April 22, 2021
Whole Number 193
JESSE SPARKS (DIED 1824)
OF GREENVILLE COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA
by Russell B. Bidlack
In the Sparks Quarterly of December 1989, Whole No. 148, pp. 3512, we published a query regarding the parentage of a 110. John Sparks who was born ca. 1802. We noted that when the 1850 census was taken, his place of birth was shown as South Carolina, but on the 1860 census it was given as Kentucky. We knew that he was in Pickins County, Alabama, in 1835 when he purchased land there. by that time he had been married to Elizabeth Webb; her maiden name was given on the death certificate of their son, Matthew Sparks, who died in Pickins County on November 12, 1891, a copy of which has been provided by Tonya Sparks Reep of Warren, Arkansas. John and Elizabeth spent the remainder of their lives in Pickins County, both dying there between 1860 and 1870. They were the parents of nine children born between ca. 1827 and ca. 1848, the first two of whom, James and John, Jr., had been born in Kentucky according to census records, while the other seven were born in Alabama. These seven were named:
110.1 James Sparks,
110.2 John Sparks, Jr.
110.3 Mary A. Sparks,
110.4 Eli Sparks,
110.5 Minerva C. Sparks,
110.6 Catherine Sparks,
110.7 Diadema Sparks,
110.8 Matthew Sparks, and
110.9 William Harvey Sparks.
A more detailed record of these children of John and Elizabeth Sparks can be found in the Quarterly cited above.
In this query in 1989, we speculated that 110. John Sparks might have been a son of Jesse Sparks of Greenville County, South Carolina, whose will there, dated November 5, 1824, included a reference to his four children in Kentucky named John, Isabella, Elsa, and Polly. Jesse mentioned these children in his will as an apparent afterthought, suggesting that he had had little personal contact with them over the years. He left only one dollar to each of them.
We now have considerably more information regarding Jesse Sparks and his separation from these four children born to his first wife, Isabella (Armstrong) Sparks. She had died in Greenville County, South Carolina, prior to July 1809, after which Armstrong relatives had taken the four Sparks children into their homes. Later, when members of the Armstrong family moved to Christian County, Kentucky, they had taken the four Sparks children with them. If we are correct that circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that the John Sparks of the 1989 query was, indeed, a son of Jesse Sparks, it may explain why John Sparks's place of birth was later confused in census records (South Carolina or Kentucky). We will document these events later in the present article.
Our earliest record of Jesse Sparks in Greenville County, South Carolina, is a deed dated June 13, 1797, by which he purchased from William Cox, Jr. for 50 pounds, a tract of land comprising 200 acres on a branch of Reedy Fork of Reedy River. (Book N, p.335) Both Jesse Sparks and William Cox, Jr. were identified in the deed as residents of Greenville District, the judicial area that included Greenville County. The witnesses to this deed were Benj. Pollard, Sr., George Craft, and Abraham Cox. From later records, we know that Jesse Sparks spent the remainder of his life in Greenville County.
Other Sparkses In Greenville County Not To Be Confused With Jesse
Three years prior to the above record of Jesse Sparks's presence in Greenville County two brothers from Georgia appeared there, and because there is a slight possibillty that there was a family relationship among these men, we give information here regarding these Georgia Sparks brothers named John Sparks and Matthew J. Sparks. John and Matthew J. Sparks were sons of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. The parents had migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin River in North Carolina in 1754. John had been born there in 1755 while Matthew J. Sparks had been born there in 1759. They were among the eldest of the eleven sons of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks. John Sparks married Mary Parmely in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1781 (marriage bond dated August 14, 1781) and Matthew J. Sparks married Margaret Traylor there ca. 1782. (An article on this John Sparks and his descendants appeared in the
Quarterly of March 1966, No.53, pp.960-68, although we thought then that he had been born before his parents left Maryland. An article on Matthew J. Sparks and his descendants appeared in the September 1984 issue of the Quarterly, No. 127, pp.2644-69.)
