April 28, 2021

Pages 1964-1984
Whole Number 101


by Russell E. Bidlack

In the March 1964 issue of the Quarterly (Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807), we published an article on Jonas Sparks who was a resident of Rowan County, North Carolina, from ca. 1760 until his death in 1805, except for three or four years that he spent in Kentucky. He lived in that portion of Rowan County that became Davie County in 1836, often referred to in early records as "the Forks of the Yadkin," about ten miles from Salisbury. We believe, but cannot prove at this time, that Jonas Sparks was closely related to (perhaps a son of) 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks who died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749.

According to family tradition, the first wife of Jonas Sparks was named Elizabeth MNU; she was the mother of all of his children. In September 1773, Jonas Sparks, with his family, accompanied the family of the famous Daniel Boone and that of Morgan Bryan from North Carolina in search of a new home in what was then the wilderness of Kentucky. Jonas Sparks did not remain in Kentucky with the Boones, however; sometime prior to 1778 he returned to his old home on the Yadkin River in North Carolina.

The first wife of Jonas Sparks died sometime before 1786, for on September 5, 1786, Jonas obtained a bond in Rowan County, North Carolina, to marry Mary Eakle, widow of Jacob Eakle who had died in 1783. Jonas Sparks was Mary's third husband; prior to her marriage to Jacob Eakle in 1779 she had been the widow of Captain Daniel Little. (Daniel Little, born in 1731, died on December 10, 1775, in Salisbury; it is believed that he came to North Carolina from York County, Pennsylvania, and that he had been born in Germany with the original name of Daniel Klein which was Anglicized to Daniel Little. A descendant, Lawrence L. Little, who has done extensive research on Daniel Little, is convinced that he was a son of Ludwig Klein who came with his family from Rotterdam to Philadelphia on the ship Loyal Judith which landed on September 3, 1742. Ludwig Klein settled in York County, Pennsylvania, then migrated to North Carolina in the 1740's, settling in the area that is now Rowan County. It was there that Daniel Little married a neighbor girl named Anna Mary MNU prior to 1753.) In 1779, three Years after the death of Daniel Little, his widow married Jacob Eakle. The marriage bond in Rowan County was dated January 5, 1779, and her name appeared as Anne Mary Little. Jacob Eakie died in 1783, and on August 5, 1783, his widow, Anne Mary, was named by the court to administer his estate jointly with Henry Eakle, but in this document she was called simply Mary Eakle as she was also on the marriage bond when she married her third husband, Jonas Sparks.

Jonas Sparks seems to have been a prosperous farmer at the time of his death in 1805. He made his will on May 11, 1805, and died later that year. From his will, it would appear that he had six children; we are not certain of the order of their birth. They were: William Sparks, born during the early 1760's, died in 1822 or 1823. He married Mourning MNU; they had nine children. (See pp. 799-801 of the March 1964 Quarterly cited above.) Elizabeth Sparks, born February 5, 1765, died June 25, 1863. She married Henry Bryan in 1786; they had 10 children. (See p.796 of the March 1964 Quarterly.) David Sparks, born ca. 1768. He married Mary Little. (A sketch of his life follows.) Esther Sparks, born March 20, 1770. She married Jesse Caton (or Katon) in 1787. They had 9 children. (See p. 796 of the March 1964 Quarterly.) Jonas Sparks, Jr., probably born in the early 1770's, and died between 1802 and 1805 (he was identified as deceased in his father's will). He married Anna Caton (or Katon) in 1796. (See p. 795 of the March 1964 Quarterly.) Rachel Sparks. She was called Rachel Griggs in her father's will.

According to family tradition, Jonas Sparks's son, David Sparks, objected to his father's marrying the widow, Mary Little Eakel. Descendants recall that she was called a "Dutch woman" and that grandchildren who remembered her said that she had a German accent. Like her first husband, Daniel Little, she was probably "Pennsylvania Dutch," and we can speculate that she was the daughter or granddaughter of another immigrant to Pennsylvania from Germany who, like Daniel Little's father, moved on to North Carolina. David Sparks was about eighteen years old when his father married the "Dutch woman." Despite his objection, not many years passed before David Sparks married his step-mother's only daughter, Mary Little. (A brother of Mary Little, Lewis Little, married Tolitha Sparks and moved with his family to Lincoln County, North Carolina, ca. 1808. We have not been able to identify this Tolitha Sparks. It may prove significant, however, that on August 17, 1804, a year before his death, Jonas Sparks sold to Lewis Little for 100 pounds a 100-acre tract of land in Rowan County.)

We believe that David Sparks, son of Jonas, was born ca. 1768 and that he was probably about 21 years old when his and Mary (Little) Sparks's first child, Cornelius Sparks, was born June 11, 1789. About 1815, David Sparks moved with his wife and children, with the exception of his oldest son, Cornelius, from North Carolina to Tennessee. When the 1820 census was taken, David Sparks was living in Lincoln County, Tennessee; when the census was taken in 1830 he was in Madison County. by 1840 he had moved to Hardeman County, Tennessee, where he was also living in 1850. Mary (Little) Sparks, wife of David Sparks, died between 1840 and 1850, and David Sparks died shortly after 1850. David and Mary (Little) Sparks were the parents of twelve children: Cornelius Sparks, born June 11, 1789. (See sketch of his life which follows.) Joseph Sparks, born in the 1790's. He was probably the Joseph Sparks who married Febey Hinkle in Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1811 (marriage bond dated January 28, 1811). John Sparks, born in the 1790's. He was probably the John Sparks who married Kitty Harwood, daughter of Henry Harwood, of Rowan County. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, p. 804.) Jonas Sparks, born ca. 1800. He married Rebecca MNU and was living in Tippah County, Mississippi, in 1850 at which time they had six children. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, p. 804.) Daniel Sparks, born ca. 1802. He married Mary Tull in Madison County, Tennessee, in 1827. They are known to have had at least eight children. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, p. 805.) William Sparks, born ca. 1808. He married (first) Bailine Moore (elsewhere "Emiline Moore") and (second) a widow, Mrs. Lucinda Davis. He died in Prairie County, Arkansas, in 1860. He had at least six children by his first wife. (See the Quarterly of March 1959, pp. 373-14.) David Sparks, Jr., born ca. 1808. He married in Madison County, Tennessee, on September 17, 1827, Comfort Moffett. They are known to have had at least ten children and were living in Prairie County, Arkansas in 1860. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, p. 805.) Minus Lafayette Sparks (also spelled Miner and Minnie), born ca. 1811 and died April 23, 1889, in Hardeman County, Tennessee. He married Sarah Cherry and had at least seven children. (See the Quarterly of March 1964 pp. 806-07.) Elizabeth Sparks. She married FNU Jarvis. Mary Sparks (called Polly) born February 11, 1797, died November 30, 1877, in McNairy County, Tennessee. She married James D. Hunter and they had ten children. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, 1964, pp. 806-07, along with her portrait.) Sarah Sparks. No further information. Juliana (or Julie) Sparks, born ca. 1814. She is believed to have married FNU Birkhead and to have had at least four children. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, p. 807.)

