Whole Number 190
by Russell E. Bidlack
126.96.36.199.1.2 Matthew Sparks (born ca. 1752 in Frederick County, Maryland, died in 1819 in Surry County, North Carolina) was a member of the fifth generation in America of the branch of the Sparks family whose progenitor was the English immigrant named 1.2 William Sparks who died in Queen Annes County. Maryland, in 1709. Matthew was a lad of about twelve years in 1764 when he accompanied his parents, 188.8.131.52.1 William and Ann Sparks, in their move from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin (then part of Rowan County, now Davie County) in North Carolina. It was there that his parents and his older siblings were greeted by Matthew's grandfather, 184.108.40.206 William Sample Sparks, who had made the same journey a decade earlier.
An article devoted to 220.127.116.11.1 William and Ann Sparks, parents of Matthew, appeared in the Quarterly of June 1991, Whole No.154, pp.3752-98. In the Quarterly of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp. 3484-3501, appeared an article on William Sample Sparks. born ca. 1700, William Sample Sparks is believed by this writer to have been married in the early 1720s, probably in Queen Annes County, Maryland, but we have found no record of the marriage, nor the name of his wife. by her, he appears to have two sons, William, born ca. 1725, and Matthew, born ca. 1830. We believe that his first wife died after bearing these two sons and that William Sample Sparks was the William Sparks who was married in St. Lukes Parish in Queen Annes County on August 23, 1732, to Mary Courmon (or Corman). It is probable that this second wife was the mother of William Sample Sparks's son named James Sparks. It appears that Mary (Courmon) Sparks also died as a fairly young woman and that William Sample Sparks was married a third time to a woman named Rachel who became the mother of at least two children, a son named Robert Sparks and a daughter named Rachel, born in 1757.
William Sample Sparks, grandfather of the Matthew Sparks who is the subject of the present article, had moved west with his family ca. 1736 from Queen Annes County to that part of Prince Georges County, Maryland, that was cut off to form Frederick County in 1748, which for a while comprised all of western Maryland. It was in the area where Big Pipe and Little Pipe Creeks join to flow into the Monocacy River that William Sample Sparks had settled, and where he had been joined by his uncle, Joseph Sparks. Joseph died there in 1749 leaving twelve children, seven sons and five daughters. (William Sample Sparks and Rachel Sparks signed by mark as next of kin the inventory of the property of Joseph Sparks.) The late Paul E. Sparks, President of the Sparks Family Association from its formation in 1953 until his death in 1999, descended from this Joseph Sparks's son Solomon, while Melva [Sparks] Bidlack, late wife of the present writer, descended from Matthew Sparks (ca.1752- 1819), a grandson of William Sample Sparks, and subject of this article.
The father of William Sample Sparks was called William Sparks, Jr. Born ca.1674, he was the oldest son of the immigrant, William Sparks (died 1709). The apparent parental devotion of this first William's children and grandchildren has resulted in a confusingly large number of his descendants being named William.
Although as yet we have not published a comprehensive article on William Sparks, Jr., two articles devoted to his father, the immigrant William Sparks (died 1709), have appeared in the Quarterly: the issue for March 1971, Whole No.73, pp. 1381-89, and that for December 1992, Whole No. 160, pp.4025-34.
As noted above, the parents of Matthew Sparks, William and Ann, did not accompany William Sample Sparks in his move to North Carolina in 1754. He had been accompanied, however, by two of his other sons, named Matthew and James, as well as by a daughter named Rachel. Three of his cousins, sons of Joseph Sparks (died 1749), also accompanied William Sample Sparks to North Carolina in 1754; they were Solomon, Jonas, and Jonathan Sparks. (See the Quarterly of March 1990, Whole No. 149, pp.3554-SI, for an article devoted to Joseph Sparks and his family.)
We can only speculate on the reason the parents of Matthew Sparks (ca.1752-1819), William and Ann Sparks, did not accompany their Sparks relatives in their move to North Carolina in 1754. Perhaps it was because Ann's relatives influenced them to remain, although we have found no clue to reveal Ann's maiden name. William and Ann had been married in Frederick county ca. 1749, the same year that William had obtained a grant from the Colony of Maryland's land office for a tract of fifty acres on the east side of the Monocacy River near the town of Taneytown. (See p.3756 for a map of this land.) When Carroll County was created in 1837, this land be came part of the new county, as did the adjoining land that William had purchased in the years following. It had been there, also, that Matthew Sparks, second son of William and Ann, was born ca. 1752.
There were numerous relatives, therefore, to greet the family of William and Ann Sparks when they arrived at the Forks of the Yadkin in 1764 with their family.
Matthew Sparks, born ca. 1752, son of William and Ann Sparks, subject of the present article, must not be confused with his Uncle Matthew Sparks, born ca. 1733. This elder Matthew Sparks, who came to the Forks of the Yadkin with his father and other relatives in 1754, purchased a tract of 372 acres in 1761 located exactly where the South Yadkin River flows into the Yadkin River; this is now the southern tip of Davie County An article devoted to this elder Matthew Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No.34, pp. 556-66.
As was the custom in Maryland, William Sparks, as the initial owner of his 50-acre farm on the Monocacy chose a name for it which was recorded in his patent--he called it "Sparks Delight." In the year following his relatives' departure for North Carolina, William was able to add an adjoining 72-acre tract to "Sparks Delight" for which he paid 3 pounds and 11 shillings on August 13, 1755, to an extensive landowner named James Brooke. Seven years later, on April 3, 1762, he purchased additional land from Brooke. For a tract of 104 acres on the west side of the Monocacy River, he paid Brooke 25 pounds, but for 40 acres on the south side of "Sparks Delight," he paid Brooke only "Five shillings sterling." In his deed to Sparks, Brooke explained this token price: "for the good will which he (Brooke] beareth unto the said William Sparks and for divers other good causes and considerations." We may wonder whether Ann, wife of William Sparks, might have had some family connection to James Brooke. She was not a daughter, however, according to his will.
Even as late as 1762, there were small patches of "vacant land" along the Monocacy River, i.e., land that no one had yet purchased from Maryland's Lord Proprietor. There was such a tract comprising 18 acres on the east side of the river between the two tracts Sparks had just purchased from Brooke. William obtained a warrant from the Commissioner of Maryland's Land Office, and, after a survey was conducted, a patent dated June 9, 1762 was issued to him. He was to pay the Lord Proprietor a yearly quit-rent of "Nine Pence Sterling in Silver or Gold." Because he was the first owner of this small tract, he had the privilege of choosing a name for it. He registered it as "William and Ann," a name that it would retain even when it was sold to another party. (An explanation of Maryland's peculiar system of land ownership in the Colonial period, with its naming customs, its quit-rents and "alienation fines" when land was sold, is contained in the Quarterly article of June 1991 cited earlier; on p.3761 is a map showing the total land holdings of William Sparks.)
In the spring of 1764, on Aprll 26, William and Ann Sparks made their customary marks (he always made a small "0" until late in life) on a deed by which they sold their 283 acres on the Monocacy River to Christian Newswanger for 400 pounds. Soon thereafter, with their first five children, including Matthew, they left to join their relatives in the Forks of the Yadkin in North Carolina. We can only speculate on their reasons for making this dramatic change in their lives. One reason may have been the growing political unrest in western Maryland resulting form the Stamp Act, a protestation that would lead to the American Revolution. As he would demonstrate later, William Sparks was loyal to the British Crown; he believed in his King's right to tax his colonial subjects. Perhaps he wanted to go where is loyalty to England would be more accepted, which future events would prove to be true initially. Also, 400 pounds was a sizeable amount of money and fertile land in North Carolina was known to be both plentiful and cheap. James W. Wall in his History ofDavieCounty in the Forks of the Yadkin (Spartanburg, SC, 1985, p.7) has noted:
Davie County in the Forks of the Yadkin and South Yadkin Rivers was an ideal place for the pioneer to settle. Here he found gentle rolling hills, valleys and bottoms, fertile soil -- both clay and loam -- some land already cleared for planting. The climate was mild without extremes, and the area was not subject to severe or frequent storms, drought, or floods. Forests of oak, poplar, and pine furnished abundant timber and fuel. There was ample grass for grazing and hay, numerous springs and streams for water, and fish and game for food.
While we have no knowledge of any communication between William and Ann Sparks in Maryland and their relatives in the Forks of the Yadkin during the decade between 1754 and 1764, it is apparent that they knew where to find William's brother, the elder Matthew Sparks, and his father, William Sample Sparks. It is also likely that there were other Maryland families that traveled with the Sparkses in their journey. The likelihood is that they traveled down the Great Trading Path (also called the Great Wagon Road) from Frederick, Maryland, through Winchester and Staunton in Virginia, to Drapers Meadows, Chiswells, and Wolf Hills, then along the north and east side of the Yadkin River (sometimes called the North Yadkin) to where it is joined by the South Yadkin,They may have crossed the Yadkin at the Shallow Ford in what is now southeast Yadkin County, or they may have continued a few miles beyond the Fork where the elder Matthew Sparks had settled, to the Trading Ford near the village of Salisbury. If they chose the latter, they would then have traveled back northward to Howard's Ferry across the South Yadkin (See the map on the cover of the June 1991 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 154.)
The journey must have been a great adventure for young Matthew Sparks and his older brother who, like so many others, bore the name of William Sparks. William was thirteen or fourteen years old in 1764. Also making the journey, we believe, were William and Ann's children named Rachel, Nancy, George, and James. Four more children would be born in North Carolina: Margaret, Thomas, Benjamin, and Jeremiah.
Because Matthew Sparks, son of William and Ann, as well as his parents and siblings, would experience both advantages and severe problems in their obtaining valid titles to land in North Carolina throughout much of their lives, it may be useful here to repeat information given in the Quarterly of June 1991 regarding how individuals could become landowners.
To reward eight noblemen who had assisted King Charles II to regain the English throne, the King, in 1663, had granted to them the colony of Carolina. Thus Carolina was to be a proprietary colony, as was Maryland, with the Crown to receive only a small portion of the profits therefrom. Whereas in Maryland there was only one proprietor, however, in Carolina there were eight, and they had problems from the start. These were too numerous to discuss here, except to note that in 1711 the portion of Carolina that became South Carolina was restored to the Crown. Then in 1728, Parliament authorized King George II to purchase the proprietors's shares, now in the hands of descendants, and to make North Carolina a royal colony. The descendants of seven of the proprietors readily accepted the 2,500 pounds offered to the heirs of each of the original eight (along with a share of 5,000 additional pounds for the uncollected quit-rents), but one, the heir of Sir George Carteret, refused to. sell his share. This was the Right Honourable John Earl Granville (1690-1763) who, with the death of his mother in 1744, became the second Earl Granville. He was then given one-eighth share of the colony, from the Virginia border on the north to the parallel line on the south, which was the lower level of Rowan County. While Lord Granville was given no role in governing his part of North Carolina, he alone had the authority to sell his land and to collect quit-rents that the purchaser was required to pay annually thereafter. Lord Granville, himself, never visited his vast domain; agents acted for him in the land sales.
At the time of the arrival of the Sparkses in the Forks of the Yadkin in 1754, a hundred acres of Granville land could be purchased for only three shillings, plus three shillings silver (or four shillings "proclamation money") each year there after as quit-rent. According to his deed, the elder Matthew Sparks paid only ten shillings in silver for his 372 acres in 1761, although there was probably an additional "fee" charged by Granville's agent. One can easily imagine opportunity for corruption with agents acting on behalf of Lord Granville. These so-called fees charged by the agents and other county officials were a cause of growing resentment among the settlers.
It had become the custom for prospective buyers of Granville lands to "squat" on a desirable tract with the plan to purchase it later--a custom usually respected by other "squatters,"although there were bitterly contested exceptions. The agents of Lord Granville were remarkably tolerant of this practice, although we may wonder whether bribes may have been paid and collected in some instances. In 1763, however, the year before the arrival of William and Ann Sparks at the Forks of the Yadkin, word had been received that Lord Granville had died, and his agents were directed to close their land offices. There was the assumption that Granville' s heirs would open those offices again in due course, but the unrest that would culminate in the approaching American Revolution prevented this from happening. Thus, after 1763 there was no way for a settler to obtain a valid title to land not previously purchased from Lord Granville, incuding land on which one had squatted, until North Carolina became a state. The elder Matthew Sparks's title of 1761 was secure, of course, but William and Ann could not obtain title to "vacant land" as they had doubtless planned upon doing.
It seems apparent that on their arrival at the Forks of the Yadkin, William and Ann were taken in with their children either by William's father or his brother, the elder Matthew. No record has been found to indicate that William Sample Sparks ever obtained a title to land in North Carolina. We know from Lord Granville's land records, however, that he had "squatted" on a tract on the South Yadkin within three miles of the residence of his son, Matthew.
On May 30, 1761, a settler named James Andrews who had already purchased other land in Rowan County from a Granville agent, applied for and was granted the tract on which William Sample Sparks had squatted. The warrant authorizing a survey to be made of Andrew's purchase described it as "700 acres in Rowan County on the South Side of the South Yadkin, joining the Mouth of Second Creek including the improvements where William Sample Sparks formerly lived." It is quite possible that this was a friendly "take over" and Andrews may well have paid William Sample Sparks for the "improvements" he had made. On the side of this land bordering the South Yadkin there is a shallow place in the river where a road to Salisbury crossed; later it was called "Andrews Ford," and it may have been there that William Sample Sparks had operated an "ordinary." This was a name then commonly used for an inn or tavern where a traveller could expect to obtain lodging, food, and drink not only for himself and family, but for his horses as well. From later records it seems probable that such a facility comprised the "improvements" that Sparks had made on this land.
County licenses were required for one to operate an ordinary and the prices were set by the county court that a proprietor might charge his customers. Wives often played the role of cook and housekeeper. We suspect that Sparks, however, had conducted his ordinary on what became the Andrews property without a license, but during a meeting of the Rowan County Court in January 1762, he made application and it was "ordered that Mr. William Sample Sparks have License to keep Ordinary." The title "Mr." was one of distinction in those days, stiggesting that he then had status in the community.
Because the Andrews grant the previous year referred to where Sparks had "formerly lived," we wonder whether William Sample Sparks may now have reestablished his ordinary on the land belonging to his son, Matthew. His license was renewed by the Court on October 23, 1764, authorizing him "to Keep Ord- [sic] at his Own Dwelling House." This was the year in which William Sample Sparks's son and daughter-in- law, William and Ann, arrived with their family at the Forks--perhaps they were given lodging in the ordinary.
William Sample Sparks also served on a Rowan County jury in 1764, but these were the last occasions in which his name appeared in the Rowan County records. We believe that he died soon after his son and family arrived at the Forks of the Yadkin He did not leave a will.
It was remarkably soon after the arrival of William and Ann Sparks at the Forks, that on July 14, 1764, William and his brother, Matthew, were appointed by the County Court, along with ten other men, to lay out a road from nearby John Howard's Ferry to "the forks in Boone's Road." Three months later the Court ordered that "William Sparks Bee & is hereby Apptd Overseer of the Road Laid out... and that all the inhabatence [sic] within that District Worke under him." Perhaps the justices gave William this responsibility because they knew that his brother was about to sell to him the lower 200 acres of Matthew's 372-acre tract described earlier. As can be seen on the map on page 5338 following, this new road was to be located very near what would become William's farm. It was on April 10, 1765, that the sale was made official, William giving his brother fifty pounds in "proclamation money." It is interesting to note that this division resulted in the northeast corner of William's tract being opposite Matthew's "Fish Dam" on the Yadkin River, the bounty from which was doubtless shared by the two families.
These 200 acres thus became the farm on which William and Ann Sparks's family lived until 1773, and it was there that their son Matthew grew to manhood.
On September 17, 1767, the elder Matthew Sparks, with the consent of his wife, Sarah, sold the remainlng 172 acres of his land to a neighbor named William Haden. Whether the elder Matthew may have continued farming this land, perhaps renting it from Haden, or whether he may then have "squatted" on vacant land in the Forks of the Yadkin, we do not know. His name did not appear in Rowan County records after 1767.
A large portion of Rowan County embracing the entire northwest area 35 by 90 miles, was cut off in 1770 to form Surry County. Bordering Virginia not only did Surry County initially include the county that still bears its name today, but also the present counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes, Yadkin, Forsyth, and Stokes, along with parts of today's Avery, Watauga, Alexander, and Caldwell Counties. It was to what would become Ashe County in 1799 that the elder Matthew Sparks moved his family in the early 1770s. When a son of the elder Matthew, whose name was also Matthew, applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832, he stated that he had been born in Rowan County on January 20, 1759, and that he had been "between fourteen and sixteen years old, when he moved with the other members of the family, to New River..." From later records, we know that the elder Matthew Sparks family went to what is now Ashe County and "squatted" on 400 acres of land located "on the North side of New River beginning on Little Naked Creek." After the war ended, the family moved to Georgia.
Like his brother, William Sparks decided to move to a new frontier. On Janury 27, 1773, William and Ann sold their 200-acre farm to William Frohock, a land speculator and politician, for 150 pounds proclamation money, three times the amount William had paid his brother for it in 1765. In this deed (Book 8, p.104), William was called "Planter of Rowan County."
Again, we can only speculate on why William and Ann Sparks decided, as had William's brother, to move to unsettled land on a new frontier. They must have been born with an adventurous spirit, although their wish may have been to escape the growing unrest in the Forks of the Yadkin as war with the Mother Country seemed increasingly certain.
William and Ann's choice of a spot on which to settle in the vast new county of Surry was doubtless influenced by an earlier decision made by their eldest son, William Sparks, Jr., who had accompanied their cousin, Solomon Sparks, to what would become later the dividing line between Wilkes and Yadkin Counties. Solomon Sparks, son of Joseph Sparks who had died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749, had come to the Forks of the Yadkin in 1754 with William Sample Sparks and had purchased Granville land some nine miles north of the elder Matthew's tract near where Muddy Creek flows into the Yadkin River, over the line in Forsyth County.
Solomon, with his family and William Sparks, Jr., made the journey in time to be included on the earliest extant tax list for Surry County, 1771, on which Solomon was shown with three polls (himself and sons John and Joseph) and William, Jr. with one poll, himself. (A poll at that time was a white male between 16 and 60.) William Sparks, Jr. had been born ca. 1750. William and Ann's second son, Matthew, probably reached his majority in 1773, the year in which he accompanied his parents and younger siblings to their new home in Surry County.
Surry County in 1773, including the several counties that would later be formed from it, was still part of Lord Granville's Domain so that there was no way in which vacant land, although existing in vast amounts, could be acquired legally. Like his cousin Solomon and his son William, Jr., William Sparks could only "squat" in 1773 on a spot that was pleasing to him and to Ann, with the hope of purchasing it later with a proper title. They chose a tract later judged to comprise 200 acres located on North Hunting Creek (sometimes called the North Branch of Hunting Creek), a mile from what would become in time the tiny village of Cycle in today's Yadkin County. Highway 421 now passes very near where, with the help of his son, Matthew Sparks, William made his "improvements." This was three miles southwest of where William, Jr. had chosen to "squat."
A poll tax list for Surry County for the year 1774 survives showing that there were then 1,528 males between 16 and 60 in all of what would become six counties and parts of four others. Matthew Sparks, subject of the present article, appears by name as a poll in his father's household in Captain Cleveland's District. This is our earliest official record of Matthew as well as that of his younger brother, James Sparks, who was listed separately. Solomon, with sons John and Joseph, and William, Jr. were also named as polls in Captain Cleveland's District. John Rose, husband of William and Ann's daughter, Rachel, was shown just above the entry for William and Matthew.
