Whole Number 180
by Russell E. Bidlack
An important source in genealogical research is the obituary published in local newspapers. The obituary commonly found today in daily or weekly papers published in small and medium-sized towns across the United States is largely a 20th Century custom. In the 19th Century, and earlier, the deaths of local citizens reported in the local paper were more like the simple death notices found in large city newspapers today. The passing of a prominent person then, as now, received more space, of course, than did that of the ordinary individual.
An exception to the brief death notices appearing in 19th Century papers is that found in certain publications of religious denominations. An example of this was a Methodist weekly called the Western Christian Advocate published in Cincinnati, Ohio, beginning in 1834. Created by the Methodist Book Concern in response to a resolution passed during the Indiana Conference of the Methodist Church in 1833, the Western Christian Advocate survived until 1939. Besides covering general news, it provided its largely Methodist readers (that number reaching 18,000 by 1850) with information in such areas as health and medicine, the temperance movement, and the work of missionaries in foreign lands, as well as reports of Methodist meetings. Texts of sermons were sometimes included, which no doubt provided inspiration for many a Methodist preacher searching for a new message to deliver to his congregation.
From the start, obituaries, often of considerable length, were given space in the Western Christian Advocate. For the genealogist, however, we sometimes wish that a larger portion of their text had been devoted to. the identification of the deceased individuals family rather than his/her religious experiences and pronouncements.
A microfilm of virtually the entire run of this paper in the 1800s exists at the Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis, and in 1988 that Society published an index to the obituaries appearing therein between 1834 and 1850. In the introduction to that volume, it was noted that, while "most of the deaths reported were in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and other middle western states, deaths in other states were reported as well. 11
The writer of each obituary was nearly always identified, that individual often being a relative or a minister who had known the deceased.
Seven obituaries for persons named Sparks were identified in this 1834-1850 index. A member of our Association who is a professional genealogical record searcher, specializing in locating obituaries for her clients, has not only provided us with the full text of each of the seven indexed Sparks obituaries, but keeps watching for, and copying, those of the later period when she comes across them. She is Linda Zapp, 4509 Southway Drive, Greenwood, Indiana, 46142. We are most grateful to Ms. Zapp for this service and are pleased to provide the text of each for our readers. Where possible, we will provide notes to further identify the individual.
Died, in Owen county, KY, August 15th, 1836, Henry Sparks, in the 83rd year of his age. He was born in Culpeper county, Va. When quite young, he served as a private soldier in the revolutionremoved to Kentucky about 40 years ago, and was among the first Methodists in the west; and to the close of his long life, remained a very acceptable member of the church. His house for more than 30 years has been a regular preaching place, and a home for the weary missionary of the cross. Enjoying the life and power of the religion for more than 40 years, he was consequently delighted with the ordinances of God's house. He was like,' a tree planted by the rivers of water -- "his leaf did not wither." When called to change worlds, he realized that he had not served the Lord for nought. He had the promise fulfilled, "I will be with thee." Retaining his senses to the last, he spoke clearly and satisfactorily of his hopes beyond the grave, and calmly sunk in death, leaving behind a sweet savor of Christ to all who knew him.
April 4, 1837. J. C. HARRISON
[Editor's Note:] 21.1.5 Henry Sparks (1753-1836), son of 21.1 Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks, was born June 16, 1753, in that part of Culpeper County, Virginia, that later became Madison County. He married Lucy Clark, daughter of Captain James and Mary (Marston) Clark in January 1776. In 1795, Henry Sparks and his family moved to that section of Franklin County, Kentucky, that became Owen County in 1819. He died there on August 14, 1836, according to family records.
On January 7, 1838, Henry Sparks applied for a pension based on his service in the American Revolution. The papers in his application for a pension were published in the Quarterly of June 1957, Whole No. 18, pp. 211-18. Material on the ancestry of Henry Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of June 1956, whole No. 14, pp. 129-147. A biographical record, with the listing of his and Lucy's twelve children, appeared in the Quarterly of December 1960, Whole No. 32, pp. 511-17.
An error regarding Henry Sparks, Jr., the twelfth child, however, appeared on page 517. Henry Sparks, Jr. did not marry Sarah Smither as stated there. Actually, Henry Sparks, Jr. never married. The 188.8.131.52.3 Henry Sparks (born June 28, 1810) who married Sarah Smither was a son of 184.108.40.206 Anthony Sparks (1781-1865) and was a grandson of Henry Sparks (1753-1836).
Rev. Josiah Sparks died in great peace on the 17th of May, 1841, in Adair Co., KY, in the 84th year of his age. He was a native of Maryland, and when about 12 years old his parents moved to the state of Virginia, where he, about the age of 24, embraced religion and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he ever afterwards remained a member. In a few years after his conversion he was licensed to preach the Gospel, after which he married and moved to South Carolina, where he remained more than ten years; after which he removed to Tennessee, thence to Kentucky, and settled in Adair co., where he remained the last fourteen years of his life. While he was able he was faithful and useful as a local preacher. A few days before his death he appeared to be sensible of his near approach to death, and spoke of it as a matter of joy. On the day before his death, he was heard to sing a part of two hymns, one of which was,
"I'll praise my Maker, while I've breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ me nobler powers," &c.
and the other was,
"My suffering time will soon be o'er," &c.
He exhorted his aged companion and children to be faithful and meet him in heaven. He closed his earthly pilgrimage in full hope of immortality and eternal life.
Columbia, KY., June 1, 1841.
J. C. CROW.
[Editorial Note:] The Rev. Josiah Sparks, subject of the above obituary, was the same Josiah Sparks who, along with a record of his family, was the subject of an article by Dr. Paul E. Sparks that was begun in the Quarterly of December 1979, Whole No. 108, pp. 2152-2189. A correction must be made in that article, however, regarding the parentage of Josiah Sparks. With the information contained in this obituary and a further study of the records that have come to light in our research on this branch of the family, we can now say with full confidence that the Rev. Josiah Sparks was a son of Matthew and Elinor Sparks, and that he was the Josiah Sparks shown in the parish register of Piscataway Church in Prince Georges County, Maryland, as born to 17.2 Matthew and Elinor Sparks on August 26, 1761.
(The name of the Piscataway Church was changed later to St. John's.) The births of two other children of Matthew and Elinor Sparks were also recorded in this parish register: Sarah Sparks, born May 23, 1753, and Truelove Sparks (a son), born July 21, 1764.
It was from Prince Georges County, Maryland, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, that Matthew and Elinor Sparks brought their family in 1777, and it was there that Josiah married Susannah Phillips, daughter of Thomas Phillips, in 1794. Their marriage bond was dated January 7, 1794.
A major article is now being prepared by Dr. Paul E. Sparks and the present writer presenting our evidence regarding the parentage of the Rev. Josiah Sparks and that of his first cousin of the same name. This latter 17.1.x Josiah Sparks was a son of 17.1 Thomas and Elizabeth Sparks, Thomas Sparks being a brother, we are certain, of Matthew Sparks.
17.1.x Josiah Sparks, son of 17.1 Thomas and Elizabeth Sparks, was nearly the same age as that of the Rev. 17.2.7 Josiah Sparks, son of 17.2 Matthew and Elinor Sparks. Both families moved to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, from Maryland in 1777. 17.1.x Josiah Sparks, son of Thomas and Elizabeth, went as a young man to Spartanburg County, South Carolina, before 1790 and was married there to Lydia Tollison (or Tollerson). He was a resident of Union County, South Carolina, when he made his will on February 12, 1851. He died there either in late 1852 or early in 1853. His will was entered for probate in Union County on January 29, 1853.
