June 20, 2019

Pages 212-217
Whole Number 18


by Russell E. Bidlack

(Note: The following pension papers pertain to the service of 21.1.5 Henry Sparks (1753-1836) in the American Revolution. Both Henry Sparks's application and that of his widow are included. The originals of these papers are preserved in the National Archives and have the File Number R-9959. The application of Henry Sparks was approved and he was granted a pension of $30.00 per annum effective March 4, 1831. Following the death of Henry Sparks in 1836, his widow applied for a pension. It is not clear from the papers in this file whether she was granted a pension or not.

21.1.5 Henry Sparks, commonly called 'Harry' during his lifetime, was the third son of 21.1 Thomas and Mary (Towles) Sparks and was born June 16, 1753, in that part of Culpeper County, Virginia, which later became Madison County. (See Vol. IV, No. 2, Whole No. 14 (June, 1956) issue of the Quarterly for additional information on this family.) Henry Sparks married Lucy Clark, daughter of Captain James and Mary (Marston) Clark in January 1776. In 1795 Henry Sparks and his family moved to that section of Franklin County, Kentucky, which became Owen County in 1819. He died there on August 14, 1836.

For some reason, Henry Sparks did not mention in his application for a pension the fact that he had served for two years in the Army prior to his enlistment in 1778. (Note that his widow referred to his having performed three tours of duty whereas he mentioned only two.) His failure to mention this first tour probably was because in recognition of that service he had been granted a large tract of land in Kentucky; he probably felt that he had been fully compensated already for that service. Other records indicate that on February 2, 1776, Henry Sparks had enlisted in Madison, Virginia, for two years as a private in Captain Oliver Towles's Company, Sixth Virginia Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Hendricks. On May 6, 1777, he was transferred at Morristown, New Jersey, to the Commander-in-Chief's Guard commanded by Captain Caleb Gibbs. This unit served as Washington's body guard. On June 4, 1777, he was promoted to 3d corporal. He was discharged at the end of his enlistment at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on February 2, 1778.

A large amount of material has been collected by the officers of the Association on the life and descendants of Henry Sparks which wili be published in a future issue of the Quarterly. Any member who descends from this family who has not corresponded with one of the officers is invited to write to the Editor. We are anxious to make this as complete a record as possible. Address your letters to Dr. Russell E. Bidlack, Editor, The Sparks Quarterly, 1131 Granger Ave., Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In copying these documents, capitalization and punctuation have been modernized for the sake of clarity, but no changes have been made in spelling or content. A few minor certificates which contain no data of interest have been omitted.

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State of Kentucky
County of Owen

On this 7th day of January 1833 personally appeared in open Court before the Justices of Owen County Court now sitting, Henry Sparks, a resident of the said County and State, aged 79 years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein stated, that is to say, he mustered into the service of the United States in the Revolutionary War in the month of April, as he now remembers, in the year 1778, as a private soldier and drafted militia man, under Captain James Clark, upon a six month's tour. That he rendezvoused with his company at the courthouse in Madison County, Va., in which County he resided at the time he entered the service as aforesaid. That there was another company rendezvoused at the same time and place under Capt. Richard Yancy. That the two companies came under the command of Col. James Barbour and were marched by him from their place of rendezvous and joined a brigade under command of Genl. Edward Stevens of Culpeper County, Virginia, and the whole of the forces then marched into N. Carolina in the vicinity of the Cheraw Hills. That they remained in North Carolina till the expiration of their tour of six months as aforesaid. That during said time the diseases of that climate made appearance in the Army and killed a great many of the soldiers. That there was not much over one half of the two companies that went from Madison County, of which this declarent was one, were alive at the termination of their said tour to return home. That at the expiration of his said tour of six months, having fully and faithfully served the same, he was discharged verbally and returned to his residence in Madison County where he lived when he mustered into the service as aforesaid.

