April 16, 2021

Pages 5105-5115
Whole Number 185 JOHN SPARKS (1816-1899)

by Paul E. Sparks



Born July 2, 1842 || Born March 14, 1845
Died February 19, 1895 || Died April 29, 1931

[Editor's Note: The parents of John Sparks were Joseph and Anne (Wilson) Sparks of Lewis County, Kentucky. This couple was the subject of an article that was published on pages 1315-18 of the June 1970 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Whole No. 70. At that time we conjectured (correctly) that Joseph and Anne (Wilson) Sparks were the parents of seven children; however, we were then unable to name the two youngest children (sons). (See page 1818 of that issue.) Since the publication of the June 1970 article, we have found proof that the two sons who were unnamed in the article were John Sparks and Joseph Sparks. Here we present information regarding the son of Joseph and Anne named John, with a record of his children and grandchildren, when known. Joseph Sparks, father of John Sparks (1816-1899), married Anne Wilson on January 19, 1797, in Bourbon County, Kentucky. He died in Lewis County, Kentucky, in 1838. Shortly after his death, his son, James Albert Sparks, was awarded by the Lewis County Circuit Court a fifty-acre tract of land formerly owned by his father. The deed, dated June 27, 1842, named all of the persons who had an interest in the transaction. More than two dozen persons were named. Among them were six children of Joseph Sparks. They were: James Albert Sparks, Harriet (Sparks) Truesdell, Katherine (Sparks) Dickson, William Sparks, Joseph Sparks, and John Sparks.

Not included was another child of Joseph Sparks, Sidney (Sparks) Tolle, who was either deceased or whose whereabouts was unknown. Following is the text of this deed as it was recorded on page 351 of Deed Book I, on June 27, 1842, Property Deeds of Lewis County, Kentucky.

Indenture between William G. Wilson; William Sparks; John Sparks; Joseph Sparks; Isaac Dickson & Katherine Sparks Dickson, his wife; Jesse Truesdell & Harriet, his wife; James Wilson; Andrew Wilson; George Wilson; Samuel Wilson, the 1st; Mason Wilson; Amos Wilson; John G. Wilson; William Herbert & Nancy his wife; George Burns and Eliza, his wife; Granville Dye & Mary Anne, his wife; Susan Wilson; Lucinda Wilson; Samuel Wilson, the 2nd; and James Wilson, all represented by Socrates Holbrook, a Commissioner duly appointed by the Lewis County, Circuit Court at the March term 1842, all of the 1st part and James Sparks of the 2nd part; WHEREAS, the Lewis County Circuit Court rendered a decree in favor of the said James Sparks against the above named grantors, therefore the grantors give to James Sparks for $1.00 a tract of land binding on a tract of land owned by the late Samuel Wilson, deceased, known as his Mill tract and on the lower corner

and upper line known as the division line between William G. Wilson and the said Samuel Wilson, deceased. The land to be conveyed in such manner as to include the house and improvements of the late Joseph Sparks, deceased, being the same tract of land sold by the said Samuel Wilson, deceased, and William G. Wilson to the said Joseph Sparks, deceased, in his lifetime and containing fifty acres.

[The following article contains information about John Sparks (1816-1899), son of Joseph and Anne (Wilson) Sparks, and some of his descendants.] John Sparks, son of Joseph and Anne (Wilson) Sparks, was born February 21, 1816, in Lewis County, Kentucky. It was there that he grew to manhood, learned the trade of blacksmith, and became a wagon maker. He married Caroline MNU ca. 1836. She had been born on December 27, 1818, in Kentucky.

John and Caroline Sparks went to housekeeping in 1848 in or near the village of Concord on the south bank of the Ohio River. He practiced his trade of blacksmith, but he gradually began to make wagons. He also made plows and was the designer of a plow known as the "Clipper." He became a member of the Concord Masonic Lodge in 1859 and was listed as a carriage and wagon maker in the Kentucky State Gazette and Business Directory that same year. The children of John and Caroline Sparks were: Elizabeth Sparks daughter of John and Caroline Sparks, was born on February 28, 1839. She died at the age of nine, on October 1, 1848. Joseph Sparks William Sparks George T. Sparks Susan Sparks Eliza Jane Sparks. Joseph Sparks, son of John and Caroline Sparks, was born April 24, 1839, in Concord, Kentucky. (He should not be confused with a cousin, Joseph A. Sparks, son of William C. and Jane [Truesdell] Sparks. The latter was born on September 14, 1844; see page 1318 of the June 1970 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 70.)