Mary Jane Sparks was born June 13, 1827, in Franklin, Warren county, Ohio. She joined the Methodist Episcopal Church on February 17th, 1842, experienced the pardoning love of God on Thursday following, and died the Friday night following of something like the cold plague. Though in excrutialiing [sic] pain, her last words were, --
"They that conquer shall wear the crown;"
thus proving to all who witnessed her exit from time to eternity, that
"Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are."
She has left many pious friends to mourn their loss, but since it is her eternal gain," they do not "mourn as those who have no hope."
Shelbyville, Ia., May 1, 1842.
HENRY S. DALE, JAMES D. TEMPLIN.
[Editorial Note:] According to the family Bible of her parents, Mary Jane Sparks had been born June 13, 1828 rather than 1827, as stated in the above obituary. She was a daughter of Noah and Susanna (Woodward) Sparks who had been married on May 6, 1826, according to their family Bible. (See the Quarterly of March 1962, for the article "Amos Sparks (1785-1867) and His Descendants," most of the data for which had been provided by Mrs. Hazel T. Tarman of El Paso, Illinois. (Mrs. Tarman died on April 29, 1973.) The first child of Amos Sparks and his wife, Nancy Ann (Borough) Sparks, had been Noah Sparks, born January 11, 1809. A list of all seven children of Amos and Nancy Ann, copied from their family Bible, appears on page 4908 of the present issue of the Quarterly following the obituary of the Rev. Amos Sparks.
Matthew Sparks died, at his residence, in Schuyler county, IL., June 5, 1845, aged eighty-two years, nine months and twenty-one days. He was born in Baltimore county, Md., August 14th, 1762, and married Mrs. Prudence Sharp, when about twenty-eight years of age, with whom he lived in great peace and happiness until June 12th, 1844, when she died of a few hours' sickness, in sure and certain hope of a blessed immortality. Mother Sparks embraced religion in the year 1790, which was shortly after her marriage, from which she never swerved until the day of her death. It was a real feast to hear her relate the trials and victories of other days. She had been an acceptable member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at her death, fifty-four years. Peace to her precious memory. Father Sparks joined the Methodist Episcopal Church shortly after his wife, mainly through her influence, under the ministry of Rev. John Allen and Rev. William Colbert, in 1790, in the Baltimore circuit. He removed from Baltimore county, Md., to Shelby county, KY., in 1803, and from there to Ohio in about eight years and six months, where he lived two years, and then removed to Indiana, and settled in Franklin county, where he lived until he removed to Illinois, in 1830, and settled in Schuyler county. Through certain difficulties in the Church while he resided in Kentucky, where he had acted as steward of the circuit for several years, growing out of the immorality of a certain traveling preacher, afterward expelled, father Sparks' mind became somewhat dissatisfied with the Church, and when he removed to Ohio, he did not present his letter to the Church, and thus lost his membership and religion. In this backslidden state, he remained about twenty-three years, but was at last happily reclaimed in the autumn of 1835, under the ministry of the Rev. P. R. Bozier, of precious memory, when he reunited with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he ordered his life according to the Gospel of Christ, until the day of his death. About the last of August, 1844, he was attacked with chills and fever, which brought him near the grave, and left him in a feeble state of health all winter. After spring commenced, he had three successive attacks of the same disease, the last of which, with the aid of old age, so froze the vital current, that "The weary wheels of life stood still in death."
He was a patient, resigned, and submissive sufferer. In the last conversation which he had with our pastor, brother Cunningham, and which was the last rational conversation of any length that he held on the subject of his future hope, he gave unequivocal testimony of his confidence in God, through Christ. He died as the righteous die, in peace with God and men. "Let my last end be like his."
[Editorial Note:] Matthew Sparks was born August 14, 1762, in Baltimore County, Maryland, and he was a son of 18. Josiah and Penelope (Brown) Sparks. Josiah Sparks, his father, had been born ca. 1729 and was probably a son of Thomas Sparks who purchased land in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1748. Thomas Sparks moved to Baltimore County, Maryland, between 1752 and 1756.
18. Josiah Sparks, father of Matthew, was married in St. Anne's Parish, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, on July 15, 1749, to Penelope Brown. The marriage was performed by the Rev. Andrew Lendrum. They became the parents of six children:
18.1 Francis Sparks, born ca. 1750, who married Cassandra Wright;
18.2 Josiah Sparks, Jr., born ca. 1752, who married Rachel Collett;
18.3 Elijah Sparks, born ca. 1754, who married (first) Annie Anderson, and second) to Jemima Cox;
18.4 Ruth Sparks, born ca. 1756, who married Thomas Anderson;
18.5 Thomas Sparks, born May 23, 1758, who married Rachel Perdue; and
18.6 Matthew Sparks, born August 14, 1762, subject of the above obituary.
(For further information on this branch of the Sparks family, see the following QUARTERLIES: June 1958, Whole No. 22, pp. 294-307; June 1970, Whole No. 70, pp. 1311-1314; and September 1985, Whole No. 131, pp. 2788-89.)
Matthew Sparks was married in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 1786 (marriage bond dated March 23, 1786) to Prudence (Wright) Sharp, widow of John Sharp. She was a daughter of Bloice Wright and a sister of Cassandra Wright, wife of Matthew's brother, Francis Sparks. As noted in the above obituary, Matthew and Prudence moved to Shelby County, Kentucky, where Matthew purchased land on March 1, 1804. On March 11, 1812, they gave land there to build a Methodist church. He purchased land in Franklin County, Indiana, in 1814, and he was appointed a justice of the peace there on December 16, 1815. He and his family were in Schuyler County, Illinois, when the 1830 census was taken, and it was there that he wrote his will on October 3, 1842. (The text of his will appears on page 299 of the Quarterly of June 1958, cited above.)
July 30  - In Brookville, Ia., Mrs. Margaret Sparks, consort of Jesse Sparks, sen., in the seventy-fifth year of her age.
Mother Sparks was born in the state of Delaware. She sought and found the Savior, and united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the eighteenth year of her age. For fifty-seven years she lived an exemplary member of the Church of God. [sic] In youth, in mature life, and in old age, she "walked with God by faith." Christian cheerfulness and placidity of temper particularly distinguished the evening of her days. Her life was spared to see all of her children converted to God, and two of her sons preaching the Gospel of his grace. Her last sickness was protracted and painful; but, committing her cause into the hands of her Savior, she walked patiently, "all the days of her appointed time until her change came," when she quietly fell asleep in Christ.
[Editorial Note:] The maiden name of Margaret Sparks was Burris, according to a biographical sketch of her son, 26.1.2 Nathan B. Sparks, md, who was born April 2, 1815.
(See the History of Knox County, Indiana, published in 1886, page 513.) She married 26.1 Jesse R. Sparks who had been born in Queen Annes County, Maryland, ca. 1780. Soon after their marriage, which had probably taken place in the mid-1790s, Jesse and Margaret moved to Belmont County, Ohio, where Jesse earned a living as a shoemaker and auctioneer; he was also county sheriff for a number of years. About 1820, the family moved to Franklin County, Indiana, and, later, they lived over the line in Dearborn County. In 1850, however, following his wife's death, he was living with his daughter, Jane, and her husband, Elias Kerr, in Franklin County. When the 1860 census was taken, however, the Kerr family, with Jesse, was back in Dearborn County. Jesse R. Sparks died there in 1865. (See the Quarterly of September 1969, Whole No. 67, for information about Jesse R. Sparks and his family, beginning on page 1248. A portrait of his son, Jesse Sparks, Jr., who became a Methodist preacher, appears on the cover of that issue. See p. 4915 of the present issue of the Quarterly for the obituary of Jesse Sparks, Jr.