Matthew J. Sparks had accompanied his parents and several siblings in their move ca. 1784 from North Carolina to land located east of the Oconee River in Franklin County, Georgia, now Clarke County, near the present town of Athens. John Sparks had remained in North Carolina until 1791 when he had joined his parents and siblings in Georgia. The land on which the Sparkses settled had been occupied by the Creek Indians, and in 1793 the elder Matthew Sparks was killed during an Indian attack, after which his widow and sons fled from the area. John and Matthew J. Sparks came together with their families to Greenville District in South Carolina in 1794.
On February 17, 1794, John Sparks purchased two tracts of land in Greenville District adjoining land owned by John Childress "on Beaverdam Creek, a branch of Tygar River." (Greenville County Deed Book C, p.432 and p.433) There were two deeds, in each of which John Sparks was identified as a resident of Greenville District whereas the man from whom he purchased the land, John Stiles, was from Oglethorpe County, Georgia. For the first tract of 380 acres, Sparks paid Stiles 200 pounds; for the second tract of 240 acres he paid only 10 pounds. The witnesses for both deeds were Matthew J. and Margaret Sparks. John Stiles's wife, Agnes, signed these deeds with her husband--both by mark. It is possible that John Sparks had known John Stiles in Georgia because Oglethorpe County and Clarke County adjoin.
We know from the Revolutionary War pension application of Matthew J. Sparks made in 1832 that he and Margaret remained in Greenville County "seven or eight years" before moving to Jackson County, Georgia. John Sparks remained in Greenville County until shortly after the 1830 census was taken when he moved with his wife, whose nickname was Mollie, to Franklin County, Alabama, to live with their son, William Sparks (1782-1857). There John died in February 1831. It is from his tombstone in the Sparks Cemetery near Russeilville, Alabama, that we have learned his year of birth as 1755; his wife lived until 1853. It is from the pension application of Matthew J. Sparks that we have his year of birth as 1759.
Although it would seem possible, even likely, that Jesse Sparks was related in some way to John and Matthew J. Sparks, we have found no evidence of a relationship. Since Jesse must have been of age (21) when he purchased land in Greenville District in 1797, we do not believe he could have been a son of either John or Matthew J. Sparks. Likewise, he could not have been a brother because Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks had a son named Jesse Sparks (1773-1858). A record of this Jesse Sparks and his descendants appeared in the Quarterly of March 1990, No.149, pp.3530-53 and the issue for September 1990, No. 151, pp.3630-49. He went from Georgia to Hickman County, Tennessee; we have a complete list of his children by each of two wives.
We Now Return to Jesse Sparks (Died 1824)
As will be discussed in greater detail later in this article, we know that Jesse Sparks of Greenville County, South Carolina, was married, first, probably in the mid-1790s, to Isabella Armstrong. Her nickname was "Ibe." Jesse Sparks was listed as heading a household in Greenville County when the 1800 census was taken. His age was given as between 16 and 26, placing his birth between 1774 and 1784. Because he must have been at least 21 years of age when he purchased land in 1797, he was born ca. 1775, if the census taker recorded his age in the correct category. The female enumerated in his household in 1800, who was doubtless his wife, Isabella, was shown as between 26 and 45 years of age. If accurately recorded, Isabella must have been somewhat older than Jesse. There were three children in Jesse's household in 1800, all under the age of 10 years, two boys and one girl. From later records, it seems probable that one of the boys died in youth and that two other daughters were born after 1800. The four children of Jesse and Isabella named in Jesse's will were:
EIsa Sparks, and
Polly Sparks. ("Polly" was a commonly used nickname for Mary.)
Early in the 1800s, Isabella died, and Jesse was married later to the widow of Daniel Cockrum whose maiden name had been Judith Cooley. Her nickname was "Juda" or "Judy." by Judith, Jesse was the father of two children according to his will.
Here we quote in full the will of Jesse Sparks since it proves to be a vital document in identifying his family members. The recorded copy is found in Greenville County Will Book B, p.68.
