January 15, 2020

Pages 4544-4545
Whole Number 171


We are indebted to a generous member of our Association (who wishes to remain anonymous) for copying the following obituary for us. This appeared in the February 1, 1879, issue of the Arkansas Gazette, taken from another news- paper called the Fort Smith Independent. An article devoted to the branch of the Sparks family to which James Henry Sparks belonged appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, No. 34, pp. 549-55. A portrait of James Henry Sparks appeared on page 554.

DEATH OF MAJOR J. H. SPARKS. Major Sparks departed this life at about 12 o'clock on Monday night. He was the last and youngest of four brothers, Mitchell, George, and Thomas, whom he had survived for a number of years. They were all natives of Ireland. Maj. Sparks had been a newspaper man for several years, succeeding Wheeler and Sparks in the publication of the Ft. Smith Herald, and continuing as its editor until a little over one year ago, when failing health compelled him to relinquish active duty, and the paper was continued by other parties as a daily and weekly journal. Major Sparks had many admirers among newspaper men in this state, by whom he was considered an energetic and outspoken journalist.

A rheumatic affliction in one of his limbs, contracted while in active service at the commencement of the late war, had continued to gradually undermine his health-the last year of his life being marked with a rapid decay of constitutional strength and great wasting of body, all of which he endured with remarkable fortitude and patience, buoyed up with a hope to the last that some favorable change might restore him to health.

He leaves a wife who can ill afford to lose such a husband, and a daughter who will be inconsolable for the loss of an indulgent and loving father. The whole community join in one sigh of sorrow and regret for their great bereavement, and breathe the prayer that "He, who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb" may deal mercifully with the widow and the fatherless.

[Editor's Note: James Henry Sparks's widow was Abbie (Butler) Sparks, daugh- ter of Elizur Butler; they had been married in Van Buren, Arkansas, on Septem- ber 27, 1857. Their only son, Thomas Sparks, was born in 1859 and died in 1866. Their only daughter, Lucy Sparks, born February 13, 1865, married James Aull Yantis on June 23, 1885. A record of her children appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, No. 34, pp. 554-5.]