April 6, 2018

Pages 3445-3448
Whole Number 147

70.2.1 JEREMIAH SPARKS, JR., Born ca.1773

by Russell E. Bidlack

As was pointed out in the preceding article, 70.2 Edward Sparks's son, 70.2.1 Jeremiah, is called "Jr." here in order to distinguish him from his older cousin of the same name with whom he was closely associated in his youth.

We have given the date of birth of Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. as ca. 1773 because, following his father's death, when he was apprenticed to Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. in May 1787, his age was given at that time as 14. We assume that his mother was the Elizabeth Sparks who was identified as the widow of Edward in 1786, but there is always the possibility of a previous marriage for a father when our information is this limited. It is highly likely that young Jeremiah, with his sister, Nancy, were brought by Edward Sparks from their former home in, we believe, Maryland, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, shortly before his purchasing land there on Rutledge's Creek. They likewise accompanied him when he moved to Fluvanna County, Virginia, in 1781 or 1782, where a brother, James, was born and where Edward died about four years later. Then, in May 1787, Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. was apprenticed to his father's nephew, whom we have called 70.1.1 Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. This elder Jeremiah Sparks, had been born ca. 1765 and was living in Rockingham County, North Carolina at that time. While the legal arrangement was an apprenticeship, this was probably more an arrangement whereby the elder Jeremiah Sparks agreed to take his young cousin into his own home until such time as he became independent. Jeremiah, Jr.'s younger sister, Nancy, along with his three-year-old brother, James, were placed at the same time in the home of William Washington, a former neighbor of Edward Sparks when the two of them had lived in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Perhaps Edward's widow, Elizabeth, was somehow related to William Washington and accompanied the children to Rockingham County. There is even the possibility, on the other hand, that she became William Washington's wife.

70.1.1 Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. followed his father, 70.1 Thomas Sparks, Sr., to Franklin County, Georgia, within a year or two after taking the younger Jeremiah as his apprentice. It was there that Jeremiah, Jr. grew to manhood. [See the Quarterly of December 1960, Whole No. 32, pp. 518-25, for a biographical record of Jeremiah Sparks, Sr.]

Despite the agreement in the apprenticeship bond that Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. would see to it that his cousin would be taught to read and write before he was 21, this agreement seems not to have been kept, at least with regard to writing. It is possible, of course, that Jeremiah, Jr. was released from his apprenticeship after moving to Georgia, but, in any case, in all the instances where he signed his name on documents that have been found, Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. signed with a mark. Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. had been quite capable of teaching his apprentice to write, however, for he always signed his own name clearly, though he sometimes shortened his first name to "Jere." He was a justice of the peace for many years, so he had to be literate.

The earliest tax list for Franklin County, Georgia, on which Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. appeared was that for 1798. He was shown as owning 100 acres of land valued at $80, with a "dwelling house" valued at $30. It is probable, however, that the 100 acres for which he was credited in 1798 did not become his land legally until 1801. There is a Franklin County deed dated January 27, 1801, showing his purchase from Daniel Morgan, Sr. and wife Deborah for $85 of a 100-acre tract "on both sides of Eastnolle Creek" adjoining land owned by William Flanagan and FNU Wyly, along with land still owned by Morgan. [See Franklin County Deed Book NN, pp. 100-11.] It was noted in this deed that this was part of a tract of land that had been granted to Daniel Morgan, Sr. The witnesses were James Burgess and Martin Gollathan. The latter swore to having seen the deed signed before Jeremiah Sparks, Sr., J. P., on January 28, 1801.

Our next reference to Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. in Franklin County, Georgia, is the power of attorney signed by him and his sister, Nancy, on November 6, 1802, which was noted earlier in the article on Edward Sparks. Jeremiah was then (1802) about 29 years old. On October 29, 1804, Jeremiah, Jr. witnessed (with John Williams) a deed in Franklin County by which John Burgess sold 27 acres on the east side of Eastanolle Creek to Thomas Sparks. (Franklin County Deed Book B, pp. 236-7.) A year later, on September 17, 1805, Jeremiah, Jr. swore before his cousin, Jeremiah Sparks, Sr., in the latter's role as a justice of the peace, that he had seen this deed signed. As on other occasions, the younger Jeremiah signed by mark.

