Whole Number 138
by Paul E. Sparks
188.8.131.52.1 Joseph Sparks was a son of 184.108.40.206 Solomon and Sarah Sparks, and he was born ca. 1751. His father, 220.127.116.11 Solomon Sparks, had been born ca. 1727 and had been a resident of Queen Anne's County, Maryland, during his youth. It may have been in Queen Anne's County that Solomon Sparks had married Sarah MNU in the late 1740s. by 1749, however, Solomon was in Frederick County, Maryland, when his father, 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks had died. (The Joseph Sparks who is the subject of this sketch was doubtless named for his grandfather.)
In August 1750, the justices of Frederick County, Maryland, approved a memorandum which required Mary Sparks, widow of Joseph Sparks, to make a distribution of the estate of her late husband among his heirs. The children of 1.2.5 Joseph and Mary Sparks were identified in this memorandum as:
18.104.22.168 Solomon Sparks,
22.214.171.124 Joseph Sparks,
126.96.36.199 Merum Sparks,
188.8.131.52 Charles Sparks,
184.108.40.206 George Sparks,
220.127.116.11 Jonas Sparks,
18.104.22.168 Ann Sparks,
22.214.171.124 Jonathan Sparks,
126.96.36.199 Rebecca Sparks,
188.8.131.52 William Sparks,
184.108.40.206 Mary Sparks, and
220.127.116.11 Sarah Sparks.
Of the seven sons of Joseph and Mary, three eventually migrated to North Carolina: Solomon, Jonas, and Jonathan. (See the Quarterly of March 1964, Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807, for a sketch of Jonas Sparks and his descendants. See also the article regarding Joseph Sparks (ca.1730-1809), son of Joseph and Mary Sparks, who moved to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, which appeared in the Quarterly of September and Dec, 1986, Vol. XXXIV, Whole Nos. 135 and 136.)
In March 1750, 18.104.22.168 Solomon Sparks, son of 1.2.5 Joseph and Mary, bought a tract of land in Frederick County, Maryland, called "Cold Friday." (It was the custom in Maryland for the first owner of a tract of land to give it a name which was then usually retained by future owners.) Solomon sold "Cold Friday" in 1753, and shortly thereafter he moved to Rowan County, North Carolina. He settled first, as did his brothers, Jonas and Jonathan, in an area called "The Forks of the Yadkin" located less than ten miles from what was then the village of Salisbury. This area is now part of Davie County, though Salisbury remains in Rowan County and is the seat of justice for that county.
Solomon Sparks moved his family from the Forks of the Yadkin in 1772, settling in the part of Surry County that was cut off to form Wilkes County in 1778. This section of Wilkes County eventually became part of Yadkin County when Yadkin was formed in 1850. Solomon Sparks died there sometime before 1800. We believe that his widow, Sarah, lived a number of years longer and that she may have accompanied her son, 22.214.171.124.8 Abel Sparks, when he moved to Georgia ca. 1803.
In addition to the previous articles cited above, information regarding Solomon Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of December 1955 (Whole No. 12) in connection with an article about Solomon's son, 126.96.36.199.2 John Sparks, who applied for a pension based on his service during the American Revolution. John Sparks had been born on February 25, 1753, while his parents were living in "The Forks of the Yadkin," then part of Rowan County, North Carolina. This date of birth of John Sparks was given by him in his application for his pension in 1832. The reader is also directed to an article devoted to the earlier generations of this branch of the Sparks family in the Quarterly of March 1971, Whole No. 73, pp. 1371-89.
In the article on 188.8.131.52.2 John Sparks cited above, we noted a record found in the Wilkes County, North Carolina, Court Minutes of August 4, 1801, by which 184.108.40.206.2 John Sparks, 220.127.116.11.3 Reuben Sparks, 18.104.22.168.7 Solomon Sparks [Jr.], 22.214.171.124.4 Mary Jacks, 126.96.36.199.6 Hannah Denny, 188.8.131.52.5 Susannah Johnson, and 184.108.40.206.1 Joseph Sparks gave a power of attorney to 220.127.116.11.8 Abel Sparks dated July 31, 1801. We are quite convinced that these were the children of Solomon and Sarah Sparks; it is this court record that constitutes one of our bases for stating that Joseph Sparks, subject of this sketch, was a son of Solomon and Sarah.
