January 24, 2019

Pages 1449-1452
Whole Number 76


The June 1968 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 62, page 1148, contained an item relative to the marriage of NANCY SPARKS and John Winchester in Hardin County, Kentucky, on June 18, 1803. We are now able to add more data for this family and to correct an error. We stated on page 1148 that Nancy Sparks was a daughter of Job Sparks; actually, Job Sparks was her brother. Nancy Sparks was a daughter of Thomas Sparks. [Correction made.]

In 1797, according to Kentucky Land Grants by Willard Rouse Jillson, published in 1925, THOMAS SPARKS was granted 975 acres of land in Hardin County, Kentucky, located on the Falling Fork of Salt River. The date of the survey, as recorded in Old Kentucky Grants, Book 14, page 629, was November 10, 1797. by a survey made two days later, Thomas Sparks was granted an additional 1400 acres on Otter Creek in the same county.

Although it is apparent that Thomas Sparks must have had subsequent land dealings, only two recorded deeds have been found in Hardin County records for the period 1792 -1860. They are as follows:

Book J, page 213. This indenture entered into this seveneth day of June 1824 between THOMAS SPARKS of the first part and JOBE SPARKS, POLLY SPARKS, BETSEY JOHNSON, and ELIZABETH WINCHESTER of the second part, witnesseth that THOMAS SPARKS for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which he has toward the said JOBE SPARKS, POLLY SPARKS and BETSEY JOHNSON they being his children and the said ELIZABETH WINCHESTER she being his grandchild, THOMAS SPARKS does give to them 975 acres of land on the south side of Rolling Fork of Salt River on the dividing ridge between the waters of Clear Creek of Knob Creek and Bear Creek patented by James Nourse and said THOMAS SPARKS on April 30, 1803,patented by James Nourse and said THOMAS SPARKS on April 30, 1803.

Witnesses: [signed] THOMAS X SPARKS
        Jas. E. Stone                   mark
        Daniel Haycraft    

Book K, page 316. This indenture entered into this twenty-eighth day of October 1837 between Samuel Martin, Sheriff of Hardin County of the first part and POLLY SPARKS of the second part witnesseth that whereas an execution issued from the Clerk of Hardin County Circuit Court in favor of Josiah Atwood against THOMAS SPARKS, Number 730 for $286.00 and $314.51½ bearing the date of June 28, 1824, which execution was levied on an undivided moiety of 975 acres of land the property of said THOMAS SPARKS which land was patented by said SPARKS and James Nurse and which land the said THOMAS SPARKS then lived situate lying and being on the dividing ridge between the Roling Fork waters and the waters of Middle Creek that said land was advertised for sale and on the day of the sale Benjamin Harden became purchaser for the sum of - - - - -    dollars he being the highest bidder and whereas said Harden has sold said certificate and land to said POLLY SPARKS and directs a deed to be made to her in consideration whereof I Samuel Martin, Sheriff do grant bargain and sell to said POLLY SPARKS the undivided moiety of 975 acres.

Samuel Martin,
& Sheriff

A search of the tax lists of Hardin County reveals that Thomas Sparks's name first appears in these records in 1797, the year in which he obtained his land grants. That year (1797), he was taxed for 600 acres on Rolling Fork (spelled "Rowling F.")

The tax collector was required to record the waterway on which each tract was located and, since there were various streams which ran near some tracts, they were not always consistent in their descriptions from year to year. In 1799. Thomas Sparks was taxed for 679 acres on "Nobb Creek," i.e. Knob Creek. After 1805, Thomas Sparks was regularly taxed on 500 acres on Knob Creek and 200 acres on Otter Creek, although in 1807 the 500-acre tract was described as 'West of Rolling Fork. In 1816 and 1817, he was taxed on only 1475 acres on Knob Creek, The 1818 tax reoords of Hardin County are missing, but in 1819 and 1820 Thomas Sparks was taxed on 1187½ acres on Otter Creek.

In these early tax records, an enumeration was made of "White Males over 21" and "White Males over 16." In 1797, one male over 21 was enumerated after Thomas Sparks's name; this would have been himself. He was also taxed on the basis of owning one horse. In 1800, the tax list records 1 white male over 21 and 1 white male over 16. The male over 16 continued to be enumerated until 1804; from 1805 through 1820, the last tax record searched, Thomas Sparks himself was listed as the only white male in his family. We know from the deed of June 7, 1824, that Thomas Sparks had a son named Jobe (or Job). He was probably the white male who reached the age of 16 in 1800, which would mean he was born ca. 1784, No subsequent record has been found of this Jobe Sparks.

The land which THOMAS SPARKS patented and on which he lived was on a ridge which shed water into both Middle Creek and Rolling Fork. Middle Creek flows southwest into Nolin River and is a portion of the western boundary of Larue County. Rolling Fork flows northward and is a portion of the eastern boundary of Larue County. For these reasons, plus the reference to Knob Creek; we believe that THOMAS SPARKS probably lived in that portion of Hardin County which became Larue County in 1843. He was also a close neighbor to Thomas Lincoln, father of the 16th President of the United States. Thomas Lincolns name first appears on the Hardin County tax records in 1807 - - the tax collector wrote his name as "Thomas Linkorn."  by that same year, Thomas Sparks's prosperity had grown to the point that he owned, and was taxed for five horses. Thomas Lincoln owned one horse in 1807. From 1808 to 1814, Thomas Lincoln was regularly taxed for 200 acres on Mill Creek, but in 1815 he was taxed for 30 acres on Knob Creek. In 1816, Thomas Lincoln with his wife and two children, moved from Hardin County to Indiana; Abraham was then seven years old.

