March 7, 2021

Pages 4548-4577
Whole Number 172 NATHAN SPARKS (1775-1844)
And Three Generations of His Descendants

by Paul E. Sparks

Son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks

[Editor's Note: We have sometimes called Nathan Sparks's father " Matthew Sparks the Elder" in order to distinguish him from his son of the same name. He was born in Maryland ca. 1730 and died in 1793. An article about Matthew and his wife, Sarah, appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pp. 556-566. At the time that article was published, however, we had not determined Matthew's parentage. In the Quarterly of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp. 3484-3501, we presented evidence that Matthew Sparks was a son of William Sample Sparks, who moved from Frederick County, Maryland, to Rowan County, North Carolina, with other members of the Sparks family in 1754.

[We have learned nothing regarding the parentage of Sarah, wife of Matthew Sparks, but a granddaughter of Nathan Sparks, Elizabeth E. Sparks, whose nickname was "Bettie," stated in a letter dated March 11, 1899, that Sarah's maiden name had been Thompson. Her letter appears on page 4575 of this issue of the Quarterly. Sarah (Thompson) Sparks died on August 23, 1831.

[ William Sample Sparks, father of Matthew, was a son of 1.2.1 William Sparks, Jr. and a grandson of 1.2 William Sparks, Sr. who died in Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709. (See the Quarterly of March 1971, Whole No. 73, and that of the December 1992, Whole No. 160.)

[We have published articles on the lives of six of Nathan Sparks's brothers, as follows: John Sparks, the March 1966, Whole No. 53; Matthew J. Sparks, the September 1984, Whole No. 127; William Sparks, the June 1985, Whole No. 130, the September 1985, Whole No. 131, and the June 1986, Whole No. 134; Absalom Sparks, the September 1982, Whole No. 119; Jesse Sparks, the March 1990, Whole No. 149, and the September 1990, Whole No. 151; and Hardy Sparks, the December 1990, Whole No. 152.

[A significant source for information pertaining to Nathan Sparks, subject of this article, came to our attention for the first time in March 1994 through the kindness of our longtime and supportive member. Dolly Ziegler of Billings, Montana. Mrs. Ziegler is not a descendant of Nathan Sparks, but while assisting a friend, Tammy Bethurem, also of Billings, in the latter's work in aiding Cadette Scouts to earn their "family history badges," Mrs. Ziegler's attention was drawn to some Sparks records in Ms. Bethurem's possession. Obtaining permission to xerox these pages, Mrs. Ziegler generously shared them with us.

[These records had been compiled by Carl Cullen Thompson of Seattle, Washington. He was a great-great-grandson of Nathan Sparks (1775-1844), subject of the following article. (See page 4565.) Unfortunately, Mr. Thompson had died on June 15, 1993.

[From his notes, we know that Mr. Thompson had located a Sparks family Bible, published in 1816, that contains a record of the births of Nathan Sparks and his siblings, all being the children of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. This Bible had apparently been the property of Nathan Sparks, and someone had copied therein these birth records, perhaps from a Bible that had belonged to Matthew and Sarah. One of the entries copied by Mr. Thompson that especially interests us is the date of death of Sarah (Thompson) Sparks-August 23, 1831.

[This 1816 Bible had doubtless become worn and fragile, and Mr. Thompson found it impossible to decipher at least six of the forenames of children born between 1757 and 1768. He was able, however, to copy the birth dates of Nathan (October 23, 1775); James (April 14, 1778); Isaac (July 15, 1780); Hardy (May 23, 1783); and Bailey (May 3, 1788). While we are confident that the dates given for Nathan, Isaac, and Hardy are correct, we are doubtful that those for James and Bailey are entirely accurate. Each time a date is copied, there is opportunity for error, of course, and old handwriting can be difficult to interpret.

[We deeply regret that we did not learn of Mr. Thompson's interest in the Sparks family prior to his death. Thus far, we have not succeeded in locating the Bible. If we eventually succeed in finding it and gaining access to it, we are confident that, with our knowledge of the names and approximate birth dates of the children of Matthew and Sarah Sparks, we will be able to decipher most of the entries.] Nathan Sparks, son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, was born on October 29, 1775, according to the information copied from the family Bible published in 1816 that was discussed on the previous page. Nathan was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, and was probably just an infant when his parents moved to Surry County, North Carolina. There, they settled near the village of Jefferson on New River in present-day Ashe County. He was a young man when he accompanied his parents to Franklin County, Georgia, following the American Revolution, where his father was killed by hostile Indians in the fall of 1793.

The first official record we have found of Nathan Sparks is the license for him to be married to Sarah ["Sally"] Elsberry on March 10, 1800, in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. She had been born ca. 1780 and was a daughter of Benjamin and Francina Elsberry. It was also in Oglethorpe County that Nathan participated in Georgia's "First Land Lottery." Registration for the drawing was made in May 1803, and Nathan was entitled to one draw. The actual drawing did not take place until 1805, however. Nathan was not one of the winners.

Sally (Elsberry) Sparks, wife of Nathan, died, apparently, soon after their marriage. It seems highly probable that she died in Georgia; however, no record has been found indicating the date or the place of her death. Nathan married (second) Nancy Hancock on September 2, 1802, probably in Georgia. She had been born on September 17, 1782, and was a daughter of Martin Hancock. According to a descendant, she was a first cousin of General Winfield Scott Hancock, born on February 14, 1824, in Pennsylvania, who was a Union officer during the Civil War; he was the Democratic candidate for the United States Presidency in 1880.

Nathan Sparks moved his family to Tennessee sometime between 1805 and 1809. (His son Isaac was born in Georgia in 1805; his son Martin was born in Tennessee in 1809.) It is quite likely that Nathan was accompanied to Tennessee by his brothers, Jesse Sparks, Bailey Sparks, Isaac Sparks, and Hardy Sparks, as well as by his mother, Sarah Sparks. Apparently, the five families settled first in Humphreys County.

Nathan Sparks did not stay very long in Humphreys County, and on February 15, 1812, he bought 208 acres of land from Charles Hayes in Wilson County. He paid $500 for the tract that was located on Spring Creek. Martin Hancock and John Doak witnessed the deed. Nathan remained in Wilson County for the rest of his life; he and his household were enumerated there on the 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses.

Nathan Sparks bought 100 acres of land in Carroll County, Tennessee, on April 16, 1827, from William P. Anderson and Edward Gwin for $300. Two years later, on November 5, 1829, Sparks gave 60 acres of the tract to his son, Martin Sparks, and the remaining 40 acres to his son, Isaac Sparks. The consideration was for his "love & affection for his sons." Nathan's brothers. Bailey Sparks and Hardy Sparks, witnessed the transfer of the property.

An account of the efforts of the Sparks brothers to obtain recompense for the property loss suffered by their father, Matthew Sparks, during the Indian raids in Georgia, has been told in an earlier issue of the Quarterly and will not be retold here. Nathan Sparks played a major role in these activities, including a journey back to Baldwin County, Georgia, in 1828. Apparently, the efforts were successful. (See pages 561-565 of the June 1961 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 34, for a detailed and thorough account of this episode.)

In 1832, a new post office was created at Rock Springs in Wilson County, Tennessee, and was named "Sparks" in honor of Nathan Sparks. He was appointed its first postmaster on September 20, 1832. Sparks, Tennessee, was located on a star route running from Lebanon to Columbia, and was about nine miles south of Lebanon. In 1835, Sparks reported that he had collected $15.96 in postal fees. His compensation for the period September 30, 1841, to September 30, 1843, was $24.70. He held the office until his death.

Nathan Sparks was said to have been a "cripple." (Today we would say "physically challenged.") We have learned nothing about the nature of his disability, however. Because of his handicap, he is said to have used a large chair with a special writing desk attached to it. The chair was handed down to a granddaughter who retained it until her death. We have no further information regarding it.

On September 3, 1835, Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, who were among the heirs of Martin Hancock, deceased, gave a deed for their portion of 160 acres of land that had been owned by Hancock, located on Bartons Creek, to Samuel and Hope Hannah.

Nathan Sparks died on September 4, 1844, in Wilson County, and his son, Jesse Hancock Sparks, was appointed as the administrator of his estate. At the November 1844 term of the Wilson County Court, Jesse presented the following inventory of his father's personal estate:

One negro boy, Anthony, aged about 18 years;
6 head of horses one yoke of oxen 7 head of cattle
16 head of sheep 23 head of hogs 60 geese
One wheat fan one cutting knife 4 ploughs & one plough hoe
7 sets of gear one scythe 7 old blades
3 pole axes one frow one drawing knife
one croze & pointer one handsaw one hammer
one augur one log chain one cotton needle
2 smoothing irons one flax hackle one grubbing hoe
two weeding hoes one gun & stone one pair steelyards
one ox cart 7 single trees clevis & pins
one pr. stretchers.
5 feather beds & furniture one china press
one clock 12 chairs one chest
one slate one Bible one dining table & table furniture
one dressing table one lot castings one loom
one lot pails and churns 2 spinning wheels one saddle
one pr. saddle bags.    
One note for $2.00 on George W. Carrell given December 6, 1843, and due December 8, 1843; a credit of 25 if insolvent
A claim on Wm. S. New, amount not certain & uncertain whether it can be collected.