Joseph Sparks probably was born in Frederick County, Maryland, before his parents moved to "The Forks of the Yadkin" and was probably carried as a baby to their new home. The first official record that we have found of him was made in 1774 when he and his brother, John Sparks, were listed as "taxable polls" in Surry County, North Carolina, along with their father, Solomon Sparks. (The family had moved from Rowan County to Surry County in 1772, according to a statement made by John Sparks in his pension application.) A white male was subject to paying a poll tax in North Carolina when he reached the age of 21, and he was required to continue paying this tax until age 60. In 1801, however, the terminal age was lowered to 50 and in 1817 to 45.
Joseph Sparks was probably married ca. 1775; however, the name of his wife has not been discovered. When the 1790 census was taken of Surry County, the enumeration of his family indicates that he and his wife were the parents of four boys and three girls. (It is always possible, of course, that children enumerated on census records could simply have been living in the household of an individual and might not have been that individual's own children.) Assuming a normal pattern to the births of these seven children, we can speculate that they were probably born in about the following sequence: 1777, 1779, 1781, 1783, 1785, 1787, and 1789. When the 1800 census was taken of Surry County, three more children had been added - - two more males and one more female. On that census, Joseph was enumerated as having been born prior to 1755; his wife was born between 1755 and 1774.
Early records of the collection of taxes, property as well as poll, are scant in this section of North Carolina. In addition to being listed as a "taxable poll" in 1774 in Surry County, Joseph Sparks paid taxes there in 1775 according to an extant tax list. A record has also been found of a tax payment by Joseph Sparks in Surry County in 1784. He paid taxes there regularly from 1790 to 1800, but no tax records have been found for Surry County between 1800 and 1805.
Joseph Sparks apparently lived near the home of his parents, which was located quite close to the dividing line between Wilkes and Surry Counties. On October 23, 1782, he purchased 100 acres of land on the "headwaters of Swan Creek" from the state of North Carolina. The deed was recorded in Wilkes County, but the land was probably located on the boundary line. In 1785, Benjamin and Elizabeth Johnson of Surry County sold land described in the deed as being adjacent to the land of Joseph Sparks in Wilkes County. In 1787, Joseph Sparks of Surry sold 30 acres of land on the North Fork of Hunting Creek on the Wilkes-Surry line to William Jackson for 12 pounds. This deed was recorded in Wilkes County.
On May 3, 1788, Joseph Sparks witnessed the signatures of his parents, Solomon and Sarah Sparks, when they sold their remaining property in Rowan County (now Davie County), North Carolina, to Jonas Sparks, a brother of Solomon. The land was located on the south side of the Yadkin River near the mouth of Muddy Creek. Solomon and Sarah were described as "of Surry," while Jonas Sparks was described as "of Rowan County."
When the 1800 census was taken of Surry County, the household of Joseph Sparks was enumerated as including two males born between 1774 and 1784. One of these was probably his son, Abel, and it is our belief that Abel continued to live in his father's household until 1804.
On July 31, 1801, Joseph Sparks joined his brothers, John Sparks, Reuben Sparks, and Solomon Sparks, along with his sisters, Mary Jacks, Hannah Denny, and Susannah Johnson, in giving a power of attorney to their brother, Abel Sparks. (This Abel Sparks, brother of Joseph, will be designated "the elder" in the article that follows to distinguish him from the son of Joseph Sparks, also named Abel, whom we shall designate as "the younger.") This power of attorney was doubtless prepared as part of the settlement of the estate of these individuals' father, Solomon Sparks. Thomas Benge, a neighbor of the Sparks family, attested to the legality of this document when it was presented for recording by the Wilkes County Court on August 4, 1801.
Joseph Sparks again purchased land from the state of North Carolina on September 29, 1806. He paid 50 shillings per 100 acres for a total of 200 acres of land on the Wilkes-Surry boundary line, apparently on the waters of Hunting Creek.