Joseph Sparks became a mechanic and worked in his father's wagon shop. He was a member of the Masonic Order like his father and was a member of the Vanceburg [Kentucky] Christian Church. He was also an ardent Democrat in his political affiliation and was appointed postmaster of Vanceburg, Kentucky, during the administration of President Grover Cleveland.

Joseph Sparks was married twice. His first marriage was to Louisa Jane Corns in 1856; the license was issued on October 29, 1856 in Lewis County, Kentucky. She had been born ca. 1837 in Kentucky. She died on October 29, 1860, in Lewis County leaving her husband with a two-year-old daughter, Mary E. Sparks.

Sparks remained a widower until 1868 when he married Mary Jane Seaman. The license was issued on October 26, 1868, in Lewis County. She had been born in September 1839 in Jackson County, Virginia, and was a daughter of Thomas and Catherine (McCoy) Seaman. She was a most capable "parlor milliner" in Vanceburg. She died on July 24, 1908, and was buried at Clarksburg, Kentucky. She and Joseph had three children. After her death, Joseph apparently made his home with a daughter, Margaret C. Cox in Chattanooga, Tennessee, until his death in 1917.

Joseph Sparks had five children. Two were by his first marriage and three were products of his second marriage.

Children of Joseph Sparks and Louisa Jane Corns: Mary Ethel Sparks was born January 9, 1858. After the death of her mother in 1860, she apparently made her home with her paternal grandparents until her marriage. She married W. K. Parker on August 24, 1881, in Lewis County, Kentucky. He had been born ca. 1861 and was a son of W. M. and A. E. (MNU) Parker. Mary Ethel (Sparks) Parker died on September 27, 1917, at Concord, Kentucky. We have no further information about this couple. Caroline Sparks was born September 15, 1859. She died the following year on August 11, 1860.

Children of Joseph Sparks and Mary Jane Seaman: John Thomas Sparks was born November 10, 1872. He died on September 12, 1873. Margaret ["Maggie"] Caroline Sparks was born July 26, 1875. She married Charles ["Shack"] Albert Cox on March 16, 1896, in Lewis County. He had been born on October 17, 1870, in Kentucky and was a son of Albert J. and Virginia (Harrison) Cox. "Maggie" (Sparks) Cox died in May 1953 in St. Petersburg, Florida. She and "Shack" Cox had two children: Charles Renner Cox was born February 20, 1897. He married Clara MNU. He died on July 24, 1937. Marie Cox was born December 8, 1899, in Vanceburg, Kentucky. She was married prior to 1920 to Robert Bruce Puckett, probably in Chattanooga, Tennessee.She and Robert had three children: Carolyn Puckett Mary Bruce Puckett William Renner Puckett. Ella Leota Sparks, daughter of Joseph and Mary Jane (Seaman) Sparks, was born June 24, 1900, in Lewis County, Kentucky. She married Louis Horace Potter on June 24, 1900, in Lewis County, Kentucky.


(Taken on June 24, 1900.)

Louis Horace Potter had been born on October 5, 1874, in Hannibal, Missouri. He was a son of William Baldwin and Lisette Tupman Potter. He died on June 14, 1955; Ella Leota (Sparks) Potter died on November 20, 1966.The four children of Louis Horace Potter and Ella Leota Sparks were: Edna Jo Potter was born September 10, 1908, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She died on December 12, 1984. Carolyn Potter was born June 23, 1913. She married Frederic Burr Oppenborn on June 21, 1935, at Charles Town, West Virginia. He had been born January 18, 1908, in Alpena, Michigan, and was a son of Henry and Nellie (Burr) Oppenborn. Carolyn and Frederic had two children: Marilyn Potter Oppenborn. Marilyn Oppenborn, whose husband is Forrest E. Steber, has been most helpful in sharing information about her ancestors, including providing the wedding photograph of Ella Leota Sparks and Louis Horace Potter appearing on page 5109 of this article. Nellie Burr Oppenborn. Mary Margaret Potter was born December 17, 1919. She married George Samuel Hiller,Jr. They have three children: Margaret Hiller George S. Hiller, III Mary Hiller Louis H. Potter, Jr. was born September 11, 1923, in Denver, Colorado. William Sparks, son of John and Caroline Sparks, was born July 2, 1842, in Lewis County. (His photograph and that of his wife appear on the cover page of the present issue of the Quarterly.) He learned the trade of the blacksmith from his father and worked with him in his shop in Concord, Kentucky.

