March 6, 2021

Pages 1733-1735
Whole Number 90


On page 1670 of The Sparks Quarterly (Whole No. 86), June 1974, the question was asked, "Who was Ellery Sparks, died 1864?" His death was recorded in the diary of William Salter, a journalist who was observing the effects of the Civil War by visiting army hospitals. The entry in his diary for July 27, 1864, reads as follows according to Vol. 33 of the Iowa Journal of History and Politics: "Before Atlanta. Isaac Wickham died this evening. Ellery Sparks also died. Wrote letters for both."

A brief abstract of the military service of Ellery E. Sparks is recorded on page 1055 of the Quarterly of March 1967 (Whole No. 57). In keeping with our announced intention in September 1967 to publish abstracts of pension applications of the Civil War, we present here an abstract prepared by Dr. Paul E. Sparks of the papers on file in the National Archives pertaining to the application for a pension by the father of Elery E. Sparks. (See page 1720 of the March 1975 issue of the Quarterly for an explanation of the documents of this nature that may be obtained from the National Archives.)

88.1 ELERY E. SPARKS, son of 88. John and Sarah (Anderson) Sparks, was born May 24, 1845, in Muscatine County, Iowa; he died on July 27, 1864, near Atlanta, Ga. File designation: Father's Cert. No. 247,748.

On December 24, 1883, John Sparks, age 63, a resident of Fairport, Iowa, appeared before the Clerk of the District Court of Muscatine County, Iowa, to make an application for a pension for Dependent Fathers. He stated that his son, Elery E. Sparks, had enlisted on November 14, 1862, at Davenport, Iowa, in Company A, 11th Regiment Iowa Infantry and that he had died on July 27, 1864, of wounds received in the Battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. His son had left neither a widow nor a child.

88. John Sparks further stated that he married the mother of his son, Elery, at Fairport, Iowa, on May 24, 1845, by J. L. Husted, a justice of the peace, and that she had died at Fairport on March 23, 1859. He said that he was partially dependent upon his son, Elery, for support. Brothers and sisters of Elery, who were under 16 years of age at the time of his death in 1864 were:

88.2 Sarah E. Sparks, born June 28, 1850.
88.3 Sophronia Sparks, born June 24, 1852.
88.4 Chester Sparks, born November 4, 1854.
88.5 Wyman Sparks, born April 30, 1856.
88.6 Lucy Sparks, born May 14, 1858.

David Morris and John W. Anderson were attesting witnesses to the application.

On February 2, 1884, Arch G. Tyler, age 37, a resident of Illinois City, Illinois, (just across the river from Fairport, Iowa) made a Neighbors Affidavit in behalf of the application of John Sparks. He stated that he had known John Sparks for 25 years and was also intimately acquainted with his son, Elery, whom he met first when he (Elery) was about ten years old. He said that Elery had assisted his father in his pottery until his enlistment in 1862 and that during his military service Elery had sent money home regularly up to the time of his death. He (Tyler) knew this because he had served with Elery E. Sparks in the same company and regiment. The affidavit was made before J. M. Doran, a justice of the peace in Muscatine County, Iowa.

A similar affidavit was made by William H. Myers who said that he was a bunkmate of Elery E. Sparks and saw him send money home frequently to his father. M. W. Griffin and N. Rosenberger were attesting witnesses to the affidavit.

Two weeks later, on February 18, 1884, John Sparks made a general affidavit to support his application. He said that he had lived in Fairport, Iowa, since 1844 and that his family consisted at that time (1884) of his wife by a second marriage and six children, one of whom was by his second wife. He said that his son, Elery, was by his first wife and had been born on March 13, 1846. He said his son had not married and that he had left no heirs. As the eldest child, Elery was the only person legally found to support him (John) or to render aid since the other children were too small. Elery was working as an assistant in making stoneware when he enlisted in the service, and thus the proceeds of his labor were no longer available to help support the family. T.G. Regan, a justice of the peace, notarized the affidavit.

An undated document in the pension file of Elery E. Sparks is quite interesting since it gives a personal view of two common practices during the Civil War. by paying a bounty or by hiring a substitute, a man could avoid conscription, or compulsory military service. Also, the military establishment could pay a soldier a bounty for extending his period of service. Apparently, John Sparks was drafted and used both of these practices to avoid military service. He stated in the undated document that when he was drafted he was 43 years old and that from his occupation as a potter he only received between $200 and $300 per year. He had a dwelling in Fairport worth about $800 and a team of horses worth about $200. His son, Elery, had sent him $100 which he (Elery) had received as bounty money, and the remaining $700 of the bounty required had been raised by subscription from the people of Muscatine County to enable John Sparks to procure a substitute.

The Adjutant General's Office confirmed the military service of Elery E. Sparks on March 10, 1884.

The last document among those supplied by the National Archives from this file is a copy of a marriage license from W.H. Hughes, Clerk of the District Court of Muscatine County, Iowa, on July 23, 1888, confirming the marriage of John Sparks and Sarah Anderson on May 24, 1845, by James L. Husted, a justice of the peace.

From the documents supplied by the National Archives, we cannot determine what action was taken upon the application of John Sparks, but apparently he did receive a father's pension under Father's Certificate No. 247,748, which was issued sometime in 1884.

(Editor's Note: According to the 1860 and 1870 censuses of Muscatine County, Iowa, John Sparks, father of Elery E. Sparks, was born in Kentucky ca. 1822. He was a potter by occupation and on the 1860 census he was listed as a "manufacturer". His real estate was valued at $4500 and his personal property was valued at $2430. Living with the family in 1860 were the five children listed in the application as having been under 16 in 1864; also listed was Elihu Sparks, age 13 in 1860 (thus born ca. 1847). This was doubtless intended for Elery Sparks. Also listed as living in the household of John Sparks in 1860 was John Anderson, age 26, teamster, and Amanda Anderson, age 28, both born in Indiana. They were probably relatives of John's first wife, Sarah (Anderson) Sparks.

After the death of his first wife, Sarah Anderson, in 1859, John Sparks married, as his second wife, Mary MNU who was born in Maryland (Delaware according to the 1870 census) ca. 1839. When the 1870 census was taken, in addition to the five children mentioned above who were children of John and Sarah (Anderson) Sparks, there were three children of John and Mary:

88.7 Willmetta Sparks, age 6, born ca. 1864;
88.8 Della Sparks, age 4, born ca. 1866; and
88.9 George Sparks, born ca. 1868, age 2.

Living with the family in 1870 were Hester Penton, age 49, retired, born in Maryland, and Jennie Penton, age 19, born in Delaware. They could very well have been the mother and a sister of Mary Sparks, second wife of John Sparks.)