Joseph Sparks was listed on the 1802 tax list of Capt. Wilburn's District in Surry County, North Carolina. He was excused from paying a poll tax that year. A new North Carolina law had gone into effect in 1801 lowering the maximum age of men eligible to pay a poll tax from 60 years to 50 years. Joseph Sparks was probably in his very early 50s in 1802. He was taxed for 100 acres of land, however. Taxed in the same district in 1802 were Abel Sparks (1 poll, no land); Thomas Sparks (1 poll, 700 acres); and George Sparks (1 poll, 300 acres).
Joseph Sparks did not appear on the 1810 census of Surry County, nor have we found any record of the disposition of his property, but prior to 1820, ca. 1812, he moved to Franklin County, Tennessee, where he appeared on the 1820 census. With him was his wife and a male, probably a son, who had been born between 1775 and 1794. Both Joseph and his wife were enumerated as having been born prior to 1775. We have found no record of Joseph Sparks as heading a household on any 1830 census. He and his wife probably died between 1820 and 1830.
18.104.22.168.1 Joseph Sparks left no will, nor have we found any record of the administration of his estate. In spite of this lack of documentation, however, we believe that we can name his six sons, all of whom appear on some record of Franklin County, Tennessee.
22.214.171.124.1.1 John Sparks, probable son of Joseph Sparks, was listed on the 1812 tax list of Franklin County, Tennessee. He was probably named for his uncle, John Sparks. We have no further record of him.
126.96.36.199.1.2 Abel Sparks was born ca. 1778. He was the Abel Sparks whom we have called "the younger" in the article that begins on page 3069 of this issue of the Quarterly.
188.8.131.52.1.3 William Sparks, probable son of Joseph Sparks, was born between 1780 and 1790. When the 1820 census was taken of Franklin County, Tennessee, he and his wife had five children living in their household, all born between 1810 and 1820. Sometime between 1820 and 1830, William Sparks moved his family to neighboring Jackson County, Alabama, where he was listed as the head of his family on the 1830 census. An analysis of the enumerations of his household on the 1820 and 1830 censuses suggests that he probably had eight children, five sons and three daughters. We have no further record of William Sparks.
184.108.40.206.1.4 George Sparks, probable son of Joseph Sparks, was listed on the 1812 tax list of Franklin County, Tennessee. We have no further information regarding him.
220.127.116.11.1.5 Solomon Sparks, probable son of Joseph Sparks, was born ca. 1790; he was probably named for his paternal grandfather. He appeared on the 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses of Franklin County, Tennessee. Information regarding Solomon Sparks and his family appeared in the Quarterly of December 1970, Whole No. 72, pp. 1360-61. When that record was published, however, we believed that evidence pointed to his being a son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks. We now believe that there is much stronger evidence that this Solomon Sparks was a son of Joseph, above. (See the article entitled "Further Thoughts About the Family of John and Sarah [Shores] Sparks" in the Quarterly of March 1981, Whole No. 113, pp. 2269-72. Evidence was presented in that article that, while John and Sarah [Shores] Sparks did have a son named Solomon, he was not the Solomon Sparks described on pp. 1360-61.)
The Solomon Sparks under review here lived most of his life in Franklin County, Tennessee, but toward the end of his life, he moved, probably to be near some of his sons, to Washington County, Arkansas, where he died December 24, 1863, according to documents pertaining to his estate on file there. His tombstone is in the Mt. Comfort Cemetery in Washington County, Arkansas, and gives his year of birth as 1790.
18.104.22.168.1.6 Jonathan Sparks, probable son of Joseph Sparks, was born ca. 1792. He appeared on the 1820 census of Surry County, North Carolina; on the 1830 census of Jackson County, Alabama; and on the 1840 and 1850 censuses of Franklin County, Tennessee. Information regarding Jonathan Sparks and his family appeared in the Quarterly of December 1970, Whole No. 72, pp. 1355-60. At that time, however, we believed that evidence pointed to his being a son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks. We now believe that there is much stronger evidence that Jonathan was a son of Joseph, above. (See the article entitled "Further Thoughts About the Family of John and Sarah [Shores] Sparks" in the Quarterly of March 1981, Whole No. 113, pp. 2269-72. Evidence was presented in that article that John and Sarah [Shores] Sparks did not have a son named Jonathan.)