William married Susan P. Sanborn in 1863. She had been born on March 14, 1845, in Meigs County, Ohio, and was a daughter of Alexander and Mary G. Sanborn. She and William lived in Concord, and he died there on February 19, 1895. Susan survived him for over thirty years, dying on April 29, 1931. They were buried in the Concord Cemetery. According to census records and descendants, they had ten children: Laura B. Sparks was born February 28, 1860. She died on February 13, 1886. John Sparks was born November 2, 1865, in Lewis County. He became a blacksmith, but he is best remembered as a most capable baseball player. According to his obituary in the Lewis County Courier, Wylie Pyatt, a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, gave him a personal tryout in the 1890s. Pyatt was unable to strike Sparks out and offered to take him to the spring training camp. Sparks declined the invitation. Sparks was also remembered as a staunch Republican and would travel a far distance to attend a rally. He was one of the mourners at President Harding's funeral. John and Elizabeth were the parents of twelve children: John Sparks married Elizabeth Belle Essex on September 14, 1884, in Lewis County. She had been born in April 1865 and was a daughter of Amaziah and Sarah (Frazee) Essex. Belle (as she was called) died on October 22, 1942, and John died on October 18, 1952. They were buried in the Concord Cemetery. Photographs of them appear below. Arley Atwood Sparks was born April 4, 1885, at Concord, Kentucky. He married Aleana A. Ruark on April 18, 1912, in Lewis County. She had been born on September 18, 1891, and was a daughter of William and Hattie Ruark. Arley died on May 9, 1951, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He and Aleana had two children: Nestle Sparks Alvy Sparks Laura Belle Sparks was born August 12, 1886. She married Vernon Rice on May 29, 1909. She died on January 18, 1991, in Cincinnati. She and Vernon had at least seven children. Daisy Marie Rice Elmer V. Rice Woodrow Rice Edna B. Rice George Rice Leo R. Rice Clifford Rice. Delia Lee Sparks was born May 18, 1888. She married William M. Benge in 1910 Harry Benge Pearl Benge Beulah Louise Benge. Beulah Benge married Gaylord Ala Reese on October 30, 1938, and they were the parents of Gaylord P. Reese who has been most helpful in the preparation of this article. Edgar Dart Sparks was born December 29, 1889. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Elsie S. Martin and his second marriage was to Lydia Bowyer. He died in September 1970 in Scioto County, Ohio. He had two children, both by his second marriage. Marjorie J. Sparks Charles A. Sparks. Florence Spark was born August 14, 1891. She died on August 21, 1901. Caroline Spark was born August 15, 1893. She married George Washington Dixon in 1912. She died on May 7, 1935. She and George had seven children: Garvin Dixon Myrtle Dixon Mildred L. Dixon Robert E. Dixon Daisy L. Dixon Dolly L. Dixon Mattie B. Dixon Arthur Earl Sparks was born August 10, 1895. He died on September 10, 1895. Joseph ["Speed"] Hobart Sparks was born April 16, 1897. He married Dora Alice Martin on December 12, 1918. He died on February 9, 1941.He and Dora had eleven children: Lillian Sparks Mary E. Sparks Margaret Sparks Josephine Sparks Richard Sparks Loretta Sparks Dorothy J. Sparks Helen C. Sparks Cornelia E. Spark Audrey Sparks Carol V. Sparks. William Amaziah Sparks was born April 18, 1900. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Gladis Martin and his second was to Dorothy McElroy. He died on April 8, 1991. He had one child: Ralph M. Sparks, by his second marriage. Kathryn ["Katie"] Lucille Sparks was born 3 February 1902, in Concord, Kentucky. She married Morris Ellis Nelson. She died on May 26, 1991. She and Morris had two children: Kenneth Nelson Denver Nelson Julius Raymond Sparks was born February 18, 1904. He died on June 6, 1981. He married Lesta Marie Poole on August 16, 1924, in Scioto County, Ohio; she was a daughter of Duncan and Martha (Moore) Poole. Julius and Lesta Sparks were the parents of: Julius R. Sparks, Jr. He has been most helpful in the preparation of this article. He provided the family photographs appearing on the cover page of this issue of the Quarterly as well as those on pages 5111, 5112, and 5113. Leo Ralph Sparks was born May 3, 1907. He died on August 25, 1909.