It seems apparent that William and Ann Sparks chose the site that they did for their new home because it offered an ideal spot on which to build a water-powered grist mm. Essential for any community of the time, and thus representing a certain source of revenue for the builder, a grist mill was still an expensive edifice to build. With his land sales profits from the Forks of the Yadkin, William Sparks had brought with him the needed capital for his enterprise. We can only wish that a record had survived telling of how he and his son Matthew acquired the materials and manpower for the mill's construction, particularly the huge millstones. For many years there after, references are found in Surry and Yadkin County records to the "Sparks Mill Tract." Young Matthew's occupation became that of "Miller."
Mention was made earlier that William Sparks, like his cousin, Solomon, was a Loyalist during the American Revolution. Both would refuse to sign oaths of loyalty to the "state" of North Carolina. There was a generational gap in their families, however-- their sons favored Independence from England.
In the article entitled "William Sparks (ca.1725-1S01/02)" appearing in the Quarterly of June 1991, Whole No. 154, we related in considerable detail how William's reputation as a Loyalist during the time of the American Revolution nearly deprived him of his land and mill after the Granville lands were confiscated by the new state of North Carolina and offered for sale. The "squatters" from earlier years now had opportunity to purchase the land on which they had lived and made "improvements," which, in the case of Wiillam Sparks, included his mill. New settlers, who had not "squatted," could also purchase vacant land from the state.
An Act of the General Assembly of North Carolina on November 15, 1777, authorized the justices of the peace in each county (who, together, constituted each County Court), to elect an "Entry Taker" who would record individuals' land claims and, assisted by the county surveyor, determine where there were overlapping claims as well as prior claims. A man named Joseph Winston became Surry County's Entry Taker and his "Entry Book" for the period 1778 to 1781 is extant; it was edited for publication in 1987 by Agnes M. Wells, and it is from Ms. Wells's publication, along with Surry County deeds, that we are able to relate how it was that the land on which William and Ann Sparks had "squatted" in 1773 now became the property of their son, Matthew.
The Act of the General Assembly had required that a person claiming a tract of land from the new state had to be an "industrious person." This was interpreted to mean, also, he be willing to sign a loyalty oath, which William Sparks refused to do. There were several active Patriots in Surry County who were ready to identify their Loyalist neighbors and to make claim to their land along with their improvements thereon. An especially aggressive Patriot who was an officer in the Surry County Militia as well as a "bounty hunter" for army deserters, was William Terrell Lewis, well known to the Sparks family. Lewis immediately identified a number of his "disloyal" neighbors, including William Sparks. On September 7, 1778, Lewis entered a Surry County Claim (#680) for 200 acres "on the waters of Hunting Creek including William Sparks' mill and plantation." Five days later, on learning of the action taken against him by William Terrell Lewis, William Sparks transferred the land on which he had been squatting, along with the mill, to his son Matthew through a "Bill of Sale." Recorded in Surry County Will Book 1, p.121, this document is as follows:
BILL OF SALE
Know all men by these presents that I William Sparks of the County of Surry and State of North Carolina for and in Consideration of the Sum of one Hundred Pounds to me in hand paid by Matthew Sparks of the County and State aforesaid have Bargained and sold the Said Matthew Sparks One Grist Mill and Improvement of Land lying and being in Surry County on the North fork of hunting Creek Which Mill and Improvement I do warrant unto the said Matthew Sparks from any person or persons Laying any Just Claim thereon Except the Lord of the Soil.
Given under my hand this 12th day of September 1778
William O Sparks
On the Monday following the signing of this bill of sale, Matthew Sparks appeared before Joseph Winston, the official charged with registering land claims, and, with his father's document in hand, challenged the claim that had been made by Lewis. The matter then went to the Surry County Court on November 11, 1778, where it was ruled that William Sparks's bill of sale was equivalent to a deed to his son. We may wonder whether the God-fearing members of the Court were impressed by William's appeal to "the Lord of the Soil."
With this Court ruling, Matthew Sparks then entered a claim in his own name for these 200 acres on September 14, 1778. We may wonder whether the "one Hundred Pounds" that the bill of sale credited Matthew as having paid his father may have been actually a private loan or gift from his father. Winston assigned #173 to Matthew Sparks's claim, with the following description provided by Matthew:
Matthew Sparks enters 200 acres of Hunting Creek adjoining William Miller including the above place for quantity. September 14, 1778.
Matthew's claim was approved. As explained on page 3788 of the June 1991 issue of the Quarterly, on March 8, 1779, Matthew Sparks succeeded in making another claim (#1466) for "200 acres of land in Surry County on the top of Brushy Mountain" adjoining the land of his brother, William Sparks, Jr., and a year later, on March 9, 1780, Matthew transferred this tract to his father. It was there that William and Ann spent the remainder of their lives. On December 21, 1801, at the age of about 75, William made his last will, a copy of which survives and was photo copied on page 3791 of the Quarterly cited above. He provided for "my Loving Wife Ann Sparks" and designated an equal share for each of his children, but he did not name them. He appointed three of his sons, however, to serve as executors of his estate, William, Jr., Thomas, and George, along with a son-in-law, William Wilcox. His son Jeremiah was a witness. The will was entered for probate during the May 1802 session of the Surry County Court, so it would appear that William Sparks died either late in 1801 or early in 1802. We have no further record of Ann, his widow.
From a number of records pertaining to the family of 18.104.22.168.1 William and Ann Sparks, we believe that the following is a complete list of their children, the first six of whom were born in Frederick County, Maryland, as may possibly have been the seventh, Margaret; the rest were born at the Forks of the Yadkin.
22.214.171.124.1.1 William Sparks, Jr., born ca. 1750. by 1800 he had moved to Burke County, North Carolina.
126.96.36.199.1.2 Matthew Sparks, born ca. 1752. He is the subject of the present artide.
188.8.131.52.1.3 Rachel Sparks, born ca. 1754. She married John Rose ca. 1773. She was still living in Surry County, North Carolina, in 1843 when she applied for a military pension based on her husband's service in the Revolutionary War.
184.108.40.206.1.4 Nancy Sparks, born ca. 1756. She married William Wilcox (or Wilcockson); they moved to Green County, Kentucky, then to Barren County, Kentucky.
220.127.116.11.1.5 George Sparks, born ca. 1759. He lived near the town of Jonesville in that part of Surry County which became Yadkin County in 1850. He died there in 1842.
18.104.22.168.1.6 James Sparks was born ca. 1762. He served in the Revolutionary War; later lived in Lee County, Virginia. He moved to eastern Kentucky with his brother, 22.214.171.124.1.8 Thomas Sparks, and died in 1826 in that part of Floyd County that had become Lawrence County, Kentucky, in 1822.
126.96.36.199.1.7 Margaret Sparks, born ca. 1764 She married William Gibson in 1782. They moved to Burke County, North Carolina.
188.8.131.52.1.8 Thomas Sparks, born ca. 1766. He was married twice, first to Rebecca and second to Diana Wilcox. He moved first to Lee County, Virginia, but in 1821 he moved with his brother, James Sparks, to Floyd County, Kentucky, living in that part that became Lawrence County in 1822.
184.108.40.206.1.9 Benjamin Sparks, born ca. 1769. He married Elizabeth Hicks in 1797 in Surry County, North Carolina; he moved to that part of Burke County, North Carolina, that helped to form Caldwell County in 1822 where he died in 1749/50.
220.127.116.11.1.10 Jeremiah Sparks, born ca. 1772, married FNU Bell. They lived on Bear Creek in that part of Burke County that became Mitchell County North Carolina, in 1861; he apparently died before 1840.
A more detailed record of these ten children of William and Ann Sparks, with identification of many of their children, may be found on pp.3794-98 of the June 1991 issue of the Quarterly.
As was noted earlier, Matthew Sparks was shown on a 1774 tax list that survives. He was living with his parents in that part of Surry County, North Carolina, called Capt. Benjamin Cleveland's District. Like other militia captains in North Carolina, Cleveland also served as tax collector for the area in which his militiamen lived. His district included what is not only Surry County today, but also Wilkes County and Ashe County. Because squatters had no title to the land on which they lived, they were taxed then only as polls--white men between 16 and 60.
Matthew Sparks reached the age of 21 ca. 1773, the year that he moved to Surry County with his parents and several siblings. Sometime during the next three or four years, he married a young woman whose name was Eunice LNU. Despite many years of searching, we have failed to find a clue to reveal her parentage or even her maiden name. Her nickname was "Nicy," sometimes "Eunicy". It was ca. 1777 that her and Matthew's first child was born, a daughter named Nancy. Another daughter named Margaret, often called "Peggy," was born ca. 1779, and still another daughter was born ca. 1781 named Sarah, usually called "Sally." It was not until ca. 1784 that their first son was born, named Joel Sparks. This was the first use of the name Joel in this branch of the Sparks family--perhaps it may someday provide a clue regarding his mother.
In 1775, a portion of Capt. Cleveland's District was assigned to John Hudspeth for tax purposes, and on his surviving list Matthew Sparks was identified as "Juner" [i.e., Junior] to distinguish him from his uncle of the same name. His father was identified as "William Sparks, Sener" and his older brother as "William Sparks, Juner." Living near them was Joseph Sparks, son of Solomon Sparks.
As was noted earlier, through a bill of sale Matthew's father had succeeded in transferring to Matthew the tract of land on which he had squatted in 1773 and on which he had built his gristmill. William T. Lewis had thus been prevented in making his claim for this tract based on William Sparks having been a Loyalist. Matthew had then entered a claim to this land. Fees were collected when a claim was approved: 16 shillings paid to the Entry Taker; 30 shillings to the surveyor if the tract was under 300 acres; 5 shillings for making out and recording the patent (deed); 3 shillings to the secretary of the Governor for the use of the Great Seal of the state on the patent; and 50 shillings to the State Treasury for each 100 acres.
As noted earlier in this article, on March 8, 1779, Matthew Sparks entered a claim (#3788) for 200 acres of land on the top of Brushy Mountain in Surry County. This was vacant land and Matthew's claim was approved promptly, with his payment of the usual fees. This land adjoined land obtained by William Sparks, Jr. On March 9, 1780, Matthew transferred the title to the tract to his father, and it was there that William and Ann Sparks lived out their years.
It was not until April 3, 1780, that the Great Seal was finally placed on the official grant to Matthew Sparks for his 200 acres. He promptly arranged for it to be recorded by Surry County's Register of Deeds (Book B, pp.67-68). Because this is the record of Matthew's first land ownership, we quote below the document in full. Because other land that Matthew purchased and sold later will also be noted, perhaps a word regarding land measurement at that time would be in order.
As in all descriptions of land at that time, tracts were surveyed by the "Metes and Bounds" system. The key measuring device was the "Chain" consisting of 100 "Links," each link measuring 7.92 inches long. Thus the surveyor's chain was 66 feet in length. A "Pole," like the rod, was 16.5 feet long. The term "Chain Carrier" was given to the boy or young man who assisted the surveyor. The survey under the Metes and Bounds system began at a known landmark, with the surveyor following a line according to his compass-needle (or magnetic bearing) to the next landmark, although as seen in the survey of Matthew's 200 acres, this could be a tree or a mere sapling, or the course of a stream or ancient path or Indian trail.
The "Rectangular System of describing and dividing land was based on Astronomical Observation. It was officially adopted by the U.S. Congress on May 7, 1785, to describe all new lands awarded to settlers by the U.S. Government. Under this system, all distances and bearings are measured from two lines which are at right angles to each other, they being the Principal Meridians running north and south, and the Base Lines which run east and west.
The patent received by Matthew Sparks for the 200 acres of land on which his father had squatted and erected his gristmill was recorded in a Surry County deed book as follows:
State of North Carolina. To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting. Know ye that we for and in consideration of the sum of' fifty Shillings for every hundred acres hereby granted paid into our Treasury by Matthew Sparks, have given and granted and by these Presents do give and grant to the said Matthew Sparks a Tract of Land containing Two Hundred acres lying and being in our County of Surry, on the Waters of Hunting Creek beginning at Thomas Yates N . W. corner Black Oak, runnmg thence North Thirty seven Chains to a Pine, thence East fifty four Chains to a Pine, thence South Thirty seven Chains to a Stake in Yates' Line, thence to the Beginning as by the Plat hereunto annexed doth appear; together with all Woods, Waters, Mines, Minerals, Hereditaments and Appurtenances to the said Land belonging or appertaining; To hold to the said Matthew Sparks, his heirs and Assigns forever. Yielding and paying to us such sums of Money yearly, or otherwise, as our General Assembly from time to Time may direct. Provided always that the said Matthew Sparks shall cause this Grant to be registered in the Register's Office of our sd. County of Surry within Twelve Months from the Date hereof, otherwise the same shall be void and of no Affect. In Testimony whereof we have caused our Great Seal to be hereunto affixed. Witness Richard Caswell, Esquire, our Governor, Captain General and Commander in Chief at Kingston the third Day of April in the fourth Year of our Independence, and in the Year of our Lord one Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty. Recorded in the Secretary's office.
[signed Jno.Franck, Pro. Secy.
On the same date that Matthew Sparks's grant of 200 acres (April 3, 1780), was issued, a grant of 200 acres adjoining the lower side of Matthew's tract was made to Thomas Yates. Yates had entered his claim (#311) for this tract on July 24, 1778, which he had described as located "on the North Fork of Hunting Creek adjoining William Sparks and William Willcocks, including my improvement for complement." The patent for Yates's tract, also dated April 3, 1780, described as being:
... . on both sides of the North fork of Hunting Creek.. .beginning at a Pine, turning thence north crossing the said Creek thirty-three chains to a black oak, thence East sixty chains and seventy links to a black oak, thence East sixty chains and seventy links to a Stake, thence South crossing the said Creek thirty-three chains to a stake, thence to the first beginning."
What is striking about this description of Yates's 200 acres is that the North Fork of Hunting Creek both entered his land on the west and left it on the east, with no part of it passing through Matthew's tract. Recalling that his gristmill was on North Hunting Creek, the survey had determined that the Sparks Mill was actually on Yates land. This problem was solved five years later, on October 19, 1785, when Matthew Sparks purchased the Yates land for "one hundred and fifty pounds current money of this state." (Surry County Deed Book L, p.179.) It was actually from William Yates of Rowan County, apparently a son of Thomas Yates, that Matthew bought these 200 additional acres.)
For the year 1782, the General Assembly of North Carolina ordered that the tax list for each county not only give the name of all property owners, but also their location within each tax district with the number of acres owned, and the number of their horses and cattle. Because no political divisions had been drawn other than designated militia districts, "location" in Surry County meant the principal river or stream drained by the land in question. Matthew's land was described as 400 acres in Capt. Wright's District although it was John E. Elsberry who prepared Wright's list. Matthew's location was given as on "the Waters of Hunting Creek," and he was credited with 3 horses and 6 cattle. It appears that he already was considered to be owner of the Yates tract, although the deed had not actually been drawn up. (This 1782 tax list was copied and published in 1974 by Beulah Scates and others.)
It was on February 15, 1778, that an act passed earlier by the North Carolina General Assembly became effective, creating a new county cut off from Surry to be called Wilkes. Not only did it include most of today's Wilkes County, but also today's Ashe County and parts of Caldwell, Alexander, Watauga, and Alleghany Counties. The size of Surry County was thus greatly reduced by this act, and the line between Wilkes and Surry now became the line forming the western border of Matthew Sparks's property, including that of Thomas Yates, within Surry County. In 1792, however, the General Assembly ordered that the line between Surry and Wilkes Counties be re-drawn, resulting in many acres of Wilkes land being returned to Surry For the Sparks and Yates property this meant moving the line six chains west, with some 42 acres now in "limbo."
The first census for the United States was taken in 1790. At that time, presentday Yadkin County was still part of Surry (it would remain so until 1850), as was part of Alleghany County. Only the person heading each household was actually listed by name on the 1790 census; all household members, including the head, were then enumerated in the following categories: the number of free white males under 16; the number of free white males 16 and over; the number of free white females of all ages; the number of other free persons; and the number of slaves.
According to the 1790 census of North Carolina, Matthew Sparks was one of 971 heads of households in Surry County, with 7,191 individuals in all. These 7,191 individuals were recorded in these five categories as follows:
Free white males under 16: 1531
Free white males 16 and over: 1762
Free white females of all ages: 3183
All other free persons 17
Matthew Sparks, himself, was shown as the only male over 16 in his household in 1790; there were 3 males 16 and under, and 4 females, including his wife. He owned no slaves. From other records, we can surmise that the three males 16 and under were sons Joel, George, and Matthew, Jr. The sons named William D. and John were born after the 1790 census was taken. The three women in his household besides his wife, Eunice, were doubtless his daughters, Nancy, Margaret, and Sarah. Assuming that the census taker recorded households in the order that he visited them, it would appear that in 1790 Matthew's near neighbors in Surry County were: Zachariah Spurling, Isaac Stubbs, Joseph Scofield, Mary Hudspeth, James Chappel, Moses Swaim, James Shaw, John Stephens, George Grace, and Jacob Dibold. On the Wilkes County side of his land, Matthew's brother-in-law, William Willcockson (also spelled Wilcox, Wilcock, etc.), owned many acres of land, also on the North Hunting Creek adjoining Matthew.
Matthew Sparks's father, William Sparks, Sr., was shown on the 1790 census with one male over 16 (himself, of course), also one male 16 and younger, and two females. The male in the "16 and younger" category may have been Matthew's youngest brother, Jeremiah, although we have assumed that Jeremiah would have been more nearly 18 in 1790 than 16. Matthew's brothers, William, Jr., George, and Thomas, were heads of their own households in 1790 near their father.
Without family letters or other personal papers with which to tell the story of Matthew Sparks's life, we must rely on public records, such as recorded deeds, probate records, and county court documents. In North Carolina's court system, that at the county level was called the "Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions." A leading authority on local history in the state, Jo White Linn, has explained the function of this Court as follows:
The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions was the lowest court of record in North Carolina. It met every three months, and the minutes reflect the administration of local government. Three Justices were required to be present for the transaction of normal business. The minutes of this court reveal the names of local office holders, jurors, road overseers, persons who applied for licenses to keep ferries, ordinaries, and public houses. Petition of all sorts appear. Deeds and bills of sale are either acknowledged by the grantors or proved by the subscribing witnesses. Stock brands and marks are registered. Wills are probated, settlements of estates filed, guardians appointed for minor children, administrators appointed for persons dying intestate. There are records of oaths, bonds, inventories, divisions of estates, dissents to wills, etc. The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions dealt with civil suits involving less that $150 and criminal cases of a minor nature for which there was no capital punishment.
The minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions are the researcher's most important single source of information for genealogy and local history; the genealogical material they contain is invaluable. (See the Rowan County Register published by Ms. Linn, Vol.1, No.2, May 1986, p.72.)
Although Surry County was formed from Rowan County in 1771, it was not until 1790 that the Surry Count "P's & Q's," as it was often called, began meeting within the county, and it was not until its session in May 1791 that Matthew Sparks's name appears in the Court's minutes. One of the items recorded on May 9, 1791, was a list of the names of 19 men who were ordered to be available to serve as members of "a jury to view and mark out a road the nearest and best way from Wilkes County Line near Wilcocks Shop to George Lashes Ferry and from there towards Salem until it intersects with Stokes County Line and make report thereof to next court."
