February 14, 2021
Whole Number 106
CHARITY (HICKS) CHAMPLIN SPARKS, WIDOW OF 72. JOSEPH SPARKS
OF RHODE ISLAND, A REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSIONER
by Paul E. Sparks
Mrs. Charity (Hicks) Champlin Sparks apparently began plans to apply for a widow's pension in May 1837, but it was not until June 1st of that year that she actually made application. She was 78 years of age and a resident of Bristol, Rhode Island, when she appeared before the Probate Court of Bristol County and made her declaration. She said she had been married to Thomas Champlin who had served in the Revolutionary War in Captain N. Throop's company and Colonel Crary's regiment from sometime in 1776 until the fall of 1779. She and Champlin had been married on March 30, 1778, by William T. Miller, Esq. On October 8, 1780, Thomas Champlin had sailed from Warren, Rhode Island, to the West Indies. Neither he, the crew, nor the vessel were ever heard of again.
Mrs. Sparks went on to say that afterwards she married Joseph Sparks, a resident of Bristol, Rhode Island, who died on his homeward voyage from sea on January 8, 1795. She had remained a widow since his death. She signed the application which was sworn to before William Throop, Probate Clerk.
Earlier, on May 11, 1837, Samuel Randall, Clerk of the town of Warren, Rhode Island, had testified that he had searched for a record of the marriage of Thomas Champlin and Charity Hicks but had found none. He said that there were very few marriages recorded in Warren during the Revolutionary War; in fact, only eleven marriages were recorded from 1775 until the enemy evacuated Newport in December, 1779.
On the same day, Betsey Brown, aged 77 years, a resident of Warren, testified that she and Charity Sparks had lived near each other during the Revolutionary War and were married at about the same time "she to Thomas Champlin and I to John Brown. I was married in January 1778 and she but a month or two afterwards."
On May 11, 1837, Thomas K. Coomer, aged 79 years, a resident of Bristol, Rhode Island, swore that he and Thomas Champlin were brought up together and that he knew Champlin had joined Crary's regiment which was raised in 1777 for fifteen months service. He said that Champlin was the one who had given the alarm when the British invaded Bristol in 1778. He was well acquainted with Champlin's wife, before and after his marriage, and that her name was Charity Hicks.
On June 12, 1837, Mary Grandon, aged 80 years, a resident of Warren, made a deposition in which she stated that in 1777 she moved into the house where Charity Hicks and her parents lived and stayed with them a year or more. While she was living there, Charity Hicks married Thomas Champlin and they lived together as man and wife until his death in 1780. They had one child born to them in early 1779. Afterwards Charity Champlin had married Joseph Sparks, deceased, whose widow she still remained.
On June 12, 1837, John Sisson, aged 79, of Warren, and Ichabod Munro, aged 73, of Bristol, both made affidavits about Champlin's military service. Sisson said he, too, had been a member of Colonel Archibald Crary's regiment in 1777, and that he and Champlin had served in the same company for one year. Munro said he had been brought up from childhood with Champlin in the home of Champlin's grandfather, John Throop, in Bristol. He remembered that Champlin had enlisted in Crary's regiment at an early part of the war and had served for more than a year when he returned to his grandfather's house where he married Charity Hicks. He then moved to Warren. Munro said he had been too young to serve in the war. Jos. M. Blake, a justice of the peace, prepared the affidavits.
On October 2, 1837, Betsy Heath, aged 55 years, a resident of Barrington, Rhode Island, made an affidavit to support Mrs. Sparks's application. Mrs. Heath, wife of Jabez Heath, stated that she had been married to Thomas Champlin, Jr., the son and only child of Thomas and Charity (Hicks) Champlin. She produced an entry from her family Bible which stated that Thomas Champlin, Jr. was born on February 14, 1779, and that he had died on the coast of Girlann on January 10, 1802, in the 23rd year of his age.
On October 2, 1837, Edward C. Sparks, aged 49 years, a resident of Warren, also made an affidavit to support his mother's application. Sparks said he was a son of Joseph and Charity Sparks and that his father had died at sea many years before. He said he had lived at home until his father's death and then was "put to a trade." He said he had never seen any record of his mother's marriage to Thomas Champlin nor to his father, Joseph Sparks, and if there had have been such records, he would have known about them. He said a diligent search had been made both in the Town Clerk's office and in the home of the late William P. Miller, Esq., but no records could be found.
