June 21, 2019

Pages 1556-1575
Whole Number 82

(born ca. 1770, died 1815) OF EARLY INDIANA

by Paul E. Sparks

(Editor's Note: We have found few Sparks men whose lives touched as many records as did that of the Rev. Elijah Sparks. A hasty and incomplete count by the author of this article reveals that data have been collected from nearly fifty sources. One of the earliest and most biographical of these sources was written by a contemporary and fellow minister, the Rev. Allen Wiley, who wrote a series of articles entitled “Methodism in Indiana."; These articles first appeared in the Tri-Weekly State Journal between August, 1845, and Nov, 1846. They were republished in the Indiana Magazine of History, Volume XXIII, 1927.

Although several persons have contributed data relative to this article, three descendants of 58.1 Elijah Sparks who have shared materials that they had collected and preserved over a long period of time should be given special notice. They are Miss Myra Firnhaber, New York City (10009); Mrs. Ernestine E. Seiter, Lexington, Missouri (64067); and Mrs. Mildred D. Skinner, Indianapolis, Indiana (46226).)

One of the early religious and political leaders of the Indiana Territory was Elijah Sparks, who settled in Dearborn County. In the short period of time from his arrival in 1806 until his untimely death in 1815, he was “one of the prominent instruments of the planting, spreading and symetry [sic] of Methodism in Indiana,” according to the Rev. Mr. Wiley. In addition, he was a practicing lawyer and Judge of the Third Circuit Court of the Territory, a most unusual combination of talents even in those early days.

We have been unable to learn the names of the parents of Elijah Sparks. In a letter to President Madison dated February 23, 1813, in which he explained why some of his friends had applied to have him appointed Judge, Sparks wrote: “It was my misfortune (if it be proper to call it such) to be deprived of Parents in very early life; and from the Law of Primogenitr & other miscarriages, I was thrown on the world helpless and unlearned.” His reference to the Law of Primogeniture as a miscarriage (i.e., misfortune) indicates that he had an older brother who, under the Law of Primogeniture, had the right to inherit his parents' property. From several sources, we know that Elijah had a brother named Robert Sparks; perhaps he was the older brother who had inherited all of his father's real estate.

We have been able to learn very little regarding 58.2 Robert Sparks. As will be noted in more detail later in this sketch, Elijah Sparks died in 1815 while on his way to visit his brother, Robert, who was then living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. According to information received from The Historical Society of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church, records prove that “Robert Sparks was a Supennumerary Preacher in the Philadelphia Conference in 1808.” The Delaware District and Dorchester are also mentioned with his name. His name also appears in the Philadelphia Conference records in 1810, but no information is given.

The Rev. Allen Wiley confessed that he knew nothing of Sparks's parentage or early training, which appears quite strange since he had apparently been well acquainted with him. Wiley was born in 1789 in Frederick County, Virginia and came to Kentucky in 1797; he then went to Dearborn County, Indiana, in 1804. Wiley joined the Methodist Church in 1810, became licensed to preach in 1813, and spent the rest of his life in the ministry. He died in 1848.

We are also uncertain regarding the place of birth of Elijah Sparks. The Rev. Mr. Wiley wrote that Sparks had been born in Queen Ann's County, Virginia, ca. 1770. There never was a county by that name in Virginia, however, and Wiley's statement is further contradicted by another contemporary and fellow minister, the Rev. Henry Boehm. According to Boehm, Elijah Sparks was born in Maryland; he also mentions Elijah's brother, Robert Sparks, and stated that he was still living in Maryland at the time he wrote, which was ca. 1840. Boehm 's ministry took him to Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, including all of the places where Elijah Sparks had lived and preached, so it might seem that he should have been in a position to know his birth place. (See his Reminiscences of Sixty-Four Years in the Ministry.)

Undoubtedly, the Rev. Mr. Wiley was well acquainted with Elijah Sparks and it can be assumed that Wiley was well acquainted with the area in Virginia in which he himself grew up. Why, then, did he make reference to Queen Ann 's County, Virginia, when in fact there is not and never was such a county in Virginia? Could he have meant Queen Annes County, Maryland, where in 1778 there were twenty-seven Sparks families?

Was Elijah Sparks a native of Frederick County, Virginia? In a sketch of 58.x.1 David Sparks, Elijah's grandson, published in a History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana in 1885, Elijah was said to have been born in Fredericksburgh, Virginia. Fredericksburgh is in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, but it would have been a natural error to confuse Frederick County with Fredericksburgh. In addition, the Commemorative Biography of Prominent & Representative Men of Indianapolis & Vicinity published in 1908, states that Elijah Sparks was a native of Winchester, Virginia. This town is in Frederick County, Virginia.

It was in Frederick County, Virginia, that 58.1 Elijah Sparks married Elizabeth Weaver on August 8, 1793. There were also two other Sparks marriages in Frederick County at about the same time. On March 1, 1785, Ann Sparks married William Ross, while on August 15, 1795, William Sparks married Mary Robertson. We also know that there was a Sparks family in Frederick County at an earlier date.

In 1754, Samuel Sparks, from Frederick County, enlisted in Colonel George Washington's regiment and was in the Battle of Great Meadows. He reenlisted in 1780 during the Revolutionary War. (See Virginia Colonial Militia Lists by Grozier, 1935, page 36.) We also have a record of another Sparks marriage in Frederick County many years later; on May 30, 1836, Maria Sparks married Baxter Thornton.

Records have been searched of both Queen Annes County, Maryland, and Frederick County, Virginia, for the origin of Elijah Sparks, but no conclusive evidence has been found. Until other records are uncovered to give definite proof, his place of birth must remain a matter of conjecture. There is one other fact, however, that would suggest Virginia as his birthplace. As noted earlier, in 1813 Elijah Sparks referred to the “Law of Primogenitr” as having been one of the causes of his poverty in early life. Since he was a lawyer, Sparks probably referred to primogeniture correctly in its legal sense. If so, Virginia would have to have been his birthplace rather than Maryland because in Maryland the law of primogeniture had been repealed in 1715, long before Elijah's birth. This law was not repealed in Virginia, however, until early in the Revolutionary War. (See Evelyn Cecil's Primogeniture, a Short History of Its Development and Its Practical Effects, London, J. Murray, 1895, pp. 75-76.) Inherited from England and adopted in a number of the colonies as law, primogeniture is the right by which the oldest son of a family, regardless of the father's wishes, succeeds to the father's real estate in preference to, and to the absolute exclusion of, the younger sons and daughters. Thomas Jefferson, who greatly opposed the law, referred in his autobiography to its abolition in Virginia at the beginning of the Revolution, saying that its end “removed the feudal and unnatural distinctions which made one member of every family rich and all the rest poor.” Its effect was, of course, to keep farms and plantations from being cut up into small parcels.