Matthew Sparks was one of the 19 men ordered to serve on this "road jury.
The minutes of the Court meeting on August 10, 1791, contain the following:
The jury app't to view a road report as follows, to wit, beginning at William Wilcoxons on the Wilkes Line and so passes by Airs Hudspeths and so into the Iron Work Road near where Phil Holcomb formerly lived then along said road opposit to Capt Bruces then across at his ford on the north of Deep Creek and into the Critchifeld Road at Grays Old Field then down the same by Benjamin Hudspeath's and so on across Forbis Creek to said Lashe's Ferry.
Upon acceptance of this report by the justices, its construction was divided into six sections, each section to be supervised by a man living near it. The first was assigned to Matthew Sparks as follows:
Matthew Sparks is app't overseer of the new road already laid out from Wilcoxon's Shop to Lashes' Ferry, [Sparks] to begin at the said shop [and go as far as] to Woolridges Old Place, the hands convenient [to] work thereon.
Another action taken by the Surry County Court during its August 1791 session pertaining to Matthew Sparks was his being sworn as one of the county's citizens to be available to serve on a jury in the following term to hear cases brought before the Court. There was still another Court decision made during the August 1791 term affecting Matthew which is difficult to interpret. In the Court's minutes it reads simply: "Matthew Sparks is released from the payment of a poll tax for the future." After 1778, men over 60 years of age were no longer taxed as polls, but Matthew could not have been more than 40 in 1791. (In 1801, however, the age limit was reduced to age 50 and in 1817 to 45.) On all Surry County tax lists during the remainder of his life, Matthew Sparks was shown as not having to pay the poll tax. A possible explanation for its taking effect in 1791 could be that, somehow, he had become disabled and had requested to be excused from this tax. Further credence may be added to the possibility, that some physical misfortune had befallen Matthew, is the fact that it was not until the May 1801 meeting of the Surry County Court that any additional service had been asked of him for a decade. On May 14, 1801, however, he was named as one of 30 men in the county who were to make themselves available for jury duty at the August Court session of 1801, and, indeed, he did so serve.
On January 27, 1795, Matthew Sparks entered a claim for 350 acres of vacant land adjoining his own 400 acres on the North Fork of Hunting Creek. It seems odd that such a tract was still unclaimed from the state in 1795, but there were also other tracts in the county still being claimed then. While there is no record of anyone disputing Matthew's claim, it was not until December 3, 1800, that a patent was issued to him bearing the state's Great Seal. A possible complicating factor causing a delay in his patent being granted was that his claim included the strip of land, six chains wide and 70 chains long between his own land and the Wilkes County line. As noted earlier, the 1778 revision of the boundary line between Wilkes and Surry Counties had left this strip unclaimed. Because of the peculiar shape of this 1800 grant in relationship to Matthew's other land, a description of his entire plantation at this time appears on the following page.
Matthew must have been quite confident in 1797 that he would receive the patent for this 350-acre tract because in May 1797, he sold for 20 pounds the southeast corner of it (100 acres) to his son-in-law, Alexander Smith. (Deed Book G, pp. 81-82) Matthew and Eunice's eldest daughter, Nancy Sparks, had been married to Alexander Smith in Surry County in 1796--their marriage bond was dated July 22, 1796, with Joseph Smith as their bondsman. There is evidence that Joseph Smith was a brother of Alexander.
A sketch of the land (750 acres) once owned by Matthew Sparks in Surry County, North Carolina (now within Buck Shoals Township in Yadkin County) is shown below. The description of his 350-acre grant in 1800 (Surry County Deed Book 1, p.437) was as follows: "...lying and being.. on the North fork of Huriting Creek, beginning at a black Jack the Northwest corner of said Sparks' former survey, runs South seventy chains to a Stake, thence East sixty chains to a pine on Smith's line, South on the same forty six chains to a pine on Henry Speers' line, West on the same sixty six chains to a stake in the Wilkes County line, North on the same one hundred and sixteen chains to a stake, thence East to the beginning."
It was also in May 1797 that Joseph Smith sold to Alexander Smith, son-in-law of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, a portion (130 acres) of the land that he owned on the east side of the 100 acres that Matthew had sold to Alexander. (Deed Book G, pp.116-li)
The U.S. Constitution requires that there be a national census taken every ten years, so in 1800 the nation's second census was taken. The age categories for the members of each household in 1800 were extended to provide five categories for while males and females, with slaves simply counted. These categories were:
Under 10; 10 & under 16; 16 & under 26; 26 & under 45; and 45 & upwards. Matthew and Eunice were enumerated in the "45 & upwards" category, of course. Only one other female was enumerated, as "16 & under 26," whom we can be certain was the daughter Sarah, whose marriage to Henry Bray would occur in May 1803. We cannot be certain of the identity of the six young males in the Sparks household, however; three were under 10 years while the other three were within the 10 to 16 category. Matthew and Eunice's sons named William D. Sparks and John Sparks were probably among the males under 10, but only their son Matthew Sparks, Jr. would seem to fit in the 10 to 16 group. They may have been sons who died young of whom we have no record, or they may have been orphaned relatives or neighbors whom Matthew and Eunice had taken as apprentices to learn the miller's trade. Matthew was also shown as owning one slave in 1800.
The second daughter of Matthew and Eunice, Margaret ["Peggy"], had been married to William West in 1799--their marriage bond was dated January 4, 1799, with Joseph Smith serving as bondsman. On November 3, 1806, Matthew Sparks purchased from his son-in-law, William West, for 200 pounds, "good and lawful money of the state," a 200-acre tract of land described as "beginning at a white oak corner on Hicks old line..." (Book L, p.240) This land adjoined on the east the 200-acre tract that Matthew had been granted in 1780. It was probably as a personal favor to his son-in-law that Matthew bought this tract, for on July 6, 1810, he sold 170 acres of it back to West for $204. (Book N, p.80) William West's financial problems continued, however, and following a lawsuit involving a debt that he owed in November 1815, the Surry County Sheriff John Wright was directed by the Court to seize West's 170 acres to be sold at public auction to pay this debt. According to Surry County Deed Book N, pp.322-33, Matthew Sparks was the highest bidder at the auction, and for $95.31 he again became the owner of this tract of land. This was a remarkably small price; we may wonder whether other bidders curbed their bids to permit Matthew to buy it for no more than the amount of West's debt. Matthew did not return it to his son-in-law, however; on May 7, 1817, he sold it to a neighbor named Philip Holcomb for $1,000. (Book 7, p.93) West's financial problems appear to have continued through apparent mismanagement as will be noted in the wording of Matthew's will in 1819.
On January 12, 1807, Matthew Sparks purchased a remarkably small plot of land comprising only five acres, for which he paid ten dollars. (Deed Book L, pp. 297-98) The deed traces this plot's ownership history from the time it had been granted to David Allen by the state on September 20, 1779; then it was described as located near "a certain iron mine pit near Thomas Yates' house." What use had been made of it through the years is not revealed. On January 23, 1811, Matthew sold it to his son, Matthew Sparks, Jr., for five pounds. (Book 0, p.375)
The 1810 census again provides us with a glimpse of Matthew Sparks's household. Again, only the head of each household was named on this census; its members were then enumerated in the same form as in 1800. Matthew and Eunice were, as in 1800, the male and female shown as over the age of 45. The two males living with them who were between 16 and 26 were probably their sons, William D. and John. Matthew Sparks, Jr. had been married to Sarah Elmore in 1808 and was shown on the 1810 census, as head of his own household, which included his wife and two small sons.
As noted above, on the 1810 census Matthew Sparks was shown as then owning one slave. From a bill of sale dated June 14, 1800, and recorded in Surry County's Will Book 2, p.50+, we know that this was the "Negro girl, Tamer, aged five years" whom Matthew had purchased for $100 from Aaron Moore. The bill of sale was witnessed by Oby Martin and James Sparks, brother of Matthew. It was unusual for a record of the purchase of slaves to be recorded in Surry County, but for some reason a number of such sales were copied in 1810. We may wonder why little Tamer's purchase was recorded as well as what Matthew's reason may have been for acquiring a female slave only five years old. Aaron Moore lived in Stokes County, North Carolina; he owned one slave when the 1800 census was taken there.
On the Surry County tax list of 1815, Matthew was required to pay a poll tax for two slaves, and in 1816 for three. Under a North Carolina law then in effect, all slaves, male and female, between the ages of 12 and 50, were taxed as "Black Polls." As will be noted in Matthew's will and the settlement of his estate, his total number of slaves was six in 1819.
It was on March 26, 1819, that Matthew Sparks made his will. He must have known that death was fast approaching because two days earlier, on March 24, he signed deeds giving tracts of land to each of his five sons, "in consideration of the natural love and affection that a parent hath towards a child," a phrase repeated in each deed. Throughout the descriptions of the land in these deeds, he referred to the North Branch of Hunting Creek simply as Hunting Creek.
To his son William D. Sparks (he called him simply William in the deed) he gave 70 acres that constituted the upper northwest corner of his plantation, which was part of the tract on which his father had "squatted" in 1773. To his son Joel Sparks he gave 60 acres, being the middle part of this original tract. Matthew Sparks, Jr. received 90 acres that was largely part of Matthew's patent of 1800. To his son George Sparks, Matthew gave 100 acres which was essentially the west half of the 200-acre tract that he had purchased from Thomas Yates in 1780, including the grist- mill. To his youngest son, John Sparks, Matthew gave 50 acres constituting the northeast corner of his plantation adjoining the 60-acre tract given to Joel Sparks. According to Matthew's calculations, these gifts to his sons left 352 acres that in his will were to be held and used by his wife, Eunice Sparks, throughout her lifetime.
We know that the four oldest sons of Matthew and Eunice were present when these deeds were drawn up by Thomas Wright, long a friend as well as the sheriff of Surry County. These four sons took turns witnessing each other's deeds. John Sparks, the youngest son, was probably also present, but being then under the age of 21, he was too young to serve as a witness to a legal document.
Matthew Sparks died sometime between March 24, 1819, and the May 1819 meeting of the Surry County Court in May 1819 when his will was entered for probate.
The will of Matthew Sparks was duly recorded in Surry County's Will Book 3, pp. 140-41, but the original, bearing Matthew's actual signature, has also been pre served at the North Carolina State Archives. Many years ago, William Perry John son obtained a photostat copy of this original. Matthew's signature on his will is reproduced below from this negative photostat; the text of his will follows on page.
In the Name of God, Amen. I Matthew Sparks of the County of Surry and State of North Carolina being weak in Body but of sound mind and Memory Blessed be God, do this 26th day of March in the year of Our Lord 1819 make and publish this my last will & testament in manner following, that is to say --
First I lend unto my beloved Wife Nice Sparks, the whole of my tract of land & plantation, together with my Household furniture & plantation Tools, the whole of my stock of Every description & two stills, also three Negros to wit, Cate, Stephen & Joan during her natural life -- after her decease the said Estate above mentioned to be sold and equally divided among my Children herein named, that is to say, Joel, George, Matthew, William, John, Nancy Smith [and] Sally Bray -- At the same time authorising my said wife in her lifetime, if she sees cause to give unto my Daughter Peggy West, of the above property put in her possession such sum or sums not Exceeding one Hundred dollars at her discretion. My will and desir [sic] is that the Ballance of my negro property not already named shall after my decease be sold and the proceeds of such sale to be Equally divided among my Children Above named, to wit, Joel, George, Matthew, William, John, Nancy & Sally.
I make and Ordain my Sons Joel Sparks and Matthew Sparks Executors of this my last Will and testament, and I do hereby Revoke all other wills by me made and Acknowledge this only to be my last will and Testament. In testimony whereof I have hereunto sit [sic] my hand and seal the day and date above written -- Signed, Sealed and Acknowledged in presence of --
[signed] T. Wright Jurat [Signed] Mathew Sparks Seal
" J. B. Hampton
The following statement was added at the end of the recorded copy of this Surry County's Will Book 3, pp.140-41:
State of North Carolina Surry County May Session 1819
Thomas Wright one of the subscribing Witnesses to the forgoing Last will and testiment of Matthew Sparks Decd Made Oath in Open Court that he saw Matthew Sparks Sign Publish and Declare the same to be his last will and Testament that he was of sound disposing mind and memory. That he did it freely and without compulsion and that he saw John B. Hampton at the same time, sign the same as subscribing witness thereto whereupon it was ordered to be recorded. Recorded accordingly.
(signed] Jo. Williams CC
In the minutes of the Surry County "P's & Q's" Court, the following entry appears for the session of the Court for May 12, 1819:
The last will & testament ot Matthew Sparks dec'd was duly proven in open court by the oath of Thomas B. Wright & ordered to be recorded. Joel Sparks one of the executors therein named qualifyed agreeable to law. Matthew Sparks the other executor refuses to qualify and it is ordered to be recorded.
Why Matthew Sparks, Jr. refused to be an executor with his brother in the probating of their father's estate is not known. The Court did not appoint a replacement for him, and Joel acted as the sole executor. In accordance with the law, Joel proceeded to prepare an inventory of his father's estate, all of which his father's will had directed to be retained in his widow's possession for her natural lifetime. (As seen, Matthew had called Eunice by her nickname, "Nice," in his will)
Joel Sparks completed the inventory in time for it to be presented to the County Court when it met for its August 1819 session. During its meeting on August 11, 1819, the following entry was made in its minutes: "An inventory of the estate & account of sales of Matthew Sparks dec'd was returned & ordered to be recorded." This document, in Joel Sparks's own handwriting, has been preserved. A copy was made by William Perry Johnson (one of the founders of the Sparks Family Association) with the following notation: "Transcribed at Dobson, Surry Co., N.C., August, 1952, Office of Clerk of Court."
No better word-picture of Matthew and Eunice Sparks's living style could be found than this inventory of their possessions at the time of Matthew's death in 1819. It is apparent from this that he was no longer in the milling business then. He was "well off" by the standards of the time, and Eunice could be assured of a comfortable living during her widowhood. Matthew owed no debts when he died. Four of his sons owed him money for which he held their notes. Three of his slaves were on loan, also, to sons Joel, William, and George; and in accordance with his will, they were now to be sold and the proceeds divided among his children (except his daughter (Peggy). Two neighbors owed him money: Daniel Wilcockson $41.00 for a desk and Joshua' Hendrick for a "yoke of steers" worth $25.56.
As has been noted, Matthew had made deeds of gift to each of his five sons before making his will. As calculated by Joel Sparks in preparing the inventory, "the land now remaining" comprised 300 acres, to be managed by Eunice Sparks during her life time. From his will and the inventory, we know not only the number of slaves that Matthew owned when he died (six), but their names as well: Cate, Stephen, and Joan to be held by Eunice during her lifetime, and Caty, Fanny, and Judy on loan to sons. (Caty was also called "Cit," and Fanny was called "Fann."
In presenting Joel Sparks's inventory of his father's possessions here, some punctuatio~ has been added for the sake of clarity, but spelling has not been corrected.
The Inventory of Matthew Sparks's Estate
Land now remaining 300 [acres]
1 Chist (chest]
1 note on Joel Sparks for $50
1 note on Joel Sparks for $20
1 Note on Matthew Sparks [Jr.] for $9
1 note on Wm. D. Sparkes for $24
Joel Sparks, one neagro girl named Caty $350
William Sparks, one neagro girl named Fanny $351
George Sparks, one neagro girl named Judy $280
These last three named neagro girls to be sold that is men shend in the will Cit & Fann & Jude
Daniel Wllcockson to one Desk $41
Joshua Hendrick to one yoke of steers $25.56
Matthew Sparks's name had appeared on the annual tax lists of Surry County for the last time in 1818. More information was now recorded because of taxes being levied on the value of land in addition to the poll tax. Matthew's plantation was valued at $1,110 in 1818. As had been true since 1791, he was not taxed as a poll, but there were two Black polls (slaves) in his household for whom he was taxed.
As provided in his will, his wife, Eunice Sparks, was to possess what remained of his plantation (350 acres), Matthew having given a portion of it to each of his sons before he made his will. So it was that when the 1819 tax lists were prepared for Surry County, Unicy Sparks" was listed (in Capt. Denney's District) as a taxable landowner for 350 acres now in her name and valued at $700.00. A tract of land adjoining each taxpayer was recorded in 1819--Peter Mock's 310 acres to the south adjoined both Eunice Sparks and the land Matthew had given his son, Matthew Sparks, Jr. As a white female, Eunice did not have to pay a poll tax, but she was taxed for two "Black polls." The tax collected in Surry County in 1819 was in accordance with the following Court order:
....eight cents on every hundred dollars value of land; eight cents on every hundered dollars value of town property, and twenty five cents on each and every white and black poll. [Also] to aid the funds already provided for erecting a jail, the sum of fifteen cents on every hundred dollars value of land, fifteen cents on every hundred dollars value of town property, and thirty cents on every white and black poll.
A curious reference to Eunice Sparks was entered into the minutes of Surry County's Court of "P's & Q's" during its August 1820 session, as follows:
Ordered by the court that the sheriff be directed to summon a jury to inquire into the state of mind of Nicey Sparks & make report to next court.
We can only guess the meaning of this order for there was no subsequent reference the matter. Was there the question in the all-male court whether an elderly woman was capable of managing a plantation? If the sheriff made such a report when the Court met the following February, no note was made of it in the Court's minutes.
When the 1820 census was taken, "Unicy Sparks" was shown as head of her household consisting only of herself and her three slaves. She was enumerated in the same "over 45" category as earlier.
The 1830 census provided for the enumeration of households in 13 age groupings. On this census, Eunice Sparks was shown as between 70 and 80 years old, thus born be tween 1750 and 1760. Living also in her household in 1830 was a white male between 20 and 30, and two white females between 30 and 40. We do not know who these individuals were. Eunice now owned six slaves according to the 1830 census, the increase in number probably having resulted from children being born to one or both of her female slaves. The age categories for slaves differed from those of free white persons on census records. The six owned by Eunice in 1830 were enumerated as follows:
1 female --- 36 to 55
1 male --- 24 to 36
1 female --- 10 to 24
2 males --- under 10
1 female --- under 10
Besides paying taxes, landowners were required on occasion to form a jury to survey the route for a new road; neighbors owning land through or near which the road had been surveyed were then required to help build and maintain it. A woman was not expected, of course, to perform this kind of service herself, but if she was a land owner, she was required to provide a male substitute. During the August 1831 session of the Surry County Court, it was determined that the road from the Wilkes County line to "Hendrick's Old Field" was in need of repair. Hiram Sales, a near neighbor of Eunice, was appointed as overseer of the group of men whom the Court ruled should contribute to this repair work. "Eunice Sparks' Stephen" appears in this list. Some have assumed that Stephen was a son of Eunice, but it will be recalled that one of Matthew's slaves given to Eunice for the period of her widowhood was named Stephen--it was he who "contributed" Eunice Sparks's share of labor for the road repair--he was doubtless the slave enumerated on the 1830 census as being in the 24 to 36 age category.
Eunice Sparks's name, usually spelled "Unicy," continued to appear on Surry County's tax lists for nearly twenty years following her husband's death. Her last entry was on the list for 1837, and in her place in 1838 appeared "M. Sparks heirs." From this we know that Eunice died either in late 1837 or early in 1838. She must have been over 80 years of age at the time of her death. There was no probating of her estate because in Matthew Sparks's will in 1819 he had stated:
"First I lend unto my beloved Wife Nice Sparks the whole of my tract of land & plantation.. .after her decease the said Estate.. .to be sold and equally divided among my Children herein named..."
