Whole Number 6
As one reads this interesting account, one is impressed with its apparent authenticity and with the remarkable memory of this old man as he recalls events which occurred nearly seventy years earlier.
Nacogdoches County, Texas -- 14 September 1846 - Application of 184.108.40.206.2.3 William Sparks, "a resident of Spark's settlement in said county," aged 85 years the 3 day of April last. Shortly before this applicant entered the service his father 220.127.116.11.2 Matthew Sparks removed with him from the Yadkin River in the County of Wilkes and State of North Carolina across the Blue Ridge to a place on New River in the said County of Wilkes, which is now about two miles from the County seat of Nash County, North Carolina. [He intended Ashe County, N.C. - WPJ.] Also shortly before I entered the service the Cherokee Indians had committed depredations and murdered five persons, I think, three children and two women, near the head of the Catawba River, at least, above John's River, at a place then, I think, in Burke County, North Carolina. In the part of the country in which I lived, after the war had lasted. several years, all of us capable of bearing arms were divided into four classes, as well as I remember, by lot. I fell into the fourth class. About this time it came to the turn of my class to enter the service; and while we were making preparations to do so Capt. John Cleaveland (Nicknamed as Devil John) son of Col. Benjamin Cleaveland, who afterwards fought at King's Mountain, and who resided near our former residence on the Yadkin, come over to our settlement on New River, and proposed to my class to volunteer to go with him against the Cherokee Indians, saying that this tour would be accounted the same as the same length of service against the British, against whom we were then preparing to go. Four of my neighbours of my class viz. John Baker, Israel Campbell, John Waters, and George Humprhreys, with myself accepted John Cleaveland's proposition, and in obedience to his order rendezvoused at Wilkes Court-House (Wilkesboro) and entered the service under the said John Cleaveland as our Captain on the 15th day of August --from old age and consequent loss of memory this applicant cannot state positively in what year this was, but he does recollect, that it was when he had just entered his seventeenth year, and several years before the battle of King's Mountain. [Since William Sparks was born 3 April 1761, then it was in the year 1778 when he joined up with Capt. John Cleaveland; the Battle of King's Mountain was in 1780. WPJ.]
"At Wilkesboro, which was the place of general rendezvous for the North Carolina raised for this expedition. Capt. Cleaveland's Company was filled to the number of about sixty, and about one thousand in all rendezvoused here. We were all mounted gunmen, and nearly all armed with Rifles, tomahawks, and butcher knives, each man, and myself amongst the rest, furnishing his own horse arms and equipment. At the end of about two days we took up the line of march by Pleasant Gardens on the Catawba, crossed John's River, then by Cathey's Fort to Turkey Cove on the Catawba, a distance, I supposed, of about one hundred miles in all from Wilkesboro. At Turkey Cove we remained about two weeks collecting Beef and other provisions for the Campaign. Here we were joined by the rest of the North Carolina forces, making our number from twelve to fifteen hundred, and here the Command-in-Chief was taken by Genl. Charles McDowell of Pleasant Garden, Burkes County North Carolina, in which he continued throughout the Campaign. At this place my Capt. John Cleaveland was informed by letter that his wife was dangerously ill, and went home, and did not again return to us. Myself and my New River neighbours, Bake, Campbell, Waters and Humphryes, at the request of Capt. Cleaveland were then permitted to join Capt. John Beverley's Company, in which we remained to the end of the Campaign.
"I do not remember positively what disposition was made of the rest of Cleaveland's company, but I believe that as Beverly had not before a full company they all joined him. My Regiment was commanded by Col. Benjamin Hiorn [?] of Wilkes County. [This was, I believe, Benjamin Herndon, of Wilkes Co., N.C. - WPJ] The Captains under him were as far as I remember, John Cleaveland and John Beverly and I think others whom I do not recollect. Col. Joseph McDowell brother of our Genl. commanded the Burkes County Regiment. There was also a Maj. McDowell in under Colo. Joseph McDowell. I think his given name was also Joseph, and that he was a cousin of the General and the Colonel. I do not remember any of the other North Carolina officers.
"At the end of about two weeks we marched from Turkey Cove up the Catawba on the East side along an old Indian Trace, and crossed the mountains through a gap the which I do not recollect -struck the waters of Swano River, went down the same and crossed French Broad River just above the mouth of Swanano--Here the foot company from Wilkes County in which was my uncle James Sparks (18.104.22.168.3?), and which marched behind us built a station, and remained to guard the frontier until our return from the Indian Country. (Here I saw my uncle on my return.) from the mouth of Swanano we proceeded across Richland Creek, and then Hominy creek. Here we met and were joined by twelve or fourteen hundred mounted gun-men from South Carolina. I do not remember their commander, or any of about a day's march up a River, the name of which I forget, on the South-East side of the Tennessee, to a large town surrounded by villages where we spent several days more in destroying the town and Villages and everything in and about them. Rumor afterwards stated, and I believe truly, that the devastation committed by us on this campaign was the cause of the death of many hundreds of Indians from starvation. After spending a week or two more in endeavoring through our scouts in vain to find the Indians we commenced our return march, and retraced the same route as well as I can recollect. When we repassed the station near the mouth of Swanano the foot company were still left there to pages the frontier, and remained there for some time afterwards. To the best of my recollection the South Carolina troops parted from us at Hominy creek where they had joined us. The North Carolina troops then marched on and returned to the Yadkin at or near Wilksboro where we were disbanded. From this service I received a written discharge from Capt. John Beverly which I kept for many years, but at length not deeming it of any use it was long since lost or destroyed. On this tour we marched a distance which we deemed about five hundred miles and back; and I served in it as a Private Mounted Rifle-man (furnishing my own horse and equipments) at least four months, and I believe longer for I feel confident that I did not return home [sic] untill after Arnstmess [? Armistice], and I know I returned home as soon as I was discharged. On this expedition I know I received no pay but to the best of my recollection the privates were promised twenty Dollars pr months each, and the same remarks will apply with truth to all my revolutionary services; for I received no pay for any of them.