At the same term of the Wilson County Court, November 1844, Special Commissioners Thomas E. Spain, E. M. Booker, and Stephen H. Hearn reported that one year's provisions had been allotted to the widow and family of Nathan Sparks. Included in the provisions were the following items:

60 barrels of corn
2,000 bundles of oats, fodder, and hay
twelve head of hogs
20 bushels of wheat
one small beef
5 pigs
10 pounds of wool
50 pounds of seed cotton

The widow would have to furnish her own sugar, coffee, salt, etc.

At the October 1845 term of court, Jesse H. Sparks was permitted to resign his administration of his father's estate, and Henry Edwards was "approved to close the business." Henry Edwards was married to Mildred Sparks and was a son-in- law of Nathan Sparks.

Nancy (Hancock) Sparks survived her husband by a dozen years, dying on April 15, 1856. James R. Green was appointed to administer her estate. He had been married to Priscilla Sparks in 1845 and was a son-in-law of Nancy Sparks. He made an inventory return at the September 1856 term of the Wilson County Court and a final settlement of her estate at the March 1857 term. Each of her eight heirs received a share of her estate, in the amount of $41.37.

According to records sent to us by a descendant, Nathan Sparks had nine children: Elizabeth Sparks was born June 22, 1803. Isaac Sparks was born June 25, 1805. Eady Sparks was born February 9, 1807. Martin Sparks was born January 25, 1809. Jesse Hancock Sparks was born March 24, 1811. Nathan Matthew Sparks was born September 8, 1813. William C. Sparks was born October 6, 1815. Mildred ["Milly"] Sparks was born May 10, 1817/1818. Priscilla Sparks was born September 30, 1820. Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born June 22, 1803, in Georgia, according to a family Bible. No further record has been found of her, and it is believed that she died when she was quite young. Isaac Sparks was born on June 25, 1805, in Georgia. He was probably named for his uncle Isaac Sparks, and he has been identified incorrectly several times as his uncle's son because he was designated as Isaac Sparks, Junior on many records. (While "junior" was/is often added to the name of a son having the same name as his father, it was used frequently in the past simply to designate a younger person, perhaps a nephew or cousin, bearing the same name as an older person in the community. )

Isaac was a small boy when he accompanied his parents to Tennessee ca. 1807. It was there that he grew to maturity.

On September 30, 1824, Isaac Sparks married Orpha (or Orphah) Thompson in Wilson County, Tennessee, by James Lester, a justice of the peace. The license had been issued on September 27, 1824, and Isaac's bondsman was John Major. Orpha had been born June 17, 1806, and she was a daughter of Moses and Elizabeth (Suddeth) Thompson. Shortly after their marriage, Isaac and Orpha moved westward about one hundred miles where they settled in Carroll County, probably near Isaac's uncle, Isaac Sparks, Senior. They may have settled on the 40-acre tract of land that Isaac had received as a gift from his father on November 5, 1829. When the 1830 census was taken, Isaac and Orpha were shown with two children, a boy and a girl, born between 1825 and 1830.

Although Isaac's father, Nathan Sparks, lived most of his life in Wilson County, Isaac spent his life in Carroll County. He was quite active in the affairs of the county. He was appointed road overseer by the Carroll County Court on March 15, 1831; on March 10, 1834; and in November 1837. He was also a well-to-do farmer and was involved in the buying and selling of land for nearly three decades. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and of the Presbyterian Church.

(The Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located on Clear Creek in Carroll County, Tennessee, and, as far as can be learned, was established ca. 1825. It was a part of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that came into existence ca. 1800-1825 when its members disagreed on the method of ordaining its ministers. A cemetery is a part of the church grounds, and a rather large number of Sparkses and their descendants are buried there. Several of the descendants of Nathan Sparks became Presbyterian ministers.)

Orpha (Thompson) Sparks, wife of Isaac Sparks, died on February 6, 1842, in Carroll County and was buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. She left Isaac with five small children. About 1843, he married (second) Jane L. Donnell. She had been born on August 25, 1817, in Tennessee, and was a daughter of Adreck (?) Donnell. She and Isaac had one child, James Nathan Sparks, born ca. 1844. She had inherited a one-sixth share of her father's estate, and on October 16, 1848, she and Isaac sold her share of a 245-acre tract of land, formerly belonging to her father, to John W. Winn for $300.

When the 1850 census was taken of Carroll County, the census taker visited the household of Isaac Sparks on November 5, 1850. He recorded Isaac's age as 45; his occupation as that of a farmer, and he owned real estate valued at $4,500. Jane's age was recorded as 33. With them were

Elizabeth E. Sparks, 22;
Rachel E. Sparks, 19;
William M. Sparks, 16;
Moses T. Sparks, 14; and
James N. Sparks, 6.

Also living in the household were Isaac's nephews, Nathan L. New, age 18, and Pleasant S. New, age 16, sons of Isaac's sister, Eady (Sparks) New, who had died in 1836. Isaac Sparks had been appointed as guardian of the two boys.

As mentioned above, throughout his life, Isaac appears to have been in- volved in the buying and selling of land. It is estimated that he was a party to a dozen or more transactions; however, the record is not clear, be- cause of the difficulty of distinguishing him from his uncle, Isaac Sparks, Senior. The last transactions that he made were probably the disposals of 388 acres of land to his children. To son, William M. Sparks, he sold 120 acres; to son, Matthew T. Sparks, he sold 100 acres; and to his daughter, Nancy (Sparks) Melear, he sold 168 acres. Each child paid Isaac $1,500.

All of Isaac's children had left home when the 1870 census was taken in Carroll County. He and Jane lived near the village of Huntingdon. He was then described as a farmer with real estate valued at $10,000. He died on February 27, 1878, and was buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. His tombstone was inscribed with a Masonic emblem and the following words:

Sleep, father, dear and take thy rest, God called thee home. He thought it best. It was hard indeed to part with thee, But Christ's strong arm supported me.

Jane (Donnell) Sparks survived her husband for twenty years, dying on January 16, 1898. She had made a will on July 3, 1893, in which she named the following:

Her son: James N. Sparks.
Her sister: Bettie A. New.
Her nieces: Helen L. Gordon and Mary Jane Blaylock.
Heirs of Isaac Sparks, deceased:

W. M. Sparks,
M. T. Sparks,
Nancy Sparks Melear,
Bettie Sparks Smith,
Elvitta Sparks Thomas, and
James N. Sparks.

Executor: A. C. Gordon, nephew by marriage. Witnesses: H. L. Kemp and J. W. Hamlin. This will was probated on February 7, 1898, at the Carroll County Court.

Jane (Donnell) Sparks was buried beside her husband in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

ISAAC SPARKS. JR. (1805-1878) and his second wife JANE (DONNELL) SPARKS (1817-1898) Nancy L. Sparks, daughter of Isaac and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks, was born June 11, 1826, and was probably named for her paternal grandmother, Nancy (Hancock) Sparks. Nancy married William Titus Melear on November 10, 1846, in Carroll County, Tennessee. (The license had been issued on November 2, 1846.) William had been born on May 2, 1824, and was a son of Robert Thompson and Rachel (Crawford) Melear. He disappeared in 1865; he may have been a casualty of the aftermath of the Civil War. Nancy died on March 26, 1886, and was buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. She and William had eight children. Orpha Jane Melear was born August 8, 1847. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to Davis K. Owenby by whom she had two children, Luna Owenby and John W. Owenby.

Her second marriage was to J. M. ["Tobie"] Williams by whom she had a son, Ezekiel Thomas Williams.

She died on August 6, 1926. Mary Elvitta Melear was born February 13, 1850. She died on September 3, 1874. Robert Thompson Melear was born November 18, 1852. He married Laura Paralee Matheny, a daughter of Isaac Benjamin and Margaret Jane (Hancock) Matheny. Robert and Laura had ten children; they were: Merry E. Melear; Marrell T. Melear; Luther C. Melear; Veda May Melear; Bera ["Bee"] Melear; Kemma Ann Melear; Burrow Isaac Melear; Laurence L. Melear; Florence D. Melear; and Nola M. Melear. Titus Crawford Melear was born September 3, 1854. He died on June 7, 1857. Burrow Isaac Melear was born December 19, 1856. He married Victoria Tidwell. He died on August 3, 1907. Cordelia Ann Melear was born January 31, 1859. She married William ["Bud"] Berry, and they had four children: Verdie J. Berry; Richard E. Berry; Lena N. Berry; and Benjamin I. Berry

Cordelia died on June 3, 1887. Nathan M. Melear was born March 24, 1861. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Samantha L. Matheny by whom he had a daughter, Leta L. Melear.