He further states and declares that he on the day of March [sic] 1783, according to his best recollection, he again mustered into the service of the United States in the War of the Revolution as a private soldier, being a drafted militia man, upon a tour of three months under the command of Captain Edward Terrill. That he rendezvoused upon this tour at a ford on the Rapidan River. That there was a full regiment of militia rendezvoused at the same time and place including this declarent's company, and Col. James Barbour took the command of them. That from this said place of rendezvous they were marched toward the Chesapeak Bay in order to meet and repel some British Troops who were landing from vesels in Virginia, and after they had marched some distance on their route, they received intelligence that the British had reembarked and left the coast, and they returned to Madison County and were kept in rediness [sic] during the whoe period of their said tour, to march at a moment's warning to any point where their service might be required; but they were not afterwards marched from the said county till the expirations of their period of service, and when his said tour of duty had expired,he, this declarent, was again verbally discharged and returned to his home in the said county of Madison where he resided when called into service upon this last tour.

He further states and declares that from the great laps [sic] of time, his old age, and consequent loss of memory, he cannot swear directly and positively as to dates or particular length of time which he served, but from his best recollection he served not less than nine months as a private militia soldier in the Revolution, viz; six months under Capt. James Clarke and three months under Capt. Edward Terrill at the times above stated. He further states that he has no documentary evidence whatever of his said services and that he knows of no person now living whose testimony he can procure, who can testify to his said service.

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 in the Union.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
                                                                                                                                           [signed] Henry Sparks

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Interrogations propounded by the Court to the above applicant:

1st. Where and in what year were you born?
Answer: I was born in the County of Culpepper and State of Virginia on the 16th day of June 1753 according to the best information which I have on the subject.

2d, Have you any record of your age; and if so, where is it?
Answer: I have a record of my age at home in my Bible.

3d. Where were you living when called into the service, where have you lived since the Revolutionary War, and where do you now live?
Answer: I was living in the County of Madison & State of Virginia when I entered the service upon each of my tours and continued in Madison County till in 1795 when I removed to the County of Franklin, KY, and from thence I moved in 1800 to the place where I now live in Owen County, and have continued thereon ever since.

4th. How were you called into the service; were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you a substitute and if a substitute, f or whom?
Answer: I was a drafted militia man upon each tour of duty which I performed.

5th. State the names of some of the regular officers who were with the troops when you served; such continental and militia regiments as you can recollect, and the general circumstanes of your service.
Answer: I do not recollect that there were any regular troops with Genl. Stevens. I recollect to have seen upon that tour Genl. Stevens, Col. Barbour, Capt. Clarke under whom I served. We marched upon that tour into North Carolina and there served till the expiration of the tour and then returned. At the crossing of a river, the name of which I have forgotten, at a ford called the Broad Ford (upon the return of the troops) Tarleton was in pursuit and came up just as the troops had effected a passage across the river. Upon this tour great mortality prevailed in the Army from disease. Upon the second tour I served only in the single militia regiment of which Col. Barbour had the command. I recollect Capts. ----- [blank] ---- of that regiment besides my own captain.

6th. Did you receive a discharge from the service, and if so, by whom was it given and what has become of it?
Answer: I never did receive a discharge in writing from the service.

7th. State the names of persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood, and who can testify as to your character for veracity, ani their belief of your services as a soldier of the Revolution.
Answer: I will name Thos. V. Bruce, Henry Smither, and John Baum, as persons of my neighborhood to whom I am known.

Sworn to and subscribed the day and year aforesaid.
                                                                                                                                   [signed] Henry Sparks

We, Thos. V. Bruce, a Clergyman, residing in the county of Owen, and state of Kentucky, & John Brown [sic] residing in the same county and state, hereby certify that we are well acquainted with Henry Sparks who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration; that we believe him to be 79 years of age, that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier in the Revolution and we concur in that opinion.

