February 14, 2021

Pages 1257-1265
Whole Number 67 DAVID SPARKS (born MAY 19, 1794, died NOVEMBER 10, 1862)

In the September 1960 issue of the Quarterly (Whole No. 31, page 501) we published an abstract of the application of David Sparks for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812. Thanks to a descendant of David Sparks, Mrs. Ellene McKay Mars, Uniontown, Ohio, we are now able to give more precise information regarding David Sparks and his family based upon family records in the possession of Mrs. Mars. David Sparks was born May 19, 1794, and died on November 10, 1862. We cannot be sure where he was born. When the 1850 census was taken, he gave his birth place as North Carolina, but the 1860 census gives his birth place as South Carolina. He died in what is now Clay County, Alabama, although at the time of his death in 1862 this area was still part of Talladega County.

From his bounty land application made in 1850, we know that David Sparks served as a private in the War of 1812 in a volunteer rifle company from Morgan County, Georgia, commanded by Captain Henry Lane. He volunteered in Morgan County on November 1, 1814, and served until May 1, 1815, when he was discharged at Fort Hawkins, Georgia. He was listed on the 1820 census of Morgan County and from the enumeration of his household it appears that he had two sons and one daughter under 10 years of age in 1820. Apparently he lived in that part of Morgan County which was cut off to form Newton County in 1821. by 1830, David Sparks had left Morgan County, Georgia. He was probably the David Sparks who was living in Campbell County, Georgia, when the 1830 census was taken. He was living in Carroll County, Georgia, in 1840.

It is quite probable that David Sparks was closely related, probably a brother, to Uriah Sparks who volunteered for service in the War of 1812 in Morgan County, Georgia, on the same day (November 1, 1814) and in the same company as David Sparks. (See the Quarterly of September 1964, Whole No. 47, pp. 842-43, for data on Uriah Sparks.) David Sparks married Permelia Medlock on December 15, 1811, in Morgan County, Georgia. Her nickname was Milly. She was born February 15, 1791, in South Carolina, and died December 3, 1876, in Delta, Clay County, Alabama.

As yet we have succeeded in identifying positively only two of the children of David and Permelia (Medlock) Sparks. We know there was a daughter named Malinda Sparks who married Jesse Jackson Dempsey and a son named Abel Tomlin Sparks. From early census records, it is apparent that there were other children. Furthermore, a grandson of David Sparks once recalled that David Sparks had a son named Uriah Sparks and another son named David ["Dave"] Sparks. There is a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence that Harris Sparks, who was born July 3, 1818, and died March 9, 1910, may also have been a son. There was also a Joseph Sparks who married Elizabeth Williams, daughter of Shepherd Williams of Carroll County, Georgia, who may have been another son of David Sparks.

Following are additional data on the two children of David and Permelia (Medlock) Sparks for whom we have definite proof of descent. Abel Tomlin Sparks was born November 10, 1827, in Georgia, and died January 20, 1896, in Clay County, Alabama. He was married in Talladega County, Alabama, on December 12, 1850, to Nancy Ann M. Newsom, who was born in 1827 (February 12) in Coweta County, Georgia, and died May 21, 1912, in Clay County, Alabama; she was a daughter of Silas and Nancy Lavina (Peoples) Newsom, both of whom were natives of Georgia.

Soon after his marriage in 1850, Abel Tomlin Sparks built a log cabin for his bride in Clay County, Alabama. A photograph of this early Sparks home has been provided by Mrs. Mars and appears below:

Mrs. Mars recalls that her father used to repeat a family story of how Abel Sparks "hauled the sandstones to make the chimneys and fireplace by ox-cart from the rock quarry near the mountain. It was a two-day journey and there was no alternative but to leave his new bride, Nancy (Newsom) Sparks alone. There were many Indians in the area. Luckily, they were not hostile, but they were hungry 'all the time' and they would come begging for food and liquor. Since she cooked on the fireplace, she kept a kettle of boiling water and a hot poker in the ashes at her disposal at all times so she could 'run them out of there'."