His second marriage was to Phronie Palmer by whom he had three children: Mattie Melear; Orpie Melear; and Nannie Melear. Mary Elizabeth Melear was born November 25, 1865. She married Joe B. Hegler. She died in 1937. Son Sparks was born to Isaac and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks between 1825 and 1830. He died, we believe, between 1840 and 1850. Elizabeth E. ["Bettie"] Sparks was born ca. 1828. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to Will Carson ca. 1851, and they had two children. Her second marriage was to FNU Smith. They apparently had no children. Bettie died sometime after 1899. Her two children by her first husband were: Will Carson, Jr. Jennie Carson
. She married FNU Roach, and they had three children: Eva Roach; Ruth Roach; and Willie Roach.

(Elizabeth E. ["Bettie"] Sparks was the Bettie C. Smith who wrote the letter to her nephew, Samuel ["Sammie"] T. Sparks, on March 11, 1899, to which we have referred earlier. Although it appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pages 556-57, we have reproduced it in the present issue, with explanatory notes, on page 4575. Rachel Elvitta Sparks was born August 26, 1831. She married Ezekiel Thomas on January 19, 1853, in Carroll County. He had been born on August 23, 1822, and was a son of Luke and Elizabeth (Burradell) Thomas. He died on March 18, 1873, and Rachel died on February 7, 1900. They were buried in the Shiloh Presbyterian Church Cemetery. They had three children: Baker S. Thomas was born October 30, 1853. He married Mollie S. Hamilton. She had been born on December 22, 1856. Baker died on February 28, 1930, and Mollie died on January 9, 1946. They had three children: Elizabeth ["Lizzie"] Thomas; Hulon Thomas; and Clarence Thomas. Eizzie E. Thomas (son) was married and had at least two children. We have not learned the name of Eizzie's wife. Ruby Thomas and Robert Thomas. J. Matthew ["Matt"] Thomas was born ca. 1857. He was married, but we have not learned the name of his wife. He had at least two children, Kate Thomas and Lockie Thomas. William Matthew Sparks was born April 1, 1833. He owned and operated a cotton-baler. He married Sarah A. ["Sallie"] Swearingen in October 1859 in Carroll County, Tennessee. She had been born July 27, 1838. William died on December 29, 1889, and Sallie died on February 11, 1910. They were buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. They had five children. Lucile A. Sparks was born October 7, 1860. She died on September 30, 1863. Ella Ethel Sparks was born October 10, 1864. She married James William ["Aump"] Gordon. She died on November 9, 1945. Samuel T. ["Sammie"] Sparks was born in September 1866. He married Mary Ida Sparks ca. 1887. She had been born in September 1868 and was a daughter of Moses Thompson and Caroline P. (Norvell) Sparks; thus, she and Sammie were first cousins. (See below.

A few years after their marriage, they bought the "Jarne Sparks homestead," and Sammie began his highly successful career as a farmer and businessman. The story of his life's work was told in an article published in the McKenzie [Tennessee] Banner on August 21, 1969. It reads as follows:

Seventy five years ago in 1894, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Sparks moved to their beautiful new home in the Macedonia community. Their farm consisted of 1400 acres, several tenant houses and a house for the men who worked on the farm. Timber was abundant so Mr. Sparks had his own sawmill and cut the logs into lumber and hauled it to lumber companies in McKenzie and Henry, Tennessee. Because of the bad roads, oxen were used to pull the loads and at one time, Mr. Sparks had as many as sixteen oxen.

Farming, however, was his chief business and he raised cotton, corn, wheat, hay and all of the vegetables and fruit needed to feed the workers and their families. Prize Jersey cows were Mr. Sparks's pride and joy and he raised some of the finest cattle in the South. He carried these cattle to show in fairs and cattle shows in McKenzie, Huntingdon, Jackson, Memphis and as far away as Corinth and Jackson in Mississippi.

This beautiful land is still one of the show places in this part of the county and much of the original farm is still owned by the Sparks family. The family is also mentioned in the earliest history of the Shiloh Church and many of them are still members of this church.

Sammie Sparks was also quite active in the civic and religious affairs of the community. He is the "Sammie Sparks" to whom his aunt, Bettie E. ["C."] Smith, wrote the genealogical letter about their branch of the family (see pages 4575-4577 of this issue of the Quarterly). Sammie Sparks died on January 1, 1947, and Mary Ida died in 1958. They were buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. They had three children: / Lorene Sparks; / Leia Sparks; and / Norvell Sparks. W. C. Curtis Sparks was born in January 1872. He married Kizzie Enoch. She had been born ca. 1874. Curtis died in 1948, and Kizzie died in 1959. They had one child, Hollie Sparks. Lonnie T. Sparks was born in May 1879. He married Ethel Cody. She had been born ca. 1874. She and Lonnie died in 1944. They had three children: George Sparks: Margaret Sparks; and Arthur L. Sparks. Arthur Sparks lives in Martin, Tennessee, and he has been most helpful in the preparation of this article. Moses Thompson Sparks was born ca. 1836 and was probably named for his maternal grandfather, Moses Thompson. He married Caroline P. ["Callie"] Norvell ca. 1862. She had been born in October 1843. Moses died in 1897 and Callie died in 1918. They were buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Carroll County, Tennessee. They had four children. Lila Ada Sparks was born February 15, 1864. She married James A. Carroll. She died on April 18, 1939. William Thomas ["Will"] Sparks was born February 1, 1866. He married Josephine ["Josie"] Haynes. He died on November 4, 1932. He and Josie had two children. Patsy Sparks and Elizabeth Sparks. Mary Ida Sparks was born in September 1868. She married Sammie Sparks, her first cousin. (See above.) Elmer T. Sparks was born ca. 1877. He married Pearl C. MNU. He died in 1939. James Nathan Sparks, son of Isaac and Jane (Donnell) Sparks, was born ca. 1844. He married Fannie P. MNU ca. 1875. She had been born ca. 1852 in New York. James Sparks had a civil service job in Washington, D.C. and died there. He and Fannie had two children when the 1880 census was taken of Carroll County, and there may have been other children born to them later. Laura Sparks was born ca. 1876 in Mississippi. Ula Sparks was born ca. 1878 in Tennessee. Eady Sparks, daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on February 9, 1807, probably in Georgia; she may have been carried as a baby to Tennessee by her parents. She was obviously named for her father's sister, Eady Sparks. She married William S. New on July 21, 1831, in Wilson County by Wilson Hearn. Hope Hancock was the bondsman. William New had been born on October 27, 1794, and was very likely a widower with four children when they were married.

Eady and William New had two children before her death, which occurred on June 12, 1836. After her death, William New apparently was married again and had two more children before his death on August 11, 1846. He and Eady were buried in the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Children of William S. and Eady (Sparks) New: Nathan S. New was born ca. 1832 and was named for his grandfather, Nathan Sparks. After the death of his father, he became a ward of his Uncle Isaac Sparks. When the 1850 census was taken of Carroll County, he was shown as eighteen years old and was living in the household of his uncle, Isaac Sparks. On October 8, 1853, he sold to his Uncle Isaac his share of his deceased mother's part of the estate of his grandfather, Nathan Sparks (actually one-half of an eighth share). The estate consisted of land and a Negro boy, Anthony. We have no further information about Nathan S. New. Pleasant S. New was born ca. 1834. After the death of his father, he, like his brother, Nathan, became a ward of his Uncle Isaac Sparks. We have found no further information about him. Martin Sparks was born on January 25, 1809, in Tennessee. He was obviously named for his maternal grandfather, Martin Hancock. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Rachel Marrs on December 3, 1828, in Wilson County, Tennessee. They were married by James Lester, a justice of the peace; Samuel R. Comer was the bondsman. A few months later, on November 5, 1829, Martin's father gave him sixty acres of land in Carroll County for his "love and affection" for his son. Perhaps the gift was intended as a wedding present.

Although Martin Sparks was married in Wilson County, he and Rachel apparently went to housekeeping on the land that his father had given to him in Carroll County. He was appointed as a road overseer by the Carroll County Court in September 1834. He did not stay in Carroll County very long, however. On June 21, 1836, he sold the land that he had been given by his father to his cousin. Bailey N. Sparks, a son of Isaac Sparks, Sr. The consideration was $435.

