January 28, 2021

Pages 4020-4024
Whole Number 160


The photograph appearing on the cover of this issue of The Sparks Quarterly, as well as those which follow, have been furnished by Christine Brannan Sundie, Miami, FL. We are pleased to be able to share these with our readers.

The six individuals in the photograph on the cover were the children of Jesse Franklin and Elizabeth Manilla (Dempsey) Clark. Elizabeth Manilla Dempsey was a daughter of Jesse Jackson Dempsey and his wife, Malinda Minerva Sparks. Malinda Minerva Sparks was a daughter of David and Permelia (Medlock) Sparks.

David Sparks, a great-grandfather of these six Clark children, was born May 19, 1794, and died November 10, 1862. An abstract of David Sparks's application for bounty land, based on his service in the War of 1812, appeared in the Quarterly of September 1960 (Whole No. 31), page 501. Further information about him and his two children appeared in the Quarterly of September 1969 (Whole No. 67) pp. 1257-1265. These two children were: Abel Tomlin Sparks, born November 10, 1827, died January 20, 1896. Malinda Minerva Sparks born in 1833; and

Until Mrs. Sundie sent us the photograph of Malinda Minerva's tombstone, we had been able only to guess at the year of her birth. While her and her husband's stone is obviously newer than a stone of the 1860s, we assume that the family members who placed it on their graves were correct in giving her date of birth as 1822. From this and other family records, it appears that Malinda Minerva Sparks was known by her middle name, Minerva.

David Sparks, father of Minerva (Sparks) Dempsey, was, we firmly believe, a son of Abel Sparks who was born in North Carolina ca. 1767 and died in Henry County, Georgia, in 1823/24. In an article devoted to Abel Sparks appearing in the Quarterly of June 1987 (Whole No. 138) pp. 3062-69, we called him "Abel Sparks, the Elder" in order to distinguish him from another Abel Sparks of the same area who had been born ca. 1778 and died in 1872.

David Sparks served as a private in a volunteer rifle company from Morgan County, Georgia, in the War of 1812. He volunteered in Morgan County on November 1, 1814, and was discharged at Fort Hawkins, Georgia, on May 1, 1815. A brother of David, Uriah Sparks, served in the same company for exactly the same length of time, as did also the Abel Sparks whom we are convinced was the father of David and Uriah. Abel Sparks was then 47 years old, and we can speculate that he may have enlisted with his sons in order to look after them.

David Sparks was living in Morgan County, Georgia, when the 1820 census was taken. He married Permelia ["Milly"] Medlock who had been born on February 15, 1791, in South Carolina; she died December 3, 1876, in Delta, Clay County, Alabama. David Sparks had died there fourteen years earlier, on November 10, 1862. (These dates have been preserved among the family records in the possession of Mrs. Ellene McKay Mars; she was living in Uniontown, Ohio, in 1969.)

Malinda Minerva Sparks, or Minerva Sparks as she was called, married Jesse Jackson Dempsey, date not discovered. According to his tombstone, he was born in 1817 and died in 1869. They were the parents of seven children: Francis Marion Dempsey, born October 12, 1842, at Cave Springs, in Floyd County, Georgia, and died April 19, 1932, in Clay County, Alabama. He married Julia Clark. Elizabeth Manilla Dempsey, born September 18, 1844; died July 23, 1895. She married Jesse Franklin Clark. Sara Jane Dempsey. She married John Butterworth. Wiley Dempsey. He married Maggie Rowe. Annetter Dempsey. She married David Crockett Smith. Evelyn Dempsey. She married Elijah Roberts. Monroe Dempsey. He died as a young man in Dallas County, Alabama. Elizabeth Manilla Dempsey (1844-1895) was married on September 5, 1861, to Jesse Franklin Clark, son of Caleb and Mary (Mullins) Clark. He had been born on October 16, 1841, and died March 28, 1913. Both were buried in the Union Church Cemetery in Clay County, Alabama. They were the parents of six children: John Quincy Adams Clark, born August 15, 1863, died August 9, 1937. He married Frances Lugene [?] Bannister. (Spelling of "Lugene is uncertain.) Rebecca Jane Theodosia Clark, born August 30, 1865, died December 25, 1951. She married Rufus Allan Adams. Mary Ann Manilla Elizabeth Washington Clark, born April 17, 1868, died November 2, 1964. He married James Albert Adams. Jesse Franklin Henry Scott Clark, born November 30, 1871, died March 2, 1944. He married Effie Roberta Strickland. Roxie Etta Lydia Sophronia Clark, born April 14, 1876, died April 8, 1952. She married James Ancel Strickland. Draper Anderson Lafayette Clark, born December 20, 1878, died March 27, 1948. He married Izella Shaddix.

In the photograph on the cover, the three sons stood, left to right, in the order of their birth; likewise, the three daughters sat in the order of their birth.

An interesting heirloom owned by descendants of Elizabeth Manilla (Dempsey) Clark is her "Infare Day dress." This was worn by her on September 6, 1861, the day following her wedding. (See photo on p. 4024.) As explained by Mrs. Sundie:

Infare Day, as it was known in that day and in that area, was the day following a wedding. It seems the wedding would be solemnized either at the church or in the bride's home, to be followed by entertainment provided by the bride's family. The bride would wear her wedding dress on that occasion. The next day, the newly-married couple would go to the groom's home, where his parents would entertain for them (many of the guests attending both events). The bride had another dress to be worn on this second day, which was called "Infare Day." As stated in the dictionary, "infare" has to do with transition, or going from one state of affairs to another.

Elizabeth Manilla's "Infare Day" dress was lovely. It was a dark green, sort of a brocade, with yoke, cuffs, etc., of matching velvet. It had a bustle. She must have been rather tall, and with a tiny waist. The buttons are as pretty today as they were in 1861.

Mrs. Sundie tells an interesting story of a cypress tree that yet grows alongside the highway between Union Church and Lineville in Clay County, Alabama. It was brought by Francis Marion Dempsey in 1849 from the banks of the Mississippi River. Jesse and Minerva (Sparks) Dempsey had been en route (migrating) from Alabama to Arkansas, following relatives who had moved there. They spent the winter of 1842/43 living in a cave near what is now Cave Springs, Georgia. According to family tradition, it was there that Francis Marion Dempsey was born October 12, 1842. Mrs. Sundie notes that "they either visited for some time, or looked around with the thought of settling; then came back to Alabama." At whatever point they crossed the Mississippi River on their return in 1849, young Francis Marion dug up the cypress bush and brought it to Alabama in a bucket suspended from a pole at the rear of their wagon. It was transplanted near a spring in the Shinbone Valley where it took root and has continued to flourish some sixty years after Francis Marion's death in 1932.