Descendants of David Sparks should find interesting a new serial publication called The Little Bit, volume one, number one of which appeared in January 1978. This publication is devoted to tracing the descendants of Captain Daniel Little and is edited by Lawrence L. Little, P.O. Box 607, Portales, New Mexico (88130). The subscription price is $5.00 per year. The first issue contains a biographical sketch of Captain Little which will interest all descendants of Captain Little's grandson, Cornelius Sparks. Captain Little was a prominent citizen of Salisbury, North Carolina, for many years prior to his death in 1775; he operated a tavern and was an extensive land owner. He held a number of political posts, including Constable, Public Gaoler, Town Commissioner, High Sheriff, and Justice of the Peace. He was able to read and write both German and English.

The eldest child of David and Mary (Little) Sparks was named Cornelius Sparks; he was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on June 11, 1789, and died in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in August 1862. He was married in December 1812 to Susannah Stevens. The marriage bond is on file in Salisbury, Rowan County, and is dated December 14, 1812. Abraham March was the bondsman while John March, Sr., was the witness. We may assume that the marriage took place within a few days of the date of the bond. Susannah Stevens was born October 28, 1794, and died in 1861. Her father was named Spencer Stevens while her mother's maiden name was Elizabeth Rupert or Robard. Spencer Stevens was a son of Sampson Stevens (or Stephens) of the Dutchman's Creek area of Rowan County. The spelling of the name differed among different members of the family, but Spencer Stevens seems to have settled on the spelling Stevens for himself and his children, while his brother, William, used the spelling Stephens.

Cornelius Sparks left North Carolina in 1814, a year prior to his parents' departure. He, with his wife and infant son, moved with Susannah's parents, Spencer and Elizabeth Stevens, to Wayne County, Indiana. It is believed that several of Susannah's brothers and sisters accompanied them. According to an account of the Sparks family that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on March 29, 1903, which was based on an interview with Mary (Sparks Park, eldest daughter of Cornelius and Susannah, the family traveled by ox team, camping in a tent at night and driving their livestock with them. Joseph Sparks, eldest child of Cornelius and Susannah, had been born January 24, 1814, in North Carolina. According to family tradition, little Joseph was nine months old when the family moved to Indiana, which would mean that they made the journey in the autumn of 1814.

According to the account written in 1903 for the Chicago Tribune mentioned above, the Stevens family, with Cornelius Sparks and his wife and son, stopped in Kentucky on their way to Indiana to visit relatives of the Stevenses:

Along the wayside in Kentucky was the home of the Adams, relatives of the mother's side of the family. Beside the babe [nine-month-old Joseph Sparks] there was his father and mother [Cornelius and Susannah Sparks], his grandfather and grandmother [Spencer and Elizabeth Stevens], his great-grand-father and great-grandmother, and there was also present the father of little Joseph's great-grandmother. The mother of his great-grandmother had been there but she was absent that night, although she was living in another part of the state. This strange meeting was occasioned by some members of the family waiting on the others to come up, as they were known to be moving to the new country across the Ohio.

One of those making the journey to Indiana in 1814 was Joseph Stephens, son of William and Nancy (March) Stephens and a nephew of Spencer Stevens. An orphan's bond in Rowan County reveals that he had been made a ward of his uncle Spencer. As noted earlier, Spencer and William Stephens (or Stevens) were sons of Sampson Stephens (or Stevens) of the Dutchman's Creek area of Rowan County. Spencer adopted the Stevens spelling of his name while his brother's family used Stephens. An obituary of Joseph Stephens, nephew of Spencer, appearing in the November 28, 1877, issue of the Niles Mirror in Michigan, states that he left his uncle's home in Indiana when he was seventeen and lived for the next five years with his grandfather in Kentucky--it was at this grandfather's home in Kentucky, it may be assumed, that the family stopped on its way to Indiana. Unfortunately, the obituary does not provide the name of Joseph Stephens' grandfather.

Two accounts have been passed down through Cornelius Sparks's descendants regarding his reasons for leaving North Carolina for the "north." Both pertain to his disapproval of slavery. One of these accounts was recorded by the reporter to wrote the article for the Chicago Tribune in 1903 after interviewing Mary (Sparks) Park, daughter of Cornelius:

Cornelius Sparks was an accidental witness to the act of a member of his uncle's family. A colored woman had reared a family of white children, after their own mother had died. She was cruelly knocked down with the butt of a whip because she was unable to suppress her grief at the sale of her own son. That was the spark that set the abolition spirit of Cornelius Sparks aflame. He had known the service of the negro woman to the unfortunate white children, and he resolved to leave the country that harbored such an institution.

Another account is recalled by a great-granddaughter of Cornelius Sparks, Mary (Park) Vogel of Howell, Michigan. Mrs. Vogel's father, Jasper Park (1850-1920), who was a son of Mary (Sparks) Park, heard the story directly from his grandfather, Cornelius Sparks. Cornelius, so this account goes, had grown up with a slave boy on his father's farm in North Carolina. Because the two boys were of the same age and had played and worked together during their entire boyhood, they were close personal friends, despite the fact that one was a slave and the other the master's son. When the two boys were sixteen, the slave boy committed some offense for which it was determined he should be severely punished. (One cannot but wonder whether he may have run away.) Whatever his crime, the black boy was tied up by his thumbs and whipped. Although Cornelius Sparks always emphasized that it had not been intended that he be whipped to death, the slave boy died as a result. Cornelius was a witness to this brutal act and, thereafter, could never again condone slavery.