In the name of God Amen
I Jesse Sparks of the state of South Carolina and district of Greenville - being weak of body but of perfect mind and memory, and knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die - do therefore make and ordain this to be my Last Will and testament - first recommending my soul to God who gave it, and my body to be buried in a decent christian like manner - Second as touching the worldly Estate wherewith God has blessed me after the payment of my just debts in whatever way may appear most advantageous to my Executors, I leave it in toto, that is to say all my goods and chattels monies debts and dues and property of every description both real and personal to my beloved wife Juda Sparks during her life time or widowhood, to have and to hold the same as above without hindrance or control. Thirdly at the decease or marriage of the sd. Juda - then the property of every description as it is then, to be sold by the surviving Executor or Administrator and Equally divided between my two children Jacob Sparks and Sarah Sparks, and in case of the death of either everything is then to devolve to the other - provided nevertheless that if the sd Jacob and Sarah are of age at the time of distribution they can then settle without the aid of an Executer or Administrator - Fourthly I do appoint my beloved wife Juda Sparks and my friend Jacob Cooley to be my Executors to put this will in Execution according to the true Intent and meaning thereof this 5th November 1824. Witness my hand and seal.
On hearing the above Items read and recollecting that I have children in Kentucky, namely John, Isabella, Elsa and Polly Sparks, for certain reasons I do fifthly will and bequeath to the sd. John Sparks, Isabella Sparks, EIsa Sparks and Polly Sparks, at the decease of my wife Juda, one dollar each the above items then to stand as above expressed.
Witness my hand and Seal day and date above written.
Signed and sealed in presence his
Enos Cothran [i.e., Cockrum] Jesse X Sparks (L.S.)
Dennis Crain mark
Enos Cockrum was a son of Juda Sparks by her first husband, Daniel Cockrum, while Dennis Crain was her son-in-law.
The will of Jesse Sparks was filed for probate on December 14, 1824. It was recorded in Greenville County Will Book B, page 68 (Department 7, File 451).
As seen in his will, Jesse Sparks left everything that he owned to his second wife, Judith ["Juda"] (Cooley) Sparks, "to have and to hold....without hindrance or control," but he directed that with her death or remarriage, his property "as it is then" should be sold and the proceeds equally divided between his and Juda's two children, Jacob Sparks and Sarah Sparks. That Jacob and Sarah were not yet of age in 1824 is indicated by his provision "that if the sd. Jacob and Sarah are of age at the time of distribution, they can then settle without the aid of an Executor or administrator." He then appointed Juda and "my friend Jacob Cooley to be my Executors." The latter was Jacob Cooley, Jr., who was a brother of his wife; Juda and Jacob, Jr.'s father, Jacob Cooley, Sr., had died in Greenville County in 1816.
Because Jesse Sparks signed his will by mark, we can be sure that he had told someone, what provisions he wanted included in his will, and that person then wrote the will for him. It is apparent that before Jesse made his mark, what had been written for him was read aloud to him and his two witnesses, Enos Cockrum and Dennis Crain. It was then that he directed that mention be made of his children in Kentucky. Although he did not identify them as children by his first wife, we know from other documents that their mother had been Jesse's first wife, Isabella ["Ibe"] Armstrong. Perhaps Jesse was reminded by one of his witnesses that he should provide at least a token inheritance for these four children because, following his death, they might claim that Jesse had simply forgotten to include them in the division of his estate and demand their rightful share of his estate.
Although Jesse Sparks did not reveal in his will where in Kentucky his four children were living, we have learned that they were in Christian County, Kentucky. Our source is the record of a lawsuit brought against the estate of Matthew Armstrong by one Benjamin Armstrong. (See Christian County, Kentucky, Will Book G, p.375.
This writer is deeply indebted to two researchers in identifying Jesse Sparks's first wife, Isabella Armstrong, a daughter of Matthew Armstrong, They are Peggy B. Chapman of Lubbock, Texas, and Jeannie Lancaster of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, who have shared copies of documents that they have located.
