Whole Number 197
[Editor's Note: The following biographical sketch of Dr. George Harrison Sparks appeared on page 432 of Vol. IV of the History of Virginia published in 1924 at New York and Chicago by the American Historical Society. Through the years since this publication appeared, descendants in the branch of the Sparks family of which Dr. Sparks was a member, have been confused in attempting to connect with the ancestral line claimed for him in this biographical sketch. We hope to correct this problem in the Editor's Continued Note following the text of this record. ]
One of Culpeper County's ablest physicians and surgeons is Dr. George Harrison Sparks, now of Brandy, and for many years engaged in practice at Mitchell's Station [in Culpeper County, Virginia. ]
Doctor Sparks was born in Madison County, Virginia, November 11, 1869, son of Robert W. and Mamie C. (Harrison) Sparks. He has distinguished ancestry on both sides. He is a descendant of 21. John Sparks, who came to the American colonies as a captain in the British troops under the command of General Braddock, participating in the ill fated expedition against the French and Indians into Western Pennsylvania, where Braddock's army suffered a memorable defeat. Capt. John Sparks was wounded in that battle by an Indian arrow, and subsequently King George granted him a tract of land in Madison County. The descent to Doctor Sparks is through his son Thomas Sparks, and Doctor Sparks owns a flint lock gun once possessed by Thomas Sparks. Harry Sparks, a son of Thomas Sparks, and the great-grandfather of Doctor Sparks, enlisted as a soldier in the War of 1812, but saw no active service. Doctor Sparks' paternal grandfather died when young. The grandmother, Fannie (Brown) Sparks, remained a widow for seventy years. She was a woman of great strength of character, and in her old age she gained her second sight, enabling her to dispense with glasses, and then took up the study of Latin and higher mathematics, including trigonometry, in order that she might assist her grandson, the present Doctor Sparks, with his studies.
In the maternal line Doctor Sparks is a descendant of a Harrison, who according to tradition was born at Berkeley, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, and received a large grant of land from the Crown for distinguished military service. His great-grandmother, Hannah (Hume) Sparks, was a direct descendant of George Hume, who came from Scotland and for many years was a leading merchant of Fredericksburg. Hannah Hume was the mother of eighteen children, six daughters and twelve sons. All the sons but three left Virginia and went West, to Mississippi, Missouri, Kentucky, and other states. Doctor Sparks' grandfather, George Harrison, was associated with Mr. Meems in the mercantile business at Madison Court House at Lynchburg. George Harrison married Miss Fouche, of a distinguished French family with many connections in Virginia.
The father of Doctor Sparks, Robert W. Sparks, was a soldier of the Confederacy, in Company A, Seventh Virginia Regiment, Pickett's Division. After the war he became a farmer and merchant, and was also sheriff of Madison County. He was a Mason and a member of the Baptist Church.
Dr. George Harrison Sparks received his early education in Locust Dale Academy, attended Baltimore College and graduated in 1900 from the Medical College of Virginia. In the same year he began his practice at Mitchell's Station in Culpeper County, and remained there until 1922. He also owned a farm, and after selling it he moved into his new modern home at Brandy.
In addition to his professional work Doctor Sparks has been actively identified with business and public affairs in Culpeper County. For eight years he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and he also has served as coroner and school trustee. He is a member of the Virginia Medical Society, the Piedmont Medical Society and the American Medical Association. He is a director of the Culpeper National Bank, a stockholder in the Culpeper Milling Company, a member of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the County Democratic Committee.
On December 20, 1905, Doctor Sparks married Miss Daisy L. Hoffman, daughter of F. W. and Anna Hoffman. Her father served in the Confederate army and after the war was a merchant and farmer. Doctor and Mrs. Sparks have three children, Mary Katherine, George Harrison, Jr., and Robert E. Lee Sparks.
[Editor's Note, Continued: Many years ago, a friend of the editor, John Frederick Dorman, kindly copied for us the engravings he found on some Sparks gravestones in a cemetery at Orange, the seat of justice of Orange County, Virginia. It was there that Dr. George Harrison Sparks was buried. The inscription on his stone is simply: "George H. Sparks, M.D. / 1869-1925." From this we know that Dr. Sparks died the year following the publication of the above biographical sketch. His grave is in the same lot as that of his parents.
