September 17, 2017

Pages 3456-3458
Whole Number 147

THE RESTORATION OF A SPARKS FAMILY CEMETERY

by B. J. Sparks



[Editor's Note: Bonham J. Sparks, a long-time member of our Association, has shared with us his account of the restoration of a Sparks family burial plot located on a farm in Caney Fork Township, Pike County, Arkansas, once owned by Henry S. Sparks (1804 -1864) whose branch of the family has been featured in the foregoing articles. B. J. Sparks is a great-great-grandson of Henry S. Sparks. He had succeeded earlier in locating the cemetery on a map. ]

On Sunday morning, April 10, 1988, a number of descendants of the Sparks family of Pike County, Arkansas, met at the Timbers Restaurant in Murfreesboro for breakfast before setting out for the site of a family burial plot on a farm in Caney Fork Township once owned by Henry S. Sparks (1804 -1864). The group consisted of Joyce and Bobby Wood, Dale Sparks, Karen Sparks, Eva Hall, Tom and Linda Wilson, and myself. After breakfast, we headed for the cemetery in seven vehicles, meeting others on the way.

We arrived at the cemetery around 9:30 a. m. It was unfenced, overgrown, and in a sad state of neglect. The existence of the cemetery had been discovered on a 7½ minute topographic map of Murfreesboro NE (Arkansas) quadrangle on the previous farm of Henry Sparks, who owned the land in 1860. The general area of the cemetery had been located by Bobby Wood and me in May 1985, and in January 1986 Bobby, Joyce, and Unitas Wood found the exact location. The cemetery contains one marked and sixteen or seventeen unmarked graves in a 25' X 25' area.

Fencing and clean-up of the cemetery was taken on as a project of the Pike County (Arkansas) Archives and Historical Association (Dewayne Gray, President, January McGalliard, Secretary) along with several other interested parties.

The Restoration Project Progresses

(On left of large tree is Bobby Wood & on right of tree is Dale Sparks, wearing cap, both of whom are great-great-grandsons of Henry S. Sparks.)
(Picture)
Restoration Completed
(Picture)

(Note: No caption under photograph of gravestone of Sara Adaline Brown.)
(See below for identification of Sara Adaline Brown)
(Picture)

We began cutting down trees and pulling old barbed wire from a prior fence that was half-buried, and which no one knew was there (and yes, Dale Sparks added to his already extensive collection of barbed wire). We dug post holes and began driving steel posts. At noon, we had a nice tailgate potluck lunch which was served by Joyce Wood and Eva Hall.

After lunch, we strung up a 4' hog wire fence around the cemetery. We finished cleaning up the area around 2:00 p.m., when a light rain had begun. The crew went back to Murfreesboro where coffee, hot chocolate, and pop were enjoyed by all. Afterward, everyone left for his respective home knowing that we had performed a job of which our heirs would be proud. The Sparks Family Association should certainly be appreciative of our effort.

In this work crew, there were three great-great-grandsons of Henry S. Sparks, who was undoubtedly buried in one of the unmarked graves at his death in 1864. They are Dale Sparks, Bobby Wood, and myself. Also one great-great-great-granddaughter, Karen Schubert (daughter of Dale Sparks) was there. Mrs. Pauline Fuller, present owner of the property, could not be present due to previous commitments.

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