Apparently, Martin and Rachel Sparks went to Illinois where a son, Benjamin W. Sparks, was born to them in 1837. They returned to Tennessee shortly thereafter, and a daughter, Eliza Sparks, was born to them there in 1839. It may have been there that Rachel died, perhaps when Eliza was born.

Around 1840, Martin Sparks moved his family to Arkansas, but his household apparently was missed by the census taker of the 1840 census. It may have been in Arkansas that he married (second) Martha --- ca. 1842. She had been born ca. 1815 in Alabama. When the 1850 census was taken of Ouachita County, Arkansas, Martin and Martha were living near the village of Locust Bayou with eight children. Also living in their household was Lafayette Brigance who was shown as twenty years old. He was a cousin of Martin.

[Lafayette Brigance was born ca. 1830 in Carroll County Tennessee, and was a son of William C. and Sarah A. (Sparks) Brigance. His full name was Melvin Lafayette Brigance. His mother, Sarah A. (Sparks) Brigance, was a daughter of Matthew and Margaret Sparks and was born ca. 1792, probably in North Carolina. She had been married to William C. Brigance on March 18, 1813, in St. Clair County, Illinois. Matthew Sparks, father of Sarah, was a son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. See page 2644 of the September 1984 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 127, for information about the family of Matthew and Margaret Sparks. When the account of that family was published, we had not learned that Matthew and Margaret Sparks had a daughter named Sarah A. Sparks. See, also, page 3719 of the March 1991 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 153, for a query about the Sparks-Brigance relationship.]

Martin Sparks had moved his family a few miles further west to Hempstead County before the 1860 census was taken. His wife, Martha Sparks, was not listed as a member of the household; she had probably died. We have found no further record of Martin. A descendant states that he was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. He was the father of ten children. Nathan Sparks, son of Martin and Rachel (Marrs) Sparks, was born ca. 1832 in Tennessee. He served in Company C, 24th Regiment Arkansas Infantry of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War. We have no further information about him. Nancy Sparks was born ca. 1834 in Tennessee. Benjamin W. ["Benny"] Sparks was born ca. 1837 in Illinois. He married Sophronia Smith on February 13, 1862, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Two weeks later, on February 26, 1862, he was enrolled at Centerville, Arkansas, by Thomas Rector to serve in Company G, King's Regiment Arkansas Infantry, Confederate States Army, for twelve months. In May 1862, King's Regiment was reorganized into the 20th Regiment Arkansas Infantry. Benny Sparks was promoted to the rank of corporal on June 20, 1862. He was present for duty on the muster roll and was listed as a teamster. On the muster roll for Jan-February 1863, he was reported as "absent - sick" at Carrollton, Mississippi. He apparently died shortly thereafter. His widow, Sophronia (Smith) Sparks, married (second) Francis M. Wallace on September 20, 1865, in Hempstead County, Arkansas. Eliza Sparks was born ca. 1839 in Tennessee. Electra (or Eletta) Sparks was born ca. 1843 in Tennessee. Almedia C. Sparks, daughter of Martin and Martha (---) Sparks, was born ca. 1845 in Arkansas. Haywood B. Sparks was born ca. 1847 in Arkansas. He married Mary Ann --- ca. 1873, probably in Texas. She had been born in Texas ca. 1854. When the 1880 census was taken of Callahan County, Texas, Haywood and Mary Ann were shown with three children. We have no further information about this branch of the family. Nettie L. Sparks was born ca. 1874 in Texas. Dora M. Sparks was born ca. 1877 in Texas. Stella A. Sparks was born ca. 1879 in Texas. John M. Sparks was born ca. 1849 in Arkansas. Alfred P. Sparks was born ca. 1851 in Arkansas. James M. Sparks was born ca. 1853 in Arkansas. Jesse Hancock Sparks was born on March 24, 1811, in Tennessee and was probably named for his uncle, Jesse Sparks and for his mother's family. He was married three times. We have not learned the name of his first wife. Apparently they were married ca. 1831, and their only child, Isabella Sparks, was born May 19, 1832. Jesse's first wife apparently died shortly thereafter.

Jesse Sparks's second marriage was to Julia Marrs on October 28, 1833, in Wilson County, Tennessee. They were married by John F. Doak, a justice of the peace. Julia may have been related to (perhaps a sister of) Rachel Marrs, wife of Jesse's brother, Martin Sparks. (See above.) A daughter, Sophronia Sparks, was born to Jesse and Julia on July 30, 1834. Julia apparently died sometime between 1834 and 1839.

The third marriage of Jesse Hancock Sparks was to Susan Cornell, probably in 1839. She had been born January 27, 1812, in North Carolina. The first child of Jesse and Susan was a daughter and was born March 25, 1840, just in time to be enumerated on the 1840 census of Wilson County.

Jesse Sparks followed his brother, Martin Sparks, to Arkansas, settling in Ouachita County ca. 1849. The family was enumerated there on the 1850 census, but shortly thereafter they moved to Cooke County, Texas. Jesse was a member of a grand jury there in January 1858. He was instrumental in organizing a Cumberland Presbyterian Church there in 1862. He continued to live in Cooke County until his death on March 10, 1892. Susan (Cornell) Sparks had preceded him in death, dying on February 27, 1884. She and Jesse had five children. With his three wives, Jesse was the father of seven children.

A photograph of Jesse Hancock Sparks appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly. The original was loaned to us by Angle May Sparks (Mrs. Thomas Charles) a number of years ago (see item E, 5, d), below. Angle Sparks died in 1975. Isabella Sparks, daughter of Jesse Sparks and his first wife, was born on May 19, 1832. She is said to have been married twice. Her first marriage was to FNU Chrisman; her second marriage was to FNU Weimer. She died on February 9, 1907, in Los Angeles, California. Sophronia Sparks, daughter of Jesse and Julia (Marrs) Sparks, was born July 30, 1834. She married Jeremiah Eldredge Hughes on March 29, 1857, in Cooke County, Texas. He had been born on December 10, 1815, at Cape May, New Jersey. Sophronia died on April 25, 1880, and Jeremiah died on June 23, 1884. They had four children. George Eldredge Hughes was born ca. 1860 and died while still an infant. Adelaide Hughes was born November 15, 1864. She married Cyrus Ritchie on September 15, 1887, in Cooke County, Texas. He had been born on November 7, 1862, in Cooke County. Adelaide died on December 9, 1935, in Los Angeles, California. Cyrus died on May 11, 1936. They had three children: Annie H. Ritchie; Clareta Richie; and Dixie Ritchie. James R. Hughes was born January 29, 1867. Clara Hughes was born November 9, 1869. She married Horace C. Sharp. Almedia B. Sparks was born March 25, 1840, in Tennessee. She married Josiah A. Thompson on February 4, 1867, in Cooke County. She died at Chickasha, Oklahoma. Thomas Sparks was born on May 26, 1842, in Tennessee. He served in Company A, 16th Regiment Texas Cavalry, C.S.A., during the Civil War. (See the page from his diary below.

A page from the Civil War diary of Thomas Sparks (1842-1924)

After he returned from military service, Thomas Sparks married Mrs. Hannah (Weeks) Sparks on December 25, 1867, in Cooke County, Texas. She had been born on November 16, 1830, in Illinois and was the widow of William J. Sparks who had died in 1865. (See page 2649 of the September 1984 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 127, for information about her earlier marriage.) She and Thomas Sparks had one child before her death, which occurred on March 6, 1875.

After the death of Hannah (Weeks) Sparks, Thomas married Jenny Rothrock in 1884. They apparently had no children. Thomas died in 1924 at Weatherford, Oklahoma. Jenny died there in 1927. George W. Sparks was born on November 26, 1868, in Cooke County, Texas. He married Dollie MNU ca. 1892. She had been born in April 1875 in Indian Territory. When the 1900 census was taken of the Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory, she and George were living near the town of Chickasha with two children, Richard Sparks, age 6, and Ethel Sparks, age 4. We have no further information about this family. Nathan Robert ["Bob"] Sparks, son of Jesse and Susan (Cornell) Sparks, was born March 15, 1845/46 in Wilson County, Tennessee. He accompanied his parents to Texas where he married Margery Ellen Maxwell on December 9, 1873. She had been born on October 2, 1856, at Beechgrove, Tennessee, and was a daughter of Andrew and Louisa D. (Watterson) Maxwell.

