May 14, 2021

Pages 535-539
Whole Number 33

43.2.5 JOSEPH SPARKS (1761-1826)

by Russell E. Bidlack

On May 2, 1818, 43.2.5 Joseph Sparks, a resident of the town of Willington in Tolland County, Connecticut, applied for a pension based on his service during the Revolutionary War. In order to qualify for a pension under the law of 1818, a veteran not only had to prove that he had served in the War, but also that he was in real need of financial assistance. It was not required, however, that he give as much personal data as was necessary under later pension laws. Joseph Sparks was born February 3, 1761, in the town of Tolland. His birth was recorded on the Tolland Vital Records, Vol. 1, page 75. His parents, according to this birth record, were 43.2.5 Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks who had been married in Windham, Connecticut, on April 29, 1747. Mehetabel was a daughter of Caleb Johnson.

43.2.5 Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks were the parents of the following children according to the Windham and Tolland Vital Records: Lemuel Sparks, born September 11, 1747, in Windham. Melven Perlye Sparks, born February 15, 1749/50, in Tolland. Elizabeth Sparks, born November 2, 1751, in Tolland. Uriah Sparks, born April 17, 1752, in Tolland. Isaiah Sparks, born 1754 (from WN 51). Jeremiah Sparks, born October 1757, in Tolland. Stephen Sparks, born April 24, 1759, in Tolland. Joseph Sparks, born February 3, 1761, in Tolland. Joseph Sparks, son of 43.2.5 Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks, became a farmer in the town of Willington in Tolland County. On December 24, 1789, he married Eleanor Orcutt (see Willington Vital Records, Vol. B, p. 84), a daughter of a substantial farmer, Caleb Orcutt. Seven months prior to this marriage, on May 10, 1789, Eleanor Orcutt had given birth to a son who was destined to become a scholar and author of international fame. In the baptismal records of the First Church of Willington, the minister wrote: 'Jared, son of [    ] by Elinor Orcut July 1789,' but crossed out 'son of' and wrote 'born' in the blank space. (See New England Historical and Genealogical Register, April, 1913, p. 123.) According to tradition, Jared's father was Joseph Sparks, whom his mother married when he was seven months old. He was always known as Jared Sparks. (See the preceding biographical sketch of Jared Sparks.)

Joseph Sparks died on January 26,1826; his wife, Eleanor, died May 2, 1843. Joseph and Eleanor (Orcutt) Sparks were the parents of nine children in addition to Jared: Roxana Sparks, a daughter, born April 3, 1791. She was called 'Rockey' on the Willington Vital Records. She died, unmarried, on November 11, 1857, in Willington. Parker Sparks, born July 15, 1793; died August 19, 1794. Daniel Sparks, born November 1, 1797. He was a resident of New York City in 1844. No further record. Pearl Sparks, a son, was born January 6, 1797. No further record. Origin Sparks, born June 23, 1800. He married Calista Converse of Willington on November 26, 1829, by Samuel S. Mallory. He died in Willington on April 2, 1852, and Calista died on July 28, 1898, at the age of 88 years. Our only record of children of this marriage is that of the burial records of the Willington Hill Old Cemetery.

There were probably other children besides the following: Maria L. Sparks, died March 29, 1851, aged 18 years. Caleb B. Sparks, born 1839, died October 3, 1852. Calonda M. Sparks, twin of Caleb B., died March 4, 1883, aged 44 years. Parker Sparks (second son by this name), born August 14, 1802; died July 9, 1806. Caleb Sparks, born February 3, 1804. He was a resident of Rutland, Poultney County, Vermont, in 1844. No further record. Solymon Sparks, born March 15, 1807. He married Annis Holinan in Willington on April 14, 1833, by the Rev. Samuel S. Mallory (Willington Vital Records, Vol. D, p. 22). She was born August 20, 1810, in Union, Conn., a daughter of Rufus and Lucy (Eddy) Holman. Solyman Sparks died March 23, 1881; his wife, Annis, died March 31, 1884, in Vernon, Conn. Children: Seraph A. Sparks, born November 7, 1838,. at Willington; married Andrew J. Culver. Philander Sparks, born May 20, 1841, at Willington; died March 1, 1900. Lucy Elizabeth Sparks, born May 23, 1843; married in 1867 to James M. Coe; died at Richmond, Ind., on February 27, 1910. Mary A. Sparks, born November 11, 1845, at Rockville, Conn.; died May, 1889; she married Randall Keling. Ellen L. Sparks, born November 12, 1847, at Willington; died February 20, 1848. Dwight H. Sparks, born September 27, 1849, at Rockville, Conn.; died June 2, 1852. Joseph Sparks, born June 24, 1809. A Joseph Sparks of New York married Mary Batty in Willington on October 13, 1833, but whether he was this Joseph Sparks or not is unknown. According to a statement of Origin Sparks made on January 2, 1844, Joseph Sparks was a resident of Willington at that time.