Matthew Armstrong died in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1826 without leaving a will. This was two years after Jesse Sparks died In Greenville County, South Carolina. It was in the February 1831 term of the Christian County Court that Benjamin Armstrong brought suit against the heirs of Matthew Armstrong. Benjamin Armstrong was the guardian of Alsey Sparks (nickname for Elsa Sparks). A son of Matthew, John Armstrong, had become administrator of his father's estate, so the suit was primarily against him. It was dismissed, however, by the Christian County Circuit Court in 1831, after which John Armstrong was able to settle his father's estate. It was in this suit that the heirs of Matthew Armstrong were named, including the four children "of Ibe [Isabella], dec'd." Ibe, or Isabella, Armstrong's children were identified in this document as "John Sparks, Isabella Sparks, Elisha Gillum and Polly his wife, heirs of Jesse Sparks, decd. and James Bowden and Alsey his wife." [Punctuation has been added in this quotation.
While the wording is confusing., Alsey. wife of James Bowden, was the fourth child of Jesse and Isabella ["Ibe"] (Armstrong) Sparks. "Alsey" was a nickname for the Elsa Sparks identified in Jesse Sparks's will as one of his Kentucky children. The husbands of female heirs were then considered to be the financial pagesors of their wives in matters of inheritance.
Isabella Sparks, the daughter of Jesse and Isabella, who obviously had been named for her mother, was unmarried in 1831 when the estate was finally settled, while her sisters, Polly and Alsey, had husbands. Jeannie Lancaster reports that there is a marriage record dated March 3, 1827, in Christian County for Polly Sparks and Elisha D. Gillum. John Sparks, Polly's brother, was their bondsman. by 1850, Polly had died; Elisha Gillum, age 46, was then living in Trigg County, Kentucky. Living in his household were Sarah J. Gillum, age 19; John C. Gillum, age 17; Preston M. Gillum, age 13; and Joseph S. Gillum, age 1 year. Sarah may have been a second wife of Elisha. The adjoining household consisted of Sarah Gillum, age 81, a native of Virginia. Was she the mother of Elisha D. Gillum?
Ms. Lancaster has also noted that James Bowden, husband of Alsey Sparks, was probably intended for James Bourland, son of Archibald Bourland. There is a marriage record in Christian County, Kentucky, for Alsey Sparks and James S. Bourland, with her guardian, Benjamin Armstrong, giving his consent for the marriage, dated May 8, 1820. Alsey Sparks was probably under the age of marriage at that time, requiring consent from her guardian. This is the same Benjamin Armstrong who brought suit against the estate of Matthew Armstrong.
Matthew Armstong, father of Isabella, the first wife of Jesse Sparks, had been in Greenville County, South Carolina, when both the 1790 and the 1800 censuses were taken. In 1800, in fact, Matthew Armstrong was shown on page 280 of that census while Jesse Sparks appeared on page 282, proving that they lived near each other.
Peggy Chapman has found another record in Greenville County that connects Jesse Sparks with Matthew Armstrong. It is a record of the sale of the estate of a man named Henry Linderman dated November 12, 1800. (See Will Book A, p.171, record ed November 12, 1800.) For persons making purchases at this sale, but not paying on the spot, a neighbor was required to serve as security, thus assuring that the buyer would pay for the item in due course. At this sale, Jesse Sparks made one or more purchases amounting to $2.12 1/2. It was Matthew Armstrong who became his security. Matthew Armstrong himself purchased items amounting to $12.41 1/4, with David Massa as his security.
Isabella (Armstrong) Sparks had died prior to July 1809,. for on that day Jesse Sparks sold 100 acres of land on Ready Fork to Abraham Cox for $120. (Greenville County Deed Book N, p.338.) It was Judith ["Juda"] Sparks who signed this deed as Jesse's wife, thus relinquishing her dower right to the land. On March 18, 1811, Jesse sold another 100 acres, on Golden Glove Creek, for $150 to Richard Roberts. (Greenville County Deed Book I, p.227.) Juda Sparks also signed this deed as Jesse's wife, relinquishing her dower rights. Both Jesse and Juda signed by mark. Mrs. Chapman believes that: these tracts, described as"on the waters of the Saluda River," had belonged to Juda's first husband, Daniel Cockrum.
