May 13, 2020

Pages 5677-5682
Whole Number 198

GEORGE W. SPARKS (1850-1915),

by Russell E. Bidlack

GEORGE W. SPARKS, Born May 17, 1850
in Burke County, North Carolina
Died November 15, 1915
in Dora, Missouri

Daughter of A. Mount and Laurana (West) Cook

The original photographs of George W. Sparks and his wife, Lucy Jane, reproduced on the cover and above of this issue of the Quarterly, were loaned to this writer in 1965 by Ethel (Sparks) Cearley. Mrs. Cearley, born in 1903, lived near Dora, Missouri. She had been married to Noah Cearley on May 5, 1922. Her parents had been Edward Gracin Sparks (1875-1955) and Aletta (Drumright) Sparks (1876-1953).

As we have noted, George W. Sparks and Lucy Jane (Cook) Sparks were the grandparents of Ethel (Sparks) Cearley. George W. was shown with his parents, James and Jane Sparks, on the 1850 census of Yancey County, North Carolina; he was then two months old. His father, James Sparks, had also been born in what was Yancey County, but prior to 1833 it had been part of Burke County, North Carolina. born ca. 1829, James was recorded in 1850 as a 21-year-old farmer; Jane's age was given on the 1850 census as 23, thus born ca. 1827.

James Sparks and his oldest brother, Hardin J. Sparks, who had been born ca. 1818, moved from North Carolina to Union County, Georgia, on the eve of the Civil War.

Writing in 1963, Mrs. Cearley provided us with information regarding her parents, Edward Gracin and Aletta (Drumright) Sparks, with a record of their children. Edward Gracin Sparks had been born on February 1, 1875, in Union County, Georgia. He died on September 21, 1955, at Pacific Beach, California. He was married on September 15, 1898, at West Plains, Missouri, to Aletta Drumright, who had been born July 23, 1896, at West Plains, Missouri; she died in Dora, Missouri, on March 15, 1953. Her parents had been Frank and Eliza (Hatcher) Drumright. The children of Edward Gracin and Aletta Sparks were:

1. Otis Sparks, born in 1899 at West Plains, Missouri.
2. Ethel Sparks, born April 3, 1903, near Dora Missouri. [Mrs. Cearley]
3. Opal Sparks, born in November, 1909, near Dora, Missouri.
4. Carmel Sparks, born October 29, 1911, near Dora, Missouri.
5. Kermit Sparks, born August 20, 1913, near Dora, Missouri.
6. Blanche Sparks, born February 25, 1915, near Dora, Missouri.

Mrs. Cearley added: "My Grandfather came here [the Dora area of Ozark County, Missouri) when my Father was 16." She noted also: "Filmore came here to Missouri. also, the others stayed in Georgia." Filmore was a brother of George W. Sparks named James Filmore Sparks, apparently called by his middle name.

Mrs. Cearley listed the children of George W. and Lucy Jane (Cook) Sparks as:

1. Edward Gracin Sparks, born February 1, 1875, Union County, Georgia. (He was Mrs. Cearley's father.)
2. Nora Sparks, born April 28, 1877, Union County, Georgia; died March 21, 1930.
3. Arberzina Sparks, born December 12, 1880, in Georgia.
4. Mollie Sparks, born September 13, 1883, in Georgia.
5. Lula Sparks, born June 17, 1886, in Georgia.
6. Lutie Sparks, born April 24, 1890 (twin of Maggie) ; died 1829.
7. Maggie Sparks, born April 24, 1890 (twin of Lutie).
8. Deloris Sparks, born November 2, 1895, in Missouri.
9. Sylvia Sparks, born March 30, 1899, at West Plains, Missouri; died about 1940.

Mrs. Cearley had little knowledge of her great-grandfather, James Sparks, who moved to Union County, Georgia, but she remembered some things told to her by her grandfather, George W. Sparks. She wrote: "I am sure my Great-Grand Pa., James Sparks, served in the slave war. My Grand Pa. [George W. Sparks] was a boy, not married at that time; they were left at home & he used to tell how they dug up the clay under the meat bench in their meat house & boiled it & used the water to cook with for they were starving for salt."