[Editor's Note: In transcribing the following documents, care has been taken to copy exactly so far as spelling and capitalization are concerned; there has been some alteration in punctuation for the sake of clarity.]

Joseph Sparks of Willington in the County of Tolland in the State of Connecticut, a resident Citizan of the United States & now residing in sd Willington, aged 57, Testifies & declares on Oath, that in Feby A.D. 1777 he inlisted to serve as a soldier in the Continental Army in the revolutionary War the term of Three years in the Compy commanded by Capt Ichabod Hinckley of Tolland in Colonel Charles Webbs Regiment, being the 2nd in the Connect line of the Continental Army, and he joined sd Compy at Stamford in Connec in the Spring following & served therein against the common Enemy untill Feby A.D. 1780 when he was honourably discharged at Springfield in the State of New Jersey by a writing for that purpose by Hezekiah Hotridge [?], Lieut Colonel Commandt, but sd Discharge is lost & he verily believes is not now in existence. He also says that he was in several skirmishes with the enemy --and that he is now reduced in his Circumstances in life & stands in need of assistance from his Country for support.

       Tolland May 2nd 1818                                                                                [signed] Joseph Sparks

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 Tolland County SS  [word illegible] May 2nd 1818

Personally appeared David Hinckley of Willington and made solemn oath that he served as a Serjeant in Capt Hinckleys Ccmpy & Col1 Webbs Regiment in the revolutionary War for three years & he knows that Joseph Sparks of sd Willington served as a soldier in the same Company, and that his Declaration on this paper is true. I also say that he was one of the best of Soldiers & always did his duty faithfully and further that he is poor, has a sickeley wife, & he is in need of assistance from his Country for support.
Before me

[signed] Sylvester Gilbert, Presiding Judge of Cty Ct

[Editor's Note: On the basis of the above application, Joseph Sparks was granted a pension, but two years later, when he was required to list his possessions his pension was revoked--because be owned more property than the pension law permitted.]

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, County of Tolland 55. County Court, or Court of Common Pleas June Term 1820.

On this 28th day of June 1820, personally appeared in open Court, the same Court being a Court of record for said County, having the power of fine and imprisonment, Joseph Sparks aged 59 years, resident in Willington in the County of Tolland, who being first duly sworn according to law doth, on his oath, declare that he served in the Revolutionary War, as follows: to wit, three years as a private in a Company commanded by Capt Ichabod Hinckley, Col Charles Webbs Regt in the cont line as stated in his original declaration now on file in the office of the Secretary of War being dated the 2d day of May 1818 and that he has received a pension and now holds a pension Certificate No. 1248. [There follows a printed declaration that the declarant owns no property except that listed below.]

 Schedule [of personal property.]

70 acres of land in Willington, old house & barn thereon worth
 per acre, 8.50 is -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------595.00

2 oxen 48.00 1 Cow 16.00 1 yearling heifer 5.00 1 calf 3.00 73.00
1 horse 40.00 2 hogs 10.00 7 sheep & lambs 6.00 1 plow 2.00 18.00
1 chain 1.50 1 yoke 1.00 2 axes 1.25 1 hoe .17 3.92
1 horse 40.00 1 sythe .50     40.50

Household furniture---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 30.00

[signed] Joseph Sparks

Occupation--a farmer, infirm and unable to labour but a very little--family, wife aged 53 years and has been under the care of a physician for 18 years and still is, and is now unable to do any kind of labour--4 children: a son named Origin aged 20 years--a daughter named Roxalana 28 years of age on hire--one son named Solimon aged 13 years, and a son named Joseph 11 years of age--and a daughter of Mr Lyon 11 years of age. [Editor's note: apparently by these '4 children' he meant those of his children still at home; who the 'daughter of Mr Lyon' was is not known.]