On May 28, 1839, Joel Sparks, "Exr. (Executor] of Mathew Sparks, Senr. Decd." sold to Miles Wells the land on which Joel's mother had continued to live following her husband's death in 1819. Both Joel Sparks and Miles Wells were identified in the deed (see Surry Co. Deed Book 3, pp.11-12) as residents of Surry County. Wells paid Joel Sparks, in his role as executor of his father's estate, "Seven Hundred dollars Cash in hand" for what was described as 352 acres. The lengthy description of this tract begins: "... at a double white oak running thence South Sixty four poles to an old stump in the edge of the public road...." This was the road passing through Matthew Sparks's land that had been surveyed by the road jury on which Matthew had served in 1791 and for the building of which he had been appointed overseer. As noted above, the slave named Stephen later helped to repair the road on which his master had helped to build some twenty years before.
Miles Wells continued to own this land until his death in 1849. In his will dated July 25, 1849, he referred to his "Mat. Sparks tract of land."
Matthew and Eunice Sparks were the parents of eight children who lived to reach adulthood. Census records suggest that there may have been a son, possibly two, who died in childhood, but we have found no other record to suggest this. There can be no doubt that their first three children were daughters named Nancy, Margaret (called Peggy), and Sarah (called Sally). The births of five sons followed those of the three daughters; they were named in Matthew's will in the order of their births: Joel, George, Matthew, Jr., Wiffiam D., and John. In future issues of the Quarterly we will publish in detail the information that we have on these sons and their descendants, but here we note only basic information.
The dates of the marriage bonds of some of the children of Matthew and Eunice help to determine their probable dates of birth. For detailed information about marriage bonds, the reader may wish to read an article written by William Perry Johnson for the SPARKS Quarterly of December 1954, Whole No. 8. Briefly stated, the marriage bond law in North Carolina was in effect from 1741 until 1868. Under this law, the clerk of the County Court was required to maintain a register of each marriage license that he issued along with a record of the marriage bond that enabled him to issue the license. To obtain a marriage bond, the prospective groom was required to provide a bond "with sufficient security." Initially, the bond was to be in the amount of $250; later it was increased to $500, then to $2,500, and after 1837 it was set at$1,000.; In obtaining the bond, the groom guaranteed that both he and his bride were legally free to marry, i.e. that they were both white and of legal age to marry (or, if under age, had written permission from a parent or guardian), and were both single. It was not sufficient for the groom to be his own bondsman--an adult male with property was required to required to fill this role--usually a close relative of either the groom or the bride, or a near neighbor.
The marriage ceremony could take place at any time after the issuance of the license. Rarely do we have the exact date. If the groom could find no one able or willing to serve as bondsman, the couple could be married by the "crying of the banns." This required that a public announcement of the intended union be made in church on three successive Sundays or be posted for the same period in public view, such as on the door of the courthouse. No license was involved in this type of marriage, nor was any official record made of its occurrence.
18.104.22.168.1.2.1 Nancy Sparks, eldest daughter of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born ca. 1777. She married Alexander Smith in 1796. Their marriage bond in Surry County, North Carolina, was dated July 22, 1796, with Joseph Smith serving as bondsman. We have not succeeded in locating any descendants of Nancy (Sparks) Smith, and cannot even be certain that she had children.
As was noted on page 5346 of the present issue of the Quarterly, Matthew Sparks sold 100 acres of his land to Alexander Smith for 20 pounds in 1797. This tract adjoined land owned by Joseph Smith who, also in 1797, sold Alexander a portion of land (130 acres) that he owned adjoining the land Alexander had purchased from his father-in-law. On October 9, 1801, Alexander sold both of his tracts to Charles Worth for 115 pounds. Both Smith and Worth were identified in the deed as being of Surry County. (Deed Book M, pp.64-65) The witnesses were Tristram Coggshall, John Whitlock, and Matthew Sparks. For some reason, this deed was not recorded officially until August 3, 1808, when Matthew Sparks appeared before the Surry County Court to swear that he had witnessed his son- in-law sign it. This suggests that Alexander Smith was no longer a resident of Surry County in 1808; had he been, he would have been the one to acknowledge the deed's validity before the Court.
Less than two weeks after Alexander Smith sold his land to Charles Worth, Joseph Smith sold to David Walker the remaining 117 acres that he had retained out of the tract from which he had sold Alexander 130 acres in 1797. In this deed, dated October 20, 1801 (Book K, p.79) Joseph Smith was described as "of the County of Rowan." On October 2, 1802, "Joseph Smith of Rowan County" sold to Charles Worth for 100 pounds, 200 acres near the land he had sold to Walker in 1801. (Surry Co. Deed Book L, p.14)
There seems little doubt that Alexander Smith had also moved to Rowan County after selling his land in Surry County. In fact, on May 24, 1800, Alexander had obtained from the state a grant of 118 acres in Rowan County "on Cabin Creek adjoining Elisha Shamwell, Ebenezer Parks, Anthony Peeler, and David Cox." Cabin Creek is located in the part of Rowan County that was cut off to form Davidson County in 1822. It flows into the Yadkin River about five miles above the south end of Davidson County. While we cannot be certain, it is probable that Joseph Smith was a brother of Alexander; his marriage had taken place in 1791. Families named Smith are difficult to research, but, fortunately, the fore name "Alexander" was then fairly unusual. A possible clue for the identity of Alexander Smith is that in a Rowan County will of a James Smith dated March 11, 1826, and probated in May of the same year (Rowan Co. Will Book H, p.352) reference was made to James's "natural brothers: Luis Smith, Joseph Smith, Alexander Smith, and Thomas Smith." A tax list of Salisbury in Rowan County (Capt. Jetter's Company) taken in 1823 includes the name "Alexander Smith" with one white poll (himself). (See RowanCountyRegister, August 1998, Vol. 13, p.3036)
There is also a will recorded in Rowan County for an Alexander J. Smith dated March 11, 1830, and probated the following year. In his will this Alexander J. mentioned his wife, Nancy, who was to serve with Henry Smith as executors of his estate. He also mentioned having a share in the lands of Jacob Hartman, deceased. There is no reference to children. Our only reason for believing that this might have been the Alexander Smith who had been married to Nancy Sparks in 1796 is that, in his will, he gave his wife's name as Nancy.
22.214.171.124.1.2.2 Margaret Sparks, whose nickname was "Peggy", the second daughter of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born ca. 1779, although her age was given as 67 on the 1850 census. She married William West in 1799. Their marriage bond in Surry County, North Carolina, was dated January 4, 1799, so we may assume that the marriage took place soon thereafter. The bondsman was Joseph Smith who was probably a brother to Alexander Smith, husband of Margaret's sister, Nancy. Joseph Smith had been married to Elizabeth West in Surry County in 1791. Perhaps Elizabeth West was a sister to Joseph and Alexander Smith. When the 1850 census was taken of the southern portion of Surry County below the Yadkin River (it would become Yadkin County shortly after the census was taken), William West's age was given as 70, placing his birth ca. 1780; he was shown as being a native of North Carolina, as was his wife, Margaret.
We have not been in touch with any descendant of William and Margaret (Sparks) West; our only knowledge of them is through official sources, such as census records, deeds for land, and Surry County Court records. Our earliest record pertaining to William West in Surry County is found in a deed dated November 19, 1805, by which he purchased from William Jeffery for 125 pounds a tract of 200 acres (Deed Book L, p.296). From later records pertaining to this land, we know that it was located near the land of Matthew Sparks on the waters of North Hunting Creek. Jeffery had purchased it in three different parts in 1804/05 from Benjamin and William Hicks. Matthew Sparks had been a witness to the signing of one of these deeds. A year after West purchased this 200-acre tract from Jeffery, he sold it to his father-in-law, Matthew Sparks, on November 3, 1806, for 200 pounds, an amount considerably larger than the 125 pounds West had paid for it in 1805. (Book L, p.240)
On February 20, 1808, William West served as the bondsman for his wife's brother, Matthew Sparks, Jr., to obtain a marriage bond and license to be wed to Sarah Elmore, daughter of Athenatious and Susannah (Pinnix) Elmore, near neighbors to West and to members of the Sparks family.
On July 6, 1810, which was four years after William West had sold his 200-acre farm to his father-in-law, Matthew Sparks sold back to him 170 acres of this same land for $204. (Book N, p.80) The 30 acres of the original 200 that Matthew did not sell back to West bordered Matthew's own land on the south side. It would appear that Matthew Sparks did his son-in-law a service in purchasing the 200-acre tract in 1806 and then selling most of it back to West in 1810.
It was also in 1810, on October 29th, that William West purchased from an extensive landowner in Surry County named Jesse Lester a 200-acre tract for $150 located on the waters of Deep Creek near Piney Knob. Seven months later, however. on May 10, 1811, west sold this land to his wife's brother, Joel Sparks, for the same amount. The witnesses to this deed were Matthew Sparks and Matthew's. brother, William Sparks. For some reason, this deed was not proven for registration in the County Court until February 1832, William West then appearing to acknowledge its validity. (Book U, p.170)
When the Surry County Court met in February 1811, Matthew Sparks appeared as a defendant facing a charge by the State for an unspecified wrongful act. There was a jury trial and Matthew was found to be innocent. A witness for the State, oddly enough, was William West, and was paid expenses by the Court for his testimony for "1 day & 36 miles."
On May 16, 1811, there was a trial involving "Trespass" brought by the State against William West, after which he, also, was found to be innocent by a jury. Four witnesses who had testified for his defense were then paid expenses as follows:
Athenatious Elmore 1 day & 18 miles
Anny Elmore 1 day & 36 miles
Matthew Sparks 1 day & 38 miles
Benjamin Johnson 1 day & 38 miles
Athenatious Elmore, whose nickname was "Atha," was the father of Sarah Elmore who had been married to Matthew Sparks, Jr. in 1808. When Atha Elmore made his will on October 8, 1821, William West was a witness (along with Overton Penix, and Ambrose Chappel). The Matthew Sparks who served as a witness in this 1811 case, may have been Matthew, Jr.
A possible clue regarding West family relationships in Surry County is contained in a reference to a County Court case noted in the minutes of the Court on February 14, 1815. William West, Isaiah West, and Nathaniel West were defendants in a case brought against them by Thomas Moody and James Shepard. No details of the case were recorded except there was a jury trial with a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of 55 pounds. Two years later, in the Court's minutes of May 15, 1817, note was made that William West, Isaiah West, and Nathaniel West again were defendants in another case brought against them by Thomas Moody and Richard S. Cook. As in 1815, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $272.62.
Nathaniel West's name is found among various Surry County records and when the 1850 census was taken he and his household were living in the same vicinity as were William and Margaret West. Nathaniel was then 63; his wife, Charlotta, was 54; he was a farmer and a native of North Carolina, while Charlotta had been born in Maryland according to the census. We wonder whether William and Nathaniel might have been brothers.
It was doubtless in connection with the lawsuit of February 1815 that the following action was taken by the Surry County sheriff, John Wright, as recorded in a deed dated May 10, 1815. (Surry Co. Deed Book N, pp.322-23) Portions of this deed are quoted below explaining its circumstances:
.... Whereas, by virtue of an execution, issuing from the County Court of Surry against William West for the sum of forty one pounds, sixteen shillings and six pence... delivered to the said John Wright, Esq. high sheriff.. .commanding him that of the goods and Chattels, lands and tenements of the said William West, he should cause to be made the aforesaid sum...to satisfy the said execution and costs thereon and the said John Wright... did seize and take into his hand and custody (no goods or chattels to be found) a certain piece or parcel of land...
The parcel of land that Sheriff Wright "seized" comprised the 170 acres that Matthew Sparks had sold back to West in 1810 from the 200 acres that West had sold to his father-in-law in 1806
The deed of May 10,1815, goes on to state that Wright:
... after due advertisement... did cause the said piece or parcel of land, with all the appurtenances thereunto belonging, to be put up at public sale to the highest bidder.. .in November 1814 ...at which time and place.. Matthew Sparks, Senr. became the last and highest bidder..."
It was based on this action, according to the deed, that Sheriff Wright then conveyed the 170-acre tract to Matthew Sparks for $95.31. We wonder whether there may have been others attending the sale who did not bid higher out of respect for Matthew Sparks in his desire to help his son-in-law. Matthew did not, however, sell the land back to West as he had done in 1810. Instead, on May 7, 1817, Matthew sold it to Philip Holcomb for $1,000, at a remarkable profit. (Book 7, p.93)
When Matthew Sparks made his will on March 26, 1819 (see p.5350 of this issue of the Quarterly for the full text), he deliberately omitted his daughter, Margaret ["peggy"](Sparks) West, from among his children who should inherit shares of his estate upon the death of their mother, Eunice. He added, how ever: "At the same time authorizing my said wife in her lifetime, if she sees cause, to give unto my Daughter Peggy West... such sum or sums not Exceeding one Hundred dollars..." We can only speculate that Matthew may have felt that in his earlier land dealings on behalf of her husband, Peggy had received already her proper share of his estate.
From Surry County tax lists and census records, it appears that William West never again acquired a substantial amount of land in Surry County. As a farmer, he rented other people's land for the remainder of his life. On December 23, 1828, however, he had sufficient wealth to qualify as bondsman for a near neighbor, William Pettyjohn, in Pettyjohn's obtaining a marriage bond and license to wed Sarah Hendrix (or Hendricks), another close neighbor.
From census records, it appears that William and Margaret (Sparks) West may have had as many as five children, three daughters and two sons. According to the 1850 census (the first federal census to list the name, age, and birth place for each household member), William West was a farmer, age 70, with no real property; Margaret, his wife, was 67. Living with them was Rachel West, age 29, who may well have been a daughter. She was shown with real estate valued at $200.
The family of William and Sarah Pettyjohn, for whom William West had served as a marriage bondsman in 1828, were living very near the Wests in 1850, as was Catharine Hendricks, age 82, a native of Maryland. The latter was probably the mother of Sarah. Listed in the same neighborhood of William and Sarah West in 1850 was a Jinsey West, age 35, and a native of North Carolina. She may have been a widow. Living in her household were the following: Isaiah West, 18; Lucinda West, 17; Emaline West, 12; and William J. West, 3.
We have not been able to do research in Yadkin County to determine whether records exist there to further our knowledge of the West family. Listed below, however, are West marriage bonds in Surry County, North Carolina, prior to 1860. These individuals were doubtless related to William West; some may have been his and Margaret's children; the William West, Jr. who obtained a bond and license to marry Elizabeth Austill on February 11, 1832, was very likely a son.
Marriage Bonds for Persons Named West, Surry County, North Corolina, 1791-1860
Elizabeth West & Joseph Smith, June 21, 1791; Henry Harvey, Bondsman.
Lewis West & Mary Williams, November 30, 1795; Benjamin Williams, Bondsman.
William West married Margaret Sparks, January 4, 1799; Joseph Smith, Bondsman.
Polly West & Joseph Hendricks, January 6, 1827; Frederick Hendricks, Bondsman.
James West & Nancy Algood, February 1, 1827; William Shores, Bondsman.
Nancy West & William Marshall, April 28, 1827; E. L. Marshall, Bondsman.
Lucy West & Harden Gordon, August 21,1827; Iredel Armstrong, Bondsman.
Ruthy West & James Lyle, November 30, 1831; Mathew West, Bondsman.
William West, Jr. & Elizabeth Austill, February 11, 1832; James Armstrong, Bondsman.
Nancy West & Jesse Morrison, April 19, 1837; James Morrison, Bondsman.
Will West & Elvira Money, June 22, 1844; Henry B. Tucker, Bondsman.
Marsy C. West & Benjamin Tucker, March 11, 1845; Isaac Shore, Bondsman.
Mary Ann West & William Nichols, April 4, 1851; married April 6, 1851, by J. A. Davis.
Sarah West & Amer Roughton, January 18, 18--; Lewis Mock, Bondsman.
126.96.36.199.1.2.3 Sarah Sparks, the third daughter of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born ca. 1781. Our earliest record of her is the Surry County, North Carolina, marriage bond for her marriage to Henry Bray dated May 14, 1803. We can assume that the marriage took place within a few days of the posting of the bond. We are fortunate that a member of our Association who descends from Henry and Sarah (Sparks) Bray has shared with us her extensive research on this couple. She is Carolee M. Schrader, P.O. Box 132, Howard, Colorado, 31233.
Henry Bray who married Sarah Sparks was actually Henry Bray, Jr. although Jr. was not added to his name in the marriage bond. He had: been born in Orange County, North Carolina, on February 18, 1782. It must be noted, how ever, that at the time of his birth, Orange County included Alamance County, which was not cut off from Orange until 1849. Henry Bray, Jr.'s parents were Henry Bray, Sr. who had been born on August 29, 1755, in Virginia, and Keziah (Jones) Bray who had been born on March 18, 1761, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The reason we have these birth records is that Henry, Sr. and Keziah were Quakers (members of the Society of Freinds), an organization that has a long history of carefully recording and preserving marriages and births in their Monthly Meetings. (The name Keziah is sometimes spelled "Kezia" in these records.)
As the reader doubtless knows, Quakers do not use the names of the months in their records because several are derived from the names of pagan gods; they use numbers instead. Here we have converted these numbers to the names of the months in common usage.
Henry Bray, Sr. had been a member of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting in Orange County, North Carolina, prior to his marriage, and on January 2, 1778, he had been given permission by this Monthly Meeting to travel to New Garden Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina, to be married to Keziah Jones. Their marriage on February 2, 1778, took place there, after which Keziah returned to Cane Creek with her husband where she became a member of that Monthly Meeting.
Research in Quaker genealogy has been greatly enhanced through the efforts of William Wade Hinshaw who set out in the 1930s to locate, then abstract and publish, Quaker records wherever he could find them. In 1936, he published Vol.1 of his Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy devoted to Monthly Meeting records he had found in North Carolina. It is through this 1183- page volume that one is able to trace the frequent moves made by Henry and Keziah in North Carolina until early in the 1800s. A certificate was issued to a Quaker when he or she requested permission to move to the jurisdiction of a different Monthly Meeting, and a record was then made of the receipt of the certificate in the new Monthly Meeting, of which he or she then became a member.
Henry, Sr. and Keziah moved to Guilford County after a year or two, and it was there that their first two children were born, Jemima on November 30, 1778, and John on May 8, 1780. They were then members of the Deep River Monthly Meeting, but early in 1781 they returned to the jurisdiction of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting, and it was there that their third child, Henry, Jr., was born. There were other moves (we wonder whether Henry Bray, Sr. was a land speculator), but on May 18, 1799, the Bray family transferred to the Westfield Monthly Meeting in Surry County, North Carolina. They may actually have lived over the line in Virginia at that time, but on June 5, 1802, Henry, Sr. and Keziah, with children named Henry, Edward, Richard, Joseph, Obijah, Sarah, Mary, and Kezia, Jr.; became members of the Deep Creek Monthly Meeting in that part of Surry County south of the Yadkin River that is now Yadkin County. The members of this Monthly Meeting included settlers not only on Deep Creek, but also on Hunting Creek, Swan Creek, and Forbush Creek.