The law of primogeniture was in effect for only six or eight years after Elijah Sparks was born, so his father would have had to die when Elijah was very small for the law to have affected him. Note, however, that Elijah did say in his letter to President Madison in 1813 that he had been “deprived of Parents in very early life.”

Prior to his marriage to Elizabeth Weaver, Elijah Sparks had committed himself to religious work. The Rev. Allen Wiley wrote that when he (Sparks) was about nineteen or twenty years old “he became a professor of religion and in 1792 became a traveling preacher.” There is some uncertainity about his preaching assignment, but he was “on trial” (the first step toward becoming a Methodist minister) in 1792 when he is put down for the Rockinghain Circuit. Rockingham Circuit undoubtedly refers to a church circuit related in some way to Rockingharn County, Virginia, located a little further up the Shenandoah Valley from Frederick County.

As stated earlier, Elijah Sparks married Elizabeth Weaver in Frederick County, Virginia, on August 8, 1793. An account of the marriage as recorded by Elizabeth Timberlake Davis in Frederick Couny, Virginia, Marriages, 1771-1825, page 15, gives Elizabeth's name as Eliza, and her father as Francis Weaver, but the latter statement is incorrect for it was Elizabeth's mother, Frances Weaver, who gave her consent. John B. Tilden was surety for Elijah Sparks.

According to data sent to us by Miss Firnhaber, Elizabeth Weaver was born December 1, 1772, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, one of seven children born to George and Frances (Brechbuhl) Weaver. George Weaver was born ca. 1733 and was a son of Jacob and Anna (Bowman) Weaver, (or Weber), who came to Pennsylvania ca. 1715-30 from Switzerland and settled on 3,000 acres of land in Weaver Valley (Weber Thal), Earle Township, Lancaster County. Jacob Weaver and brothers, John Weaver and Henry Weaver, had acquired the land from William Penn. Frances Brechbuhl, or Brackbill, was born ca. 1738, a daughter of Ulrich and Frances (Herr) Brachbuhl.

George Weaver, father of Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks, died in May, 1782, leaving his widow with seven minor children, according to Lancaster County Miscellaneous Book 1782-84, page 46. His administrators, John and Benjamin Brechbuhl, sold 125 acres which George had purchased from his brother, Henry, in 1763. They also disposed of two tracts of land comprising 230 acres, including a dam and grist mill on Conestoga Creek.

On May 14, 1787, Frances Weaver, widow of George, sold 200 acres of land which she had inherited from her father's estate in April, 1759, and shortly thereafter moved to Middletown, Frederick County, Virginia. There, on June 8, 1790, she purchased 135 acres of land from Martin Gartmell; however, by 1797, she had moved to nearby Stephensburg, now Stephens City.

George and Frances (Brechbuhl) Weaver were the parents of the following children:

1. Henry Weaver, born October 10, 1763; married Mary Good in 1788.
2. Ann Weaver, born December 25, 1765, married Matthias Shirk.
3. Frances Weaver, born May 10, 1768, married FNU Perry in 1796.
4. George Weaver, born December 20, 1770; married Mary V. Wilson in Stephensburg, Virginia. They moved to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where George died in 1853.
5. Elizabeth Weaver, born December 1, 1772; married 58.1 Elijah Sparks, the subject of this sketch.
6. Samuel Weaver, born October 15, 1775; died October 4, 1808, in Natchez, Mississippi.
7. John Weaver, born May 21, 1777; married Rebecca Cartmell in Stephensburg, Virginia; they moved to Dearborn County, Indiana, prior to 1806, where John was a U.S. Captain of Troops commanding blockhouses in that area. He died in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in 1841.

The will of Joseph Stephens of Frederick County, Virginia, dated February 1, 1796, was witnessed by Elizabeth Sparks, Henry Weaver, and John McGivins. We assume that this Elizabeth Sparks was Elijah's wife and that Henry Weaver was her oldest brother. (See Will Book 5, page 87.)

Following the marriage of Elijah Sparks and Elizabeth Weaver, there are few official records to be found of them for several years. According to the History of Falls Church, Virginia, Elijah Sparks and Andrew Nichols were clergymen of the Fairfax Circuit Methodist Church in 1794. Membership consisted of 540 whites and 50 colored. A son, Hamlet Sparks, was born to Elijah and Elizabeth ca. 1796 (according to the 1850 census of Dearborn County, Indiana), which brought more family responsibilities to Elijah. As the Rev. Mr. Wiley wrote, “the opinion prevailed generally with preachers and people, that no young man ought to marry and remain a traveling preacher; and if this had not been the opinion, the means of support were 80 very limited, that necessity would have driven such to desist from the work."

Whatever the reason, Elijah Sparks left the active ministry and went into the mercantile business, according to Wiley. He did not meet with great success, and in 1798, he moved to Kentucky with some law books and commenced the study of law. In the fall of 1800, he began the practice of law in Campbell County, Kentucky. It was also at that time that he paid taxes in that county on 200 acres of land on Bank Lick Creek. He also paid taxes on two blacks and one horse. He continued to pay taxes on the land until 1806, but by that time he had disposed of the slaves. On September 23, 1810, Elijah and Elizabeth Sparks sold the 200 acres of land to William Massie, but by that time they were living in Dearborn County, Indiana, where two of Elizabeth's brothers were already living.

58.1 Elijah Sparks continued to maintain an active interest in preaching for, according to Methodism in Kentucky, by W. E. Arnold, published in 1802, he was living and preaching in the bounds of the Salt River Circuit which consisted of Jefferson, Nelson, and Shelby Counties, Kentucky. This is confirmed by an entry in The Journal of The Rev. Francis Asbury of the Methodist Episcopal Church, August 7, 1771 to December 7, 1815, which states: “Next day (September 10, 1805) I called on Elijah Sparks, at Newport, and baptised two of his children.....

I rejoiced to find a new circuit had been formed and there were several growing societies.”

Sometime during 1806, Elijah Sparks moved his family to Dearborn County, Indiana, and settled on Second Street in Lawrenceburgh. Dearborn County had been established on March 7, 1803, by a proclamation of William H. Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory. The county was taken from Clark County, and embraced portions of what is now Fayette, Franklin, Jefferson, Ohio, Ripley, Switzerland, Union, and Wayne Counties. In all likelihood, the move was a happy one for Elizabeth Sparks, for she now rejoined her mother and brothers, George and John.

Elijah Sparks was apparently successful as a lawyer-politician, but it most surely must have been strenuous work. The sparseness of the population and settlements required a lawyer to extend his legal knowledge and energy to places far from home. As now, the courts were held at the county seats, and the lawyers traveled from county to county. The legal circuit that included Dearborn County, Indiana, also included the counties of Franklin and Jefferson. Travel was by horseback or carriage, and the lack of roads probably made the former the preferable method.