Bob Sparks, as he was called, was a cattleman and took part in some of the early cattle drives over the old Chisholm Trail. Later on, he owned his own ranch where he branded his cattle with the letter "p" superimposed on the letter "S." He and Margery lived near Gainesville, Texas, until ca. 1890 when they moved to Oklahoma Territory where they settled near the town of Purcell. Bob participated in the Oklahoma "Run of 1892," but he failed to stake a claim because he stopped to help rescue a family caught in quicksand in the South Canadian River.

Bob died on June 26, 1906, in Beckham County, Oklahoma. Margery survived him nearly thirty years, dying on April 5, 1934, at Amarillo, Texas. She and Bob had nine children, the first six of whom were born near Gainesville, Texas, and the last three were born near Purcell, Oklahoma Territory. Jesse Elwood Sparks was born May 18, 1875. He married Lulu S. Stratton in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma Territory, on May 18, 1905. She had been born on August 24, 1878, in Parker County, Texas, and was a daughter of John Milton and Martha A. (Hellmus) Stratton. Jesse Sparks died on September 15, 1917, in Potter County, Texas. Lulu survived him some fifty years, dying on June 21, 1968. They had five children: James C. Sparks; Verna Sparks; Velma Sparks; Loraine Sparks; and Larry E. Sparks. Harvey Watterson Sparks was born February 1, 1878. He died on January 16, 1881. Walter Parvin Sparks was born May 23, 1880. He died on December 14, 1965. He was never married. Thomas Charles Sparks was born January 29, 1883. He married Angeline ["Angle"] May Wilson on August 2, 1917, in Woodward, Oklahoma. She had been born on March 12, 1889, in Barber County, Kansas. Thomas died on October 12, 1962, at Ada, Oklahoma, and Angle died on July 15, 1975, at Ardmore, Oklahoma. (It was Angle Sparks who provided the photograph of Jesse Hancock Sparks used on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly.) Thomas and Angle had two children, Robert W. Sparks and Thomas C. Sparks, Jr. Andrew Maxwell Sparks was born August 26, 1885. He died on April 16, 1887. Nathan Roy Sparks was born November 9, 1888. He married Mayme Lou Hatley on September 23, 1908, in Beckham County, Oklahoma. A descendant says that they drove to the county fair in their buggy and stood beside it for the wedding ceremony. In return, they received household furnishings for drawing a crowd to the fair that day. Mayme had been born on September 29, 1886, and was a daughter of L. L. and Frances J. (Casper) Hatley. Mayme and Nathan had one child, Herman Paul Sparks. Nannie Ina Sparks was born on April 16, 1891. She married Isom Edrew Madden on December 15, 1912, at Amarillo, Texas. He had been born January 25, 1883, at Hartwell, Georgia. He died on November 18, 1957, at Ft. Worth, Texas. He and Nannie had three children: Paul J. Madden; Thomas C. Madden; and Mary Ellen Madden. Sarah ["Sallie"] Belle Sparks was born July 24, 1893. She married Buell G. Maberry on July 16, 1921, in Potter County, Texas. He had been born on March 17, 1885, and was a son of James W. and Charlotte (Rambo) Maberry. He died on May 24, 1944. Sallie survived him for over forty years, dying on February 13, 1985. (Her death was recorded on page 2765 of the June 1985 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 130.) Sallie and Buell Maberry had four children: Margery Ann Maberry; Martha Jane Maberry; Buell G. Maberry; and James W. Maberry. Robert Donald Sparks was born on January 13, 1897. He married Maryon Alma Hackney on August 14, 1923, at Wichita Falls, Texas. She had been born on April 9, 1906, in Knox County, Texas, and was a daughter of William M. and Annie Valera (Bennett) Hackney. Maryon and Robert had two children, Barbara Jean Sparks and Nathan Robert Sparks. Emily Elmina Sparks was born May 1, 1848, in Tennessee. James L. H. Sparks, son of Jesse and Susan (Cornell) Sparks, was born on October 16, 1849, in Arkansas. He was enumerated in the household of his parents when the 1880 census was taken of Cooke County, Texas. His age was recorded then as twenty-eight years. Nathan Matthew Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born September 8, 1813, in Tennessee and grew to manhood in Wilson County. The first official record we have found of him is his appointment on August 11, 1841, by the Wilson County Court, to build a bridge. According to a Bible record, he married Eliza C. Thomasson on December 1, 1844, probably in Wilson County. She had been born on May 10, 1825, in Alabama.

Shortly after their marriage, Nathan and Eliza moved to Arkansas where they settled near the boundary between Ouachita and Hempstead Counties. Nathan paid a poll tax in Ouachita County until 1853, but after he bought a 200-acre tract of land in Hempstead County that year, he paid taxes in Hempstead County.

Nathan Sparks became a Cumberland Presbyterian minister and, according to a history of Nevada County, in 1857 he led the community in building the Mount Moriah Church about ten miles south of the town of Prescott. He was also called to be its first minister and assumed that position on March 22, 1857. He died in the fall of 1858, perhaps a short time after reaching his forty-fifth birthday. The cause of his death may never be known.

The Hempstead County Court appointed John Thadeus W. Gill as the administrator of the estate of Nathan Matthew Sparks. Gill gave an accounting of an inventory to the court at its February 1859 term. Among the several dozen items listed on the inventory were: stock, consisting of five horses, seven cows, fifteen hogs, and eight sheep; 250 bushels of corn and 500 shocks of fodder; books, including an encyclopedia and four histories of religion. Gill assured the court that the inventory consisted of Nathan Sparks's property, except for property reserved to Eliza A. Sparks, his widow.

(Why was John Thadeus W. Gill appointed as the administrator of the estate of Nathan Sparks? Gill had been born in 1831 in South Carolina and had come to Arkansas in 1851 where he finally settled in Hempstead County in 1856. He was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and a highly successful farmer. We have found no clues to any relationship between him and Nathan, although Nathan did name his youngest child Jane Gill Sparks. Perhaps one of our readers may be able to tell us about a relationship.)

Few other records of the family of Nathan and Eliza (Thomasson) Sparks have been found. The 1860 census of Hempstead County indicates that the family broke up after Nathan's death, and only three of his children appeared on that census. They were: Nancy T. Sparks, 14; Mary A. Sparks, 12; and Eliza T. Sparks, 10. They were living in the household of Charles Reynolds, age 33, who had been born in Connecticut. Nathan's widow, Eliza C. (Thomasson) Sparks may have been the Mrs. Elizabeth Sparks who married Thomas M. Wilson on June 6, 1875, in Hempstead County.

Nathan M. and Eliza C. (Thomasson) Sparks had six children, according to the records in the Bible belonging to Nathan Sparks, Sr. Nathan Haywood Sparks was born September 19, 1845, in Tennessee. He died on October 1, 1845. Nancy Trimble Sparks was born October 1, 1846, in Alabama. She married Joseph C. Nance on July 12, 1861. Mary Ann Sparks was born February 26, 1848, in Arkansas. She married William Ervin ["Buck"] Norman on February 7, 1869. He had been born on October 5, 1847. He died on April 22, 1922, at Austin, Texas. Mary Ann died at Walnut Springs, Texas, on August 31, 1941. They had six children. Ann Eliza Norman was born November 29, 1874, at Prescott, Arkansas. She married Thomas Johnson Hall on December 23, 1890, at Womack, Texas. He died on January 15, 1949, at Dallas, Texas; she died there in 1950. They had three children: William Hall; Callie Hall; and Addie Hall. William Nathan Norman was born February 26, 1876. He married Lucy Crousin, and they had six children: Jerre Norman; Amy Norman; Cecil Norman; Wendel Norman; Billy Norman, and Daughter Norman. Calvin Whitfield Norman was born March 23, 1879, at Lorena, Texas. He died on March 6, 1956, at Ranklin, California. Eva Pairlee Norman was born August 6, 1881, at Lorena, Texas. She married Samuel Walters on January 11, 1911, and they had one child, Carroll Walters.

Eva died on July 12, 1953, at Granbury, Texas. Mary Lou ["Mollie"] Norman was born at Lorena, Texas, on April 2, 1883. She married Squire Frazier, and they had three children: Hazel Frazier, William Frazier, and George Edgar Frazier. Viola Norman was born October 6, 1896. She married John Dickerson, and they had two children, Linnie Dickerson and Hallie Dickerson. Eliza Thomasson Sparks was born April 9, 1850, in Prescott, Arkansas. She died on June 24, 1927, in Red River County, Texas. Martha Ann Sparks was born July 26, 1854, in Arkansas. She married Charles Henry Barham and they had six children. She died on September 19, 1920, in Bosque County, Texas. Jane Gill Sparks was born June 15, 1856, in Arkansas. She was married twice. Her first marriage was to Thomas Jefferson Thompson on October 2, 1872, in Nevada County, Arkansas. He had been born January 11, 1850, in Tennessee and was a son of John S. Thompson. He and Jane had seven children before his death on October 22, 1887, in Fannin County, Texas.

