April 7, 2018

Pages 4758-4760
Whole Number 176


by Paul 0. Madsen

[Editor's Note: The June 1996 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 174, contained an article about Levi Sparks (1778-1851) of Lawrence County, Kentucky, and some of his descendants. Levi was the eldest son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks and was a brother of George G. Sparks (1796-1879) whose life and descendants have been featured in the present issue of the Quarterly.

[Among Levi Sparks's grandchildren was Hugh Sparks, a son of Garrett and Betsey (Boggs) Sparks, who apparently left his home ca. 1860 and was not heard of by his Lawrence County relatives until just a few years ago. For this reason, much of Hugh's life is still unknown; however, it is gradually being pieced together by a descendant, Dr. Paul O. Madsen. Dr. Madsen has agreed to share the story of the life of his great-grandfather, Hugh Sparks, as he has uncovered it so far. Dr. Madsen lives at White Horse Village, V-157, Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, 19073.]

Hugh Sparks, my great-grandfather, was born in 1834 In Lawrence County, Kentucky. His parents were Garrett Sparks and Elizabeth (Boggs) Sparks. (Garrett's name was also spelled Garred, Jarrett, Jarat, Jaared, etc.)

Little Is known of Hugh's early life. He married Virginia Jane Elkins who was born in 1836 in Virginia. Extensive searching over a period of years in various archives has provided no information on Virginia Jane Elkins and her family. It needs to be remembered that during the years that are missing, there was substantial friction in families over those who related to the Union and those who related to the Confederacy. Records were lost and destroyed in the war years and the aftermath. This was also the period when the state of Virginia was being divided with the creation of the state of West Virginia. Thus, research becomes quite difficult.

Hugh and Virginia Jane were married sometime in 1864 or perhaps earlier. Their first living child was Cynthia Anne Sparks (the grandmother of the writer) who was born in Virginia on February 4, 1865. Her brother, Hugh J. Sparks, was born January 28, 1867, also in Virginia.

The United States census records of Virginia and Kentucky for 1860 and 1870 contain no information on Hugh Sparks. The 1880 census records prove that the family was living in Independence County, Arkansas, In that year.

The family had moved to Kentucky sometime between 1867 and 1870 for Margaret Sparks, the third child, was born in Kentucky, April 10, 1870. Sarah Sparks was born in 1874, also in Kentucky, and died in her teen years. Adelaide Sparks was born February 8, 1876, In Kentucky. She died on April 3, 1956.

Cynthia Anne Sparks married Robert Franklin Goodman on January 3, 1889. They had eight children. Hugh J. Sparks married Laura Etta Brooks on February 6, 1889. They had five children. Margaret Sparks married Nick Brooks on December 25, 1889. They had four children. The records in Independence County, Arkansas, indicate that each couple was married by D. M. Tucker, an "ordained minister of the Gospel." The family home was in the general vicinity of Batesville, Arkansas. Three weddings In one year in the Hugh Sparks family must have caused some excitement.

Adelaide Sparks married Charles Gaston Crable, but information is scant for her and her husband. Her three children are deceased.

The descendants of Hugh and Virginia Sparks are now widely separated throughout the United States. However, there Is a concentration of descendants In the Fort Worth, Graham, and Jean, Texas, areas. Various cousins have repeated the same basic story to the writer about the exodus from Virginia, though there has been some variation concerning details. The basic story is that Hugh Sparks was a man with a temper. He became embroiled in a dispute with a neighbor, presumably over a land issue, which ended in shooting. Two of the oral stories say that the shooting resulted in a death, but that cannot be confirmed. According to one family member who knew "Granny" (Virginia (Elkins Sparks), the Elkins family assisted Hugh and Virginia Jane in their leaving their home In Virginia, "on the condition that they would sever all ties" with the families in Virginia. Virginia Jane told some of her family members in Texas that she always regretted that she had obeyed the family injunction to sever all ties.

The writer searched courthouse records In Batesville, Arkansas, and found a tax assessment levied against Hugh Sparks for the following:

The record further indicated that he could not pay the poll tax. The total taxes due were $286.75, which included three state taxes (general fund, school and sinking fund). The county taxes were for general purposes, road and bridge work, and a new courthouse.

Vital records in Arkansas and Texas yield no information on the death of Hugh Sparks. Nick Brooks and Margaret (Sparks) Brooks had four children. After Margaret's death, Nick then married Laura Goodman. They moved in 1906 to the Graham, Texas, area. Hugh J. Sparks, son of Hugh Sparks, also moved to the area and was buried In Jean, Texas. The Goodmans (Cynthia Anne Sparks) settled in the Alvarado, Texas, area where Cynthia Anne was buried.

Virginia Jane (Elkins) Sparks died about 1917. Again, no death record has been found. However, there are records that she went to Wolfe City, Texas, to be of assistance to her daughter who had influenza. The daughter survived, but

Virginia Jane (Elkins) Sparks caught the flu in that epidemic and died about that time. Family lore has it that she was buried in a cemetery there. However, the cemetery records that contain the records for her daughter and her family do not yield any information on Virginia Jane.

Genealogical research is often interesting and, more often, frustrating. The writer found in his early research that the name Laura Brooks was in records, but in such a way that there were discrepancies that left one completely be wildered. There was a major difference in the recorded ages of each woman. It was also obvious that each Laura Brooks was a part of the family, somehow, though one was not of the direct blood line. The answer was found when the marriage records mentioned above were studied carefully. Margaret Sparks, sister to Cynthia Anne, married Nick Brooks. Thus, Nick Brooks was the brother- in-law of Cynthia. Nick had a sister, named Laura Brooks, who married Hugh J. Sparks, brother of Cynthia and Margaret. Margaret died after a few years. In the meantime, Cynthia Anne had married Frank Goodman and became the step mother to Laura Goodman. When Margaret (Sparks) Brooks died, Nick Brooks then married Laura Goodman, and she became Laura Brooks thus accounting for the two Laura Brookses. Nick now had a wife and a sister each named Laura. Cynthia Anne, who had been a sister-in-law to Nick Brooks, now found herself in the position of being the step-mother to his wife.

Since Nick Brooks had married Margaret Sparks and Hugh J. Sparks had married Laura Brooks, the children were double cousins, being related both through the maternal and paternal sides of the family. When Nick Brooks married Laura Goodman, their children became half-cousins to the children of Laura (Brooks) Sparks and Hugh Sparks.

Extensive information is available on the various branches of the family in the succeeding generations.