May 3, 2021
Whole Number 94
WHO WAS THE ANCESTOR OF THE SPARKSES
OF WEBSTER COUNTY, KENTUCKY?
by Paul E. Sparks
For several years we have been collecting data about a SPARKS family that settled that area of Kentucky which became Webster County in 1860. A descendant of this branch of the family, Jack D. Sparks, St. Joseph, Michigan (49085) has contributed most generously for the support of our research. Webster County was formed from parts of Henderson, Hopkins, and Union Counties. The Sparks family settled on Deer Creek near the present-day village of Sebree and quite close to the boundary line between Hopkins and Henderson Counties. The family apparently came to Kentucky ca. 1820, for one of its members, Noah Sparks, was born in North Carolina ca. 1817, while his brother, Samuel Sparks, was born ca. 1821 in Kentucky.
Although settlement began in Kentucky ca. 1774, and she became a state in 1792, it is surprising that there were no persons named SPARKS in the entire western half of the state on the censuses of 1790, 1800, and 1810, and there were only three SPARKS families in the western part of the state on the 1820 census. These were Thomas Sparks, born prior to 1775, of Christian County, with his wife, three sons and two daughters; Eli Sparks, born between 1794 and 1801, of Trigg County, with his wife and one daughter;Thomas Sparks, born between 1775 and 1794, of Henderson County, with his wife and two sons. (Actually on all census records prior to 1850, households were enumerated as males and females in certain age groups; it is our conjecture that the oldest female in each of these three families was the wife and that the boys and girls enumerated were sons and daughters of the head of the household.)
On the 1830 census of Kentucky, only four persons named SPARKS were listed as heads of families in the western half of the state. Thomas Sparks, who was on the 1820 census of Christian County, was now in adjoining Caldwell County with six males (probably sons) and three females (probably daughters). Eli Sparks, who was on the 1820 census of Trigg County, was now in neighboring Callaway County, with four females (probably daughters). (He is probably the Eli Sparks on the 1840 census of Edgar County, Illinois.) JOHN SPARKS, born between 1790 and 1810, appeared for the first time on the 1830 census of Christian County with one male (probably son). Thomas Sparks, who was on the 1820 census of Henderson County, was not listed in 1830; however, on the census of adjoining Hopkins County, SARAH SPARKS, born between 1790 and 1800, was listed as the head of a family with three males (probably sons).
Sarah "Sally" Sparks is without doubt the matriarch of the Webster County Sparkses. We have found only a few specific records of her. She was the head of her family in 1830, as indicated above, with one son born between 1815 and 1820 and two sons who were born between 1820 and 1825. She was also the head of the family when the 1840 census was taken. With her was one son, born betwen 1810 and 1820; two sons born between 1820 and 1825; and a daughter born between 1830 and 1835. When the 1850 census was taken, she was living in Henderson County. Her age was given as 53. With her was a daughter, Mary Sparks, age 18. On the 1860 census of Webster County, Sarah Sparks was listed as 63 years old and she was living with her son, Samuel Sparks.
The county records of Henderson, Hopkins, Webster, and Union Counties have been searched, but only three records of persons named SPARKS were found prior to 1839. In 1813, Thomas Sparks paid taxes on himself (over age 21) and on one horse in Hopins County. In 1822, Thomas Sparks paid taxes in Henderson County on himself (over age 21) and on one horse. (He may have been the same person.) In 1833, Matthew Sparks paid taxes in Hopkins County on himself (over age 21) and two horses. These are the only records found in this entire area until 1839 when Noah Sparks began paying taxes on himself. In 1844, Samuel Sparks and Richard Sparks also began paying taxes in Hopkins County.
by using a process of elimination of the persons named SPARKS who were in western Kentucky in 1820 and 1830, we are tempted to conclude that Sarah Sparks was the wife of the.Thomas Sparks who headed a family in Henderson County in 1820. All of' the other men named SPARKS who were in western Kentucky can be accounted for with the exception of Thomas Sparks who appeared on the 1820 census of Henderson County; thus it appears quite logical to assume that Sarah Sparks was his wife, and perhaps his widow. She was in the right age group; she had a son born prior to 1820; and she lived on the boundary line between Henderson and Hopkins Counties as did Thomas Sparks.