Cornelius Sparks and his family remained in Wayne County, Indiana, until 1828 when he and Susannah; with their eight children, moved to what would later become Berrien County in Michigan Territory. (Michigan did not become a state until 1837.) The eldest daughter recalled in 1903: "There the father and sons broke virgin soil, blazed the way to future civilization, the children growing to manhood and womanhood, finally marrying and raising families of their own."

Although Cornelius Sparks, who lived until 1862, probably told his children and grandchildren on many occasions of his journey from Indiana to Michigan Territory in 1828, no one seems to have recorded those memories before they were lost forever. We do have one clue regarding the decision, however. The obituary of Joseph Stephens cited earlier stated that in August 1828 he, with eight others from Wayne County, Indiana, went on an exploring expedition to the area of Michigan that would become Berrien County. The History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan, printed by the D.W. Ensign Company in 1880 states (page 265) that Cornelius Sparks was a member of this exploring party. The Stephens obituary of 1877 states that the party "visited the Carey Mission here, saw McCoy, his Indian school, went to St. Joseph and there was no building there except a small one stuck in the bank of the river to receive goods for the Carey Mission." The account goes on to state that they encamped on the bluff where the village of St. Joseph now stands, and there was not a sign of a house there. There was a Frenchman lived about two miles up the river who had a large orchard of bearing fruit trees, apples and peaches."

In October 1828, Cornelius Sparks moved with his family to the area which he had explored, settling in what would become Niles Township, Berrien County, "on the bend of the river near [Stephen] Salee on Section 15." Whether all nine of the explorers of the previous August also returned as settlers is not known. Joseph Stephens, who had married his cousin, Anna Stevens; sister of Susanna b: in 1822 is known to have followed Cornelius with his family in 1829.

When the land on which Cornelius Sparks settled was surveyed in 1831, it was found that he had chosen what was designated as a "school section" which meant that he could not obtain a legal deed. He moved across the line from Niles Township to Buchanan Township where he lived for the rest of his life. His brother-in-law, Joseph Stephens, who brought his family to Michigan Territory the following year (1829) settled on Section 7 of Niles Township, adjoining the land wned by Cornelius Sparks.

On April 19, 1830, Susannah (Stevens) Sparks bore her 9th child, Wilson Sparks; he was the second white child born in Berrien County (Berrien County was not actually created until 1831; when Cornelius Sparks settled there in 1828 it was part of Lenawee County.) In a biographical sketch of Levi Sparks, who was the 6th child of Cornelius and Susannah, it was stated in 1878 that there were only three or four white families in that section of Michigan when the Sparks family arrived in 1828.

Susannah's parents, Spencer and Elizabeth Stevens, remained in Wayne County, Indiana, and it was there that Spencer Stevens died in 1839. His will, dated November 8, 1839, is recorded in Wayne County (Will Book 2, pp. 200-01). In this will, the name is spelled Stevens throughout. One of the provisions made by Spencer Stevens was that three of his sons, Isam, Sampson, and Robert, who were to receive all of his property when their mother, Elizabeth, died, were directed to "pay to Susan Sparks, wife of Cornelius Sparks, one hundred and twenty five dollars" at such time as her mother might die.

Mrs. Mary Park Vogel, mentioned earlier as a great-granddaughter of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, owns two articles that originally belonged to her greatgrandmother. One is a "bride's kettle"--a small iron kettle which Susannah's mother gave her when she married Cornelius It was called a "bride's kettle" because it was too small to serve a family. The other article is a large sugar bowl in which Susannah's mother sent her some geranium slips when Cornelius visited her. He made the journey by horseback and the sugar bowl, the top of which had been broken was tied to his saddle horn. We do not know when it was the Cornelius made the journey.

Mrs. Vogel also has a chest of drawers which Cornelius had made for his daughter, Mary, when she was married in 1837. She also owns the original daguerrotype from which the photograph of Cornelius Sparks was taken that appears above. She also has one of Susannah, apparently taken at the same time, but it has faded to the point that her features can no longer be seen with any degree of clarity.

Susannah, wife of Cornelius Sparks, died in 1861, month and day not known. Cornelius died on August 17, 1862. An obituary has been found that was published in a religious magazine called the Christian Record in 1862. It reads as follows:

Died at the residence of his son Levi, August 17, 1862, Bro. Cornelius Sparks, age 73 years. When over fifty years of age, under the labors of Eld. John Martindale, Bro. Sparks embrassed the Christian faith, and for twenty years he was a faithful servant of our adorable Redemer. He met death with composure, and closed his eyes upon the scenes of earth with a well grounded hope of a blissful immortality beyondthe grave. His body rests in the narrow house appointed for all the living, but his spirit in the bosom of God. Bro. Sparks left nine children and a large circle of friends to mourn his loss. We confidently expect to meet and greet our departed brother in the fair climes of immortal day, where the smart of separation shall be felt and feared no more forever. (signed) William M. Roe, Buchanan, Mich., August 26, 1862. Cornelius Sparks was buried beside his wife in a family cemetery on his home farm in Berrien County, near the town of Buchanan, Michigan. In 1968, Loretta B. Bingham of Battle Creek talked to the present owners of the land, known now as the Chamberlin farm, and visited the "overgrown plot." She found Cornelius? grave stone, but it was lying flat and broken in half. The owners of the land stated that they could recall Susannah's stone that had stood beside that of Cornelius, but Mrs. Bingham could not find it. The name of Cornelius Sparks below the words "Our Father" is clearly visible in a photograph which Mrs. Bingham took. Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks were the parents of eleven children: Joseph Sparks, born January 24, 1814. Spencer Sparks, born December 9, 1815. David Sparks, born August 14, 1817. Mary Sparks, born July 7, 1819 Elizabeth Sparks, born July 26, 1821. Levi Sparks, born October 3, 1823. Anna Sparks, born September 30, 1825. Ira Sparks, born October 30, 1827. Wilson Sparks, born April 19, 1830. Susannah Sparks (called Susan), born August 1, 1832. Cynthia Sparks, born August 27, 1834. Joseph Sparks, son of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born on January 24, 1814, in Rowan County, North Carolina. He was nine months old when his parents moved to Wayne County, Indiana, and 14 years old when the family moved from Indiana to Michigan Territory. He was married twice, first to Mary Jarvis on June 16, 1839, and, following her death on May 12, 1851, to Caroline Flanegin (or Flanigan) on March 10, 1853. The second wife, Caroline Flanegin, was born July 5, 1826, a daughter of Hugh C. and Mary (Jones) Flanegin.

