May 3, 2020

Pages 3234-3236
Whole Number 142


by Nancy L. Sprott (Their Great-Granddaughter)

Back Row- Orlando Ralph, Lou, Elmer, and Harry Sparks
Middle Row - Leona Faye and Jennie Sparks
Front Row - Elizabeth Ann, Charles Orlando & wife Cora Belle, & Effie Sparks

(Editor's Note: The following article recalling her great-grandparents has been written by Nancy L. Sprott, 13994 Riga Avenue, Livonia, Michigan, 48154. Charles Orlando Sparks, Ms. Sprott's great-grandfather, was a son of Francis Marion and Rebecca Jane (Walker) Sparks. Francis Marion Sparks (1837-1903) was a son of 37.2.3 Richard and Lucy (DeVore) Sparks. Richard Sparks (1805-1884) was a son of 37.2 Thomas and Abigail (Shaw) Sparks. A record of this family appeared in the Quarterly of March 1973, Whole No. 81, pp. 1540-45, but little information appeared there on Charles Orlando Sparks. The will of Thomas Sparks (1775-1866), great-grandfather of Charles Orlando, who died in Clark County, Ohio, had appeared in an earlier issue, that for the March 1966, Whole No. 53, pp. 970-73. The birth and death dates given here have been taken from records in the family Bible of Elizabeth Ann (Sparks) Horn.

CHARLES ORLANDO SPARKS Born on 6 February 1864, in Mackinaw, Illinois
Died on May 12, 1939, in Peoria, Illinois 
Buried in Mackinaw Cemetery 
Married Cora Belle Sargent on October 29, 1885
CORA BELLE SARGENT Born on October 18, 1870
Died on February 14, 1952 in Peoria, Illinois 
Buried in Mackinaw Cemetery

Cora's real maiden name is believed to have been Perman. She was adopted by Elijah and Sarah Sargent when she was a little over a year old. Cora's mother and father are thought to have lived, at one time or another, in London, Kentucky. Her mother died, as I was told by my grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Sparks, at the age of sixteen when they were butchering the pigs, the squeals of the pigs becoming too much for her. Elijah and Sarah Sargent did not have any children of their own, and when they died they left the family farm to Cora.

During the marriage of Charles and Cora, they are known to have lived in Mackinaw, Clinton, Decatur, and Peoria, Illinois. Charles and Cora were the parents of ten children. They also raised three of their grandchildren. For a while after they moved to Peoria, they resided above a store on First Street. They then had their granddaughter, Elizabeth Ann ["Babe"] Halstead, with them. Nellie (their daughter) died in 1912, when "Babe" was about thirteen months old. Helen, wife of their son Harry, died in 1920, and Cora then raised two more of the grandchildren, Charles and Loren Sparks.

When first moving to Peoria, Charles Orlando Sparks worked in a livery stable. Other occupations he is known to have pursued in his lifetime included: farming; driving a wagon into the countryside and selling fish, sometimes trading the fish for eggs, butter, and vegetables; calling square dances, for which he stood on a box since he was a rather short man; and also bartending. The family saying was that "Grandpa would go out for a loaf of bread and Grandma wouldn't see him again for months." He was a very independent man and did things his way. His little saying: "One of my great-great-grandfathers was an Indian squaw," is still talked about in the family and has been passed from generation to generation. The exact date when Charles and Cora separated is not known, but it is thought that they were never divorced. He lived by the Illinois River after they separated, I believe until his death on October 29, 1939.

Great-Grandma [Cora Belle] lived alone in a small home in Peoria. She, too, was very independent. She was always happy to see and visit with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. In her parlor, referred to today as a living room, photographs of relatives hung on one wall. However, the place to chat and laugh was usually in the kitchen as Great-Grandma busied herself with food preparation, her daughters always joining in to help. After the meal there were ample cookies and milk served for eager grandchildren. Cora had a canary which she thought much of; a son-in-law used to tease her that he was going to ring that old one-legged bird's neck. That always made her mad. One day when one of her children went over to visit, they found her cooking dinner and the table was set for about twelve. It was realized then that she could no longer live alone. Elizabeth, her daughter, brought her to live with her in Detroit, Michigan. Cora missed Illinois and yearned to return. I do not know which daughter she lived with when she went back to Illinois, but my Great-Grandmother Sparks died in Illinois at the age of 81, on February 14, 1952.

There is a saying that I have heard, which is not only true of Cora but of others in the Sparks family. I do not know who wrote it:

"A woman who raises her own child is a mother, but a woman who raises another's is dear to the heart of God." Charles Orlando and Cora Belle Sparks were the parents of ten children. The first eight were born in Mackinaw, Illinois; the last two were born in Clinton, Illinois. The birthdates of these children have been copied from the family Bible of Elizabeth Ann, one of the daughters. Elmer Sparks was born October 3, 1886; died April 23, 1938. He married Martha ["Birdie"] Henson who was born October 27, 1880. They had children named

Roy, Walter Kenneth, Marie, Merle, and Margaret. Effie Sparks was born August 16, 1888; died September 21, 1972. She married Walter Scott Riddle who was born August 21, 1885. They had children named Ila Faye, Cora Ellen, Wilbur Scott, and Simon Franklin. Harry Sparks was born February 24, 1890. He married Helen Cushman, who died on January 15, 1920. They had children named Charles, Loren, and Nellie Grace. Nellie Sparks was born December 12, 1891; died October 18, 1912. She married Harry Halstead and had a daughter named Elizabeth Ann ["Babe"] who was reared by her grandmother. Elizabeth Ann ["Lizzie" ] Sparks was born May 7, 1893; she died July 16, 1956. She married Charles Michael ["Charlie"] Horn who was born December 20, 1892 and died May 11, 1976. They had children named Helen Charlotte, Robert Harold, and Betty Jean. (Helen Charlotte was Nancy L. Sprott's mother.) Willie Sparks was born October 11, 1894; he died December 15, 1894. Lou Sparks was born October 27, 1895; he died May 11, 1953. He married Martha Ann Elder who was born August 28, 1900. They had children named Dorothy Fay and Daniel Louis. Orlando Ralph Sparks was born August 22, 1898; he died November 7, 1956. He married Gladys ------ They had children named Harold and Gerald (twins). Jennie Sparks was born April 8, 1902; she died March 2, 1969. She married Homer ["Scottie"] Scott. He died in June 1986. They adopted a child named Kathryn. Leona Faye Sparks was born March 27, 1904; she died January 16, 1988. She married Edward McKinley as her first husband and they had a daughter named Betty Jane who died as an infant. She married (second) Frank Thompson, and they had children named Peggy Lou, Jack, and Frank, Jr.