May 10, 2021

Pages 3724-3726
Whole Number 153

Born 1852, Died 1943
A Descendant of Matthew J. Sparks (1759-1841)

[Editor's Note: the September 1984 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 127, contained an article about Matthew J. Sparks (1759-1841) and some of his descendants. Since the publication of that article, we have received further information about James Alfred Sparks, a great-grandson of Matthew Sparks, who was listed on page 2663 of that issue. Our readers are asked to take the appropriate action to add this information to their copies of that issue. We acknowledge our appreciation to Linda Sparks Starr, 2642 Brentwood Drive, Norman, Oklahoma, 73069, for extending our knowledge of this family. James Alfred Sparks, son of Francis Marion ['Doc'] and Mary Catherine (Brown) Sparks, was born April 21, 1851, in that portion of Cass County, Texas, that became Marion County in 1860. He married Alice A. Milstead on January 30, 1876, in Hunt County. She had been born on December 29, 1855, in Alabama. When the 1880 census was taken, James and Alice were in Cooke County, Texas, with their two-year-old son, Marion B. Sparks. Also living in the household was Alice's brother, Benjamin F. Milstead, aged 32.

Sometime between 1886 and 1890, James and Alice moved to the Oklahoma Territory where they settled in present-day Grady County. It seems quite likely that they were accompanied there by James's cousin, James Buchanan ('Buck'] Sparks. (See the September 1984 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 127, pp. 2650-52.)

James Sparks was living near Silver, Oklahoma, when he filed on a 'homestead claim' on January 29, 1892. The claim was a 160-acre tract of land located in what became Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma, that year. According to testimony given before Fred S. Goodrich, U.S. Land Commissioner, on March 21, 1900, Sparks was then 49 years old; he was a native of Texas; and his post office was McLoud, Oklahoma Territory. He stated that he had built two log houses on his claim, one in February 1892 and the other in 1898. The land was now fenced and he had a well, a smokehouse, a double barn made of logs, and an orchard. His family consisted of himself, his wife, and four children. (The word 'wife' was scratched out--Alice had died only ten days earlier.)

To other questions, Sparks replied that he had 60 acres under cultivation, but some of the land was timbered with scrub oaks. He had seen no evidence of coal or any other minerals on the land, and he had not sold any portion of the claim. Commissioner Goodrich approved Sparks's application, and Sparks paid the requisite fee of $240 on March 27, 1900.

As stated above, Alice (Milstead) Sparks died on March 11, 1900. She had had surgery for an abdominal tumor and died from complications following the operation. On March 28, 1901, James Sparks married (second) a 33-year-old widow, Norma Williams, in Pottawatomie County. He had four children still at home, and Norma brought 'several' more children to the marriage, according to relatives.

The marriage of James and Norma was not a successful one, and Norma left the home sometime before January 1902. A child was born to her on January 15, 1902. and although James Sparks acknowledged the child as his own, the child grew to maturity under the name of Lester Williams. A divorce was granted on September 22, 1903.

On November 26, 1921, James A. Sparks, now 73 years of age, married 53-year-old Virginia ['Jennie'] Page at Tecumseh, Oklahoma. She brought three children to the marriage. by this time, James was suffering from cardio-vascular disease from which he never recovered and which finally overcame him on March 19, 1943. He was buried in Pilgrims Rest Cemetery beside his first wife, Alice. It is there, also, that most of his eight children were buried. The children of James Alfred Sparks follows: Marion B. Sparks was born June 27, 1877, in Texas. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Inder Gregory, probably in 1897. She died in November of that year. Marion married (second) Emmarine Gates in December 1899. She was born September 28, 1874. When the 1900 census was taken of Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma Territory, Marion and Emmarine were living in the household of his parents. He died on July 21, 1947, and Emmarine died on September 21, 1959. They had five children. Gilbert Sparks was born ca. 1900. He married Milly Krause and they live in Portales, New Mexico. Harvie L. Sparks was born in November 1902 and died on June 25, 1903. Inez Sparks was born May 23, 1904. She married Virgil West. She died on December 17, 1933. Harold Sparks was born April 29, 1911. He died on September 16, 1926. James Woodrow Sparks was born July 6, 1913. He married Gladys Baldwin, and they had a daughter named Sue. James died in April 1973. Mary M. Sparks was born January 18, 1882, in Texas. She married Edgar Haynes Johnson ca. 1899. He had been born on September 1, 1876. Mary died on October 15, 1943, and Haynes (as he was called) Died on December 2, 1962. They had six children. Robert Carol Johnson was born December 29, 1900. He married (first) Velma Roy and (second) to Pearl Lakin. He died on December 24,1989. Lucian Johnson was born ca. 1902 and died in infancy. James Jewel Johnson was born January 7, 1905. He married Aline Roy (sister of Velma Roy above), on April 5, 1931. Bertha ['Bertie'] Johnson was born February 20, 1907. She married R. J. ['Pat'] Musgrove ca. 1923. Imogene Johnson was born in 1916. She married Ed Carrier. She died in 1952. William ['Bill'] Johnson was born July 16, 1922. F. Clayton Sparks was born January 9, 1884, in Texas. He died on April 8, 1912. Bertha Sparks was born in August 1886 in Texas. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to T. M. Hardwicks by whom she had a son, Cullen Hardwicks, born on September 23, 1909. Cullen died on April 29, 1911. Bertha married (second) Charles W. Edmister, an Indian agent near Big Cabin, Oklahoma. They had a son, James Edmister. Bertha died on January 28, 1967, at Tecumseh, Oklahoma. Lara Lee Sparks was born August 13, 1889. She died on May 28, 1894. James Herbert Sparks was born in April 1890 in Indian Territory. He was a soldier in World War I and was killed in action while fighting in the Argonne Forest in France. His death occurred on November 11, 1918, after the truce had been signed to cease fighting, but before the news had reached his sector. He was buried in France. Robert Gian ['Rob'] Sparks was born June 13 1894, in Oklahoma Territory. On February 14, 1916, he married Ollie Leah Wilkerson at Tecumseh, Oklahoma. She had been born on July 14, 1896. Rob and Ollie ran a dairy farm and Rob had a milk route near Shawnee, Oklahoma. Rob died on March 3, 1938, at the home of his cousin, Bertie (Johnson) Musgrove, in Oklahoma City. He was there to be near his doctor who was treating him for colon cancer. Ollie survived him over fifty years, dying in 1989. She and Rob had four children. (A photograph of Robert Gian Sparks appears on page 3728.) Jesse Lee Sparks was born February 22, 1916. He married Lena Hazel Canada on September 10, 1938, at Shawnee, Oklahoma. He ran a dairy farm near Earlsboro in Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma. He died on December 23, 1969. He and Lena had two children, James Sparks and Linda Sparks. [Linda Kay (Sparks) Starr has furnished most of the material for this article.] Mildred Gertrude Sparks was born February 28, 1919. She married M. C. ('Bud'] Hollandsworth on August 24, 1939, and they have two children, Mildred and Mary Jane. Robert Gian ['Bob'] Sparks, Jr. was born January 11, 1924. He married Mary Bell Echard on August 8, 1947, and they have five children: Jerry, Jacquita, Dale, Keith, and Stanley. Betty Jo Sparks was born December 13, 1937. She married Wayne Mills. She died on May 29, 1974. W. L. Sparks. It is believed that this child, who died on June 1, 1899, was a son of James Alfred and Alice A. (Milstead) Sparks. Lester Sparks was born January 15, 1902. He went by the name of Lester Williams.