Since the Rev. Amos Sparks was born in Queen Anne's County, the probability is great that Jesse R. Sparks was born there also.

According to the above sketch, Jesse R. Sparks married Margaret Burris in Maryland and soon thereafter moved to Belmont County, Ohio, where he earned his living as a shoemaker and autioneer. He was also sheriff of the county for a number of years. According to the sketch cited above, Jesse and Margaret (Burrris) Sparks were the parents of nine children, but thus far we have been able to identify positively only two sons.

About 1820, 26.1 Jesse R. Sparks moved with his family to Indiana. He seems to have settled first in Franklin County, probably very near the adjoining county of Dearborn, where he was later a resident. On November 18, 1829, Jesse R. Sparks and his wife Margaret conveyed land in Franklin County to 26.2.2 Jeremiah B. Sparks, son of 26.2 Amos Sparks. (Book G, p. 473) In this deed, Jesse was identified as "Jesse Sparks, Sr." When the 1830 census was taken, Jesse R. Sparks was listed as a resident of Franklin County, Indiana. At that time, only the head of the household was listed by name and all members of his family were represented by numbers in are categories. Jesse's age was given as between 50 and 60, as was also that of his wife. He probably was not quite this old in 1830. Living with him were two males (probably sons), one aged between 16 and 26, and the other between 10 and 16. There was also a female aged between 16 and 26 and another between 10 and 16, probably daughters. Living nearby, according to the 1830 census, was his son, Jesse Sparks, Jr., who had been married three years earlier. Also living so near that they were listed on the same page of the 1830 census, were four other Sparks families - - that of Leonard Sparks (aged between 40 and 50); Matthew Sparks (aged between 60 and 70); William Sparks, 1st (aged between 30 and 40); and William Sparks, 2d (aged between 20 and 30). Some of these Sparkses, if not all, were surely related to Jesse R. Sparks.

In the Quarterly of December 1959, Whole No. 28, pp. 431-433, (incorrectly numbered 331-333) appears a list of Sparks marriages on file in Franklin County, Indiana. Some of these may well be sons or daughters of Jesse R. Sparks.

According to the biographical sketch of Dr. 26.1.5 Nathan B. Sparks, cited earlier, Margaret (Burris) Sparks, wife of Jesse R. Sparks, died in 1850.

When the 1850 census was taken, 26.1 Jesse R. Sparks was still living in Franklin County, Indiana (Brookville Township). He was living at that time with 26.1.3 Jeremiah Sparks, his son of the Rev. Amos Sparks. (Jeremiah was described on the census as a minister of the Gospel.) Jesse's age was given in 1850 as sixty-six and his birth place as Delaware - - this must have been in error, although Queen Anne's County, Maryland, adjoins Kent County, Delaware, and it is possible that Jesse R. Sparks was born so near the border of Maryland and Delaware there was some confusion regarding his native state. Perhaps he was not at home on the day the census taker came by in 1850 and someone else guessed regarding the state of his birth.

Listed in addition to Jesse Sparks in 1850 as living with Jeremiah Sparks was Jane Sparks, aged 28 (thus born ca. 1822). It is believed that this Jane Sparks was a daughter of Jesse H. R. Sparks and that she later married Elias Kerr.

When the 1860 census was taken, Jesse R. Sparks was living in Dearborn County, Indiana (Hogan Township), with the family of Elias and Jane A. Kerr. It is believed that this Jane A. Kerr was the daughter of Jesse H. R. Sparks - - the same daughter who was living with him in 1850, unmarried at that time. According to this 1860 census, Jesse R. Sparks was 78 years old - - his birth place was given as Maryland.

The family of Elias Kerr, with whom Jesse R. Sparks was living in 1860, was listed as follows on the 1860 census of Dearborn County, Indiana:

Kerr, Elias






" Jane A. Female 39     "
" Jeremiah S. Male 6     "
" Daniel T. " 5     "
" Elias S. " 3     "
" Clarrisa S. Female 2     "
Sparks, 26.1 Jesse R. Male 78     Maryland

Jesse R. Sparks died in Dearborn County, Indiana, in 1865.

On the basis of research done thus far, we can be positive of the identification of only two of the children of 26.1 Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks

26.1.2 Jesse Sparks, Jr.
26.1.5 Nathan B. Sparks

(See Whole No. 80 for a firstborn daughter)

26.1.1 Tamzon (or Tamson) Sparks (brought here from Whole No. 80).

26.1.2 Jesse Sparks, Jr., son of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks, was born in Belmont County, Ohio, on January 11, 1807, and died on January 5, 1896. His portrait appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly. The family moved to Indiana when Jesse Sparks, Jr., was a young man and on September 2, 1827, he was married in Dearborn County to Jemima Thorn, daughter of Stephen and Esther Thorn. According to census records, she was born ca. 1807 in the state of New York. She died on October 9, 1872.