In the Quarterly for September 1967 (Whole No. 59, pp. 1097-1098) we published abstracts of the papers on file in the National Archives in support of a pension application which Abel Tomlin Sparks filed in 1889 to secure a pension for his service in the Civil War. In presenting those papers in the Quarterly, we were puzzled because it was apparent that he had served first in the Confederate Army, then, following his capture, on the Union side. Mrs. Mars has explained the situation by recalling the following family account: "At the beginning of the Civil War, Abel Sparks owned slaves. He freed them. As the war progressed, the Confederate Government began conscripting men for military service. Since Abel Sparks did not believe in the Southern cause, he had no desire to serve in the Confederate Army, a fact known to the officials who would come searching for him regularly at the farm and his home. He would hide in a cave near the house, and Lavina Sparks, his daughter who was then about eight years old, would bring him food which she had hidden in the pockets of her pantaloons under her skirts. She would play around, then suddenly disappear and take the food to her father in the cave. This worked for awhile, but eventually 'they caught up with him' and he was forced to 'volunteer' as a private in Company G, 28th Alabama Infantry, on December 28, 1862.' A muster roll dated February 29, 1864, for Company G lists Abel T. Sparks as "missing since November 23/63 supposed to be a prisoner of War." He had been captured by the North at Missionary Ridge during the Battle of Chattanooga.

Abel T. Sparks was taken as a prisoner of war to Rock Island, Illinois, where he convinced his captors that his sympathies really lay with the Northern side, and on May 24, 1864, he enlisted to serve in the Northern Navy. He served on the warship New Hampshire until July 15, 1864, then on the Wabash from July 16, 1864, to January 27 1865, then on the Hunchback from January 28 to June 12, 1865, then on the Vermont from June 13 to June 26, 1865, when he was discharged as a "paroled prisoner." In his application for a pension twenty-four years later, Abel T. Sparks stated that he had been discharged at the Brooklyn Navy Yards. He described himself at the time of his service as being six feet tall, with a light complexion, dark hair, and blue eyes. He stated that while on duty at Fort Fisher in North Carolina on or about December 24, 1864, he "was jared by the reports of the cannons to such an extent that his hearing became impaired in both ears."

Jesse McKay, a grandson of Abel T. Sparks, recalled hearing a family story of how Abel, following his discharge from the Union Navy, walked back to his home in Alabama. "He came by his sister's home in Rome, Georgia, and spent a night. She had one small piece of bread for them all; he walked home from there without anything to eat, but what apples he could get on the way. The dogs would run him away and he would hide out in the daytime so as to hide the uniform. He was almost starved when he reached home, and was allowed to eat only a little for awhile until he got used to it."

Abel Tomlin and Nancy Ann M. (Newsom) Sparks were the parents of only one child, a daughter, named Lavina Elizabeth Sparks, who was born May 24, 1852, at Lineville, Clay County, Alabama. She died December 8, 1934, at Ashland, Clay County, Ala. Lavina Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of Abel Tomlin and Nancy Ann N. (Newsom) Sparks, married the Rev. Henry Taylor McKay on November 5, 1868. He was born November 10, 1849, in Pyreton, Clay County, Alabama. He was a son of the Rev. Samuel Martin and Lucinda Emmalee (Walden) McKay. It is an interesting fact that the paternal grandmother of Lucinda Emmalee (Walden) McKay was 9.1.5 Sarah Sparks, born ca. 1750, daughter of 9.1 James Sparks, Jr., of Spotsylvania County, Virginia. See the (the Quarterly for December 1962, Whole No. 40, pp. 680-704, for further information on this branch of the Sparks family.)

