March 23, 2021

Pages 3670-3673
Whole Number 152


by Dr. H. C. Salmons

[Editor's Note: This description of the home of Joseph Sparks (1817-1902), prepared by Dr. Paul E. Sparks, is based upon notes written by Dr. H. C. Salmons in 1948. He had made crude drawings of the house from his memory of visits to his maternal grandparents when he was a young man. He annotated the drawings with handwritten notes which are quite easy to follow.]

The construction of the home of Joseph Sparks, pictured on the cover, was begun in 1852 and was completed six years later. The pine timber from which it was built was cut from Sparkses farm and dressed there by hand. The frame was hewn, mortised, and pegged without the use of sophisticated tools, and the roof shingles were dressed down by a drawing knife. The finished lumber was cut out with a sash saw, then dressed, sized, and matched by hand. Bricks for the chimneys were made on the site. The hardware was hauled from Fayetteville by team to the site at Bald Knob near the village of Buck Shoals, Yadkin County.

The house faced south and was entered by a door which opened from a wide, sheltered porch into a hall. To the left of the hallway was the living room which was also used by Joseph and Martha Sparks as their bedroom. On the right of the hallway was the parlor. Both rooms were heated by open fireplaces.

Immediately behind the living room was the children's room which was also used as a passageway to the dining room and the kitchen. The dining room and kitchen were heated by two wood-burning fireplaces made of stone and placed back-to-back with a common rock chimney. Each fireplace had a swinging crane (or pot hanger) so that food could be cooked or boiled in pots or kettles swung over the open fire. A cookstove eventually replaced the open fires, but the Sparkses continued to boil vegetables in a big pot saying that the food always tasted better when cooked in that manner.

A door in the dining room opened into the pantry and (as remembered by Dr. Salmons) this is where his grandmother would take him as soon as he arrived to snack on homemade light bread on which was spread churned butter and sourwood honey.

The second story consisted of two bedrooms, also heated by fireplaces, which used the chimneys of the downstairs rooms. The girls slept in the room on the right at the head of the stairway, and the boys slept in the room on the left. After the children grew up and moved away, the hired man was given the boys' room and the girls' room was used for storage of boxes of small grain.

Underneath the children's room on the first floor was the wine cellar. The sides of the room were not walled-up and eventually the red dirt crumbled and caved in. Dr. Salmons recalled that "this is the place where Grandpa would slip me into and give me wine and then say, 'Now for the Lord's sake, don't tell Sarah Ann.' Grandpa and Grandma were fine, but Oh, my auntie, Sarah Ann!"

The downstairs hallway also had a back door which opened on to a back porch. This back porch could also be reached through a door in the dining room. The kitchen had two doors to the outside. The entire structure had 29 double-sash windows, most of which were fitted with shutters.

[Editor's Note: H. C. Salmons was a practicing physician at Elkin, North Carolina, and was a son of Andrew Martin and Fannie Elizabeth (Sparks) Salmons. In addition to the drawings of the house of Joseph Sparks, he also had copies of the family records given to him by his mother. He sent the drawings and family records to his first cousin, Roy Sparks of Lafayette, Oregon. Roy was a son of Benjamin Franklin and Cynthia (Todd) Sparks. Here are the records sent by Dr. Salmons, with his covering letter.]

Elkin, North Carolina
August 28, 1948

Mr. and Mrs. Roy Sparks Lafayette, Oregon

Dear Cousins:

I am sending a copy of mother's version of what she had learned of her grandparents, Old Bennie Sparks and wife. I thought it might interest you and also please make a correction. I checked the stenographer's work, but somehow overlooked Joseph Sparks's child, George Washington Sparks birth November 18, 1858, not 1856. Thanking you, I remain Yours respectfully,

H. C. Salmons

Benjamin "Bennie" Sparks

Benjamin "Bennie" Sparks born 1784 died 1876
Sally Jeffries Sparks born 1785 died 1870

Bennie Sparks and Sally Jeffries married 1802


Polly Sparks married Connie Gray
John Sparks don't know (he went west)
Russell Sparks  married Miss Martin, daughter of Alfred Martin 
Hannah Sparks married Mr. Felts (went west)
Sally Sparks  married Enoch Swaim 
Solomon Sparks don't know
Martha Sparks  single
Joseph Sparks  married Martha Elvira Dimmette 
Benjamin Sparks married Miss Sale