There are several reasons, however, that make us reluctant to arrive at this conclusion, logical though it may be. First, Thomas Sparks had two sons born between 1810 and 1820, or at least males living with him. Assuming that Noah Sparks, born ca. 1817 in North Carolina, was one of the sons, who and where was the other son listed on the 1820 census? Second, where was Thomas Sparks in 1830? Had he died? Had he moved away? Had he separated from his wife and family? Third, if Thomas Sparks had died or had moved away from his family prior to 1830, who was the father of the daughter of Sarah Sparks, Mary Sparks, who was born ca. 1832?
In 1958, a grandson of Richard P. Sparks (see below), Claude Sylvester Wiseman, of Marion, Illinois, gave the following information about his Sparks ancestry. He said that his mother's maiden name had been Sarah Sparks and that she had two brothers, Noah Sparks and John Sparks. His grandfather was Richard Sparks who had married a woman whose maiden name had been Croweley. They came from Virginia to Kentucky in a covered wagon. He said that his great-grandfather was Noah Sparks and that his greatgreat-grandfather had emigrated from Curry County, Ireland, on the Mayflower.
Obviously, there is at least one patent error in this information - - the Mayflower of Pilgrim fame sailed from England in 1620, at least 150 years before the birth of any great-great-grandfather of Mr. Wiseman, although there have been other ships with this name. In addition, there is no Curry County, Ireland; however, there is a Kerry County, Ireland. There is also a Surry County, North Carolina, where a large number of Sparks families settled in the late 1700's. Many records have been. searched in Virginia and North Carolina but so far we have found no record of either a Thomas and Sarah Sparks, or of a Noah and Sarah Sparks. Perhaps the publication of this article will help to solve this genealogical problem.
P. Sarah Sparks was the mother of four children. Noah Sparks was born in February 1817 in North Carolina. Samuel Sparks was born ca. 1821 in Kentucky. Richard P. Sparks was born ca. 1823 in Kentucky. Mary "Polly" Ann Sparks was born ca. 1832 in Kentucky. (Her children gave her place of birth as North Carolina on the 1880 census which asked for the place of birth of one's parents.) Sarah Sparks did not appear on the 1870 censuses of Webster, Henderson, Hopkins, or Union Counties; it seems probable that she had died between 1860 and 1870.
P.1 Noah Sparks, son of FNU and Sarah (MNU) Sparks, was born in February 1817 in North Carolina. The first official record we have found of him is the 1839 tax list of Hopkins County where he is listed as having paid a poll tax and taxes on a horse valued at $150. He was a farmer. On June 13, 1842, he married Lucinda Newton in Hopkins County. They were married by Nathaniel Harding, a justice of the peace. Lucinda was born ca. 1823, probably in Missouri, although when the 1870 census was taken, her birthplace was given as Kentucky.
Noah and Lucinda settled on Deer Creek, a stream which drains eastern Webster County and empties into the Green River near Sebree. There, on September 26, 1849, Noah purchased 84 acres of land from Washington Newton (probably a relative of Lucinda) for $1.00 per acre.
Examination of the early land deeds of this area show that a common practice among the farmers was that of mortgaging their future crops; thus, on November 30, 1846, Noah Sparks loaned $45.00 to James Hunt who pledged his 1846 tobacco crop and his horses and wagon as security.
In 1858, Noah Sparks and a neighbor, Stephen D. Oglesby, bought 297 acres on Deer Creek from Thomas A. Pages for $600. On April 24, 1862, the men sold 100 acres of the tract to Joseph Z. Shelton for $445. On June 16, 1862, they sold an additional 46 acres to Burton Williams for $325, and a day later, they sold 72 acres to G. A. Oglesby for $396. The deeds were all signed by the wives of the two men, Lucinda Sparks and Louisa Oglesby. The last sale of property we found which was made by Noah and Lucinda Sparks was in 1866 when they sold 80 acres of land on Whiteside Creek in Webster County to John Gardner.
