Whole Number 161
[Editor's Note: In a publication entitled The BiographicalRecordofLqgan County, Illinois edited by James E. Jewett and printed by the S. S. Clarke Publishing Company of Chicago in 1901, there appeared biographical sketches of a son and of a grandson of Samuel and Mary (Heard) Sparks. (See Item 2 beginning on page 4084 of the preceding article.) The son was Samuel Sparks, Jr. (1846-1926), although he was not called "Jr." in the records of the time nor in this sketch. Here we reproduce the full text of this 1901 record of Samuel. The sketch of Jesse D. Sparks (born in 1864), son of James and Martha E. (Weaver) Sparks, from the same volume, begins on page 4090.
County histories and "biographical records," such as that for Logan County, Illinois, quoted here, were published in large numbers, particularly in the Midwest, during the later 1800s and the early 1900s. To have one's biography included, it was necessary to agree to purchase a copy of the book when published, and sometimes to pay a fee besides. A relatively small proportion of the residents of a given county agreed to this, and those not doing so were, of course, largely ignored in the publication. The biographical information for an individual making this investment was sometimes provided by a family member, following the editor's guidelines for length. On other occasions, the editor, who was often a local person engaged by the pub lishing company, would simply interview the subject, and prepare the biographi cal sketch from his notes taken in the interview. Very rarely were women re presented as subjects in such publications, except to be identified as members of the family of the male subject. The subjects of these biographies were, with out exception, presented in the most favorable light possible. Because of this, and the fact that one had to make a financial commitment to be included, geneal ogists and historians call such county histories "mug-books." There is the added problem in their use as sources for family history: errors abound in many of the articles, especially information appearing about the forebears of the subject. Some of these errors resulted from faulty memories, others from mis understandings on the part of the editor who had conducted the interviews. Many such mistakes could have been avoided had each individual included in the book been given opportunity to proofread his biography on a galley sheet before it was actually printed.
[It is for the reasons noted above that we must question the accuracy of the statement that Samuel Sparks, Sr. (father of the Samuel born in 1846) had been a son of a Baptist minister who had come to Ohio from New Jersey when Samuel, Sr. had been fifteen years old. We have found nothing to indicate that George Sparks, born ca. 1770/75, whom we believe to have been the father of Samuel Sparks, Sr., was a Baptist minister. Perhaps he was a "lay preacher." An obvious error in this biographical sketch is the name of the third child of Samuel and Mary (Heard) Sparks (see Item 2.c. on page 4085); this sketch gives her name as Sarah Jane whereas we have proof that her first name was Phoebe, not Sarah. There was a daughter named Sarah, however, correctly identified as having become the wife of Hugh Fleming (see Item 2.j. on page 4086)]
Among the men who have long been prominently identified with the agricul tural interests of Logan county, Illinois, is Samuel Sparks, a son of Samuel and Mary (Hurd) Sparks, the former a native of New Jersey, and the latter of Ross county, Ohio, in which state they were united marriage. When fifteen years of age Samuel Sparks, Sr., accompanied his father, who was a minister of the Baptist church, on his removal to Ohio, and there engaged in farming until 1831, when he came to Illinois and settled in Sangamon county, where he spent two years, and then removed to Logan county. He [Samuel Sparks, Sr.] located in Corwin township, but two years later settled on section 36, Sheridan township, where he bought a farm of eighty acres. He also owned a fifty-acre tract of timber land in Corwin township. In political faith he was a stanch Democrat, and for a number of years was both school teacher and road commissioner. His religious connection was with the Baptist church. His wife, who was a devoted wife and mother, died in November 1893.
In their family were ten children, namely: James, deceased, married Martha Weaver, who now resides in West Lincoln township; Elizabeth Ann married Alexander Morely, who died in Iowa, while her death occurred in Kansas; Sarah [i.e. Phoebe] Jane married Perry Miller and lived in Christian county, Illinois, but both are now deceased; Susie died at the age of eighteen years; J. D. married Jennie Parker, now deceased, and lives in Tazewell county; Eveline is the wife of E. M. Douglass, a resident of Mason county; Mary is the widow of Green Douglass and resides in Kansas; Samuel, our suj)ject, is the next in order of birth; Sarah is the wife of Hugh Fleming, of Oklahoma; and John died at the age of seven years.
Mr. Sparks, of this review, was born in Sheridan township, Logan county, October 31, 1846, and began his education in a little log school house which has been replaced by a more imposing structure, known as the Mill Grove school, from which he was graduated into what was known as the Talbert school, in this county. He embraced every possible advantage in this line up to his twentieth year, although the whole time did not aggregate a great deal, on account of the long distance that he had to cover going and coming from school.
Having lost his father when eighteen years of age, Mr. Sparks assisted his mother in carrying on the farm until he attained his majority, and after his marriage purchased the interests of the other heirs in the old homestead. On the 21st of February, 1867, he was married, in Lincoln, to Miss Mary Ellen Wendell, who was born in Ohio in 1849, and in 1861 came to Illinois with her parents, Thomas and Fanny (Warren) Wendell, locating in Sheridan township, Logan county, where the mother died in 1894, but the father is still living. He [Thomas Wendell) owns some six hundred acres of land in that township, and for a number of years served as supervisor of the town ship. His political sympathies are with the Democratic party, and he is a member of the Catholic church. In his [Thomas Wendell's] family were ten children, namely: William married first Sarah Lucas, and second Henrietta Richards and resides in Lincoln; George, deceased, married Sarah Omhart, who lived in New Holland; John H. married Georgia Myers and lives in York county, Nebraska; Mary Ellen was the wife of our subject; Uriah married Lauretta Baughn and lives in Sheridan township, this county; James T. wedded Mary Baughn and makes his home in Corwin township; Sarah is the wife of John Treckle, of Corwin township; Charles met death by accident at the age of seven years; and two children died in infancy.
Mr. Sparks' first wife died October 7, 1887, and was laid to rest in Lucas cemetery. by that marriage he had the following children: Fannie, who is now the wife of C. N. Beaver, of York county, Nebraska, and has three children; Thomas, also a resident of that county, who wedded Mary Mitchell and has two children; Charles F., of Corwin township, this county, who married Mary Maltby, and has three children; S. T, of Chester township, this county, who married Minnie Rabber and has two children; and Marian, who is at home with his father.
On the 11th of Dec, 1889, in Sheridan township, Mr. Sparks was united in marriage with Miss Sarah Jane Maltby, who was born in Lincoln February 6, 1863, a daughter of James and Jane (Preston) Maltby. Her father was one of the brave soldiers of the Civil war who laid down his life on the altar of his country. He was a member of the One Hundred and Sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and died from exposure in 1862. His wife subsequently married James Lee, by whom she had one son, James Jr. She had three children by her first marriage, these being Charles [Maltby], who is married and lives in Denver, Colorado; Chester [Maltby], who is also married and living in that city; and Sarah Jane [Maltby], wife of our subject. by his second union Mr. Sparks has one daughter, Hazel.
In his farming operations Mr. Sparks has displayed excellent business ability, and has become one of the largest land owners in his locality, having two hundred and eight acres in Sheridan township, two hundred and sixty acres in Chester township, and one hundred and sixty acres in Nebraska. His beautiful and attractive residence, fine barns and all the necessary outbuild ings present a picture of an ideal country home, and here he and his delight ful family dispense a charming and liberal hospitality.