Jesse R. Sparks had a brother named Amos Sparks whose obituary begins on p. 4907 of the present issue of the Quarterly. We published an article about Amos Sparks in the Quarterly of March 1962, Whole No. 37, beginning on page 618. In the editorial note following the obituary of Mary Jane Sparks (died 1842) beginning on page 4896 of this issue of the Quarterly, we indicated that she was a grand-daughter of this same Amos Sparks. Both Jesse R. Sparks and Amos Sparks named sons Jeremiah, one of whom was born November 15, 1808, and the other, one day later, on November 16, 1808. In writing the article on Amos Sparks for the Quarterly of March 1962, as well as that on Jesse R. Sparks for the Quarterly of September 1969, we incorrectly assumed that there was only one Jeremiah and that he was the son of Amos. In an article appearing in the December 1972 Quarterly, Whole No. 80, we corrected this error, beginning on page 1517.
It was also on the cover of the December 1972 issue that we were able to publish a photograph of Jesse R. Sparks from a tintype owned by a descendant, Mrs. Kenneth Dix Coffin. Until finding the above obituary of Margaret (Burris) Sparks, wife of Jesse R. Sparks, we had not known the date of her death.
We do not have a complete list of the children of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks. In the biographical sketch of Dr. Nathan B. Sparks, mentioned above, it was noted that he was one of nine children of Jesse R. and Margaret Sparks.
In the article in the Quarterly of December 1972, we were able to identify only six: (1) Tamzoil (or Tamson) Sparks, born in 1802, who married FNU Taylor; (2) Jesse Sparks, Jr., born January 11, 1807, who married Jemima Thorn; (3) Jeremiah Burris Sparks, born November 15, 1808, who married Eliza B. Rockafellar; (4) Amos Sparks, born ca. 1811, who married (first) Nancy Mercy Harper and (second) to Mary Dewees; (5) Nathan B. Sparks, born April 2, 1815, who married Harriet E. Skaats; and (6) Jane A. Sparks, born ca. 1821, who married Elias Kerr. The obituary following that of Margaret (Burris) Sparks, which appeared in the same issue of the Western Christian Advocate, proves that a daughter of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks, named Rachel, whom we had not identified from previous sources, had died at the age of 31 (in "the thirty-second year of her age") only a few days before her mother.
July 18 - In Brookville, [Indiana], Rachel Peterson, daughter of the above, and wife of brother B. C. Peterson of Franklin county, la [i.e. Indiana] in the thirty-second year of her age. Sister Peterson united with the Church, and embraced religion, in her sixteenth year. For many years -she was called to endure much bodily suffering; and when pressed down with these afflictions, she, at times, had painful doubts of her acceptance with God; but she and her friends wrestled with God, in prayer, and he revealed his love in her heart with such heavenly and overwhelming fullness, as enabled her, when almost in her death struggle, to shout aloud for joy. She requested her friends to tell her minister then absent from town, and every one they saw, that she had Christ within her, and feared no evil. Thus triumphantly, in her Savior, she bade adieu to earth and now rests with God.
[Editorial Note:] Rachel Peterson was a daughter of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks, as noted above. Her obituary followed that of her mother in the issue cited of the Western Christian Advocate.
December 1 - In Clinton county, Iowa, Joseph Sparks, son of Joel and Lydia Sparks, in the twenty-third year of his age. He was born in Cumberland county, N.J.; was converted, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Putnam county, OH., in the year 1842; came to Iowa last spring, and settled in Clinton county, with his now bereaved parents and brothers. Brother Sparks died suddenly, by the accidental discharge of a gun. He and his brother had been out shooting squirrels, and when returning, they stopped to converse with a neighbor in the woods. Brother Sparks stepped upon a log, and while leaning upon his gun it slipped off the log, and the sudden concussion caused the cap to burst, and the gun was discharged Into his right side, causing instant death. Brother Sparks was a young man that promised much usefulness to the Church and community in which he lived. The Sabbath before his death, the writer met him in class and heard him express strong confidence in his Savior. Upon that occasion he quoted the language of the apostle Paul: "For we know, if this earthly house," &c. He was punctual in attendance upon all the means of grace. The morning before his death he conducted family worship with his parents and two brothers, and sung the hymn commencing,
"I'll praise my Maker while I've breath,"
and prayed with much fervency. But before the time of assembling around the family altar again, he had gone to join the blood-washed throng, and, no doubt, had turned his harp celestial in praises to that God he served so faithfully on earth.
[Editorial Note:] As noted in the above obituary, the parents of Joseph Sparks were Joel and Lydia Sparks. They had moved with their family to Clinton County, Iowa, in 1849. When the 1850 census was taken of Clinton County, Joel Sparks was shown as a farmer in Bloomfield Township and heading a household that included his wife, Lydia, and two of their sons, John M. Sparks, age 20, and William Sparks, age 25. Both Joel and Lydia were then 56 years old and were shown as natives of New York. There are ample records, however, proving that their births had actually occurred in New Jersey, not New York. Joel and Lydias son, Edward E. Sparks, a farmer, age 27, with his wife, Mary, and two- year-old son, George, were listed by the census taker immediately following the household of Joel Sparks
A biographical sketch of John M. Sparks, son of Joel and Lydia, appeared in a biographical album of Clinton County, Iowa, page 193, published in 1886. According to this account, Joel Sparks had been born in Salem County, New Jersey, on August 21, 1794, while Lydia had been born in New Jersey on September 28, 1794. There is a record of the marriage of Joel Sparks and Lydia Whitaker in Cumberland County, New Jersey, on February 28, 1820. According to a query submitted to the D.A.R. Magazine, Vol. 48, Lydia was a daughter of Jeremiah and Sarah (Keen) Whitaker, they having been married on February 19, 1778.
According to the biographical sketch of John M. Sparks, noted above, Joel and Lydia (Whitaker) Sparks had seven children, John, the third child, was twelve years old when his parents moved to Pennsylvania; they lived there three years, and John attended school in Philadelphia where they resided. From there they moved to Barnbridge, Lancaster County, for two years. Thence to Warren County [Ohio], then to Putnam County [Ohio], and finally to Hancock [Ohio] until June 1849, then started with three teams for Iowa. They consisted in all of the parents and four sons, their three daughters had died in New Jersey. The journey to Iowa took three weeks. They rented a log house on Section 3, Brookfield Township, there father and sons took up land together in Section 16 where they built an humble dwelling, followed later by a better home. In 1850 the brothers divided the land.
From our research in New Jersey records, we know that Joel Sparks was a son of Simon Sparks who was born in 1766 and died on December 3, 1803, at the age of 37. He was married twice, and Joel was a son of the first wife whose name was Sarah. We have not found her maiden name. The second wife of Simon Sparks was Martha Murphy Barnes, but he had no children by her. by his first wife, Simon Sparks had a daughter, Priscilla, and two sons, Joel and John.
In his will written in Pilesgrove Township, Salem County, New Jersey, on November 26, 1803, he left his estate to the care and management of his wife, Martha, during her lifetime. After her decease, one quarter of the estate was to go to his daughter, Priscilla, while the remaining three-quarters was to be divided between his sons, Joel and John.
Lydia (Whitaker) Sparks, wife of Joel Sparks, died in Clinton County, Iowa, on February 24, 1853. Joel Sparks died on July 11, 1871, in the home of his son, John M. Sparks, in Brookfield Township, Clinton County. The three sons of Joel and Lydia (Whitaker) Sparks, besides Joseph Sparks, subject of the above obituary, were:
Edward Page Sparks, born August 11, 1822, in Pilesgrove, Salem Township, New Jersey. He was married on April 8, 1847, in Findlay, Hancock County, Ohio, to Mary Jane Funkhouser.
John M. Sparks, born August 24, 1824, in Salem County, New Jersey. He was married on December 5, 1850, in Hancock County, Ohio, to Salina Martha Birkhead.