Sparks's ability and reputation as a lawyer attracted the attention of Governor Harrison as well as that of the Indiana Territory General Assembly, and on November 27, 1810, he was appointed one of the commissioners to fix the county seat of the newly-created county of Franklin. Less than a month later, he was appointed the commissioner from Dearborn County to meet with other county commissioners to fix the seat of government (i.e., the capital) of the Territory. The county seat of Franklin County was fixed at Brookville while the first capital of the Territory (and of the state of Indiana) was fixed at Corydon in Harrison County. On May 11, 1811, Elijah Sparks was admitted to practice law in Franklin County, and on December 22, 1812, he was named its prosecuting attorney.

In the meantime, Elijah's friends had been at work persuading Governor Harrison to appoint him to the post of Attorney-General of the Territory, and on July 27, 1813, he received the appointment. According to Mrs. Skinner, he was sworn into office by General Dunn, a great-grandfather of Miss Caroline Dunn, Secretary of the Indiana Pioneers Society.

The appointment as Attorney-General to the Territory apparently was an unrewarding one to Elijah Sparks for, in reality, the enforcement of law and regulation was still left to other officers of the Territory. On September 27, 1813, he wrote to Governor Harrison to question his duties: “Does the appointment conferred upon me take from the Governor, the right exercised under the ordinance, to appoint an Attorney-General for the Territory Or does it unite with the General Court so far only, as I hold Federal District powers?” Whether or not he ever received an answer is not known.

In the spring of 1814, Elijah Sparks decided to run for Congress against his friend (and incumbent) Congressman Jonathan Jennings. The result of the campaign must have been disappointing to Sparks for when the votes were counted in August, he was soundly defeated. According to a newspaper account (Vincennes Western Sun, June 11, 1814) there were no particular Issues involved. Jennings simply pointed to his record of service during the four and one-half years he had been a delegate to to Congress. Sparks stated that his only ambition was 'ito assist in raising and establishing the equal rights of men - - of all men, above "the iron grasp of tyranny, the yoak [sic] of despotism and the drudgery of oppression.”

Another account of the election is given in Biographical & Historical Sketches of Early Indiana, by William W. Woblen, 1883, which records the event thusly: “In 1811, Mr. Jennings was reelected to Congress, his opponent being Waller Taylor, the same man who, two years before, had tried to provoke him to mortal combat. In 1814, he was again elected, his competitor this time being Judge Elijah Sparks, a very worthy and popular man.”

Part of Elijah's disappointment over his defeat may have been mitigated when he received word of his appointment, on September 14, 1814, as Judge of the Third Circuit Court of the Indiana Territory. The appointment had been slow in coming, but it was a popular one. In Territorial Papers of the United States, Vols. 7 & 8, several pages are filled with the names of persons who petitioned Congress in 1813 to make the appointment. His political rival, Jonathan Jennings, had recommended the appointment to the Secretary of State on April 25, 1812, and to the President (James Madison) on March 1, 1813. The judgeship put to an end his appointment as Attorney General of the Territory, however, and he wrote to President Madison on January 2, 1815, to express his disappointment at being relieved of that appointment.

Probably the first court over which Elijah Sparks presided as a Federal Judge was at Vevay, the county seat of the newly-formed Switzerland County. The Indiana Magazine of History, Vol. 20, page 198, reveals that the first term of the Circuit Court of Switzerland County was held on Friday, October 28, 1814, with the Hon. Elijah Sparks, the circuit and presiding judge in the Third District, presiding. It was there that he also presided over what was probably his last Circuit Court session on March 27, 1815.

In the spring of 1815, according to the Rev. Mr. Wiley, Elijah Sparks went east (to Pennsylvania) to attend to a legacy of about eight or ten thousand dollars left to his wife by a relative, and also to visit his brother, Robert Sparks, who was a traveling Methodist preacher of many years' standing in the Philadelphia Conference, but who had located in 1812 on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After attending to his business in Pennsylvania, Elijah started to his brother's home and went as far as the “heart of the Elk,” when he became sick and confined, and after lingering a few days, expired far from home and wife and friends.

The “heart of the Elk” probably is meant to be the “head of the Elk”, for the Elk River has its source just east of New Hollard, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and flows southward until it empties into Chesapeake Bay in Cecil County, Maryland.

The cause of Elijah Sparks's death is unknown; however, almost two years earlier, he had confessed in a letter to Governor Harrison, that he wrote with great difficulty, “having been confined for two weeks by a pretty severe attack of the Fever.” Perhaps it was a reoccurrence of the dreaded “ague-fit” fever that overtook him in Pennsylvania on April 30, 1815. (See Indiana Historical Collections: Harrison's Letters.)

His death was recorded officially by the Washington (D.C.) Intelligencer of June 14, 1815, as follows: “Elijah Sparks, Presiding Judge of the Third Circuit of Indiana Territory, died April 30, near New Holland, Pennsylvania.” On May 25, 1815, the vacancy created by his death was filled by the appointment of James Noble.

Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks spent the rest of her life (nearly fifty years) in widowhood and died on March 13, 1864, at Moores Hill, Indiana, at the home of her son, Hamlet Sparks. Of the marriage of Elijah and Elizabeth, the Rev. Mr. Wiley wrote: “As a husband and a father, he [Elijah] was most affectionate and kind, and did all that his means and opportunities permitted to make them wise, pious, and happy; hence his family felt his loss in no ordinary degree.”

We are certain that Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks had six children, three sons and three daughters, who reached maturity. There are indications that there was at least one other child who died young. The Rev. Mr. Wiley wrote: “Here is a man superior in piety, gifts and usefulness, intending to adjust his temporalities so as to devote the evening of his days to the interest of religion and God's glory; but, just when everything seemed to say, he may go abroad in the vineyard of the Lord, death overtakes him far from home, his family and friends. While one of his children lies dead and the burial is delayed so that he might see the body of his beloved child before it is consigned to the grave, he being expected home every minute, a letter arrives informing his wife and children that their father is no more an inhabitant of this world ...“ We have to other record of this child.

When John Weaver, Elijah Sparks's brother-in-law and court-appointed administrator (Elijah left no will), appeared in Dearborn County Court for the purpose of “transacting orphans business,” he stated that Sparks had left six children. (See Deed Book AA, page 109, Recorded on November 7, 1819.) He also stated that Elijah did not leave enough personal estate to satisfy all of his debts and asked permission to sell land owned by Elijah and Elizabeth Sparks.