Sworn to and subscribed the day & year aforesaid.
                                                                                                                                   [signed] Thos. V. Bruce
                                                                                                                                                John Baum

And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion, after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the interrogations prescribed by the War Department, that the above named applicant was a Revolutionary soldier, and served as he states. And the Court further certifies that it appears to them that Thos. V. Bruce who has signed the preceding certificate, is a Clergyman resident in the County of Owen and State of Kentucky, and that John Baum who has also signed the same is [a] resident of tho same county and state and are credible persons & that their statement is entitled to credit.
                                                                                                                                   [signed] Wilson B. Guile
                                                                                                                                                 H. Jout [?]
                                                                                                                                                 John B---- [?]
                                                                                                                   Justices of the Owen County Court.

[There follows a certificate by H. Bacon, Clerk of the Court 'that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said court."]

The affidavit of Lewis Willhoite, John Baum, John L. Snelson & Henry Clark & W. Walker, residents of Owen County, taken in the town of Owenton, Owen County, KY, on the 7th day of Jany. 1833. These affiants state that they are well acquainted with Henry Sparks of Owen County, KY, who they are informed is an applicant to be placed on the pension roll of the United States. That they have known him for many years and that he has borne and continues to bear, the reputation of an honest and truthful man; that he is a man of ability and morality; is a member of the Methodist Church and, in shor, is one of our best and most reputable citizens. They state that he has the reputation in his neighborhood of having been a soldier of the Revolution and that they verily believe it themselves and have never heard the fact of his having served as a soldier in the Revolution doubted. They believe that he is 79 years of ages as he states.
                                                                                                                                           [signed] John Baum
                                                                                                                                                        Lewis Willhoite
                                                                                                                                                        Henry Clarke
                                                                                                                                                        John C, Snelson
                                                                                                                                                       William Walker

[This is followed by the usual certificates by a justice of the peace.]

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State of Kentucky
Owen County

   On this 29th day of May 1839 personally appeared before me, William H. Smither, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, Mrs. Lucy Sparks, widow of Henry Sparks, deceased, aged 78 years, who being duly sworn doth on her oath make the following; declaration in order to obtain the benefit of an act of Congress passed July 1836.

She states that she is the widow of Henry Sparks who was a soldier of the Revolution and was pensioned under the law of the 7 of June 1832. She states that she married the aforesaid Henry Sparks in the year of 1776 in the County of Culpeper, State of Va. She further declares that in the fall of the year 1778 she thinks that her husband was drafted and went into the service of the United States for a tour of three months, she thinks, but does not know under what officer. Neither does she know the regiment to which he belonged. She further declares that during the War he served three tours of duty, but from old age and a consequent loss of memory she cannot ---?--- state the length of each tour of duty, nor the regiments to which he belonged. But states that her husband did in his lifetime make a declaration of his service to the War Department and obtain[ed] a pension certificate and she believes that said declaration is now on file at the War Office which will give a full detail of the services of her husband and prays the same may he made a part of this declaration, as her memory, from the raveges of time, is very imperfect. She states that she married Henry Sparks early in the year of 1776 and she remained the wife of the aforesaid Henry Sparks until the 14th day of August 1836 when her husband departed this life, since which time she states she has remained a widow to the present day as will appear from the following affidavits. She further declares that from old age and bodily infirmity she is unable to ride to town to make her declaration in open Court. She states that she was born in Va. in the year of 1760 or 1761, but she has no record of her age. She states she moved to KY. about 40 years ago and that she now lives in Owen County, KY, on the Kentucky River. She further states that during the last year she sent down to the lower part of KY. to John Clark who was a witness to her marriage and obtained his affidavit which is herewith sent.
                                                                                                                         [signed] Lucy X Sparks

[The declaration of Lucy Sparks was "subscribed and sworn to" on May 29, 1839, before W. H. Smith, Justice of the Peace, Owen County.]

I, Alexander Sparks, certify that Henry Sparks, a soldier and pensioner of the United States, departed this life on the 14th day of August, 1836 and that Lucy Sparks who has made the above declaration is the widow of said Henry Sparks and that she has remained a widow to this day.
                                                                                                                           [signed] A. I. Sparks
Subscribed and sworn to this 29 day of May 1839.