JOHN SPARKS 1865-1952
Working at his blacksmith shop in Concord, Kentucky

In 1918, John and Belle (Essex) Sparks posed with family members for a group picture on the front porch of their home in Concord, Kentucky. Eight of their children were present for this occasion.


Sarah Anna (Frazee) Essex, mother of Belle (Essex) Sparks.
Laura Belle (Sparks) Rice, daughter of John and Belle Sparks.
George A. Rice, son of Vernon and Laura Belle (Sparks) Rice.
Daisy Marie Rice, daughter of Vernon and Laura Belle (Sparks) Rice.
Joseph Hobart Sparks, son of John and Belle Sparks.
Mary Caroline (Sparks) Dixon, daughter of John and Belle Sparks.
Myrtle Dixon, daughter of George W. and Mary Caroline (Sparks) Dixon.
William Amaziah Sparks, son of John and Belle Sparks.
Kathryn Lucille (Sparks) Nelson, daughter of John and Belle Sparks.
Julius Raymond Sparks, son of John and Belle Sparks.
John Sparks (1865-1952).
Elizabeth ["Belle"] (Essex) Sparks (1865-1942), wife of John Sparks.
Edgar Dart Sparks, son of John and Belle Sparks.
Elsie (Martin) Sparks, wife of Edgar Dart Sparks.
Unnamed child of Edgar and Elsie (Martin) Sparks.
Arley Atwood Sparks, son of John and Belle Sparks.
Aleana ["Alley"] (Roark) Sparks, wife of Arley Atwood Sparks.
Aivy Sparks, daughter of Arley Atwood and "Alley" (Roark) Sparks.
Ilo Sparks, daughter of Elsie (Martin) Sparks by a previous marriage.


Born November 2, 1865 ------------------Born April 10, 1865
Died October 18, 1942 --------------------Died October 22, 1942 Mary Catherine ["Katie"] Sparks, daughter, was born ca. 1867. She married Dart Tatman on August 27, 1893, in Brown County, Ohio. She was living in Lockland, Ohio, in 1953. Minnie R. Sparks, daughter, was born ca. 1869. She married Arthur Bowls. She died on February 16, 1939. William H. Sparks was born ca. 1872. He became a railroader. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Lola Montez Montgomery on March 4, 1894, in Lewis County. She was a daughter of Robert and Julia (Batman) Montgomery. She and William had five children before her death. They were: Elizabeth Sparks Daisy Sparks Jeannette Sparks Carolyn Sparks Julia Irene Sparks was born in 1896.

After the death of his first wife, William H. Sparks married Emma MNU. We have no further information about this family. Cornelia ["Carrie"] Sparks, daughter, was born in February 1874. Cora Sparks, daughter, was born ca. 1875. She married Ben Cain. She died on December 10, 1946. Alexander Hamilton Sparks, son, was born in February 1878. He was married twice. His first marriage was to Harriet Montgomery in March 1899. She had been born in August 1878 in Ohio. When the 1900 census was taken of Lewis County, Alexander and Harriet Sparks were shown with a daughter, Christiana M. Sparks, born in May 1900. According to a relative, Alexander Sparks was marred (second) to Hattie Beane. Catherine Sparks, daughter, was born in May 1880. She died the following month. L. Pearl Sparks, daughter, was born in October 1885. She married J. W. Mann. George T. Sparks, son of John and Caroline (MNU) Sparks, was born February 2, 1846. He died on August 5, 1850. Susan Sparks, daughter of John and Caroline (MNU) Sparks, was born September 28, 1847. She died on November 1, 1848. Eliza Jane Sparks, daughter of John and Caroline (MNU) Sparks, was born in July 1850 in Lewis County. She married Thomas Montgomery ca. 1870. He had been born in November 1846 in Kentucky. When the 1900 census was taken of Lewis County, Kentucky, Tom and Eliza Jane were shown with two daughters living in their household: Annie Montgomery was born in April 1875. Mary Montgomery was born in 1880