Reference was made earlier in this article to a letter that Elijah Sparks wrote to President Madison on February 23, 1813. This was published in the Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. VIII, Territory of Indiana, 1810-1816, pp. 240-141. Because this letter is quite revealing in regard to Elijah's personality and outlook on life, it is reproduced below:

                                                                    Lawrenceburgh 23d February 1813.
VENERABLE SIR, Unbend your mind for a few Moments, from national, and vastly more interesting considerations; and look over a candid address, from a former acquaintance. The acquaintance being very partial, as to personality, is now without doubt, in every trace, effaceed from your recollection. A knowledge of your own candour, induces me to write, for which I have a Claim on your Goodness, for Pardon. This I shall obtain, when it is understood, that I thus act, in justice to myself. Every man owes a degree of justice to himself. My friends have twice laid my name before you, as a Successor, to the late Judge Vanderburg of this Territory. While that appointment was in suspense, I was not at liberty to say a word to you on the Subject; but as that appointment is confered upon another (as is said) the restraint is removed, and I am free to explain the motives which influenced many of my friends to Solicit for me, and myself to accept the place if bestowed. These motives were a little out of the fashion, they were not popular, and lucrative. If Popularity was the object, a much more wide and certain Path, hath been opened, in which I might have walked; - - and if Riches, the Barr would not be exchanged for the Bench.

For many years past, I have thought it my duty to Preach the Gospel of God. This I have done, & still do at all opportunities, without pecuniary fee or reward; and I believe not in vain. Many think that the Practice of Law, & Preaching the Gospel, are incompatible - - I am not one of those; but there is this inconvenience, they interfere in Point of time, & attention; the former requiring too large a portion, for the Latter - - It was thought that the Bench, would in some measure, remove the inconvenience - - I Practice Law from necessity, to Procure a competency (a competency is all I covet) for a Lady who put herself under my protection some years ago, in the County of Frederick, Virg. and a rising family - - It was my misfortune (if it be proper to call it such) to be deprived of Parents in very early life; and from the Law of primogenitr & other miscarriages, I was thrown on the world helpless, & unlearned. I turned my attention to Science, devoted every spare, & prudent Moment, by day & by night, until I acquired a sufficient degree to Commence the Study of Law - - I have been as successful in the profession, as ordinary - - I have not sought to be known, much beyond my sphere of exercise - - I am content in obscurity - - With Politicks I concern, nothing more than I think every good Citizen should do. My mind has long been fixed, & my principles unshaken. I have been (almost) nurtured under a Republican form of Government; and under that form I hope to live and die - - That form I trust will decend to my children, as their best earthly portion.

My only aim in life, is to do all the good for mankind in my power, in that way an unerring Providence seems to have opened. Hence if you had embraced the opinion, that I am an office hunter, I hope that sentiment by this time, is removed - - If that is done, my end in writing is obtained - - I wish no one upon earth to entertain unfavourable views of my Deportment, much less the heads of my Government;

Pardon me my dear Sir, for thus troubling you - - I have wrote in great haste, & from the very Spur of the moment. When you have read the contents, resign them to Oblivion. With an humble, & sincere prayer to the Father of all, that you may be indulged with a long & prosperous life, I am with all due respect yours &c.
                                                                                        Elijah Sparks

N.B. I refer you to Gen. James Taylor, whom I expect you will shortly see, & he can inform you, whether or not, I deserve the opprobrious epithet of "Office hunter.”

The following record of the children of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks has been compiled largely from records sent to us by Miss Firnhaber, Mrs.. Seiter, and Mrs. Skinner. The Civil War pension records of three descendants have also been helpful. Hopefully, this article may come to the attention of other descendants of Elijah Sparks who will see fit to send us additional data. The following six children of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks are known to have reached maturity:

58.1.1 Hamlet Sparks, born ca. 1796.
58.1.2 Norval Sparks, born in 1800.
58.1.3 Eliza Ann Sparks, born April 3, 1803.
58.1.4 Green Sparks, born ca. 1808.
58.1.5 Helen Sparks, born ca. 1812.
58.1.6 America Sparks, born ca. 1814 -15.

58.1.1 Hamlet Sparks was born ca. 1796 in Virginia according to the 1850 census of Dearborn County, Indiana. He married Elizabeth Toplis Cheesman, or Chisman, ca. 1819. She, too, was a native of Virginia. Hamlet was a member of the early Methodist Church of Lawrenceburgh, Indiana. In 1819, he was commissioned a captain of the 15th Indiana Regiment. In 1850, when the census was taken, he was living at Moores Hill, Indiana, and was listed as a farmer. It is believed that he died ca. 1876 at the home of his son, William Palmer Sparks, at Grant City, Missouri. Hamlet and Elizabeth (Cheesman) Sparks are believed to have had nine children: Eliza Sparks, born ca. 1819; married Elijah Burns. Nothing more is known about her. Almira Sparks, born ca. 1823. Nothing more is known. Mary R. Sparks, born ca. 1826; she married Levin Smith Moore on April 14, 1855, in Dearborn County, Ind. He was a son of Adam and Judith (Smith) Moore who came to Indiana from Maryland and settled at what became Moores Hill. Levin S. Moore was born June 22, 1819. He married (first) Anna Dowden and had children Otho W. Moore, Mary Moore, Sophia Moore, Benjamin S. Moore, Isaac T. Moore, and John C. Moore. After his wife's death in 1853, Levin S. Moore married Mary R. Sparks and they had the following children: Anna Moore, George Moore, Josephine Moore, Harriet Moore, Charles Moore, and Carrie Moore.

(See History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, Indiana by F. E. Weakley & Co., 1885.) Elijah Sparks, born ca. 1826; married (first) Euphrosina Curry, and (second) Elizabeth Carver. Nothing further is known of him. Liberty Sparks, born ca. 1832. Believed never to have married. America Sparks, born ca. 1834. Believed never to have married. Norval G. Sparks was born, according to his application for a Civil War pension, on November 1, 1837, at Greensburg, Indiana. He died at Moores Hill, Indiana, on April 29, 1923. On August 16, 1861, he enlisted in Company A, 18th Indiana Infantry Regiment and was discharged on August 28, 1865. When he was 64 years old in 1921, he stated in a pension document that at the time of his enlistrrient he was 5 feet, 10 inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, and that he had been a student. He began receiving a pension immediately upon his discharge and by the time of his death the amount had been increased to $72 per month. In a document dated September 7, 1877, found in his pension file in the National Archives, he described his disability as follows; “In November or Dec, 1861, while in Missouri and shortly after making the famous 'Fremont Forced March' to Springfield, Missouri, I was taken with severe diarrhea and fever and was sent to Genl. hospital at Otterville, Missouri. ... In May 1863 while at the Siege of Vicksburg, Miss., I was detailed by order of Gen. Carr to take command of the Ambulance Corps and while active in that capacity I received the injury which was occasioned by being in too close proximity to our heavy guns. My hearing was greatly impaired.” In 1877, he was a school teacher, but as his deafness increased, he had to give up his profession. He eventually became entirely deaf. (Pension file WC 942-693, National Archives) Norval G. Sparks was married on April 10, 1870, at Florence in Switzerland County, Indiana, to Ella A. Craig. They had two children, Charles D. Sparks, born December 16, 1871, at Forence, Indiana, and Jessie P. Sparks, born 5 February 1879, at Moores Hill, Indiana. Charles B. Sparks, born ca. 1840. He was a private in Company I, 83rd Regiment Indiana Infantry. He died in Larson Hospital, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1863 of anemia. William Palmer Sparks was born 1 April 1843, at Moores Hill, Dearborn County, Indiana, and died on April 15, 1915, at Ida Grove, Iowa. On September 8, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company I, 83rd Regiment of Indiana Infantry commanded by H. J. Bradford. He was discharged at the close of the Civil War on June 1, 1865. In later years, he received a pension for his service ($8.30 per month beginning in 1888 and increased to $30.00 in 1911) and there is a voluminous file of papers with his application in the National Archives (Application 672,300, Certificate 697,777). There are numerous sworn statements by army comrades and doctors regarding his broken health following the war. In 1863, he contracted a serious eye disease which left his sight permanently impaired. His army bunk mate, Daniel Smith, wrote from Lincoln County, Oklahoma, in 1897 that William P. Sparks “after leaving Vicksburg always shot from his left shoulder on account of his right eye being affected while previous to our arrival at Vicksburg he always shot from his right shoulder. I distinctly remember we used to call him cross fire after he began to shoot from his left shoulder.”