With the death of his first wife, Isabella, which probably occurred between 1805 and 1808, Jesse Sparks had been left with four small children: John, Isabella, Polly, and EIsa ["Alsey"]. We can easily imagine that Armstrong relatives then took these children into their homes. by 1811, Matthew Armstrong had moved from Greenville County, South Carolina, to Christian County, Kentucky. Ms. Lancaster has found him on an 1811 tax list there. It is apparent that other members of the Armstrong family either accompanied or followed Matthew in this move to a new frontier. It is also apparent that the four children of Jesse Sparks accompanied their maternal grandparents, uncles and aunts, in this move. From the wording of Jesse Sparks's will, it is apparent that he had little contact with these children as the years went by.
When the 1810 census was taken in Greenville County, Jesse Sparks's household was enumerated as follows:
The household of Jesse Sparks as enumerated on the 1810 census:
1 male, age 16 to 26 (doubtless Jesse himself)
3 males, age 10 to 16 (doubtless Jud&s son by first marriage)
2 males, under 10 years of age (Jacob Sparks & a son of Juda)
1 female, age over 45
1 female, age 26 to 45 (probably Juda, Jesse's second wife)
1 female, age 10 to 16
2 females, under 10 years of age (perhaps Sarah Sparks and Lydia, daughter of Juda)
Juda, second wife of Jesse, had been a widow of Daniel Cockrum by whom she bore six children between ca. 1790 and 1805 named John W. David, Enos, Hezikiah, Daniel, and Lydia.
Based on the research of Peggy Chapman, there can be no doubt but that Juda was a daughter of Jacob Cooley, Sr. and his wife, Sarah Jordan, who were in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, as early as 1777. A deed there (Book 4, p.389) indicates that Jacob Cooley had been originally from Amherst County, Virginia. On July 22, 1777, Jacob Cooley, Sr. purchased from Arthur Fuller "about 270 acres on the head branches of Sandy River" in Pittsylvania County. Before 1790, Cooley had moved to Greenville County, South Carolina, where, on May 1, 1790, he purchased 50 acres on Rocky Fork of Golden Glove River. It is interesting to note, as stated earlier, that the land that Jesse Sparks and his wife Juda sold in 1809 and 1811 was also on Rocky Fork of Golden Glove River.
Jacob Cooley, Sr. made an undated will that was proven in the Greenville District Court on February 28, 1816. In his will, Cooley mentioned his son, Jacob Cooley, Jr. along with his living daughters, although he did not include their married names; he simply listed them as: Glatha, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Juda. (Will Book A, p.255) At Jacob's estate sale, the buyers included Jesse Sparks; he bought a plow for 59 cents and a chest for 32 1/2 cents. More significantly, however, is the entry at the top of this list: "Jesse Sparks for the rent of land, $13.15 1/4," Jesse was obviously renting land owned by his father-in-law. This sales list is reproduced on the following page from a photocopy obtained by Peggy Chapman. (Book A, p.153)
Except for his token gift of $1.00 to each of his four children by his first wife, which they probably never collected, Jesse Sparks left his property "both real and personal " to his wife, Juda, " during her life time or widowhood to have and to hold the same... without hindrance or control." At Juda's death or her remarriage, however, Jesse directed that the executor of his estate should sell his "property of every description as it is then" with the proceeds of the sale to be divided between his and Juda's two children, Jacob Sparks and Sarah Sparks. He designated Juda and her brother, Jacob Cooley, Jr., as his executors. With the probating of Jesse's estate, the Greenville District Court directed one of the justices, Robert Nelson, and two other men, William Few, Sr. and John Dunahoo, to appraise Jesse's personal property. This was done promptly on December 29, 1824. The list was short, as follows:
House hold furniture
Photocopy of Sale Bill of the estate of Jacob Cooley, Sr. (Page 5495)
Personal property of Jesse Sparks appraised for widow to sell to pay debts, continued from page 5494:
A lot of father [i.e., fodder]
Earlier we noted that Jesse Sparks had died within a few weeks after making his will. On the same day that his widow, Juda Sparks, appeared before the Greenville District Court to present his will to be entered for probate (December 14, 1824), she also signed by mark a request that, as co-executor, she be permitted to sell part of her husband's personal property to pay certain debts. Permission was granted by the Court, and a sale was conducted.
