February 14, 2021
Whole Number 69
THE ADOPTION OF THE NAME SPARKS BY A FAMILY NAMED SPOCK
While the name SPARKS is an English name, not everyone bearing this name can trace his ancestry to the British Isles. We noted in the Quarterly of December 1965 (Whole No. 52, p. 954) how a young immigrant from Sweden, unable to spell his difficult Swedish name to the satisfaction of the naturalization board in 1880, adopted the easily understood English name SPARKS, and thus a new Sparks line came into existence. An instance where the German name SPOCK was changed to SPARKS has recently been brought to our attention by Mrs. W. W. Anderson of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
As early as 1740, a family named SPOCK was living in Westchester County, New York. The head of this family is believed to have been Jonas Spock, a French Huguenot who, after the Edict of Nantes in France, fled to the Palatinate in Germany where to hide his identity, had assumed the German name Spock. What his original French name may have been is not known. Jonas Spock was in New Rochelle, New York, in 1741 and was certified as a French Huguenot by members of St. Peter's Church in Peekskill. He was a tavern keeper and made his will on March 10, 1758, in Westchester County, dividing his property between his four children, Mary Ann, Catherine, Mary, and James. The will was probated on March 29, 1758.
James Spock, son of Jonas, was born in 1740; he became a miller in Peekskill and married Mary Smith, who was born in 1745 and died in Peekskill on February 27, 1805. James Spock was a private in the American Revolution, serving in the Third Regiment of Westchester County Militia. He died in Peekskill in 1804. A daughter of James Spock was Catherine Spock, who was born July 4, 1783, and died in 1855. On April 25, 1802, she married Peter Romer (born January 27, 1781), a son of Henry and Mary (Jennings) Romer.
On November 6, 1799, Stephen Spock, believed to have been a son of James and Mary (Smith) Spock, married Elizabeth Romer. Stephen Spock was born April 6, 1775, and died on September 26, 1859. Elizabeth (Romer) Spock, his wife, was born December 5, 1782, and died June 30, 1853; she was a daughter of Henry Romer (1755-1830) and his first wife, Mary Jennings (1759-1808) and was thus a sister of the Peter Romer who married Catherine Spock. Henry Romer was a soldier of the American Revolution and received a pension by special act of Congress on May 30, 1830. A number of his descendants have joined the D.A.R. on the basis of this service. (The father of Henry Romer was Captain Jacob Romer, born in Switzerland, married Frena Haerlager in August 1754.)
Stephen and Elizabeth (Romer) Spock had a son named Jonas, who was born December 22, 1816. This Jonas Spock adopted the name of Sparks. As Jonas Sparks, he married Cornelia Bogert, who was born December 7, 1820, and died April 2, 1887. They had at least one child, a daughter named Cornelia Sparks, who was born October 2, 1854, and died on July 4, 1937. She married William T. Estabrook on October 14, 1886; he was born December 19, 1850, and died December 6, 1926. Cornelia was his second wife. A daughter, Elsie Cornelia Estabrook married Walter G. Martin of New York City.
Jonas Sparks must have died prior to 1873, for in a Westchester County directory of 1873, Cornelia Sparks is listed as a widow of Jonas Sparks and was living in the town of Morisania at 169th St. near Franklin Ave. With her was living Peter Sparks, probably a son, whose occupation was listed as "Music."
It is quite probable that other members of the Spock family of Westchester County also changed their names to Sparks. For example, when a Westchester County directory was published in 1866, in the town of Peekskill a John B. Sparkes was listed as a shoemaker living on Centre Street near Union Street; and a Steward Sparks was listed as a moulder living on Main Street near Spring Street. Also living in Peekskill in 1866 was a Daniel J. Spock who was a moulder living on Washington Street near Hudson Street, also a Daniel Spock, a moulder, living on Brown Street near James Street.
The 1873-75 directory of Westchester County, New York, lists two Sparkses as residents of the town of Peekskill: George Sparks, moulder, living on Park St. near Charles Street, and William Sparks, moulder, living on Main Street near Spring Street. No one named Spock was listed.
According to the 1879 directory of the town of Peekskill, the following men named Sparks were residents:
Charles Sparks, mechanic, home at 25 Howard St.
Daniel Sparks, moulder, home on Park Street near Broad Street.
Jasper Sparks, moulder, home at 76 Broad Street.
John Sparks, mechanic, home on Lincoln Terrace near Grant Ave.