February 14, 2021
Whole Number 133
CHARLES LEWIS SPARKS, ca. 1867 - 1930
For Whom the Post Office
HOW SPARKS, COLORADO, GOT ITS NAME
(Editor's Note: In the December 1954 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 8, there appeared an article about several places across the United States which were named for persons named SPARKS. Among these was Sparks, Colorado, located in Moffatt County in the northwest corner of that state. At that time we knew nothing of its origin. Here is how the post office got its name.)
Green River leaves Utah and enters northwestern Colorado through the turbulent Red Canyon, just a few miles from the common boundary point where Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming meet. It then heads slightly south-eastward for about ten miles before turning southwestward for about twenty miles, and it then turns westward quickly and reenters Utah through Lodore Canyon. During this time, the river flows through relatively flat land in a strip about six miles wide which is surrounded by mountains and plateaus, thereby creating a sheltered area eminently suited for cattle raising. It was to this area, commonly referred to as Brown's Park (or Brown's Hole as it was originally called) that two brothers, Sam and George Spicer, of Wilkes County, North Carolina, were attracted in 1873, and where they attempted to create a cattle ranch.
The Spicer boys had left a sister, Martha J. (Spicer) Sparks, in Traphill, North Carolina. She had married Lewis William Sparks about the close of the Civil War, and they had ten children, including a son, Charles Lewis Sparks, who was born ca. 1867. After attaining manhood, Charley Sparks joined his maternal uncles in Brown's Park, and, although the Spicer men failed in their attempt to establish a profitable ranch there because of so much cattle rustling, Charley Sparks was finally able to build a ranch on Talamantes Creek and on the road from Rock Springs, Wyoming, to Maybell, Colorado. It was here that the post office of SPARKS, Colorado, was created.
The story of the settling of Brown's Park, including accounts of cattle barons, sheepmen, range wars, long riders, cattle rustlers, paid killers, and other bad men, is told in a most entertaining and interesting manner by John Rolfe Burroughs in a book entitled, Where the Old West Stayed Young. The book was published in 1962 by William Morrow & Company, New York. Of Charley Sparks, Burroughs wrote: "He was one of the very few completely honest and absolutely fearless men in the Brown's Park country."
Charles Lewis Sparks was married twice. His first marriage was to Rosina Thumm ca. 1893. She had been born in Germany in 1877; she died in 1905. After her death on January 21, 1905, Charley married (second) Eva McMahon on September 17, 1906. He died on August 18, 1930, and Eva died on October 18, 1951. The children of Charley Sparks were:
1. Charles A. Sparks was born June 7, 1895. He married Cora Phillips and they had two children, Virginia Sparks and Rose Sparks.
2. Bessie L. Sparks was born May 10, 1901. She married Harold A. McKay and they had four children: Mary Jane McKay, Betty Rose McKay, Charles W. McKay, and Bess Ann McKay.
3. Margaret Sparks was born March 6, 1910. She married A. Wright Dickinson and they had one child, A. Wright Dickinson, III.
4. Martha Sparks was born November 9, 1915. She married Jay Kenneth Buckley and they had three children: Jay K. Buckley, Jr., Robert Buckley, and Richard Buckley.
(For further details of this branch of the SPARKS family, see the December 1955 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 12.)