Whole Number 193
by Russell E. Bidlack
Early lists of taxpayers, usually compiled in counties, often provide valuable clues in tracing ancestors, in that they indicate that an individual owned taxable property and lived with his/her family in a given locality in a particular year. It was land that was usually taxed, but not all heads of household owned land. Where personal property was taxed, such as livestock, most were included in such lists, particularly in states where there was also a poll tax. A poll tax was typically levied on white males 21 years of age and older. Court action could excuse a man from paying this tax because of age or disability; clergymen and elected public servants were usually excused.
In the colony of Virginia and later when it became a state, it was required that heads of households travel to their county's seat of justice each year to report the taxable property they owned and to make the required payment. Taxpayers knew that there was a record of land ownership in the county courthouse, so they were motivated to make their annual pilgrimage, but where they had only personal property to be reported and taxed, the pilgrimage might be neglected.
In Virginia in 1787, besides the poll tax, there was also a property tax on slaves, horses (including "mares, colts, & mules"), cattle, carriage wheels, billiard tables, and stud horses (with rates of "covering prices thereon"). There was an added tax for "physicians, apothecaries, and surgeons.
In 1786, the Virginia Assembly passed a law designed to identify all owners of taxable property simply by requiring county tax commissioners to visit every household in their respective counties and, by observation and quizzing, record his/her personal property subject to tax. These visitations were to begin in March 1787. The name of the head of each household was to be noted resulting, in effect, in a census. The tax commissioner was also required to note the date on which he visited each family unit. Even if an adult white male owned no taxable property, his name was still to be recorded as a poll. Because Virginia had a state church, as in England, all adult males were to be recorded as "tithables."
Slaves, both male and female, were to be reported together in two age categones: those over 16 and those under 16, but not by name. Although white males were not subject to the poll tax in Virginia until they reached the age of 21, young men in a household, whether sons, relatives, or employees, who were between 16 and 21, were to be enumerated as tithables. Their names, however, were not required.
Unfortunately for genealogists, the tax law of Virginia was changed for 1788, thereafter making the state's "tax census" less complete after 1787. A number of years ago, the late Netti Schreine-Yantis, with the aid of Florence Speakman Love, gathered and copied the 1787 tax lists that were still extant for Virginia counties, which they then published in pamphlet form. Ms. Schreiner-Yantis very kindly provided this writer with a list of the counties in which one or more persons named Sparks appeared, and he purchased those, enabling him to prepare this article.
Male and female heads of Virginia households taxed in Virginia in 1787 were found to be extant in ten Virginia counties, as well as in three others that became Kentucky counties when the state of Kentucky was set apart from Virginia in 1792. The ten counties that remained part of Virginia in which a Sparks was taxed in 1787 were: Bedford, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Gloucester, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Prince William, Shenandoah, and Westmoreland. The three Kentucky counties were: Bourbon, Fayette, and Lincoln. The tax list for Jefferson County, where we know there were several Sparks households, has been lost.
Another item required for notation under the 1787 tax law was: Who should be charged for the household head's tax? With relatively few exceptions, the answer was "Self." Where "Self" was not given, and another name substituted, it was often that of the father of the individual or his employer. As noted earlier, women were not subject to the poll tax, nor were they "tithables."
Bedford County, Virginia
Bedford County had been created in 1753 from parts of Albemarle and Lunenburg Counties. Located in the southern portion of the state, Bedford County today adjoins the Virginia counties of Pittsylvania, Franklin, Roanoke, Botetourt, Rockbridge, Amhearst, and Campbell.
One Sparks was taxed in Bedford County in 1787, his name being Charles Sparks. He was subject only to the poll tax, and It was John Dawson who was charged for his tax. John Dawson was also charged with the tax for Jeremiah Dawson, who, like Sparks, was taxed only as a poll. John Dawson, himself, was taxed for 5 horses and 7 cattle. It was on April 10, 1787, that Tax Commissioner Thomas Logwood recorded the names of these three men; he visited no other household that day.
As will be noted under Fauquier County, a 11.2 James Sparks there is known to have been married on December 15, 1785, to Margaret Dawson. We may wonder whether this Margaret Dawson could have been of the same Dawson family as that of John Dawson.