William W. Sparks, born October 23, 1830. He was married on January 12, 1854, to Ruby A. Chaffee.
May 1  - At Brownsville, Licking County, Ohio, sister Sidney Sparks, the wife of our Sunday school superintendent. Sister Sidney Sparks was the daughter of William and Frances Cunningham, and born in Guernsey county, O., March 17, 1809. Her parents were religious, her mother being a member of the Presbyterian Church.
In early life she received a pious education. March 17, 1827, she married Wm. Sparks, her now bereaved husband. During the year 1834 she joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, in Mount Sterling, Muskingum county, 0. Soon after she joined the Church she made a profession of the religion of Jesus, and ever after retained an evidence of her acceptance, through faith in Christ, that she was a child of God. In the constancy of her Christian enjoyment and daily walk, in conversation, in life, and in her death, we have had portrayed before us a bright example of the happy life and triumphant death of the Christian. For the last fourteen years sister Sparks has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Brownsville, where she did much service. During her last illness, (which was a lingering consumption,) I visited her frequently, talked and prayed with her, and I always found her deeply engaged for a brighter evidence, and for stronger faith. It was her constant prayer for victory. It had been her desire, when she died, to die shouting victory. The Lord heard her prayer; and for several days before her death, at times, she was enabled to shout aloud the high praises of her God, who had given her the victory., And now that the cold hand of death was upon her, and she was no longer able to speak aloud, the power of speech having failed, she uttered, in a low whisper, "Glory! glory! glory!" and :well asleep in Jesus.
WESLEY G. MONTGOMERY
[Editorial Note:] We have published this obituary of Sidney (Cunningham) Sparks earlier, in the Quarterly of September 1996, Whole No. 175, pp. 4678-79 but for consistency, we have repeated it here. Sidney Cunningham was married on March 17, 1827, to 45.2 William Sparks, in Guernsey County, Ohio. He was a son of 45. Stephen and Ann (Carman) Sparks. For further information regarding this branch of the Sparks family, see the article entitled "Stephen Sparks, (born ca. 1774) of Maryland and Ohio, and His Wife, Anna (Carman) Sparks (Born 1787) With Some of Their Descendants," in the issue of the Quarterly cited above, pp. 4647-4693.
[Died] in the Hospital at St. Louis, Missouri, April 14th, Charles Bonner Sparks. He was born March 18, 1840. He belonged to Company I, 83d Indiana Regiment, and was a good soldier. He was converted a few years since, and was a member of the Church at the time of his death. He was an affectionate son and brother. A friend who conversed with him a few hours before his death informs us that he was trusting in Jesus as his only hope. This assurance comforts his friends, who were not permitted to minister to his wants in his last hour. Another family circle is broken, another offering of priceless value is laid upon our country's altar. We believe that he rests in Jesus.
W. R. GOODWIN
[Editorial Note:] Charles Bonner Sparks was a son of 58.1.1 Hamlet and Elizabeth T. (Chrisman) Sparks. (Elizabeth's middle name was Toplis; her surname was spelled, also, as Chesman and Cheeseman.) A sketch of the life and family of Hamlet Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of June 1973, Whole No. 82, beginning on page 1563. Hamlet's obituary also appeared in the Western Christian Advocate in 1876 and is reproduced beginning on P. 4913 of the present issue of the Quarterly. Charles Bonner Sparks appeared on the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Dearborn County, Indiana, in his parents' household, age 10 and 20, respectively. The cause of his death in the Larson Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, was reported at the time as "anemia."
[Died] in Union City, Ind., of congestion, after an illness of two days, Anna Bell Sparks, only daughter of Rev. R. H. and Rachel C. Sparks, of North Indiana Conference, aged nine years, ten months, and seventeen days. This is truly a sad affliction to brother and sister Sparks. He is now in the army, Chaplain of the one hundred and twenty-fourth Indiana volunteers. Bell was a faithful Sunday-school scholar, and we hope she is with the good children in heaven.
C. P. WRIGHT
[Editorial Note:] As noted in her obituary, Anna Bell Sparks, who had been born on May 20, 1856, and died on April 6, 1865, was a daughter of the Rev. R. H. and Rachel C. Sparks. She was shown, at the age of four, in the household of her parents when the 1860 census was taken in Sand Creek Township in Bartholomew County, Indiana. Her father's full name was 220.127.116.11 Reuben Harper Sparks, and he was the eldest child of 26.1.4 Amos Sparks and Amos's first wife, Nancy Mercy Harper.
A Methodist minister, the Rev. R. H. Sparks had been married to Rachel C. Compton on August 5, 1855, near Connersville in Fayette County, Indiana. They were the parents of three children in addition to
18.104.22.168.1 Anna Bell Sparks;
22.214.171.124.2 Horace Beecher Sparks, born September 3, 1858;
126.96.36.199.3 Frank Lemon Sparks, born February 8, 1864; and
188.8.131.52.4 Mattie Mae Sparks, born July 23, 1870.
This information is found in the Civil War pension papers of the Rev. R. H. Sparks at the National Archives. An abstract of these papers was published in the Quarterly of September 1996, Whole No. 175, pp. 4700-02.
Born on July 6, 1832, in Franklin County, Indiana, Reuben Harper Sparks, who preferred to use his initials, "R.H.," died on January 23, 1917, at Ottawa, Kansas. Amos Sparks (born ca. 1811), grandfather of Anna Bell Sparks, was a son of Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks. Both of their obituaries were published in the Western Christian Advocate; that of Margaret (Burris) Sparks appears on page 4899 of the present issue of the Quarterly. (See the Quarterly of December 1972, Whole No. 80, beginning on page 1517, for further information on this branch of the Sparks family.)
Mrs. Elizabeth Sparks was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, 1772. Her maiden name was Weaver. She was of German descent, and her parents were members of the Dutch Reform Church. Her father died when she was a small girl, and her religious training was mostly from her mother. After the death of her father, her mother emigrated to Virginia, and located in Frederick county, near Winchester. In Virginia, in those days, the people called Methodists were almost unknown. Those who dared to take this name upon themselves subjected themselves, not only to the sport and ridicule of non-professors, but also to the most bitter invectives from such as declared themselves to be servants of God. The name--Methodist--was cast out as evil, and hence it required no small amount of Christian courage and grace to be a Methodist. There came a day when a Methodist preacher made his way to Mrs. Weaver's neighborhooda house was opened to him, in which he commenced his labors with the people. Out of the merest curiosity, Miss Elizabeth Weaver, in company with several other ladies, went to hear him the first time he preached to their neighborhood. Elizabeth's curiosity was soon satisfied, for, as the preacher advanced in his discourse, she became deeply interested in the solemn Gospel truths uttered. His sermon concluded, he announced that four weeks from that day he would be there again. She then and there formed the resolution to hear him again. The day upon which he was to be there a second time came.
He was at his post, and in the spirit of his Master. Miss Weaver was in the congregation, an attentive hearer, and ere the conclusion of that day's discourse she was pungently convicted for sin, as were also several of her lady comrades. The friends of these ladies became greatly alarmed for them, and declared they should hear this setterforth of strange doctrines preach no more. God, nevertheless, blessed the labors of his servant among that people, and soules were converted, a Methodist class formed, and, before the close of the year, notice was given that, upon a specified time, a quarterly meeting would be held at that place. Elizabeth Weaver, and Major Ziegler's two daughters, and an M. D.s wife made up their minds to attend the services of that quarterly occasion. The Doctor having learned his wife's designs, determined to keep her away from the meeting; and to make his purposes doubly sure, two or three days before the meeting was to commence he blistered her largely with cantharides [i.e. "Spanish Fly"].