We have noted earlier the power of attorney which Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. signed by mark with his brother James in 1809 which gave authority to John Gettens to try to obtain the inheritance to which they believed the children of Edward Sparks were entitled. It was also in 1809 that Jeremiah, Jr. acquired additional land. On July 17, 1809, for $20, Thomas and Elizabeth Sparks (this was Thomas, Jr.) sold to Jeremiah, Jr. a small tract of 9 acres on Eastanolle Creek. This was part of a large grant that had been made originally to John Smith. This 9-acre tract adjoined land owned by William Flannagan and Daniel Morgan, Jr. as well as by his own 100 acres. The witnesses to the signing were Jeremiah, Jr.'s brother, James Sparks, and John Gettens, the man to whom the power of attorney had been given. On May 7, 1811, James Sparks took an oath before John Mullin, J.P., that he had witnessed the signing of this deed. [See Franklin County Deed Book T, pp. 198-99.]

On January 24, 1811, Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. witnessed the signing of a deed by Archer and Sarah Scott selling land on Eastanolle Creek to Elijah Sparks, son of Thomas Sparks, Sr. Four days later, on January 28, 1811, Jeremiah made the usual oath before Joel Yowell, J.P. [See Franklin County Deed Book 5, pp. 155-56.]

No record has been found of the date on which Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. married, but a deed dated July 29, 1817, gives his wife's name as Nancy. It was probably because both his wife and his sister had the name Nancy that the clerk of the court made the error in 1802 (in the first power of attorney on behalf of the heirs of Edward Sparks) which mistakenly identified Nancy Sparks, daughter of Edward Sparks, as Jeremiah's wife rather than his sister.

On July 29, 1817, 70.2.1 Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. and his wife, Nancy Sparks, sold their two tracts of land in Franklin County, Georgia, in preparation for moving to Gwinnett County in the same state. Their Franklin County land consisted of the 100 acres that Jeremiah had bought in 1801 from Daniel Morgan, Sr. and the 9 acres that he had purchased in 1809 from Thomas Sparks, Jr. The purchaser was Joseph Yates who paid Jeremiah $280 for the 100 acres and $20 for the 9 acres. For both deeds, Daniel Camp and James Gettens (or Gittins) signed as witnesses. [See Franklin County Deed Book B, p. 130.]

We assume that Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. and his family made their move to Gwinnett County in 1817. Unfortunately, nearly all of the early records for this county were destroyed when the courthouse there burned in 1871, so we are unable to trace Jeremiah as a land owner, tax payer, etc. No family records pertaining to him have come to light thus far. Furthermore, the 1790, 1800, and 1810 census records for the state of Georgia were lost in the destruction of public buildings when the British burned Washington in 1814 (with the exception of Oglethorpe County), so the earliest extant census record showing Jeremiah and his family in Gwinnett County is that for 1820.

When the 1820 census of Gwinnett County was taken, Jeremiah Sparks was shown as heading a household comprising himself (in the age category of "45 and over"), one female, doubtless his wife, enumerated as between 26 and 45, along with 5 males and 6 females of various ages who were probably their children. These 11 young people were enumerated as follows:

2 males 16 to 26 (thus born between 1794 and 1804)
1 male 16 to 18 (thus born between 1802 and 1804, and able bodied) 1 male 10 to 16 (thus born between 1804 and 1810)
1 male under 10 (thus born between 1810 and 1820)
1 female 16 to 26 (thus born between 1794 and 1804)
2 females 10 to 16 (thus born between 1804 and 1810)
3 females under 10 (thus born between 1810 and 1820)

In a Georgia land lottery held in 1821, Jeremiah Sparks of Gwinnett County was one of the lucky winners, obtaining a tract of 160 acres in District 6 of Houston County. Although the purpose of this and other land lotteries in Georgia was to encourage settlement of the new lands acquired from the Indians, most winners sold their warrants to land speculators or to other men who wanted to venture into new and unsettled lands. This is probably what Jeremiah did with his land warrant that he had won in Houston County.

