November 5, 2020

Pages 5317-5322
Whole Number 189

37. RICHARD SPARKS (born 1740s, died 1800)

In Sparks Quarterly of March 1966, Whole No. 53, we published the full text of the will of 37.2 Thomas Sparks of Clark County, Ohio (p. 970). He was a son of 37. Richard Sparks who was born in the 1740s and died in 1800 in Salem County, New Jersey. Thomas Sparks had signed his will on January 18, 1864; it was filed for probate on January 2, 1867. On three pages following the text of this will (pp. 971-73), we gave the information then available regarding the children of Thomas Sparks.

In the Quarterly of March 1973, Whole No. 81, p.1540, we reported having learned that a descendant of Thomas Sparks owned the family Bible that had belonged to a son of Thomas Sparks named 37.2.3 Richard Sparks (1805-1884). The owner of this Bible, Mrs. Lillian S. Blair of Mackinaw, Illinois, was a great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Sparks. Mrs. Blair provided us with a copy of the Sparks family records contained in this Bible. (We last heard from Mrs. Blair in 1975.)

According to this Sparks record, 37.2 Thomas Sparks had been born in Salem County, New Jersey, on January 4, 1775. He had been married on June 4, 1801, in Salem County to Abigail Shaw, who had been born July 21, 1780. We can assume that his son, 37.2.3 Richard Sparks, had copied this information regarding his parents from an earlier record.

Census records reveal that between 1805 and 1809 Thomas moved with his family to Greene County, Ohio; they were living in Sugar Creek Township in Greene County when the 1820 census was taken, but by 1840 they adjoining Clark County, Ohio, and it was in Clark County that Thomas Sparks died in 1866. The children of Thomas and Abigail (Shaw) Sparks were recorded in this Bible as follows:

37.2.1 Sarah Sparks, born March 22, 1802; died March 27, 1802.
37.2.2 Mary Sparks, born September 6, 1803; died September 20, 1804.
37.2.3 Richard Sparks, born August 19, 1805.
37.2.4 Charlotte Sparks, born July 7, 1807
37.2.5 Ephraim Shaw Sparks, born April 27, 1809.
37.2.6 Ann Sparks born February 18, 1811.
37.2.7 Rebecca Sparks, born September 30, 1812.
37.2.8 Robert Walker Sparks, born July 17, 1814.
37.2.9 David Sparks, born December 24, 1817.

In the article on 37.2 Thomas Sparks (1775-1866) appearing in the Quarterly of March 1973, Whole No. 81, we referred to the many years of research devoted to the Sparks family in New Jersey by Evelyn Cole Peters and Hazel B. Simpson, both of whom had joined our Association and who had shared with us their findings. (Both are now deceased.) They had concluded that the parents of Thomas Sparks (1774-1866) had been 37. Richard and Ann Sparks and that Ann's maiden name had been "Sinnickson." Later research has proven that, while Richard and Ann Sparks were, indeed, the parents of Thomas, Ann's maiden name had not been Sinnickson, but, rather, Peterson.

37. Richard Sparks, father of Thomas, had been born in the 1740s and had lived in Lower Penns Neck Township in Salem County, New Jersey. He died there in the year 1800. He had served as a soldier in the American Revolution as a member of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, Militia. New Jersey's records of the Revolution were largely destroyed during the latter part of that war, and we are unable to find much about Richard's service. Furthermore, the name "Richard" was used so frequently in this branch of the Sparks family that it is often difficult to keep straight the various Richard Sparkses.

The Sinnickson family connection with Richard Sparks was, indeed, through Richard's wife, Ann Peterson, but it was Ann's mother who was Ann Sinnickson. Richard and Ann (Peterson) Sparks had named a son 37.1 Sinnickson Sparks, but they had named him for his maternal grandmother, not for his mother.

It is a deed in Salem County, New Jersey, dated October 1, 1833, (recorded in Salem County Deed Book PP, p.135) that proves Ann, wife of Richard Sparks, was Ann Peterson, a daughter of Gabriel Peterson of Salem County. It seems apparent that neither Mrs. Peters nor Mrs. Simpson had found this deed in their research in Salem County, and that they had assumed that Sinnickson Sparks had been named for his mother. We are indebted to Violet Conody of Spokane, Washington, for having found this deed of October 1, 1833, and sharing it with your editor.

As seen in the text of this deed of 1833 given below, Ann (Peterson) Sparks had died prior to the making of this deed. Her husband, Richard Sparks, had died many years earlier, in 1800. It was their three sons who were still living in Pennsylvania in 1833 who sold a 300 acre tract of land that Ann had inherited from her father, Gabriel Peterson. (Her son named Thomas, as noted above, had moved to Ohio many years earlier.) Although the explanation contained in this deed of how the tract had come into Ann (Peterson) Sparks's possession is a bit convoluted, it is evident that Gabriel Peterson initially had left his land to his son, whose name was also Gabriel; Gabriel Peterson, Jr. had died, however, "without issue" i.e., without leaving any children, and his sister, Ann Peterson, being then the only living child of her father, "the whole property had devolved to her."