Jesse Sparks, Jr., from the time that he was a small boy, aspired to be a minister of the Gospel. He realized his ambition and became a preacher of more than ordinary power in the Methodist Church. A partial list of his charges in Indiana includes Decatur, DeKalb, Angola, Lima, Columbia City, Marion, Wabash, Ft. Wayne, Fulton, and Kewanna. While at Decatur he conducted a memorable revival meeting during which all of the county officials joined the Methodist Church, although when the revival began in the courthouse, there was only one member of his church.

Mrs. Mildred Sparks Tomlinson, a great-granddaughter of the Rev. Jesse Sparks, Jr., has reported the following regarding her research into his history:

"After searching through old plat books and deeds recorded over the past 130 years, it was revealed that Jesse Sparks, Jr., homesteaded a great deal of land in Fulton County, Indiana. He filed with the Secretary of State the certificate of the Auditor of State, according to the provisions of an act of the General Assembly of the state of Indiana, which was approved May 29, 1852, to provide for the draining and reclaiming of land and was able to claim title to much land that was useless and made it tillable.

"Since a minister's salary was insufficient and uncertain, the Rev. Jesse Sparks, Jr., bought cheap land, drained it, and sold it at a fair profit in order to better support his family and encourage others to come to Indiana. Under a federal law of 1799, settlers of the then Northwest Territory were permitted to buy land at a price of $2.00 per acre. Later the price was set at $1.25 per acre. The earliest land offices which served Fulton County were located at Crawfordsville, LaPorte, and Winamac.

"Indians had been removed from the county, the Michigan Road had been opened and improved, and additional townships had been created by the time the Rev. Jesse Sparks came from Ohio. Most roads were only a trace through the woods and swamps. by their hard work and thrift, the early settlers became Fulton County's most substantial citizens."

On October 9, 1872, Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, wife of the Rev. Jesse Sparks, died. On August 14, 1873, he married Mrs. Lydia Poling, widow of Henry Poling. They lived together for twenty years. She gradually became blind and he cherished and cared for her all that time, until his death on January 6, 1896. He lacked only five days of being ninety years old at the time of his death.