The 1810 census of Hardin County gives THOMAS SPARKS as having been born before 1765. Living in his household was one male aged 26 to 45, and two females, one born before 1765 (doubtless his wife), and the other aged 10 to 16. Whether the male aged 26 to 45 was his son Job cannot be determined. When the 1820 census of Hardin County was taken, Thomas Sparks was listed with one male over 45 (himself, thus born before 1775), one male between 26 and 45, and two males between 18 and 26; there was also one female between 16 and 26 and one female between 10 and 16. It is quite impossible to determine who these members of his household in 1820 may have been, but it would appear that his wife must have been dead by 1820, since no female was enumerated as over 45. Thomas Sparks was not listed on the 1830 census of Hardin County - - we may assume that he had died by that time.

Thomas Sparks probably was born between 1750 and 1760, and he was probably married between 1770 and 1780. Where he lived prior to his appearance in Hardin County Kentucky, in 1797 is unknown. It seems probable that he died before 1830. From the deed of June 7, 1824, we know that Thomas Sparks had the following children:

1. Job Sparks. He was referred to in the deed of June 7, 1824, by which Thomas Sparks gave land to three children and one grandchild No further record of him has been found.
2. Elizabeth Sparks, Her marriage to Benjamin Johnson is recorded in Hardin County Marriage Book A, page 3. The marriage bond states that she was a daughter of Thomas Sparks; Abraham Enlow, who acted as surety, made oath that she was "of full age." The bond was dated April 14, 1800, and the marriage was performed by Josiah Dodge on April 17, 1800. She was still living in 1824 when her father referred to her in his deed of June 7, 1824, as Betsey Johnson.
3. Polly Sparks (probably a nickname for Mary), She was probably the Polly Sparks who married Charles Norris in Hardin County on June 19, 1827. However, she was probably the Polly Sparks who was referred to in the deed dated October 28, 1837, in which case it would seem strange for her to be called by her maiden name.
4. Nancy Sparks. Her marriage to John Winchester is recorded in Book A, page 5. Her brother-in-law, Benjamin Johnson, served as surety and gave consent for her marriage, thus indicating that she was not yet of age. Benjamin Helm served as witness. The bond was dated June 14, 1803, and the marriage was performed on June 18, 1803, by A. McDougal.
From Theron Royal Woodward's Descendants of Tristram Dodge, published by the Old Colony Historical Society in 1904, page 31, we learn that John Winchester, born in New London, Connecticut, on May 3, 1783, died Morgantown, Indiana, in 1862, was a son of Richard and Lydia (Dodge) Winchester. Richard Winchester moved from Connecticut to Hardin County, Kentucky, in 1788 where he established a "public house," or inn, near Elizabethtown.  John Winchester was reared in Hardin County where he married Nancy Sparks as noted above. She bore several children, the last being born in September 1813; she died soon after the birth of the last child. Only one of her children was a daughter and it was this Elizabeth Winchester whom her father mentioned in his deed of June 7, 1824. In 1814, John Winchester married his second wife, Margaret Miller, who bore him ten children and died in September 1846. He then married (third) Lucretia Walton on July 8, 18147, who bore him three children. According to this genealogy, (p. 145) John Winchester "removed to a farm in Hanover, Indiana, but in his old age returned to Kentucky and died there. He was a man of great energies and built the first brick house in Jefferson County, Indiana."  He was the first to break away from serving whiskey to harvest hands, and was called "The Governor" by his less energetic neighbors." His children by his first wife, Nancy Sparks, were:

4.1 Cyril Winchester, born March L, 1804; married Mary Anr. Miller, sister of his father's second wife; moved to Johnson Co., Ind,
4.2 Jordan Winchester, born October 1, 1805; married (first) Betsey (second)Angelina Hart; moved to Morgantown, Indiana.
4.3 James Winchester, born October 10, 1807; "went to Mexico and after his return was seen but once by his family"
4.4 Elizabeth Winchester, born December 17; 1809; married (first) Thomas Lemon; (second) Price Pearman, Returned to Kentucky.
4.5 A child died in infancy.
4.6 Jefferson Winchester, born January 24, 1812; died in infancy.
4.7 William H. Harrison Winchester, born September 2), 1813; married Diana Hart; returned to Kentucky.

Page 1539
Whole Number 81


In the Quarterly of December 1973 (Vol. 19, No. 4, Whole No. 76) pp. 1449-52, we published a sketch of Thomas Sparks, born ca. 1750-60, died before 1830, of Hardin County, Kentucky. In reviewing our very limited data on Thomas Sparks, we noted that the tax records of Hardin County indicated that he owned land on Knob Creek in that portion of the county that eventually was cut off to form LaRue County. We also noted that he lived near Thomas Lincoln, father of President Abraham Lincoln. We have recently noted a reference to Thomas Lincoln's family in 1816 when they moved from Kentucky to Indiana. The author of this article, entitled "Lincoln Migration to Indiana" (Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 33, 1973) noted that:

 "It is logical to believe that Thomas Lincoln, on his departure from Knob Creek, would select the road to Elizabethtown that ran near his home as well as because it was the most direct route of travel. Such a road was located about three miles northeast from his farm, having been established in the year 1793 and kept in repair up to and after the year of the migration. Traditional evidence, concerning this road, relates that THOMAS SPARKS, an early settler in this community, was one of the first residents of the county to blaze a trail from Knob Creek to Elizabethtown, which eventually became a wagon road and was used by the pioneers in their travels to the county seat. The Lincoln Knob Creek Farm was located on the Nolin-Bardstown road, which was commonly called the Old Cumberland Trail from Louisville and Bardstown to Nashville. At the point where Knob Creek flows into the Rolling Fork of Salt River, the Springfield-Elizabethtown road crossed the Old Cumberland Trail, and at this junction the Lincoins left the ancient highway and traveled in a northwesterly direction to Elizabethtown. . ." (pp.396-7)