October 19, 2020

Pages 2014-2108
Whole Number 102 ABSALOM SPARKS
born ca. 1801, died ca. 1851

In the preceding article on Richard Sparks, we indicated that he had a brother named Absalom. As indicated in that article, we believe their parents were 17.2.4 Samuel and Rachel Sparks. Absalom Sparks was born ca. 1801 in South Carolina. (A grandson recalled his name as William, so it is possible that he may have had the name Absalom William or William Absalom.) He married (first) Margaret Allen. According to the Will E. Parham papers in the McClung Collection in Knoxville, she was a sister of James and Isaac Allen and of Amy Allen who married Joseph Ray in 1817. Absalom Sparks married Margaret Allen ca. 1823 and they had seven children, five sons and two daughters, prior to her death in 1838 or 1839. They lived in Blount County, Tennessee, where they were listed on the 1830 and 1840 censuses. (On the latter census Absalom was erroneously listed as Abraham.)

No evidence has been found that Absalom Sparks owned land in Blount County. Two deeds of trust are on file, however, involving personal property by which he secured small loans. On October 14, 1839, he "sold" to Harlan Matthews for five dollars both livestock and household goods to secure a debt of $31.64 which he owed to James H. Donaldson and which was due in six months. According to this agreement, if Absalom Sparks paid the debt, the deed would be void, but if the debt were not paid in six months, Matthews was to sell the property at public auction. The property thus mortgaged included a blind mare, two colts, a black heifer and calf, 12 hogs, two sheep, two beds and furniture, two bedsteads, one chest, one loom, two spinning wheels, one large wash kittle, one man's saddle, one oven, one pot, 32 geese, one dresser and contents, one fire shovel, one ax, one large Bible and "one small lot of books." (See Blount County Deed Book P, pp. 56-7) According to the recorded copy of this deed, he signed his name as "Absalum Sparks" and his witnesses were A. Henry and John Cummings. From a subsequent record, it appears that Absalom was able to pay this debt and retain his property.

A similar deed of trust (Book Q, pp. 28-9) is dated May 15, 1840. Here Absalom Sparks "sold" for $10 to John Greffets, Sr., certain personal property to secure another debt to James H. Donaldson, this time in the amount of $31.00, which would be due on May 16, 1841. A similar list of property was mortgaged again, including "one large Bible." A statement in this deed indicates that Absalom Sparks lived in the Clover Hill District of Blount County. He signed this document as "A. Sparks." His witnesses were D. Dold and W. H. Rhea.

After the death of his first wife, Absalom Sparks married (second) Sarah Ann Rose on March 18, 184l, in Blount County. She was born ca. 1826 in South Carolina. They had six children, 4 sons and 2 daughters, prior to Absalom's death which probably occurred ca. 1851. When the 1850 census was taken, the family was in Meigs County, Tenn. On that census, South Carolina was given as the birthplace of both Absalom and his second wife.

We are uncertain whether Absalom Sparks died in Tennessee, after which his widow went to Texas with the family, or whether Absalom took his family to Texas and died soon after arriving in 1851. A grandson, John Marney Sparks of Kingston, Tenn. (son of David Carson Sparks), wrote the following statement to A. B. Sparks of Copan, Oklahoma., in 1925: "My father's father [Absalom Sparks] went to Texas when my father was just a boy, went by flat boat down the Tennessee River and on down the Mississippi. My father [David Carson Sparks] sliped off down about Chattanooga, Tenn., and came back and lived with [Richard Sparks] he called him, Uncle Dickey Sparks, and I suppose he was my grandfather's Brother. My father [David Carson Sparks] died March 19, 1918. He never heard much of his people after they went to Texas." According to a History of Texas and Texans written in 1914 by Frank W. Johnson, Sarah Ann Sparks, widow of Absalom, moved her family to Cherokee County, Texas, in 1852 following her husband's death. Then, in 1858, she moved to Kaufman County, Texas. She died there in 1907. According to one uncertain reference, she may have married FNU Brackett as her second husband.

