April 29, 2021

Pages 5554-5561
Whole Number 195


Born December 25, 1860 - Died January 27, 1952

Daughter of Stephen and Lucretia Jane (Sparks) Riggs, Granddaughter of Robert Thomas and Mary Ann (Wallingford) Sparks

In the Quarterly of September 1970, Whole No. 71, we published an article, beginning on page 1336, entitled "Caleb Sparks of Lewis and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky." From a record found a number of years after this article appeared, we learned that Caleb Sparks had been born on December 3, 1786, in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and that he was a son of a William Sparks who had died in Fleming County, Kentucky, prior to February 10, 1800. It was on this date that Caleb and his brother, Joseph Sparks (born March 1, 1791), were apprenticed as orphans of William Sparks to William McCormack, a tanner by occupation, "to learn the business of tanning and currying." (Fleming County, where William Sparks had died, had been created from Mason County in 1798; Mason County had been created from Bourbon County in 1789.) Caleb Sparks had been 14 years old when his father died and had been apprenticed to McCormack, while his brother, Joseph Sparks, had been 8 years old. As was then customary, each boy was to end his apprenticeship on his 21st birthday. (See the Quarterly of September 1980, Whole No. Ill, pp. 2240-41, for the Fleming County Court records pertaining to these two apprenticeships, as well as an explanation of the law then in effect in Kentucky regarding orphans and apprenticeships.)

In the Quarterly of March 1999, Whole No. 185, beginning on page 5116, appears an article entitled "Where Did the Sparkses of Early Lewis County, Kentucky, Come From?" This article presented evidence that the grandfather of Caleb and Joseph Sparks, who was also named William Sparks, had been a son of 1.2.5 Joseph and Mary Sparks, and that he (William) had been born in Queen Annes County, Maryland, on April 27, 1738. This William Sparks (born April 27, 1738) was a grandson of the English immigrant, 1.2 William Sparks, born ca. 1646 in, we believe, Hampshire County, England, who died in Queen Annes County, Maryland, in 1709. (See the Quarterly of December 1992, Whole No. 160, for an article devoted to 1.2 William Sparks, the immigrant, pp.4025-34.) Caleb Sparks was married in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on October 19, 1805, to Rebecca Wilson, a daughter of Ephraim Wilson. They were the parents of as many as twelve children. Their second son was named Robert Thomas Sparks. As an adult, he was often called by his middle name, Thomas, but here we will refer to him by his full name except in quotations where he has been called Thomas Sparks.

A great-granddaughter of Robert Thomas Sparks, Eula May (Walters) Prince, born on September 27, 1908, who had done research on this branch of the Sparks family, was our principal source for the information on the family of Robert Thomas Sparks appearing in the Quarterly of September 1970, Whole No. 72.

According to Mrs. Prince, Robert Thomas Sparks was married, first, in the 1820s, to a woman (name unknown) who died not long after bearing a daughter. This daughter (name unknown) was believed to have been married to FNU Riggs and had lived in Lampasas, Texas. On April 22, 1830, Robert Thomas Sparks was married, second, to Mary Ann Wallingford in Lewis County, Kentucky.

On page 934 of the Quarterly for September 1965, Whole No. 51, we reported a number of marriage bonds for persons named Sparks in Lewis County, Kentucky, that had been copied and placed in the library of the Filson Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Included in this record is the bond for Robert Thomas Sparks and Mary Ann Wallingford with the date January 8, 1830. This date had been copied incorrectly, however, as is shown on the photographic copy obtained by Barbara H. Smith, a descendant of this couple, and reproduced on the following page. As seen, this proves that the marriage bond was actually dated April 19, 1830, three days before the marriage.

This record in Lewis County reads as follows: "1830, April the 19th., No. 637. Thomas Sparks to Mary Ann Wallingford. John Wallingford, Fee paid. Thomas Sparks over the age of 21 years as proved by his own oath. And personal Consent of John Wallingford, Father of Mary Ann, given before me Att. Jos. Robb Clerk. I do hereby Certify that Thomas Sparks & Mary Ann Wallingford were joined Together in holy Marriage on the 22nd day of April 1830. [Date recorded] April 27th 1830. [signed] Thomas Warring."

Lewis County, Kentucky, Marriage Bond & Marriage Record for Robert Thomas & Mary Ann Wallingford

Some time late in the 1840s, Robert Thomas Sparks moved to Illinois, and when the 1850 census was taken, he was shown as heading his household in Henderson County, adjoining the Mississippi River. His name appeared as Thomas Sparks on this census, as it had in the record of his marriage to Mary Ann Wallingford. His age in 1850 was recorded as 40 and he was called a laborer. His wife was listed as Mary A. Sparks, age 30, but this was surely an error. She died on September 9, 1860, and on her gravestone her age appears as 45. She must have been at least 35 years old (not 30) when the 1850 census was taken.