We have not found the date of Ann (Peterson) Sparks's death, but it had occurred prior to October 1, 1833, when her three sons were empowered to sell to Robert Leeds the 300 acres that their mother had inherited from her father, Gabriel Peterson. (As noted above, the fourth son, Thomas Sparks, had left New Jersey many years earlier for what was then "the West.") The full. text of this deed follows; punctuation has been added for clarity.

Salem County, New Jersey, Deed Book PP, page 135.

Richard Sparks
Peter Sparks
Sinnickson Sparks

Robert Leeds

This Indenture made between Richard Sparks and Peter Sparks of the county of Salem and state of New Jersey. and Sinnickson Sparks of the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania of the one part, Grantors, and Robert Leeds of the county of Gloucester and State of New Jersey of the other part, Grantee: Witnesseth that the said Grantors for and in Consideration of the sum of Two thousand dollars to them paid by the said grantee, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, do give, grant, bargain, sell, alien, convey and confirm unto the said grantee and his heirs and assigns all the following described tract or piece of land situate in the Township of Upper Penns Neck in the County of Salem and State of New Jersey, borders as follows: bounded on the west by the River Delaware above Deep Point and below the cove, southerly by lands of Joseph Locuson and Nathan --?--, Easterly and Northerly by land of John Tuft and Hunbys Creek and --?-- Containing three hundred Acres, be the same more or less, late the property of Ann Sparks, mother of the said Grantors, Richard, Peter, and Sinnickson Sparks, and formerly called Peterson farm or tract of land, sometimes called the Ireland property, which was devised & descended to said Mother, formerly Peterson, only surviving Daughter & Legal representative of the said Gabriel Peterson, deceas[edl, and Gabriel to whom all real estate of the said Gabriel Peterson was devised to these tow--?-- of said Gabriel who died without issue & the said Ann Peterson Sparks being the only Survivor, the whole property devolved on her. Together with all and Singular, the building improvements, rights, privileges and all things to the said premises belonging or appertaining and the reversions and remainders, rents, issues and profits thereof, also all the estate, right, title, interest, property claim and demands at law or equity of the said grantors and each of them of, in, and the same, and every part thereof, To have and to hold all the premises, with the appurtenances unto, the said grantee and his heirs and assigns to the only proper use of the said grantee and his heirs and assigns forever and the said grantors Richard, Peter and Sinnickson Sparks do jointly and severally covenant with the said Grantee, his heirs and assigns, that may have cause or suffer it to be done, any act or thing to alter, change, encumber or convey the premises herein granted to any part of, but that the said Grantee shall hold, occupy, possess and the same against the lawful claims of all and every person -?-ing or to claim thereto by, from or under them or any of them.

In Witness whereof the said grantors do hereto set their hands & seals this first day of October in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty three. Received on the day of the --?-- of this deed of Robert Leeds, two Thousand dollars, the full remuneration money above mentioned.

  [Signed] Richard Sparks (Seal)

   "        Peter Sparks (Seal)

    "       Sinnickson Sparks (Seal)

Signed, Sealed & delivered 

in the presence of

[signed] Jonas Atkinson

    "     Elijah Davis

  Witness to Signing

[Signed] Josiah Atkinson

    "      Richard Sparks

37. Richard Sparks, husband of Ann (Peterson) Sparks, and father of the three brothers who signed the above deed, had died in Salem County, New Jersey, in the year 1800; he died intestate, i.e., without leaving a will. His wife, Ann, had been ap pointed administratrix of Richard's estate. Earlier, on April 5, 1800, John Sinnickson and Thomas Murphy of Salem County, had agreed to become bondsmen for Ann Sparks in the estate settlement. (Salem Co. Liber 39, p. 90.) The original copy of this bond survives; below is a photocopy of these actual signatures:

[Here appears a photograph of signatures, without caption]
View photograph

An inventory had been taken of Richard Sparks's estate on March 17, 1800; his property was valued at 281 pounds, 14 shillings, and 6 pence. Mentioned in the inventory were his plantation, carpenter tools, and "the balance due from the estate of William Philpot." It is interesting to note that on January 29, 1798, Richard Sparks and William Philpot had prepared the inventory of the estate of Allen Congleton of Lower Penns Neck in Salem County. On November 17, 1795, Richard Sparks and William Bilderback had prepared the inventory for the estate of Enlow Philpot of Lower Penns Neck.

