April 25, 2021

Pages 2798-2801
Whole Number 132


(Editor's Note: As readers of the Quarterly know, for a number of years we have been publishing abstracts of the pension application files for men named Sparks who served on the Union side of the Civil War. There are scores of these in the National Archives in Washington, and the documents comprising them often provide very personal accounts of that terrible war. Only those men who served on the Union side, however, were eligible to apply for federal pensions, which means that the personal history of Sparkses who served in the Confederate Army is much less full than for Sparkses who served in the Union Army. As the years passed, and the Southern states gradually recovered from their financial ruin, a number attempted to provide state pensions for their surviving Confederate soldiers. One of those states was Tennessee. In 1922, a questionnaire was sent by that state to each of its pensioners, although its completion was not required. Regretfully, only one Tennessee veteran named Sparks responded, that being Samuel Greer Sparks, then living in Iuka, Mississippi. The responses received to that questionnaire have been preserved in Tennessee, and their contents were published recently in a 5-volume set called Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires. Paul E. Sparks, our Association's President, has prepared the following abstract of Samuel Greer Sparks's response to this questionnaire.)

71.4.1 SAMUEL GREER SPARKS, son of 71.4 James L. and Margaret C. (Greer) Sparks, was born July 25, 1837, at Ripley, Tennessee. He married Mary C. McClellan, ca. 1866. He served in Company C, 38th Regt. Tennessee Infantry, Confederate States Army. File Designation: Tennessee Confederate Pension No. 13265.

On May 18, 1922, Samuel Greer Sparks, aged 84, a resident of Iuka, Mississippi, completed a questionnaire specifically prepared for Tennessee Civil War Veterans. The questions were designed to obtain information about the veteran's ancestry, home background, attitude toward slavery, education, military service, and postwar activities.

Sparks stated that he had been born July 25, 1837, at Jonesboro, Tennessee, and was a son of 71.4 James Lawrence and Margaret Catherine (Greer) Sparks. His father had been a native of Abingdon, Virginia, and was a newspaperman. He served as postmaster of Jonesboro under the Confederate government. Sparks's grandfather had been a native of Maryland. His mother was a daughter of Samuel and Catherine Greer who had come to Tennessee from Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

As a boy, Sparks lived in an eight-room frame house owned and occupied by his grandfather Greer. His mother was an only child and kept house for her father with the help of two servants. Grandfather Greer owned two farms of about 500 acres, but Sparks never worked on them. For a period of time, he worked as a salesman in a dry goods house.

As to slavery, Sparks said that slave-owners and those who owned no slaves were friendly and got along pleasantly. Slave holders received no political advantage. Poor young white men had opportunities to save up enough to buy a farm or to go into business for themselves. Honest toil by white men, such as plowing and hauling, were regarded as both respectable and honorable.

Sparks attended a private male and female academy in Jonesboro and later Washington College in the same community. He attended school about eight or ten years, generally walking to and from the school which was nearby. His parents paid tuition for him to attend. Schools were open about ten months a year and were usually taught by a man. Other schools included a Boys Academy, Odd Fellows Female Institute, Baptist Female Seminary, besides public schools at various times.

Although events were not fresh in his memory, Sparks believed that he had enlisted in Company C, 38th Regiment Tennessee Infantry in February 1862. His company commander was Capt. B. H. Holland and the Regimental Colonel was R. F. Looney from Memphis. Two months after he was enrolled, he was on his way to Eastport, Mississippi. His first battle was at Shiloh. After that battle, he was sent to Corinth, Mississippi, and since he had a fairly good education and some business experience, he was placed in the Commissary Department where he served for the rest of the war. On the Kentucky campaign, he was the Commissary and Acting Quartermaster for his regiment.

When the war ended, Sparks was paroled at Memphis, and he returned to Somerville, Tennessee, about 25 miles from home. Afterwards, he went to Memphis and worked as a salesman in a wholesale grocery business, but eventually returned to the job of newspaperman. He established a newspaper in Somerville which he published for over thirty years. After his retirement, he made his home with his sons, Samuel and Robert. (Sparks died shortly after completing the questionnaire, on December 5, 1922, at Iuka, Mississippi.)

(Editor's Note: 71.4.1 Samuel Greer Sparks was a grandson of 71. Reuben H. Sparks who was born in Maryland ca. 1777. He went to Tennessee as a young man and married Sarah L. McClellan there on September 14, 1807, in Sullivan County. She was born ca. 1790 in Virginia. Shortly after their marriage, Reuben and Sarah moved to Washington County, Virginia, where they lived until ca. 1833 when they moved to Washington County, Tennessee. Reuben died at Ripley, Tennessee, on July 15, 1855. Sarah died on June 21, 1875.