In December 1864, he contracted a serious case of scurvy and rheumatism while his unit was in South Carolina and he was sent to a hospital on David's Island in New York, followed by a furlough. In 1889, he recalled his suffering: “The leg at the time I lay at David's Island, New York harbor, became so deeply affected that Gangreen set in and the thick of the thigh and calf of the leg mostly all rotted away, which is the same leg Sciatic Rheumatism has settled in, and Comrade, I would fail were I to attempt a description of the pain when suffering, for one to know for himself, would be for him to experience the pain. ... As to whose treatment I was under at David's Island I never knew as I was too sick while there to have known a brother had one been with me and when sent from there to my home in Indiana I had to be carried on a stretcher to the vessel and from the vessel to the cars, my right leg wrapped in a piece of sheet.”

One of Sparks's commanding officers during the war was a Colonel Harry Spooner and William said that if he ever had a son he would name him after the Colonel, which he did. William Palmer Sparks married Anna Minerva Harding on October 13, 1866. She was born August 13, 1848, at New Marion, Indiana, a daughter of Ransom and Nancy Caroline (Mitchell) Harding. She died May 14, 1910. Both of her parents were natives of New York. William and Minerva moved to Grant City, Missouri, in 1876 where he was a cabinet maker. He also took an active part in the local G.A.R. and was quite popular as a speaker. He was also a justice of the peace. William Palmer and Anna Minerva (Harding) Sparks were parents of nine children: (the dates of birth are taken from a document submitted by William P. Sparks to the Department of the Interior in connection with his pension on May 4, 1898) Lillie Pearl Sparks, born July 19, 1867, at Moores Hill, Indiana and died at Grant City, Missouri, in 1950. She married (first) Lewis Alexander Stone and had a daughter, Alice Elizabeth Stone. She married (second) Dr. Henry Richardson; they were later divorced. Charles Sparks, died in infancy. Harry Spooner Sparks, born January 17, 1869, in Indiana; he married Lillian Black and lived in Crestline, Kansas. They had a son, Harry Sparks, Jr., who died in infancy. They had an adopted son, William E. Sparks. Ida May Sparks, born May 30, 1875 (other records given 1874); she died on December 19, 1958. She married (first) John Simmons and had the following children: Samuel Parks Simmons, Margery Anne Simmons, William Joseph Simmons, and Charles Rucker Simmons.

Ida May Sparks married (second) Elvis Maupin who had been her high school teacher when she lived in Grant City, Missouri. William Eugene Sparks, born March 4, 1877 (other records give March 16, 1876); he died August 1958. He married Rachel Etta Saunders. They had no children, but they adopted two: LeRoy Sparks, who died shortly after World War I, and Mildred Sparks. Edward (Neddie) Sparks; died in infancy. Albert Montgomery Sparks, born January 12, 1881 (other records give August 27, 1881) and died September 25, 1954. He married Katherine (Kate) Horz, or Hetz. They were parents of Lillian Irene Sparks and William Christian Sparks. Mary Alice Sparks, born May 4, 1884, and died on November 22, 1963. On January 9, 1901, she married Charles Edward Ernst, a lawyer from Albany, Missouri. To this union two children were born: Charles Edward Ernst, Jr., and Alice Ernestine Ernst. Charles Edward Ernst, Jr., married Jewell Nichols of Columbia, Missouri., in 1931. He is an electrical engineer in Long Beach, California. They have a daughter, Angela Cecile Ernst, who married Dan Schwartz in 1969; divorced 1970.

Alice Ernestine Ernst married John Albert Selter in 1948 and lives in Lexington, Missouri. She is a retired school teacher and has helped tremendously in the preparation of this article. Dorothy Helen Sparks, born July 12, 1894, and still living in 1973. She married Marshall McComas of Denver, Missouri., and had the following children: Marshall McComas, Jr.; Maurine McComas; Margie McComas; Randall McComas; Janis McComas; Rita McComas; and Donna McComas.

58.1.2 Norval Sparks was born in 1800 on Bank Lick Creek, Campbell County, Kentucky. He was married ca. 1825 to Jane E. Johnston, a native of New York, who was born ca. 1806. Norval Sparks died in 1877; his wife, Jane, died in 1855. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceburgh, Indiana, when that church was established in September, 1829.

According to the History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana, published in 1885, Norval Sparks was six years old when his parents moved to Lawrenceburgh. As a youth, he was a clerk in the mercantile house of George P. Buell and in 1822-23 he opened his own drygoods store in Lawrenceburgh. When the general business crash of 1838 swept the country, his business failed. Coincidentally, the death of a brother-in-law that same year provided Norval with an opportunity to take charge of his brother-in-law's grocery and feed business and he stayed with that business until his death in 1877. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the branch of the Indiana State Bank which was established in Lawrenceburgh in 1834.

The 1850 census of Dearborn County, Indiana, shows Norval and Jane (Johnston) Sparks living in Lawrenceburgh with four children: Margaret Sparks, David Sparks, America Sparks, and John Sparks. Their fifth child, AnnSparks, was not listed on that census. The History of Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland Counties, Indiana referred to previously, gives a rather lengthy biography of David Sparks, son of Norval and Jane. According to that source, Norval and Jane (Johnston) Sparks reared four children: Margaret J., David E., America E., and John W., while four other children died in childhood. Why their daughter Ann was omitted is not known. Margaret J. Sparks was born ca. 1826 in Indiana. She was 24 years of age in 1850 and was living at home. Nothing further is known about her. David E. Sparks was born at Lawrenceburgh, Indiana, in 1828. He died on June 17, 1901 in Lawrenceburgh. In 1857, he established a business for himself after clerking in a store for a few years. On April 18, 1861, he enlisted in the Union Army as a Quartermaster in the 7th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers and was honorably discharged on August 24, 1861. He became a clerk in the Quartermaster's Department of the U.S. Navy in 1862, serving until 1865. He applied for a pension in 1890 on the basis of having “contracted chronic diarrhoea and resulting blood poisoning from exposure incident to the service.” There are a great many documents in his pension file in the National Archives because of the confusion resulting from his civilian service from 1862 until 1865. (See Application 748,127 and 744,018 and Certificates 791,318 and WC 529,670) His pension was eventually approved. His brother, John, wrote on his behalf, as did his sister, Ann E. Sparks. She stated on May 5, 1890, that she had been “the Housekeeper of our family since the death of our Mother in 1855.”