Major Ziegler's daughters were, it seems, spinsters, and the Major, to prevent them from attending the meeting, told them they must spin double the amount of yarn the week of the meeting that they were accustomed to, and if they did this by Saturday night, they might go on Sunday. They wrought hard, and when Friday night came their task was accomplished.
Saturday morning came; the Doctor's wife, notwithstanding her suffering was great, from the influence of her blister, had a horse saddled--the Doctor having been called away that morning on professional business--and she, with the Misses Ziegler, set out for the quarterly meeting. They stopped at Mrs. Weaver's, and gained her consent for Elizabeth to go also. At that quarterly meeting they all joined the Church, and were powerfully converted. Elizabeth was then in her nineteenth year. In her twentieth year she and the Rev. Elijah Sparks were married. At the time of their marriage Mr. Sparks was engaged in the mercantile Business in Winchester, Virginia. In 1798 they moved to Kentucky, and settled in Newport, opposite Cincinnati. They were members of the first Methodist class in Newport, and also attended a class in Cincinnati. A man whose name was Lyons was the leader. In 1806, March 6th, they moved to Indiana, and settled in Lawrenceburg. Here they opened their house for preaching, and also became members of, and assisted in forming, the first Methodist class in Lawrenceburg. Rev. E. Sparks died in 1815. Elizabeth Sparks, his widow, never married again. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church seventy-three years, fifty-eight of which she belonged to the society at Lawrenceburg, never having dissolved her connection with the Methodist people at Lawrenceburg from the time she first became a member of the little class there till the day of her death. From the time of the death of her husband, Mrs. Sparks--so long as she kept house-- never failed under any circumstances whatever--with the exception of personal ill health--to sacrifice to God upon the family altar morning and evening. Bishops Asbury, George, M'Kendree, and Roberts were among her spiritual advisers. Her house was a welcome home for the weary itinerant. Strange, Griffith, Wiley, Lambden, and many others, welcomed her, no doubt, at the threshold of glory. All through her Christian life the Missionary cause laid near her heart. She felt that the Gospel that had saved her soul from death was able also to save the heathen world, and she gave liberally to it. She took the Advocate and Journal from the time it was first printed, til the first number of the Western Christian Advocate was issued; she then ceased to be a subscriber to the former, and became a life-long subscriber to the latter. She never failed to do her part in paying her pastor's salary. On her death-bed she gave him some money, stating at the same time she would not likely live to see the next ensuing quarterly meeting.
She was also patriotic in her feelings--a friend to her country and her country's soldiers during the diabolical Southern rebellion. In her ninety-first year she assisted in making clothes for the United States soldiers. She died in her ninety-second year. She never seemed to lose her social qualities, as do most persons who attain to old age. She was cheerful and happy to the end of her days.
E. W. BURRUSS
[Editorial Note:] A photograph of Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks, 1772-1864, taken in her old age, was featured on the cover of the issue of the Quarterly for June 1973, Whole No. 82. In that issue, beginning on page 1556, we presented a considerable amount of biographical information on Elijah Sparks, ca.1770-1815. A descendant of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks, Miss Myra Firnhaber of New York City, stated many years ago that the exact date of birth of Elizabeth had been December 1, 1772, and that she had been one of seven children of George and Frances (Brechbuhl) Weaver. George Weaver had died in May 1782. (Further information on the Weaver family, given in the issue of the Quarterly cited above, will not be repeated here.) Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks died on March 13, 1864, at Moores Hill, Indiana, in the home of her son, Hamlet Sparks.
The children of Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks were:
58.1.1 Hamlet Sparks, born September 11, 1795. He died on January 30, 1878; his obituary also appeared in the Western Christian Advocate, the text of which begins on page 4913 of the present issue of the Quarterly. See page 4911 for the obituary of Hamlet's second wife, Elizabeth L. (Chrisman) Sparks, who died in 1872.
58.1.2 Norval Sparks, born in 1800.
58.1.3 Eliza Ann Sparks, born April 3, 1803.
58.1.4 Green Sparks, born ca. 1808.
58.1.5 Helen Sparks, born ca. 1812.
58.1.6 America Sparks, born ca. 1815.
Rev. Amos Sparks was born in Queen Ann [sic] county, Eastern Shore, Md., June 7, 1785. His parents were Methodists, and raised their children in the fear of the Lord. In 1803 he was converted, and the same year commenced exhorting sinners to flee the wrath to come. He commenced preaching shortly after in Western Pennsylvania and Western Virginia. These were his happy days. Meetings, in these early days, were held, mostly, in the log-cabins of the settlers. Many were the times then, he said, that the children of God would get shouting happy, till the whole house would be rejoicing at once. He says he saw happy hundreds and thousands thus converted. He was one of the early pioneers in Eastern Ohio, and he immediately commenced preaching the Gospel to the poor settlers in that region. In due time he was ordained deacon by Bishop George, and elder by Bishop Soule. He commenced his itinerant career in 1825, by an appointment from the presiding elder, in the bounds of the Ohio Conference. He was admitted into the Ohio Annual Conference in the Fall of 1826, and appointed to Greenville circuit. In 1827 and 1828, we do not find his name in the Minutes, but in 1829 we find him again admitted into the Ohio Conference, and at the same time transferred to the Illinois Conference--which then included the State of Indiana--and appointed to the Connersville circuit. In 1830 he was appointed to Rushville, and in 1831 to Columbus circuit. In 1832 he was received in full connection, and appointed to Brownstown; in 1833 to Franklin; in 1834 to Mooresville, which was his last circuit. He, however, continued to preach as a local minister as long as he was able.
Brother Sparks was a good man, and a firm believer in an evangelical ministry, called by the Holy Ghost to the work, and feeling, "woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel. 11 Said he to me, "Brother Beach, I do not believe any thing else is true religion, but that which we can feel and enjoy." Brother Sparks informed me he never had a Church trial or difficulty with any man. Dead to the world, he lived unto God. His wife had preceded him to the grave some years. Thus died our brother, January 11, 1867, in the 82d year of his age, "an old man and full of days!"
[Editorial Note:] The 26.2 Rev. Amos Sparks was a brother of 26.1 Jesse R. Sparks, about whom information appears in the editorial note following the obituary of his wife, Margaret (Burris) Sparks, on pp. 4899-4900 of the present issue of the Quarterly.
In the above obituary of Amos Sparks, Queen Ann County, Maryland, was given as his place of birth; this should be Queen Annes County, Maryland. We have not succeeded in identifying the parents of Amos and Jesse R. Sparks. An article devoted to Amos Sparks and his family appeared in the March 1962 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 37, beginning on page 618. Most of our information for that article was supplied by a descendant, the late Hazle T. Tarman of El Paso, Illinois.
According to the family Bible of Amos Sparks, owned by Mrs. Tarman in 1962, he was married on June 2, 1805, to Nancy Borough; she had been born on December 1, 1789. Amos and Nancy Sparks were living in Ohio when their first child was born in 1807. Nancy died before Amos, but the date of her death has not been found. They were the parents of seven children, about whom biographical information can be found in the article cited earlier. They were:
26.2.1 Noah Sparks, born January 11, 1807; he married Susanna Woodward. (See pp. 4896-97 of the present issue of the Quarterly for the obituary of their daughter, Mary Jane Sparks.)
26.2.2 Jeremiah Sparks, born November 16, 1808. He married Ann Hughes in Butler County, Ohio, on November 6. 1837.
26.2.3 Jesse Sparks, born January 12, 1810; he married Judith Dorrah (or Darrah).
26.2.4 Bathshebar [or Bathsheba] Sparks, born April 30, 1813; she married Robert Davis.
26.2.5 Benjamin A. Sparks, born November 16, 1816; he married Mary Imhuff.
26.2.6 Asa Albert Sparks, born November 10, 1817; he married Amanda Van Scyoc. (Their photograph appears on the cover of the Quarterly of March 1962, Whole No. 37.)