A document preserved by the Court dated January 23, 1826, called "First years Return of the Receipts & Expenditures of the Estate of Jesse Sparks, Decd." and signed by Juda (by mark), reveals that four men had paid her a total of $184.37 1/2 for unidentified items in the estate. They were: John W. Cockrum, $130.00; Hezi kiah Cockrum, $5.50; Solomon Dill, $11.87 1/2; and Spartan Goodlet, $37.10. She reported having paid off the debts, including $5.00 to Wm. Berry for Jesse's coffin.
It will be recalled that in his will, Jesse had directed that Juda and Jacob Cooley serve as co-executors. Jacob Cooley, who had been called "Jr." prior to his father's death in 1816, was Juda's brother. Young Cooley had made his own will on February 2, 1826; it was probated on June 19, 1826, by the Greenville District Court. (Book B, p.88) Thus, with her brother's death, Juda was left as the sole executor (executrix) of the estate of her deceased husband.
As executrix of Jesse's estate, Juda made a report to the Greenville Court regarding her actions in this role on October 31, 1826, entitled "Second Year Return of the Estate of Jesse Sparks, decd. by Judy Sparks now Cockrum." It is highly significant that her name appeared here as "Judy Sparks now Cockrum." It is thus that we learn that Juda had been married, apparently for a third time, less than two years following Jesse Sparks's death. From other records, we know that her new husband was Hezikiah Cockrum, who is believed to have been a brother of her first husband, Daniel Cockrum.
It was required at that time that a married woman's husband co-sign all legal documents involving any inheritance she might receive. The signatures on this 1826 document, both by mark, were "Juda Cockrum" and "Hezikiah Cockrum." [We have used the spelling of this name as it was later standardized; here it seems to have been written "Cothum."]
Under the terms of Jesse Sparks's will, his wife, Juda Sparks., was to have control of his estate, but at her "decease or marriage," if either occurred before their two children, Jacob and Sarah Sparks, had come of age, the remaining executor would be legally required to sell what property remained and divide the proceeds between Jacob and Sarah. Also, Jesse Sparks had directed in his will that if either Jacob or Sarah Sparks died, "everything is then to devolve to the other." From a subsequent document, we learn that Jacob Sparks, son of Jesse, had died shortly after the death of his father. So it was that Jesse's daughter, Sarah Sparks, should now, with her mother's remarriage, become the sole heir of her father's estate. Meanwhile, however, her step-father, Hezikiah Cockrum, now assumed the role of executor and heir to Jesse's estate.
On January 16, 1827, Hezikiah Cockrum sold to William Crain, Jr. [sometimes spelled Crane], a tract of 100 acres of land located on the "north side of Thompson's Beaver Dam Creek" in lower Greenville County. (Book P, p.280) This tract had been purchased ten years earlier by Hezikiah, but the significance of this sale is the fact that William Crain either was, or would soon be, married to Sarah Sparks, daughter of Jesse, to whom her father's estate now rightfully belonged. The date of the marriage of William Crain and Sarah Sparks has not been discovered. (Book P, p.280) We do know, however, that they were married before September 30, 1830, for on that date a justice of the peace in Greenville County named John Watson, on behalf of "William Crain and Sarah his wife, formerly Sarah Sparks," registered a complaint before the Greenville District Court that the provisions in Jesse Sparks's will of 1824 affecting his daughter. Sarah, had not been carried out following the marriage of Sarah's mother to Hezikiah Cockrum. A copy of Jesse Sparks's will made by John Watson was presented to the Court to prove his point.
It was in this complaint, which was signed by William Crain as well as John Watson, that the statement appears that Sarah's brother, "Jacob Sparks died shortly after his father, whereby Sarah Crain had become entitled to the whole property on the death or marriage of Juda Sparks, widow of the said Jesse Sparks."
Jesse's most valuable personal property when he died had been his slave, Dorcus, and her two childen, valued at $530.00 according to the inventory. The slave children's names, according to this 1830 document, were Harriett and Anderson.
