April 20, 2021

Pages 2243-2249
Whole Number 112

THE FAMILY OF 55.1.8 SAM SPARKS (1854-1880)
(Son of 55.1 Anderson West Sparks)
of Lee County, Texas


(Editor's Note: In 1979, Mrs. Eula Sparks Fisher, a member of the Sparks Family Association, wrote a detailed account of the murder of her grandfather, Sam Sparks, in 1880 at Giddings, Texas. The article was published in the May 1979 issue of FRONTIER TIMES. Copies may be obtained from Western Publications, 700 East State Street, Iola, Wisconsin, for $1.25 each. Mrs. Fisher lives at 116 South Taylor Avenue, Montebello, California (90640). We are pleased to give the ancestral background of her branch of the SPARKS family.)

55.1.8 Samuel Sparks, grandfather of Mrs. Fisher, was born September 28, 1854, at Sweet Home, Lavaca County, Texas. (We shall refer to him as "Sam Sparks" to distinguish him from other men named Samuel Sparks in this family.) He was a son of 55.x Anderson West Sparks and Martha A. "Mattie" (Aiken) Sparks, and a grandson of 55. Samuel and Elizabeth (West) Sparks. The family of Samuel and Elizabeth Sparks appeared on the 1820 census of Dickson County, Tennessee; on the 1830 and 1840 censuses of Perry County, Tennessee; and on the 1850 census of Decatur County, Tennessee.

55. Samuel Sparks, grandfather of 55.1.8 Sam Sparks, was born ca. 1782; his place of birth is not known. He married Elizabeth West, probably in Dickson County, Tennessee, ca. 1810. She was born ca. 1786 in Greenville County, South Carolina, and was a daughter of Isaac and Susannah (Anderson) West. The West family moved from Greenville County, South Carolina, to Dickson County, Tennessee, ca. 1804. It was in Dickson County, on September 18, 1812, that Isaac West sold 100 acres of land to his son-in-law, Samuel Sparks. The land was located on Jones Creek and West acknowledged that Sparks had given him "full satisfaction" for the property.

Samuel Sparks acquired additional land in Dickson County between 1816 and 1823, but by 1830 he had disposed of his holdings and had moved to Perry County, Tennessee. There, he settled in the area which would become a part of Decatur County when that county was formed in 1845. He died sometime between 1840 and 1850. The homestead was called "Red House".

Samuel and Elizabeth (West) Sparks probably had six children before she died, apparently ca. 1822. After her death, Samuel married Rebecca Hudson, ca. 1823. She was born ca. 1807 in Virginia. Samuel and Rebecca had eight children. He apparently died prior to 1850, for when the 1850 census was taken of Decatur County, Tennessee, Rebecca was listed as the head of her family. A relative says his tombstone reads December 13 1841. He is buried in the "Red House" cemetery.

According to a Bible record which has been preserved, 55. Samuel Sparks had fourteen children, all of them born in Tennessee.

Children of 55. Samuel Sparks and Elizabeth West:

55.1 Anderson West Sparks was born September 13, 1811. He married Martha Adaline "Mattie" Aiken on April 27, 1842, in Tennessee. She was born December 7, 1820, in Tennessee. When the 1850 census was taken of Decatur County, Anderson and Mattie Sparks were listed as Family #57 in District No. 2. They had four children at that time:

55.1.1 Hugh S. Sparks, 8;
55.1.2 Elizabeth Sparks, 6;
55.1.3 William Sparks, 4; and.
55.1.4 Tennessee Sparks (a daughter), age 1.

They also owned one male slave. Family #59 was headed by Rebecca Sparks, step-mother of Anderson W. and widow of Samuel Sparks. Living with her in 1850 were sons: Lafayette Sparks, 19; Thomas Sparks, 17; Ulysses K. Sparks, 14; and Samuel Sparks, 12. Rebecca Sparks was shown as owning five male slaves and two female slaves. Family #66 on this census was that of John and Elizar Sparks, (John was the second son of Samuel and brother of Anderson w.). John's age was given as 35 and Elizar's as 20; they had a daughter named Nancy C. Sparks, age 3, and a son named George M. Sparks, aged one year. John Sparks owned one male slave and two female slaves in 1850.