Four children had been born to Robert Thomas and Mary Ann Sparks when the 1850 census was taken, as follows, all shown as having been born in Kentucky: Catherine S. Sparks, born November 9, 1831. She married Noel Dayton Lucretia Jane Sparks born 1834 Sarah A. Sparks, born 1843 Ephraim Sparks, born 1847 Rebecca Jane Sparks born 1851

Although census takers were directed in 1850 to report the names only of those persons living in each household as of June 1, 1850, other records prove that for the household of Robert Thomas and Mary Ann Sparks, the census taker recorded the names and ages of all four of their childrn, even though the two oldest daughters, Catherine and Lucretia, had been married prior to 1850 and were living with their husbands when that census was taken: Catherine in Hancock County, Illinois, and Lucretia in Monroe County, Missouri.

According to the obituary of Catherine Sparks (she died in 1897), she had been born on November 9, 1831. It was in Adams County, Illinois, that she had been married; the record reads: "Kitty Ann Sparks and Noel Datin were married on November 9, 1848." ("Datin" was normally spelled Dayton.) For the full text of her obituary, see pp. 1337-38 of the September 1970 issue of the Quarterly. It is interesting to note that Mary Elizabeth Dayton, the eldest daughter of Noel Dayton, was married on May 16, 1844, in Monroe County, Missouri, to Samuel Riggs, a brother of Stephen Riggs. Stephen Riggs, as shown below, married Lucretia Sparks, sister of Catherine.

The exact date of birth of Lucretia Jane Sparks, second daughter of Robert Thomas and Mary Ann Sparks, has not been found. In the September 1970 article cited above, Mrs. Prince, who descended from Ephraim Wilson Sparks (born November 8, 1846, died November 5, 1926, in Brady, Texas), brother of Catherine and Lucretia, was quoted as knowing only that Lucretia had been 16 in 1850, as recorded in the census of that year. A great-great-granddaugher of Lucretia, Barbara Helm Smith, has found a record of Lucretia's marriage to Stephen Riggs in Adams County, Illinois, dated November 18, 1848. was a son of Nathaniel and Rachel (Weldon) Riggs. (We noted above that Stephen's brother, Samuel Riggs, married Mary Elizabeth Dayton.) Ms. Smith has found, also, that Lucretia and her husband were living in Monroe County, Missouri, when the 1850 census was taken, being members of Stephen Riggs's mother's household, as follows:

"District No. 29 being the County of Monroe, State of Missouri," enumerated "on the 29th of October 1850 [by] Joel Maragin [?]" as follows:

Riggs Rachel 53 F Real Estate $1000 KY
" Elizabeth 19 F      
" Rebecca 16 F      
" Mary A. 13 F      
" Stephen 21 M      
" Lucretia 16 F      

As noted earlier, Lucretia's age had been given also as 16 in the enumeration of her father's family on the 1850 census of Henderson County, Illinois, although, as noted, both she and her sister Catherine were no longer living with their parents at that time. On the above census, both Rachel Riggs and her son, Stephen Riggs, were shown as unable to read or write, although in later years Stephen signed his name on legal documents. Elizabeth, Mary A., and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs were shown as having attended school at sometime during the previous year.

A brother of Stephen Riggs, named Leonard Riggs, was shown on the 1850 census of Monroe County, Missouri, as heading a household immediately following that of Rachel Riggs; he was 17 years old, born in Missouri, with wife Malicia A. Riggs, age 16, a native of Kentucky; they had been married within the year. Living with Leonard and Malicia was 6-year-old, David Baker, born in Missouri.

Looking at a map showing the location of the counties of Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri with which Robert Thomas Sparks had or became associated, one may speculate that when he moved west with his family from Kentucky, they probably traveled on, or along, the Ohio River to its mouth where it joins the Mississippi River, then north on, or along, the Mississippi. Whether the family's destination had been Henderson County in Illinois on the Mississippi, or whether it was there that they happened to settle, in either case they would have passed, perhaps paused for a while, along the river in Adams County where Lucretia Sparks married Stephen Riggs and her sister, Catherine ["Kitty Ann"], to Noel Datin (Dayton) just nine days apart, in 1848. (Hancock County lies between Adams and Henderson Counties.) Monroe County, Missouri, where Lucretia Sparks was living with her husband in 1850 in the Rachel Riggs household, is in the second tier of Missouri counties, southwest of Adams County, Illinois.

As noted earlier, it is Barbara Helm Smith who has traced Lucretia to the 1850 census of Monroe County, Missouri, thus proving that neither Lucretia nor her sister, Catherine, were actually living with their parents in Henderson County, Illinois, in 1850, even though the census so indicated.