The Rev. 26.1.2 Jesse Sparks, Jr., and his first wife, Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, were the parents of eight children. Their dates of birth are recorded in the Bible owned by Jesse Sparks, Jr., which is now in the possession of Mrs. Mildred Sparks Tomlinson. Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born July 7, 1828, and died on February 24, 1890. She married John Evans. Theodore Sparks, son of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born January 26, 1830, and died in 1864. He married Christina MNU who was born ca. 1834. On both the 1860 and the 1870 census of Fulton County, Indiana, he was listed as living on a farm adjoining that of his father. According to these census records, Theodore and Christina Sparks were the parents of the following children: Jesse C. Sparks, born ca. 1851. Philora J. Sparks, born ca. 1853. William H. Sparks, born ca. 1857. Francis M. Sparks, born ca. 1860. Elmer G. Sparks, born ca. 1864. Nora Sparks, born ca. 1866. Philora Jemima Sparks, daughter of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born October 27, 1831. She married FNU Baker and moved with her husband to Nebraska. Jeremiah Benjamin Sparks, son of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born June 21, 1833, and died on January 20, 1896. He married Margaret Jane Fonner (originally spelled "Phonner") on April 19, 1857. She was born the same day as her husband, June 21, 1833, at Troy, Ohio. She came to Indiana with her family when she was eight years old. She died on September 18, 1906. Jeremiah and his wife homesteaded a section of land in Fulton County, Indiana. Mrs. Tomlinson has written the following regarding her grandfather, Jeremiah B. Sparks: "Jerry Sparks, as my Grandfather was called, became an assistant to a physician, later practicing on his own, besides investing in land and farming. He homesteaded and improved land, eventually giving much of it to his children." Both Jeremiah and his wife died at their home near Kewanna, Indiana. A photograph of Margaret Jane (Former) Sparks is reproduced below. Children: Ezra Sparks, born February 10, 1860, died at the age of five months, on July 21, 1860. Ralph Sparks, born 1862, died at the age of eight years. Mary Jessie Sparks, born May 8, 1863. She married Israel Brown Calvin and they lived on the farm given her by her father. Charles Justin Sparks was born June 1, 1866, and died on June 30, 1926. He was the only son to grow to manhood. He too lived on the farm his parents gave to him. He married Clara Dell Zellers, and they were the parents of the following children: Hugh Sparks, born January 23, 1889 (deceased) Ersa Sparks, born April 12, 1891. Mildred Sparks, born October 4, 1892. Justin Charles Sparks, born March 2, 1895. Charles T. Sparks, son of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born May 31, 1835; died 1836. Stephen Thorn Sparks, son of Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born March 28, 1837. He enlisted from Fulton County, Indiana, for three years as a private in Company A, 26th Regiment of Indiana Infantry, on August 30, 1861. He died from disease at New Orleans on January 12, 1864. His photograph taken while he was a soldier is reproduced below. Margaret Sparks, daughter of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born July 12, 1839, and died on January 22, 1870. She was married on October 12, 1857, to Walter Rufus Scott, who was born June 18, 1829, and died July 13, 1907. He was a son of Rufus Richard and Eliza (Nash) Scott. Margaret Sparks and Walter Rufus Scott were the parents of four children: Eliza Scott, daughter of Walter Rufus and Margaret (Sparks) Scott, was born March 14, 1859, at Kewanna, Ind., and died November 15, 1822; she was buried in the Athens Cemetery at Jewell, Kansas. She married October 13, 1878, Frederick Beeler at Beloit, Kansas; he was born January 15, 1844, and died January 10, 1925, a son of Frederick and Nancy (Dollarhide) Beeler. They were the parents of the following children: Fred Beeler, Jr., born October 4, 1879, died March 29, 1958. He married Mildred Nixon. Lester Beeler, born January 21, 1889, died January 8, 1957. He married Wilma Richards. John B. Beeler, born February 20, 1891, died January 26,1951; he married Mabel Wheeler. Joe H. Beeler, born July 28, 1899, died June 17, 1969. He married Verneda Dusenbery. Effie Scott, daughter of Walter Rufus and Margaret (Sparks) Scott, was born June 10, 1863. Deceased. She married George Walter Beeler who was a son of Frederick and Nancy (Dollarhide) Beeler of Iowa. They were the parents of the following children: Effie Earle Beeler, born February 27, 1882, died July 20, 1961. She married Ira Monroe Alcorn. George Walter Beeler, born November 2, 1883. Deceased. He married Elva Aim Wood. Norman Scott Beeler, born August 2, 1886.. He married first Rhetha MNU. His second wife's name is unknown. Beulah Eola Beeler, born March 12, 1888. She married Charles C. Lamb. Newton Kenneth Beeler, born January 21, 1895. He married Marie MNU. Helen Eliza Beeler, born October 25, 1896; She married Ralph Edward Tetherow. Betty Beeler, born January 1901. She married Mark Miller. Winfield Scott, son of Walter Rufus and Margaret (Sparks) Scott, was born October 12, 1864, and died April 13, 1865. Newton Sparks Scott, son of Walter Rufus and Margaret (Sparks) Scott, was born December 2, 1869, and died January 22, 1967. He married Margaret May Jordan, daughter of Louis R. and Mary (Jenkins) Jordan. They were the parents of the following children: Marjory Scott, born July 4, 1900; she married Glenn Woods Gilchrist. Frank Jordan Scott, born January 22, 1902; he married Helen Cook. Walter Newton Scott, born June 24, 1903; he married Agnes Skadsen. Corwin RexIord Scott, born November 11, 1905 (twin). He married Edna Spickerman. Irwin Maxwell Scott, born November 11, 1905 (twin). He married Elizabeth Rupin. Frances Ernestine Scott, born July 10, 1908; She married Oscar Craig Flannigan. Louis Frederick Scott, born September 4, 1909, died May 18, 1928. Mary Jane Sparks, daughter of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was born May 28, 1842, and died on January 6, 1912. She married Thomas Mogle. She was instrumental in assisting the Underground Railroad in Indiana and helped to get slaves through Indiana to Michigan. The end of the line was in Calvin, Michigan, where many Negroes still live and have become substantial citizens.

26.1.3 Jeremiah Burris Sparks, son of Jesse R. Sparks and his wife Margaret (Burris) Sparks.

26.1.4 Amos Sparks, son of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks, was born ca. 1811 in Ohio.

26.1.5 Nathan B. Sparks, son of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks, was born April 2, 1815, in Belmont County, Ohio. He came to Indiana as a small boy with his parents. He attended the Eclectic Medical School in Cincinnati, Ohio, and began the practice of medicine in 1848 in Brooksville, Indiana. He then moved to Westport Indiana, then to Elizabethtown. In 1861 he was physician and surgeon of the 6th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, in the Civil War. He returned home in 1863. In 1867 he moved to Knox County, Indiana, and a year later he settled at Monroe City in that county. He was married on June 3, 1838, in Dearborn County, Indiana, to Harriet E. Skaats, daughter of Jacob and Hannah Skaats. She was born November 29, 1822. They were the parents of the following children: Amos Hibin Sparks, born ca. 1841. Methadese Sparks, born ca. 1845. Laura V. Sparks, born ca. 1847. James W. Sparks, born ca. 1849. Rosella Sparks, born after 1850; she married A. C. Falls.

(Editor's Note: Much of the information for the above sketch was supplied by Mrs. Mildred E. Tomlinson. The record of descendants of Margaret Sparks, daughter of the Rev. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks, was provided by Mrs. Max Beeler Alcorn, Pasadena, California.)