February 2, 2021

Pages 3473-3475
Whole Number 147

From Information Provided

by Phyllis Lucille Rohn

In The Sparks Quarterly of March 1978, Whole No. 101, we published an article about Cornelius Sparks (1789-1862) whose wife was Susannah (Stevens) Sparks (1794-1861), daughter of Spencer and Elizabeth (Rupert or Robard) Stevens. Cornelius Sparks was a son of David and Mary (Little) Sparks and was born in Rowan County, North Carolina. He left North Carolina in 1814 and settled in Wayne County, Indiana; then in 1828, he and Susannah, with the first eight of their eleven children, moved to Berrien County, Michigan, where they lived out their lives. Among their eleven children was a daughter named Susannnah, though she was always called Susan, who was born in Berrien County on August 1, 1832.

In the issue of the Quarterly cited above, on page 1984, we noted that Susan Sparks had been married to John J. Irwin on July 31, 1851. He had been born on June 19, 1828, and was a son of James and Margaret (Gillchrist) Irwin; he was born in the state of New York. John J. Irwin lived until November 3, 1906; Susan died on October 22, 1917.

We had very little information regarding John's and Susan's children when we published the article in the March 1978 issue of the Quarterly, but through the efforts of a great-great-granddaughter of this couple, we are now able to present a complete list of the Irwin children. The contributor is Mrs. Phyllis Lucille Doberstein Rohn of Frankfort, Michigan, 49635. The Irwin family Bible, published in 1866, which contains this record, is now owned by Mrs. Rohn's mother, Genevieve (Irwin) Doberstein Casselman, a daughter of John Jay and Blanche Mae (Stiver) Irwin.

In 1987, Mrs. Rohn received a Michigan Sesquicentennial Pioneer Certificate given jointly by the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Genealogical Society in recognition of her descent from ancestors who were in Michigan at the time it was elevated from territorial status to statehood in 1837. She will be glad to advise other descendants of Cornelius and Susannah (Stevens) Sparks on how to apply for a similar certificate.

According to the Irwin family Bible, John and Susan (Sparks) Irwin were the parents of eight children: William Horatio Irwin was born May 3, 1852 James Irwin was born May 27, 1855 Frank Irwin was born March 22, 1858 Ham Irwin was born August 14, 1860; he died on October 4, 1864 Arthur Irwin was born December 30, 1862 John Irwin was born October 13, 1865 Mary Irwin was born February 7, 1869; she died September 8, 1874 Isabelle Irwin was born October 9, 1871; she died August 29, 1874

The photograph reproduced at the top of the following page has been preserved in the Irwin family Bible. Descendants believe that the two boys in this photograph were John's and Susan's two oldest sons, William Horatio and James Irwin.

Mrs. Rohn has been able to provide information on the families of four of the above sons of John J. and Susan (Sparks) Irwin, as follows: William Horatio Irwin was born May 3, 1852, in Berrien County, Michigan. He married Rebecca Snyder sometime after 1880. She was a daughter of Jacob and Anna (Miller) Snyder. She died on August 9, 1906. He died on December 30, 1940. They were buried in Cleon Township Cemetery. They had three children:

Probably William Horatio and James

Children of William Horatio and Rebecca (Snyder) Irwin: Bert J. Irwin. He married Alta Ketchum and they had two children named Ramon J. Irwin and Virginia M. Irwin. Vernice Irwin. John J. ["Jay"] Irwin was born October 12, 1884. On October 7, 1908, he married Blanche Mae Stiver, daughter of John E. and Elmira (Rinard) Stiver. She was born May 31, 1886, and died on January 28, 1979. Jay Irwin died on August 31, 1949. They were buried in the Cleon Township Cemetery. They had 7 children, all daughters: Charlotte Irwin; Genevieve Irwin; Margarete Irwin; Kathleen Elaine Irwin born in 1916, died on March 20, 1917; Elaine Irwin twins named and Pauline Irwin; and Barbara Irwin.

A four-generation photograph was taken ca. 1910 of Susan (Sparks) Irwin (1832-1917), her son, William Horatio Irwin (18521940), his son, John J. ["Jay"] Irwin (1884-1949), and the latter's eldest daughter, Charlotte, born May 13, 1908. Loaned to us by Mrs. Rohn, it has been reproduced on the following page. James Irwin was born May 27, 1855. He married Mila Ball who was born ca. 1855. She was a daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth (Huff) Ball. He died on October 29, 1942, and she died on April 1, 1956. They had a son who died at birth on March 1, 1889. Arthur Irwin was born December 30, 1862, in Berrien County, Michigan. He married Della Billings who was born ca. 1869, a daughter of John and Mandie Billings. They had at least four children: Claude Irwin, Margie Irwin, Dorothy Irwin, and Donna Irwin.

Susan (Sparks) Irwin (1832-1917) (far right)
Susan's Son, William Horatio Irwin (1852-1940) (far left)
Susan's Grandson, John J. ["Jam Irwin (1884-1949) (standing)
Charlotte Irwin, Born 1908, on Her Great-Grandmother's Lap
(Picture) John Irwin was born on October 13, 1865, in Berrien County, Michigan. His wife's name was Nellie. They had at least two children: Flossie Irwin and Evelyn Irwin.

Page 4008
Whole Number 159


In the Quarterly of September 1989, Whole No. 147) beginning on page 3473, we presented information on the family of John J. and Susan (Sparks) Irwin, as provided by Phyllis Lucille Rohn. Susan (Sparks) Irwin (1832-1917) was a daughter of Cornelius Sparks (1789-1862) about whom we published an article in the Quarterly of March 1978 (V. X, Whole No. 101). The eldest child of John J. and Susan (Sparks) Irwin was William Horatio Irwin, born May 3, 1852, died December 30, 1940. He married Rebecca Snyder (1859-1906).

Marilyn Halm, Coppell, Texas, has provided us with more detailed information on the children of William H. and Rebecca (Snyder) Irwin than appears on page 3474 of the Quarterly. According to Mrs. Halm, their three children were: John J. Irwin, born October 12, 1884, in Berrien, Michigan. Bert James Irwin, born January 26,1887, in Buchanan, Michigan. Bert James Irwin died in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on December 29, 1928. He married Alta Ketchum on January 19, 1912. She was a daughter of Myron W. and Margaret (Teaser) Ketchum. Alta (Ketchum) Irwin died on January 19, 1966, at Cadillac, Michigan. They were the parents of six children: 

Virginia May Irwin, born 1912;
Raymond Gaylord Irwin, born 1913;
Marjorie Donna Irwin, born Octobr 9, 1915;
Dorothy Lucille Irwin, born April 26, 1921;
Donna Mae Irwin, born January 26,1923; and
Donald William Irwin, born April 13, 1926. Minnie Vernice Irwin, born November 22, 1888, in Niles, Michigan.