Whole Number 144
[Editor's Note: A major portion of the March 1962 issue of the Quarterly (Vol. X, No. 1, Whole No. 37) was devoted to an article about the descendants of Amos and Nancy (Borough) Sparks, early settlers of Ohio and Indiana. Among their descendants mentioned in the article was Mary Pearl Sparks, a great-granddaughter who was born in 1887 in Woodford County, Illinois. The following material was taken from a story about her, written by Jane Rohrschneider, which appeared in the WOODFORD COUNTY JOURNAL on the occasion of Mary Pearl's 100th birthday on October 29, 1987.
Mary Pearl Sparks was born a farm in Palestine Township in Woodford County, Illinois, on October 29, 1887, and was a daughter of Amos and Elizabeth (Pearson) Sparks. She attended a county school called Poke Town which was located about a mile from her home. She walked to and from school daily and finished the eighth grade, but she never attended high school. When she was 20 years old, she married Ira Bilbrey. Shortly after the marriage, they moved to neighboring El Paso where Ira worked in a canning factory. He died in 1979. They had two children, Cecil Bilbrey, now 79 years old, and Gladys (Bilbrey) Punke, now 77.
In commenting on her longevity, Mrs. Bilbrey said, "Hard work is what's done it. I've worked hard all my life." She explained that her growing up was done in a much different time. "No cars, no radio, no television, no telephone. Everything was done by hand. Most things we needed were right on the farm, and that kept us busy. If we had spare time, we played games or read."
Mrs. Bilbrey has lived at the Apostolic Christian Home in Eureka, Illinois, for the past six years, and there is where her 100th birthday was celebrated by holding an open house for her family and friends.
Many "Happy Returns of the Day," to you, Mary Pearl!