October 10, 2020

Pages 4313-4321
Whole Number 166


by David and Wendy Sparks

[Editor's Note: We are pleased to present the following article by David and Wendy Sparks of Seneca Falls, New York, 13148. The reader is referred to page 3029 of the March 1987 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 137, where there appears a brief sketch of the life of Stephen Sparks (1759-1827). In that record, we made an unfortunate error in confusing his date of death (1827) with that of his marriage (1783). This error is corrected in the following article.]

This article supplements "The Sparkses of New England" by Thomas F. and Virginia N. Howard that appeared in the March 1987 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 137. It begins with Stephen Sparks, son of Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks, born in Tolland, Connecticut, on 24 April 1759 in Howards' article.

Information for this article came from census records, microfilmed vital records and land records viewed in Middlesex, Vermont, and from gravestones in Leicester, Vermont. Stephen Sparks, Sr (43.2.5 Joseph Sparks, 43.2 Henry Sparks, 43. Henry Sparks) was born in Tolland, Connecticut, on April 24, 1759. He married Sarah Holt on January 1, 1783. Sarah was a daughter of Nehemiah Holt and Anna Farnham. He was born in Andover, Massachusetts, on April 3, 1723, and died on April 17, 1799 at Chaplin, Connecticut; she was born September 10, 1729 in Andover and died on April 1, 1810.) Sarah Holt was born in Windham, Connecticut, on October 12, 1758. (See Daniel S. Durrie's Genealogical History of the Holt Family. 1864.)

Stephen Sparks appears in town records beginning in 1790 in Leicester, Addison County, Vermont. Records of his land purchases there begin in 1795. Gravestones in Brookside Cemetery, Leicester, Vermont, were clearly legible in 1992: "Stephen Sparks died June 25, 1827 aged 68." A Revolutionary War soldier's marker is by his stone. The inscription on a separate stone reads:

Stephen Sparks Sarah
  Wife of
Stephen Sparks
Died June 25, 1827
Aged 68 years
Died September 28, 1843
Aged 83 years & 11 Missouri.

The children of Stephen and Sarah (Holt) Sparks, whose births were recorded among the vital records of Leicester, Vermont, were as follows: Eliphalet Sparks was born December 30, 1783. He died on December 30, 1788, age 12. Joseph Sparks was born April 23, 1785. He is seen in the census of 1810 in Leicester, Addison County, Vermont, with wife, one boy under 10 years and one girl between 10 and 16. No further record of Joseph has been found as yet; he was not buried in Leicester. Stephen Sparks, jr. was born March 13, 1787 in Leicester, Vermont. He married Lucy Sawyer of Leicester on 17 September 1818. Both were then of Leicester. She was possibly a granddaughter of Thomas and Prudence (Carter) Sawyer of Leicester, who were originally of Bolton and Templeton, Worchester County, Massachusetts.

Stephen Sparks, Jr. was a farmer, apparently on his father's home place. He was mentioned frequently in Leicester town records as poundkeeper, selectman, grand juror, and on a committee to settle with the town treasurer.

Probate records from this era were destroyed by fire, but a copy of his will has been preserved in the land records (Addison County, Vermont, Vol. 10, p.529) written on March 11, 1851, proved on the 14th day of January 1861. In his will, he left one-half of his real estate for the use of his son, George Sparks, during his lifetime, then it was to go to George's heirs. One-fourth of his real estate was to go for the use of his daughter, Sarah Hitchcock, and one-fourth for use by his daughter, Mary Jane Sparks, with the same provisions for their heirs. His son, Austin Sparks, and Austin's heirs, were to inherit only if there were no other living heirs.

Gravestones of Lucy & Stephen Sparks

Stephen Sparks, Jr. died on 17 December 1860, at the age of 73, of "lung fever." His wife, Lucy, died on January 1, 1861, at the age of 60. They were both buried in Leicester, Brookside Cemetery. Lucy was cited as age 60 on the census of 1850. It cannot be discerned yet as to which age would be correct, census or gravestone. Children of Stephen, Jr. and Lucy (Sawyer) Sparks: Austin Sparks was born February 9, 1822. He married Adalaide Cripps in York, Dane County, Wisconsin. Records concerning Austin Sparks were found at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.