Joseph Sparks was a life-long resident of Buchanan, Berrien County, Michigan. In a newspaper account dated March 11, 1903, at the time of the golden wedding anniversary of Joseph Sparks and his second wife, Joseph was described as a Republican who had "voted in sixty-five state elections and seventeen national elections." This account continues: "Joseph Sparks is said to be the best authority on the history of the navigation of the St. Joseph River in the lower peninsula.

During his time the first boats on the river were placed afloat, the Mary Barney being the first steamer. Mr. Sparks piloted craft over the many riffles of the stream, including that at Mishawaka."

Joseph Sparks died on January 28, 1905.

by his first wife, Mary (Jarvis) Sparks, Joseph Sparks was the father of four children: Liddy N. Sparks, born ca. 1841. She apparently died young, sometime after 1850. She was listed as nine years old on the 1850 census. Helen (or Lucy) Sparks, born ca. 1845. While descendants of her brothers recall her name as Helen, it was given as Lucy on the 1850 census. A nephew stated a number of years ago that his Aunt Helen had been a teacher and had moved to Chicago soon after 1870. When the 1870 census of Buchanan Township, Berrien County was taken, she was again listed as Lucy Sparks, age 25, with the occupation of "Teacher" and living in the family of Joseph Sparks. She did not marry. A photograph of her has been preserved in the family of her brother, Allen Sparks. Eldon Sparks, born August 10, 1848. Although he seems always to have gone by the name Eldon, he was apparently named Ira Eldon--the fact that he had an uncle named Ira Sparks perhaps accounts for his use of his middle name. He was married sometime after 1894 to Leona MNU who was a widow with a daughter named Cora MNU. According to an obituary of Leona Sparks published in 1943 "she was a teacher in the Chadron schools in 1894 at the time when she attended the wedding of Mr. and Mrs. T. C. Hornby. It was at the time of the wedding that she met Mr. Sparks and they were married a year or so later." Eldon and Leona Sparks had one child, a daughter: Eldene Sparks married Harold Hawkins; Eldene died on January 16, 1964.

Eldon Sparks died on May 20, 1943 at the age of 96, in Seattle, Washington; his wife died a week later on May 27, 1943; she was 78 years old.

As is noted in the sketch of the life of his brother, Allen Sparks (below), Eldon Sparks was associated with Allen Sparks in business in Nebraska and South Dakota and again when they moved to Seattle in 1905. Joseph Allen Sparks, son of Joseph and Mary (Jarvis) Sparks, was born in Berrien County, Michigan, on November 15, 1850, and died in Valentine, Nebraska, on June 11, 1907. His full name was Joseph Allen Sparks, but he always went by the name Allen. He married Margaret Craig, daughter of William Lawrence and Elizabeth (Shoemaker) Craig, on November 19, 1881, in St. Joseph, Missouri. She was born May 6, 1859, in Savannah, Missouri, and died on March 18, 1928, in New York City. They had one child.

Son of Joseph & Mary (Jarvis) Sparks

The Sparks Brothers Store, was owned by Allen, Eldon, and Levi C. Sparks, sons of Joseph Sparks and grandsons of Cornelius Sparks. The store was located in Cody, Nebraska, at the back of which was the Cherry County Bank owned by Allen and Eldon Sparks. It is believed that this photograph was taken between 1897 and 1899. Levi Carlton Sparks is standing on the porch, second from the left (on the right of the Indian who is holding his hat). The original of this photograph is owned by Helen Sparks, daughter of Levi Carlton Sparks.

My father, [Joseph Allen Sparks] left Berrien County, Michigan, in his mid-twenties ca. 1875, and joined an older sister (Helen) and brother (Eldon) in Chicago. After a time he and his brother went on farther west. Eldon went to Cheyenne, Wyo., I believe about this time. My father stayed in Omaha, Nebr., where, some months later, he went to work for a new railroad, the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley (now the Northwestern), that was being built from Missouri Valley, on the Missouri River some twenty odd miles north of Omaha, to the Black Hills in southwestern South Dakota. The railroad did not reach Valentine, about three hundred miles northwest of Omaha, until sometime in 1884. After a time my father quit the railroad job and went to Ft. Niobrara where he had acquired the tradership. In due time he went on to Valentine and opened a typical frontier general store about the time the railroad reached there. His brother, Eldon, joined him at Valentine and the firm of Sparks Brothers was formed. Later they started the Cherry County Bank. Within the next two or three years, the two younger half-brothers, Levi and Charles, and their sister Mary, arrived in Valentine, from Buchanan, Berrien County, Mich. In 1905, two years before my father's death, we, along with his brother Eldon and his family, moved from Valentine to Seattle, Wash. They owned stores in Valentine, Cody, Thatcher, and Norton, Nebr., and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

The town of Sparks, Nebraska, was named for Allen Sparks (full name, Joseph Allen Sparks), it being located on land that he owned. "Initially,"according to Colonel Leonard C. Sparks, "this was a station on the Army's over-land freight route from old Ft. Randall, S.D. (on the Missouri River just north of the Nebraska state line) to Ft. Niobrara, Nebr. Ft. Niobrara was established ca. 1879-80. It was one of the first Army Posts located along the southern border of the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It was on the Niobrara River a few miles south of the state line and about four miles east of Valentine, Nebr., which later became the county seat of Cherry County. My father was one of the early, if not the first, licensed Post Trader at Ft. Niobrara, in those days a concession to run a store (now called a post exchange) on an Army Post." Leonard Craig Sparks, only child of Joseph Allen and Margaret (Craig) Sparks, was born in Valentine, Nebraska, on August 27, 1885. He married Katherine Speer on June 25, 1924. She was born June 22, 1893, in Washington D.C., a daughter of James Calvin and Lelia J. (Butterworth) Speer. They had no children.