[As stated in the above biographical sketch of Dr. George Harrison Sparks of Bandy, Culpeper County, Virginia, published in 1924, it was claimed that Dr. Sparks then owned a "flint lock gun" that had belonged to his ancestor, Thomas Sparks. This Thomas Sparks was Dr. Sparks's great-great-great-grandfather; he had been born ca. 1715 and died in Madison County, Virginia, in 1787. In the Sparks Quarterly of June 1956, Whole No.14, can be found a fairly de- tailed article on Thomas Sparks, pp .132-37. Our initial information pertaining to him was found in an article by a prominent genealogist of his time, William B. Newman, published in Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine of July 1931 (Vol. XIII, No.1) .Mr. Newman gave his article the title: "Towles and Clark Families," but because the Sparks family of Madison County, Virginia, was closely related to the Towles and Clark families of the Madison County, area, Newman included a record of his research on the Sparkses in his article. Our article appearing in the June 1956 issue of the Quarterly, cited above, was based on the Newman article, but was supplemented with the results of our further research.
[From the number of errors regarding Dr. Sparks's ancestry, to be pointed out below, leads us to believe that he was not, himself, the author of the biographical sketch published in 1924. An editor may have interviewed him and later confused the information provided him. The claim made that Thomas Sparks (ca.1715-1787) was the son of a Capt. John Sparks who had been a British soldier in the army of General Braddock, is simply not possible. The memorable defeat and death of General Braddock took place in 1755; General / Braddock died at the time of his army's defeat on July 9, 1755. Thomas Sparks had been born some forty years prior to the Braddock expedition. There was no grant of land in Madison County, Virginia, by King George to a British soldier named Sparks. Until 1792/3, Madison County was part of Culpeper County.
[The confusion regarding the wounded British soldier named John Sparks being the father of Thomas Sparks may have arisen because, indeed, the father of Thomas Sparks was probably a John Sparks, whose wife is known to have been Mary. This relationship was stated as fact by William B. Newman in his 1931 article cited above, but we have not found a primary source to provide proof. (See our discussion of John and Mary Sparks of Virginia in the June 1956 issue of the Quarterly.)
[Our earliest record of Thomas Sparks was his purchase (or lease) of a 200-acre tract of land on May 25, 1737, from Richard Mauldin in Orange County, Virginia. This land was described as located on the Robinson River and was located in that part of Orange County that was cut off in 1748 to form Culpeper County. When Madison County was created from part of Culpeper County in 1792/3, the children of Thomas Sparks found themselves to be in the new county, even though they had not moved there.
[21.1 Thomas Sparks was unmarried when he purchased land in what would become Madison County, but in the early 1740s he married Mary Towles (born November 1, 1723), who was a daughter of Stokeley and Anne (Vallott) Towles. Information regarding the Towles family was included in the June 1956 issue of the Quarterly, p .132. Also included in that article, were the will and estate papers of Thomas Sparks filed after his death in 1787. In his will, Thomas Sparks had named his and Mary's nine children as follows:
21.1.1 John Sparks, born ca. 1745, died 1803. He married Phoebe Smith.
21.1.2 Ann Sparks, born ca. 1747.
21.1.3 Humphrey Sparks, born ca. 1749. He married Milly Nalle.
21.1.4 Lucy Sparks, born ca. 1751. She married James Kilby.
21.1.5 Henry Sparks, born June 16, 1753. He married Lucy Clark.
21.1.6 Thomas Sparks, born ca. 1755.
21.1.7 Mary Sparks, born 1757. She was married, first, to her cousin, Russell Vawter, and, second, to James Smith.
21.1.8 Frankey Sparks, born ca. 1759.
21.1.9 Mildred Sparks, born ca. 1761.
[In the June 1956 issue of the SPARKS Quarterly, cited earlier, we gave the in- formation we then had regarding each of these children. Our statement (p.136) that the daughter named Ann had been married to Jacob Aylor was corrected in the September 2001, No.195, issue of the Quarterly in an article by Craig M. Kilby (pp.5571-72). Mr. Kilby there presented proof that Ann, a nickname for Nancy Sparks, had been married to Jarvis Smith, not to Jacob Aylor. Mr. Kilby also provided proof that Thomas Sparks's daughter called "Frankey" in his will was Frances Sparks, and it was she, not her sister, Ann, who married Jacob Aylor.
[After identifying Thomas Sparks as the ancestor of Dr. George Harrison Sparks, the writer of the Doctor's biographical sketch in 1924, skipped a generation in tracing his ancestral line. Harry Sparks, called a son of Thomas Sparks in the 1924 biographical sketch, was actually a grandson of Thomas Sparks. The father of Harry Sparks (a nickname for Henry Sparks) was John Sparks, son of Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks. born ca. 1745 in Culpeper (now Madison) County, Virginia, John Sparks married Phoebe Smith ca. 1765. John and Phoebe lived, died, and were buried on a farm 1 1/2 miles north of Oak Park in Madison County; John died in 1803, Phoebe in 1814. They were the parents of eight children:
1. Nancy Sparks, born in 1767; she married Samuel Wilhoit.
2. Frances ["Fanny) Sparks, born ca. 1771; she married William Hume.
3. Henry Sparks, born January 2, 1773; he married Hannah Hume, daughter of Charles and Hannah (Jones) Hume.
4. Thomas Sparks, born between 1775 and 1780; he was married in 1794 to Susanna ["Susan"] Fishback, daughter of Harmon and Christine (Hoffman) Fishback.