The Sinnickson family was of Swedish origin. In a book entitled The Records of the Swedish Lutheran Churches at Raccoon and Penns Neck, 1713-ZF86, published in 1938 in the American Guide Series, it is stated in the introduction: "When the Swedish Lutheran Mission on the Delaware was reestablished in 1697, a considerable number of Swedes and Finns had settled on the Jersey side of the River, principally at two centers, Raccoon and Penns Neck, Upper and Lower." We believe that the following record, dated February 22, 1775, in this volume pertains to Richard Sparks, whose wife was Ann Peterson.

Swedesboro 1775.. The 22d of February a majority of the vestry met in Swedsboroough to treat with Richard Sparks who wanted to rent the the plantation, and after a good deal of caution on both sides the bargain was made and a pair of indentures of lease signed and sealed mutually delivered. Better conditions could not be obtained, the inferior to what had been before offered; but considering that the place was at present much out of order and would require a great deal of expence in order to be improved, no great reason can be to complain.

The John Sinnickson who was a bondsman in settling the estate of Richard Sparks in 1800 was, according to Sinnickson family records in Salem County, New Jersey, an uncle of Ann (Peterson) Sparks. Born in 1728, he was a son of Sinnick Sinnickson (born ca.1691, died 1750), and Maria Philpot, who had been married in 1717 in Penns Neck, Salem County. Besides their son, John Sinnickson, Sinnick and Maria (Philpot) Sinnickson were the parents of sons named Andrew, born in 1718, and William, born in 1722. A daughter named Sarah and a daughter named Anna (often called Ann), born on February 4, 1725, were mentioned in the will of Sinnick Sinnickson.

In his will, Sinnick Sinnickson of Penns Neck left his plantation and carpenter tools to his son, Andrew Sinnickson, but to his daughter, Sarah, he left 20 pounds when she should reach the age of 21 or at her marriage; "also that plantation at the river-side that I purchased of the land office at Penns Neck, plus 40 acres of woodland and swamp. If Sarah shall have no lawful heirs, same shall descend to my daughter, Ann."

Ann Sinnickson (also called Anna) had been married to Gabriel Peterson, and it was their daughter, Ann Peterson, born ca. 1750, who married Richard Sparks.

From a deed recorded in Salem County (Book B, 507), it appears that Ann (Sinnickson) Peterson, mother of Ann (Peterson) Sparks, was still living in the year 1800 (she would have been about 75 then). In this deed, Ann Peterson and Ann Sparks (mother and daughter) sold to John Sinnickson for 150 pounds "10 acres of woodland devised to them." This deed was received by the county court on December 8, 1800, and was recorded on July 13. 1801. It was a piece of woodland in Lower Penns Neck, bounded by land owned by John Sinnickson and be Thomas Wright.

Although Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Simpson believed that Richard Sparks (born in the 1740s, died in 1800), was a son of Richard and Elizabeth (Wetherby) Sparks and a grandson of Simon and Jane (McClane) Sparks, they could not be absolutely certain because Simon and Jane (Mcclane) Sparks had two other grandsons named Richard Sparks. Their son Thomas Sparks, whose wife's name was Rachel, had a son named Richard, as did also their son named Henry whose wife was Rhoda Wescott. The latter had the middle name Fair, however, and we know that he later lived in Philadelphia. In a future issue of the Quarterly we plan to present further documentation regarding these New Jersey Sparks families.

We here provide a further note on the three sons of Richard and Ann (Peterson) Sparks who signed the deed in 1833 quoted earlier. We are most gratedful to Hildegarde C. Evoy of Hudson, Ohio, a descendant of this branch of the Sparks family, for finding and sharing with us much of the information that follows.

The Richard Sparks, born ca. 1770, son of Richard and Ann (Peterson) Sparks, who signed the 1833 deed with his brothers, Peter and Sinnickson, was still living when the 1850 census was taken of Lower Penns Neck Township in Salem County, New Jersey. His age was given as 70; he was a farmer with land valued at $7,000. His first wife, Lydia Fowler, to whom he had been married in Salem County on January 27, 1803, had died before 1843, and he was now (1850) living with his second wife, Margaret, to whom he had been married on January 4, 1844. She had been a widow; her age was given as 40 on the 1850 census, a native of New Jersey. The two-year-old Elizabeth Sparks living with Richard and Margaret was probably their daughter. Also living in the household of Richard and Margaret in 1850 were three children named Callahan who were probably Margret's children by her first marriage. They were William Callahan, age 15; Catherine Callahan, age 12; and Samuel Callahan, age 10. All three had been born in New Jersey.