Jane Gill (Sparks) Thompson married (second) John Norman McDonald on December 2, 1890. He was a widower with four children by two previous marriages. He and Jane had four children. Jane died on October 10, 1926, in Custer County, Oklahoma. She was the mother of eleven children. John Nathan Thompson was born December 23, 1873, at Hope, Arkansas. It was there that he married Mary Alice Lowry on February 14, 1900. She had been born at Hope on December 26, 1876. She died on February 11, 1939, at Oklahoma City. John died there on April 29, 1960. They had seven children: Thomas T. Thompson; Henry Ellis Thompson; John Barton Thompson; Mary Odessa Thompson; Maurice M. Thompson; Carl Cullen Thompson; and Edward V. Thompson.

Carl Cullen Thompson copied the records from the Bible that belonged to Nathan Sparks, Sr. Thomas T. Thompson married Christine Idella Morgan, and they are the parents of Marie Thompson who has been most helpful in the preparation of this article. William Elbert ["Ebb"] Thompson was born January 22, 1875, at Sutton, Arkansas. He died on March 4, 1954, at Bogata, Texas. Anna Pearl Thompson was born May 15, 1876, at Sutton, Arkansas. She died on November 12, 1952, at Benson, Arizona. She married E. A. Brown of Rosalia, Texas. Mary Leia Thompson was born July 31, 1879, at Hope, Arkansas. She died on January 22, 1973, at Clinton, Oklahoma. Willmore Thompson was born August 28, 1881, at Sutton, Arkansas. He died on December 31, 1882, near Paris, Texas. Marvin August Thompson was born January 22, 1884, in Eannin County, Texas. Thomas Aimer Thompson was born February 27, 1886. He died on August 21, 1887, near Paris, Texas, just two months before the death of his father.

As stated above, Thomas Jefferson Thompson was only 37 years old when his death occurred on October 22, 1887, in Fannin County, Texas.


Daughter of Nathan Matthew & Eliza C. (Thomasson) Sparks

When Thomas Jefferson Thompson died, he left his wife, Jane Gill Sparks, with five small children. (Two of their seven children, Willmore and Thomas, had died before their father.) Jane married (second) John Norman McDonald ca. 1890. They had the following four children.

Children of Jane Gill Sparks and her second husband, John McDonald: Alva Arcadia McDonald was born September 23, 1891, and died on April 16, 1980, at Ft. Worth, Texas. John Myrtle McDonald was born February 14, 1893. He was married, but he had no children. Norman Dan McDonald was born January 20, 1895. He died in June 1953 at Santa Ana, California. Jesse Dewey McDonald was born July 30, 1899, at Rosalie, Texas. He married Bessie Jones on December 7, 1919, at Butler, Oklahoma, and they had three children: Cora Jane McDonald; Betty Jo McDonald; and Jesse Dewey McDonald, Jr.

He died in 1964 at Butler, Oklahoma. William C. Sparks, son of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born on October 6, 1815, in Tennessee. He married Sarah Justiss (or Justin) on May 16, 1848, in Wilson County, Tennessee, by the Rev. J. B. Moore, M.G. Sarah had been born on December 16, 1821, in Tennessee. William Sparks was an ordained Presbyterian minister. He and Sarah were in Wilson County when the 1850 census was taken, but after selling William's share of his father's estate to Samuel H. Porterfield on May 27, 1850, they moved to Arkansas.

Photograph taken ca. 1895

William and Sarah remained in Arkansas until ca. 1858 when they moved northward to Union County, Illinois, where they were enumerated on the 1860 census of that county. William was described as a farmer with real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property valued at $600. The family re- mained in Union County until ca. 1862 when they moved to Atchison, Kansas. Many years later, in 1937, Samuel Nathan ["S.N."] Sparks, a son of William and Sarah, reminisced about their next move. He wrote:

We remained in Kansas until 1870 at which time the family pulled up stakes again and facing toward the south, settled in Paris, Texas. Remaining there but a few months, we moved in the same year to Brown County and went into the cattle business with some little farming on the side. The closest settlement to us at that time was Brownwood, forty miles away with its little log courthouse and a few adjacent log buildings. Our nearest post office was at Comanche, twenty-five miles away. Our nearest neighbor was no closer than six miles. We lived in constant fear of an Indian attack.

Sometime prior to 1896, William and Sarah moved to the Oklahoma Territory where they settled in the area that became Carter County in 1907. Sarah died at Springer, Oklahoma Territory, on August 4, 1896, and William died a year later, on September 7, 1897, at Ryan. They were the parents of four children. Samuel Nathan ["S.N."] Sparks was born March 23, 1850, in Wilson County, Tennessee. (On the 1850 census of Wilson County, he was listed as "Joseph S. Sparks.") He accompanied his parents as they moved to Arkansas, to Illinois, to Kansas, and was a young man when the family finally settled in Brown County, Texas. It was there that he joined Company 4 of the Texas Rangers in 1873.

Company 4 of the Texas Rangers was authorized by the Federal Government and was under the command of Captain John W. Jones. It consisted of twenty men who elected their captain. Each man furnished his own horse, a Colt six-shooter, and a Needle gun. (A Needle gun was a German-made gun that used cartridges with paper caps that had to be punctured by a firing pin, vernacularly called a "needle," in order to be fired.)

The duty of Company 4 was to patrol and pages the region of Coleman, Brown, Callahan, and Taylor Counties. Indians and cattle rustlers were the chief troublemakers, and the Rangers had to be ready to take to the field at an instant's notice. The company was disbanded in 1874, after its mission had been accomplished and it was no longer needed.

Shortly after leaving the service of the Texas Rangers, S.N. Sparks married Evalina --- whose maiden name we have not learned. She had been born ca. 1851 in Tennessee. When the 1880 census was taken of Callahan County, Texas, she and S.N. were enumerated there with two children, but about 1900 they moved to the Oklahoma Territory where Evalina died, apparently sometime before 1908. She and S.N. Sparks had six children.

On June 25, 1908, S.N. Sparks married (second) Mrs. Mary R. (Miles) demons at Tishomingo, Oklahoma. She had been born on March 23, 1866, at Bonnieville, Kentucky. She and S.N. were married on Thursday, June 25th, and, according to a newspaper account, on the following Saturday, they were "chivareed" by their friends and neighbors.

Son of William and Sarah (Justiss) Sparks

[Editor's Note: For our younger readers, who may not know the meaning of "chivaree," Paul Sparks, who recalls that in 1933 he and his bride experienced two chivarees, "one in the little village where I taught; the other at my boyhood home," has written the following explanation:

["The custom of giving a newly-married couple a "chivaree" (or "charivari") has almost disappeared as a social custom, but it was quite popular at the turn of the century, particularly in the rural areas of our country. (Remember the musical, "Oklahoma!"?) Briefly stated, a chivaree began at dusk when friends gathered quietly around the home of the newly-weds. Then, at a signal, they announced their presence by ringing cowbells, beating on pans and kettles, and by firing guns. After several minutes of this clamor, the newly-weds would come to the door; the hideous noise would stop; and the crowd would be invited to enter. Inside, there would be candy, cakes, and other sweets, and local instrumentalists would provide music by which to dance. After a while, the guests would wish the couple a long and happy marriage and disperse to their respective homes." ]

S.N. and Mary (Miles) Sparks had one child born on March 8, 1910, named Birdie. Mary died on May 14, 1932, and S.N. died on July 20, 1940. He was buried at Ryan, Oklahoma. In all, S.N. Sparks was the father of seven children by his two wives. John William Sparks was born ca. 1877 in Callahan County, Texas. He died on March 5, 1939. Mary Idella ["Delia"] Sparks was born ca. 1879. She married FNU Stubblefield, and they lived at O'Donnell, Texas. Laura Sparks was born ca. 1883. She died on May 31, 1923. Nathan Sparks was born ca. 1885. Ada Sparks, daughter of S.N. and Evalina Sparks, married FNU Hammersly. Thomas Sparks died in June 1919. Birdie Sparks, daughter of S.N. and Mary (Miles) Sparks, was born March 8, 1910. She married Martin Cleveland Word. She was living in Oklahoma City in 1990. She was the mother of Gayella bynum who has been most helpful in the preparation of this article. William ["Will"] Isaac Sparks was born March 13, 1851, in Wilson County, Tennessee, and was a baby when his parents went to Arkansas. He had reached adulthood when the family finally settled down in Brown County, Texas. Like his brother, S.N. Sparks, he joined Company 4 of the Texas Rangers when that unit was organized in 1873. Many years later, he recalled the time when he got off his spent horse in a sheltered spot on the plains and crawled into some bushes and slept for a couple of hours. He awakened to find that his horse had been killed by Indians who had failed to find him.