Culpeper County, Virginia
Culpeper County had been created in 1748 from Orange County. Located in the northern part of the state, Culpeper adjoins today the counties of Orange, Madison, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Stafford, and Spotsylvania. Madison County was cut off from Culpeper in 1792/3; Rappahannock County was cut off from Culpeper in 1833. Culpeper was divided into three tax districts in 1787, but we do not know their boundaries. Six persons named Sparks were identified as subject to tax there in 1787.
Elizabeth Sparks was designated as "not tithable" because of being a woman, but she was taxed for 2 horses and 7 cattle. A male living in her household was enumerated as between 16 and 21, thus a tithable but not a poll. His name was not given. Tax Commissioner Goodrich Lightfoot called on her on March 17, 1787.
John Sparks was also visited by Goodrich Lightfoot on March 3, 1787. He was taxed for one slave over 16 years of age, along with 5 horses and 9 cattle.
Henry Sparks, also heading a household in Lightfoot's tax district, was visited by him on March 23, 1787. His taxable property was reported as being one slave under 16, one horse, and 6 cattle.
Mary Sparks, also living in Lightfoot's tax district, was visited by him on April 4, 1787. As a woman, she was marked as "not taxable," but she was taxed for one slave over 16 years of age, along with 3 horses and 7 cattle.
Humphrey Sparks was living in Daniel Brown's tax district in Culpeper County and was visited by him on April 3, 1787. He was shown as "not tithable" (meaning, also, not subject to poll tax) for a reason not shown, but he was taxed for one slave over 16; also 3 horses and 7 cattle. Some men were excused from paying the poll tax because of old age and infirmity. Clergymen and government officials were also excused from paying the poll tax, but we doubt that Humphrey was either a preacher or a public servant.
Humphrey Sparks (second of the name), like the other Humphrey Sparks, was shown in Daniel Brown's district, but he owned no taxable property; Martin Nalle was charged with paying Humphrey's poll tax. Martin Nalle was visited by the tax commissioner on April 3, 1787, the same day as the first Humphrey Sparks. See the notes that follow to explain young Humphrey's relationship to Martin Nalle.
Editor's Note: regarding the Sparkses of Culpeper County: The six individuals shown as taxed in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1787, were members of the family of 21. John and Mary Sparks who had moved to Orange County, Virginia, from Caroline County, Virginia. After the death of John Sparks ca. 1732, his widow, Mary, was married later to Spencer Bobo. They, with Mary's orphaned children, came to Orange County, Virginia, in 1737. They lived in that part of Orange County that became Culpeper County in 1748. See the SPARKS Quarterly of June 1956, Whole No. 14, for a lengthy record of this family entitled: "The Sparks Family of Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Counties, Virginia," beginning on page 129.
21 John and Mary Sparks were the parents of four sons and two daughters:
21.1 Thomas Sparks, born ca.1715, died 1787. Married Mary Towles.
21.2 Zachary (or Zachariah) Sparks.
21.3 William Sparks, born before 1720, died 1781. Married Elizabeth Haynes.
21.4 Jane Sparks, born ca.1720.
21.5 Elizabeth Sparks.
21.6 Henry Sparks, died 1770.
Elizabeth Haynes Sparks, a daughter of Jasper Haynes, Sr., was the widow of 21.3 William Sparks (son of John and Mary Sparks). William Sparks had died in 1781. The text of his will appears on pp.143-44 of the Quarterly. The male between 16 and 21 shown in Elizabeth's household in 1787 was doubtless her oldest son, 21.3.1 John Sparks, believed to have been born ca. 1769.
The 21.1.1 John Sparks appearing on the 1787 tax list was doubtless the eldest son of 21.1 Thomas Sparks who had been the eldest son of 21. John and Mary Sparks, and had been born ca. 1715. 21.1 Thomas Sparks had been married to Mary Towles. Thomas had made his will on December 10, 1784 (see pp.134-35 of the Quarterly) which was probated on February 19, 1787, in Culpeper County. 21.1.1 John Sparks married Phoebe Smith; he died in Madison County, Virginia, in 1803.
21.1.5 Henry Sparks, born June 16, 1753, was a son of 21.1 Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks. He served in the American Revolution and had the distinction of being a member of General Washington's body guard. He married Lucy Clark in January 1776. See the Quarterly of June 1957, Whole No. 18, pp.211-18, and December 1960, Whole No. 32, pp.511-17, for further information about him and his family.