Following the death of David E. Sparks, his widow applied for a pension. Among the documents submitted was a sworn statement dated September 5, 1901, by Luther E. Abbot, pastor of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Germantown, PA, that the following marriage record is on file in that church: “Married on the 29th of October 1863, Mr David E. Sparks of Lawrenceburg, Dearborn Co., Indiana to Miss Josephine Beckel of Germantown, Pa.” The biography of David E. Sparks appearing in the History of Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland Counties, Indiana, states that she was a daughter of Professor J. C. Beckel, a music publisher and teacher, and his wife, the former Charlotte Eicholz, of Philadelphia. In one of Josephine Sparks's letters in the pension file, dated October 7, 1926, she stated that shortly after their marriage “my Husband was sent to Nashville, Tenn.; he had some clerical work to do. As we were on our way to Church one Sunday, my Husband saw a man on the sidewalk on the other side of the street. He called my attention to him, he said it was General Grant in from of his headquarters.” Josephine (Beckel) Sparks died in Hartwell, Ohio, on December 27, 1926. There were no children.

In his will, dated February 25, 1901, a copy of which is in the pension file, David E. Sparks divided his household goods between his wife and his sister, Ann E. Sparks, as well as his interest “in the store owned by my brother John W. Sparks and myself, and carried on in the old homestead on High Street, Lawrenceburg.” America Sparks was born ca. 1836 in Indiana. She was fourteen years old on the 1850 census. Nothing further is known about her. John W. Sparks was born in 1840 according to the History of Dearborn, Ohio, and Switzerland Counties, Indiana. He was educated in the public schools and was trained in the mercantile business under the tutelage of his father. In 1862, he entered military service in the Quartermaster Department of the Union Army. After participating in the siege of Vicksburg, he returned home and entered the grocery business at Lawrenceburgh, a business in which he was still engaged when the above history was published in 1885. On July 13, 1901, he signed a statement supporting the application of his brother David 's widow for a pension. Ann E. Sparks was still living in 1890 when she signed a letter supporting the application of her brother, David, for a pension. This is our only knowledge of her.

58.1.3 Eliza Ann Sparks was born April 3, 1803, in Kentucky. On November 2, 1828, she married William S Durbin in Dearborn County, Indiana. (See Marriage Book I, p. 216) She died on October 30, 1862, at New Philadelphia, Washington County, Indiana. Miss Firnhaber, a great-granddaughter of Eliza Ann (Sparks) Durbin, has a newspaper clipping, without a date and without the name of the paper, which was pasted in the family Bible, probably by her grandfather, John Weaver Durbin. It reads: “Mrs. Eliza Ann Durbin, wife of Wm. S. Durbin, Esq., and daughter of the Rev. Elijah and Elizabeth Sparks, was born April 3, 1803, married November 2, 1828, and died in great peace in New Philadelphia, Washington County, Indiana, October 30, 1862, age 59 years and 7 mos. Thus passed away from earth one of the brightest and sweetest spirits of Indiana Methodism. In early life she received the intellectual and religious culture from her long since departed but sainted father who was a pioneer judge as well as a pioneer preacher. Eight sons and three daus.”


Eliza Ann Sparks and her sister,America Sparks, married brothers; Eliza Ann married William S. Durbin and America married Hosier J. Durbin. According to records gathered by Miss Firnhaber, the Durbin brothers descended from Daniel Durbin who was born in Baltimore County, Maryland (that portion that is now Harford County) on December 1, 1741, and died in 1827 in Harrison County, Kentucky.

Daniel Durbin married Molly Johns and they had seven children. Their second son, born in 1778, was named Nathaniel Giles Hosier Durbin. He married Elizabeth Nunn and they were the parents of five sons, including William S. Durbin, born ca. 1806, and Hosier J. Durbin, born ca. 1812. The other sons were: John Price Durbin, born ca. 1800; Samuel S. Durbin; and Edmund N. Durbin. Nathaniel Giles Hosier Durbin died suddenly in March, 1813, leaving his widow with five sons. William S. was then about seven years old, while Hosier was probably still an infant.

William Sappington Durbin (the name of Sappington probably came from Richard Sappington, a Revolutionary War surgeon who married Cassandra Durbin, a sister of Nathaniel Giles Hosier Durbin) became a tanner at Brookvllle, Indiana, but subsequently opened his own tannery at Lawrenceburgh. In 1850, he went to New Philadelphia, Indiana, where he operated a tannery for a number of years.


After the death of his first wife, Eliza Ann (Sparks) Durbin, in 1862, William S. Durbin married Virginia A. Vosler. She died on December 12, 1890. He died in 1891 at Greenville, Indiana.

Eliza Ann (Sparks) Durbin and William S. Durbin were the parents of eleven children, eight sons and three daughters. Seven of the sons served in the Union forces during the Civil War. One of them became Governor of Indiana. The children were: Carolina Sparks Durbin, born October 10, 1829, died August 27, 1837. Edmund Nunn Durbin, born April 10, 1831; died April 3, 1852. He was blown from the Madison packet Red Stone as that ill-fated boat was rounding into Scotts Landing just above Carrollton, Kentucky. He, his sister, Augusta, and his cousin, Caroline Durbin, were guests of the boat's captain who was trying to break a record set by a rival vessel. The girls were in the cabin when the explosion occurred and were not hurt. A monument to four guests of the Red Stone marks their graves in the old Lawrenceburgh cemetery. Edmund Nunn Durbin had just returned from New York where he had tried to get ship passage to California, but had failed because so many had already booked passage ahead of him because of the California Gold Rush. He had planned to start for California by an overland route and was killed just a week before he was to start. John Weaver Durbin, born January 12, 1833; died in April 1926; buried in New Albany, Indiana. He enlisted on April 22, 1861, at Aurora, Indiana, in the 138th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. On August 20, 1862, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He was married ca. 1858 to Elmira Jane Reisinger (1841 -1911).