Leonard C. Sparks attended Orchard Military Academy located northwest of Detroit and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery in 1908. For the next 37 years he was stationed at various army posts in the United States, the Philippines, and Hawaii. He served for 18 months in Europe in World War I. He and his wife lived in Washington, D.C., after his retirement in 1945, with the rank of Colonel.. His wife preceded him in death by two or three years. He died in April 1968 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.

Colonel Sparks was a member of the Sparks Family Association and provided the preceding sketch of his father's life:

Joseph Sparks (son of Cornelius Sparks) had four children by his second wife, Caroline Flanegin (or Flanigan): Levi Carlton Sparks, born March 24, 1854 (see below). Charles Flanigan Sparks, born ca. 1856. Mary E. Sparks, born ca. 1860. Netta A. Sparks, born ca. 1864; died young. Levi Carlton Sparks, son of Joseph and Caroline (Flanegin) Sparks, was born in Berrien County, Michigan, on March 24, 1854, and died in Valentine, Nebraska, on April 29, 1915. He was married in Cherry County, Nebr., on August 13, 1889, to Bertha Crum Ludwig. She was born September 26, 1865, at Carey, Ohio, and was a daughter of Jacob and Amanda Malvina (Crum) Ludwig. A daughter of Levi Canton Sparks (Margaret Sparks Smith) wrote the following biographical sketch of her father for the Cherry County, Nebr., Historical Society in 1968:

I do not know just what year he [Levi Carlton Sparks] moved to Valentine but believe it was 1884. He worked for his brothers in their stores on the Pine Ridge Reservation and at Cody, Nebraska. While at the Pine Ridge store he learned the Sioux language and it was our understanding that only one man in Valentine, Gary Shaw, was more proficient in it. While at the Pine Ridge store he had a negro cook who often said that he and Mr. Sparks were the only white men on the reservation. The Indians trusted my father and were very friendly with him. One of my earliest recollections is of many Indians coming to our house on Sunday mornings, either to get Father to interpret for them or, in fancy dress, to allow my Mother to photograph them. Mother's collection of Indian photographs was an extremely good one, second only to that of John Anderson at the Rosebud Reservation. Unfortunately, it was burned when our house burned in the 1920's.

Levi C. Sparks was County Superintendent of Schools for Cherry County in 1888-89, perhaps longer. He was married on August 13, 1889, to Bertha Crum Ludwig, the Rev. John Bates officiating. The wedding date was set up so Father would have a place to entertain the county teachers during the County Teachers Institute, held just prior to the opening of the county schools.

He retained his interest in all educational matters for many years after his terms as County Superintendent and became friends with many of the instructors who came to Valentine to teach at the County Teachers Institutes and with the teachers in the county and Valentine schools. He worked hard to get the State Teachers College which is now at Chadron located instead in Valentine. He trained a number of young people in public speaking and many of them were successful contestants in state-wide declamatory and debating contests.

When his term of office as County Superintendent was over, he worked for Al Thatcher in his store and in the Davenport store. Then he joined Sparks Brothers as a partner in their store at Cody and moved to Cody to take charge of that store. About 1900, Mrs. Sparks inherited the Ludwig Lumber Yard in Valentine from her half-brother, Daniel Ludwig, and the family moved from Cody to Valentine. Mr. Sparks became manager of the Lumber Yard, continuing there until he became paralyzed and no longer able to work.

He was active in the Lodge, and the Order vocal) member of the very great supporter Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Masonic of the Eastern Star. He was an active (and very Democratic Party. He was an active member and of St. John's Episcopal Church.

Levi Carlton and Bertha C. (Ludwig) Sparks were the parents of five children. Walter Ludwig Sparks, died in infancy. Helen Sparks, was born March 24, 1893, in Valentine, Nebraska. She was educated at the University of Nebraska, Colorado State Teachers College, Greeley Teachers College in Colorado, and Columbia University in New York City. She taught for many years, in Cherry County, in the Valentine City Schools, in Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, and in Winnetka, Illinois.

During World War I she worked at Camp Cody in New Mexico in the YWCA Canteen and in New York City with the Salvation Army, on the docks meeting returning service men and serving the famous Salvation Army doughnuts to welcome the men home. After her mother's death, she moved to Los Angeles and worked for the Los Angeles Board of Education until her retirement. Then she worked for the Los Angeles County Court for about two years. In 1967 she moved to La Jolla, California., a suburb of San Diego. Since her retirement, she has done a great deal of volunteer work.

Miss Sparks has been most generous not only in her continued support of the SPARKS FAMILY ASSOCIATION, but she has supplied much of the data for this article and a number of the photographs.

Helen Sparks has been a member of the Sparks Family Association almost from its founding (she joined in 1954), and she has been one of its most ardent supporters. Her branch of the Sparks family has been the subject of several articles in the Quarterly, including major articles in issue of March 1964, Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807 ("Jonas Sparks, Died 1805, of Rowan County, North Carolina, and His Descendants"). Carleton Joseph Sparks, son of Levi Canton and Bertha C. (Ludwig) Sparks, was born in Valentine, Nebraska, on November 30, 1898, and died in El Cajon, California, on September 12, 1970. He married Valentine Queen Shaw of Valentine, Nebr., by whom he had one daughter, Patricia Ann Sparks. They were divorced and he married (second) Dorothy Harms of Valentine on June 18, 1934--one adopted daughter, Doris Margaret Sparks. He and his second wife were also divorced. He was educated at a military academy and at the University of Nebraska. He became a metal lather and worked in various sections of the U.S., returning to Valentine in 1933 to help run the Ludwig Lumber Yard.