Noah and Lucinda were living in Webster County when the 1880 census was taken. He was 63 years of age and was born in North Carolina. His father's birthplace was given as Virginia and his mother's birthplace as North Carolina. Lucinda was 58 years of age and was born in Kentucky. Her father's birthplace was given as North Carolina and her mother's birthplace was given as Kentucky. No records were found of the deaths of Noah and Lucinda and neither of them left a will. Census records indicate that they had five children:
P.1.1 Pleasant Sparks, son of Noah and Lucinda (Newton) Sparks, was born February 11, 1843, probably in Henderson County. He died on September 14, 1924, at Henderson, KY. On August 12, 1863, he enlisted in Company C, 35th Regiment Kentucky Infantry. (See the abstract of his pension file in this issue of the Quarterly, beginning on page 1823.)
Pleasant Sparks was married twice. His first marriage was to Arga C. Grayson on February 23, 1865, in Webster County. She was born ca. 1843 in Kentucky. They were the parents of eleven children:
P.1.1.1 Louisa M. Sparks was born January 11, 1866. She is probably the L.M. Sparks who married Silvanis Sheffer in Webster County on December 27, 1883.
P.1.1.2 Edmund C. Sparks was born 3 February 1867.
P.1.1.3 Henry O. Sparks was born September 11, 1868.
P.1.1.4 George L. Sparks was born December 8, 1869.
P.1.1.5 L. Ellen Sparks was born December 17, 1871.
P.1.1.6 William R. Sparks was born August 27, 1873. He is probably the William R. Sparks who married Hallie Cobb on February 16, 1899, in Webster County.
P.1.1.7 J. F. Sparks was born June 1, 1875.
P.1.1.8 David S. Sparks was born January 6, 1877.
P.1.1.9 P. L. Sparks was born February 11, 1881.
P.1.1.10 C. A. Sparks was born February 7, 1883.
P.1.1.11 N. W. Sparks was born July 4, 1887.
Arga C. (Grayson) Sparks died on February 7, 1900, and on September 27, 1906, Pleasant Sparks married (as his second wife) Mattie (Mason) Berry in Vanderburgh County, Indiana. She was the widow of M. A. Berry who had died in 1902. Pleasant and Mattie Sparks had one child:
P.1.1.12 Lillian Sparks was born January 25, 1971.
P.1.2 William Sparks, son of Noah and Lucinda (Newton) Sparks, was born ca. 1847 in Kentucky. He is probably the William Sparks who married L. J. Grayson on January 28. 1869, in Webster County. They were married at the home of Ura Grayson by David Morehead. Witnesses were William Crowley and J. W. Grayson. When the 1880 census was taken of Webster County, William and L.J. Sparks had four children; there were probably others born after 1880.
P.1.2.1 A. C. Sparks (son) born ca. 1870.
P.1.2.2 G. W. Sparks (son) born ca. 1873.
P.1.2.3 U. E. Sparks (daughter) born ca. 1876.
P.1.2.4 James E. Sparks was born ca. 1878.
P.1.3 Martha J. Sparks, daughter of Noah and Lucinda (Newton) Sparks, was born on October 1, 1856, in Henderson County, KY. She is probably the Martha J. Sparks who married H. L. Head on December 11, 1873, in Webster County. When the 1880 census was taken of that county, they had one child; there were probably others born after 1880.
P.1.3.1 Rutherford Head was born ca. 1876.
P.1.4 Joel Sparks (sometimes also designated as Joseph), son of Noah and Lucinda (Newton) Sparks, was born March 10, 1859. On November 25, 1880, he married Billie J. Grayson in Webster County, KY, at the home of Pierce Grayson. They were both 21 years of age and it was the first marriage for each of them. To this marriage at least four children were born:
P.1.3.1 Nora Sparks was born ca. 1881. She is said to have married FNU Cobb and they lived in Evansville, Indiana.