Mary (Towles) Sparks, a daughter of Stokeley and Ann (Vallott) Towles, was the widow of Thomas Sparks (son of John and Mary Sparks) who had died shortly before the 1787 census was taken. See the Quarterly of June 1956, Whole No. 14, for an article about him and the text of the will of Thomas Sparks.
21.1.3 Humphrey Sparks, born ca. 1749, was the second son of Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks. He married Milly Nalle, daughter of Martin and Isabel Nalle. Humphrey moved to Scott County, Kentucky, in 1795, and. later to Owen County, Kentucky. See the Quarterly of March 1981, Whole No.113, pp.2273, for the article: "Humphrey Sparks (ca.1749-ca.1827) of Culpeper County, Virginia, and Scott and Owen Counties, Kentucky."
The Humphrey Sparks shown without taxable property but subject to the poll tax, and apparently living in the household of Martin Nalle in 1787, was a son of Humphrey and Milly (Nalle) Sparks. Martin Nalle, to whom Humphrey's poll tax was charged, was Humphrey's maternal grandfather.
Fauquier County, Virginia
Fauquier County had been created in 1759 from Prince William County, Virginia. It is located in the northeast part of the state and today adjoins the Virginia counties of Culpeper, Stafford, Prince William, Loudoun, Clarke, Warren, and Rappahannock. Clarke and Warren Counties, however, were part of Frederick in 1787, while Rappahannock was then part of Culpeper County.
11.2 James Sparks was the only Sparks taxed in Fauquier County in 1787, he being in Travers Nash's tax district. From a record made by Nash, his district lay along the border of Prince William County. Nash visited James Sparks on March 19, 1787, and reported that he owned 3 horses and 2 cattle.
Editor's Note: 11.2 James Sparks was born ca. 1760 and was a son of 11. William and Kesiah Sparks. William Sparks, father of James, was taxed in Prince William County, Virginia, from which Fauquier County had been created in 1759, and it was there that James had been born. William Sparks made his will on March 7, 1787, and it was probated on December 1, 1788. He left his son James "one shilling sterling," and he designated his wife, Kesiah, and James to execute his estate.
11.2 James Sparks married Margaret Dawson on December 15, 1785, in Fauquier County. John Perkins was his surety and George Brooke was his witness. We may wonder whether she may have been related to the John Dawson in Bedford County who was shown on the 1787 tax list there as responsible for paying the poll tax for Charles Sparks, whom we cannot identify. For a rather full account of the life of James Sparks, see the article entitled "Some Descendants of William and Kesiah Sparks of Prince William County, Virginia, " in the Quarterly of June 1993, Whole No. 182, beginning on page 4110. 11.2 James Sparks married (second) Nancy Matthew on May 25, 1801. Catherine Matthew gave her consent for her daughter to be married to James Sparks.
Frederick County, Virginia
Frederick County had been created in 1738 from Orange and Augusta Counties, Virginia. It is located in the northern part of the state adjoining the West Virginia counties of Hardy, Hampshire, Morgan, and Berkeley. (West Virginia had been cut off from Virginia to form a second state during the Civil War.) Frederick County borders the Virginia counties of Shenandoah, Warren, and Clarke on the west and south.
James Sparks was taxed in Frederick County in 1787. Tax Commissioner John White visited him on May 12, 1787, and reported that John Painter should be charged for James's poll tax.
Editor's Note: We have been unable to Identify this James Sparks. It would seem probable that James Sparks was employed by John Painter. Besides John Painter, two other men were called upon by John White also on May 12, 1787: David Painter and Isaac Painter.
We have a record of the marriage of a 11.3 William Sparks and Mary Robertson in Frederick County, Virginia, on August 15, 1795.
Gloucester County, Virginia
Gloucester County had been created in 1651 from York County, Virginia. It is located on the eastern shore of Virginia, bordering the York River on the west and south. The Piankatank River flows on its north side separating it from Middlesex and Matthews Counties. Until 1790, Matthews was part of Gloucester County.
James Sparks was taxed in Gloucester County in 1787 in Tax Commissioner George Green's district. Green visited James Sparks on May 17, 1787, and reported that, besides his poll tax, he should be taxed for 8 slaves over 16 and 11 under 16. He was also taxed for 3 horses and 17 cattle. We have not been able to identify this James Sparks.
Mecklenburg County, Virginia
Mecklenburg County had been created in 1764/5 from Lunenburg County. Today, on its southern side, it borders three North Carolina counties: Granville, Vance and Warren. It borders the following Virginia counties: Halifax on the west, Charlotte on the northwest, Lunenburg on the north, and Brunswick on the east.