While living in Valentine, Charleton Joseph Sparks was very active in local politics, serving several times as mayor and several terms on the City Council. He was also active in St. John's Episcopal Church, in the American Legion, and the Firemen's organization. While Joe and his brother Dan were both partners in the Ludwig Lumber Yard, the term Sparks Brothers again came into common use in Valentine, this time referring to these two nephews of the original Sparks Brothers. Margaret Sparks, daughter of Levi Carlton and Bertha C. (Ludwig) Sparks, was born in Valentine, Nebr., on May 10, 1901, and died on October 27, 1975, in San Diego, California. She was married first to Robert B. Simpson who was killed in 1936. She married second Fred C. Smith on February 19, 1943. She attended the University of Nebraska and the Boyles Business College in Omaha. She worked as a secretary in New York City and Chicago, returning to Valentine in 1930 to work as bookkeeper at her mother's business, the Ludwig Lumber Yard. During her married life, she did considerable volunteer work in libraries and schools. She had no children. Daniel Ludwig Sparks, son of Levi Canton Sparks and Bertha C. (Ludwig) Sparks, was born in Valentine, Nebraska; he died in 1969. He was married in 1935 to Mary Jane Morris and they had two children: James Morris Sparks and Helen Margaret Sparks. The latter married Bruce Kabella in 1968 and they had a son named David Wayne Kabella. Charles Flanigan Sparks, son of Joseph and Caroline (Flanegin) Sparks, was born ca. 1856, in Berrien County, Michigan. He died in Valentine, Nebr. During the early 1900's he started the Valentine State Bank, became its president, and kept that position until his death. His wife was Minna Ray, one of the children of another early pioneer family in Valentine. They had two children, LaVerne Sparks, who died when a child, and Dorothy Grace Sparks. The latter married Harold Gearin and was living in Los Angeles in 1969. She and her husband had seven children. Mary E. Sparks, daughter of Joseph and Caroline (Flanegin) Sparks, was born ca. 1860 in Berrien County, Michigan. She died in Valentine, Nebr., on September 4, 1896. She moved to Valentine ca. 1884 where she taught in the schools until her marriage to Milton Valentine Nicholson. They had one child, Estelle, who died in Long Beach, California. Estelle married FNU Thompson and they had three children. Mr. Nicholson married, after Mary's death, Mae O'Sullivan. Netta A. Sparks, daughter of Joseph and Caroline (Flanegin) Sparks, died young. Spencer Sparks was born in Wayne Indiana, on December 9, 1815, and died in Berrien County, Michigan, on March 9, 1872. He married Sarah G. Hunter in 1834. She was born in Darke County, October 22, 1815, and died on February 3, 1894. From family and census records it would appear that they had the following children: Louise (or Louisa) Sparks, born ca. 1842. She was listed on the 1850 census as 8 years old; she was not listed with the family on the 1860 census. Susan Sparks, born ca. 1842. Her age was given as 18 on the 1860 census.

(There is a possibility that she and Louise were the same person.) John Hunter Sparks, born 1842, died 1912. He was a lumberman of Berrien Springs, Michigan. He married Lurinda Roberts in 1873; she was born in 1843 and died in 1916 and was a daughter of Jacob and Hester Roberts. They had two children: Claude R. Sparks, born January 27, 1875. He married Arda Skinner on September 20, 1899; she was born November 14, 1877, daughter of James Franklin and Adah (Slonecker) Skinner of Berrien Springs, Mich. Nina C. Sparks, born June 2, 1876, died in 1928. William D. Sparks, born ca. 1845-46. His middle name is believed to have been Darius. Spencer Franklin Sparks, born ca. 1850. He was listed as Franklin Sparks on the 1860 census but as Spencer F. Sparks in 1870. He married Clara MNU in 1880. Burt Sparks, born ca. 1854. Hulda Sparks, born ca. 1857. Mary Sparks, born ca. 1858. David Sparks, son of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on August 14, 1817, and died in Berrien County, Michigan, in February 1861. He married (first) Evaline Hunter; she died on February 3, 1842. He then married (second) Harriet Webster on November 23, 1843. She was born in Virginia ca. 1825 according to census records. by his first wife, Evaline (Hunter) Sparks, David Sparks had one son: Spencer Newton Sparks, born ca. 1842, died December 22, 1904. He was married on February 11, 1869, in Niles, Michigan, to Thebe Snyder. He was enrolled on September 8, 1862, in Company A, 7th Regiment of Michigan Cavalry Volunteers and was mustered into service on October 13, 1862. He was discharged on October 13, 1865. In his Civil War pension application it is found that he was living in Sioux City, Iowa, as early as 1893 where he was a carpenter. His eye sight failed and he was no longer able to practice his trade by 1900.

by his second wife, Harriet (Webster) Sparks, David Sparks had the following children: Catherine Sparks (called Kate) was born ca. 1845. Cornelius Sparks, born September 23, 1846 in Niles, Berrien County, Michigan; died on August 16, 1919, in California. He married Melissa Ellen Easton on April 18, 1872 in Niles, Mich.; she died May 4, 1912. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, enlisting at Niles on February 8, 1864, in Company A, 7th Michigan Cavalry, the same unit in which his half-brother, Spencer Newton Sparks, served. On March 10, 1866, he was transferred to Company B of the 1st Regiment, Michigan Veterans Cavalry, at Salt Lake City, Utah. He resided in Mann County, California, for four years after his discharge, then returned to Berrien County, Mich., where he remained until 1902 when he moved to Lodi, California. Cornelius and Melissa Ellen (Easton) Sparks had two children: Lora May Sparks, born September 15, 1873; she married FNU Waddel; and Cora Bell Sparks, born September 3, 1876; she married FNU Linn. Evelina Sparks, born ca. 1849. She was married on March 25, 1880, to Joseph Long William A. Sparks, born ca. 1851. He was living with his mother in 1880. Burton J. Sparks, born ca. 1854-55. He was living with his mother in 1880. Tillman A. Sparks Huldah A. Sparks, born ca. 1857. Living with her mother in 1880. Mary Sparks, born ca. 1858. Living with her mother in 1880. Violet Sparks Frances Sparks, born in 1859-60. She probably died young. Mary Sparks, daughter of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on July 7, 1819, and died in Buchanan, Michigan, on July 9, 1903. She was married twice, first to Christopher Ribble on September 13, 1837, and, second, following his death on April 2, 1842, to John Wesson Park on July 13, 1847. John W. Park was born December 29, 1808, in Mendon, New Jersey, and died on May 8, 1877. by her first husband, she had one daughter: Malvina Ribble, born March 17, 1841, died July 19, 1919. She married Robert Walton (born November 11, 1832, died June 25, 1915) on October 4, 1866. They had children named byron Walton, Jay Walton, Herbert Walton, Roy Walton, Dwight Walton, and Arthur Walton.