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I. William H. Smither, a Justice of the Peace in and for Owen County, KY, do certify that Lucy Sparks did before me make the above declaration. I believe her to be as old as she represents herself to be and it appears to my satisfaction that she is a lady of truth and respectability. I further state that I am well acquainted with her and believe her memory is much impaired by age and that she is unable to appear in open Court to make her declaration. I further certify that Alexander Sparks, who made the above affidavit, is a reputable man and his statements may be relied upon. Sworn under my had as a Justice of the Peace in and for Owen County this 29th day of May, 1839.
                                                                                                                           [signed] W. H. Smither

[There follows a certificate signed by Nathaniel M. Bacon certifying to Smither's being a Justice of the Peace.]

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 I, William H. Smither, a Justice of the Peace for Owen County, and one of the Judges of the County Courts for Owen County, do certify that the enclosed leaf containing the birth of the children of Henry Sparks, deceased, who was a pensioner of the United States, was taken from the family records of said Henry Sparks by Capt. Field in my presents [sic] and I further state I was well acquainted with the said Sparks from my youth to his death and say that the ages of his children recorded upon that leaf are written by Henry Sparks himself. I am well acquainted with his hand writing and know it to be his writing. Given under my hand as Justice of the Peace in and for Owen County the 1 day of June 1840.
                                                                                                                             [signed] W. H. Smither

[There follows a certificate signed by Nathaniel M. Bacon certifying to Smither's being a Justice of the Peace.]

[Note: A photograph of the leaf referred to above appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly. It was obviously torn from a book. It seems odd that only seven of the children of Henry and Lucy (Clark) Sparks are listed, since there were actually twelve children in all. Perhaps the record was not maintained after the seventh child was born, or perhaps the remaining five were recorded on another leaf, one leaf being all that was required to prove that Henry and Lucy Sparks had children. Following are the names and dates which appear on this leaf:] Elizabeth Sparks was Born September 23th Day 1777 James Sparks was Born December 11th Day 1779 Anthony Sparks was Born January 7th Day 1781 William Sparks was Born February 5th Day 1785 Thoms Sparks was Born August 11th Day 1787 Mary Sparks was Born December 14th Day 1790 Reubin Sparks was Born September 30th Day 1792

[Following is a list of the other five children born to Henry and Lucy (Clark) Sparks Madison Sparks, born August 10, 1795 Rhoda Sparks John Sparks, born June 13, 1803 Alexander Iverson Sparks, born January 8, 1807 Henry Sparks

I, John Clark, now in the seventy-third year of my age, do certify that I was well acquainted with Henry Sparks of Owen County, Kentukey, who was a pensioner of the United States. I further state that the said Henry Sparks and Lucy Sparks, his wife, now Widow Sparks, were married in the winter of seventeen hundred & seventy six or seventy seven as well as I now recollect. I further state that the said Lucy Sparks came to my father's after they were married and remained their [sic] until the said Henry Sparks returned from the service.

Given under my hand & seal this 26th day of June 1838.
                                                                                                                                   [signed] John Clark

Christian Country,
State of Kentucky.

I, B. Bradshaw, a Justice of the Peace in and for the County of Christian, afforesaid, do certify that John Clark did before me make oath and subscribe his name to the above affadavit and it appeared to my entire satisfaction that the said John Clark is a man of respectability & veracity. Given under my hand & seal this 26th day of June 1838.                                                                                                                                    [signed] B. Bradshaw, J.P.

[There follows a statement by Abraham Stiles certifying that Bradshaw was a Justice of the Peace]

[Editor's Note: The above John Clark was a brother of Lucy (Clark) Sparks. He was born in 1767 and died in 1844. He was married, 1st, to Mildred Gibbs on July 27, 1786, 2d, to Mary Gaines, on January 22, 1794,]