Reuben Sparks served in the War of 1812 and received bounty land for his service. [See the June 1962 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 38, for an abstract of his bounty land file.] He was a tailor by trade. He and Sarah had ten children (five sons and five daughters) according to census enumerations; however, we have been able to identify only six of them. The children were:

71.1 William A. Sparks born 1805. (Webmaster note: This William A. Sparks must have died young since another W. A. was born in 1833.)
71.2 Son1 Sparks was born to Reuben and Sarah between 1806 and 1810 whom we have been unable to identify.
71.3 Ann Eliza Sparks was born ca. 1811. She was a seamstress. She apparently never married.

(Note: Ann Eliza Sparks was born in 1810 or 1811. She was living with her brother, 71.1 William A. Sparks, when the 1870 census was taken of Washington County, Tennessee.)

71.4 James Lawrence Sparks was born on October 9, 1813, in Abingdon, Virginia. He married Margaret Catherine Greer there on October 18, 1836. She had been born ca. 1815 in Tennessee and was a daughter of Samuel and Catherine Greer who had come to Tennessee from Carlisle, Pennsylvania. James Sparks was a printer and editor of a newspaper. He also practiced medicine. He and Margaret had eight children, including a son who was born ca. 1839 and who died in infancy.

(Note: 71.4 James Lawrence Sparks was born October 9, 1813, in Abingdon, Virginia; he died on September 15, 1897, in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. He married Margaret C. Greer in Washington County, Tennessee, on October 18, 1836. (In the December 1985 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 132, appeared a record of Samuel Greer Sparks, son of James L. and Margaret C. (Greer) Sparks, based on Samuel's answers to a questionnaire sent to all Tennessee veterans of the Civil War in 1922. Information concerning his own and his father's family appears there.)

71.4.1 Samuel Greer Sparks was born July 25, 1837. After serving in the Confederate States Army (see above) he returned to his home where he married Mary C. McClellan, ca. 1866. They had two sons: Samuel Lawrence Sparks was born April 29, 1867. He died on November 26, 1936. He married Camille Williams, ca. 1898. She was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and was a daughter of John Jay and Elizabeth (Strother) Williams. Samuel and Camille had two children: Samuel Lawrence Sparks, Jr. (See Article "obits" for information regarding the descendants of this family.) Camille Sparks. Robert M. Sparks was born May 13, 1871. He died on December 16, 1939.

71.4.2 Son Sparks was born to James and Margaret (Greer) Sparks, ca. 1839. He apparently died when quite young.
71.4.3 Sarah H. Sparks was born ca. 1842.
71.4.4 Catherine R. Sparks was born ca. 1845.
71.4.5 James L. Sparks, Jr. was born ca. 1847. (Note: 71.4.5 James Lawrence Sparks, Jr. was born in Tennessee. He married Laura Mays on November 3, 1870, in Fayette County, Tennessee. When the 1880 census was taken, they were listed in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. With them were four children; there may have been others born to them later.) Robert Sparks was born in Tennessee ca. 1872. Hewitt Sparks was born ca. 1875 in Tennessee. Laura M. Sparks was born ca. 1878 in Tennessee. Lawrence Sparks was born ca. 1880 in Tennessee.

71.4.6 William A. Sparks was born ca. 1849 in Tennessee. At times, his records have been confused with those of his uncle, 71.10 William A. Sparks. (See below.) The younger 71.4.6 William A. Sparks married Mary Broyles on February 1, 1876, in Washington County. We have no further information about this couple. Thomas M. Sparks was born ca. 1851. Joseph A. Sparks was born ca. 1856.

71.5 Luesa Sparks, probable daughter of Reuben and Sarah (McClellan) Sparks, was born ca. 1815. She is the Luesa Sparks who married Henry Stephenson in Washington County, Virginia, on August 2, 1831. She was a widow and living in the household of her brother, 71.10 William A. Sparks, when the 1870 census was taken of Washington County.

71.6 Son2 Sparks
71.7 Dau Sparks was born between 1815 and 1820.

71.8 Sophia McClellan Sparks was born ca. 1824. She was not living with her family when the 1860 was taken; she had probably married between 1850 and 1860.

71.9 Sarah ["Sallie"] Sparks was born ca. 1826. She was visiting her uncle, Issac B. McClellan, in Fayette County, Tennessee, in 1850 where she met Thomas Jones. They were married there on June 4, 1853.

71.10 William A. Sparks was born ca. 1833 in Tennessee. He became a printer. He served in the Confederate States Army. On April 29, 1858, he married Mary E. Dillworth in Washington County, Tennessee. She was born in Washington County, Tennessee, ca. 1834, the daughter of James and Charlotte (Wartman) Dillworth. Mary (Dillworth) Sparks died ca. 1875, and William married (second) Mary E. Broyles on February 1, 1876.

(Note: Mary E. Dillworth was living in Johnson City, Tennessee, in June 1912.)

According to census records, this couple had five children.

71.10.1 Horace H. Sparks was born in April 1859 and died of diarrhea the following June.
71.10.2 Ida M. Sparks was born ca. 1866.
71.10.3 Ann E. Sparks was born ca. 1869.
71.10.4 Frank D. Sparks was born ca. 1872.
71.10.5 Augustus L. Sparks was born ca. 1875.