April 12, 2021
Whole Number 112
THE DIARY OF MARY MELISSA (SPARKS) CLARKE
Myra Del Manley
by her Great-Granddaughter
Myra P. Manley, a member of the Sparks Family Association, has recently published the diaries kept by her great-grandmother, Mary Melissa (Sparks) Clarke, that were written in Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma between 1879 and 1898. Mrs. Manley discovered most of these diaries in 1978 in an old trunk in the home of her grandfather; another, that describing the journey from Iowa to Kansas in 1879, was found in the home of a great-aunt. Mrs. Manley has patiently copied the diaries, which were written on blank leaves in "farmers' almanacs" that Mary Melissa had sewed together to form little books.
Mary Melissa Sparks was born August 1, 1856, and lived until December 20, 1912. She married Samuel Clarke in 1881. She was the eldest daughter of James Andrew and Nancy Ann (Heaton) Sparks and a granddaughter of David Wallace and Nancy (Marks) Sparks. David Wallace Sparks was a son of Andrew Sinnickson and Jane (Templeton) Sparks who were originally of New Jersey. Andrew S. Sparks and his brother, Simon Sparks, were in Greene County, Ohio, as early as 1813. (See the Quarterly of June 1963, Whole No. 42, pp. 738-41, for a record of their service in the War of 1812.)
The diary of Mary Melissa Sparks begins on July 13, 1879--a month later, on August 14, 1879, she left with her family by covered wagon from the town of Sigourney in Iowa for Leesburgh, Kansas, where they arrived on September 18,1879. The entry in the diary for August 14, 1879, reads as follows:
Joie & John & Maggie Lyster & H. here to see us before we left. We started about eight o'clock in the morning for Kansas. We met Lizzie Elston between our house & Cuba, she was coming to bid us goodbye. We went by Argricoba, stoped there to bid our friends goodbye & wait for Jess Darland, who is going with us. He did not come to Agricoba before we started. He caught up with us two miles south of Agricoba. It is a pleasant day & nice for traveling. We stoped for dinner on the banks of north Skunk river. Left ther about twelve oclock. Passed Roberts mill. Nothing of importance hapening. We stoped for night at Glendale mills on the South Skunk River.
Mrs. Manley, in her introduction to her great-grandmother's diary, notes:
The diary starts in 1879 in Iowa, a few months before they started to Kansas. It gives the day by day journey from Iowa to Kansas. It is interesting to note the small towns mentioned that are now large cities, and some of the towns are no longer there. They arrived in Kansas in later 1879 and the diary includes their life there until 1886, with only a few entries missing. They moved to Oklahoma, which is missing, and the diary includes their life in Oklahoma from 1895 to 1898, again with a few entries missing.
Mrs. Manley has included an index of all the names mentioned in the diaries. She has also included the names of all persons appearing on the 1880 census of York Township, Stafford County, Kansas, to aid in identifying persons mentioned by Mary Melissa in her diaries during the years in Kansas.
Anyone wishing to purchase a copy of the diary of Mary Melissa (Sparks) Clarke (165 pages) may do so from Mrs. Manley for $15.00. Her address is: P.O. Box 6812, Moore, OK (73158).