Land records in Addison County, Vermont, (Book 8, p. 230) show Austin selling "new blacksmith shop and cole house lately built by me and on the east side of stagecoach road leading from Leicester and Salisbury, opposite house of David Morde, in Leicester, Vermont" to Edward Fales for $50.00 on November 18, 1847. He is seen, also, in the census of 1850 living with his parents in Leicester. He is seen next in the census of 1860 of York, Dane County, Wisconsin: age 38, farmer, born in Vermont, real estate valued at $7,200, personal property at $2,064, with wife Adalaide, age 28, born in England; son Frederick, age 3, born in Wisconsin. Four laborers were in his household.

Austin's wife, Adalaide Cripps, was born January 19, 1832 in Bletchington, Oxfordshire, England, a daughter of William and Hannah (Gregory) Cripps. Her family "came to America in the spring of 1836, lived in Madison County, New York til 1845, then came to Wisconsin, lived at Eagle Prairie three years, and in 1848, came to Dane County and settled
in the town of York." (See Biographical Sketches of Old Settlers and Prominent People of Wisconsin, 1899, page 1062.)

Biographical information regarding Austin and Adalaide (Cripps) Sparks is found in a sketch of their second son, Elon J. Sparks, published in in Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin, 1893, page 505, and is quoted here:

Elon J. Sparks, a prominent farmer and stock raiser, located on section 17, in York Township, was the son of Austin Sparks, and his grandfather was of English descent, born in Vermont, in the year 1822, and was brought up on a farm. He secured a fair education, attending the common schools of his native State, remaining at home until he was thirty years of age, when he decided to start out for himself, April 1, 1852. Having heard of the Western country of Wisconsin, he came to Walworth county, where he stayed two years; then, purchasing a flock of sheep, he drove them to the township of York, section 17, where he purchased about 500 acres of land; this was in 1854. He moved into a log house and commenced his experience in pioneer life. He then continued working the land, raising wheat and other cereals. by patient industry and economy he amassed a competence, but was not permitted to remain long enough to carry out his designs for a home and a residence, as he died, November 2, 1865. He died in Lowell, Dodge County, Wisconsin, of lung fever, contracted while threshing on his farm there.

Mr. Sparks was married near the home of his selection, to Miss Adelaide Cripps, who was born in Bletchington, Oxfordshire, England, her people emigrating to this country when she was quite young. Her people were early settlers of York township. This union was blessed with two children: Fred A., who lives in Columbus, Wisconsin, and Elon J., the subject of this sketch.

Our subject lives on and manages the old farm, his mother having improved the same, erecting a good residence and commodious barns. She was married a second time to Grove D. Wood, and now lives in Columbus, Wisconsin. Elon J. is a Wisconsin boy, having been born on the farm originally bought by his father and in the old log house, December 6, 1862.

Austin Sparks died without a will. His estate was probated in November, 1865, Dane County, Wisconsin. (See Box 42 in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.) His wife, Adelaide, was named executrix. Included in the inventory are: Land in Dane County valued at $6,120, 280 acres in Lowell, Dodge County, valued at $3,640, 200 acres in Adams County, valued at $400, wheat, oats, corn, 6 horses, 3 colts, 1 yoke of oxen, 11 milk cows, 11 yearlings, 16 3-year-olds, 1 red bull, 12 calves, 50 sheep (ewes), 200 balance of sheep, 6 pigs, farm equipment, blacksmith tools, and wool.

Austin was buried in the North York Cemetery, on County Road V, York, Wisconsin. (See a photograph of his and Adelaide's tombstone on the following page.) The inscription reads: "Austin Sparks, February 9, 1823; November 2, 1865" (birthyear probably in error, should be 1822). Also there is, on the same stone: "Adelaide, his wife, January 29, 1832, February 13, 1910."

Children of Austin and Adelaide (Cripps) Sparks: Frederick Austin Sparks was born 13 May 1857 in York, Dane County, Wisconsin. He was 7 years old when his father died. He married Alma Wood on 21 September 1880, in a Congregational Church in Columbus, Wisconsin. Alma had been born in May, 1860, in York, Wisconsin, the daughter of Grove and Malvina Wood. Fred and Alma had one child: Fred Austin Sparks, Jr., who was born 14 September 1881. "Freddie, as he was called, was a very delicate baby and they despaired of raising him when cows milk disagreed with him and finally found that he thrived on mare's milk. His grandparents, Grove Wood, a widower, and Adelaid Cripps, a widow, were so concerned about little Freddie that they married each other to raise him." (Quoting Winona Sparks, November 1978.)