Anderson and Mattie Sparks moved to Texas in 1854, and it was there on September 28, 1854, that their son Samuel Sparks was born in Lavaca County. Anderson Sparks did not stay in Lavaca County very long, however, but moved to Giddings in what would become Lee County in 1874. He bought a small farm near Giddings and a few cattle. This was during the eve of the Civil War and feelings were bad between the newcomers (such as the Sparks family) and the Texans. It was during the Civil War that Anderson Sparks was mysteriously drowned in a small stream near his home while looking for some of his cattle. Mattie (Aiken) Sparks was left with a large family of eleven children, ranging in age from four to twenty years. (Her son, Hugh Scott Sparks, was in the Confederate States Army where he died on March 1, 1863.) Mattie died on December 11, 1902. The children of Anderson W. and Mattie (Aiken) Sparks were:

55.1.1 Hugh Scott Sparks was born in 1843. He died on March 1, 1863, while serving in the Confederate States Army.

55.1.2 Margaret Elizabeth Sparks was born November 19, 1844, in Tennessee. On December 28, 1865, she married Robert N. Atchison and they had three daughters:

Monta Atchison, Sally Lee Atchison, and Maude Willard Atchison. Margaret died on August 18, 1918.

55.1.3 William Anderson Sparks was born March 21, 1846, in Tennessee. On March 18, 1874, he married Martha Louisa Kuykendall. She was born December 18, 1856, at Old Evergreen, Texas, and. Was a daughter of Gibson and Martha L. Kuykendall. She died in Lee County, Texas, on April 25, 1901. William died on June 13, 1920. They were the parents of fourteen children: Thurston Ross Sparks, Fred Anderson Sparks, William Neel Sparks, Arthur Jackson Sparks, Ira Duke Sparks, Grover Cleveland Sparks, Addie Lou Sparks, Mamie Rose Sparks, Homer Clonton Sparks, Horace Gipson Sparks, Hughlen Hampton Sparks, Isaac Jonathan Sparks, Mattie Beatrice Sparks, and Cecil Ray Sparks.

55.1.4 Susan Mary Sparks was born October 16, 1847. She died on August 11, 1858.

55.1.5 Tennessee Rebecca "Tennie" Sparks was born February 10, 1819, in Decatur County, Tennessee. On February 19, 1867, she married Andrew Jackson Rogers at Lexington, Texas. He was born February 20, 1846, in Choctaw County, Mississippi, and was a son of Jesse W. and Mary (Middleton) Rogers. Tennie died on July 5, 1883. Andrew died on October 3, 1904. They had seven children:

Hugh King Rogers, Dee Thomas Rogers, Addie Cole Rogers, Emma Creath Rogers, Oscar Franklin Rogers, Mary Beulah Rogers, and Harvey Pue Rogers.

55.1.6 Mary Eliza "Molly" Sparks was born August 8, 1850. She married Chappell Martin and they moved to Oklahoma. She died in 1883.
55.1.7 An unnamed son was born to Anderson and Mattie Sparks in 1851 and died at birth.
55.1.8 Sam Sparks was born September 28, 1854, in Lavaca County,Texas.

A photograph of Sam Sparks appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly and he is the subject of the article by Eula Sparks Fisher that was mentioned at the beginning of this record. 55.1.8 Sam Sparks married Susan "Sue" Burden on December 11, 1876. For awhile he was a cowboy and "went up the Trail one time with the Curtaindall (Kuykendall) herd." He was a Texas Ranger from July 18711- to February 1875. He was a fine-looking man according to his contemporaries, one of whom stated, "He had blue eyes, dark hair, and stood about six feet tall. He was unusually strong with broad shoulders and a perfect physique. He and Sue lived on a homestead which was located four miles from Giddings, Texas, on the San Antonio-Nacogdoches road.

The cause of the untimely death of Sam Sparks in 1880 began with a quarrel with Jim Brown in 1875 while Sparks was a Texas Ranger. The quarrel ended when Sparks disarmed Brown, and a feud sprang up between them. A few years later, Brown, a wealthy, racehorse man, was shot (but not fatally) from ambush and immediately blamed Sparks, or Sparks's brother, 55.1.11 Isaac West Sparks, a teen-aged youth. When Brown, now a sheriff, tried to arrest Isaac Sparks, Sam interfered and arranged for Isaac to leave Texas and to return to their relatives in Tennessee.