Samuel Sparks. Tax Commissioner William Starling for the "Lower District" of Mecklenburg County called on Samuel Sparks on April 17, 1787, reporting that, besides his poll tax, his taxable property consisted of one horse.
Editor's Note: We have not been able to identify this Samuel Sparks. A Matthew Sparks, born ca. 1782, is known to have served in the War of 1812 from Mecklenburg County. (See the Quarterly of June 1962, Whole No.38, pp.640-42.)
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Located on Virginia's southern boundary with North Carolina, Pittsylvania County was created from Halifax County, Virginia, in 1766/7. On the south, it adjoins the North Carolina counties of Rockingham and Caswell. On the west, it adjoins the Virginia counties of Henry and Franklin, on the north Bedford and Campbell, and on the east it adjoins Halifax County, Virginia. (Note that there is a county in both Virginia and North Carolina named Halifax.) A part of Henry County was included in Pittsylvania County until 1776/7.
Eight persons named Sparks were included on the 1787 tax list of Pittsylvania Coun ty, all in Tax Commissioner William Short's district. The following were visited by Short on March 27, 1787:
Josiah Sparks. Josiah owned no taxable property; his poll tax was charged to Thomas Sparks.
Thomas Sparks. Besides his poll tax and that of Josiah, his 'taxable property consisted of 3 horses and 3 cattle.
Matthew Sparks. He was taxed as a poll with 3 horses and 9 cattle. He was also shown with having a male (doubtless a son) in his household be tween 16 and 21 years of age.
Leonard Sparks. He was taxed on 2 horses and 1 cattle along with his poll tax.
Matthew Sparks (second of this name). William Short called on him on March 30, 1787; he was taxed as a poll, also on one horse and 6 cattle.
On April 10, 1787, William Short called on:
Thomas Sparks. (second of this name). He was taxed as a poll along with 3 horses and 6 cattle.
On April 11, 1787, Tax Commissioner Short visited two Sparks households:
Elinor Sparks. She was not taxed as a poll because she was a woman, but she was shown as owning one horse and 5 cattle on which she was taxed.
Josiah Sparks. Besides his poll tax, he was taxed only on one horse.
Editor's Note: The Sparks families taxed in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1787, except for the widow, Elinor Sparks, were sons or grandsons of one or the other of two brothers, 17.1 Thomas Sparks and 17.2 Matthew Sparks. These brothers had been land owners in Prince Georges County, Maryland, from the 1740s until 1777 when both men sold their land there in preparation for moving to Pittsylvania County. In 1776, the year prior to their departure a census was taken of Prince Georges County, Maryland, on which Thomas and Matthew were recorded as heads of households. The age of Thomas was given as 65 in 1776, thus placing his birth ca. 1711. Thomas's wife, Elizabeth, was shown as 58, placing her birth ca. 1718. The age of Matthew Sparks appearing on this Maryland census of 1776 was 61, meaning that he had been born ca. 1715. Matthew's wife, Elinor, was shown as 45, thus her year of birth had been ca. 1731.
The children of these two households were not named on this 1776 census, but they were enumerated by sex and age. There were two males (ages 18 and 14) and two females (ages 16 and 14) in the household of Thomas and Elizabeth Sparks.
The household of Matthew and Elinor Sparks included five males (ages 27, 17, 15, 11, and 5) and two females (ages 23 and 3). Because Elinor was some 16 years younger than Matthew, and because the ages of Thomas' children apparently ranged from 27 to 3, we believe that Elinor was a second wife of Matthew. As seen above, she was still living in 1787, a widow. (For the listing of Sparkses on the 1790 census of Pittsylvania County, see the Quarterly of June 1953, Whole No.2, p.11.)
A lengthy article on the Sparkses of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, is planned for the Quarterly in which each of these 1787 households will be identified. An article listing their land holdings, etc., appeared in the Quarterly of September 1955, Whole No. 11, pp.79-85, and March 1956, Whole No. 13, pp..109-121.
Prince William County, Virginia
Prince William County, Virginia, had been created in 1730/1 from King George and Stafford Counties. Located in the northeast part of Virginia, it borders Charles County, Maryland, across from the Potomac River on its eastern side. Virginia counties adjoining Prince William are Fairfax on the northeast, Loudoun on the north, Fauquier on the west and southwest, and Stafford on the south.