5. Robert Sparks, born February 15, 1777; he married Isabella Ford. (On page 851 of the Quarterly, we mistakenly gave Robert as the second child of John and Phoebe Sparks, believing then that he had been born ca. 1769.)
6. Mary ["Polly"] M. Sparks, born ca. 1780; she married her cousin, Jasper Sparks, son of William and Elizabeth Sparks, on October 24, 1803.
7. Susan (or Susanna) Sparks.
8. Elizabeth Sparks (called Betsy Velotty Sparks in her mother's will); she married Merry Aylore (sic) .
[In his will, dated January 9, 1803, and probated on September 22, 1803, John Sparks prescribed that his wife, Phoebe, should control all of his property during her lifetime, and at her death, it should be divided equally among their children. He mentioned by name only one of his children, however, that being Nancy Wilhoit; he stated that if Nancy had no heirs, her share should be divided among his other children. (See Madison Will Book 1, p. 418). Phoebe Sparks made her will on January 10, 1814; it was probated on January 26,1815. (See Madison County, Will Book 3, p. 83). She apparently had previously given the six older children their shares because she left only $30.00 to be divided among them. To her two younger children, however, she provided as follows:
...To my daughters Susannah Sparks and Betsy Velotty Sparks, and their heirs, two Negroes named Ben and Sottee; also one mare and colt by name of Pickle; also two feather beds; beadsteads (sic) standing upstairs in the large room; two couterpanes; seven bed quilts; eight sheets; 2 black walnut chests standing in the same room; also two walnut dressing tables with covers; six flat back chairs
[Phoebe Sparks named her sons, Henry and Thomas Sparks, as the executors of her will; her witnesses were: Colman J. Brown, Aaron Carpenter, Joseph Swindle, and James Hume.
[As seen above, the third child of John and Phoebe Sparks was Henry Sparks, called by his nickname "Harry" in the biographical sketch of Dr. George Harrison Sparks. His marriage to Hannah Hume was on March 10,1803, the same year that his father died. Hannah Hume was a daughter of Charles and Hannah (Jones) Hume. Henry (or "Harry") and Hannah (Hume) Sparks, were identified correctly as the great-grandparents of Dr. Sparks in the 1924 sketch. An article devoted to Henry Sparks (1773-1860) appeared in the SPARKS Quarterly of December 1964, Whole No.48, beginning on page 850. There we noted that Henry's wife, Hannah Hume, had been born July 12, 1785, and died on July 30, 1861. Henry had died a year earlier, on January 28, 1860.
[The 1924 biographical sketch devoted to Dr. Sparks indicated that Henry and Hannah (Hume) Sparks had been the parents of 18 children. On page 851 of the December 1964 Quarterly, we listed 13 children, a more likely number. We repeat this list here:
Children of Henry and Hannah (Hume) Sparks:
1. John J. Sparks, born December 19, 1803; died July 7, 1808.
2. Frances Sparks, born March 21, 1805; she married William Pratt; she died on August 27, 1830.
3. Charles S. Sparks, born January 2, 1807; he married Frances S. Brown; he died April 28, 1896.
4. Joseph S. Sparks, born October 12, 1808; he married (first) Harriet Jones, and (second) to Harriet M. Tinsley.
5. Robert Walker Sparks, born September 15,1810. (See below).
6. Moses Samuel Wilhoit Sparks, born September 25, 1812; he married Elizabeth Ann Yeger (or Yearger); he died November 17,1883.
7. Martha E. A. Sparks, born November 20,1814; she married Arthur i Lewis; she died October 18, 1847.
8. Benjamin Hume Sparks, born October 7, 1816; he married Martha Brown; he died August 3, 1914. (Photographs of Benjamin Hume Sparks, and Martha (Brown) Sparks were published on the cover of the Quarterly of Dec, 1964, No.48.)
9. Henry T. Sparks, born February 25,1821; he married Lucy O'Bannon; he died September 6, 1891.
10. Hannah J. Sparks, born February 25, 1821; she married Charles W. Tatum; she died September 2, 1901. She was a twin of William Thomas Sparks.
