Whole Number 119
by Ricky W. Sparks
John Riley Sparks, the oldest child of Jeremiah and Sally (Morris) Sparks, was born in Jackson County, Kentucky, on August 10, 1857, and died on May 27, 1946, in Lancaster, Kentucky. (John Riley Sparks and his parents are listed in the Quarterly of June 1974, Whole No. 86, page 1647. The grandparents of John
Riley Sparks were William and Hannah (Skinner) Sparks of Estill County, Kentucky. This William Sparks (born ca.1810) was a son of Isaac Sparks, Jr. and his wife Annis (McGuire) Sparks. Isaac Sparks, Jr. was born between 1784 and 1794 and was a son of Isaac and Catherine Sparks.)
John Riley Sparks married Amanda Gilliam on October 17, 1884. Amanda was born in Scott County, Virginia, on January 6, 1865. They were the parents of eleven children, three of whom died as infants. The eight children that survived to adulthood were:
1. Rebecca Sparks, born June 27, 1885, died June 5, 1973. She married Tom Gay.
2. Claude V. Sparks, born February 21, 1887, died March 22, 1960. He married Addie Doolin. (He was the great-grandfather of the writer of this article, Ricky W. Sparks.)
3. Lillie Sparks, born August 12, 1888, died July 9, 1963. She married Herman Doolin.
4. Ida M. Sparks, born March 8, 1892, died March 11, 1950. She married Jess Casey.
5. Zella Sparks, born December 11, 1894, died July 3, 1980. Her first husband was Jim Hicks; her second marriage was to Oliver Craig.
6. Clorris C. Sparks, born December 11, 1898, died March 11, 1981. He married Thelma Wheeler.
7. Jennie Sparks, born October 26, 1900, died January 29, 1929. She married William Masters.
8. Clarence T. Sparks, born March 19, 1907, died August 23, 1979. He married Hattie Price on August 6, 1930. He is shown with his parents in the photograph appearing on the following page.
John Riley and Amanda Sparks moved to Garrard County, Kentucky, ca. 1894 and lived in the Gunn's Chapel section. About 1920 they opened a general merchandise store beside their home on Buckeye Pike. They operated this store until 1945, at which time they sold their farm and store and moved to Lancaster, Kentucky, where they lived until their deaths.
John Riley Sparks has been called a "pioneer" of his community as stories and recollections have been told of him by older residents of Garrard County. "No one ever went to the Sparks home that wasn't given the finest hospitality, and was made to eat with them" one recollects, and "So many found help and refuge from the Sparkses." Besides being a merchant and farmer, John Riley Sparks was a devoted member of the Masonic Lodge. He died on May 27, 1946, at the age of 88. His wife, Amanda Sparks, died on March 13, 1951. They were buried on the Sparks family lot in the Lancaster, Kentucky, cemetery.
The life of every man is a
diary in which he means to write
one story, and writes another;
and his humblest hour is when he
compares the volume as it is with
what he vowed to make it.
-James M. Barrie
The Little Minister