Whole Number 148
(Editor's Note: Stan Carpenter, Tucson, Arizona, 85705, needs help in identifying the parents of his great-great-grandfather, John Sparks. John Sparks was born ca. 1802, either in South Carolina or Kentucky. He probably died ca. 1860 in Pickins County, Alabama.]
John Sparks (a descendant says that his full name was Sterrett John Sparks) was born ca. 1802. On the 1850 census, his birthplace was given as South Carolina, but on the 1860 census the census taker was told that his birthplace was Kentucky. He married Elizabeth , ca. 1826. She was born in North Carolina about 1805. She and John may have been married in Kentucky, for their first two children were said to have been born in that state. We have not found this couple on any Kentucky record thus far.
About 1835, John and Elizabeth moved to Alabama where John bought 80 acres of land from the federal government on September 8, 1835. The following year, he bought an adjoining 80-acre tract on December 12th. For some reason, how ever, his family was not enumerated on the 1840 census of Alabama. They were listed on both the 1850 and the 1860 censuses of Pickins County.
The 1850 census of Pickins County has been most helpful in establishing the family of John and Elizabeth Sparks. It was there that they were enumerated on November 13 as Family No. 1308, in the Southern District. John was 48, born in South Carolina, while Elizabeth was 45, born in North Carolina. Living in the household were seven of their children, all born in Alabama. They were: Mary A. Sparks, 14; Eli Sparks, 12; Manerva C. Sparks, 10, Catherine Sparks, 8; Didamy Sparks, 6; Matthew Sparks, 4; and William Sparks, 2. Living nearby, designated as Family No. 1309, was their son, James Sparks, age 23, born in Tennessee, and his wife, Adaline, 19, born in North Carolina, with their two- year-old daughter, Margaret Sparks. John's son, John Sparks, Jr., aged 20, born in Georgia and newly married, was living with his bride, Martha, in the household of her mother, Mary Peebles.
The family of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks was still in Pickins County when the 1860 census was taken. Enumerated as the head of Family No. 778, John was now 60 years of age. His birthplace was recorded as Kentucky. Elizabeth was 53 years old and was said to have been born in North Carolina. Five of their children, all born in Alabama, were still at home. They were:
Eli Sparks, 22;
Catherine Sparks, 18;
Didema Sparks, 16;
Matthew Sparks, 13; and
William Harvey Sparks, 11.
Near by was their son, James Sparks, heading Family No. 686. He was now 34 and his place of birth was given as Kentucky. His wife, Adaline, was shown as 32 and born in North Carolina. With them were five children:
Martha J. Sparks, 12;
Benjamin Sparks, 10;
Andrew J. Sparks, 7;
Sarah Sparks, 5; and
William H. Sparks, 2.
John's son, named John Sparks, Jr., headed Family No. 730. He was shown as 30 and born in Kentucky. His wife, Martha J., was 27, born in Alabama. They now had five children:
John H. Sparks, 9;
William H. Sparks, 7;
Thomas L. Sparks, 5;
Julius H. Sparks, 3; and
Andrew J. Sparks, 1.
In all probability, John's and Elizabeth's daughters, Mary A. Sparks and Manerva Sparks, had married and were living within their own households.
Descendants say that John and Elizabeth Sparks both died prior to 1870 and that they were buried in unmarked graves in the Sparks Family Cemetery. The cemetery is located north of the Antioch Church and on the road to the Bethlehem Church in Pickins County. Census and family records indicate that they had nine children.
1. James Sparks, son of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1827, probably in Kentucky. (On the 1850 census, his birthplace was given as Tennessee.) He was a Confederate soldier and served in the 41st Regiment Alabama Infantry. He married Adaline , ca. 1847. She was born ca. 1831 in North Carolina. When the 1850 census was taken of Pickins County, Alabama, she and James were living next door to his father, John Sparks. On the 1860 census, they were shown as living near the household of James's brother, John Sparks.
When the 1870 census was taken, Adaline Sparks was shown as head of her household in Lowndes County, Mississippi. With her were her seven children. James Sparks was not living with his family, nor have we been able to locate him on any other 1870 census. According to a descendant, he died on September 22, 1888, in Pickins County. We have no further information about him or Adaline. They had seven children:
a. Margaret J. Sparks.
b. Benjamin Franklin ["Frank"] Sparks.
c. Andrew Jackson ["Drew"] Sparks.
d. Sarah S. Sparks.
e. William H. Sparks.
f. Texas Sparks [female].
g. Fannie Sparks.
