April 30, 2021
Whole Number 194
A FAMILY TRADITION REGARDING THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE
DEATH OF JOSIAH A. SPARKS, JR.
IN MISSOURI IN 1864
In Quarterlies of December 1979, Whole No. 108, and the March 1980, Whole No. 109, we published a lengthy article by the late Paul E. Sparks devoted to 17.2.7 Josiah A. Sparks, born August 26, 1761 and died May 17, 1841, of Adair County, Kentucky. Following the birth of his son of the same name, he was called 17.2.7 Josiah A. Sparks, Sr. He and his wife, Susannah Phillips, were the parents of a large family, including the son named 18.104.22.168 Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. It was in the March 1980 issue that we published the portion of Paul's article devoted to Josiah A. Sparks, Jr., beginning on page 2178.
Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. was born January 24, 1806, in South Carolina. Paul noted that he had gone with his parents when they moved from South Carolina to Tennessee and then on to Adair County, Kentucky, where, on October 18, 1827, Josiah, Jr. married Anna Gilkey. Born on October 11, 1803, in South Carolina, Anna was a daughter of Jonathan Henry and Mary (Griggs) Gilkey. Photographs of Josiah A., Jr. and Anna Sparks appeared on the cover of the March 1980 issue of the Quarterly. They were the parents of eleven children:
22.214.171.124.1 James A. Sparks, born July 24, 1828. He probably died quite young.
126.96.36.199.2 John R. Sparks, born ca. 1829. He married Priscilla H. Reece.
188.8.131.52.3 Oney Emily Sparks, born August 31, 1831.
184.108.40.206.4 Thomas J. Sparks, born ca. 1833. He is said to have "gone west." Information about his possibly being the Thomas Dean Sparks of Buchanan County, Missouri, when the 1870 census was taken, appeared on page 2180 of the Quarterly for March 1980, Whole No. 109.
220.127.116.11.5 Jonathan Sparks, born ca. 1835. Relatives remember vaguely that he went to California.
18.104.22.168.6 Mary Susan Sparks, born January 9, 1837. She married Benjamin Paxton according to the research of Paul B Sparks, however, in the settlement of her father's estate, when a list of the heirs of Josiah, Jr. was prepared in 1864, she was called Mary Susan West. Andrew W. West was appointed administrator of the estate of Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. on November 26, 1864, but resigned that post a year later, and Daniel Biddlecome was appointed in his place. Was Andrew W. West the husband of Mary Susan Sparks?
22.214.171.124.7 William Jasper Sparks, born January 17, 1838. He was married first to Eliza Jane Duncan, and second to Elizabeth A. (Smiley) Lampton.
126.96.36.199.8 Josiah P. Sparks was born ca. 1840.
188.8.131.52.9 Elizabeth Jane Sparks, born ca. 1843. She married Richard McDermott.
184.108.40.206.10 Sarah F. Sparks, born ca. 1845. She married Nathan Hottell.
220.127.116.11.11 George W. Sparks, born ca. 1847. He married Elizabeth Humbard.
Additional information about these eleven children of Josiah A., Jr. and Anna (Gilkey) Sparks appeared in the Quarterly of March 1980. The first eight were born in Adair County, Kentucky; the last three in Missouri. See page 5537 for a photocopy of the statement made by Andrew W. West regarding the heirs then (1864) living of Josiah Sparks, Jr.
It had been soon after the death of his father in Adair County, Kentucky, ca. 1841, that Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. moved with his family to Missouri, settling on the Lawrence/Jasper Counties line, close to present-day Sarcoxi, although at least one of his children, John R. Sparks, remained in Kentucky.
In Paul E. Sparks's record of Josiah A. Sparks, Jr., he erroneously stated that Josiah had once served as sheriff of Lawrence County, Missouri. This was correted on page 5393 of the June 2000 issue of the Quarterly.
Regarding the death of Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. on October 18, 1864, Paul stated on page 2179 of the Quarterly that he had been a victim of the strife of the Civil War in the divided state of Missouri and "was killed by guerillas." We are grateful to Association member Pastor Joe Sparks of Ignacio, Colorado, for sharing with us a family tradition revealing the circumstances of Josiah's death. Pastor Sparks is a descendant of Josiah through his youngest child, George Washington Sparks (1847-1915.) In giving your editor permission to publish this account, Pastor Sparks has written:
I am just relating what has been told to the family verbally for years and was reaffirmed at a 1999 Sparks Reunion. There were family members from several descendants of the George Washington Sparks line present, and all agreed on the story. We were assembled in the Stotts City Cemetery around his grave. The stories told there were first-hand accounts of memories of the stories they had heard as children. Many a time the cousins have gotten together and compared their stories only to find that they were completely accurate from family to family.