On the night of January 10, 1880, Sam Sparks was shot from behind by an unknown person as he was leaving a saloon in Giddings. Subsequently it was proved that the murder was committed by two friends of Brown, and they were hanged - - not for the murder of Sam Sparks, but for the murder of W. T. Sharman, twelve years later. Sharman, a young blacksmith, had been an innocent witness to the shooting of Sam Sparks and was to have been a witness to the trial of Brown's friends. Brown was killed, several years after the death of Sam Sparks, in Garfield Park, Chicago, by a policeman while resisting arrest.

Sam Sparks left his widow with one child, Eula Lee Sparks, born ca. 1877. A son, Samuel Sparks, Jr., was born posthumously on January 29, 1880, just two weeks after his father was murdered. Eula Lee Sparks married Ed Templeton. Samuel Sparks, Jr. married Zora Pope and they had nine children,including Mrs. Eula Sparks Fisher who has been so helpful in preparing this record. Samuel Sparks, Jr. died ca. 1914 in El Paso, Texas, at the age of 81 years.

55.1.9 Emily Sparks, daughter of Anderson and Mattie Sparks, was born on August 9,1856. She died on June 19, 1858.
55.1.10 Adaline Sparks was born on March 2,1858. She died on January 6, 1861.
55.1.11 Isaac West Sparks was born July 18, 1859, at Giddings, Texas. After his flight from Texas to Tennessee, with the help of his brother, 55.1.8 Sam Sparks, he returned from Tennessee to Lee County, Texas, where he served as a deputy sheriff for awhile. He was married twice. Isaac West Sparks died in 1928 at Austin, Texas.

His first marriage was to Rose Kathryn McKim by whom he had a son, Clifford Sparks.

His second marriage was to Alice Lipscomb by whom he had five children: Jake Sparks, Jim Sparks, Isaac Sparks, Gains Sparks, and Julia Sparks.

55.2 John Franklin Sparks was born on April 23, 1813. He married Elizar MNU, ca. 1845. When the 1850 census was taken of Decatur County, Tennessee, they had two children, 55.2.1 Nancy C. Sparks and 55.2.2 George M. Sparks.
55.3 Tennessee Sparks was born February 18, 1815.
55.4 Andrew Jackson Sparks was born on March 18, 1817.
55.5 Elizabeth Evaline Sparks was born September 16, 1819.
55.6 Comfort Sparks was born on December 26, 1821.

Children of 55. Samuel Sparks and Rebecca (Hudson) Sparks:

55.7 William H. Sparks was born on December 1, 1824. The initial "H" may have been for Hudson, his mother's maiden name.
55.8 Emily Sparks was born on October 26, 1826.
55.9 Minerva Sparks was born on May 31, 1829. She died on February 16, 1835.
55.10 Marquis de Lafayette "Marcus" Sparks was born September 12, 1830. He died on November 24, 1915. He moved from "Red House" to Wise County Texas near Decatur in 1871.
55.11 Thomas Jefferson Sparks was born on August 9, 1832. He moved to Arkansas.
55.12 Mahulda Caroline Sparks was born January 6, 1836. She died on January 13, 1836.
55.13 Ulysses K. Sparks was born on April 20, 1837.

55.14 Samuel Christopher Sparks was born June 13, 1840. He served in the Confederate States Army during the Civil War for four years, and after the war ended he went to South America where he lived in Brazil for four years. He returned to the United States and lived in Little Rock, Arkansas where he married Robenia Bringle in 1870. In 1874, he moved to Lane County, Oregon, where he founded the village of Blue River with a hotel, general store, sawmill and livery stable. He died there on July 11, 1911. He and Robenia had three children:

55.14.1 Manana Sparks was born ca. 1872. She died in infancy.
55.14.2 Dexter Sparks was born January 2, 1875. He died in August 1949. He married Rosa Lane on May 21, 1903, and they had three children: Manena Rosa Sparks, Frank Clayton Sparks, and Naomi Elaine Sparks.