We believe that a letter written to this writer by Mrs. Cearley in 1963 will be of interest to our readers.

A Letter Written by Ethel (Sparks) Cearley, 1963:

Dora, Missouri.     Dear Mr. Bidlack:

   Rec. your letter of February 24. I enjoyed reading what you had gathered about my ancestors. Yes, there was a girl called "Lively," [a sister of George W. Sparks. ] I can remember as a child when my Grandparents came down from Howell Co. to stay over the weekend they would talk about the people & the happenings back in the old country as they called it (Georgia they meant). They spoke of Lively. Mary A. was likely the one called "Sis," for in that day the oldest was called Sis.

   The Elbert Cearley that gave me this information on the family of James Sparks [father of George W. ] was a distant relative of my husband & he was older than my dad, & these may have been just nicknames that he gave me. He had a good memory & if I had known I was going to get into this, I could of got everything I needed from him, he was 94, but passed on last summer. Albert is "Bert" Sparks, I am positive. There was a Bill Sparks among them [siblings of George W. Sparks] for I have heard them speak of him. I remember hearing of Ivy Lag in their conversations.

   I can remember hearing of Steven Collis, as the preacher & once my Dad told me several of his old relations married Buchanans; they all lived around there [in Yancey County, North Carolina] ...

   I have a fifth generation picture of my Grandma, Lucy Jane Sparks, sitting by her oldest and only son, my Dad, Edward G. Sparks; the baby in Grandma's lap is Dwayne Sparks, who is a man now [1963]. The oldest man standing is Dad's oldest son & my brother, Otis Sparks, the other one standing is Ernest Sparks, Otis's oldest son and father of the baby. The baby, Dwayne Sparks, is now [1963] a minister, as is my brother, Otis. Grandma was 94 when the picture was taken about 1950. She died later that year. The picture is not a very good one & I dont know if you could use it or would even want to use it in the Quarterly, but at least there might be some resemblence & seams the families named the same names all the way along. That's one good proof for our good. I pray God's Blessings on you folks.

                                                                       [signed] Mrs. Ethel Cearley
                                                                                               Dora, Missouri.

(Here appears a photograph which is described in the paragraph above.)

There was another Cearley marriage in this branch of the Sparks family of which we have record--that of Huldah Melissa Sparks, daughter of Hardin J. and Elizabeth (Thomas) Sparks. Huldah Melissa, born July 18, 1855, in Union County, Georgia, was married there to Donithan (or Donathan) Cearley on June 15, 1871. Donithan Kinsey Cearley had been born on February 6, 1852, in Union County, Georgia, and died on March 17, 1937, at Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. Huldah Melissa died at Hamilton on September 13, 1940. Their graves are in the Greenwood Cemetery at Hamilton.

As noted earlier, George W. Sparks had either accompanied or followed his older brother, Hardin Sparks, from their home in Yancey County, North Carolina, to Union County, Georgia, on the eve of the Civil War. They were sons of Allen Sparks (ca.1798-1849) and grandsons of Benjamin Sparks (1769/70-1850). See the article on Benjamin Sparks and his family beginning below.

Hardin J. Sparks, born ca. 1818, was mentioned by name in the 1849 will of his father, Allen Sparks, who designated him to be one of the executors of his estate. There his father spelled his oldest son's name as either Hardin or Harden. He was called "Hardy Sparks" by the 1870 census taker; a descendant once believed his name was "Hardy." This may have been a nickname.

The children of Donithan K. and Huldah Melissa (Sparks) Cearley were:

Tilton Cearley, born ca. 1877 Elsie Cearley, born ca. 1879
Cora Elizabeth Cearley, born March 15, 1881
William Starling Cearley, born 1888
Loney Dovie Cearley, born August 5, 1889
Catherine M. Cearley, born February 21, 1890
Mary Rowena Cearley, born May 7, 1891
John James Cearley, born July 24, 1898
Lola Cearley, born March 3, 1901
Herbert Wade Cearley, born September 28, 1902
George Hubert Cearley, born September 28, 1902