A Gravestone in the North York Cemetery Located on County Road V, York, Wisconsin

Frederick Austin Sparks, called Fred, Sr., was married (second) on 23 Janaury 1884, to Martha Smith who had been born in New York, a daughter of Ransom B. and Rosela Smith. They were married in the Methodist Church in Deansville, Dane County, Wisconsin. Fred is cited as a farmer of Burke, Dane County, on the marriage registration. Fred and Martha had two children: Ada ["Addie"] Sparks and Ralph Sparks.

Fred, Sr. died in Huron, South Dakota, where his son Fred, Jr. was living, on 20 December 1941.

Children of Frederick ["Fred".| Austin and Alma (Wood) Sparks: Fred Austin Sparks, Jr. was born 14 September 1881, at York, Wisconsin. He married Ida Louise Remus on 25 December 1901.

Fred Sparks, Jr. and Ida Louise Remus on Their Wedding Day, December 25, 1901

Ida Louise Remus had been born in York on 4 November 1884 and was a daughter of Fredrick Remus and his second wife, Rosalea Hoppe, both of whom had been born in Prussia.

"The spring after they [Fred and Ida Sparks] were married, they loaded all their belongings, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, plows, wagons, household furniture, and a barrel of apples, into an immigrant railroad car and made the trip to Huron, South Dakota. There they unloaded all their goods and hauled it to the farm Fred's grandparents. Grove and Adelaide (Cripps) Sparks Wood, had given to them as a wedding present. There were no buildings on the 160 acres, so they stayed with friends until Fred could build a chicken house which was their home until a house and barn could be built. They later sold the farm and bought unimproved land southwest of Huron, a farm at Onida and a house in town. Ida was a fine practical nurse and a superb cook. She was known throughout the county as a wonderful help in time of sickness, working around the clock during the flu epidemic of World War I. Fred was a good neighbor and a favorite with all who knew him, always ready to help and generous to a fault. During the boom years, he built up three farms and invested in an elevator co-op in Huron, but the Depression wiped him out. He then moved to Huron where he purchased a small house and went to work for the Highway Department. Giving up horses was one of his greatest trials as he really understood and loved horses." (Written by Winona Sparks, 1978)

Fred Sparks died at Huron, South Dakota, in June 1947. Ida died at Spearfish, South Dakota, on 3 November 1970. Children of Fred and Ida (Remus) Sparks: Alma Sparks was born 9 October 1902. She married Francis Perkins and had one son, Douglas Perkins. Marvin Lee Sparks was born 21 October 1908, on the home place in Beadle County, South Dakota. He attended Cain Street School, carried his lunch, rode his pony, and helped his dad with the farm work. He loved machinery, and when his dad bought a tractor, it was Marve who drove it and kept it repaired. When his parents moved to Huron, he attended Huron High School where he was a couple of years younger than his classmates, having skipped the third and fourth grades. However, he was a good student and made the football team.

He married Winona Wheelock on 18 May 1929 in Watertown, South Dakota. She had been born on 21 June 1909, in Northfield, Minnesota, the daughter of Emery and Mertle Hopkins Wheelock. They lived in Onida, Chicago, and New Orleans. They moved to Minnesota where they farmed for ten years. They moved to Spearfish, South Dakota, in 1958. They had three children: David L. Sparks, born 30 June 1931. Dickinson W. Sparks, born 13 August 1933. Shirley J. Sparks, born 19 November 1943.

Marvin Lee Sparks died on 1 November 1989 in Spearfish, South Dakota, and Winona died on 20 February 1989 in Spearfish.

Children of Fred Austin and Martha (Smith) Sparks: Ada ["Addie"] Sparks. She had one daughter. Hazel. Ralph Sparks. One son was living in 1978. Elon Joseph Sparks, son of Austin and Adelaide (Cripps) Sparks, was born on 6 December 1862 in York, Dane County, Wisconsin. He married Margaret Ann Edwards on 7 April 1866 in the Methodist E. Church in York. She was a daughter of Thomas and Margaret (Youde) Edwards. Margaret Ann had been born in Kenerton, Flintshire, England, being of Welsh and English descent. Her family came to the United States when she was two months old. Thomas Edwards was buried in York, York Center Cemetery; he died on March 28, 1888, aged 41 years, 6 months, and 21 days according to the inscription on his gravestone.