There were two Sparks households in Prince William County according to the 1787 personal property tax record. Both were visited by Tax Commissioner John Brown on March 28, 1787:
Elizabeth Sparks. As a woman, she was not subject to the poll tax, but she was taxed for 2 horses and 3 cattle.
William Sparks. Besides his poll tax, he was taxed on 5 horses and 11 cattle.
Editor's Note: An article about this 11. William Sparks was published in the Quarterly of June 1993, Whole No. 162, pp.4109-10. William Sparks's wife's name was Kesiah. He made his will on March 7, 1787, and it was probated on December 1, 1788. The text of his will appears on Page 4110 or the Quarterly. In his will, William Sparks left "one shilling sterling to my grandson, 11.2 James Sparks, son of John Sparks, decd." It is probable that the Elizabeth Sparks shown on the 1787 tax list of Prince William County was the widow of 11.1 John Sparks, the son of William and Keziah Sparks, who had died before William Sparks made his will in 1787. William Sparks also named his son 11.3 William Sparks [Jr.] in his will, as well as a son named Thomas. To the latter, he left 31 pounds specie to be put to interest "till he comes of age.." He mentioned only one daughter, 11.4 Nancy Wingate. The only white male named Wingate appearing on the 1787 tax list of Prince William County was John Wingate whose poll tax was charged to John Hill.
The son of William and Keziah Sparks named 11.2 James Sparks was living in Fauquier County, Virginia, when the 1787 tax lists were created, and was identified earlier on page 5478 of the present issue of the Quarterly.
Three sons of 11. William Sparks, 11.3 William, Jr., 11.2 James, and 11.5 Thomas, moved together to Bourbon County, Kentucky, ca. 1805. See the Quarterly of June 1994, Whole No. 166, pp.4291-4301, for further information on this line.
Shenandoah County, Virginia
Shenandoah County, Virginia, had been created in 1772 from Frederick County, Virginia. It was called Dunmore County until 1778. It is located in the northern section of Virginia, and today it borders Hardy County, West Virginia, on the north west. It adjoins Frederick County on the north, Page and Warren Counties on the east, and Rockingham County on the south, all in Virginia. Part of Warren County, which was created in 1836, was taken from Shenandoah County; likewise, a portion was taken in 1831 to form Page County. One white male named Sparks appears on the 1787 tax list of Shenandoah County.
Austin Sparks. He was shown as living in that portion of Shenandoah County that was visited by Tax Commissioner Taverner Beale on September 19, 1787. Besides being taxed as a poll, he was shown as owning one horse and 3 cattle.
Editor's Note: According to Bernice Ashby's 1967 compilation of marriage bonds in Shenandoah County, there are three early marriage bonds on record there involving persons named Sparks; we can assume that the actual marriage in each case took place within a few days following the date of the bond in each case.
Arthur Sparks and Betty Kesterson, June 22, 1787. Bondsman: Colin Brayhour.
Sally Sparks and Adam Bowman, December 15, 1792. Bondsman: John Crookshanks.
Elizabeth Sparks, widow, and Thomas Caldwell, December 10, 1804. [Name of bondsman not recorded]
There is a deed dated September 26, 1787, recorded in Shenandoah County (Deed Book 1772-1820), by which Auston [sic] Sparks and wife Elizabeth, "late Elizabeth Cesterson," sold to William Mulen for 50 pounds Elizabeth's "dower of the estate of
her former husband, William Cesterson, decd." The land adjoined land owned by Joseph Hawkins, George Bird, and John Moore. There is a marriage record in Rockingham County dated 1784 for Charles Sparks and Jane Nielson, daughter of David Neilson, in which Austen [sic] Sparks was surety for CharlesSparks.
Betty Kesterson, whose marriage bond, above, with "Arthur" Sparks dated June 22, 1787, was probably the Elizabeth Cesterson shown as the wife of "Auston Sparks" in the above deed. We may speculate that Austin (or Auston) Sparks was miscopied as "Arthur Sparks" in Bernice Ashby's 1967 compilation of marriage bonds in Shenandoah County from which the record of the above three marriages was taken.