11. William Thomas Sparks, born February 25, 1821; he married Maria Elizabeth Fry; he died February 8, 1880; he was a twin of Hannah J. Sparks.
12. James M. Sparks, born May 4, 1823; he married Mary Wayland; he died November 16, 1898.
13. Susan C. Sparks, born 3 Feb1826; she married Zephenia Butler; she died January 20, 1892.
[Additional information regarding the above thirteen children of Henry and Hannah (Hume) Sparks may be found on pages 850-60 of the December 1964 issue of the Quarterly.
[As seen above, the fifth of these 13 children of Henry and Hannah (Hume) Sparks was Robert Walker Sparks, born September 15, 1810. He was the grandfather of Dr. Sparks, and he did, indeed, die young, as stated in the 1824 sketch of the Doctor's life. Robert Walker Sparks died at the age of 30 on February 13, 1840, in Madison County. He had been married in November 1833 (the marriage bond was dated November 25, 1833) to Frances ["Fanny"] Brown. She lived until October 26, 1895, in Madison County; her widowhood lasted 62 years, not 70 as stated in the 1924 sketch.
[Robert Walker and Frances (Brown) Sparks were the parents of three children:
1. Champ Comer Sparks, born December 31,1835.
2. Bushrod H. Sparks, born February 9,1837.
3. Robert Walker Sparks, Jr., born June 3, 1840.
[Robert Walker Sparks, Jr., born June 3, 1840, was married on October 21, 1868, r in Madison County, Virginia, to Nannie Catherin Harrison, daughter of George W. Harrison and Fouche. (In the 1924 biographical sketch of their son, Dr. George Harrison Sparks, his mother's name appeared as "Mamie" ; this was an error. ) The graves of Robert W. and Nannie (Harrison) Sparks are in the same lot in the Orange, Virginia, Cemetery as that of their son. They share a gravestone with the inscription:
[Gravestones in Orange, Virginia, Cemetery:
Robert W. Sparks / June 8, 1840 / October 21, 1909 / Nannie Harrison / Wife of / Robert W. Sparks / October 25, 1844 / April 20, 1916.
[Robert Walker Sparks, Jr. and his wife, Nannie Catherin (Harrison) Sparks, were the parents of the following children:
1. George Harrison Sparks, born November 11, 1869.
2. Fanny W. Sparks, born November 17,1871.
3. Mary Somerville Sparks, born October 24, 1874.
4. Robert Walker Sparks, born March 23,1877.
5. Thomas N. Sparks, born March 6, 1881.
6. Sally B. Sparks, born 5 February 1884.
7. Charles Frederick Sparks, born July 1, 1887.
8. Nannie H. Sparks, born August 5,1889.
[The eldest child of Robert W. and Nannie (Harrison) Sparks was, of course; Dr. George Harrison Sparks (1869-1925) whose grave is near that of his parents in the Orange, Virginia, Cemetery. The graves of three other children of Robert W. and Nannie (Harrison) Sparks are in the same cemetery lot. As copied for us by John Frederick Dorman, their gravestones have the following inscriptions:
Mary Sparks / Hendrick / October 24, 1874/ July 7, 1910/
Blessed are the / pure in heart. (Above the inscription is, a coat of arms in metal with this inscription under it: )
"In loving memory of / Mary Somerville Sparks Hendrick / Founder of Kappa Delta Sorority. "
C. Frederick Sparks / July 1, 1887/ October 21, 1909
Robert Walker Adelaide Bullock
1877- 1948 1900- 1925
[Robert Walker Sparks, the fourth child of Robert Walker Sparks, Jr., was born on March 23, 1877, and died on May 17, 1948. He had been married to Adelaide Caroline Bullock in 1918. She had been born in 1900 and died on April 26, 1925. Adelaide was a daughter of New Bullock. They were the parents of three children:
1. Robert W. Sparks, IV, born March 12,1920.
2. Thomas Newton Sparks, born October 16,1921.
3. Edward Bullock Sparks, born April 12, 1925.
[Robert W. Sparks, IV, is a charter member of the Sparks Family Association. He lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Elise (Moomaw) Sparks, who was born August 29, 1928; they were married in Roanoke, Virginia, on December 27, 1947. They are the parents of two children: Ruth Bowman Sparks, born March 6,1953, and Mary Bob Sparks, born September 5,1955.
[We published an article about Robert W. Sparks, IV, in the Quarterly of September 1995, No.171, pp.4525-28. We included a current photograph of Mr. Sparks as well as one taken of him as an Army Captain in 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. As the reader will note, Dr. George Harrison Sparks (1869-1925) was an uncle of Robert W. Sparks, IV.]