Son of William and Sarah (Justiss) Sparks

Most of what has been learned about the life of William ["Will"] Sparks has come from his obituary which was published in the Dallas Morning News on July 17, 1940. His photograph appearing on the previous page also came from that source. From that account of his life, we know that he was married, but we have not learned the name of his spouse; she quite likely pre-deceased him. He was a cattleman and lived near Mid- land, Texas, where he specialized in shorthorn cattle. When the area around Midland became choked with too many settlers to suit him, he went to New Mexico where he continued his stock-raising.

Sparks retired in 1920 and went to Dallas, Texas. He died there on June 16, 1940. No mention was made of his wife in the obituary, and, as we have noted, it can be presumed that she had died. Three sons and one daughter were named. According to a relative, he also had one other son. R. D. Sparks, a son, was living in Dallas in 1940. H. A. Sparks, a son, was living in Dallas in 1940. Lee Sparks was living in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 1940. Mary Sparks married William R. ["Bill"] Jones, and they were living in Dallas in 1940. Don Sparks. Mary Elizabeth Sparks was born ca. 1852. She is said to have married FNU Montgomery. Robert ["Bob"] D. Sparks was born ca. 1855 in Arkansas. He lived near Apache, Oklahoma. Midred ["Milly"] Sparks,daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born May 10, 1817, in Wilson County, Tennessee. Years later, in talking about her childhood, she recalled that she was a young girl when the Indian chief, Black Hawk, was a guest of her father, Nathan Sparks, while he was the postmaster of Sparks, Tennessee. Black Hawk was making an exhibition tour and when he returned to his tribe, he reported that "there are as many palefaces as there are leaves on trees."

Milly Sparks married Henry Edwards on October 14, 1835, in Wilson County, Tennessee, by John Bone, a justice of the peace. The license had been issued on October 12th, and "Little" Henry Edwards was the bondsman. Henry Edwards had been born on February 25, 1798, and he may have been married before. He was appointed as administrator of the estate of his father-in-law, Nathan Sparks, when Nathan's son, Jesse Hancock Sparks, resigned from that court appointment in 1845.

Henry and Milly (Sparks) Edwards moved to Saline County, Illinois, where he died on May 14, 1856. Milly died there on September 30, 1873. They were buried in a country cemetery in Saline County. It is told that for many years the cemetery was cared for by their son, William Henry Edwards, who always spent the day of May 29th alone with them. They had eight children. Eli H. Edwards was born ca. 1836. He became a bookkeeping teacher. When the Civil War broke out, he came home to join the Union Army, but took sick and died before he could enlist. Edith H. Edwards was born ca. 1838 and may have been named for her aunt, Eady Sparks. She is said to have been married to FNU Reigel. William Henry Edwards was born February 15, 1840. He served for three years in Company E, 3rd Regiment Illinois Cavalry of the Union Army during the Civil War. After he returned from the service, he married Sarah Elizabeth Ann De Jarnatt. She had been born on March 29, 1846, and was a daughter of William T. and Sarah Ann (Pemberton) DeJarnatt. She died on December 18, 1923, and William died on December 6, 1926. They are believed to have had a number of children, including sons named Edward, William, Otto, and Walter, but we have information only on Otto. A grandson of Otto, Joseph E. byers, has provided the photograph appearing below.

Seated, l. to.r.: Edward & William Standing, l. to r.: Walter & Otto Otto DeJarnett Edwards was born July 3, 1875. He married Gertrude Renfro on July 9, 1900. She had been born on September 30, 1878, and was a daughter of Joseph Worthington and Esther Anna (McElheny) Renfro. Otto died on May 31, 1915, at Harrisburg, Illinois. Gertrude survived him many years, dying on June 21, 1964. They had three children: Guy Carlton Edwards; Genevieve Edwards. Genevieve Edwards was the mother of Joseph E. byers of Memphis, Tennessee, who has provided us with much of the information about his family. Harry Allan Edwards. Priscilla J. Edwards may have been named for her aunt, Priscilla Sparks. Elizabeth Edwards is said to have been married to FNU Stricklin. John F. Edwards Eliza M. Edwards Anna A. Edwards. Priscilla Sparks, daughter of Nathan and Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, was born September 30, 1820, in Wilson County, Tennessee. The earliest record that we have found of her is in the settlement of her father's estate in 1845. She and her brother, William C. Sparks, owed the estate $15.00 which was secured by two notes, one for $5.00 and the other one for $10.00. Priscilla married James R. Green on September 24, 1845, in Wilson County, Tennessee, by the Rev. D. B. Moore, M.G. James had been born ca. 1820 in Tennessee. When the 1850 census was taken, he and Priscilla had three children. Also living in their household was Priscilla's mother. Nancy Sparks, age 64 years.

Nancy Sparks, mother of Priscilla, died in the spring of 1856, and her son-in-law, James R. Green, was appointed as the administrator of her estate. Green filed an inventory of her estate at the June 1856 term of the Wilson County Court valued at $258.60. He made a final settlement of the estate at the March 1857 term of court and $331 was distributed to Nancy's eight heirs. We have found no further record of this family. James and Priscilla had four children. William C. Green was born June 16, 1846. He was probably named for his uncle, William C. Sparks. Elizabeth Green was born March 27, 1848. Nancy Green was born January 10, 1850. Eliza Green was born December 10, 1851.

The 1899 Letter Written by Bettie C. Smith - With Notes

On page 4555 of the present issue of the Quarterly, we noted that a daughter of Isaac and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks was named Elizabeth E. Sparks; her nickname was Bettie. When the 1850 census was taken of Carroll County, Tennessee, she was shown as living in the home of her father and her step-mother, Isaac and Jane L. (Donnell) Sparks. Bettie's age appeared as twenty-two on this 1850 census, placing her birth year at or ca. 1828.

Elizabeth ["Bettie"] Sparks was married twice, first, ca. 1851, to Will Carson, and, second, to FNU Smith. On the one occasion where we have a record of her signature (in 1899), she signed her name as "Bettie C. Smith." We believe that she used the letter "C" as the initial for her first married name, Carson.

The letter written by Bettie C. Smith in 1899, the contents of which have been preserved, provides interesting family history, and it has been used by a number of descendants of Mrs. Smith's great-grandparents in attempting to trace their Sparks lineage. Many years ago, we published this letter in the Quarterly (the June 1961 issue. Whole No. 34, pp. 556-57), but, because we have included its author among the descendants of Nathan Sparks in the present issue, we are printing it again.

This letter, dated March 11, 1899, was addressed to Bettie Smith's nephew, Samuel ["Sammie"] T. Sparks, son of her brother, William Matthew Sparks (see pp. 4556-57). "Sammie" Sparks, then thirty-four years old, was living in the town of McKenzie in Carroll County, Tennessee, in 1899. As Mrs. Smith hoped, he saved her letter, and in 1937, Vera Runmons of Centerville, Tennessee, made a copy of it for a lawyer in Centerville named William Levi Pinkerton. Pinkerton was a grandson of Hannah Sparks (1824-1893), wife of Levi G. Murphree (1820-1892). Hannah (Sparks) Murphree was a daughter of Jesse Sparks (1773-1848) who was a brother of Nathan Sparks. At some point, the Pinkerton copy of this letter became part of a collection of genealogical material in the Tennessee State Library known as the "Hickman Co., Tenn., Bible, Family and Tombstone Records." Jesse Sparks (1773- 1848) had lived in Hickman County and had carefully preserved various Sparks family documents. A copy was made of Bettie Smith's letter for us by William P. Johnson in 1948.

Bettie Smith wrote this letter to her nephew with the hope that he would preserve it. She wanted to record what she remembered having been told many years earlier regarding her Sparks ancestors, particularly as related by her granduncle, Matthew J. Sparks (1759-1841). Unfortunately, Mrs. Smith made a serious error in her letter that has caused a great deal of confusion among Sparks family historians. When she mentioned her great-grandfather, Matthew Sparks, who died in 1793, she erroneously gave his name as "John." The fact that Matthew had a son named John as well as a son named Matthew, may have caused this confusion, or she may also simply have made a slip of the pen. In reproducing her letter here, we have substituted the correct name for Bettie Smith's great-grandfather, in brackets, rather than to perpetuate this mistake. Additional notes follow the text of this letter.