A daughter of Lavina Elizabeth (Sparks) McKay, Mrs. Myrtle M. (McKay) Jenkins, wrote the following tribute following her mother's death:

"Lavina Elizabeth Pamela (Sparks) McKay was born May 24, 1852, near Union Church in the northern part of Clay County, Alabama. She was the only child of Abel Tomlin Sparks and Nancy Ann (Newsom) Sparks. Lavina attended school at Red Hill and Union Church Community. Her father was called to duty in the Civil War when she was nine years of age She and her mother lived alone and helped with the farm work during the two years of his absence. Lavina was eleven when her father was discharged and little is known of her life until she married Henry Taylor McKay at the age of sixteen.

"He became a Minister of the Gospel shortly after their marriage. This religious setting brought forth results from the start. This couple was known near and far throughout their communities for their aid to any and all in. time of need, spiritual or physical. The hour was never too late nor the weather too bad to help the unfortunate. They were fondly called Aunt Vina and Uncle Taylor in later years. Lavina was a Christian mother and devoted wife. She lived a full life of love and understanding in the most Christian-like manner.

"She and Taylor and the twelve children lived until the youngest was passed forty before the family circle was broken. Lavina spent the last few years in bed and wheel chair because of a broker hip. She was laid to rest at the age of 82 on December 8, 1931, at Oak Grove Church within a mile of where she lived. The minister in charge at her funeral remarked that all the gray hair in Aunt Vina 'a head could be counted in a very few minutes. Her memories linger with us to eternity."

Following is a list of the twelve children of the Rev. Henry Taylor and Lavina Elizabeth (Sparks) McKay: Nancy Ann Josephine McKay, born December 6, 1869, in Lineville, Ala.; she died January 4, 1958, in Lineville, Ala. She was married on December 24, 1894, to Ose O. Forbus, who was born in Clay Co., Ala., and died on April 17, 1939, in Lineville. They were the parents of the following children: (all born in Lineville, Ala.) Nancy Mae Forbus, born May 1896; married Arthur Cook. A. T. Forbus, born 1898; married Lydia Farr. John Forbus. Winmon Forbus (son); married Flossie Meadows. Eunice Forbus; married Amos Sims. Odessa Forbus; married Mr. Carr. Vernie Forbus (daughter), born February 22, 1907; married Loren Reeves. Wennie Forbus (daughter), twin of Vernie, born February 22, 1907; died July 1907. Howard Forbus, born 1910; died in infancy. Henry Sparks McKay, born June 5, 1871, in Lineville, Ala; he died February 26, 193###; he was married in 1893 to Abbarila Waits, who died November 27, 1919, in Roanoke, Ala. They were the parents of the following children, the first seven of whom were born in Roanoke, Ala., and the last four in Lineville, Ala. Moddie McKay; married Nathaniel Pitts; lives in Lanett, Ala. Lurene McKay; married Walt Pitman; lives in Lenett, Ala. Marie