Although Robert Thomas and Mary Ann (Wallingford) Sparks were living with their younger children in Henderson County, Illinois, when an 1850 census taker came to their home on September 30, they soon thereafter moved to adjoining Hancock County, and it was there that their last daughter, Rebecca Jane Sparks, was born. It was there, also, that Mary Ann died on September 9, 1860, at Dallas City. Robert Thomas Sparks continued to live in Hancock County for the remainder of his life. When the 1880 census was taken, he was shown there in the household of his daughter, Sarah Ann, and her husband. Henry Gilbreth. He was called Thomas Sparks by the census taker in 1880 as in 1850. When he died in 1889, his obituary was published in a Dallas City newspaper, a clipping of which was copied for us by Eula May Prince many years ago: Robert Thomas Sparks was born in 1808, died March 19, 1889, age 81 yrs. He married Miss Mary Ann Wallingford, in his native county, April 22, 1830. To them six children were born, five daughters and one son, four of whom survive him. These are: Catharine (Kittie) Ann Dayton, Nauvoo, IL.; Sarah Gilbert, Dallas City, IL.; Ephraim Sparks, Brady, Texas; and Rebecca Jane Walker of Carman, Il.

His wife died September 9, 1860. He came to Illinois about the year 1848, and has lived continually in Dallas City since 1851. He was an ardent Republican and was one of the few pioneers who voted for both the Harrisons. He was never so happy as when arguing politics. When he was 12 yrs. old he was afflicted with white swelling, which settled into chronic rheumatism when he was about 20 years old. From that time on he was a constant sufferer of the disease until some fifteen years ago. The funeral was preached from the residence, by Rev. Herzier, at 3 o'clock Wed. afternoon. The remains were laid to rest beside his wife in the East Cemetery. The family desire no flowers. Dallas City, IL.

It was shortly after the birth in 1851 of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs's first child, named Martha E. Riggs, that Stephen and Lucretia moved with their baby to Bell County, Texas. Stephen was among those who signed a petition dated November 29, 1853, to create a new county from a portion of Bell County. In 1854, a new county was, indeed, cut off from Bell County and called Coryell County, and it was there, in Plum Creek Beat, that Stephen and Lucretia spent the rest of their lives. Leonville was their post office address.

Lucretia bore five additional children after moving to Texas, the last being a son, Stephen B. Riggs, born February 23, 1863. Both Stephen and Lucretia had died by March 1863. According to Barbara Helm Smith, one family source indicates that both Stephen and Lucretia died of typhoid fever. On the other hand, their daughter, Lucretia Jane ["Jennie"] Riggs, is reported as having stated: "Papa went off to war and never came back." Lucretia Jane was Ms. Smith's great-grandmother; her great-grandfather was James Gwinn Helm. Ms. Smith, however, has found no record of Stephen Riggs serving in the Civil War. It is from the papers in the settlement of the estate of Stephen Riggs in Coryell County, Texas, in March 1863, that we know that both he and Lucretia were deceased by that date.

On March 30, 1863, the justices of the Coryell County, Texas, Court appointed Thomas Bertrong as "guardian of the person and property of the minor heirs of Stephen Riggs, Deceased, to wit Martha E., Mary A., John W., Rachel, Jane and Stephen Riggs [Jr.], All minors under the age of Fourteen years old..." [From p.274 of Coryell County Probate Record.]

The following information regarding the children of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs has been provided by Barbara Helm Smith, mentioned above. Her address is 5115 Bowman Rd., Kennedale, Texas, 76060. Ms. Smith would welcome any further information regarding Lucretia and her children that a reader might provide. Martha E. Riggs, born in 1851 in Monroe County, Missouri. She was listed as an heir in the settlement of her father's estate, but we have no further information about her. Mary Ann Riggs, born May 14, 1852, in that part of Bell County, Texas, that became Coryell County in 1854. She was married in August 1870 to Charles William Royal. She died on November 11, 1905, and was buried in the Nelson Cemetery near Reno in Parker County, Texas. (See her photograph on the following page.) John W. Riggs, born in 1856 near Gatesville, Coryell County, Texas. See Ms. Smith's curious story about him beginning on page 5561. Rachel Riggs, born September 15, 1858, near Gatesville, Coryell County, Texas. She was married, first, to John Fort. Her second marriage was to a FNU Lockhart, by whom she had a daughter, Maude Lockhart, and a son, Charley Lockhart. Her third marriage was to Charles Bowers. She died on December 28, 1916. She and Charles Bowers were buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Ardmore, Carter County, Oklahoma. Lucretia Jane ["Jennie"] Riggs, born on December 25, 1860, near Gatesville, Coryell County, Texas. She married James Gwinn Helm, II, on June 13, 1878, in Hamilton County, Texas. He was a son of John Nelson and Susanna (Donoho) Helm, and had been born on March 6, 1858, in Marion County, Illinois. Lucretia died on January 27, 1952, at Madill, Marshall County, Oklahoma; James died on July 8, 1925, at Newark, Wise County, Texas. Both were buried in the Nelson Cemetery at Reno, Parker County, Illinois. They were the parents of thirteen children: James Gwinn ["Jim"] Helm, III, born May 5, 1879. William Newton ["Will"] Helm, born December 11, 1881. John Nelson Helm, twin of William, born December 11, 1881. Harvey Augustine Helm, born December 18, 1883. Harry Stephen Helm, twin of Harvey, born December 18, 1883. Rosetta Fay Helm, born December 19, 1886. Joseph Franklin ["Frank"] Helm, born March 22, 1889. Susanna Agnes Helm, born May 28, 1891. Stonewall J. ["Stoney"] Helm, born February 10, 1893. Joseph Agnes ["Joe"] Helm, born January 28, 1896. Walter J. ["Slats"] Helm, born October 11, 1898. Ruth Nell Helm, born November 3, 1900. Oscar Leo Helm, born March 24, 1903.