The earliest record of Henry Bray, Sr. purchasing land in Surry County is found in a deed dated February 2, 1802 (Book L, p.171). For 100 pounds, he purchased a tract of 199 acres from William Wallace "on the Rockey Branch, a draft of Hunting Creek;" Shortly thereafter, on February 26, 1802, he bought, also from William Wallace for 40 pounds a tract of 944 acres on Rockey Branch. (Book K, p.242) Then, on October 18, 1802, Henry Bray, Sr. purchased from Henry Speer 300 acres "on he waters of Deep Creek and Hunting Creek." (Book I, p.522)
There is no record of Henry Bray, Jr. acquiring land in Surry County, but on February 26, 1802, he did sign his name as "Henry Bray, Junr." as a witness (with Charity Jacks who signed by mark) a deed from William Wallace to Careless Judkins for 100 acres on the Rockey Branch (Book I, p.513). It was also "Henry Bray, Junr." who appeared before the County Court in November 1803 to swear that he had been a witness to the signing of this deed.
When the County Court met in November 1802, Henry Bray, Sr. was one of 17 men listed who should be available to lay out "a road from the Rockford Road near Meshack Gentry's Mill to the Salisbury Road."
There can be little doubt that it was with the Bray family's moving to the Hunting Creek area of what is now Yadkin County in 1802 that Henry Bray, Jr. became acquainted with Sarah Sparks. He reached his 21st birthday on February 18, 1803, and it was on May 14, 1803, that the Surry County Court issued him a license to marry Sarah Sparks. His marriage bond required for the license indicates that Stephen Mankins served as his bondsman. Mankins was a land owner and near neighbor of the Bray family on Hunting Creek, and his name appeared beside that of Henry Bray, Sr. among the men appointed in November 1802 from among whom a dozen would be chosen to lay out the road noted earlier. He was not a Quaker. In fact, no one named Sparks appeared on the Quaker records abstracted by Hinshaw in North Carolina.
The Quakers were very strict in following their belief that marriage must be with in the Quaker Society for both the groom and the bride. It was not unusual for the non-Quaker to request and, with religious instruction, be accepted into the Society in order to be married in accordance with Quaker doctrine. It is apparent that Sarah Sparks was unwilling to make such a commitment, and on March 3, 1804, some nine months after the marriage, Henry Bray, Jr. was "disowned for marrying out of unity" by the membership of the Deep Creek Monthly Meeting. The last Surry County official record we have of him is his signature as a witness to a deed (Book K, p.286) dated October 13, 1803, from Henry Speer to Richard Messick for 200 acres "on the Waters of the north Fork of Hunting Creek." The other witness to this deed was Samuel Speer.
It is a Bray family tradition that Henry, Jr. and Sarah (Sparks) Bray moved to Kentucky after their marriage, perhaps to Madison County where it is known that other members of the Bray family lived. In a biographical sketch of George W. MeCloud, husband of their daughter, Eunice Bray, appearing in a history of Hendricks County, Indiana, it was stated that Eunice had been born in Kentucky. Eunice Bray was born ca. 1814.
Henry Bray, Sr. and his wife, Keziah, the parents of Henry, Jr., appear to have moved from Surry County to Ohio in 1805. According to the minutes of the Deep Creek Monthly Meeting of December 7, 1805, Henry Bray, Sr. "and family of Hunting Creek [were] granted certificate to Miami Monthly Meeting in Ohio." Surry County deeds reveal that Henry, Sr. sold most of his land there in 1803.
by 1820, Henry, Jr. and Sarah (Sparks) Bray were living in Orange County, Indiana. Carolee Schrader has written:
Henry and Sarah Bray are listed in the 1820 census for Orange County, Indiana. They reside next door to Aaron and Mary Chamness. Mary was Henry's sister. In addition, Edward Bray, Abijah Bray, and John Bray (brothers of Henry, Jr.) are also located in Orange County. Henry's parents, Henry, Sr. and Keziah Bray, both aged over 45 and three female children yet at home, are also located in the area. The 1820 census for Orange County, Indiana, indicates that at that time Henry, Jr. and Sarah were the parents of nine children--three males and six females. The 1830 census of Hendricks County, Indiana, indicates that another female child had been born before Sarah's death. by 1830, two more brothers, Richard Bray and Joseph Bray, have joined the Bray families in Indiana. This expansion upon prior census findings indicates that those children of Henry, Sr. and Keziah who did not remain active in the Society of Friends did, however, remain near the family during its west ward migration to Indiana. by 1840, the family had spread out and settled in three neighboring counties, in Hendricks, Hamilton, and Morgan. Keziah Bray died in 1836 and Henry, Sr. in 1838. Both are buried in White Licks Friends Cemetery near the Hendricks/Morgan County line, south of Plainfield, Indiana.
Ms. Schrader has reported also that Sarah (Sparks) Bray had died prior to 1830 and that Henry Bray, Jr. had remarried in 1832. The 1840 census records show that a daughter had been born by then to this second marriage.
There is an interesting Surry County, North Carolina, document dated December 13, 1833, pertaining to Henry Bray, Jr. recorded in Book U, p.468. It is both a bond and a sale record. From this document, we know that following Sarah's death and his remarriage, Henry had become concerned about his and Sarah's children's inheritance from their Grandfather Sparks. Sarah's mother, Eunice Sparks, was still living in 1833 and, under the will of Matthew Sparks, his estate could not be settled and divided among his designated heirs until his widow's death. He may also have learned that Sarah's youngest brother, John Sparks, had sold his share of his inheritance for $200 some years earlier. Accompanied by his eldest son, John A. Bray, then about 27 years old, Henry had gone from Indiana to Surry County seeking assurance that Sarah's children would not be forgotten when the time came to divide the estate. We may assume that, perhaps for the first time, Eunice had opportunity to see her grandson, John A. Bray.
So it was that on December 13, 1833, Matthew Sparks, Jr. purchased for $200 from his former brother-in-law acting as the representative of his and Sarah's children, these children's share of their mother's inheritance (one seventh part) of Matthew Sparks's estate. Shrewd man that Matthew Sparks, Jr. appears to have been, being concerned that at a future date these heirs of Sarah's share might renounce their father's agreement, he required that Henry and his son execute a bond for twice the amount of the sale. The full document was recorded as follows:
Know all men by these presents, that we, Henry Bray and John A. Bray, are held and firmly bound unto Mathew Sparks [Jr.] his heirs and assigns in the sum of four hundred dollars, the payment will and truly to be made, we bind ourselves, our heirs, administrators & executors forever.
The condition of the above bond is such that whereas the said Mathew Sparks hath this day purchased of the said Henry Bray, at two hundred dollars his interest as the representative of the heirs, by right of his wife Sarah Bray, formerly Sarah Sparks in the estate, both real & personal of the late Mathew Sparks, and of Eunice Sparks, now if the said Mathew Sparks should get & peaceably enjoy the said estate, more or less, and not be molested in the same forever, by the legal heirs of the said Sarah, then the above obligation to be void and non effect, Otherwise to remain in full force & virtue: given under our hands & Seals this the 13th day of December 1833.
[signed] Henry Bray (seal)
[signed] John A. Bray (seal)
[signed] J. Cowles
Surry County May term 1834
The execution of the within bond, was duly proven in open Court, by the oath of J. Cowles & ordered to be registered.
[signed] Test. F. K. Armstrong, Clk.
The children of 188.8.131.52.1.2.3 Henry Bray, Jr. and Sarah (Sparks) Bray have been identified by Carolee Schrader as follows:
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Nancy Bray was born ca. 1805. She married Amos Embry (or Embree) on August 18, 1825, in Hendricks County, Indiana. His name has also been copied by some as "Eustice." Henry Bray, Jr. was not only Nancy's father, he was also the justice of the peace who performed the marriage.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 John A. Bray was born ca. 1806. He married Martha Fox on December 1, 1836, in Hendricks County, Indiana.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Sarah Bray was born ca. 1808. She married Moorman Johnson on January 19, 1828, in Hendricks County, Indiana.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Henry Bray was born ca. 1809. He married Hannah Haworth on November 16, 1837.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Son Bray born ca. 1811; name not discovered.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Daughter Bray born ca. 1813; name not discovered, although when the 1850 census was taken of Franklin Township, Hendricks County, Indiana, Elizabeth Bray, age 37, thus born ca. 1813, was living with George and Eunice (Bray) McCloud.]
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Eunice Bray was born ca. 1814 in Kentucky; she died ca. 1851 in Hendricks County, Indiana. She was married on April 14, 1834, in Hendricks County to George McCloud; he had been born on December 27, 1811 in Lee County, Virginia, and died on June 8, 1892, in Amo, Indiana, a son of John and Elizabeth (Page) McCloud.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Daughter5 Bray born ca. 1817.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Daughter6 Bray born ca. 1820.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Daughter7 Bray born ca. 1822 in Indiana.
18.104.22.168.1.2.4 Joel Sparks, Matthew and Eunice Sparks's first son, was born in Surry County, North Carolina (in the part that would become Yadkin County in 1850), ca. 1784. His age appears at different times on several extant documents, but it seems to have been recorded incorrectly on most occasions. When all the possible years of his birth are considered, it is the belief of this writer that he was born ca. 1784. On the 1850 census, his age was given by the census taker as 62, which would place his birth ca. 1788. On August 13, 1855, however, when Joel applied for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812, he stated then, also, that he was 62 years of age, which would place his birth ca. 1793. (See the Quarterly of September 1961, Whole No. 35, pp.579-80, for an abstract of his bounty land application; see also page 5383 of the present issue for the affidavit of Joel's brother, William D. Sparks, in an attempt to help Joel obtain land.) On the 1860 census, his age was recorded as only 65, which would mean that he had been born ca. 1795. A son of Joel by his second wife, Andrew Jackson Sparks, who was born in 1848, was quoted in The History of JohnsonCounty,Missouri published in 1881, p.733, as having stated that Joel had been 87 years old when he died In 1861. If true, this would have meant he was born in 1774. The fact that Joel had been married in 1846 to his second wife, who was much younger than himself. may help to account for his age discrepancies in these sources.
Joel Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, has been confused by some of his descendants with his third cousin, once removed, who was also named Joel Sparks and lived, also, In the Surry/Wilkes Counties area.
This other Sparks named Joel (22.214.171.124.2.4), who was born ca. 1784, was a son of 126.96.36.199.2 John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks, and a grandson of 188.8.131.52 Solomon and Sarah Sparks. He was married in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1814 (marriage bond and license dated July 27, 1814) to Nancy Blackburn. He died in December 1850 in Wilkes County, and in his will he named his children as Richmond, Malinda, Nancy, Robert, Joel, Mittie, and Hugh. (See the Quarterly of December 1955, pp.97-104 for further information on this branch of the Sparks family.)
The following diagram shows the relationship of these two Joel Sparkses in their descent from the immigrant from England named William Sparks who died in Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709:
|William Sparks, Jr.
died ca. 1734
|William Sample Sparks
|1st cousins||Solomon Sparks
|2nd cousins||John Sparks
|3rd cousins||184.108.40.206.2.4 Joel Sparks
|220.127.116.11.1.2.4 Joel Sparks
|3rd cousin, once removed from Joel Sparks who died in 1850|
We give here only a brief sketch of the life of Joel Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks; a more extended account will appear in a later issue of the Quarterly.
18.104.22.168.1.2.4 Joel Sparks, son of 22.214.171.124.1.2 Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was married twice. We have not succeeded in positively identifying his flrst wife's name and parentage, but we have a significant clue that will be discussed in an article about him planned for the future. His first wife died prior to 1846. In 1846 he was married, second, to Mary Shatley in Wilkes County, North Carolina. (The marriage bond and license were dated November 23, 1846; the bondsman was John Shatley.)
Joel and Mary (Shatley) Sparks moved to Missouri shortly after they were married and were living in Lafayette County, Missouri, when the 1850 census was taken. They were living in Cass County, Missouri, however, when he applied for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812. (His application was not successful, however, because he had been discharged resulting from a "sore leg" and his name did not appear on the roster of his company at the time of its discharge on February 22, 1815. Furthermore, his written discharge had been lost, so he had no proof of his service.)
When the 1860 census was taken, Joel and his second family were living in Mingo Township in Bates County, Missouri. According to a published biographical sketch of a son by his second wife, Andrew Jackson Sparks, Joel Sparks died in 1861. Because of the complete destruction of property and records in Bates County in 1863, following the issuance of Union General Ewing's famous "Order #11," we cannot verify Joel's date of death in any Bates County record. Following is a brief identification of some of the ten children of Joel Sparks and his first wife:
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Nancy Sparks, born ca.1808. She married FNU Ashcraft, When Joel Sparks applied for bounty land in 1855, Nancy signed by mark an affidavit stating that she was his eldest child. She was then a resident of Cass County, Missouri. We have no further information about her.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 William W. Sparks, son of Joel Sparks and his first wife, was born ca. 1810 in Surry County, North Carolina. He was married there to Lucretia Cornelia Pryor ca. 1840 and it was there that his only son,
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Samuel P. Sparks, was born January 1, 1844.
Later in 1844, they moved to Johnson County, Missouri, where Lucretia died early in life. William W. Sparks lived until February 16, 1876.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Based on census records, it appears that Joel Sparks and his first wife had a daughter born ca. 1811. We have not been able to identify her.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 John Christian Sparks was born on June 15, 1815, in Surry County, North Carolina. He was married there on July 9, 1846, to Sarah Cobb, daughter of Maurice Cobb. They had moved to Lafayette County, Missouri, by 1850; he moved with his family to Johnson County, Missouri, in 1871, where he died on October 24, 1896. His wife, Sarah (Cobb) Sparks, died there on July 16, 1882. Following is a list of their children:
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Martha M. Sparks, born February 13, 1847; she married Wiliam Aaron Collins in 1865.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.2 Maurice E. Sparks, born May 2, 1848; he married Amanda Brooks in 1875.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.3 Infant, born ca.1849, died in infancy.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.4 Arminda ["Minnie"] A. Sparks, born August 1, 1850; she married Frank Buell in 1880.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.5 Joel W. Sparks, born July 16, 1852; he married Addie Stevens in 1877
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.6 Sarah ["Carrie"] Cardine Sparks, born November 28, 1854; she married Frank Brannock in 1875.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.7 Mira Jane ["Jennie"] Sparks, born December 7, 1856; she married Noah Edward Hampton in 1874.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.8 John R. Sparks, born November 25, 1858; he married Catherine Allumbaugh in 1879.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.9 Mary Ellen Sparks, born January 16, 1861; she married Charles Wagoner.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.10 Hattie E. Sparks, born March 13, 1862; she married Daniel Sisk in 1880.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.11 Samuel N. Sparks, born October 20, 1865; he died young, unmarried.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.12 Rosa B. Sparks, born May 31, 1868; she married Clark Thomas.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.13 Charles Walter Sparks, born November 16, 1870; he married Vicy Dyer in 1892.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.14 Walter Walker Sparks, born January 14, 1873; he married Lovetta Proctor.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Daughter1 Sparks was born ca. 1818, according to census records.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 James Sparks was born ca. 1820. He was married ca. 1837 to Mary A. Hampton, probably in Surry County, North Carolina. They were in Lafayette County, Missouri, when the 1850 census was taken. They are believed to have had the following children:
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1 William Sparks, born ca. 1838.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.2 John Sparks, born ca. 1840.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.3 Martha Jane Sparks, born ca. 1843; she married John Burton Ferril in 1861. Her second marriage was to Basil Airheart; her third was to FNU Bunch.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.4 Emeline Sparks, born ca. 1845; she was married, first, to A. E. Sweet; second, to Luke White.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.5 Louisa Sparks, born ca. 1846; she was married, first, to J. N. Mitchell; second, to Tom Williams.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.6 Rufus Sparks, born ca. 1848.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Daughter2 Sparks born ca. 1820, according to census records.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Joel Sparks, Jr. was born in May 1824. He married Almyra Lane in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1844 (marriage bond dated September 5, 1844). His marriage bond to wed Mira (as she was called) must not be confused with that of the Joel Sparks, Jr., who was a son of Joel and Nancy (Blackburn) Sparks dated June 21, 1846, to marry Charlotte Durham, also in Wilkes County.
When the 1850 census was taken, Joel Sparks, Jr., son of Joel Sparks and his first wife, was living in Wilkes County with his wife and first three children, but by 1856 he had moved his family to Johnson County, Missouri, and they were shown there on the 1860 census. Early in August 1862, Joel, Jr. volunteered to serve in the Missouri State Militia on the Union side in the Civil War. Very shortly after his enrollment, with virtually no military training, he participated in the Battle of Lone Jack on August 16, 1862. During the battle, he was mortally wounded and died after a few days. When his widow later applied for a pension, she enclosed pages removed from a small book, perhaps a Testament, on which Joel, Jr. had recorded the births of their children. They were:
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 Matilda Caroline Sparks, born July 23, 1845. She married Charles R. Reynolds in 1865.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.2 Lovenia Eveilne Sparks, born July 8, 1847. She married John W. Hampton in 1869.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.3 Edward Franklin Sparks, born June 5, 1849. He died December 18, 1864, unmarried.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.4 John Garland Sparks, born May 14, 1851. He married Martha Hughes.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.5 Catharine Alice Sparks, born July 18, 1853. She married Rand Gatliff.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.6 James Sparks, born May 12, 1856.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.7 William Sparks, born November 25, 1858. He married Etta Hiatt.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.8 Mary Rose Elly, born May 28, 1862. She married Nathaniel Sylvester.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Mary Sparks was born ca. 1826 according to census records. No further information.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Sarah Sparks was born ca. 1830. No further information.
by his second wife, Mary Shatley, Joel Sparks had three sons:
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Andred Jackson Sparks was born on September 10, 1848; he died on February 20, 1906. He married Emma E. Zentmyer.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 David Francis Sparks was born September 15, 1850; he died on May 2, 1914. He married Mary Louisa Bryan on February 22, 1884. (See the reproduction of their wedding picture on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly.)
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Solomon Sparks was born in September 1852. He married Salina M. LNU.
126.96.36.199.1.2.5 George Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born ca. 1785. One of the reasons for arriving at this approximate date of his birth is the fact that his father, in his 1819 will, named him second among his sons. Two other men named George Sparks who lived in the Surry/Wilkes Counties area in North Carolina can be confused with George, son of Matthew and Eunice. One was 188.8.131.52.2.9 George G. Sparks, born on November 9, 1796, who was a son of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks of Wilkes County, North Carolina. George G. Sparks moved to Georgia prior to 1816. (See the Quarterly of December 1996, Whole No. 176, pp.4714-55, for a lengthy article about George G. Sparks (1796-1879] and his descendants.) The other was George Sparks, Jr. born ca. 1805, who was a son of George Sparks, Sr. (ca.1760-ca.1842). This George Sparks, Jr. (born ca.1805) was a first cousin of George Sparks (born ca.1785), the subject of this sketch. His father, the elder George Sparks, a son of William and Ann Sparks and a brother of Matthew Sparks, made his will In Surry County on November 18, 1832; it was probated ten years later during the November 1842 meeting of the County Court of Surry County; we know that he died in 1842. His son, George Sparks, Jr. (born ca.1805) married Fanny Lindsay in 1829. This couple moved to Union County, Georgia. (See the Quarterly of June 1983, Whole No. 122, pp.2519-24, for the article: "The Family of George Sparks, Jr. [Born ca. 1805] of Surry County, North Carolina, and Union County, Georgia.")
We believe that it was George Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice, who married Elizabeth Armstrong in Wilkes County in 1814. A marriage normally took place in the county in which the bride lived. The Wilkes County marriage bond and license for this couple were dated October 24, 1814, with Wesley Armstrong as bondsman. Because our information on George Sparks is quite limited at this time, we give here a record of his purchasing and selling land in Surry County with the hope that it may come to the attention of a descendant who will be able to share with us further information regarding George and his family.
George Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice, first appeared on a Surry County, North Carolina, tax list in 1813; he was taxed for 5 acres of land located in Capt. Halley's tax district which covered an area near the present town of Elkin in what is now Yadkin County, not far from the Wilkes County line. George and his father, along with three of his brothers (Joel, Matthew, Jr., and William), were all recorded by Capt. Halley as living near one another in 1813.
As noted earlier, Matthew Sparks, before writing his will on March 26, 1819, gave a portion of his plantation to each of his five sons. To George he gave 100 acres (deed dated March 26, 1819, Surry Co. Deed Book 0, pp.372-73), "in consideration of the natural love and affection that a father hath towards a child and for the better support and maintenance of the same...".
When the 1820 census was taken in Surry County, George Sparks's house hold was enumerated with five individuals: George, himself, was shown in the 26 to 45 age category; the female who was surely his wife was shown in the 18 to 26 age group; and there were two boys and one girl all under 10 years.
In 1824, it was discovered that there was a narrow strip of land only ten chains (660 feet) wide but extending the full length, 96 chains, on the south end of the Matthew Sparks plantation (now controlled by "Nicy" Sparks) that still belonged to the state of North Carolina. It amounted to 200 acres of "vacant land." George made a claim to this oddly shaped tract on June 5, 1824 and a grant from the state was awarded to him on December 3, 1825. The description (as recorded in Surry Co. Deed Book T, p.98) states that the tract was "on the Waters of Hunting Creek Beginning at a pine on the Nicy Sparks Corner..." George Sparks paid the state the required fee of only $10.00 for this tract, but four months later he sold it to James Tulbert for $500. (Surry Co. Deed Book T, pp.119-120)
On February 11, 1825, George Sparks sold to James Jones the part of his 100-acre farm given to him by his father in 1819 lying "on the south side of Hunting Creek." This comprised 71 acres, leaving George with only 29 acres. We have found no record of his disposing of this remaining portion.
When the 1830 census was taken in Surry County, George Sparks was listed immediately before his mother. His household included a male under 5 years of age and another between 5 and 10; a female was enumerated, also, in the 5 to 10 age category and another in that of 10 to 15. George, himself, was shown as between 30 and 40 as was the female whom we can assume was his wife.
On April 14, 1834, George Sparks sold to James Armstrong for $200 "his whole Sare [share] & his portion arising to him the sd. Sparks the whole of his father's Estate that may be arising to him the sd. Sparks after his Mothers death..." From this we may wonder whether George Sparks was about to move from Surry County. We have found no further record of his buying or selling land, nor does his name appear on the 1840 census of Surry County.
The fact that George Sparks sold his anticipated share of his father's estate (that he could expect to inherit at the death of his mother, Eunice Sparks) to James Armstrong may suggest that he had, indeed, been the George Sparks who had been married to Elizabeth Armstrong in 1814. This James Armstrong was probably the James Armstrong who had obtained a license to be married to Elizabeth Swaim, daughter of Michael Swaim, in 1818 (with a marriage bond dated June 7, 1818, the bondsman being James Chappel).
George Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, has been found in no Surry County, North Carolina, record after 1834. From census records cited above, it appears that he had children, but we have found no record reveal ing their names. We would welcome any suggestions or assistance in discovering further information regarding George and members of his family.
184.108.40.206.1.2.6 Matthew Sparks, Jr., son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born in Surry County, North Carolina, on June 29, 1788, according to a family Bible record kept by a granddaughter, Olive (McGary) Wilson (1866-1946), who was a daughter of Matthew, Jr.'s youngest child, Catherine (Sparks) McGary (1834-1914). A photocopy of this record has been shared with us by a descendant, Stefani W. Arnesen, of West Jordan, Utah. While this record of the birth of Matthew Sparks, Jr. was made many years after the event, we believe that it is accurate. It was probably copied by his granddaughter from an earlier family Bible. On the 1850 census his age was given as 62, which matches this date of his birth. Matthew Sparks, Jr. died in Polk County, Oregon, on August 1, 1854.
We provide here only a brief sketch of the life of Matthew Sparks, Jr.; a more complete account will appear in a future issue of the Quarterly.
Matthew Sparks, Jr. was married in Surry County in 1808 to Sarah Elmore, eldest child of Athanasious and Susannah (Pinix) Elmore. The marriage bond was dated February 20, 1808, with William West serving as bondsman. (West had been married to Matthew, Jr.'s sister, Sarah Sparks, in 1797.) Sarah Elmore had been born on February 13, 1789; she died in June 1880 and was buried in the Union Baptist Cemetery on Harmony Road near Sheridan, Yamhill County, Wyoming.
On January 23, 1811, Matthew Sparks, Sr. sold a 5-acre plot of ground to his son, Matthew, Jr. for 5 pounds. Then on February 17, 1815, Matthew, Jr. and his father-in-law, Athanasious Elmore, jointly purchased from James Hicks for $400 a tract of 156 acres in Surry County "on the headwaters of Deep Creek." (Deed Book 5, p.374) On March 26, 1819, Matthew, Jr. and his four brothers each received from their father portions of his plantation before Matthew, Sr. made his will. The 90-acre tract that he gave to Matthew, Jr. "for the natural love and affection that a parent hath towards a child" was "on both sides of Hunting Creek" and adjoining land once owned by Alexander Smith. (Deed Book 0, pp.373-74)
When Matthew Sparks, Sr. made his will on March 26, 1819, he appointed two of his sons to be executors of his estate, Joel and Matthew, Jr. When the will was probated in the following May, however, Matthew, Jr. declined to serve as a co executor, and Joel Sparks beame the sole executor - We can only speculate regarding why Matthew, Jr. took this action; perhaps it was his knowing that the estate could not actually be settled until after his mother's death. Did he doubt that he would still be in Surry County when that time would come? Did he even then have dreams of "going West?"
When the 1830 census of Surry County was taken, Matthew, Jr. and his wife were enumerated with 14 children living in their Surry County household. That number would grow to 17, although the identity of one of the 17 has not been deter mined; he or she may have died in childhood.
From his purchasing and selling of land in Surry County, it appears that Matthew prospered despite his large number of dependents. In 1837, however, he.bought from James Jones a tract of 300 acres over the county line in Wilkes County, to which he moved his family. (Wilkes Co. Deed Book labeled ~1S41-1851," p.158.) A year before this, on September 20, 1836, he had borrowed from John Wright and Josiah Cowles the sum of $500 to purchase from Alfred W. Martin a family of slaves described as follows: "...a Negro woman Mary and Mary's four children, named Sarah, Jinny, Joseph, and Abram ranging in age from half to seven years. This is our only record of Matthew, Jr.'s buying or selling slaves.
It was in Wilkes County that the family of Matthew Sparks, Jr. was living when the 1840 census was taken; 10 of their 17 children were still living at home then, their last child, Catherine, having been born in 1834.
After the death of his father, Matthew Sparks, Jr. was no longer called "Jr." so hereon in this sketch, the "Jr."will be dropped from his flame except in the heading.
by 1850, Matthew and Sarah Sparks had moved with several family members to Cass County, Missouri, where they were shown on the census of that year. Matthew's age was given as 62 and Sarah's as 61..
(We published a record of Sparkses found on the 1850 census of Missouri in the Quarterly of March 1985, Whole No. 129, pp.2714-23, with the family of Matthew in Cass County appearing on page ·2714.. An error was made, however, in transcribing their son named Matthew, born in 1808/09, on that census. It was printed as "Martha." A correction was made on page 4893 of the December 1997 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 180.)
As will be noted in the brief sketches of the 16 known children of Matthew and Sarah (Elmore) Sparks that follow, some of the older children had moved to different parts of the United States prior to 1850, including the Territory of Oregon. In 1851, Matthew and Sarah moved from Missouri to Polk County, Oregon Territory, accompanied by their son, Wiley Sparks and his wife, Nancy, as well as by their daughter, Eliza, and her husband, John Lynch. They were probably part of a wagon train of emigrants going west. Oregon Territory would become the state of Oregon in 1859.
Matthew Sparks died on August 1, 1854, at the age of 66. He had made his will on March 26, 1863, in which he had described himself as "of the County of Polk, Oregon Territory." Of his "Oregon Land Claim" comprising 160 acres, he left half of it to his widow along with livestock, household goods, etc., and the other half to his daughter, Lucinda Sparks, who was then still unmarried. He did not name an executor in his will, so when the Polk County Court met following Matthew's death, Garrett W. McGary, husband of his daughter, Catherine, was appointed to administer his father-in-law's estate. On October 4, .1854, McGary submitted to the Court what to his "Best Knowledge" was a list of the "Legal heirs of Matthew Sparks." From this list, it appears that McGary believed that there were 17 living children who should receive shares of their father's estate. The widow, Sarah (Elmore) Sparks, was to be considered an equal heir with the children. McGary's list was as follows:
Sarah Sparks (widow)
Susannah (Susan) Holcomb
Malinda Ann Linch
Matthew Sparks, Jr.
and two others in the States, names not known, and one George Sparks.
To this list of heirs, McGary added the following note: "5 of the heirs live in California, 4 in Polk Co., Oregon, 1 in Yamhill Co., Oregon, 2 in Oregon, and the Ballance in some of the states."
Following is this writer's attempt to identify the 16 known children of Matthew and Sarah (Elmore) Sparks, in what appears to be the order of their birth. There may have been a 17th child, as noted earlier. Matthew and Sarah were married in 1808, the marriage bond in Surry County, North Carolina, having been dated February 20, 1808. The dates of birth given here are, in most instances, reasonable guesses based on such sources as census records, although it appears that there was some confusion in later years among these siblings them selves regarding the order of their births. Considering the number of children that Sarah bore over a period of 26 years (ca.1808 to 1834), it seems probable that some of them may have been twins. We will welcome corrections and additions to the record that follows:
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Matthew Sparks, Jr., son of Matthew and Sarah (Elmore) Sparks, was born ca. 1808 in Surry County, North Carolina. He was not included on the 1850 census of Cass County, Missouri, where his parents' household appeared. He was still living in 1856 when his father's heirs were identified by the estate's administrator, although he was included among the heirs that his brother, Richard Sparks, was charged by the Polk County, Oregon, Court to try to locate. We have no further record of him.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Athanasious Sparks was born ca. 1810 in Surry County, North Carolina. He was doubtless named for his maternal grandfather, but, like him, he was usually called "Atha." There is a marriage bond recorded in Surry County dated April 12, 1836, for him to be married to Sarah ["Sally"] Brinigan. (The spelling of this name was usually Brinegar; a Paul Brinegar was a landowner in Surry County as early as 1809; he was 76 years old in 1850 according to the census of that year.) Moses Austill served as bondsman for this marriage bond. Moses Austill had been married in 1831 to Elizabeth Elmore (bond dated December 1, 1831). Elizabeth ["Betsey"] Elmore was a daughter of Athanasious Elmore; she was thus a sister of Sarah (Elmore) Sparks, mother of Athanasious Sparks.
When the 1840 census was taken, Athanasious Sparks was living in Cherokee County, North Carolina, with his wife and one child. When the 1850 census was taken in Georgia, they were in Gilmer County. Called "Althia" on this census record of 1850, he was shown as 40 years old; Sarah's age was given as 28. Their first two children were shown as having been born in North Carolina: 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 William A. Sparks, age 10, and 220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Martha Sparks, age 6. Their other two children were shown as having been born in Georgia: 22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Malinda A. Sparks, age 4, and 188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Mary Sparks, age one year.
In the settlement of his father's estate in 1854/56, "Atha Sparks" was listed as one of the heirs for whom his brother, Richard Sparks, had responsibility for locating, as noted above. We have found no later record of Athanasious Sparks.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Susannah Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1810; her age on the 1850 census was given as 50 and on the 1870 census as 60. She married Thomas Holcomb in Surry County in 1833, the marriage bond being dated October 9, 1833, with Leroy Holcomb serving as bondsman. The Holcombs were extensive landowners on Deep Creek in Surry County.
Susanna and her husband, Thomas Holcomb, moved from North Carolina to Missouri before 1845; they crossed the plains to Oregon in 1853, following other members of the Sparks family, including her parents, and settled in Polk County. She signed a receipt in 1856 for her share ($14.29) of her father's estate. According to the mortality schedule of the 1860 census for Polk County, Thomas Holcomb had died from cancer in December 1859 at the age of 50. Susan Holcomb was shown as head of her household on the 1860 census of Polk County. With her were her children:
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 William Holcomb, age 20;
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.2 Thomas Holcomb, age 15;
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.3 Elizabeth Holcomb, age 13; and
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.4 Martha Holcomb, age 11.
William's place of birth was given as North Carolina; that for the other three as Missouri.
Susannah married (second) William Darrow on November 26, 1861, in Polk County, Oregon. On the 1870 census of Polk County, however, she was shown as "Susan Holcomb," age 60, a native of North Carolina, living with her daughter, Mary, age 28, and Mary's husband, Abraham Garrison, age 38, a native of Indiana, farmer. According to Susan's third great-granddaughter, Marijane Rea, a family record identifies Susannah's children as:
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 William Holcomb,
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2 Thomas H. Holcomb,
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.3 Elizabeth Lynch,
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.4 Martha Evans,
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.5 Eliza Reynolds, and
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.6 Mary Garrison.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Sarah Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1812. She was married there in 1833 to Allen Redding. The marriage bond was dated November 11, 1833, with William Reading [sic] serving as bondsman. The Redding/Reading family lived over the county line in Wilkes County, having come there from Halifax County, North Carolina. In the distribution of the uncommitted portion of her father's estate in 1856, Sarah Redding was among the heirs whom her brother, Richard Sparks, had responsibility for locating and conveying to each $14.29.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 George Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1817. In October 1854, when Garrett McGary, as administrator of Matthew Sparks's estate, listed the heirs, he added the son named George rather as an afterthought, as though someone had reminded him of George, and in 1856 he was included among the eight heirs for whom Richard Sparks would be responsible for locating. We have found no further record of George.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Wiley Alexander Sparks was born ca. 1818 in Surry County, North Carolina. He died on January 25, 1885, in Dayton, Washington. Prior to 1841, he had gone to Georgia and had been married there to Nancy M. Smith on December 23, 1841, according to a land claim that he made in Oregon. He and his family moved to Missouri prior to 1850 and were on the census of that year in Cass County, quite near the household of his parents. He and his family appear to have moved with his parents to Polk County, Oregon Territory, in 1851. On both the 1860 and 1870 censuses, Wiley Sparks was shown with his family in Lane County, Eugene Precinct, Oregon. A descendant, Pat Higley of Westport, Washington, tells us that Wiley moved to Dayton, Columbia County, Washington,in 1872 where he remained until his death.
A clipping was sent to this writer in 1966 from an issue of the Willows Daily Journal, a newspaper published in Willows, California. Included was a photograph reproduced above. The article had been written by a correspondent named Marge Pattison who had visited a small, abandoned cemetery in the Ord Bend community of Glenn County, California. Ms. Pattison noted that, while most of the grave stones were broken and overgrown with weeds and brush, there was one still stand mg, though damaged. She wrote of it as follows:
The most noticeable monument in the cemetery is a square one of marble set among the old oak trees, which emits a pale, golden glow. It still stands, although a little tilted, but the spire that once crowned it lies broken on the ground.
The names and dates on this majestic monument indicate that two brothers and a sister were buried here. The dates also reveal that all died too young. One wonders if an epidemic of typhoid or smallpox took them, or perhaps, if they were victims of another type of tragedy. The three names inscribed on sides of the marble slate are:
Hugh Sparks, born April 15, 1829 - died December 20, 1858;
Isaac Sparks, born February 11, 1820 - died November 1, 1867;
Elizabeth White, born January 29, 1825 - died November 30, 1857.
Under the sister's name is an epitaph of loving words which must have been uttered by brothers in grief:
"Although Her Earthly Sun Is Set,
Its Light Shall Linger On Us Yet."
One ponders the lives of these pioneers, and wonders if the husband of the young woman, only 32 years of age when taken, lived a long life and was buried in some other graveyard, or if his monument has crumbled or been destroyed.We published a query regarding these Sparks siblings in the Quarterly of June 1966, Whole No. 54, p.986, and learned later that they were children of Matthew and Sarah (Elmore) Sparks, as identified in items g, j, and m in the list of the children of Matthew and Sarah. We have learned little, however, regarding the lives of Isaac, Elizabeth, and Hugh.
The children of Wiley Alexander and Nancy M. (Smith) Sparks, according to Mrs. Higley, were:
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 Andrew Sparks, born February 28, 1843, in Georgia; he died on September 8, 1919, at Dayton, Washington.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2 James M. Sparks, born in 1845 in Georgia; he died December 1927, at Dayton, Washington.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.3 William Sparks, born September 18, 1847, at Dalton, Georgia; he died December 4, 1930, at Dayton, Washington.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.4 Aaron M. Sparks, born in 1850 in Case County, Missouri; he died May 11, 1900, at Dayton, Washington.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.5 Henry Sparks, born in 1853 in California.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.6 Amanda Sparks, born in Lane County, Oregon. She married FNU Maxwell.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.7 Lindsay Sparks, born in Lane County, Oregon.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.8 Ira Sparks, born 1861 in Lane County, Oregon; he died January 1, 1878, at Dayton, Washington.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Isaac Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, on February 11, 1820, and died in Glenn County, California, on November 1, 1867. We have no record of his having been married. His dates of birth and death are found on one side of the Sparks monument in the community of Ord Bend cemetery in Glenn County, California, shown on page 5373. In 1856 he was one of the heirs of his father for whom his brother, Richard was responsible for locating and conveying to him his inheritance ($14.29).
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Richard Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, on February 16, 1821, according to a record found in documents pertaining to his wife's family. He seems to have been the first member of his family to go to Oregon Territory; he was shown on the 1850 census there, in Yamhill County. He was shown as living in the house hold of William Dotson, a native of Kentucky; he was probably a boarder. A land claim record for him in Oregon gives his year of birth as 1823, while another gives 1816, both apparently in error. This latter document also states that he had moved from North Carolina to Tennessee before moving to Oregon in 1850. He settled in Lane County, Oregon, after obtaining his land claim there. He was married late in life to a widow named Almira Sherwood on November 13, 1870, in Yamhill County, Oregon. She was a daughter of Mark and Susannah Sawyer; her first husband had been Truman R. Sherwood. It is a Sawyer family record that gives Richard's date of birth as February 16, 1821, and his date of death as March 3, 1884. In the settlement of his father's Estate in 1854/56, Richard Sparks was appointed by the Probate Court of Polk County to serve as "agent" in the locating and distribution of the shares of Matthew's estate belonging to eight of his siblings: William, Atha, Sarah, Matthew, Jr., George, Isaac, Elizabeth, and Hugh.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 William Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1823. In 1854, he was one of the heirs of his father for whom his brother, Richard Sparks, was responsible for locating. We have no further information regarding him.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Elizabeth Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, on January 29, 1825, and died on November 30, 1857, in Glenn County, California. These dates are found on one side of the monument shown on page 5373. Below is a photograph of the side of this monument devoted to Elizabeth (Sparks) White. We have found no further information about her.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Henry Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1826. He was shown in his parents' household in Cass County, Missouri, when the 1850 census was taken; his age was given then as 24. He signed a receipt for his share of his father's estate in 1856, indicating that he was living in Oregon, probably in or near Polk County. We have no further information about him.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Eliza Narcissus Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1827. On an Oregon land claim record pertaining to her husband, John Lynch, it is stated that they were married on November 16, 1848. There is also the statement that John Lynch had been born in Lafayette County, Missouri, on January 1, 1827, and that they had come to Oregon from Missouri in 1851. This suggests that they crossed the plains with Eliza's parents. Eliza's mother, Sarah Sparks, was living with Eliza and John Lynch when she died in June 1880, although when the 1860 census had been taken, she was living with her daughter, Malinda, and her husband, Aaron Lynch. She was with Lucinda and husband, David Lynch in 1870, as was also, Eliza's brother, Richard Sparks.