Richard Sparks died in 1859; his undated will was proven in the Salem County, New Jersey Court on May 16, 1859 (Book E, p.596). It provided that his wife, Margaret, in addition to $200 allowed her by law, a cow and a pig. Richard's son, David, was to receive his eight-day clock and my horse shed at the M. E. Church in Lower Penns Neck. His daughter, Jane Ann, was to receive bedding, and Samuel Callahan, "son of my wife by former marriage, my brown horse called Boby." He named his wife and his brother-in-law, Martin Patterson, as executors of his estate and the guardians of his children. The witnesses to his will were John F. Ewell and William A. Dick. The residue of his personal estate was to be sold to pay his debts with what then remained to be divided between his son, Samuel and his daughter, Jane Anna.

Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Simpson, noted earlier in this article, stated that Richard Sparks's first wife had been Lydia (Fowler) Sparks and that they had had children named Samuel Sparks, David Sparks, Elizabeth Sparks, and Peter Sparks, "and possibly others." We do not know their source for making this statement.

Peter Sparks, son of Richard and Ann (Peterson) Sparks, who signed the 1833 deed with his brothers, Richard and Sinnickson, died in 1830. He had been married in Salem County, New Jersey, on December 16, 1803, to Ann Casperson, and, according to Mrs. Peters and Mrs Simpson, they had children named Benjamin, Rebecca, Amos, and Richard. We do not know their source for this statement. It may be significant that in the household of a David Sparks on the 1850 census of Lower Penns Neck Township of Salem County there were four children named Casperson. (See the record of Sparkses appearing on the 1850 census of New Jersey in the Quarterly of September 1982, Whole No. 119, pp. 2434-43.)

Sinnickson Sparks, son of Richard and Ann (Peterson) Sparks, who signed the 1833 deed, quoted earlier, with his brothers, Richard and Peter, was born ca. 1774. There is a Salem County deed (Book QQ, p.424) dated March 14, 1825, by which John Tuft and his wife Mary of: Salem; John M. Sinnickson and his wife Ann of Elsinborough; and William A. Dick and his wife Sarah of Lower Penns Neck, all of Salem County, New Jersey, sold for $500.00 to Sinnickson Sparks of Lower Penns Neck, land in Lower Penns Neck located near William Phiipott, that had been received by the grantors from Thomas Sinnickson, executor of the will of Jacob Fox.

Sinnickson Sparks was still living when the 1850 census was taken. He was then living alone, his second wife, Mary, having died shortly before the census was taken The issue of a weekly newspaper called the Salem Sunbeam dated May 17, 1850, contains a death notice from Lower Penns Neck for Mary, wife of Sinnickson Sparks, on the 28th of April; her age was 70. Sinnickson Sparks's age was given as 76 on the 1850 census; he was a farmer with land valued at $2,000. The name of his first wife may have been Ann.

Hildegarde Evoy has provided the following insight into area in which this branch of the Sparks family lived:

Most wills mention either marsh areas or swamps, particularly cedar swamps. The Swedes used the cedar trees for shakes and also for wood to build their houses. I found the mention of cedar swamps many times and was unaware of their value to the Swedes that settled in Southern New Jersey until I attended a lecture, I think by Dr. John Coddington. When I was growing up in the 40s, we would go swimming near our home in South Jersey, and never wore a white bathing suit because the cedar water looked like iced tea, and really stained anything white. It also was cold water, mostly because it was spring water that ran over the tree roots near the water's edge, but it was very clear even though it was tan in color.

The name "Sinnickson" has been repeated among descendants of Sinnickson. Sparks, but as one might expect, the spelling has differed. We are certain that two of his sons by his first wife were Simon Sparks and Andrew Sinnickson Sparks, both of whom had been born ca. 1790 in Salem County, and at the time of the War of 1812 both were living in Greene County, Ohio. They had either accompanied, or followed, their uncle, Thomas Sparks, to Ohio. It was in Greene County, Ohio, that Simon Sparks married Catherine Templeton on April 2, 1813, and Andrew Sinnickson Sparks married Jane Templeton on January 12, 1813.

When, as a widow, Catherine (Templeton) Sparks applied for bounty land in 1855 based on Simon's service in the War of 1812, it was found that Simon had been paid by his brother, Andrew, to serve in his place. (Simon had died on October 2, 1854, in Montgomery County, Illinois.) At first, Catherine was denied bounty land because no record could be found by the War Department of her husband's service. In 1857, however, Andrew signed an affidavit swearing that Simon had served in his place. It was also said that, because Simon was serving in Andrew's place, he had answered to his brother's name in roll call. (Andrew was living in Greene County, Indiana, when he signed his affidavit.) Catherine's application was finally approved. A full account of this matter was published in the Quarterly of June 1963, pp.738-41, with information on these brothers' families. While we were certain at that time that Simon and Andrew S. Sparks were closely related to Thomas Sparks, we speculated incorrectly (p.740) that Thomas was a brother of Simon and Andrew. We know now that he was their uncle, being a brother of their father, Sinnickson Sparks..

We shall welcome any additional information anyone may have regarding this branch of the Sparks family.