Barbara Helm Smith, whose research has enabled us to prepare these "Further Notes" regarding descendants of Robert Thomas and Mary Ann (Wallingford) Sparks, is a great-granddaughter of Lucretia Jane and James Gwinn Helm, II, through their eldest son, James Gwinn Helm, III, and his wife, Jessie Emma Renfrew. Another great-granddaughter of Lucretia Jane is Nancy Bible, also a member of our Association, who owns the original photograph of Lucretia Jane, age 16, on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly. Association member Leon Helm, a grandson of Lucretia Jane, owns the original photograph of Lucretia Jane with her brother, Stephen B. Riggs, reproduced above. Leo's father was Oscar Leo Helm, born March 24, 1903.

Mary Ann (Riggs) Royal (1852-1905)
Daughter of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs
Lucretia Jane (Riggs) Helm (1860-1952)
Stephen B. Riggs (1863-1949) Daughter & Son of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs Stephen B. Riggs, son of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs, was born February 23, 1863, in Coryell County, Texas. Both of his parents died soon after he was born. He married Margaret Kellum ca. 1886. His photograph, with his sister, Lucretia Jane, appears on page 5560. He died in Brownwood, Brown County, Texas, on March 12, 1949, and was buried in the Greenleaf Cemetery there. His obituary, published in a local newspaper, follows:

S. B. Riggs, 87, died at his home, 1807 Avenue C, at 9 a.m. today. Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Davis-Morris Chapel with the Rev. A. L. Dennis officiating. Burial will be in Greenleaf Cemetery.

Mr. Riggs was a native of Coryell County. He had lived here for 35 years and had been retired for some time. He was a member of the Methodist Church.

Surviving are his wife; a son, Tom Kellum Riggs of Uvalde: three granddaughters, Mrs. W. E. Hill of Brownwood, Mrs. Bonner Hadley of Uvalde, and Mrs. Muriel Tweedley of Rhode Island; a sister, Mrs. Jennie Helm of Oklahoma; and three great-grandchildren.

Barbara Helm Smith has been able to provide little information regarding the life of John W. Riggs, son of Stephen and Lucretia (Sparks) Riggs, born in 1856. (See page 5559.) He seems to have led a rather unconventional life according to two stories she has shared with us.

Here is some information about John W. Riggs which was told to me by Joe Helm, a grandson of Lucretia Jane (Riggs) Helm. Joe Helm's family (Frank, Essie, Joe, and Bill) took a trip to Tularosa, New Mexico, when he was a young boy, ca. 1932. They visited with his grand-uncle, John W. Riggs, who was camped out on a river near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Joe advised that John W. Riggs later operated a livery stable on the Pecos Highway southeast of Carlsbad. Joe stated that John had only one leg, and he was referred to as "Peg Leg Riggs" by some people.

Nancy Bible told me that Lucretia Jane (Riggs) Helm visited her brother, John W. Riggs, while he lived in New Mexico. He lived in a house with dirt floors. Jennie related that a rug covered the dirt floor, and while she was visiting John, and he was away for a short time, Jennie de- cided to take up the rug and take it outside to shake it. When she took up the rug, Jennie got the shock of her life. There was a human skeleton partially exposed in the dirt. Jennie was so frightened that she stayed outside until John returned, at which time she told him what she had found.

John explained that the skeleton had been there a long time and had originally been buried deeper. Wear and sweeping the dirt had exposed the skeleton. John said to Jennie: "Now Jennie, that man has been buried there for a long time; no need to worry; just leave him to rest." John returned the rug to the inside of the house, covered up the skeleton, and that was the end of the story. We believe that John W. Riggs died near Carlsbad, New Mexico.