55.14.3 Felix Sparks was born in 1878. He married Belle Shough.

Frank Clayton Sparks, grandson of Samuel Christopher Sparks, has provided us with an interesting sketch of the life of his grandfather, which follows. Mr. Sparks has also provided us with the photographs of his grandparents.


Samuel Christopher Sparks was one of the founders of the town of Blue River, Oregon. He came to the Willamette Valley in 1875. He lived for several years in the Coburg area and later in Cedar Flats. In 1895 he came to the upper McKenzie Valley where he purchased two adjoining homesteads, belonging to Sewell Smith and J. M. Davis. This property totaled 320 acres of land and included the site of the present community of Blue River, Oregon, in Lane County.

Samuel Sparks was born a farm 6/13/1840, in Tennessee. In many ways his life reflected. The unsettled and chaotic conditions of the Union after the Civil War. A pioneering instinct for change and adventure, as well as frustration and uncertainty regarding the future, prompted him to uproot his family and look for a home in new lands. As many others of his generation, he left behind the familiar ordered farms of the South to make a new start in the free lands of the West.

Samuel Sparks grew up in a large family which included eight brothers, most of whom fought in the War Between the States on the side of the South. He joined the Confederate Army and fought with the South during the four long years of that war. He was 21 years of age when the Confederacy was formed. He served as a cavalryman and scout under General Bedford Forrest, with the troops of Tennessee. His picture as a cavalryman at this time shows him sitting on his horse, a straight, exceptionally handsome young man, holding his long rifle in still military pose. He served under Albert Sidney Johnson at Shiloh, was in the lines at Chickamauga and under General Robert E. Lee in the Battle of the Wilderness. After Appomatox he found himself, along with thousands of others, with a way of life destroyed and without resources.

He apparently had no taste for the problems of the reconstruction and sailed almost immediately for Rio de Janeiro, expecting to settle in Brazil. He spent four years there. During that time he joined an exploring expedition dispatched by the Emperor Don Pedro, up the Amazon River and across the continent to the Andes Mountains. After his return from this long and exhausting trip,he made the decision to return to the United States and establish a way of life.

He then returned to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he remained for five years. He married Robenia Bringle there in 1870. They had two children during this time,one daughter, Manena, who died in infancy and a son, Dexter, born 2 Jan1875. Being unable to establish a secure future for his young family, he made the decision to come West late in 1874 to look for a future in the Oregon Country. He came West by Emigrant Train to California in 1874 and eventually made his way to San Francisco late in that year. In letters to his young wife at that time, he expressed great appreciation for the beauty and climate of that area. He then went by ship to Portland, Oregon, and completed the journey on foot to the Willamette Valley in January of 1875.

After acquiring farm land in the Coburg area of Lane County, he sent for his young family and they came by train across the continent. A second son, Felix, was born in 1878. Some years later the family moved to the Cedar Flats area and built a shingle mill which they operated along with farming.

In 1895 the last move was made to Blue River, Lane County, Oregon, where he acquired a quarter-section of land - - the two homesteads recently "proved-up" on under the Homestead Act of 1862. This property was acquired through purchase and trade from the two homesteaders, Smith and Davis. The two original log buildings used as the homestead dwellings were built near the present site of the community of Blue River. The larger of the two was used as the family home until 1910. It was a six-room all-log structure with two stone chimneys,fireplace, and wide stoop across the front, the interior having log partitions and wide plank floors.

Gold mining was first opened up in the Blue River District in 1863. Considerable investment and development had taken place by this time. His interest in this promotion and his ambition to develop his property prompted Samuel Sparks to build a sawmill, general store, hotel and livery stable, all on the site of the present town of Blue River. The hotel was operated by Dexter Sparks and wife, Rosa, and the sawmill by Felix Sparks. Samuel Sparks had the town site of Blue River laid out and plotted. The survey was made, blue prints and maps completed for Cascade Park and Blue River City in July 1911. The death of Samuel Sparks came very suddenly of a stroke on July 11 of that year. He was 71 years old. The authorization of the subdivision was signed July 18, 1911, by his widow, Robenia Bringle Sparks, one week after his death.