P.1.3.2 Roy Esmond Sparks was born August 21, 1883. He married Grace Fraser and they had at least one child, a son named Roy Earl Sparks.
P.1.3.3 Clarence Sparks was born ca. 1886. He was living in Evansville, Ind., in 1953.
P.1.3.4 Lydia Sparks was born ca. 1889. She married FNU Westbrook and was living in Denver, Colo., in 1953.
P.1.5 Jasper N. Sparks was born ca. 1863. He was 19 years of age and living with his parents when the 1880 census was taken of Webster County, KY.
P.2 Samuel Sparks, son of FNU and Sarah (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1821 in Kentucky. On January 26,1843, he married Julia Ann Anderson in Hopkins County, KY, by Nathaniel Harding, a justice of the peace. She was born ca. 1824 in North Carolina. When the 1850 census was taken, Samuel and Julia were living in McCracken County, Kentucky, and it was there that two of their children. were born, one in 1850 and another in 1852. by 1855, however, they were back in Henderson County, where, on May 12, 1859, Samuel bought a 53-acre tract of land on Knob Lick Creek, a tributary of Deer Creek, for $215. Then when Webster County was formed in 1860, the family of Samuel Sparks went with the new county. When the census was taken that year, Samuel's mother, Sarah Sparks, was living with them.
Samuel and Julia Ann appeared on the 1870 census of Webster County. His occupation was given as a mechanic. He did not appear on the 1880 census and apparently they had moved from Kentucky. We have found no record of their deaths, and neither of them left a will in Webster County. From census data and the vital records of McCracken and Henderson Counties, Kentucky, we have compiled what we believe to be a complete record of their children:
P.2.1 Noah W. Sparks, son of Samuel and Julia Ann (Anderson) Sparks, was born March 7, 1844. On October 1, 1862, he enlisted in Company H, 26th Regiment Illinois Infantry. (See the abstract of his pension file in this issue of the Quarterly, beginning on page 1824.) Noah W. Sparks was married twice. His first marriage was to Eunice Harkins in 1869 and they had one child:
P.2.1.1 Frank Sparks was born December 20, 1873, in LaSalle County, Illinois.
After the death of his wife, Eunice (Harkins) Sparks, at Tonica, Illinois, on February 4, 1883, Noah Sparks married (second) Maggie Henrietta Dodge on June 29, 1885, at Princeton, Illinois. She was born March 31, 1862. To this marriage, five children were born:
P.2.1.2 Leora Sparks was born April 14, 1886.
P.2.1.3 Julia Sparks was born June 24, 1888.
P.2.1.4 Fred Sparks was born December 14, 1889.
P.2.1.5 Earl Sparks was born October 6, 1896.
P.2.1.6 Hazel Sparks was born July 29, 1897.
Noah W. Sparks died on November 15, 1919, and his wife, Maggie Henrietta (Dodge) Sparks, died on December 27, 1934.
P.2.2 Nancy A. Sparks was born ca. 1846. On February 11, 1862, she married William M. McGraw at the home of her parents in Webster County. She was 16 years old and he was 20. They were married by David Morehead, a minister of the Gospel. Witnesses were James Garrard and Josiah Hoskins. When the 1880 census was taken of Webster County, they had three children and there were probably others born after 1880.
P.2.2.1 Martha J. McGraw was born ca. 1867.
P.2.2.2 Noah W. McGraw was born ca. 1870.
P.2.2.3 Mary A. McGraw was born ca. 1875.
P.2.3 Thomas Saunders Sparks was born January 22, 1848. In 1870 he was age 22 and living in the home of his parents in Webster County. He married Frances Marian Hammonds at Paducah, Kentucky, on May 2, 1883. Their children:
P.2.3.1 Thomas Francis Sparks, born October 5, 1884.
P.2.3.2 Mary Adilade Sparks, born November 8, 1866 (deceased).
P.2.3.3 WIlliam Powell Sparks, born 1 Jun1889.
P.2.3.4 Charles Albert Sparks, born December 7, 1893.
P.2.3.5 Frances Marian Sparks, born July 15, 1896.