In response to the Greenville District Court's acceptance of the complaint of William Crain through Justice of the Peace Watson, notice was taken of an earlier document dated September 17, 1829. Witnessed by John W. Croft and William Bain, this 1829 document stated that at the marriage of Hezikiah and Juda it had been agreed by them that Hezikiah should "take a certain negro girl named Dorcus and defry [sic] the Expenses of said negro for the services of the same during the pleasure of his wife." It had been stated, also, that "if the said Negro shall have any children... the said Cockrum did agree to keep said negros free of charges in his possession, also any other charges against the Estate of Jesse Sparks." this latter statement apparently applied to the livestock Jesse had owned. (This document is reproduced on the following page.)
It was J. W. Croft, an "Acting Justice," who did the writing of this 1829 document describing this earlier agreement. and on which Hezikiah and Juda signed their names by mark. It was based on "...the agreement above alluded to between your orator and the said Hezikiah Cockrum that he refuses to account to your orator for the horses & cattle, household and kitchen furniture which went into his possession on the intermarriage with the said Juda Sparks and which he has sold or converted to his own use as which was done while your oratrix [Sarah] was a minor incapable of protecting her rights."
We may wonder why this agreement was not made a matter of record at the time it supposedly had been prepared at the the marriage of Hezikiah and Juda.
It appears that so long as her mother, Juda, was living, Sarah (Sparks) Crain did not make further demand for a final settlement of her father's estate, but by March 17, 1838, Juda had died, yet Hezikiah Cockrum continued to refuse to abide by the provisions of Jesse Sparks's will and to give Sarah her rightful inheritance.
It was on March 17, 1838, that William and Sarah (Sparks) Crain appealed to the Court of Equity of the State of South Carolina to demand, at last, a settlement from Hezikiah Cockrum. This appeal provides a detailed history of this controversy and from it we learn a number of interesting details not known earlier. For example, William and Sarah acknowledged that when they had been married, "one of the children of the said negro woman Dorcas was given to your Oratrix and your orator by the said Hezikiah Cockrum & his wife Juda." (The old legal terms of "orator" and "oratrix" in making "a complaint in a chancery proceeding" are used throughout this document.)
PHOTOCOPY (Page 5498)
Marital Agreement Between Hezekiah Cockrum & Juda Sparks
William and Sarah (Sparks) Crain also noted in their appeal to the Court of Equity in 1838 that at the time of their marriage William Crain had agreed:
that the said negro woman Dorcas should remain in the possession of the said Juda Cockrum and your orator gave his approbation to this effect. He also transferred his right, or sold, one of the children of the said Dorcus, to the said Hezikiah Cockrum in payment of some demands which the said Hezikiah protested to have against the estate of the said Jesse Sparks.
Meanwhile, a third child had been born to Dorcas between 1824 and 1838, and William and Sarah had agreed that Hezekiah might claim "a reasonable compensation" for "raising" this slave child.
William and Sarah Crain also stated in their appeal to the Court that neighbors had told them "that the said Hezikiah Cockrum has threatened to run off and sell the negro woman & her child." To pages them from this possible loss, William and Sarah Crain begged the Court of Equity to issue a restraining order preventing Hezikiah from leaving the state.
The Court acted promptly on the Crains' behalf, and on March 24, 1838, Hezikiah was required to sign, with his usual mark, a bond with John Cockrum and Isaiah Cox serving as his securities, binding the three of them to pay George F. Francis, Esquire, Commissioner in Equity "the full and just sum of One Thousand dollars." Only with Hezikiah's transfer to William and Sarah Crain of the ownership of "a negro woman Dorcas and her child" would this bond be cancelled.
On April 27, 1838, William Crain, Jr. signed a Court receipt acknowledging that he had, indeed, received from Hezikiah Cockrum "the woman Dorcas and child in full satisfaction." Apparently William and Sarah had given up obtaining the livestock and other property that should have been transferred to Sarah when her mother had remarried.
[Editor's Note: We have no further information regarding the children of Jesse Sparks other than what we have noted in this article. We will welcome any information that any reader might contribute on this branch of the Sparks family.]