Sammie: The older ones are, or will soon be all gone; when you get to be older, you will want to know more than now, who was your ancestors. When I was a child old Uncle Matthew Sparks made his home with his brother, Issac, but spent much of his time with Father and Mamma. I learned of him more than from anyone else. His Father was named [Matthew], his Mother was Sarah Thompson (Sally Tyson, was named for her), he crossed the waters, I never have known where he was raised; Sally Tyson thought he came from Wales. I do not know where he married. He went out to kill a turkey one morning, and was shot by Indians. He left eleven children, nine redheaded boys and two girls. Here are the names of the boys: David, James, William, Mathew, Absolom, Jessie, Nathan, Baily, Hardy, & Isaac. The girls names were Eady and Ann, one of them married a Trayler.

Mathew fought in the Revolution, don't know how many more. They fought the Tories for all they were worth. John, Captain, and Mathew, Lieutenant. They got up one morning, horses all gone but one, (I guess that was in Georgia) they sit Granny, and a bed for her, and started for the fort twenty-five miles bare-headed; there they stayed seven years. Uncle Isaac was five years old, and brother & sister swung by his arm all the way. Old Grandma buried at Old Pleasant Grove; the piece of shirt the ball went through when her husband was killed, was buried with her. I do not know so much of Thompson kin; Grandma Thompson was Elizabeth Suduth; Grandma Sparks was Nancy Hancock. My notion is that if we have any mean streaks in us, it did not come through the Sparks, while many of them have become adulterated; but the good ones were sure enough good. You may not care to ever read this, but I don't care, I am going to send it anyway.

March the 11th, 1899
Bettie C. Smith

As shown on page 4555, the writer of this letter, Bettie C. Smith (Elizabeth E. Sparks), was the mother of two children by her first husband. Will Carson, but we have not succeeded in locating any of their descendants.

The "old Uncle Mathew Sparks" mentioned early in her letter, was Matthew J. Sparks (1759-1841), sometimes called Matthew Sparks, Jr. He was Bettie Smith's granduncle, he being a brother of her grandfather, Nathan Sparks. (See the Quarterly of September 1984, Whole No. 127, pp. 2644-69, for a record of the life and descendants of Matthew J. Sparks.) The Isaac Sparks, brother of Matthew J. Sparks, with whom Matthew made his home when Mrs. Smith was a little girl, lived in Carroll County, Tennessee, as did Mrs. Smith's father, who was also named Isaac, son of Nathan Sparks. Isaac, son of Nathan, was called "Isaac Sparks, Jr." in order to distinguish him from his uncle of the same name. The elder Isaac Sparks, son of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, had been born ca. 1780; he died in 1869. His wife's name was Wilmoth Noland (or Knowland).

Matthew J. Sparks (or Matthew Sparks, Jr.) had served in the American Revolution, and during his old age, he was granted a pension for that service. (See the Quarterly of December 1956, Whole No. 16, pp. 179-182, for transcripts of his pension file.) From his pension papers preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and from data found in census records, we know that his wife, Margaret Sparks, had died prior to 1830 and that in 1831, Matthew J. Sparks moved from Arkansas to Carroll County, Tennessee, to live with his brother, Isaac Sparks, Sr. and to be near his nephew, Isaac Sparks, Jr. He was still living with his brother when the 1840 census was taken, but by September of that year, he had moved to Clinton County, Illinois, to live with his daughter, Jane (Sparks) Steele. It was there that he died on August 14, 1841. Thus, we know that Bettie Smith had known her granduncle during the time between 1831 and 1840, when she was between the ages of about three and twelve. It is not surprising that she erred in her memory of certain details in recounting stories she had heard as a child from Matthew J. Sparks.

In the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No. 34, we provided biographical information on the elder Matthew Sparks, who was killed by Indians in November 1793 when he went out to kill a wild turkey. There we also gave the texts of several court documents of later date by which Sarah Sparks and several of her sons attempted (with some success) to obtain compensation from the U.S. Congress for their many losses of property to the Creek Indians. From these, we know that the Sparks family's retreat from their Georgia land holdings to the fort, as described by Mrs. Smith, occurred after the elder Matthew's death in November 1793. From these documents, we learn, also, that the fort in Franklin County to which they fled was called "Sparks Fort."

Bettie Smith's "Father and Mamma," in whose home Mathew J. Sparks was a frequent visitor, were, of course, Isaac Sparks, Jr. (1805-1878) and his first wife, Orpha (Thompson) Sparks (1806-1842). After Orpha's death, Isaac had been married to Jane L. Donnell.

Sally Tyson, whom Bettie Smith noted had been named for Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, Sally's grandmother, was a daughter of Isaac, Sr. and Wilmoth (Noland) Sparks. She had been born ca. 1821 so was only a few years older than her cousin's daughter, Bettie Smith. Sally Tyson married Samuel Tyson in Carroll County, Tennessee, on January 8, 1845. Samuel Tyson apparently died before 1850, and Sally, along with her son, Isaac S. Tyson, who had been born in or ca. 1846, were shown on both the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Carroll County as living with Sally's parents. As Mrs. Smith indicated. Sally Tyson had also heard the stories told by Matthew J. Sparks.

Bettie Smith's statement that her great-grandfather, Matthew Sparks, had "crossed the waters," and her statement that Sally Tyson had thought he had come from Wales, are both false. It is a truism in genealogical research that the identity of a family's immigrant ancestor is often thought to be that of one of his/her descendants. There is ample evidence that the immigrant ancestor of this branch of the Sparks family had been Matthew Sparks's great-grandfather, William Sparks, who had died in Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709. Matthew Sparks's migration had been from Maryland to North Carolina and, finally, to Georgia. (See the Quarterly of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp. 3484-3501, and that of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pp. 556-566.)

It was in or ca. 1784 that Matthew Sparks had moved, with most of the members of his large family, from their residence on New River in what is now Ashe County, North Carolina (then still part of Wilkes County), to land located east of the Oconee River in Franklin County, Georgia. Prior to the Revolution, these lands had been occupied by the Creek Indians.

The Creek Indians strongly protested the loss of their Georgia land, and under their able leader, Alexander McGillivroy, a half-breed with Scottish ancestry, they kept up for several years, in that irregular, desultory manner so common to Indian warfare, a series of depredations on the white settlements along the Georgia frontier. Spain also claimed this land and signed a treaty with McGillivroy in 1784 under which the Spanish gave the Indians aid and encouragement. This struggle, which lasted twelve years, is called the Oconee War.

Bettie Smith's statement that "they sit Granny and a bed," probably means that a wagon, pulled by their one remaining horse, was used to transport at least a portion of the family's possessions, including a bed on which "Granny" sat. "Granny" refers to Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, widow of Matthew, who had been killed earlier. Sarah survived this ordeal, living until August 23, 1831.

It is not surprising that in 1899 Bettie Smith had difficulty recalling the number and names of the children of her great-grandparents, Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. Stating that, at his death, Matthew had left eleven children, including nine sons and two daughters, she then named ten sons. There were actually eleven sons, however, including John, whom she omitted from the list. Her omission was a slip of the pen, however, because later she stated that John had been a captain in the Revolutionary War while Matthew J. had been a lieutenant. We believe, however, that John's rank was never above that of lieutenant, while Matthew J. Sparks was not an officer. (It is not uncommon for descendants of Revolutionary War soldiers to promote them to a higher military rank than they had enjoyed in real life.) Bettie Smith would have had no personal knowledge of John Sparks, who had been born in 1755 and was one of Mat- thew and Sarah's oldest sons, because some two years before his father was killed, John had moved to South Carolina. (See the Quarterly of March 1966, Whole No. 53, p. 961.)

Bettie Smith was correct in stating that one of the daughters of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks had been married to a "Trayler." This was Eady (or Edy) Sparks who been married to Randolph Traylor; they were living in dark County, Georgia, in 1807. Mrs. Smith was also correct in stating that Matthew J. Sparks and his brother, John, had "fought the Tories." Matthew's pension papers form an important source of information on this branch of the Sparks family. (See the Quarterly of Decembr 1956, Whole No. 16, pp. 179-182, for a transcript of these papers.)

In her statement that "Grandma Thompson was Elizabeth Suduth," Mrs. Smith referred to her maternal grandmother. Orpha (Thompson) Sparks, Bettie Smith's mother, had been a daughter of Moses and Elizabeth (Suddeth) Thomp- son. The "Grandma Sparks" to whom Mrs. Smith referred was Nancy (Hancock) Sparks, second wife of Nathan Sparks; Nancy had been born in 1782 and was a daughter of Martin Hancock. (See page 4550 of the present issue of the Quarterly.)

Bettie Smith provides our only source for the maiden name of her great-grand-mother, Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. The name Thompson is very common, and we seriously doubt that there was any relationship between Sarah (Thompson) Sparks, who died in 1831, and Orpha (Thompson) Sparks (1806-1842), Bettie's mother.