Elon lived on the "old farm" of his parents on section 17 in York Township. He was not buried in York. We have no further information about him. The children of Elon and Margaret (Edwards) Sparks numbered three in 1893: Austin Thomas Sparks was born 9 June 1887. Ina May Sparks was born May 14, 1889. Margaret Ruth Sparks was born 14 November 1891. George Sparks was born 7 May 1823. He married Mary Fales who was born in Moriath, New York, on 30 September 1831. He died on 17 February 1890. Mary died on 6 December 1886. They were buried in Leicester, as was their son, Stephen E. Sparks, who was born in 1853 and died in 1935; also his wife, Mary E. Sparks, who was born in 1855 and died in 1943. Also buried there was their son, George W. Sparks, born on 1 June 1882, died on 22 February 1908. Sarah M. Sparks was born 16 November 1826. She married John A. Hitchcock, who was born May 1, 1820 and died on 8 May 1885. Sarah died on 20 December 1899. They were buried at Leicester, as were two daughters,

Lucy E. Hitchcock, born on January 13, 1852, died on March 15, 1854, and
Lucy H. Hitchcock, born on June 29, 1854, died on January 8, 1938. Mary Jane Sparks. Sarah Sparks was born October 14, 1788. No further record. Anna Sparks was born October 21, 1790. She married Alexander Johnson of Platsburg, New York, on 8 November 1814. Nehemiah Sparks was born March 14, 1792. He married Lucy Starkweather on January 1, 1815 in Brandon, Vermont. See the Quarterly of March 1987, Whole No. 137, pp. 3034-3036, for an abstract of a Civil War pension application filed by Nehemiah in 1871. (He is known as Nehemiah in all records other than his birth record.)

Nehemiah Sparks cited six living children in his Civil War pension papers. They were: Beriah Sparks, 56 (so born ca.1815) of Pike, New York; Lorinda Sparks, 54 (so born ca.1817) of Pike, New York; Lucy Sparks, 51 (so born ca.1820) of Wales, New York; Stephen Sparks was born November 5, 1822 in Cattarugus County, New York, and died 22 June 1864 in a Confederate prison camp. John C. Sparks, of Grand Rapids, Wisconsin; Harvy Sparks, 42 (so born ca.1829) of Wales, New York; and Fanny Sparks, 42 (so born ca.1830) of Wales, New York.

Nehemiah was living in Eagle, New York, and owned 25 acres there at the time of his application for a pension.

No probate records have been found for Nehemiah Sparks in Wyoming County, New York, but his gravestone can be seen in Eagle, New York, on Genesee Road. Unfortunately, the stone had been broken and repaired, and the death date is not legible: "Nehemiah Sparks, died --- age --- 6 m. 25 ---" The inscription on the gravestone for Lucy (Startweather) Sparks reads: "Lucy, wife of Nehemiah Sparks, died July 14, 1858, aged 68 years, 10 mo. 3 dy."

Just to the right of these stones is one with the inscription "Lorinda, wife of Timothy Buckland, died (1887 ?)" who was possibly their daughter, Lucinda, of Pike, New York. Land records (Warsaw, Wyoming County, New York) show Stephen Sparks of Grand Rapids, Wood County, Wisconsin, selling 25 acres of land in Eagle, New York, to Nehemiah Sparks, for $500, in September 1862; and Nehemiah Sparks selling to Harvy Sparks of Sheldon, New York, 25 acres of land in Eagle, New York, for $500, in February 1876. Other land records indicate that Harvy's wife's name was Hannah. Harvy Sparks was born 30 November 1794. He married Deborah Robbins on January 25, 1821. They were buried in Leicester; the inscription on their gravestone reads: "Harvy Sparks died January 24, 1828, AE 33 y's and his wife, Deborah Robbins died June 26, 1857, AE 59 Y's." Another inscription reads: "Hiram 0. son of Harvy Sparks died March 11, 1826, ae 3 years."

Gravestone for Harvy & Deborah (Robbins) Sparks
Brookside Cemetery, Leicester, Vermont

Land records for Addison County, Vermont, Book 5, page 429, indicate that Harvy had a farm that was originally part of his father's farm and bordered the "home place." The title to this land passed to his wife, Deborah, on his death. She is seen in the 1840 census in Leicester: one female age 10-15, one female age 40-50, and one female age 50-60. In 1850, she was living alone, age 52; the value of her real estate was $1,000. Patty Sparks was born in 1799; she died at the age of four years. Her grave is next to those of her parents, in the Brookside Cemetery in Leicester.