McKay; married T. W. Majar, lives in Lanett, Ala. Abe McKay; married Sallie Brown, lives in Lanett, Ala. Waites McKay; married Bertha Brown, lives in Lanett, Ala. Charles McKay, lives in Atlanta, Ga. Sarah McKay. Willie McKay, born 1896; died 1900 (killed by a horse). Lola McKay, born 1898; married R. H. Wallace, lives in Wedowee, Ala. Lavina Jane McKay; married R. E. Hame; lives in Lanett, Ala. Hattie McKay, born 1900; married Willie Smallwood, lives in Lanett, Ala. John Thomas McKay (Rev.), born October 2, 1873, in Lineville, Ala.; died January 12, 1958, in Roanoke, Ala. He married Susie Short on August 28, 1892, in Lineville, Ala. She died March 8, 1914. Children: Margie McKay, born October 1893; married Mr. Shaddix. Ottis McKay, born 1895; married Hiss Pate. Dee McKay (son), born 1897. Mae McKay, born 1899; married George Henry. Willie McKay (son). Hubert McKay. Forest McKay; married Miss Parker. Edward McKay. Esther McKay, born 1906. Infant, died at birth. Infant, died at birth. Twins, born 1914, died at birth; the mother died also. Charles George McKay (Rev.), born April 26, 1876, in Lineville, Ala.; died June 9, 1964, at Jamaica, Queens, New York. He married Mary Ellen Wright, who was born February 27, 1873, at Hatchet Creek, Clay Co., Ala., and died November 14, 1962, at Uniontown, Ohio. They were married on January 12, 1896. He was graduated from the Atlanta Theological Seminary in 1907. (They were the grandparents of Mrs. Mars, who has provided this genealogical record of the descendants of David Sparks.) They were the parents of the following children: Almon Taylor McKay, born June 27, 1899, in Lineville, Ala.; he died May 26, 1969, in Akron, Ohio. He married Margaret E. Werstler. They were the parents of Mrs. Mars. Dwight Huntington McKay, born May 29, 1901, in Lineville, Ala.; he died June 27, 1957, at Kingsport, Tenn. He married (first) Dorothy Fulmer, and (second) Kathleen Kneale. Mayine McKay, born September 25, 1903, in Tallassee, Ala. She married George Colvin Ewing and now lives in Elmhurst, New York. Dawson Sparks McKay, born December 9, 1907, in Ashland, Ala.; he died March 12, 1964, at Crockett, Va. He married Josephine Wampler. Vida Myrtle McKay, born June 10, 1909, in Ashland, Ala. She married Bernard Thomas Haines, now deceased. She lives in Ashland, Ohio. Vera Mae McKay, born March 10, 1912, at Crossville, Tenn; died April 28, 1940, at Clinchport, Va. She was married on September 30, 1930, to George Graham Hudson, now deceased. Armenda Jane McKay, born May 17, 1878, at Lineville, Ala.; died December 7, 1963, at Plant City, Fla. She was married in 1898 to George Moon, who died December 14, 1963. They had the following children: Alta Moon; she married FNU Poe. Vida Moon. Allen Moon; he married FNU Hendrix. Kara Moon (a son). Myrtle Moon; she married FNU Hendrix. Gladys Moon; she married FNU Hendrix. Grady Moon. J. C. Moon (a son). Evelyn Moon. Ora Moon (a daughter). O. Z. Moon; he married a girl from Australia. Lela Moon; she married FNU Waldon.

