April 24, 2021
Whole Number 171
18.3.1 JOSHUA LOW SPARKS
Born ca.1796 in Maryland
by Paul E. Sparks
[Editor's Note: Reference was made to Joshua Low Sparks on page 4514 of this issue of the Quarterly because he has sometimes been confused with the Joshua Sparks (born ca.1798) who was the paternal grandfather of Frank Hugh Sparks.]
18.3.1 Joshua Low Sparks was born ca. 1796 in Baltimore County, Maryland, and was a son of 18.3 Elijah and Annie (Anderson) Sparks. His paternal grandparents were 18. Josiah and Penelope (Brown) Sparks who were married in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1749, but who moved to Baltimore County shortly afterwards. There they reared five sons and one daughter. (For further details of the family of Josiah and Penelope Sparks, see pp. 293-307 of the June 1958 issue of the Quarterly, No. 22.)
Joshua Low Sparks probably grew to maturity in Baltimore County, but in 1819, he was in Franklin County, Indiana, where he bought land from the United States government on March 10, 1819. He was living by himself when he was enumerated on the 1820 census of Franklin County. In all likelihood, he had been encouraged to come to the Indiana Territory by his uncle, 18.5 Matthew Sparks, who had settled in Franklin County in 1814. (See page 1705 of the December 1974 issue of the Quarterly, No. 88.)
Members of two branches of the Sparks family had come to Indiana Territory between 1810 and 1820 and had settled in the general area of present-day Franklin and Fayette Counties. Generally speaking, the Sparkses in Franklin County were from Maryland while the Sparkses in Fayette County were from South Carolina; however, records of both branches have been found in both counties. Because of the similarity of their given names, some of these Sparkses have occasionally been confused with each other. Such is the case of Joshua Low Sparks, whose records have sometimes been confused with those of Joshua Sparks from South Carolina.
It appears to be obvious that Joshua Low Sparks was married twice; however, we have been unable to learn the name of his first spouse. He was married ca. 1820-1825. He paid taxes in Highland Township in Franklin County in 1828. When the 1830 census was taken, he was shown as head of a household there that consisted of himself, born 1790-1800; a female, born 1800-1810; a male, born 1820-1825; and two males and one female, all born 1825-1830. He entered 76 acres of land in Franklin County on October 30, 1831.
The first wife of Joshua Low Sparks apparently died ca. 1836, leaving him with six children ranging in age from one to fifteen years. On September 26, 1839, he married Elizabeth Gaines in Franklin County by William McClure, a justice of the peace. It is quite likely that she had been married before and had three children prior to her marriage to Joshua Low Sparks. When the 1840 census was taken of Franklin County, Joshua was shown as head of his household consisting of himself, born 1790-1800; a female, born 1800-1810; a male, born 1820-1825; two males and two females, born 1825-1830; one male and three females, born 1830-1835; and one male and one female, born 1835- 1840. These age groupings indicate that two families had probably been merged.
When the 1850 census was taken of Franklin County, Indiana, Joshua and Elizabeth Sparks were still living in Highland Township. He was shown as 53 years of age and a native of Maryland. The census taker wrote his given name, however, in such a way that it can easily be mistaken for "John." (See this family as reported at the top of page 426 of the September 1959 issue of the Quarterly, No. 27, where Joshua Sparks was listed as "John Sparks" on the 1850 census of Indiana.) Elizabeth Sparks was shown in 1850 as 44 years old and a native of New Jersey. Joshua was shown as owning real estate valued at $3,000. Two children of Joshua, Sarah Sparks, age 17, and James Sparks, age 11, were still living at home. Two other children, Elizabeth Sparks, age 9, and Albert Sparks, age 2, were also living in the household; they were children belonging to Joshua and Elizabeth.
It was probably his declining health that persuaded Joshua Low Sparks to make a will on August 26, 1856. As recorded in Franklin County Will Book 2, he named his heirs as follows:
Wife: Elizabeth Sparks
Daughters: Mary Ann (Sparks) Armstrong, wife of Isaac Armstrong, Sarah Ann Sparks, Jane Clifton Sparks, Amy Sparks, Elizabeth Emily Sparks.
Sons: Elijah Brown Sparks, Daniel Clifton Sparks, Albert LeRoy Sparks, James Thomas Sparks
Following the last-named son, Joshua inserted the following statement in his will:
"The last named child was born out of wedlock but is hereby recognized as my son and lawful heir." Named as executors were:
"my beloved son-in-law, Isaac Armstrong, and my son, Elijah Brown Sparks." Witnesses were Isaac Chapman and Jno. H. Farquhar.