A Certificate of Pension, No. W13919, was issued to Charity Sparks on December 4, 1837, and was sent to her attorney, N. Bullock, in Bristol, Rhode Island. She was placed upon the pension rolls of Rhode Island at the rate of $57.33 per annum to commence on March 4, 1834.
A note was written on the cover of the pension file of Charity Sparks. It reads: "Mrs. Louisa P. Bates fur. hist. on September 20, 1912."
(Editor's Note: In 1968 Marguerite Sharp of Santa Ana, California, a great-great-great- granddaughter of Joseph and Charity (Hicks) Champlin Sparks, shared with the Association the results of research she had conducted regarding this family. Miss Sharp reported that she had done extensive searching to discover the parentage of Charity (Hicks) Champlin Sparks. She is listed in a genealogy of the Cole family as a daughter of Samuel and Keziah (Hicks) Cole, born 1763. In her pension application, however, it was clearly stated by three different people that her maiden name had been Charity Hicks, not Cole. Miss Sharp has concluded that Charity Hicks was indeed a daughter of Keziah (Hicks) Cole, either by a previous marriage to a man also bearing the name Hicks or that Charity was illegitimate and took her mother's maiden name. Samuel Cole died in 1768 and his widow, Keziah, turned the guardianship of their children over to Ebenezer Cole, brother of Samuel. Charity's son, Thomas Champlin, following her first husband's death at sea in 1780, was made the ward of Joseph Ormsbee, who was called the child's "grandfather" in the court record. This strongly suggests that Charity's natural father had been Joseph Ormsbee while she had retained her mother's (Keziah's) maiden name.)
It is known from the vital records of Warren, Rhode Island that 72. Joseph Sparks and his wife, Charity (Hicks) Champlin Sparks, were the parents of three sons, two of whom had the middle name Cole. The following record of these sons was provided by Marguerite Sharp in 1968 (she did not renew her membership in the Association after that year).
72.1 Edward Cole Sparks was born in Warren, R.I., on June 1, 1788, according to the Warren Vital Records (Book 2, p. 33). He was married on February 25, 1824, to Mary (Cole) Barney, widow of John Kelley Barney and a daughter of Ephraim Cole and Waitstill (Ormsbee) Cole. Edward Cole Sparks died (according to his tombstone in Warren) on September 1, 1860. His wife, Mary, died April 18, 1873, in the 84th year of her age. Their children were:
72.1.1 Charles Frank Sparks, born December 26, 1824, died May 17, 1860 (dates from tombstone in Warren); he married Eliza Kingsley Barney, born April 15, 1831, died August 17, 1902, in Warren.
72.1.2 Edwin C. Sparks, born June 10, 1826. He married Elizabeth MNU ca. 1858.
72.1.3 Anna Maria Sparks, born ca. 1827; she married July 29, 1849, Charles Schilling of Warwick, R.I. He was an engraver, born in France.
72.2 Joseph Sparks, Jr. was born April 19, 1790 (Book 2, p. 42 of Warren V. R.) and died April 16, 1856 in Bristol, R.I. (Book 5, p. 17). He married on November 9, 1828, Hannah Gladding (written in the V. R.as "Gladding"), daughter of John and Rachel Gladding. No children were listed in their household when the 1850 census was taken. Children listed in his Union Pensions records:
72.3 Samuel Cole Sparks was born September 2, 1796 (Warren V.R. Book 2, p. 100). He died in Bristol, R.I., on September 13, 1872 (Book 5, p. 7). He married on December 3, 1818, Rachel Gladding, daughter of John and Rachel Gladding; she died March 12, 1863, aged 62. They appear to have had six children, based largely on the 1850 census record:
72.3.1 Samuel Sparks, probable son though not appearing on the 1850 census, died June 22, 1852, at the age of 22, according to his tombstone in Bristol Cemetery #1.
72.3.2 Albert M. Sparks, born ca. 1830, died November 11, 1922, age 91 years according to tombstone in Bristol Cemetery #1.
72.3.3 Lydia Sparks, born ca. 1831, married January 13, 1850, James Francis Stoughton in Bristol.
72.3.4 Susan Sparks, born ca. 1834.
72.3.5 Joseph Sparks, born ca. 1838 (no further information).
72.3.6 John C. Sparks, born ca. 1841, died May 22, 1889, age 48, according to his tombstone in Bristol Cemetery #1.