26.2.7 May Sparks, born February 17, 1819. No further information.
Martha Sparks was a native of New Jersey; was converted in Fairfield Co., O., in her twenty-first year; lived many years in Republic, Seneca Co., O., and ornamented the Christian name for forty-three years in prosperity and adversity. In death she found consolation from John XIV, 1-3, and 659th hymn, chosen by her for her funeral rites.
[Editorial Note:] From a descendant of Martha Sparks, Pamela Lucas of Kentwood, Michigan, we have learned that Martha was a daughter of Matson Peterson, a Revolutionary War soldier of the New Jersey Line. On October 2, 1832, Matson Peterson applied for a pension based on his service in the Revolution, and in his application, he stated that he had been born on May 21, 1765, in Gloucester County, New Jersey. He also stated that at the close of the Revolution, he had moved to Fairfield County, Ohio; later he had moved to Seneca County, Ohio, and it was from there that he applied for his pension in 1832. He signed his application as Matson Peterson, Sr.
From the brief information contained in Martha Sparks's obituary, we learn that she had accompanied her father to Fairfield County, Ohio. It was either there or in Seneca County, Ohio, that she married James S. Sparks ca. 1826.
We have not been able thus far to identify the parentage of James S. Sparks. From census records, we know that he was born in Pennsylvania.
We have not found James S. Sparks on the 1830 census of Ohio, but he appeared as head of his household on the 1840 census of Scipio Township, Seneca County, Ohio. It appears that he and his family lived in the town of Republic. According to Pamela Lucas, Martha's father, Matson Peterson, was the male aged between 70 and 80 living with her and James S. Sparks in 1840. Matson Peterson died in 1848.
James S. Sparks was shown on the 1850 census of Scipio Township, Seneca County, Ohio, as a physician, born in Pennsylvania, age 48, with real estate valued at $4,000. Martha was shown as 46 years old, a native of New. Jersey. Their eight children, ranging in age from 21 to 4, were all shown as born in Ohio.
When the 1860 census was taken, Martha Sparks was shown as heading her household, with real estate valued at only $100. Her son George, age 17, and daughter, Jane, age 14, were the only children still at home. The reason for her husband's absence is explained in a brief obituary for him appearing in the Tiffin, Ohio, Tribune of November 5, 1869:
Died in Poor House. Dr. James S. Sparks, one of the early settlers of the county, on Sunday morning, October 31st 1869. He was for many years a prominent citizen of Republic with an extensive practice as a physician. Ruined financially and mentally, he died an imbecile pauper. Strong drink did it.
Our information regarding the children of James S. and Martha (Peterson) Sparks is limited to the following:
1. John G. Sparks, born ca. 1828, died in Seneca County, Ohio, on June 18, 1903. He married (first) Susan E. Measels (or Mearle) in 1851, in Seneca County. She died on July 3, 1874; he married (second) Samantha (Denison) Beigh on June 30, 1878; she died on February 25, 1929. He received a pension for his service in the Civil War in the 25th Regiment Ohio Infantry. See an abstract of his pension file in the National Archives in the Quarterly of September 1983, Whole No. 123, pp. 2554-56.
2. Josiah S. Sparks, sometimes called Joseph, was born ca. 1831. He may have been a twin of Jeremiah. He served in Company H, 5th Ohio Infantry in the Civil War. He married Callie Sluter on March 28, 1872, in Seneca County, Ohio.
3. Jeremiah Sparks, born ca. 1831. He may have been a twin of Josiah. He served in the Civil War in Company G, 40th Wisconsin Infantry.
4. Sarah Ann Sparks, born ca. 1834. She married George Longstreet on May 16, 1860, in Seneca County, Ohio. She died in 1918. She and her husband were living in Ingham County, Michigan, in 1883 when they made affidavits to support the application of Edgar G. Sparks for a Civil War pension.
5. Martha A. Sparks, born August 4, 1837. She married John Longstreet on March 2, 1856, in Seneca County, Ohio. She made an affidavit on May 21, 1896, supporting the pension application of her brother, James P. Sparks. She stated that she was two years older than James.
6. James P. Sparks, born August 14, 1839, died January 5, 1920. He served in the Civil War in Company H, 101st Regiment Ohio Infantry and in Company H of the 8th Veterans Reserve Corps. As a resident of Dundee, Monroe County, Michigan, he applied for and received a pension. (See the Quarterly of September 1983, Whole No. 123, pp. 2556-57, for an abstract of his pension file.) He married (first) Mary Celeste Cook on November 14, 1870, in Seneca County, Ohio; she died on April 14, 1894. He married (second) Isidora (Whitman) Fleming on October 6, 1897, at Petersburg, Michigan. (See an abstract of his pension file in the Quarterly of September 1983, Whole No. 123, pp. 2556-57.)
7. Edgar C. Sparks, born ca. 1841, died May 12, 1884. He served in the Civil War in Company K, 65th New York Volunteers, and in Company H-12, 2nd Battalion Veterans Reserve Corps. He received a pension for his service, the papers for which at the National Archives were abstracted in the Quarterly of June 1994, Whole No. 166, pp. 4309-4311. Edgar C. Sparks married Amanda J. Clingaman on November 19, 1865, at Springhill, Fulton County, Ohio. When the 1870 census was taken, they and three children were living in Kent County, Michigan, their post office being Grand Rapids. She died on March 27, 1923, at Jackson, Michigan.
8. George W. Sparks, born March 21, 1843, died August 25, 1919. He married Esther Showalter on March 2, 1875, in DeKalb County, Indiana. He served in the Civil War in Company H, 101st Regiment Ohio Infantry as did his brother, James P. Sparks. George received a pension for that service. (See the Quarterly of September 1983, Whole No. 123, p. 2558, for an abstract of his pension file at the National Archives.) In 1918, when he applied for an increase in his pension, he was living in Montpelier, Ohio.
9. Jane L. Sparks, born ca. 1846. No further information.
Jane Sparks was born September 14, 1850, and died of consumption, at her parents' residence, near Clyde, Ohio, April 25, 1872. She embraced religion at a meeting held at Northridge meeting-house by brother Broadwell, in the Winter of 1868; was the first at the altar of prayer, and ever afterward was faithful. She left the world in peace. The direct witness of the Spirit was not so bright as she desired for a season during her confinement; but these words were quoted to her relief: "We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren." She calmly made distribution of her apparel, gave directions concerning the habiliment of her tomb, and the application of ten dollars for religious purposes; gave a charge to each member of the family to meet her in heaven. She left a like message for the school children. We miss her as leader of our devotions at the organ in the sanctuary and elsewhere. May the Lord support the bereaved!
[Editorial Note:] Jane Sparks was a daughter of 184.108.40.206.2.1 Randall and Ann (Wingate) Sparks. Randall Sparks had been born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on January 14, 1814. He and Ann Wingate were married on May 31, 1835. Randall was a son of Ephraim Lloyd and Sarah (Cook) Sparks of Salem County, New Jersey. (For a record of this branch of the Sparks family, see the Quarterly of December 1964, Whole No. 48, pp. 865-872, the article entitled: "Isaac Sparks of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and his Descendants.") Following is a biographical sketch of Randall Sparks that appeared in Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Sandusky and Ottawa, Ohio, published in Chicago by the J. H. Beers Co., in 1896:
Randall Sparks was reared on the farm in Tuscarawas county [Ohio], attending school for a few months each year when pressing farm work was done. He was an apt pupil, and before his marriage, at the age of twenty-one, he had taught three terms of school. On May 31, 1835, he married Ann Wingate, who was born in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, November 7, 1818, daughter of Henry and Mary Bridall) Wingate, both natives of Delaware, who became early settlers of Carroll county, Ohio. Henry Wingate was of English ancestry; his wife of French parentage. He died at the age of sixty-six years, she dying when Ann, the youngest child, was five weeks old. She was the mother of fifteen children, twelve of whom grew to manhood and womanhood. ... After his marriage, Randall Sparks settled in Tuscarawas county. He taught another term of school in the winter, and for nearly eight years he remained there, engaged in farming. In the fall of 1842 he came to York township, Sandusky county, and purchasing eighty acres of land on the ridge began to clear it up. In the following spring, he removed with his family to the new home, and he has lived there ever since. [Note that this was published in 1896.]