2. John ["Jack"] Sparks, son of John and Elizabeth ( ) Sparks, was born ca. 1830, probably in Kentucky. (On the 1850 census, his birthplace was given as Georgia.) He was permitted to engage a substitute to serve for him during the Civil War. He married Martha J. Peebles, ca. 1849. She was born in June 1832 in Alabama and was a daughter of Levi and Mary Peebles. Mary was a native of South Carolina.
In 1863, Jack became involved in a land dispute near the Alabama-Mississippi boundary, and he was killed. Martha then moved to Oktibbeha County, Mississippi, to be near her parents who lived in that portion of the. county that became a part of Sumner County in 1874. When the 1880 census was taken of Sumner County, Martha had all of her children with her with the exception of John. (Sumner County, Mississippi, was renamed Webster County in 1882.) Martha died ca. 1903 in Texas. She and Jack had seven children, six sons and one daughter. They were:
a. John H. Sparks.
b. William Henry Sparks.
c. Thomas Levi Sparks.
d. Julius Harvey Sparks.
e. Andrew Jackson Sparks.
f. Gabriel Sparks.
g. Queen Victoria Sparks.
3. Mary A. Sparks, daughter of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1835 in Alabama. She was not living with her parents in 1860.
4. Eli Sparks, son of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1837 in Alabama. He was a 22-year-old farmer living with his parents in 1860.
5. Manerva C. Sparks, daughter of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1839. She was not living with her parents in 1860.
6. Catherine Sparks, daughter of John and Elizabeth (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1841. She was 18 years old and living with her parents when the 1860 census was taken of Pickins County.
7. Diadema Sparks, daughter of John and Elizabeth ( ) Sparks, was born ca. 1843. She was a 16-year-old girl in her parents' household when the 1860 census was taken.
8. Matthew Sparks, son of John and Elizabeth ( ) Sparks, was born March 9, 1847, in Pickins County, Alabama. He served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and received a pension from the state of Alabama for his service. After returning from the war, he married Susan Rebecca Sherron on March 13, 1867. She had been born May 27, 1844, in Georgia. Matthew and Susan lived near the village of Reform where Matthew was a farmer. Susan died on October 7, 1927, and Matthew died on November 12, 1931. They were buried in the Antioch Cemetery in Pickins County. They had nine children:
a. Mary Etta Sparks.
b. John Breckenridge Sparks.
c. Rebecca Sparks.
d. Frances ["Fanny"] Evelyn Sparks.
e. James Samuel Y. Sparks.
f. Fleter Sparks.
g. Earl P. Sparks.
h. Nellie A. Sparks.
i. Lela Sparks.
9. William Harvey Sparks, son of John and Elizabeth ( ) Sparks, was born ca. 1848. He was an 11-year-old lad in the household of his parents when the 1860 census was taken.
[Editor's Note: John Sparks could very well have been a son of Jesse Sparks (ca.1770-1824) of early Greenville County, South Carolina. Jesse Sparks made his will in November 1824 in which he named (among other children) a son, John Sparks, who was in Kentucky. In what was almost an afterthought, Jesse had the following statement recorded in his will:
On hearing the above items read and recollecting that I have children in Kentucky, namely, John, Isabella, Elsa, and Polly Sparks's, for certain reasons I do fifthly will and bequeath to the said John Sparks, Isabella Sparks, Elsa Sparks and Polly Sparks, at the decease of my wife, Juda, one dollar each, the above items then to stand as above expressed.
Note that John Sparks was born in South Carolina according to the information given to the 1850 census-taker. Note also that his first two children were born in Kentucky between 1825 and 1830.
It seems obvious that Jesse Sparks was expressing negative feelings about his offspring. How could a father suddenly "recollect" that he had four absent children in another state? Why would he give them just a token inheritance of one dollar each? Perhaps this kind of feeling could help to explain the lack of uniform knowledge about the birthplaces of the members of the John Sparks family. Unfortunately, we have found no other record to lend support to this supposition.