To this union were born: William Nunn Durbin, born 1859; he married Peach Pierse who died in 1940. They had a son named Pierse Winborn Durbin, born 1902; he married Margaret MNU. David Henry Durbin, born 1861, died 1948; he married Cornelia Fitch who died in 1932. They had a daughter named Marion Lee Durbin (1887 -1973) who married Dr. Max Ellis; they also had a son, Winfield William Durbin (1893 -1953) who married and had three children. Charles Alexander Durbin, born 1870, died 1937. He married Katherine LIU; no children. Emma Elmira Durbin, born 1880, died 1962. She married Adolph Herman Firnhaber (1869 -1949). Their daughter, Myra Firnhaber, born 1901, has been exceedingly helpful in the preparation of this article. They also had children named Helen N. Firnhaber, born 1902, who married (first) Dr. Glenn Bartlett and (second) Bruce Richardson; Durbin Firnhaber, born 1906, married Elizabeth Ann Wilson; Jane Firnhaber, born 1908, married Melvin Weller; and Hilda Virginia Firnhaber, born 1911, married (first) Lloyd Brown and (second) W. L. Andrews. Samuel Weaver Durbin, born November 6, 1834, died in 1909. He was in the service of the Federal Government in the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma when war broke out, but was called to New Orleans where he served the Union during the Civil War and for which he later drew a pension. He lived in Chicago, Illinois. On April 7, 1859, he married Sarah R. Martin. They had two children: Anna Durbin, who married William Barret. William S. Durbin, who married and had two sons, Paul and Malcolm. Elizabeth Durbin, born September 6, 1836; died October 27, 1836. William Nunn Durbin, born March 18, 1838; died April 24, 1898. He enlisted on May 7, 1864, in the 139th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was married (first) on November 21, 1860, to Eunice Morgan and they had a son, David Gordon Durbin who married Louise Amelia Fiedler and had two daughters, Alice and Emma. William Nunn Durbin married (second) Serilda Frances Montgomery (1852 -1922) on March 5, 1872; they had one child, Myra May Durbin, born March 4, 1887. William Nunn Durbin is buried at New Albany, Indiana. David Sparks Durbin, born February 15, 1840; died December 2, 1913, at Michigan City, Indiana, and is buried at Indianapolis. He enlisted on April 23, 1861, at Salem, Indiana, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant of Company G, 13th Indiana Volunteer Infantry on July 28, 1863. He married (first) Emily Harkness on April 18, 1866. She died on April 21, 1872; there were no children. He married (second) on February 15, 1876, Mary Harkness. They had one son, George Durbin. She died on May 10, 1879. On February 15, 1881, David Sparks Durbin married (third) Mamie Catherine Reisinger. Their children were Morris Durbin, born 1883, died 1901; Merrill Durbin, born 1887, died 1900; Chester Durbin, born 1889, died 1889; Robert Foster Durbin, born 1897, died 1968; and David Shirley Durbin, born 1898, was married on October 29, 1927, to Gladys M. Wendt. Mr. Durbin is still living (1973) near Tridelphia, West Virginia. Augusta Margaret Durbin, born October 4, 1841; died May 5, 1870. She 18 buried at New Albany, Indiana. On October 11, 1859, she married Edward Lockwood (1838 -1865). We do not know whether there were children. Hosier Hamley Durbin, born October 22, 1843; died March 18, 1927, at Anderson, Indiana. He is buried there. On July 22, 1862, he enlisted as a sergeant of the 8th Indiana Battery at Salem, Indiana. He married Dora Jane Tucker and had the following children: Oliver Sherman Durbin, born 2 February 1868, died ca. 1968 at the age of nearly 100. He married Celene Hulcee and had a son named Vivian Durbin and a daughter named Suzy Durbin. Edmund Linn Durbin, born in 1870. He married and had a daughter. Burton Warren Durbin, born in 1872, died 1910, He was shot in the Black Hills of South Dakota in a cattlemen-sheepherders feud. Taylor Eugene Durbin, born in 1874, died July, 1953. Augusta Pearl Durbin, born in 1877. She married and had a daughter. Henry Clay Durbin, born August 16, 1845; died May 23, 1923. He enlisted on July 21, 1862, in the 16th Indiana Volunteer Infantry and was captured and imprisoned at Vicksburg for seven or eight months. He was discharged on March 10, 1863, but reenlisted on May 7, 1864, in the 139th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. He was discharged on October 5, 1864. He was married (first) on July 28, 1868, to Hattie (Harriet) Morgan. She was born June 4, 1847, and died May 18, 1882. To this union were born: Mineola (Minnie) Durbin, born March 6, 1869, died 1952. She married T. J. Hanly on November 14, 1894. Clinton Taylor Durbin, born 3 February 1871, died January 26,1955. He married Alice Ober on June 20, 1894. She was born December 29, 1875, and died January 28, 1935. They had three children: Mildred Durbin, born Nov 9, 1899, married Jesse R. Skinner July 22, 1930; David Alfred Durbin, born July 17, 1906, died April 19, 1961; he married Dorothy Ragsdale in 1931; and Mary Alice Durbin, born January 19, 1910, died January 8, 1949; she married Ora Wagner on January 1, 1939. Clarence Durbin, born August 25, 1878, died October 3, 1971. He married Minnie Temple in 1897. They went to Fallon, Nevada, in 1937 where she died in July, 1942.

Henry Clay Durbin married (second) Elizabeth (Betty) Frances Hay. They had one child, Rebecca May Durbin, born in 1886. Winfield Taylor Durbin, born May 4, 1847, at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, the youngest child of William S. and Eliza Ann (Sparks) Durbin. According to a biography in the Centennial History of Madison County, Indiana, published in 1925, "his early youth was spent at New Philadelphia where he attended school and worked in his father's tannery. In 1862, after the death of his mother, he enlisted in the 16th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, at the age of fifteen. He participated in the first attack on Vicksburg, and later in the Battle of Arkansas Pass. On being mustered out, he came home where he taught school for four terms. In 1869, he went to Indianapolis as a wholesale drygoods salesman, but in 1879 he went to Anderson where he became engaged in the banking business and in the industrial expansion."

“He took an active part in politics and for six years was chairman of the State Republican Executive Committee. In 1896, he was elected a member of the Republican National Committee. In 1898, Governor Mount appointed him as Colonel of the 161st Indiana Volunteer Infantry in the War with Spain. His regiment went into camp at Jacksonville, Florida, but did not take an active part in the war.”

Col. Winfield T. Durbin

On October 6, 1875, Winfield Taylor Durbin married Miss Bertha McCullough, daughter of Neel and Marie (Edgerly) McCullough. To this union were born: Fletcher Durbin, born April 1879, died July 1967. He was a graduate of Williams College and a lieutenant in the Spanish American War. He married Hazel West of Indianapolis and they had two children, Elinor West Durbin, born 1909, married Sawtell Prentice Porter; and Winfield Taylor Durbin II, born 1912, married Barbara Hess (divorced) and had three children, John Price, Ann Hempstead, and Fletcher McCullough. Marie Durbin, died at age nine.