P.2.4 Samuel Sparks was born ca. 1850 in McCracken County, Kentucky.
P.2.5 Sarah Frances Sparks was born September 25, 1852, in McCracken County, Kentucky. On December 17, 1868, she married Alexander Wall by Algernon Edwards at the home of her parents in Webster County. Witnesses were George M. Edwards and Sarah Melton.
P.2.6 Albert Sparks was born on October 17, 1855, in Henderson County, Kentucky.
P.2.7 Henry Sparks was born ca. 1858.
P.2.8 Richard Sparks was born ca. 1860.
P.2.9 Powell Sparks was born ca. 1863.
P.3 Richard P. Sparks, son of FNU and Sarah (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1823 in Kentucky. He paid taxes on himself in 1844 (thus he was over 21 years old) in Hopkins County. On May 20, 1847, he married Sarah L. Crowley in Henderson County by Winson Crew, a minister of the Regular Baptist Church. Sarah was born ca. 1825 in Kentucky. Richard and Sarah were enumerated on the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Hopkins County, but were in Webster County when the 1870 and 1880 censuses were taken. On the 1880 census, Richard was listed as age 55 and born in Kentucky. The 1880 census provided for the birthplace of each individual's parents and the father of Richard was indicated as having been born in Virginia; his mother's birthplace was given as North Carolina.
Richard and Sarah Sparks left few other records of themselves. In 1852, he mortgaged his corn and tobacco crops in Henderson County to Andrew Woods for $35. A year later, Woods married Richard Sparks's sister, Mary Ann Sparks. On October 3, 1859, Richard mortgaged his tobacco crop to Peyton Cox for $75. On September 8, 1874, Sparks bought 50 acres of land on Deer Creek from George W. Hardeman for $450, but he sold the same tract a year later to Carvin Johnson for $450.
Richard and Sarah (Crowley) Sparks apparently had six children:
P.3.1 William Sparks was born March 18, 1848. He died on October 2, 1853.
P.3.2 Noah H. Sparks was born ca. 1850.
P.3.3 John W. Sparks was born ca. 1852.
P.3.4 Sarah E. Sparks was born November 15, 1853, in Henderson County, KY. On January 31, 1888, she married W. B. Wiseman in Webster County. They had at least one child.
P.3.4.1 Claude Sylvester Wiseman was born ca. 1890. He died in August 1973 at Marion, Illinois.
P.3.5 Julia A. Sparks was born on December 14, 1858, in Hopkins County, KY. She is probably the Julia A. Sparks who married Ebenezer Cobb on July 25, 1888, in Webster Co.
P.3.6 Catherine "Katie" Sparks was born ca. 1863.
P.4 Mary "Polly" Ann Sparks, daughter of FNU and Sarah (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1832 in Kentucky. (It is interesting to note that her children gave her birthplace as North Carolina on the 1880 census.) On May 30, 1853, she married Andrew J. Woods in Henderson County, KY, by Lud Brackett, a minister of the Gospel. Joseph Beal was the bondsman for Woods "to marry Polly Ann Sparks, daughter of Sarah Sparks, widow." Witnesses were Joseph Beal and James Beal. Woods was born ca. 1815 in Tennessee.
According to the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses of Webster County, Polly Ann and Andrew J. Woods were the parents of seven children, all of them born in Kentucky. Polly Ann did not appear on the 1880 census; apparently she had died before 1880. Their children were:
P.4.1 James F. Woods was born ca. 1854. He married Sarah -----, ca. 1875. When the 1880 census was taken, they had one child named Henry Woods, born ca. 1877 in Kentucky. There were probably other children born after 1880.
P.4.2 David Woods was born ca. 1856.
P.4.3 Mary E. Woods was born ca. 1859.
P.4.4 Sarah Catherine "Kate" Woods was born ca. 1860.
P.4.5 Lucinda Woods was born ca. 1862.
P.4.6 William "Billy" Woods was born ca. 1866.
P.4.7 Matilda "Tildy" Woods was born ca. 1868.