All of the above children of Armenda Jane and George Moon were born in Lineville, Alabama. Richard Abel McKay (Rev.), born May 2, 1880, in Lineville, Ala., and died October 6, 1958; he married on December 25, 1901, Anna Marvin Wright, who was born August 8, 1879, and died August 29, 1955. They had the following children: Lowell Earl McKay, married Bufie Nays; now in Hamilton, Ala. Alton Cecil McKay, married Opal Johnson; now in Wetumpka, Ala. Lyman Turner McKay, died at the age of three. James Taylor McKay, married Betty Rigdon; now inCovington, Ga. Anna Myrle McKay, married Edd Ballard; now in Alex City, Ala. Sherrill Elmer McKay, married Floyd Street; now in East Gadsden,Ala. Mildred Voncile McKay, married Howard Harris; now in Birmingham. Richard Abel McKay, Jr.; married Frances Burns; now in Roswell, Ga. Uriel Wright McKay; married Mary Hethcox; now in Monroe, Mich. Julia Ernmalee McKay, born February 21, 1882, in Lineville, Ala.; now living at Thomasville, N.C. She was married in 1905 to Anderson C. Driggers; he died in 1956 at High Point, N.C. They were the parents of the following children: Arval Driggers, born 1906 in Lineville, Ala.; now at Thomasville, N.C. Harold Driggers, born 1907 in Lineville, Ala. Ruth Driggers, born 1909 in Lineville, Ala.; she married Price Burleson. Now at High Point, N.C. Ethridge Driggers, born 1911 in Lineville, Ala. Lynwood Driggers (a son), born in Griffin, Ga. Evelyn Driggers, born in Griffin, Ga. Laverne Driggers, born in High Point, N.C. Donald Driggers, born in High Point, N.C. Bessie Driggers, born in Griffin, Ga.; she married Peter White. David Alexander McKay, born December 19, 1882, in Lineville, Ala., and died December 16, 1960, at Anniston, Ala. He married Alma Burchfield in 1924. No children. Cylus Samuel Peolyan McKay, born July 24, 1886, in Lineville, Ala.; now living in Atlanta, Ga. He was married in 1908 to Aneliza Ballard. She was born in 1891. They had the following children: Yvonne McKay, born August 1909 in Lineville, AL; she married FNU McGlown; now in Atlanta, Ga. Ben McKay, born 1911 in Lineville, AL. Lucille McKay, born 1913 in Lineville, AL. Martha McKay, born 1915 in Lineville, AL.; lives in Atlanta. Edward McKay. Samuel McKay, born 1923. Fredoni Beatrice McKay, born September 17, 1888, in Lineville, Ala., and died January 25, 1966, in Anniston, Ala. She was married in 1907 to Clinton Boak, who died in March 1948 at Albertville, Ga. Children: Nina Boak, born October 9, 1908, in Lineville, Ala; she married Lee Mountain. Lillian Boak, born in Lineville, Ala.; she married FNU Spears. Inez Boak, born in Lineville, Ala.; she married Woodrow Shults. Winnie Boak, born in Lineville, Ala.; she married Lyle Mountain. C. W. Boak (a son), born in Lineville, Ala. Eugenia Boak, born in Pisgah, Ala.; married Robert Camp. Verma Boak, born in Pisgah, Ala.; married James Reeves. Myrtle Maude McKay, born February 22, 1892, in Lineville, Ala. She was married on October 4, 1908, to Albert R. Jenkins, who was born June 12, 1888, in Delta, Ala. They live in. Albany, Ga. Children: Vernice N, Jenkins, born June 24, 1910, in Delta, Ala.; she married Roy C. Harrell; now at Albany, Ga. Bremen C. Jenkins, born April 21, 1912, in Delta, Ala.; he married Marjorie Franklin; now in Plant City, Fla. Levis J. Jenkins (a daughter), born July 3, 1914, in Delta, Ala.; she married Clarrnand W. Haynes and they live in Henderson, Nev. Glennie N. Jenkins (a daughter), born March 26, 1916, in Delta, Ala.; married Mr. Carol Conoway; they live in Alaska. Wilburn R. Jenkins, born September 10, 1918, in Anniston, Ala. He married Jennie Mae Parker. Flora B. Jenkins, born March 15, 1920, in Alexander, Ala. She married (first) Lattie B. Carrier, deceased; she married (second) Fred Yamagata. Lives now in Mineral Wells, Texas. Elna Jenkins (a daughter), born March 21, 1922, in Rainsville, Ala. She married Elburn H. Dorris; lives now in Blakely, Ga. bynum L. Jenkins, born September 22, 1924, in Birmingham, Ala. He married Peggy Franklin. He is a minister. Jesse Cecil McKay, born June 26, 1894, in Lineville, Ala. He married Lola Cook on February 6, 1916. They live in Lineville, Ala. Children: J. P. McKay, born January 2, 1920. Mary Sue McKay; she married Otis Marris; they live in Lineville, Ala. Maureen McKay; she married Sheral Walker; they live in Sylacauga, Ala.

(Note of interest: Although Abel Tomlin Sparks had only one child, he had twelve grandchildren, and ninety-three great-grandchildren.) Malinda Sparks was born sometime between 1833; she married Jesse Jackson Dempsey, who was born ca. 1812. They were the parents of seven children: Francis Marion Dempsey, born October 21, 1842, in Cave Springs, Floyd County, Georgia, and died April 19, 1932, in Clay County, Alabama. He married Julia Clark. Elizabeth Manilla Dempsey, born September 18, 1844; died July 23, 1895; she married Jesse Franklin Clark. Sara Jane Dempsey, married John Butterworth. Wiley Dempsey, married Maggie Rowe. Annetter Dempsey, married David Crockett Smith. Evelyn Dempsey, married Elijah Roberts. Monroe Dempsey, died as a young man in Dallas County, Alabama.