Pastor Joe Sparks recorded the following in his journal in the evening following this family reunion:
Today, following a leisurely morning and wonderful Sunday services at the motel hospitality room, a good number of the eighty-some relatives took a trip to the Sarcoxie, Missouri, area. The group was led by, and relied on the memories of, survivors of three of the George Washington Sparks family. Three of Orval Ray's children: Girvan Ray (born September 21, 1922), Carroll Paul (born October 6, 1924), and Mary Elizabeth (born October 4, 1926). Richard "Frank"s children:
Rexel Franklin, Avrit George, Orval, and Lee Otis. Pearl Giflock's grandchildren: Margaret and Jane Gillock. The late Lawrence Gilock was known for his ability to reliably recite Sparks family history, and he obviously passed it on to his girls. The trip consisted of a tour of the cemeteries in the area of the original Sparks homestead. I will include directions to the various stops so that others may know a little of the area.
The first stop was the Moore Cemetery in Lawrence County. One takes 1-44 from Springfield toward Joplin, Missouri, and takes the exit #38 North 2 miles to Stotts City. We turned west on Farm Road 2120 and proceeded for 1~ miles to the gate for the cemetery, which was a rather pretty wrought iron work, which was painted white. About ~ mile South down this lane brings us to a little cemetery beside an old school building in disrepair. Here we stood around the grave of Josiah Aaron Sparks, Jr. and listened to Marilyn Gillock read from a book on the Civil War history of this area, which told the story of his death.
The Sparks family had taken a couple of the Humbard boys (possibly Elizabeth Humbard Sparks's brothers?) whom they raised as their own until this fateful night.
A group of Confederate guerrillas led by ~ne of the Humbard boys came to the Sparks home looking for gold that old Josiah was supposed to have hidden on the property. They eventually came to the realization that the elder man would not give them the gold or its whereabouts. As the group turned to leave, the Humbard boy turned and stated loudly, "Anyone that damned fat doesn't deserve to live" and shot him dead. James Humbard, the other boy who was being raised by Josiah, Jr. and Anna Sparks, turned and ran toward the orchard to hide. His brother shot him in the back, where he slid under a gate to the orchard, dead.
After the group of guerrillas left the farm, the elder Humbard boy left the country. The family tradition has it that one of the Sparks boys (unknown which) followed him all the way to Texas, riding one horse after another down, and then trading them for fresh ones along the way. He caught the Humbard boy at the gate of the house he was staying at and told him, "You shot my father, and now you'll die for it." He shot and killed him there, and then went back home to Missouri.
The night Josiah Sparks, Jr. and James Humbard died, the women were the ones that were allowed out to bury the dead. They carried Josiah Sparks to the Moore Cemetery, and they took James Humbard to the Cave Springs Cemetery. Burial in the Moore Cemetery was hard due to the fear of the guerrillas' return, and also the solid rock about four feet down. The women probably didn't bury Josiah very deep due to this fact. The grave is 3rd row to the right of the gate. A new head stone was placed several years back due to erosion on the original stone. It is still there at the foot of the grave, but is almost unreadable.
Along the way to the next stop, we paused at the side of the farm road a couple of miles from the spot where Josiah Sparks, Jr. was killed. The place is still not deeded to anyone else, but is surrounded by land owned by someone else, so we could not get to it; it is still called "no man's land" by the people in the community.
From the Moore Cemetery we continued two more miles West to "F" road, and then 3.8 miles to a pasture lane to the North. We went up this lane 4/10 of a mile to the old homestead of George Washington Sparks, one of Josiah Sparks, Jr.'s sons, and my Great-Grandfather. The house sits across the little creek that they called the "Branch." It is a two story house which is still standing. You can still see the ornamental woodwork up under the eaves, which once adorned the house. Out back of the house, the hand pump for the well still stands, as well as the blacksmith shop. My uncles and father stood around and told stories of things they had heard from their fathers about the place. I cut a walking stick from the walnut tree in back and one from the maple tree beside the house. My Uncle Lee gave me a homemade clamp and bolt that was blacksmith made. My Grandfathers were both blacksmiths. Could it have been made by one of them? My girls walked in the house that their Great-Great-Grandpa built and raised his family in.