Westmoreland County, Virginia
Westmoreland County had been created in 1653 from Northumberland County. A portion of Westmoreland was cut off to help form King George County in 1720. Its boundaries were the same in 1787 as today. It borders the Potomac River on its northeast side, across from St. Marys County, Maryland. It adjoins the Virginia counties of King George on the west, Essex and Richmond on the south, and Northumberland on the east. Two white males named Spark/Sparks were taxed in Westmoreland County in 1787.
William Sparks was living in Tax Commissioner William Harwar Parker's District when the 1787 tax list was prepared. Parker called on William Sparks on May 5, 1787. Although William Sparks was not required to pay a poll tax (the reason is not known), he was taxed on 10 slaves over 16 and 7 under 16, as well as 5 horses and 33 cattle. He was also charged with paying the poll tax for a man named Job Thomas, probably an employee, who had no taxable property.
James Spark [sic] was also taxed in Westmoreland County, but he was in the dis trict of Thomas Muse who visited him on June 9, 1787. Like William Sparks, James Spark was not required to pay poll tax (the reason is not known), but he was taxed for one slave over 16, along with 2 horses. A white male between 16 and 21 was enumerated as living in James Spark's household.
Editor's Note: The above William and James Spark/Sparks were brothers, the sons of Alexander Sparks who had died in 1783. See the article beginning on page 5485 of the present issue of the Quarterly for further information on this branch of the Sparks family. We believe that the name "Spark" gradually became "Sparks" in this Scottish family.
Two marriage bonds for Sparkses in Westmoreland County are known to exist:
James Sparks and Harnar [Hannah ?] Parker, July 10, 1791; and William Sparks and Lucy Redman, January 6, 1801. In adjoining King George County, in the register of St. Paul's Parish, there is the following marriage record: "John Hannidge and Molly Sparkes were married on 22 October 1785."
It is interesting to note that on the day (June 10, 1787) the Tax Commissioner Thomas Muse visited James Spark in Westmoreland County, he called upon Jemima Redman who was taxed for 2 slaves over 16 and 4 slaves under 16, as well as 3 horses and 11 cattle. Might she have been Lucy Redman's mother? John Hannage [sic] was taxed in William Harwar Parker's district in Westmoreland County in 1787; he was called upon on May 2 while William Sparks was visited on May 5. "Hannage" was doubtless an alternate spelling of Hannidge. He was taxed as a tithable as well as for 2 horses and 4 cattle. A white male between 16 and 21 was enumerated as a member of his household in 1787.
A petition dated May 13, 1784, signed by a large number of "inhabitants of West- moreland, Northumberland, Richmond, and Lancaster Counties" is extant. The signers of this petition requested the Virginia Assembly to create a town and warehouse "at a place called Kinsale belonging to Mr. Catesby Jones in Westmore land County." Among the signers was "Jas. Spark." Other signatures near that of Jas. Spark were "Wm. Harwar Parker" and "Henry S. Redman." Again we refer the reader to the article on Spark/Sparks probate records in Westmoreland County beginning on page 5485.
Bourbon County, Virginia (later Kentucky)
Bourbon County, Virginia, was created in 1786 from Fayette County and continued, as did Fayette County, to be part of Virginia until Kentucky was set off from Virginia in 1792 as a separate state. At the time the 1787 tax was taken, Bourbon County included parts of 20 other future counties of Kentucky. The area comprising Bourbon County in 1787 was divided into three tax districts, one of which was assigned to Tax Commissioner Edmond Mountjoy. His record of the dates on which he visited inhabitants of Bourbon County was either not made or has been lost. We can only imagine the distances that he was required to travel to find settlers. He listed two different men named Sparks, each with the same forename, William. Both were taxed as polls, but how near or far they lived from each other is unknown.
William Sparks, perhaps the elder of the two men having this name, was reported as a white male tithable and taxed for 3 horses and 7 cattle. In his household there was also a white male between the ages of 16 and 21.
William Sparks, perhaps the younger of the two men having this name, was reported by Mountjoy as a taxable poll (tithable) owning 2 horses.
Editor's Note: Because we do not have the record of dates on which Tax Commissioner Mountjoy visited households in his district, we have no clue whether these two men lived near one another. Sparks marriages in early Bourbon County were published in the Quarterly of December 1985, Whole No.132, pp.2824-26. At least five of these marriages probably pertain to the families of one or both of these two men named William Sparks.
George Sparks and Elizabeth Wells, June 14, 1791. Bondsman: William Perrin.
John Sparks and Katy Waddel, August 22, 1792. Bondsman: James Cleaver.
