Whole Number 156
James Pressley ["Press"] Sparks was born ca. 1816, probably in Franklin County, Kentucky, and was a son of James B. and Rachel (Petty) Sparks, natives of Virginia. James B. Sparks was a son of Henry and Lucy (Clark) Sparks who moved from Culpeper County, Virginia, to Kentucky in 1795. Henry settled on the Kentucky River in that portion of Franklin County that became a part of Owen County in 1819. (See the December 1960 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 32, for a detailed account of the family of Henry Sparks.)
James B. Sparks, father of James Pressley Sparks, was born 5 February 1779, in Culpeper County, Virginia, and had almost reached full manhood when he accompanied his parents to Kentucky. The first official record we have found of him in Kentucky is his name on the 1800 poll tax list of Franklin County. He paid taxes there that year as a male above the age of twenty-one years.
James Sparks married Rachel Petty in August 1804 in Woodford County, Kentucky. The marriage bond was dated August 18, 1804, and was signed by his bondsman, Jacob Wilson. The marriage probably took place a day or two later. Rachel had been born ca. 1780 in Virginia.
When the 1810 census was taken of Franklin County, James and Rachel were shown with two males and one female under 10 years of age who were doubtless their sons and a daughter. James also paid taxes that year on 100 acres of land on Cedar Creek; this tract was described as having been "surveyed for Crittenden." He continued to pay taxes on this tract of land until 1815 when, apparently, he sold 50 acres of it. Perhaps the sale was a step in preparation for his move to Boone County, Kentucky, in 1818. It was in Boone County that he paid taxes from 1819 to 1822.
James Sparks was shown as head of his family when the 1820 census was taken of Boone County, Kentucky. by this time, his family had increased to seven children--four boys and three girls. Apparently he died intestate, ca. 1826 in Boone County; however, we have found no records of the settlement of his estate. Perhaps he left no property there.
James Sparks did leave land in both Owen and Anderson Counties, and it is through the disposition of this property that we have found records of his children. According to Owen County Deed Book B, page 264, on August 7, 1826, his heirs were involved in a land transaction with Randolph Railey, Jr. a representative for the John Crittenden heirs. Named as the heirs of James Sparks were: William Sparks, Lucy Sparks, Catherine Sparks, John Sparks, and Presley Sparks.
Eight years later, on November 7, 1834, the heirs of James Sparks sold 100 acres of land located in Anderson County, "belonging to the said Sparkses as heirs of James Sparks, deceased," to Thomas Sanders for $170. Signing the deed were: William Sparks, Lucinda (Sparks) Coombs, John P. Sparks, Katherine Sparks, Elizabeth Sparks, and James P. Sparks. The transaction was recorded on page 439 of Owen County Deed Book E.
From these records and from information furnished by descendants, we have determined that James and Rachel (Petty) Sparks had seven children; however, we have been unable to learn the name of a son who was born ca. 1807. He apparently died before the death of his father.
1. William L. ["Choctaw"] Sparks, son of James and Rachel (Petty) Sparks, was born May 3, 1805. He was a river man. He married Julia Ann Warner on September 14, 1831, in Owen County, Kentucky. He died on Jan28, 1896, and Julia died on March 14, 1895. They had twelve children: William, Catherine, Mary ["Mollie"], John, Elijah, Thomas, Bradley, Armstrong, Jane, George, Wesley, and Lucy.
2. According to census records, James and Rachel (Petty) Sparks had a son born between 1805 and 1810, whom we have been unable to identify.
3. Lucinda ["Lucy"] Sparks was born ca. 1810. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to Felix Coombs ca. 1829. They had one child, Fanny. Lucy married (second) Daniel Bradley ca. 1838, probably in Adams County, Mississippi, and they had four children: Angeline, James, Theressa, and John. Daniel Bradley died ca. 1848, as did one of their children. Lucy then returned to Kentucky with her surviving children.
4. Mary Catherine Sparks was born ca. 1812. She was probably the Catherine Sparks who married John Wilson on November 3, 1836, in Anderson County, Kentucky.
5. John P. Sparks was born ca. 1814. He married Rhoda Baldwin ca. 1841, probably in Adams County, Mississippi. He died ca. 1849, probably in Gallatin County, Kentucky, leaving Rhoda with three small children: Mary, Hiram, and John Pressley.
6. James Pressley ["Press"] Sparks was born ca. 1816. He was a wood worker. He served in the 1861 and 1863 sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly as representative from Henry County. He was shot by Confederate States sympathizers in 1864 at his home in Pleasureville, Kentucky. He was apparently never married. (See the preceding account of his death, beginning on page 3886.)
7. Elizabeth Sparks, born ca. 1818, daughter of James B. and Rachel (Petty) Sparks, was probably the Elizabeth Sparks who married Jeptha Preston Cox on July 21, 1836, in Anderson County, Kentucky.