Randall and Ann (Wingate) Sparks were the parents of the following children:
220.127.116.11.2.1.1 Lemuel Sparks, born December 8, 1836. He enlisted in the Union Army on November 9, 1861, and died following the Battle of Shiloh of typhoid fever near Corinth, Mississippi, on May 16, 1862.
18.104.22.168.2.1.2 Catherine Sparks, born July 8, 1839; died January 5, 1858.
22.214.171.124.2.1.3 Albert Sparks, born November 26, 1841; died May 31, 1861.
126.96.36.199.2.1.4 Leslie E. Sparks, born March 21, 1844. He enlisted in the Union Army, joining the First Ohio Heavy Artillery; he was drowned in the Tennessee River, near Loudon, Tennessee, on June 2, 1864. With others, he had been ordered to guard a railroad bridge, and while they were crossing the river, their canoe capsized.
188.8.131.52.2.1.5 Melissa Sparks, born January 13, 1847; died November 6, 1869.
184.108.40.206.2.1.6 Elinda Jane Sparks, born September 16, 1850; died April 25, 1872. As shown in her obituary, above, it appears that she was called by her middle name, Jane. We have a slightly different date of birth for her from that given in her obituary.
220.127.116.11.2.1.7 Wilbur L. Sparks, born February 27, 1854. He was married on June 11, 1890, to Alice Jarvis, by whom he had one child, born June 5, 1891. He died on May 24, 1895.
18.104.22.168.2.1.8 Ella Belle Sparks, born June 15, 1859.
Elizabeth L. Sparks, wife of 58.1.1 Hamlet Sparks, deceased May 18th . She was born in Virginia, May 11, 1797; came to Indiana in 1818; was married in 1819, and joined the Church in 1822. She was a true Christian woman and wife, mother and friend, lived an honored and useful life, and died a peaceful and hopeful death. She now rests from her labors. May the blessing of God comfort and sustain the husband in his loneliness and sorrow!
[Editorial Note: Elizabeth Sparks's maiden name had been Chrisman (or Cheesman). She married Hamlet Sparks ca. 1819. The obituary of their son, Charles Bonner Sparks, who died while a soldier in the Union Army in the Civil War, appears on p. 4903 of the present issue of the Quarterly, while that of her husband begins on p. 4912. While her middle initial is given as "L." in her obituary, we understand from other sources that her middle name was Toplis.
Joseph Foster Sparks was born August 2, 1846, and died of typhoid pneumonia, in Highland Township, Vermillion Co., Ind. He was a young lawyer of much promise, and a Christian of many virtues.
W. G. VESSELS.
[Editorial Note:] From census and cemetery records, we know that Joseph Foster Sparks, subject of this brief obituary, was a son of Daniel and Mary Ann Sparks who were living in Vermillion County, Indiana, as early as 1840. Daniel had been born in Maryland, and Mary Ann in Ohio, according to census records.
Located on the western edge of Indiana adjoining Illinois, Vermillion County borders Edgar and Vermilion Counties, Illinois, on the west, and on the east Parke and Fountain Counties, Indiana, Highland Township in Vermillion County, Indiana, partially adjoins Covington Township in Fountain County, Indiana, where Mary Ann Sparks (1818-1900) was buried in the Lower Mound Cemetery. Based primarily on census records, Daniel and Mary Ann Sparks appear to have had the following children, all born in Indiana.
1. Elizabeth Sparks, born ca. 1829.
2. Dau1 Sparks born ca. 1831.
3. William S. Sparks, born ca. 1833.
4. Samuel Sparks, born May 19, 1834, died April 9, 1898.
5. Margaret Sparks, born ca. 1840.
6. Enoch George Sparks, born ca. 1843. He was called George.
7. Joseph Foster Sparks, born August 2, 1846, died 1873.
8. Warren (or Warner) Sparks, born ca. 1848.
9. Edith Sparks, born ca. 1852.
10. Anna L. Sparks, born ca. 1858.
The daughter named Elizabeth is said by a descendant to have been married on February 25, 1849, in Vermillion County, Indiana, to Sandy E. [or Andrew] Dennis. It was his second marriage; he died on September 18, 1853, and, subsequently, Elizabeth married (second) Horace A. Johnson. Sandy Dennis was buried in the Lower Mound Cemetery in Covington Township in Fountain County, Indiana. His gravestone is in the same lot as is the one for Mary Ann Sparks, wife of Daniel. Also buried in this lot is Samuel Sparks, born May 19, 1834, died April 9, 1898, believed to be Daniel and Mary Ann's son of that name.
Nearby is a stone for Joseph E. Sparks who "died May 31, 1823, as well as one for "Deborah Towers, died February 1, 1877, age 88 years, 1 month, and 3 days. How these two individuals may have been connected with Daniel and Mary Ann Sparks is unknown at this time.
When the 1860 census was taken, Daniel Sparks was shown, again, in Highland Township, Vermillion County, Indiana, heading his household. His real estate was valued at $6,600, and personal property worth $4,000. His son, William Sparks, age 26, was employed by a neighboring farmer named Nathan Jacobs. His son, Samuel Sparks, was not shown on that census, nor was his daughter, Margaret. She may have been married by then, as was her sister, Elizabeth.
When the 1870 census was taken of Vermillion County, Mary Ann Sparks was shown as head of her household, indicating that Daniel Sparks had probably died by then.
Her daughters, Edith (age 18) and Anna L. (age 12) were still at home, as was her son, Joseph F. Sparks (age 23) shown as "Lawyer." Their post office was Perryville in Highland Township. (Because both Vermillion County, Indiana, and Vermilion County, Illinois, are noted in this sketch, perhaps we should add that our spelling for each is correct.)
Hamlet Sparks, Esq., was born in Fredericksburg, Va., September 11, 1795, and died in Moore's Hill, Ind., January 30, 1876. In 1806, he removed to Lawrenceburg, Ind., and grew up amid the hardships incident to early pioneer life, part of his time being spent in the blockhouse, with rifle in hand, assisting to repel the then frequent attacks of the Indians. In 1817, he united with the Church, and thenceforward lived a strictly religious life a period of about sixty years. In 1818, brother Sparks was united in marriage to Hannah Cobb, who shortly afterward died. In 1819, he married Elizabeth Chrisman, who passed away in 1872. He raised a family of nine children, one of whom is the widow of the lamented Rev. E. W. Burruss, of the Southeastern Indiana Conference. When the summons came to him to cross the stream of death, he was "ready," and, without a murmur, passed from his earthly to his heavenly home.