"Upon my return from this campaign the militia company, in the bounds of which I resided, was organized into a company of mounted minute men under Andrew Baker as Captain and my Brother 22.214.171.124.2.1 John Sparks as Lieutenant. In this company I served till the close of the war of revolution. We furnished our own horses arms and equipments. Our part of the country was almost constantly infested with robbing and murdering parties of tories, british and Hessians, and I was constantly either out in pursuit of such parties, or, in obedience to the orders of my Captain, held myself in readiness to march at a moment's warning. Of the many and almost constant scouting parties, pursuits, and expeditions in which I was engaged during this period from my great age and infirmities I can recollect but one, so as to be able to state the particulars and that only from the personal interest of my family in it, I will proceed to state it. In less than a year after my return from the campaign against the Cherokees above detailed a party of tories, about 150 in number, robbed my Father, taking a horse saddle and bridle, six guns, all our pewter (we had no delf ware in those days) [Note: He refers to delf or delftware, a brown pottery covered with an opaque, decorated white glaze, made in Delft, Holland; in England, a cozanon glazed pottery for table use, etc. WPJ] and whatever else they could carry. My company was immediately called out and others amounting in all to about one hundred and fifty mounted Gun Men under the command of Cob. Benjamin Cleaveland. We pursued the above named tories a distance of betwen 60 and 70 miles and overtook them in Boxe's settlement near the Virginia line. They were feasting, frolicing and many of them drunk. We killed and wounded 25 or 30 of them in a fight, made prisoners of nearly all the rest, of whom hung five or six, the balance of the prisoners were discharged by Colo. Cleaveland upon their promise not to molest the patriots for the future. In this expedition I was engaged three weeks. I received no written discharge during the war except the one from Capt. Beverly above mentioned. I have no documentary evidence of my service, and I know of no person whose testimony I can procure who can testify to my service. This applicant further states on oath that by reason of old age and the consequent loss of memory he cannot swear positively as to the precise length of his service, but according to the best of his recollection he served not less than three years as a private volunteer mounted Rifleman, always furnishing his own horse, Arms and Equipment, and for service he claims a pension. This applicant was born in Rowan County near Salisbury in the State of North Carolina on the 3rd day of April A.D. 1761. He has no record of his age, but he believes his brother 126.96.36.199.2.8 Jessee Sparks residing in Hickman County in the State of Tennessee has a copy of the record of his age, the originals have been lost. When called into service this applicant lived in Wilkes County North Carolina, and remained there till the close of the Revolutionary war when he removed with his father to what was then Franklin County afterwards Jackson, and now Clark County in the State of Georgia and settled about four miles from Athens in that State. There this applicant resided till the year 1811 when he removed to Lawrence County Mississippi, thence to Holmes County in that State where he lived till March 1836, when he removed to this County and vicinity, where he has ever since resided. In his service be was at all times a volunteer. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present; and declares that his name is not on the pension Roll of the agency of any State.
William his X mark Sparks
Sworn to & Subscribed before me this 14th September 1846
R. Pannalu ? C S C
by H. Nelson Depty."
In an obvious effort to "trap" the applicant in a falsehood, William Sparks was questioned regarding some of the pertinent facts given in his application. Some of his answers, it will be noted, were even more informative than those appearing in his application. WPJ
Question: "Where & in what year were you born?"
Answer: "I was born within one mile of the town of Salsbury in the County of Roan, State of North Carolina on the 3rd day of April, in the year 1761."
Question: "Have you any record of your age & if you have where is it?"
Answer: "I have no record of my birth--but my brother has who lives in Hickman County Tennessee he furnished me with a copy which I lost Severall years Since with a trunk of papers near Natchez Mississippi."
Question: "Where were you living when called into Service" Where have you lived Since the revolutionary War--and where do you now live?"
Answer: "I was living in Wilkes County North Carolina. My father emigrated from Wilkes County to Georgia Shortly after the revolutionary war, and Settled in what was then Franklin County, now Clark County, near Athens, where I remained till about A.D. 1811 when I moved to the Territory of Mississippi on Pearl River now Lawrence County. I remained there a number of years and then removed to Holmes County where I remained until I moved to the then Republic of Texas. I Stoped in Nacogdoches County where I have lived ever Since."
Question: "How were you called into Service were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you Substitute, if a Substitute for whom?
Answer: "I volunteered and regret that I am not able to do so again. I was not a Substutt, nor was I drafted."
(Editor's Note: The application for a pension by William Sparks was rejected for lack of evidence of service, despite his good character and need of financial assistance being amply vouched for by several reliable citizens of Nacogdoches, Texas.)
This concludes the first set of Revolutionary War pension papers for persons named Sparks in this issue.