January 26, 2019

Pages 4592-4594
Whole Number 173


On the cover of one of the earliest issues of The Sparks Quarterly


1828-1919 1832-1906


(that for December 1956, Whole No. 16), we published a photograph of a "Tree-of-Life Quilt" made many years earlier. It was comprised of thirty "sewing blocks," on each of which were stitched scraps of figured cloth in "crazy-quilt" fashion, along with names, with an occasional date. Research proved that the Sparks names belonged to the family of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks of North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. We have also learned that the numerous persons named Lee were of the family of Augustine and Rachel (Nichols) Lee. (On the quilt "Augustine" is spelled "Augusta," while some sources call him Augustus.) The photograph used in 1956 had been provided by Mrs. Meryin Houck of Stillwater, Oklahoma. She told us that a daughter of Augustine and Rachel Lee had been Rachel Lee, named for her mother, and she had been married to William Sparks, Jr., a son of William and Rhoda Sparks, on March 30, 1851, in White County, Tennessee. At that time, the quilt was owned by Mrs. Clure Coffelt.

Today, this family heirloom is owned by Ruth Sparks Hale, Rt. 2, Box 178, Sparta, Tennessee (38583). Through Mrs. Hale, we now know who it was that actually made the quilt-she was Rachel Elina (Lee) Sparks, daughter of Augustine and Rachel (Nichols) Lee, whose husband was William Sparks, Jr. Rachel had been born on February 6, 1832, in White County, Tennessee, the part that is now Put- nam County; she died on June 6, 1906, also in Putnam County. William Sparks, Jr., son of William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks, was born April 3, 1828, in Tennessee, and died on March 20, 1919.

Mrs. Hale has also provided for us the photograph of William, Jr. and Rachel E. (Lee) Sparks appearing on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly. She reports that this was taken "from an enlarged picture a cousin brought to one of our Sparks reunions."

In the issue of the Quarterly for September 1982, Whole No. 119, pp. 2453-57, we published an account written by Donald Pugh describing his efforts to find the graves of some of the people named on the quilt, a total of fifty-one individuals, of whom nineteen had the name Sparks. For this 1982 article, we again pub- lished a photograph of this quilt (see page 2454). Mr. Pugh's article was followed by an account prepared by Dr. Paul E. Sparks, the Association's president, iden- tifying the Sparkses whose names appear on the quilt. All were descendants, or the spouses of descendants, of William Sparks (born ca.1783) and his wife, Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks. The dates of death for both William and Rhoda are included in the block of the quilt containing their names: William died on March 2, 1869, and Rhoda died on October 26, 1871. They were the father-in-law and mother- in-law of Rachel (Lee) Sparks, the maker of the quilt.

William Sparks (ca. 1783-1869) was a son of James Sparks (ca.1762-ca.1826) and a grandson of William Sparks (ca. 1725-1801/02). A lengthy article devoted to this branch of the Sparks family appeared in the Quarterly of June 1991, Whole No. 154, pp. 3751-3798. An article about James Sparks (ca.1762-ca.1826) and his family was published in the March 1994 issue. Whole No. 165, pp. 4265-4276.

Mrs. Hale reports that it had been about three years after William and Rhoda (Pennington) Sparks purchased their farm in Putnam County, Tennessee, that their tenth child, William Sparks, Jr., was born April 3, 1828. (Although Putnam County had been created from portions of White, Jackson, Overton, and Dekalb Counties, it was not until 1854 that the new county was organized with a civil government.) As noted earlier, the Sparks family was in that part of Putnam County that had been taken from White County. It was at the home of his son, Joe Sparks, located on the old Sparks farm on which he had been reared, that William Sparks, Jr. died on March 20, 1919.

Mrs. Hale has provided us with the following list of the children of William Sparks, Jr. and his wife, Rachel Elina (Lee) Sparks. The first three died during an epidemic in 1857.

1. Nancy Malinda Sparks was born in 1852; died in 1857.

2. Mary Jane Sparks was born in 1854; died in 1857.

3.Thad James Sparks was born in 1856; died in 1857.

4. Thessaly ["Alie"] Sparks was born in 1858; she died in December 1936. She married Nate Judd and had children named Lee and Charlie; there may have been others.

5. John Wesley Sparks was born November 3, 1860; he died in 1947. He married Rosy Pennington and lived in the northwest part of White County, Tennessee. Their children were named Mae, Lula, Luther, Lee, Claude, George, Dora, Daisy, and Jewell.

6. Margaret ["Mag"] Sparks. She married W. Ashburn and is believed to have lived in Nashville.

7. Rhoda Catherine Sparks was born January 28, 1866; she died on July 12, 1937. She married Thomas M. ["Bud"] Gentry, and they had children named Beecher, Lola Mae, Billy Lewis, Bessie, and J. T.

8. Henry Augustine Franklin Sparks was born in February 1869; he died in March 1957. He married Olive Stone. Their children were named Dillard, Verta, Erastus, and Ann D.

9. Joseph ["Joe"] Z. Johnson Sparks was born October 17, 1871; he died on March 23, 1958. He married Mary Fannie Stewart (born March 24, 1876, died April 4, 1962). They lived in Putnam County, Tennessee, near the White County line, until 1918 when they moved to near Sparta in White County. They had children named: Johnnie Lester (born August 6, 1895); Notie Elizabeth (born July 7, 1897); V/illiam Heston (born 1900); Pearlie Mae (born 1902); J. T. (born 1909); and Fannie Ruth (born 1920). Mrs. Hale has provided us with the photograph shown below.


With Children: Johnnie Lester, Notie Elizabeth, & William Heston

10. Martha Sparks was born in 1877 and died in 1970 (?). She married Nick S. Sewell and was living in Nashville when she died. Their children were named Willie, Dana, Charlie, Leo, and Pearl.