May 10, 2021
Whole Number 168
UNUSUAL REACTION TO A SPARKS MARRIAGE
In the June 1987 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 138, pp. 3041-3056, there is an article about Thomas and Rutha (White) Sparks of early Walker County, Alabama. They had nine children, the oldest of whom was a son named James Sparks who was born in 1816. James Sparks became a Baptist preacher and served in several churches in northwestern Alabama and northeastern Mississippi. He was married three times; the second and third times were to sisters, a fairly uncommon and sometimes frowned-on union at that time. (He had been married to Rhoda Dulaney on February 17, 1857, in Itawamba County, Mississippi; she died about six months later, whereupon the Rev. James Sparks married her sister, Margaret Dulaney.)
A recently published book gives some insight into the Dulaney family reaction to the third marriage of James Sparks. The book, entitled Elvis and Gladys. a biography of the Rock & Roll star, Elvis Presley, written by Elaine Dundy, was published in 1985 by Macmillan & Company. The "Gladys" in the title was Elvis Presley's mother. Presley was born and reared in Tupelo, Mississippi, in that section of Itawamba County that became a part of Lee County in 1866.
The portion of the book that deals with the third marriage of James Sparks was taken from the diary of Henry J. Lentz (1819-1869), a justice of the peace in Itawamba County. An entry in his diary recorded on January 18, 1858, was quoted as follows:
"Parson Sparks stole John Dulaney's daughter to marry her and Jim Dulaney and Parson Sparks had a fight."
No further details of the incident were given in the diary.