The newspaper obituary for Sarah Sparks indicates that John and Eliza were then (1880) living near Sheridan, on Mill Creek, in Yamhill County. It was apparently Eliza who procured the tombstone for her mother in the Union Baptist Church Cemetery there, for the inscription includes:
"Mother of Eliza N. Lynch." The obituary for Sarah includes the statement: "One of her daughters, Mrs. John Lynch, living on Mill Creek, has 16 children, all living but one."
When the 1870 census of Yamhill County was taken, John Lynch (age 48, a native of Missouri, farmer) and Eliza (age 43, a native of North Carolina) were shown with 12 children, ranging in age from 20 to 2 years. The oldest of these was named Elizabeth Lynch, age 20, and a native of Missouri. The rest, beginning with their 19-year-old son, John Lynch, Jr., were all shown as having been born in Oregon. The children of John and Eliza N. (Sparks) Lynch listed on the 1870 census of Yamhill County, Oregon, were:
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.1 Elizabeth Lynch, 20 (born 1850);
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.2 John Lynch, 19 (born 1851);
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.3 William Lynch, 17 (born 1853);
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.4 Malinda Lynch, 16 (born 1854);
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.5 Albert (Elbert ?) Lynch, 14 (born 1856);
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.6 Ellison Lynch, 13 (born 1857);
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.7 Isaac Lynch, 12 (born 1858);
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.8 Francis Lynch, 8 (born 1862);
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.9 Colla Lynch, 6 (born 1864);
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.10 Mary Lynch, 5 (born 1865);
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.11 George Lynch, 4 (born 1866); and
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.12 Lilly Lynch, 2 (born 1868).
John Lynch died at Salem, Marion County, Oregon, on October 7, 1907, according to his land claim record.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Hugh Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, on April 15, 1829, and died in Glenn County, California, on December 20, 1858. These dates are found on his side of the large marble Sparks monument shown on page 5373. His brother, Isaac Sparks, and his sister, Elizabeth White, share this stone with Hugh. He was living with his parents in Cass County, Missouri, when the 1850 census was taken; his age at that time was shown as 21. In the settlement of his father's estate in 1854/56, he was one of the eight heirs whom his brother, Richard Sparks, was responsible for locating and conveying to them their equal shares ($14.29) of their father's uncommitted estate. We have no other information regarding Hugh.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Malinda Ann Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1831. She was not shown with her parents on the 1850 census of Cass County, Missouri, for she had been married to Aaron Lynch on March 1, 1849. She was one of the eight heirs of her father for whom her brother, Richard Sparks, was responsible for locating and conveying to them their equal shares of their father's uncommitted estate. Her age on the 1860 census of Yamhill County, Oregon, was given as 29. Her husband, Aaron Lynch, was 32 years of age, a native of Missouri, and a farmer. No children were then living in their household. Malinda's mother, Sarah Sparks, was living in her and Aaron's household in 1860, as was, also, a Martin Lynch, age 22, a native of Missouri, whose occupation was given as "Farm Work." (He was doubtless the Martin Lynch, born 1841, who married Elizabeth Holcomb in 1862 in Yamhill County.) Also living in the household of Aaron and Malinda Lynch in 1860 was 58-year- old Elizabeth Dickey, a native of Tennessee, who may have been a sister of Aaron.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Lucinda Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1832. She was shown on the 1850 census in her parents' household, age 15. We can be certain that she accompanied her parents to Oregon in 1851. Her father, in his will dated March 26, 1853, bequeathed half of his Oregon land grant of 160 acres "to my daughter Lucinda Sparks." He left the other half to his wife during her lifetime, after which her share was to be divided between Lucinda and Catherine, his two youngest daughters. We have no clue why he left half of his land to Lucinda, unless it was agreed that she would care for her mother in her old age. She was living with Lucinda when the 1870 census was taken, but it was in the home of her daughter, Eliza, that she died in 1880. Lucinda also received an equal share of her father's uncommitted estate ($14.29) for which she signed a receipt in 1856.
January 25, 1855, Lucinda Sparks was married in Polk County, Oregon, to David A. Lynch. An Oregon land claim document gives David's year of birth as 1833, in Cass County, Missouri. He was doubtless a close relative of Aaron Lynch, husband of Malinda Ann Sparks; they may have been brothers.
When the 1870 census of Yamhill County, Oregon, was taken, Sarah Sparks, age 82, Lucinda's mother, as noted above, was living with her and her husband. Lucinda's age was given as 37 and David's as 36. The Mary Lynch, age 14, in their household was doubtless their daughter. There was also a 10-year-old boy named Frank Reed.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199 Catherine Sparks was born May 16, 1834, according to the family record contained in a Bible that was kept by Catherine's daughter, Olive McGary. This Bible is now owned by a descendant; a photocopy of the family record that it contains has been obtained for us by Stefani W. Arnesen of West Jordan, Utah. The death of Catherine is given in this record as June 29, 1914.
The census taker of Cass County, Missouri, in 1850, while giving North Carolina as the state in which the other Sparks children had been born, wrote "Ia." as the state where Catherine had been born. This could mean Iowa, although Iowa, which became a territory in 1838, was not admitted to the Union as a state until 1846. Many census takers in 1850, however, used the abbreviation "In." to represent Indiana. We can only speculate that. perhaps, Matthew and Sarah Sparks moved from North Carolina to Indiana for a brief time around 1834, then moved back to Surry County, although this seems unlikely. The census taker may simply have made a mistake.
In his will, dated March 26, 1853, Matthew Sparks provided that, upon the death of his wife, Sarah, to whom he had left half of his Oregon Claim land, livestock, and personal property, her inheritance should then be divided between his two youngest daughters, Lucinda and Catherine, neither of whom was married at that time. by the date of Matthew's death, how ever, Catherine had been married to Garrett Washington McGary of Polk County, Oregon.
Because Matthew Sparks had not named an executor in his will, the Polk County Probate Court was required by law to appoint an administrator for his estate. Garrett W. McGary, Catherine's husband, was appointed to perform this task. Garrett had been born June 17, 1822. He and Catherine were married on October 11, 1853.
Mrs. Arensen, whom we quoted above, has noted that Catherine and Garrett's first home was in Lafayette, Yamhill, Oregon, and that it was in Oregon that six of their children were born. The family moved to San Jose, California, between 1866 and 1869, and after 1876 to Los Angeles County, where both Garrett and Catherine died, Garrett on December 20, 1897, and Catherine on June 28, 1914.
According to Mrs. Arensen, Garrett W. and Catherine (Sparks) McGary were the parents of ten children:
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1 James H. McGary, born December 6, 1854, died in February 1860.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.2 Martha McGary, born May 31, 1857, died March 1, 1860.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.3 Sarah Elizabeth McGary, born January 18, 1860; she married James Finley on November 26, 1881.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.4 Lucretia A. McGary, born April 16, 1862; she married Matthew Laurence White on November 26, 1881.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.5 Samuel H. McGary, born May 6, 1864, died February 11, 1945; he married Emma J. McClain before 1900.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.6 Olive McGary, born July 5, 1866, died July 26, 1946; she married James Henry Wilson on July 3, 1884. They were Mrs. Arensen's great-great-grandparents.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.7 Kate McGary, born January 19, 1869, died March 17, 1887.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.8 Edward W. McGary, born March 17, 1871, died December 6, 1933.
22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.9 Isaac L. McGary, born March 17, 1873, died April 21, 1954; he married Viola J. Matthews on December 12, 1905.
188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.10 Harrison White McGary, born January 29, 1876, died February 9, 1954; he married Myrtle Johnson prior to 1904.
220.127.116.11.1.2.7 William D. Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born in Surry County, North Carolina, ca. 1790. This estimate is based on the fact that, late in his life, he gave his: age on two. documents that he signed under oath before the clerk of the Cooper County, Missouri, Court--that he was 65 in an affidavit dated April 14, 1855, and 67 in another dated March 27, 1857. Being under oath when he signed his name on these occasions, we believe that he would have been certain of his age, thus placing his year of birth as ca. 1790. Following his death on August 7, 1858, in Cooper County, Missouri, a tombstone was carved for him in dicating that he had died in his 71st year (i.e., age 70). This would place his year of birth as 1788 or 1789. These affidavits and his tombstone will be described in greater detail later in this article.
At the outset of this sketch of William D. Sparks, this writer must acknowledge the research done by Carol Hodge March of Los Altos Hills, California, and her generosity in sharing her findings.
We are handicapped in our searching for and identification of William D. Sparks in Surry County records because of the popularity of the name "William" in this branch of the Sparks family. It is a tradition among some descendants of William that his middle name was David, but in no record contemporary with his life, have we found a middle name for him; he often signed his name as "William D. Sparks," but on other occasions he signed simply as William Sparks. In his father's will of 1819, he was called simply "William Sparks."
There were two other men named William Sparks in Surry County, North Carolina, with whom William D. Sparks can be easily confused. A distant cousin of William D. Sparks, known simply as William Sparks, was born also ca. 1790. He was a son of Solomon, Jr. and Charity Sparks; he even lived in the same militia and tax district as did William D. Sparks. (See the March 2000 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No.189, p.5310.) Another William Sparks, who was sometimes called William Z. Sparks and sometimes William S. Sparks, and who had been born ca. 1791, lived nearby on Deep Creek. There can be little doubt that he was a son of George Sparks, brother of Matthew Sparks, and thus a first cousin of William D. Sparks. An article on this William Z. [or S.] Sparks will be included in the September 2000 issue of the Quarterly.
The earliest tax list in Surry County on which the name "William D. Sparks" appeared was that for 1818. In Capt. Ely Denney's District he was shown as owning 55 acres of land located on North Hunting Creek adjoining land owned by his father and valued at $60.00. He was taxed as one poll (himself). Unfortunately, we can find no deed in Surry County by which William D. Sparks had acquired these 55 acres.
On March 26, 1819, Matthew Sparks signed deeds giving each of his five sons a portion of his 752-acre plantation, having reserved 352 acres for his wife during her widowhood. It seems apparent that Matthew knew that he did not have long to live when he made these gifts; he made his will shortly after signing the deeds. To his son, William, he gave a tract of 70 acres which was the north west corner of his plantation, bordering on its east side the 60 acres Matthew gave to his son named Matthew Sparks, Jr. as well as a portion of the land reserved for his wife, Eunice Sparks. The south side of William's land adjoined the tract Matthew gave his son George, while the west side bordered the Wilkes County line. On the north, apparently, lay the 55 acres he had acquired before, perhaps through marriage. (Surry Co. Deed Book 0, pp.370-1)
Eight years after receiving his 70 acres from his father, William D. Sparks sold the tract to a neighbor named Wiley Felt (or Felts). However, the tract was now described as comprising 100 acres. Apparently the 30 acres that had been added were taken from the 55-acre tract on which he had been taxed in 1818. As noted above, we can find no record to account for William's acquiring the 55 acres. A possible explanation could be that he had acquired this tract through marriage. There can be little doubt that William D. Sparks was married in Surry Count since that is where his children were born, but there is no record of a marriage bond for him, meaning that his marriage must have been through the crying of banns," for which no official record was customarily made. On the 1850 census, William's wife's name was given as Priscilla LNU, but we have no clue regarding her maiden name. She could have been a second wife. The oldest child of William D. Sparks was born in May 1829; his second child was not born until 1833.
Six weeks after selling the 100 acres of land on North Hunting Creek (Book 6, p.146), William D. Sparks sold 5 acres to Philip Holcomb for $15.00. This small plot was described as beginning at a red oak at the corner of George Sparks's "Red Oak on the Old Line." This must have referred to the strip of land that his brother, George, had acquired in 1824 (see p.5368), the "Old Line" meaning the original dividing line between Surry and Wilkes Counties that was moved slightly west in 1792. Joel Sparks, brother of William D. and George, witnessed the deed, as did William Cook. Curiously, this deed was not proven in the Surry County Court until November 1850, nearly a quarter century later. (Book 7, p.96) At that time, Wiley Felts appeared before the Court and testified under oath that he recognized Joel Sparks's signature on the deed. Neither of the Sparks brothers was still living in North Carolina in 1850.
William D. Sparks's name does not appear on the 1830 census of North Carolina as head of a household, yet we believe that he was still in Surry County at that time. People were sometimes missed when a census was taken, but his non-appearance as head of a household may have been because he, along with his youngest brother, John Sparks, were living with their mother in 1830, managing her large farm and slaves for her. Eunice Sparks was shown as head of her household, age between 70 and 80, and there were two males, both in the 30 to 40 age category, as well as a female between 20 and 30. The latter may have been the wife of William. We know how ever that the first child of William D. Sparks had been born in May 1829, and no infant male was enumerated in Eunice Sparks's household.
During the May 1831 meeting of the Surry County Court, William D. Sparks found himself in a highly embarrassing situation which must have brought distress to his aged mother and other family members. During that Court session, an unmarried woman named Sally Ladd had been brought before the Court charged with either being pregnant with, or having given birth to, an illegitimate child. (The child may have been a year or two old; see the explanation of North Carolina law pertaining to this kind of situation on page 5391 of the present Quarterly.) When placed under oath and ordered to name the father, Sally Ladd identified William D. Sparks as that person. Rarely could a man defend himself when so accused by a woman naming him under oath. Sparks was served with a warrant ordering him to post bond, agreeing with the Court that the child should never become a financial burden to the county. Because William D. Sparks did not have much wealth, a fellow bondsman was required; James Mack (or Monk-) became his co-bonds- man. We may wonder whether a first wife might have died following the birth of William's son, Richard M. Sparks, in 1829, and that William might have been unwed at the time of this incident.
It is of interest to note that on the 1830 census of Surry County, the household enumerated immediately following that of Eunice Sparks was headed by Happy Ladd; she was one of the females therein between the ages of 20 and 30; another female was enumerated as between 15 and 20, and there was a boy under 5 years of age. Twenty years later, when the 1850 census was taken in Surry County, Happy Ladd, then 51 years old, still headed her own household, which included Sarah Ladd, age 44. Living with them in 1850 was a young man named Franklin Ladd, age 18, called a "laborer."
On November 2, 1832, William D. Sparks again purchased land in Surry County, North Carolina, a tract containing only 65 acres for which he paid David Chapel $65.00. (Deed Book U, pp.374-5) Located on the head waters of Hunting Creek near the Brushy Mountains," it adjoined land land owned by Charles Johnson, husband of a distant cousin of William. His brother, Joel Sparks, also lived near by. (On today's map of Yadkin County, Yadkin having been cut off from Surry County in 1850, this 65-acre tract would be found in Knobs Township, a large portion of which comprises the Brushy Mountains, sometimes spelled in the singular.)
Eunice Sparks died in either late 1837 or early 1838. As noted earlier, Joel Sparks, as executor of his father's estate, sold the 352 acres remaining of his father's plantation to Miles Wells for $700 on May 28, 1839. William D; Sparks's share of his father's estate probably amounted to about $200. On September 22, 1839, William sold to David Money for $200 the land near the Brushy Mountains that he had purchased in 1832 from David Chapel. Although the description of the tract was the same in 1839 as in 1832, a new survey gave the acreage as 76. William's brother, Joel Sparks, signed the deed as a witness, as did Wiley Felts. It was Wiley Felts's testimony in November 1841 that enabled David Money to have his deed proven in Court and recorded in Book 2, pp.45-6, both of the Sparks brothers having moved away from Surry County by that time.
With his inheritance and the $200 realized from his sale of land, William D. Sparks set off with his family for a new frontier in Cooper County, Missouri. He and his household were shown on the 1840 census there, with his own name appearing as "W. D. Sparks." His family consisted of himself (age 40 to 50) and his wife (age 30 to 40), and a total of five children: a boy between 10 & 15; a boy and a girl between 5 & 10; a boy and a girl both under 5.
by December 1843, William D. Sparks had purchased a 50 x 150 foot city lot, #14, on Sun Street in the town of Palestine, Missouri (later called Old Palestine and now nonexistent) for which he paid $50. Earlier, William D. and Priscilla Sparks had apparently acquired other acreage in Cooper County for in June 1844 they sold 40 acres in the S.W. part of the S.E. Quarter of Section #10, Township 47, Range 18. Then in November that same year, William D.Sparks bought 80 acres located just west of Petite Saline Creek in Cooper County. He sold 20 of these acres in December 1852.
When the 1850 census was taken, it being the first U.S. census in which the name of each household member was included, with age, birthplace, etc., William D. Sparks was shown as age 52, although we believe he was more nearly 60. He was a farmer with real estate valued at $400. His wife was shown as Priscilla Sparks, age 48, a native of North Carolina. William's oldest son, Richard M. Sparks, was living with his wife a short distance from his father. His age was 21; his four sibflngs still with their parents were: Martin Sparks, age 18; Almeda Sparks, age 14; Jones Sparks, age 13; and Louisa Sparks, age 11.
William D. Sparks had served in the War of 1812 in the same North Carolina Regiment as had his older brother, Joel Sparks. It was not until September 23, 1850, that the U.S. Congress passed an Act granting free land (called "bounty land") to all veterans of that war who had served at least 14 days, regardless of their financial need. Proof of service was required and if approved by the War Department, a warrant for "vacant land" in certain western territories was issued for from 40 to 160 acres, depending upon the veteran's length of service. Then, on March 3, 1855, Congress authorized all veterans who had served at least 14 days to be eligible to receive the full 160 acres; for those who had already received fewer than 160 acres, an amount could be added to make 160 in all, upon their reapplication.
On November 21, 1850, William D. Sparks appeared before a justice of the peace in Cooper County, Missouri, to apply for bounty land based on his service as a private in Capt. John Witcher's Company of the 5th North Carolina Regiment of detached infantry (militia) commanded by Lt. Col. Sam Hunter. He swore that he had been drafted in Surry County on or about July 15, 1814, for the term of six months, but had not been ordered to active duty until November 28, 1814. He had been discharged at Norfolk, Virginia, on February 22, 1815. With his application, he enclosed the small discharge that he had received, and it is preserved with his pension papers at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. A photo copy follows:
The justice of the peace, Thomas M. Campbell, who drew up the application, gave Sparks's age as 52, which would place his year of birth as ca. 1898. This was surely an error, even though Sparks signed the affidavit. His application was approved, and William D. Sparks was issued a bounty land warrant for 40 acres.
On April 14, 1855, William D. Sparks appeared before County Clerk Henry C. Levens in Cooper County to apply for additional bounty land under the new Congressional Act. On this document, his age appears as 65. This would place his birth ca. 1790. William gave the same information regarding his service as he had in 1850, except he stated that it had been a Col. Atkinson rather than Lt. Col. Hunter who had commanded the regiment in which he had served, Michael Son and Joseph H. Moore witnessed him sign the application. As in 1850, he signed his name simply "William Sparks." He received a warrant for 120 additional acres of bounty land. We imagine that he, like most of his fellow veterans, sold his warrant or gave it to a relative interested in going to a new frontier. (His bounty land file at the National Archives has the number 54-795-120-55.)