From the G. W. Sparks homestead, we continued West on "F" road for 2.2 miles, and then South 1.8 miles on "U" Road to Dogwood Road. East on Dogwood Road .8 miles leads us to the Cave Springs Cemetery. Here we find an old brick school house and church which was damaged by cannon fire and bullets during the Civil War. The holes are still there and the cannon ball damage is easy to see as the repair bricks are differently colored. There Is a bronze plaque on the wall that says:
CAVE SPRING SCHOOL 1838-1966
This school was used for 128 yrs., as a school, church and as a courthouse during the Civil War when Carthage was burned to the ground. Bricks and land donated by William and Eltza (Potts) Duncan.
At the North end of the cemetery, that Is a little North of the school building; marked off by four cube shaped markers bearing an "S" on the top, Is the Sparks plot. Here George Washington Sparks and his wife, Elizabeth Hum-bard Sparks, are burled. Next to them is the grave of James Humbard, age 17, who was killed the same night as Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. was killed. On the other side of them is the grave of Ann Isabella Sparks, who as a young girl fell out of a swing and suffered brain damage. She never completely recovered from the accident, but then at the age of 37 was bitten by a copperhead snake while sitting on the front porch of the family home. The bite was fatal. Also found in this cemetery is young James J. Sparks who died in infancy. Others in the site are: Margaret "Pearl" Sparks Gillock and William Sparks who died at 70, still single.
From the Cave Springs cemetery we traveled back South on "U" road to 1-44 and then West to Exit #22. Traveling North for about one mile, we turned East on Cedar for 1~ miles to Dudman Springs Cemetery. Here in the middle row about 3/4 of the way down the row, are the Humbard graves, parents of Elizabeth Humbard Sparks, Anna Humbard and her husband, as well as a brother, George Washington Humbard. There we left off the day and went back to the motel to ponder what we had seen and heard.
[Editor's Note: Among the papers In the probate file for Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. in Lawrence County, Missouri, there Is a receipt signed by Josiah's widow for the Items set aside from Josiah's person property for her use until such time as her "widow's third" could be determined. A photocopy of this document follows:
Another item among the probate records settling the estate of Josiah Sparks, Jr. is the required bond of Andrew W. West as administrator of the estate, dated November 24, 1864, in the amount of $2,000. Oris N. Hoshaw and Andrew P. Gibson were his co-signers. On the same day, Andrew W. West presented a statement to the Lawrence County Court identifying the heirs of Josiah Sparks, Jr. A photocopy of this document follows.
Among the probate records settling the estate of Josiah A. Sparks, Jr., is the inventory of his real and personal property as well as a record of the purchases of the items sold at public auction on November 28, 1864. The appraised value of each item and the name of the purchaser were as follows:
|Item||Appraised Value||Purchased by|
|One bay horse||$10.00||isaac West|
|One red cow||5.95||Isaac West|
|One spotted cow||10.30||William Denney|
|One pided cow||8.00||C. N Hoshaw|
|One pided heiffer||5.00||William Boswell|
|One brown calf||3.00||William Boswell|
|One bull calf||3.55||William Downey|
|One shot gun||13.00||Andrew W. West|
|One rifle gun||3.50||Isaac West|
|One ore wagon||32.061||Joseph Young|
|One set Blacksmith tools||39.80||Isaac West|
|One lot iron||2.00||Isaac West|
|One log chain||1.85||R.T. Read|
|One pair strectchers||?.10||Joseph Young|
|Two plows||[blank]||[Not sold]|
|One bell||1.35||Isaac West|
|One sythe blade||.70||William Boswell|
|One sythe blade||.25||Isaac Miller|
|One set plowgears||2.75||Abner D. Stotts|
|One pair steelyards||.55||William Denney|
|One iron kettle||3.00||William Boswell|
I hereby Certify the above is a correct invoice of Josiah A. Sparks, Decd.
[Signed] Oris N. Hoshaw
Subscribed and sworn to before me on this 10th day of December AD 1864 [Signed]
John S. Wilson Clerk of the County Court
Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. was also acknowledged as owning 320 acres of land, which was apparently being farmed primarily by his son J. P. Sparks. The following assets are listed in a document dated July 16, 1868, called "Additional Inventory."
Cash from J. P. Sparks for rent, May 31st 1866, $185.50
Cash from W. West for rent, March 16, 1867, $4.5
Cash from J. P. Sparks for rent, October 10, 1867, $250.00."
Also listed among the estate's assets were the following:
Cash from Mathew J. Hottle, $33.00
Cash from Government for Beef, $12.00
Note on William Cantrill, $32.00
Interest to Dated $11.70
John Woodson, December, $119.90