The will of Joshua Low Sparks was probated at the June 1857 term of the Franklin County Court; in all probability, he had died a few days or weeks earlier. Final settlement of his estate was made by Isaac Armstrong at the April 1858 term of court; however, at the July term, the court was asked to distribute an additional $52.49 to the heirs. Receipts for their respective shares of this money were signed by the following: Isaac and Mary Armstrong; Amy Sparks by W. A. Glidewell; Elizabeth Sparks; James Sparks; Emily Sparks by John Harding; Elijah B. Sparks by Isaac Armstrong; Jane C. Sparks by Isaac Armstrong; and Sarah A. Kennedy.
Elizabeth Sparks, widow of Joshua, was living in Jackson Township in Fayette County when the 1860 census was taken. With her were James Sparks, age 21, and Ann Housley, age 27, a school teacher. Undoubtedly, James Sparks was the James Thomas Sparks to whom Joshua referred in his will, which leads us to believe that he was also a son of Elizabeth and had been born before his parents were married. Elizabeth Sparks was probably the Mrs. Elizabeth Sparks who married Elisha Williams on June 16, 1863, in Fayette County.
We have found few records pertaining to the children of Joshua Low Sparks.
Children of Joshua Low Sparks:
220.127.116.11 Elijah Brown Sparks was born ca. 1820-1825 and was probably the oldest child of Joshua Low Sparks and his first wife. He was obviously named for his uncle, Elijah Brown Sparks, who had been born in 1807 in Baltimore County, Maryland. Although he was named as co-executor of his father's will, we have found no other record pertaining to him.
18.104.22.168 Mary Ann Sparks was born ca. 1825-1830. She married George Isaac Armstrong ca. 1845. He was aged 28 and she was aged 25 when the 1850 census was taken of Whitewater Township in Franklin County. Living with them were George Sparks, age 20, and Martha Sparks, age 7, natives of Ohio and Indiana, respectively. We have not been able to identify these last named Sparkses.
22.214.171.124 Amy Sparks was born ca. 1830-1835. She was living in the household of her sister, Sarah Ann (Sparks) Kennedy, when the 1860 census was taken of Whitewater Township in Franklin County; her age was given on that census as 29 years. She married Samuel Hollowell on December 30, 1862, in Franklin County.
126.96.36.199 Daniel Clifton Sparks was born ca. 1820-1825 and may have been the Daniel Sparks, aged 30, who was listed in the household of Henry Rockefeller in Whitewater Township in Franklin County when the 1850 census was taken.
188.8.131.52 Sarah Ann Sparks was born ca. 1830-1835. She married James E. Kennedy on January 21, 1855, in Franklin County, Indiana, shortly before her father had made his will. When the 1860 census was taken of Franklin County, she and her husband were living with their eleven-months-old baby, 184.108.40.206.1 Wilber Kennedy. She was 29 years of age; James was 31. Also living in the household were Sarah Ann's sister, Amy Sparks, age 29, and a twelve- year-old boy, Joseph Whipple.
220.127.116.11 Jane Clifton Sparks was born ca. 1830-1835. The only records we have found of her pertain to her father's will. Isaac Armstrong, a brother-in- law, signed for her share of the last money that was distributed from her father's estate at the July 1858 term of the Franklin County Court.
18.104.22.168 James Thomas Sparks was born ca. 1835-1840. He was 21 years old and living in the household of Elizabeth Sparks, age 54, in Jackson Township in Fayette County, Indiana, when the 1860 census was taken. He signed for his share of his father's estate at the July 1858 term of the Franklin County Court.
22.214.171.124 Elizabeth Emily Sparks was born ca. 1840-1845. She was nine years old and living with her parents when the 1850 census was taken of Franklin County. John Harding signed for her share of the final distribution of her father's estate at the July 1858 term of the Franklin County Court.
126.96.36.199 Albert LeRoy Sparks was born ca. 1845-1850. He was two years old and living in the household of his parents when the 1850 census was taken of Franklin County. He apparently was not included in the final distribution of his father's estate at the July 1858 term of the Franklin County Court. (Albert Sparks should not be confused with the Albert Sparks, age 12, who was living in the household of Hiram Sparks in Connersville Township in Fayette County, Indiana, when the 1860 census was taken.)