Joel Sparks, William's brother, now living in Cass County, Missouri, bordering the state of Kansas, had not applied for bounty land under the Act of 1850, probably because he doubted that his very brief period of service was sufficient for him to qualify, but with the more generous Act of 1855, and, perhaps learning of the success of his brother, he now did so. Unfortunately, however, he had lost the written discharge that he had received when his sore leg caused him to leave the service after only two or three weeks. Furthermore, the record of Capt. John Witcher's Company on file at the War Department did not include Joel's name. His application was rejected. Joel appealed his rejection, however, and asked his brother to make a statement on his behalf. William consented and because his deposition contains interesting information about himself as well as his brother, we quote it here in full. William again went to the Cooper County Clerk, Henry C. Levens, to prepare the document in proper legal form.
State of Missouri )
County of Cooper ) On this 27th day of March AD 1857 personally appeared before me the Clerk of the County Court within and for the County of Cooper aforesaid, William Sparks who having been by me first duly sworn on his oath states that he is the identical William Sparks now aged sixty seven years--Who was a private in the Company commanded by Captain Witcher, in the 5th Regiment of North Carolina Militia commanded by Col. Atkinson in the War with Great Britain, declared by the United States on the 18th day of June 1812: that he was drafted in or about the month of July AD 181 [sic] for the time of six months and continued in actual service in the said war for the term of more than fourteen days.
This affiant further states that at the time he was drafted in the County of Surry and state of North Carolina' his brother whose claim No. 207,286 for bounty land is said to be suspended--was drafted and to the Certain Knowledge of this afflant served as a private in the same Company, same Regiment and same war for a period of more than fourteen days: And that whilst said service was being performed the said Joel Sparks as aforesaid, he said Joel, became so disabled on account of a rising in left leg near the ancle [sic] as to be unable to Continue in said service. And that on account of said disability said Joel Sparks was honorably discharged by said Commander of said Regiment. This affiant was present and saw said Joel Sparks honorably discharged for the reason aforesaid, in the town of Hillsboro in Orange County, and State of North Carolina, and that he saw the said discharge afterwards in the possession of said Joel Sparks. And that he has no interest in this claim of said Joel Sparks for bounty land and further this afflant saith not. Sworn and subscribed to before me on the day and year above written: and I the Clerk aforesaid do certify that I have long known the said William Sparks personally and that he is a credible person, and that I have no interest in this application for Bounty Land...
(followed by the signature of the County Clerk, Henry C. Levens)
The effort of William D. Sparks to assist his brother to obtain bounty land was not successful. We can assume that William reported his age to the County Clerk of Cooper County, Henry C. Levens, who then recorded it as 65 in the 1855 application and as 67 in the 1857 affidavit. Because it was a Court official to whom William reported his age and, in turn, swore under oath that the documents were truthful, we believe that he would have made every effort to be accurate. It is on the basis of these documents that we conclude that William D. Sparks was born ca. 1790.
It was with a steady hand that William signed his affidavit on March 27, 1857, but he died some 16 months later, on August 7, 1858, according to the date carved on his gravestone. His age at death, according to the carver of the stone, was "In the 71. Yr." This would place his birth year as ca. 1788, but just because something has been carved in stone does not make it true.
We are indebted to Carol Hodge March for the photograph of his gravestone shown on the following page. Her dramatic account of her search for nearly a quarter of a century for the grave site of William D. Sparks, with the hope for the existence of a stone marking that spot, involves mystery and fascinat ing detective work by a number of interested parties who assisted her, including a local historian of Cooper County, Missouri, named Mrs. Helen Mitzel.
When Mrs. March first corresponded with Mrs. Mitzel, she (Mrs. Mitzel) was aware of an abandoned cemetery site near the town of Palestine in Cooper County, Missouri, in Township 47 N., Range 17 W., Section 18, near where William D. Sparks owned land. Here we give only the report on the eventual discovery of the Sparks gravestone many years later when Mrs. March received a telephone call from a man in Cooper County named Gene Painter. She recalls his words as follows:
The grave and headstone were located on land now owned by June Gander of Bunceton, Missouri. This property is about 1+ miles south of our (Painter) farm. A now deceased cousin of Mrs. Mitzel had removed the headstones about 15 years ago because they were in the middle of an area he wanted to farm. My father, William Painter, was helping George rake hay in a field to the north and saw William D. Sparks's headstone in the ditch. A few days later, he stopped along the road and loaded it up and brought it home. I kept the stone by a honeysuckle bush at my previous house, and when I built a new home in 1984, took Mr. Sparks with me. I used to sit on my patio and wonder who he was, what happened to his family, and how he came to be in the area. I knew of no other people by that name.
Mrs. March further reports that about three years ago "the gravestone of William D. Sparks was placed in the Mt. Vernon Cemetery near Pilot Grove, Missouri, where it now rests against a large tree trunk." Mrs. Mitzel had told Mrs. March earlier that this "little cemetery is the resting place of her great-grandparents and some of her husband's ancestors too, as well as other pioneers of that area. It seems fitting that William D. Sparks has joined them!"
The town of "Old Palestine" near where William D. Sparks was buried in 1858 is now called Speed, Missouri.
The three sons of William D. Sparks led interesting lives, an account of which we plan to give in a future issue of the Quarterly. Of his two daughters, we know little. Here we give an outline of what we know of these five children with the hope that some of our readers may recognize them and provide us with additional information about them and their descendants.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Richard M. Sparks, son of William D. Sparks, according to his obituary in a Medicine Lodge, Kansas, newspaper in 1893, was born May 4, 1829; he died at Medicine Lodge on April 17, 1893. He had been born in Surry County, North Carolina. He was married in Cooper County, Missouri, to Mary C. Duncan on January 8, 1850. She had been born ca. 1832 and died on January 22, 1891. She was a daughter of Hiram and Matilda (Allen) Duncan.
Richard M. Sparks accompanied his brothers, Edmond and Martin, to California in 1852 during the Gold Rush period, but he later returned to Missouri. He and his family were in Lafayette County, Missouri, when the 1870 and 1880 censuses were taken. They moved to Medicine Lodge in Barber County, Kansas, ca. 1886, where he died in 1893. A photograph of Richard M. Sparks appeared on the cover of the December 1989 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 148.
Richard M. Sparks died without leaving a will. His eldest son, William H. Sparks, became the administrator of his estate, and in that role he prepared a list in 1893 of the eleven living children of Richard M. and Mary C. (Duncan) Sparks, giving their dates of birth and their locations at that time, as follows:
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.1 William H. Sparks, born February 8, 1851. (Medicine Lodge, Kansas)
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.2 Charles C. Sparks, born January 14, 1853. (Kansas City, Missouri)
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.4 Lula H. Sparks, born May 26, 1857. (Now  Mrs. Lula H. White, Ukiah, California.)
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.5 Arthur George Sparks, born March 4, 1859. (Kansas City, Missouri.)
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.6 Mittie A. Sparks, born September 4, 1861. (Now  Mrs. Mittie A. Wainscott, Nevada, Missouri.)
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.7 Herbert H. Sparks, born April 14, 1863. (Kansas City, Missouri.)
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.8 Stella Z. Sparks, born April 14, 1865. (Now  Mrs. Stella Z. Rogers, Beatrice, Nebraska.)
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.9 Ethel A. Sparks, born March 8, 1867. (Now  Mrs. Ethel A. Doran, Medicine Lodge, Kansas.)
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.11 Delbert C. Sparks, born January 20, 1869. (Kansas City, Missouri.)
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.12 Guy C. Sparks, born June 29, 1871. (Medicine Lodge, Kansas.)
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.13 Lail D. Sparks, born August 21, 1875. (Medicine Lodge, Kansas.)
According to family tradition there were actually 13 children of Richard M. and Mary C. (Duncan) Sparks, two of whom died young. One of those was a daughter named 18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.3 Samantha Nevada Sparks, born April 25, 1855, died November 29, 1857. Her gravestone was found many years ago by John W. Bull in an old private cemetery called the Greenbaigh Cemetery, located 5 or 6 miles from New Palestine in Cooper County, about 314 miles from Route B. The stone identifies her parents as "R. M. and M. Sparks." It is also known that the tenth child of Richard and Mary, Guy C. Sparks, had been named originally 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.10 Clarence Guy Sparks.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Martin Van Buren Sparks, son of William D. Sparks, was born in September 1833 according to the 1900 census (which asked the month and year of each person's birth) in Surry County, North Carolina; he died in 1909 in Placer County, California. He was married in Cooper County, Missouri, on April 5, 1859, to Sarah S. Judy. She had been born in 1843 and died in 1916. He had gone with his brothers. Richard and Edmond, to California in 1852, but he returned to Cooper County, Missouri, before 1859 to be married to Sarah J. Judy. They then went back to California. They were living near Oakland, Alameda County, California, when the 1880 census was taken. He was shown on that census as 47 years old, a native of North Carolina, and a farmer. Sarah, his wife, was then 36 years old, a native of Missouri. Four children were living with them in 1880, all born in California:
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.Richard A. Sparks, age 15 (born 1865);
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.Ralph E. Sparks, age 10 (born 1870);
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.Sallie Sparks, age 8 (born 1872); and
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.Thomas A. Sparks, age 6 (born 1874).
Mrs. March has written as follows regarding Martin Van Buren Sparks:
The California Death Index shows he died in Alameda County, California, on August 12, 1909. He was buried in the Sparks plot in Manzanita Cemetery, just outside Lincoln, Placer County, California. Martin and his young bride had been in the same wagon train as his brother, Edmond Jones Sparks and his family, when they came to settle in California in the spring of 1859. Through hard work and intelligent purchases, Martin Sparks acquired large land holdings in Placer, Solano, and Yolo Counties, and he established a large home in what is now downtown Oakland, Alameda County. In 1906 he sold 730.45 acres of his land adjoining Davisvlle in Soano and Yolo County for the establishment of a college of agriculture. That land is now part of the University of California at Davis.
At the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington, D. C., there are typewritten transcriptions made by Mrs. L. G. Shavel and Mrs. Milton Hogle in 1939 from gravestones in the Manzanita Cemetery. These two women stated in their transcriptions that there was then "a monument on the ground & too heavy to move--could not see if other side contained records." They copied the following from the side that they could see:
M. V. Sparks 1832-1909 Native of North Carolina
Sarah J. Sparks, 1843-1916 Native of Maryland
Martin V. Sparks, son of M.V. & Sarah J. Sparks, d. June 1, 1865 aged 2 years, 3 mo., 23 da.
Another gravestone in the same cemetery has the following inscriptions:
Arthur V. Sparks d. July 15, 1872, age 12 y., 8 mo., 25 d.
Luella V. Sparks d. July 19, 1872, age 6 y., 6 da.
Perhaps a descendant of Martin Van Buren Sparks will see the above records and provide us with additional information regarding his family.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52 Almeda Sparks, daughter of William D. Sparks, was born December 16, 1835, in Surry County, North Carolina. She married Mark C. Kelly before 1860 as she and her husband were listed on the 1860 census of Cooper County, Missouri, in Clarks Fork Township. After 1860, they moved to California where Almeda died on June 22, 1878. Both she and her husband were buried in the Sparks plot in the Manzanita Cemetery at Lincoln, Placer County, California.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 Edmond Jones Sparks (called Jones Sparks on the 1850 census), son of William D. Sparks, was born October 4, 1837, in Surry County, North Carolina, and died on October 11, 1922, at Lindsay, Tulare County, California. He was married in Cooper County, Missouri, on December 25, 1856, to Mary Duncan, daughter of Andrew Jackson and Sarah Jane (Fulton) Duncan.
Mrs. Carol Hodge March whom we have quoted earlier, descends from Edmond Jones Sparks; she is a granddaughter of Samantha Alice Sparks, born August 5, 1862, who was one of the 12 children of Edmond Jones and Mary (Duncan) Sparks. Mrs. March has written the following regarding her great- grandfather:
Edmond Jones Sparks was born in Surry County, North Carolina, in October 1837, son of William D. and Priscilla Sparks. Before 1840 the family moved to Cooper County, Missouri, where his father was a farmer. In April 1852 Edmond Jones Sparks (often called "Jonas" or "E . J.") and his brothers, Richard and Martin, joined a wagon train in the Gold Rush to California. They may have served as scouts on the wagon train on that trip west. Once there, I believe they did more prospecting for land than they did for gold; they spent at least one summer helping with a wheat harvest in the Capay Valley. They returned to Missouri via the Isthmus of Panama.
Edmond married Mary Eliza Duncan. in Cooper County on December 25, 1856. Their first child was born in Missouri in 1858, and in 1858 they started across the plains in a covered wagon and ox team for California. One account tells of the troubles they encountered en route. While fording a stream Edmond tied his only pair of shoes onto a horse to keep them from getting wet; however, the horse ran away and was never caught, leaving my great-grand father to walk barefooted 1,000 miles until he could purchase shoes at a trading post in Nevada! In California they settled first on the Beat River near Nicholas, Sutter County, then later purchased land on Coon Creek near Lincoln in Placer County, where he had a very successful grain and cattle ranch, and there he built a large two- story Victorian home. He was elected Supervisor of Placer County for two terms and was active in the Masonic Orders in that county. In 1895, he sold his ranch and moved to Redlands, San Bernardino County, California, due to his wife's poor health. After her death in 1904, he lived with his son in Lindsay, Tulare County, California, where he died on October 11, 1922, at the age of 85.
The names of the children of Edmond Jones and Mary (Duncan) Sparks have been provided by Mrs. March as follows:
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.1 William Martin Sparks, born July 23, 1858, died December 15, 1931.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.2 Walter Scott Sparks, born September 5, 1860, died June 25, 1932.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.3 Samantha Alice (Sparks) Hodge, born August 5, 1862, died September 2, 1949
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.4 Lucy Nina (Sparks) Judy, born October 26, 1864, died August 2, 1952.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.5 Edmond Jackson Sparks, born September 21, 1867, died February 27, 1931.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.6 David Ernest Sparks, born January 26,1870, died October 5, 1932.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.7 George Washington Sparks, born June 29, 1873, died November 6, 1938.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.8 Flavius Josephus Sparks, born October 17, 1875, died March 28, 1931.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.9 Earl Leland Sparks, born December 17, 1879, died July 23, 1940.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.10 Elmer Fulton Sparks, born November 6, 1881, died June 7, 1923.
126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.11 Maude Beatrice (Sparks) Vysack, born March 13, 1886, died May 12, 1907.
184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.12 Infant daughter Sparks, birth and death dates unknown, buried in the Sparks plot in the Manzanita Cemetery, Lincoln, Placer County, California.
18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124 Louisa Sparks was born ca. 1839. She was married in Cooper County, Missouri, on September 21, 1854, to E. I. Chapman. We have no further information about her.
126.96.36.199.1.2.8 John Sparks, the youngest child of Matthew and Eunice Sparks, was born ca. 1800. We believe that he was the male shown as under 10 years of age in his parents' household on the 1810 census of Surry County, North Carolina.
When Matthew Sparks made a deed of gift to each of his five sons on March 26, 1819, "in consideration of the natural love and affection that a parent hath to ward a child," he gave a 50-acre tract to his son, John. Comprising the north east corner of his plantation, with its west side adjoining the 60-acre tract Mat thew gave to Joel Sparks as well as a portion of the land Matthew "loaned" to his wife, John's mother, during her lifetime. Its southern boundary was also with his mother's land, while on the east was the Hunting Creek, i.e., the "main" Hunting Creek, not the North Branch of Hunting Creek. John's brother, William D. Sparks, signed this deed as a witness, writing his name simply as "William Sparks." Thomas Wright, Sheriff of Surry County, who drew up all five of the deeds for his old friend, Matthew Sparks, also signed as a witness. It is indicative of John's youth at the time that, while his brothers took turns witnessing each others deeds, John did not do so. It was his brother William who appeared before the Surry County Court to swear that he had been a witness to this deed, after which it was duly recorded in Surry County Deed Book 0, p.398.
No record of a marriage bond has been found for John Sparks in Surry County, but we believe that he was married by the time the 1820 census was taken. He could have been married in another county, but it is more probable that he and his wife were wed through the posting of banns for three weeks prior to the ceremony in Surry County. It would appear that John was married at a rather young age.
When the 1820 census was taken in Surry County, John Sparks was shown as heading a household. His name appeared on the same page as did his mother and his four brothers. His own age was given as between 16 and 26, i.e., he had been born between 1794 and 1804; a female in his household, who was doubtless his wife, was shown in the same age category. There was also one child, a girl, under the age of 10. She was surely an infant.
Despite the fact that John Sparks was given 50 acres of land in 1819, he was not shown on the 1820 tax list, probably because he had not reached his 21st birthday. (The age at which one was taxed as a poll in North Carolina had been changed from 16 to 21 in 1784.) John's name does appear on the 1821 and 1822 tax lists in the same district as his mother and brothers, but in neither instance was he taxed for land--only as a poll. We have found no record of his selling the 50 acres given to him by his father, however. This matter remains a mystery.
There is a bill of sale recorded in Surry County Deed Book S, pp.403-04, that may help to explain our lack of information regarding John Sparks. Dated August 26, 1825, it reveals that John sold the inheritance that he anticipated receiving with the death of his mother, Eunice Sparks. Only with her death could the land and other possessions of his father, Matthew Sparks, be sold and the proceeds divided in accordance with Matthew's will of 1819. A portion of this bill of sale reads:
Know all men that I John Sparks of the County of Surry . for and in consideration of two hundred dollars in hand paid have bargained and sold and conveyed to Ingram Agill of the County of Iredell.. all the right, title, claim [and] interest which I have in the Estate my Father, Matthew Sparks, died possessed of, and my share of five Negroes of which also my Father died possessed of & their Increase to wit, a Negro man called Stephen & a Negro Woman called Cate and also Ginny and two Negro Children called Ransom and Winthid [?] also my share in stock of horses, cattle and hogs and other personal propperty [sic] and all my share and interest in any Debts or other Estates which may be due me as my Fathers Estate...
[signed] John Sparks
[signed] Henry Gill
[signed] William White
It was Henry Gill who appeared before the Surry County Court in February 1826 to swear that he had witnessed the signing of this deed. Because the witness was Henry Gill, we wonder whether Ingram Agill may have been a variant spelling of the family name. We have no other information regarding "Ingram Agill of Iredell County," although Iredell County, which had been cut off from Rowan County in 1788, adjoins the south side of Yadkin County which was created in 1850 from that portion of Surry County lying south of the Yadkin River.
Although John Sparks was not shown on the 1830 census as heading a household in Surry County, we may wonder whether he might have been one of the males, age 30 to 40, shown on that census as living in the household of Eunice Sparks. She was a very old lady at that time, and we may wonder whether not only John but possibly William D. Sparks, her two youngest sons, might have been helping her operate her large farm in 1830.
We have no further information regarding John Sparks, son of Matthew and Eunice Sparks. It would seem that his motive for selling his inheritance in 1825 could have been in contemplation of moving away from Surry County. As in many families, the name "John"has been used frequently--there have been many John Sparkses through the years making the tracing of one John Sparks difficult.
[Editor's Note: The writer of this article (who is also your editor) will welcome any additional information, or corrections, regarding the lives of Matthew and Eunice Sparks and their descendants, of whom there are doubtless hundreds.]