When the 1830 census of Georgia was taken, Jeremiah Sparks was neither listed as heading a household in Gwinnett County nor in any other Georgia county. (His cousin, Jeremiah Sparks, Sr. was listed in Morgan County.) Jeremiah, Jr. may have died before 1830 (he would have been about 57 were he living in 1830), or he could have moved out of the state. There is also the possibility that he could have been living with a relative and thus not considered to be head of a houseold. (Only heads of households were listed by name in U.S. censuses prior to that taken in 1850.)

There were three men listed on the 1830 census of Gwinnett County as heading households. One was John Sparks whose age was given as between 50 and 60; in his household was a female (his wife, in all probability) of the same age, along with a male between 15 and 20, another male between 10 and 15, and a female between 10 and 15. He owned one slave. We cannot identify this John Sparks and must wonder whether possibly the census taker could have recorded Jeremiah's name as John--or possibly abbreviating it to "Jere" which was then interpreted as John.

A Henry Sparks was also listed in the 1830 census of Gwinnett County, aged between 20 and 30. We are very certain that this was Henry S. Sparks, born on April 22, 1804, a son of 70.2.1 Jeremiah Sparks, Jr. The third Sparks appearing on the 1830 census of Gwinnett County, Georgia, was listed as "Hy. J. Sparks," aged also between 20 and 30 years, with one female (probably his wife) aged between 15 and 20. We have not identified this individual. The abbreviation "Hy." normally represents the name Henry, but, as noted, another Henry appears on this same census whom we are certain was a son of Jeremiah. [A record of all Sparkses appearing as heads of households on 1830 census of Georgia was published in the Quarterly of March 1977, Whole No. 97, pp. 1880-81.]

When the 1840 census was taken, the only Sparks shown as heading a household in Gwinnett County was an Elizabeth Sparks, aged 50 to 60. No one was shown as living in her household except herself. She was probably a widow.

A portion of the Gwinnett County tax list for 1824 survives on which a Matthew Sparks appears. He was probably a son of Jeremiah, but we have not been able to identify him further. [See the Georgia Genealogical Magazine, Spring 1985, No. 96, p. 93.]

There are records of three Sparks marriages which survived the Gwinnett County Courthouse fire of 1871 and which may pertain to the family of Jeremiah Sparks, Jr., as follows:

Valentine Sparks to Mary Kennott, November 7, 1848. (Book 4, p. 94)
Nancy Sparks to John Brewer (or Brown), April 11, 1854. (Book F, p.129)
Mary Sparks to Thadeous Lowe, January 26,1852. (Book 4, p. 94)

At this time, we can be positive in the identification of only one son of Jeremiah Sparks, Jr., that being Henry S. Sparks about whom a biographical record appears below, with a further record of a number of his descendants. From circumstantial evidence, however, we feel quite certain that another of the sons of Jeremiah was named David. David Sparks and Henry S. Sparks were both successful in the Georgia Land Lottery of 1827; both were from Gwinnett County. Pike County, Arkansas, poll and tax records survive from 1852 in which year both Henry Sparks and David Sparks were taxed one poll; we believe that they moved to Arkansas together in 1851 or 1852. David Sparks seems never to have owned any land in Pike County; our last record of his paying the poll tax there was in 1866. We have not found David Sparks on any census record until that of 1860. He was shown then in Pike County as 54 years old (thus born ca. 1806), a native of Georgia, and living very near Henry Sparks in Caney Fork Township. His wife's name was given as Rhoda, also 54 years old, and a native of South Carolina. According to family tradition, David Sparks had a daughter named Jane who married Robert S. Brown, and they had a daughter named Sara Adeline Brown who was born March 17, 1850. She died 21 years later, on October 23, 1852. Her parents are identified on a tombstone in her memory which still stands in a family cemetery on a farm once owned by Henry S. Sparks in Caney Fork Township. [See the article by Bonham J. Sparks beginning on page 3456 of the present issue of the Quarterly which describes this family cemetery and its recent restoration. ]