Joseph Sparks born June 12, 1817; died May 8, 1902
Martha Elvira Dimmitte born June 24, 1823; died November 26, 1904
Joseph Sparks married Martha Elvira Dimmette, October 1842


Benjamin Franklin Sparks, born October 18, 1843; died November 1922; married Miss Cynthia Todd (Oregon)
William "Bill" Russell Sparks, born November 18, 1844; died June 1911; married Miss Jane Madison
John Q. Adams Sparks, born March 13, 1846; died September 1923; married Miss Ann Salmons
Sarah Ann Sparks, born June 14, 1847; died June 1915; married Robert Parks

James Lewis Sparks, born May 8, 1850; died March 1907; married Estie Yeager (Washington State)
Nancy Rosaline Sparks, born May 28, 1856; died October 1887; married L. J. Salmons
George Washington Sparks, born November 18, 1858; died 1929; married Miss Martha "Mattie" Ray
Fannie Elizabeth Sparks, born October 26, 1860; now living (since died); married A. M. Salmons

The Sparks and Jeffries families lived in the northern part of Virginia [see Editor's correction below]. Bennie Sparks and Sally Jeffries wanted to marry, but their families objected on the grounds that they were too young. They ran away and came to North Carolina in 1802 and married. They settled on a large tract of land in Surry County, now Yadkin County, south of the Brushy Mountains, a low range of mountains and hills which runs southwest and northeast about 5 to 6 miles south of the Yadkin River near Swan Creek Gap. They built houses near a small, clear, rippling steam, close to a large bold spring.

Mrs. Fannie Sparks Salmons, granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bennie Sparks, visited her grandparents' home until she was fifteen years old and remembered much of the place and the folks.

Bennie Sparks [Jr.], youngest son of Bennie and Sally Sparks, heired the lands and home-place and built his home about one-fourth of a mile north of his father's home up the stream toward the mountain.

Carl Sparks, son of Benjamin Sparks, [Jr.], heired a portion of the land where the old Bennie Sparks home stood. It had all grown up in large pine timber, and a saw-mill was placed near where once stood the old Bennie Sparks home.

I (H. C. Salmons) was called to the saw-mill late one summer evening in 1916 to attend a man that had been carved up in a fight. The cuts were many and long, but they were not deep. I put in about six dozen sutures by lamp light. Then I placed the patient on his bunk in his shack. I was through about 12:00 o'clock.

I was invited to the eating shack where I ate a very delicious meal of cress, mustard and turnip greens boiled in plenty of fat bacon, corn bread, and strong coffee. To be nice to the Doctor, I got six hard-boiled eggs which I devoured ferociously and still lived through it all. The boy who did the cutting was the cook.

My horse was fed and I mounted and rode back home. I again visited my patient who was doing very well, and I inspected the premises about where once stood the Bennie Sparks home. All that I saw was a rock foundation of chim neys and rocks scattered about, a very few apple and walnut trees which marked the place where the house had been.

All of the workmen at the saw-mill, including the ones who had the fight, chipped in and paid me for my services. The patient came to my office on the seventh day, and I removed all of the sutures. No one prosecuted.

[Editor's Note: Dr. Salmons' mother was mistaken in one of her statements. The Sparks families in Surry County had come to North Carolina from Frederick County, Maryland, not northern Virginia, ca. 1754. The parents of Benjamin ["Bennie"] Sparks, born 1784, were Reuben and Cassie (Buttery) Sparks; Reuben Sparks was a son of Solomon and Sarah Sparks; and Solomon was a son of 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks who died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749. Information on Benjamin ["Bennie"] Sparks first appeared in the Quarterly of September 1967, Whole No. 59, p. 1084, as part of an article on his father. A much more complete record of Reuben and Cassie (Buttery) Sparks and their descendants appeared in an article by Paul E. Sparks in the Quarterly of March 1988, Whole No. 141, pp. 3175-3206, and September 1988, Whole No. 143, pp. 3261- 3285. Information specifically devoted to Benjamin ["Bennie"] Sparks and his family appeared on pp. 3265-69.]