by her second husband, Mary (Sparks) Park had three children: Mary Frances Park, born July 30, 1848, died November 8, 1929. She was married on April 18, 1882, to Howard Miller. Jasper Park, son of John W. and Mary (Sparks) Park, was born July 20, 1850, in Berrien County, Michigan, and died on April 4, 1920. He was married on July 10, 1883, to Elizabeth Hughes and they had two children: Mary Park, born May 13, 1884. She was married (first) in Copemish, Michigan, on August 8, 1906, to Stanley Wille. She married (second) Abe Vogel in Louisiana, Missouri, on February 22, 1939. Mrs. Vogel presently lives in Howell, Michigan, and enjoys excellent health at the age of 93. She has frequently written for publication, including a novel published in 1970 called And the Stagecoach Tipped Over in which she incorporated many family stories and legends of early Michigan. Mrs. Vogel has provided much of the information and several of the photographs used in this article. by her first husband, she had two daughters: Audrey Emma Wille, born April 18, 1908, in Butte, Montana, married (first)William Bouns on January 2, 1932; and (second) Ardath Elizabeth Wille, born April 21, 1914, in Rupert, Idaho, married Thomas H. Maxon on February 11, 1937. Verna N. Park, born February 19, 1887. She married (first) Robert Howard on June 30, 1909, and (second) Fred G. Upthegrove on October 12, 1943. She also lives in Howell, Michigan. Nellie Ann Park, daughter of John W. and Mary (Sparks) Park, was born January 13, 1862, died April 1, 1950. She married Fred Park on June 1, 1904. Elizabeth Sparks (called Betsy), daughter of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born July 26, 1821, in Wayne County, Indiana, and died on April 25, 1896. She married Burton Jarvis on January 2, 1840. He was a son of Zadock and Lucy (Owens) Jarvis and was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on September 6, 1816. He died on January 2, 1902. When the estate of Burton Jarvis was settled in 1903, it was stated that "Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis died without issue and without a will." However, census records would seem to indicate that they had as many as five children, but all must have died young. These were: John Jarvis, born ca. 1845 listed as 15 years old on the 1860 census. Lucy Jarvis, born ca. 1843; listed as 17 years old on the 1860 census. Zadok (or Zed) Jarvis, born ca. 1848; listed as 12 years old in 1860. Susy E. Jarvis, born ca. 1850; listed as 10 years old on the 1860 census. Joseph A. Jarvis, born ca. 1851; listed as 9 years old on the 1860 census.

When the 1870 census was taken, no children were listed as living with Burton and Elizabeth (Sparks) Jarvis. Levi Sparks, son of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on October 3, 1823, and died on September 20, 1900, in Berrien County, Michigan. He was married on January 2, 1845, to Maria Martin, daughter of Thomas R. Martin; she was born in 1826 and died in 1902. They had one son named Edwin E. Sparks; he was born in 1862 and died in 1910. Edwin E. Sparks married Ida Brenner.

The following biographical sketch of Levi Sparks appeared in American Biographical History of Self-Made Men, Michigan Volume, published by the Western Bicgraphical Publishing Company in Cincinnati, in 1878 (p. 59):

The Honorable Levi Sparks, of Buchanan, Michigan, was a native of Wayne County, Ind. to which place his parents removed from North Carolina. In 1828 they settled in what is now Niles Township, Berrien County. At that time only three or four white families lived in southwest Michigan. Mr. Sparks's boyhood and youth were, consequently, passed amid trials and tribulations of pioneer life and his habits and tastes were formed accordingly. The son of a poor man, resident of a new county, his school education was necessarily limited, but in the broader school of practical experience he was a diligent pupil. His life has been spent on a farm with the exception of five years spent in the mercantile business in Buchanan. This venture was a failure. Mr. Sparks's first official position was that of Paymaster of the 14th Brigade of the Seventh Division of Michigan Militia. His commission was signed by Governor Bingham in May 1857. He has held various top offices and in 1873-1874 and during the extra session of 1875, he was a member of the State Senate. Here he served on the Committees of State Affairs, immigration, Religious and Benevolent Institutions and Asylums for Deaf, Dumb and Blind. He was distinguished for his opposition to extravagance and particularly he advocated a constitutional amendment granting the women the right of suffrage. He was connected with the Republican party from 1852* to 1872*. On account of the subservience of the party to moneyed power of the East and the legislation of Congress in the interests of capitualists and bond-holders against the great laboring and producing classes, he became identified with the Independent Greenback party. In 1876 he gave his hearty support to Peter Cooper and canvassed four