Fayette County, Virginia (later Kentucky)
Long claimed by Virginia as part of her vast Augusta County, Fayette County was later made part of Fincastle County. During Daniel Boone's explorations of the area in the 1760s, it was designated as Kentucky County. In 1780, Kentucky County was divided into three counties: Fayette, Jefferson, and Lincoln. As noted above under Bourbon County, Bourbon had been cut off from Fayette in 1786. Today, Fayette County adjoins Scott County on the north, Bourbon County on the northeast, Clark on the east, Madison on the south, Jessamine on the southwest, and Woodford on the west. When the 1787 tax was taken in Virginia, Fayette County was divided into three tax districts. A taxpayer named Sparks was found only in one of the three.
Isaac Sparks was the only person named Sparks appearing on the 1787 tax rolls of Fayette County; he was visited by a tax commissioner (name not recorded) on July 7. It was reported that, besides his poll tax (tithable), he was taxed for one horse and 6 cattle. Living in his household was a male between 16 and 21 years of age.
Editor's Note: We are able to identify this F. Isaac Sparks. He had been born ca. 1740 and died ca. 1815. It appears that he lived in that part of Fayette County that was cut off to form Clark County in 1793. He lived in that part of Clark County from which Estill County was formed, also with a portion of Madison County, in 1808. It was in Estill County that he died ca. 1815. He probably died on the same land where he had been taxed in 1787--counties had changed. Tax records of Estill County reveal that after 1810 Isaac Sparks was excused from paying taxes because of "age and infirmity." Records pertaining to Isaac Sparks and many of his descendants were published in the Quarterly in 1974, the March and June issues, whole numbers 85 and 86.
Lincoln County, Virginia (later Kentucky)
Lincoln County, Virginia, was created in 1780 when Kentucky County was divided into three counties, Fayette and Jefferson being the other two. Unfortunately, the 1787 tax records for Jefferson County have been lost. These three counties had been further divided into nine counties by 1790, Madison and Mercer having been carved from Lincoln, both in 1786. Today there are no fewer than 39 counties that were once contained in Lincoln, along with portions of 8 others. It is thus extremely difficult to determine where it was on today's map that the one Sparks taxed in Lincoln County in 1787 was living.
Thomas Sparks was listed on the 1787 tax list for Lincoln County. He was visited by Tax Commissioner William Lewis on June 12, 1787, Lewis being commissioner for one of the three tax districts in Lincoln County. Besides his poll tax, Thomas Sparks was taxed for 3 horses and 11 cattle.
Editor's Note: It was also in 1787 that Thomas Sparks served as bondsman for the marriage of John Ping, Jr. and Elizabeth Bryant in Lincoln County dated April 5 of that year. John Ping, Jr. (as well as John Ping, Sr.) appeared on the 1787 tax list of Lincoln County, but in the district assigned to John Bryant. (Might he have been the father of Elizabeth Bryant?) A descendant of John, Jr. and Elizabeth (Bryant) Ping reported many years ago that Elizabeth may have been the granddaughter of James Bryant, Sr. who died in Powhatan County, Virginia, in 1783. This James Bryant, Sr. had mentioned in his will a granddaughter named Elizabeth Bryant, daughter of his son, Thomas Bryant.
Tax records for Lincoln County continue to include Thomas Sparks between 1788 to 1793.
We have the record of one early Sparks marriage in Lincoln County. This is a marriage bond for 16.1 David Sparks and Araminta Cox, with Thomas Cox serving as bondsman, dated December 30, 1797. It is highly doubtful, however, that there was any close relationship between Thomas Sparks and David Sparks. As was reported in the Quarterly of June 1955, Whole No. 10, pp.76-77, the family Bible of David and Araminta ["Minta"] Sparks survives, and their family record therein was copied for us by their great-great-granddaughter, Mrs. Helen A. Spraker, now deceased. David and Araminta were married, according to the Bible record, on January 2, 1798, three days after the marriage bond had been obtained in Lincoln County, Kentucky.
David Sparks was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on August 11, 1770. He was a son of Joseph and Mary Sparks. Araminta Cox had been born on December 18, 1774, and was a daughter of Edward and Susie Cox. About 1815, David Sparks moved his family to St. Clair County, Illinois, and it was there that he died on April 25, 1845. The Bible record contains the names and dates of birth of their nine children. These may be found on page 77 of the Quarterly.