In 1901, Winfield Taylor Durbin became the twenty-fourth Governor of Indiana and served his full term of four years before returning to his home in Anderson. He died on December 18, 1928, and is buried in Indianapolis, Indiana.

58.1.4 Green Sparks, youngest son of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks, was born ca. 1808 in Indiana according to the 1850 census of Dearborn County, Indiana. On May 26, 1835, he married Susan Hunt, who was born 1818 in Indiana. (See Dearborn County Marriage Book 3, page 303)

Records indicate that Green Sparks and his brother, Norval, were business partners, although in 1850 Green was listed as a farmer, while brother Norval was listed as a merchant. Green Sparks was listed as being worth $10,000 in real estate - - a considerable accumulation of wealth for a farmer at that time and in that section of the United States. In 1837, the two brothers sold land jointly owned in Bartholomew County, Indiana. That same year, Green Sparks was elected to the Lawrenceburgh Town Council.

by 1860, Green and Susan (Hunt) Sparks were living in Muscatine City (Muscatine County) Iowa where his occupation was given on the census of that year as "clerk"; his real estate was valued at $7,000. In 1870, he was a furniture dealer in Muscatine County. With him, according to the census, were his wife, Susan, age 52, and daughters: Mary, age 32; Ananda, age 23; and Emma, age 14. We have no further record of Green Sparks. From census and other records, we believe that the children of Green and Susan (Hunt) Sparks were: Mary A. Sparks, born ca. 1836 in Indiana. She was living at home when the 1870 census was taken of Muscatine County, Iowa. Frances Sparks, born ca. 1839 in Indiana. She was listed as being 20 years old on the 1870 census of Muscatine County, Iowa. William P. Sparks, born ca. 1841 in Indiana. Our information regarding his life has been taken from the papers filed in the National Archives pertaining to his widow's application for a Civil War pension. (Application 349,378, Certificate 259,193) He came with his parents to Iowa prior to 1860; his age was given as 18 on the 1850 census. On October 3, 1861, he enlisted in Company H, 11th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. On July 6, 1863, he was promoted to corporal. One of the supporting documents for his widow's pension, dated September 22, 1888, was written by Justin E. Coe. It reads as follows:

“I was a member of Co. H, 11th Regt. Iowa Vole, and William P. Sparks was a member of said Co. and Regt. We were both captured by the rebels at Atlanta, Ga. 22d of July 1864 and confined in Andersonville Prison, Ga. While we were there Sparks was badly afflicted with diarrhea. Afterwards were were taken to Florence, S.C. prison and remained there until the 8th of December 1864. While at Florence, Sparks was appointed to issue rations to 100 men and was then compelled to mingle with men who had scurvy and he with all of us was diseased and badly afflicted, the same being the result of the exposure, hardships and insuficient and improper food we had in these two prisons.”

Other records in the pension file reveal that William P. Sparks was paroled at Charleston, South Carolina, on December 10, 1864, and was sent to Camp Parole in Maryland where he was given a 30 day furlough. He was mustered out of service at Davenport, Iowa, on February 21, 1865. His health had been ruined by his prison experiences; there are a number of sworn statements in his widow's pension file written by friends of William P. Sparks regarding his constant illness following the war. He moved to Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, after the war where, on January 7, 1869, he married Emma S. Brown by the Rev. M. E. Wade. He died three years later, on June 9, 1872. There were no children. When his widow applied for a pension on January 20, 1887, she gave her age as 37. She was granted a pension of $8.00 per month, increased to $12.00 later. She continued to receive this pension until her death on July 4, 1902. Amanda Sparks, born ca. 1845 in Indiana. She was listed as living at home, age 23, on the 1870 census of Muscatine County, Iowa. Emma Sparks, born ca. 1853 in Indiana. She was listed at 14 years of age on the 1870 census of Muscatine County, Iowa.

58.1.5 Helen Sparks was born ca. 1812. (On the 1830 census of Dearborn Comity, Indiana, Elizabeth Sparks (called Eliza on the census), widow of Elijah, is listed with a female born between 1810 and 1815 and another female born between 1815 and 1820. Undoubtedly, these are Elijah's and Elizabeth's daughters, Helen and America. Their older daughter, Eliza Ann, had married in 1828. Since Helen Sparks was married prior to 1832 while America Sparks was married in 1834, it is reasonable to assume that Helen was the female listed on the 1830 census as between 15 and 20 years of age (born 1810 -1815) while America was the female between 10 and 15 years of age (born 1815 -1820).

Helen Sparks married William Hamilton prior to January 11, 1832, for on that date she and her husband (along with the other heirs of Elijah Sparks) conveyed land to Samuel Weaver. We have no further official records of this family, but Mrs. Seiter has furnished us with a list of their children. Their names were: Margaret Hamilton, Norval Hamilton, John Hamilton, Sparks Hamilton, William Hamilton, America Hamilton, and Jane Hamilton.

58.1.6 America Sparks, youngest daughter of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks, was born ca. 1814 -15. On May 1, 1834, she married Hosier J. Durbin, brother of William Sappington Durbin; thus the two Sparks sisters, America and Eliza Ann, married two Durbin brothers, Hosier and William.(See Dearborn County Marriage Book 3, p. 116)

A brief biography of Hosier J. Jurbin is given in a book which is a biography of his brother, John Price Durbin. The Life of John Price Durbin was written by John A. Roche in 1889, and according to his account, “John Price Durbin's youngest brother, Hosier J. Durbin, was a member of the Indiana (Methodist) Conference and at the time of his death was agent for the American Bible Society.  Hosier J. Durbin was killed on August 11, 1851, when a tree limb fell on him during a storm. He had been a member of the State Legislature of Indiana. He was a speaker of persuasive eloquence and a powerful preacher."

Mrs.Seiter has also sent us the names of the children of America (Sparks) Durbin and Hosier J. Durbin taken from “some yellowed and desiccated records made by the gentleman my mother referred to as 'Uncle Norv' .“ Mrs. Seiter's mother was Mary Alice Sparks, daughter of William Palmer Sparks (see pages 1564-65); thus the "Uncle Norv” was Norval G. Sparks, son of Hamlet and Elizabeth (Cheesman) Sparks (see page 1564).

According to the notes referred to above, the children of America (Sparks) Durbin and her husband, Rosier J. Durbin, were: Fannie Durbin, born ca. 1836; she married FNU Cook. Lizzie O. Durbin, born ca. 1838; she married a FNU Collins. Carrie J. Durbin, born ca. 1840. On April 8, 1863, she married W. M. Fenley, who was born September 11, 1839, son of John W. Z. and Mary A. (Robinson) Fenley. They had the following children: Green D. Fenley, Shirley Fenley, Joseph Fenley, Carrie Fenley. Caroline (called Cal) Durbin, born ca. 1842. Elijah Green Durbin, born ca. 1844. ? Wilbur Durbin; the record is unclear regarding this son.