NO AUTHOR GIVEN
[Editorial Note:] Hamlet Sparks was the eldest son of 58.1 Elijah and Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks. The obituary of his mother appears in this issue of the Quarterly, beginning on p. 4904. The obituary of Hamlet's second wife, Elizabeth L. (Chrisman) Sparks, also appears in this issue, on p. 4911. The obituary of Hamlet's son, Charles Bonner Sparks, appears on p. 4903. Biographical information pertaining to Hamlet Sparks appears in the Quarterly of June 1973, Whole No. 82, p. 1563, along with a record of his nine children. His and Elizabeth's children were:
22.214.171.124 Eliza Sparks, born ca. 1819.
126.96.36.199 Almira Sparks, born ca. 1823.
188.8.131.52 Mary R. Sparks, born ca. 1826.
184.108.40.206 Elijah Sparks, born ca. 1828.
220.127.116.11 Liberty Sparks, born ca. 1832.
18.104.22.168 America Sparks, born ca. 1834.
22.214.171.124 Norval G. Sparks, born November 1, 1837.
126.96.36.199 Charles Bonner Sparks, born March 13, 1840.
188.8.131.52 William Palmer Sparks, born April 1, 1843.
Eliza B. Sparks, wife of the Rev. J. B. Sparks, and daughter to John and Mary Rockafellar, was born in New Jersey, 5 February 1805. While yet an infant, her parents removed to Indiana and settled where the village of New Trenton now stands in the Whitewater Valley. They were prominent in planting Methodism in the valley. She united with the Church when 12, and was converted three years later under the ministry of Rev. Russel Bigelow. She married her surviving companion September 19, 1830. She was the mother of 7 children, 6 of whom are living. Her religious life was remarkable for eminent piety, devotion to the Church, earnest solicitude and effort for the conversion and salvation of sinners. Her strong faith and prayerful spirit were very marked, the Word of God was her constant study and source of delight, strength and comfort. She had read the Bible through more than once for each year, and once she read the entire Bible on her knees; she used the means and hence became a mature Christian. During the 30 years of her husband's effective ministry in the South-east Indiana Conference, she was the willing sharer in all toils, privations and cares, incident to the life of an itinerant minister and by her prayers and personal effort, contributed much to the large measure of success which attended his ministry. Mr. Sparks was granted a superannuated relation in September 1879, and with his family removed to Greenfield. This change was all the more necessary owing to failing health of Mrs. Sparks. During the past year her decline had been more rapid; and after intense suffering she peacefully fell asleep, December 19, 1880. The closing days of her life were characterized by the most sublime Christian triumph. Among her latest expressions was an earnest desire to be instrumental in yet saving one soul. In all her relations in life she was true in a high sense, and especially in those of wife and mother did she manifest qualities of a high order; her husband and children rise up and call her blessed. The funeral services were held in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Greenfield, December 20th, conducted by her pastor, Rev. J. F. Rhoades, assisted by Rev. Dr. Geo. L. Curtiss, in Indianapolis.
J. R. R.
[Editorial Note:] 26.2.2 Jeremiah Burris Sparks, husband of Eliza (Rockafeller) Sparks, was featured in an article appearing in the Quarterly of December 1972, Whole No. 80, pp. 1517-1527. His photograph appears on p. 1523 of that article. He was born November 15, 1808, in Belmont County, Ohio, and died on February 6, 1886, in Hancock County, Indiana. He was a son of 26.2 Jesse R. and Margaret (Burris) Sparks. The obituary of Margaret (Burris) Sparks from the Western Christian Advocate appears on p. 4899 of the present issue of the Quarterly.
Jeremiah B. and Eliza B. (Rockafellar) Sparks were buried in the Park Cemetery near Greenfield, Indiana. They were the parents of seven children, whose names and dates of birth and death follow; additional information about each can be found on pp. 1524-26 of the Quarterly cited above.
184.108.40.206 Hester Ann Sparks, born April 8, 1833, died July 25, 1849.
220.127.116.11 Clara Sparks, born July 5, 1835, died August 24, 1903.
18.104.22.168 Mary Eliza Sparks, born July 5, 1838, died August 24, 1903.
22.214.171.124 Henry Bascom Sparks, born August 4, 1841, died March 8, 1929.
126.96.36.199 William McKendree Sparks, born October 18, 1843, died September 26, 1926.
188.8.131.52 John S. Sparks, born April 9, 1846.
184.108.40.206 Martha Alice Sparks, born May 4, 1851, died May 21, 1850.
A veteran of the Northwest Indiana Conference, the Rev. Jesse Sparks, departed this life January 5th . He was born in Belmont co., O., January 11, 1807, and was, therefore, almost eighty-nine years of age. He came to Indiana ca. 1823, settling with his parents in Dearborn Co., where, in 1827, he married Jemima Thorn. Previous to his coming to Tippecanoe County in 1839, he had been licensed and began preaching the Gospel in Adams County. In 1841 he was admitted into the traveling connection of the old Indiana Conference. He remained in the effective relation until 1867, belonging successively to the North Indiana and then Northwest Indiana Conferences, when the divisions were made. Since 1867 he sustained either supernumerary or superannuated relations, except for two years, owing to broken health and voice. For several years before his death, his memory was unreliable, and only a partial list of his appointments can be given, namely: Decatur, DeKalb, Angola, Lima, Columbia City, Marion, Wabash, Agency Fort Wayne College, Rochester Circuit, Fulton, and Kewanna. In his prime he was a preacher of extraordinary ability, and his revivals were always large in results and power.
His first wife, to whom eight children were born, died October 9, 1872. Of these children, one alone remains, the last son, Jere, having died just two weeks after his father's demise. This is a daughter, Mrs. Jane Mogle, residing near this place (Kewanna).
In 1873 Father Sparks married Mrs. Lydia H. Poling, and together they shared his last years. She was faithful and true through dark fortune and through bright. Father Sparks was a mighty power for good. He was faithful in his attendance upon the means of grace, and delighted in nothing more. He was beloved by all who knew him, and his influence will long be felt in the community where he spent his last days.
HORACE G. OGDEN.
[Editor's Note:] A portrait of the Rev. Jesse Sparks (1807-1896) appeared on the cover of the issue of the Quarterly for September 1969, Whole No. 67. A biographical sketch of him and a record of his family follow in that issue, pp. 1250-55. He is called "Jr." in that article because he was a son of Jesse R. Sparks.
An obituary of his mother, Margaret (Burris) Sparks, appears on p. 4899 of the present issue of the Quarterly, and in the editorial note following, there is information regarding Jesse R. Sparks. As noted in the above obituary, 26.1.1 Jesse Sparks married Jemima Thorn. It was on September 2, 1827, in Dearborn County, Indiana, that they were married. She was a daughter of Stephen and Esther Thorn. Jesse and Jemima (Thorn) Sparks were the parents of eight children. Jemima died on October 8, 1872, and on August 14, 1873, Jesse married (second) Mrs. Lydia Poling, widow of Edward Poling.
The information on Jesse Sparks, Jr. and his children appearing in the Quarterly of September 1969 had been provided in large part by a great-grand-daughter of Jesse and his first wife, Mrs. Mildred Tomlinson of Rochester, Indiana, who then owned the family Bible in which Jesse had recorded the births of his children. Mrs. Tomlinson died in 1976.
The names and dates for these eight children follow:
220.127.116.11 Elizabeth Sparks, born July 7, 1828, died February 24, 1890.
18.104.22.168 Theodore Sparks, born January 26,1830.
22.214.171.124 Philora Jemima Sparks, born October 27, 1831.
126.96.36.199 Jeremiah Benjamin Sparks, born July 21, 1833, died January 20, 1896.
188.8.131.52 Charles T. Sparks, born May 31, 1835, died 1836.
184.108.40.206 Stephen Sparks, born March 28, 1837, died January 12, 1864, in New Orleans as a Union soldier in the Civil War. His photograph, in uniform, appears on p. 1253 of the Quarterly for September 1969, Whole No. 67.
220.127.116.11 Margaret Sparks, born July 12, 1839, died January 22, 1870.
18.104.22.168 Mary Jane Sparks, born May 28, 1842, died January 6, 1912.