Congressional Districts thoroughly. He was also a delegate to the National Convention at Grand Rapids. At the State Convention he was nominated for lieutenant-governor of Michigan.On the withdrawal of the candidate for governor, Mr. Sparks's name was substituted and he received the full vote of the Independent Greenback Party. He has been a member of the Grange since 1874. In his religious views he holds firmly to the truths of revelation, but is unsectarian, and is liberal in his judgment of those who differ from him in opinion. He has acquired the habit of thinking for himself and acting up to his own convictions. Both in private and public life he has always been a friend of the laboring man. He keeps himself informed of current events and takes an active part in all public matters that he considers for the good of his country. He is one of the oldest pioneers in western Michigan, having resided there fifty years. On the organization of the Berrien County Pioneer Society in 1875, he was made its president. This position he still retains (1878). Anna Sparks, daughter of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born Wayne County, Indiana, on September 30, 1825, and died on October 7, 1845. She was married December 5, 1844 to Ezra Wilson. He died on July 13, 1883. We have no record of any children. Ira Sparks, son of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, was born in Wayne County, Indiana, on October 30, 1827, and died on December 29, 1905. He married Elizabeth M. Ford on January 4, 1851, in Berrien County, Michigan. She died on December 24, 1913. From census records it would appear that she was born in Michigan ca. 1831. Ira and Elizabeth M (Ford) Sparks were the parents of the following children, based on census records. Florence Sparks, born ca. 1852. Alvin Sparks, born ca. 1854. Miles Sparks, born ca. 1857. Bazeen Sparks, born in 1860. Irenus Sparks, born ca. 1862. Howard Sparks, born ca. 1865. Nelson Sparks, born ca. 1868. Minnie Sparks, born after 1870. Wilson Sparks was born in Berrien County, Michigan, on April 19, 1830. He was the second white child born in the county. He died on June 23, 1922. He was married in Berrien County on June 5, 1864, to Mary Gray--both were identified as residents of Oronoko, Michigan, in the marriage record. She died on June 14, 1920. In a History of Berrien County written by Judge Orville B. Coolidge published in 1908, Wilson Sparks was described as having "a vivid recollection of Indians who came to his parents' house to tradeberries for something to eat. Their papooses were tied to a flat stick. He states that the lot now occupied by the Dean drug store was once offered to his father for fifteen dollars." A clipping containing his obituary has been furnished by Miss Helen Sparks and reads as follows:

Wilson Sparks, 92 years of age, and one of the first, if not the first, white children born in Berrien county, died at his home here Friday night, June 23 [1922]. He had been unusually active for one of his age until last January when he suffered a broken hip in a fall which confined him to his home and caused a gradual decline. Mr. Sparks' parents came to Michigan in 1828, settling near Niles where he was born April 19, 1830. With the exception of two years his entire life was spent in Berrien county. In 1864 he married Mary Gray who passed away two years ago, since when he has made his home with his nieces, Mrs. Nellie Park and Mrs. Fanny Miller, in this village, commg here from Benton Harbor where he resided for 30 years. He is also survived by one son, Ralph, in Alaska whose two daughters reside in the state of Washington; also C. R. Sparks and Miss Nina Sparks of this village [Berrien Springs], grandnephew and grandniece of the deceased. Mr. Sparks was the last of eleven children, five of whom lived to celebrate their golden wedding anniversaries. Funeral service was held Sunday afternoon conducted by Rev. J. M. Jenkins. Interment in Rosehill cemetery.

Census records indicate that Wilson and Mary (Gray) Sparks had the following children: Inez Sparks, born ca. 1865. Ralph Sparks, born ca. 1867. Fred Sparks, born after 1870. Susannah Sparks (called Susan) was born in Berrien County, Michigan, on August 1, 1832; she died on October 22, 1917. She married John Irwin on July 31, 1851. He was born on June 19, 1828, and died on November 3, 1906. From the family records of Mary Vogel, it would appear that they had children named:

William Irwin; James Irvin; Frank Irwin; Arthur Irwin; and John Irwin. Cynthia Sparks was born in Berrien County, Michigan, on August 27, 1834, and died on September 10, 1898. She never married. Her obituary appeared in the Buchanan (Mich.) Record of September 15, 1898, and indicated that, following the death of her parents, she had lived with her sister, Elizabeth (Sparks) Jarvis.

(Editor's note: In the preparation of this article, the editor received special assistance from Mary Park Vogel of 713 Spring Street, Howell, Michigan (48843) and from Helen Sparks, 7555 Herschel Ave. #5A, La Jolla, California (92037), both of whom are great-granddaughters of Cornelius and Susannah Sparks. While not a descendant of Cornelius Sparks, Loretta B. Bingham of Battle Creek, Michigan,has provided many records to aid in this research. Assistance was also provided by Jean Ducey of 1517 Hickory St., Niles, Michigan (49120) whose great-grandfather was Levi Sparks, son of Cornelius and Susannah.)

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Whole Number 118


In The Sparks Quarterly of March 1978, Whole No. 101 appeared an article on Cornelius Sparks (1789-1862), son of David and Mary (Little) Sparks. Cornelius Sparks was born in Rowan County, North Carolina on June 11, 1789. He was married there in 1812 to Susannah Stevens (1794 -1861). In 1814, Cornelius moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, with several members of his wife's family, including her parents. In 1828, Cornelius and his wife and children moved to Michigan Territory and settled in what would become Berrien County, where he spent the remainder of his life.

In this article, page 1967, we correctly stated that the father of Susannah, wife of Cornelius Sparks, was Spencer Stevens, Sr., but we were uncertain of the spelling of her mother's maiden name--whether it was Elizabeth Rupert or Robard. We have now learned that neither spelling was correct--that it should have appeared as ROBEY. The father of Elizabeth (Robey) Stevens was Nathan Robey. This correction has been provided by Mr. J. M. Robbins, 1304 N.E. 33rd Ave., Apt. B, Ocala, Florida (32670). Mr. Robbins reports that "the Robeys lived just across the Rowan County line into Iredell County so the Stevens family must have lived in what is now Davie County near Dutchman's Creek, but not too far from the Iredell line." Elizabeth (Robey) Stevens was named in her father's (Nathan Robey's) will in Iredell County. Nathan Robey's mother had the maiden name Smallwood.

In the article on Cornelius Sparks, we quoted from the March 29, 1903, article in the Chicago Tribune regarding the journey made by Cornelius and his family along with members of the Stevens family on their way to Indiana. Here it was stated that they stopped in Kentucky at the home of an Adams family who were "relatives of the mother's [Susannah's] side of the family." Mr. Robbins has noted that this appears to indicate that the mother of Elizabeth (Robey) Stevens had the maiden name of Adams. He notes further for those interested in tracing the Stevens line that the parents of Spencer Stevens, Sr. (father of Susannah who married Cornelius Sparks) were Sampson and Leanore (Spencer) Stevens. (This is the source for the name of the second son of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks, i.e., Spencer Sparks who was born in 1815.) The parents of Sampson Stevens were William and Mary (Sampson) Stevens.