We can make positive identification of only six of the seven children of Absalom and Margaret (Allen) Sparks: Samuel J. Sparks, son of Absalom and Margaret (Allen) Sparks, was born in Monroe County, Tennessee, on October 21, 1824, and died April 2, 1912. He is buried in Philadelphia, Loudon County, Tenn. He married Mary Ann Kennedy on April 5, 1850, in Blount County; the 1850 census gave his occupation as Saddler. According to descendants Vicki Begtrup and Helen Windle, they had the following children: James R. Sparks, born March 21, 1851, died April 6, 1925. He married Martha Torbett. Winfield Scott Sparks, born October 17, 1852. William D. Sparks, born January 1854, died September 14, 1913, in Boise, Idaho Sidney Jane Sparks, died January 10, 1931. Ann Martha Sparks, born September 1, 1863. Thomas Sparks. Millard F. Sparks. Daniel Sparks. Rachel Sparks, daughter of Absalom and Margaret (Allen) Sparks, married FNU Humphrey of Greenback, Loudon County, Tennessee. Absalom Leander Sparks, son of Absalom and Margaret (Allen) Sparks, was born ca. 1830. On the 1850 census of Blount County, Tenn., he was living in the home of Margaret Lane, age 50, and on June 3, 1852, he married her daughter, Nancy J. Lane. Her father was Peyton Lane, son of John and (Blankinship) Lane. Absalom Leander and Nancy J. (Lane) Sparks are buried in Willard Park Cemetery, Harriman, Tenn., but there are no dates on their stones. Their children, as supplied by Naomi T. Arp of Philadelphia, Tenn., a great-granddaughter, were: Cordelia F. Sparks, married Robert P. Carter August 29, 1878, in Roane County, Tenn. Rosa B. Sparks, married Samuel Ingram on March 7, 1875 in Roane Co. Herbert Templeton Sparks, born February 14, 1857, died March 4, 1951. Married Callie Suddath on September 14, 1878, in Roane County (no children). He married (second) Amanda Tennessee Culton, September 1881. Samuel Peyton Sparks, born 1858, died 1920. Married Nannie Center, Cumberland County, Tenn. David C. Sparks, born September 24, 1864, died January 16, 1893. Unmarried. Orville Laird Sparks, married Ellen MNU. Van D. Sparks, married Addie Huffine on December 27, 1894, in Roane County. John T. Sparks, born November 3, 1870, died October 3, 1898. Unmarried. Maggie B. Sparks, born February 18, 1873, died February 18, 1891. Unmarried. Mattie Sparks. Unmarried. Taught school for many years in Harriman, Tenn.; died in California. Ada Sparks. Unmarried, died in 1941. Baby Sparks, died in infancy. A son Sparks. David Carson Sparks was born March 12, 1835, in Blount County, Tenn., according to a statement in his own handwriting dated April 2, 1915, which is part of his Civil War pension file. He died March 19, 1918, and was buried in byrd's Chapel Cemetery, Roane County, Tenn. He was living with his uncle, Richard Sparks, when the 1850 census was taken of Roane County, Tenn. "For 5 years prior to my enlistment in the Federal Army I resided in Roane County, Tenn. about 6 miles South East of Kingston, Tenn." So stated David Carson Sparks in his pension application. A volume entitled Who's Who in Tennessee published in Memphis in 1911 by Paul & Douglass, states (p. 210) that David C. Sparks worked on his Uncle Richard Sparkses farm until he was 21 and that he sold a horse given him by his uncle in order to go to the Mt. Harmony High School where he graduated in 1861.

He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, enlisting at Barbourville, KY, on February 26, 1862, in Co. D, 5th Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. He made application for a pension in 1878 in which he stated that he had been discharged at Nashville, Tenn., on March 31, 1865. He stated that, before the war, he had been a farmer and that following the war he had lived in Roane County, Tenn., where he had farmed and had also been a surveyor and a sheriff. While in the Army, he had advanced to the rank of captain. He had been seriously injured as described in his own words: "At Green River bridge in the State of Kentucky on or about the 20th day of December 1862, I was injured in the right foot by jumping from said bridge a distance of about ten feet. Our Regiment was crossing the bridge and the train of cars came along while we were crossing and we were forced forward and I was compelled to jump or be run over and be killed." In 1864 he suffered a sun stroke while leading his company near Kenesaw Mountain in Georgia. According to his own account, he was unconscious for two days. "I recollect the Surgeon's name was Sparks."

On March 24, 1870, David Carson Sparks was married in Roane County, Tenn., to Araminta Angeline Wilson, daughter of John and Malinda (Marney) Wilson. She was born January 30, 1849, and died December 4, 1909. In his pension application, David C. Sparks stated: "My wife was never married but the one time--I knew her from childhood." On April 2, 1915, he supplied the Bureau of Pensions with the dates of birth of his children. Data have been added from other sources to the following: John Marney Sparks, born January 2, 1871, died February 28, 1961, in Roane County, Tenn. He married Sara Guin Williams (1875-1945). Samuel F. Sparks, born July 31, 1873, died May 25, 1878, in Roane Co. James R. Sparks, born May 16, 1875, died February 10, 1946, in Roane Co. Robert C. Sparks, born January 9, 1877, died August 31, 1877, in Roane Co. Samuel Robert Sparks, born May 27, 1879, died May 10, 1853, in Roane County. He never married. David C. Sparks, Jr., born March 28, 1881, died June 2, 1833, in Danvers, Mont. Malinda A. Sparks, born August 30, 1882, died September 4, 1882, in Roane Co. Benjamin M. Sparks, born April 5, 1884, died October 23, 1885, in Roane Co. Mary Kate Sparks, born November 13, 1886; married L. H. Lowery. Thomas Sparks was born ca. 1836 in Tennessee. He was living with his father in Meigs County, Tenn., when the 1850 census was taken and probably accompanied his step-mother to Texas ca. 1852. Mary Jane Sparks was born ca. 1838 in Tennessee. She was living with her father in Meigs County, Tenn., in 1850 and probably accompanied her step-mother to Texas ca. 1852.

Absalom Sparks married (second)Sarah Ann Rose and they had six children before his death in 1851 or 1852. William Sparks, son of Absalom and Sarah Ann (Rose) Sparks, was born ca. 1842 in Tennessee. He apparently did not live to maturity according to the History of Texas &Texans cited earlier. He was listed as 7 years old on the 1850 census. Martha Sparks, daughter of Absalom and Sarah Ann (Rose) Sparks, was born ca. 1844 in Tenn. She married Carey A. McCracken and they lived in White Prairie, Texas. (This town no longer exists.) Lucinda Sparks, daughter of Absalom and Sarah Ann (Rose) Sparks, was born ca. 1846 in Tennessee. She married T. B. Enochs and they lived at Sulphur Springs, Texas. George W. Sparks was born ca. 1849 in Tennessee and accompanied his mother to Texas when he was only three years old. He grew up near Terrell, Kaufman County, Texas, and was married there in 1872 to a widow, Mrs. Sophia (Ables) Adams, daughter of Ezekiel Ables. Two children were born to this union: Henry Sparks and Maggie Sparks. James M. Sparks was born in 1850 in Tennessee. He was living in Terrell, Texas, in 1914. Samuel Sparks was born ca. 1851. He may have been born after his father died. He died prior to 1914. He never married. (It is interesting that a second son of Absalom Sparks should have been named Samuel considering that the first son, by an earlier wife, was still living at the time of the birth of the second Samuel. If, as we suspect, this son was born after Absalom was dead, his mother may have chosen his name without regard to the fact that Absalom had a son by this name by his earlier wife.