Debts owing:

Owing to Chester Carpenter 47.23 Owing to E--?--tical Society 25.00
Do. to Doot J. Palmer 16.00   Do. to Horace Vinton 7.00
Do. to Tho. Knowlton 6.36   Do. to Rev~ Jared Sparks 40.00
Do. to Ebenr Rook 2.00   Do. to Doct. J. Palmer Jr 2.00
Do. to John Fuller 40.00   Do. to Roxalana Sparks 100.00
Do. to G. N. Merrick 2.00   Do. to Dammon Cushrnan 12.72
Do. to Elijah Merrick 5.82   Do. to Roswell Duenham 10.00
Do. to Liman Carpenter 3.60     196.72
  123.01     123.01
  319.73   Deduct 40.00 279.73

       Sworn to and declared by said Joseph Sparks on the 28 day of June 1820 before said Court, and it is the
       opinion of said Court that the total amount in value of the property exhibited in the aforesaid schedule is 760
       dollars and 42 cents and that the declarant now owes 279 dollars 73 Cents and that his circumstances with
       those of his family are as herein stated. [Elisha Stearns, Clerk of the County Court, added a certificate stating
       that the above was a true copy of the record of the court.]

State of Connecticut/ SS
County of Tolland /

       On this eighth day of August AD 1838 personally appeared before the Court of Probate for the District of Tolland now in session in Willington within said district Eleanor Sparks a resident of said Willington in said County of Tolland, aged Seventy years, who being duly sworn according to law doth on her oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of congress passed July 7th AD 1838 entitled An act granting half pay and pensions to certain widows.

        That she is the widow of Joseph Sparks late of said Willington deceased, who according to her best knowledge and belief was a soldier in the war of the revolution and performed service for a period of about three years according to her best knowledge & belief and subsequently received a pension under the act of Congress of 1818, which was afterwards suspended in consequence of his being the owner of a small amount of property. As to the best evidence of her claim she would refer the Commissioner to the declaration of her late husband & the papers connected therewith now in the pension office at Washington. As she married him subsequent to his rendering the service for which he was pensioned, and that she is unable to make a specific declaration as to the services he performed from her own personal knowledge, and she must rely solely on the testimony of others in support of those services: she relies on the fourth rule adopted by the department on the 17th of July 1838, requesting a reference to the papers now on file.

       She further declares that she married the said Joseph Sparks at Willington aforesaid on the 24th day of December AD. 1789 and that her husband the said Joseph Sparks died on the 26th day of January 1826--and that she was not married to him prior to his leaving the service but that the marriage took place previous to the first day of January seventeen hundred and Ninety-four (viz) at the time above stated. And that she has ever since remained unmarried and is still a widow.

[signed] Eleanore Sparks

[Novatus Chapman, Judge of Probate, signed a statement following the above declaration to the effect that Eleanor Sparks had appeared and sworn as stated. The Town Clerk, Gideon N. Merick, also signed a statement to the effect that a record of the marriage of Joseph Sparks and Eleanor Oroutt was recorded on page 84 of Book B 'for marriages births & deaths.']

[On August 8, 1838, Oliver Holt, 'of Willington County . . . aged Sixty three years residing near the Widow Eleanor Sparks,' swore that he had known Joseph Sparks over a period of 'several years' and that he had received a pension before his death. On March 15, 1839, Eleanor Sparks signed an application for a transfer of her pension; she stated that she had moved from Connecticut to New York City 'to reside with her children.' On the same day she signed another statement to the effect that she had lived in New York City for 'the space of six months past.' Also on March 15, 1839, Eleanor's son, Daniel Sparks, resident of New York City, signed a statement to the effect that he 'well knows her to be the identical person described in her affidavit and copy of her original certificate hereto annexed.'

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State of Connecticut/SS                                Probate Court. District of Tolland, this 2d day of
Tolland County /                                                                  January AD. 1844.

       On this 24 day of January AD. 1844, personally appeared before the Court of Probate for the District of Tolland in the County of Tolland and State of Connecticut aforesaid in open Court, Origen Sparks of the town of Willington in said Tolland County aged forty three years, who first being duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration, in order to obtain the arrears of a pension due to Eleanor Sparks late of said town of Willington deceased under the provisions made by the Act of Congress, passed on the 3d day of March 1843, granting pensions to widows of persons who served during the Revolutionary War.

        That he the said Origen Sparks is the son of the said Eleanor Sparks decd and is the administrator on her estate duly appointed in all respects according to law. That the said Eleanor Sparks died at said town of Willington on the 24 day of May 1843, and was at the time of her decease the widow of Joseph Sparks of said town of Willington who was a soldier in the army of the Revolution and served therein as stated in an application of the said Eleanor Sparks made to obtain the benefits of the act of Congress passed July 7, 1838, and upon which application the said Eleanor Sparks obtained a pension certificate entitling her to receive the sum of Eighty Dollars per annum for five years to wit, from March 4th 1836 to March 4, 1841, and which said sum was paid her in accordance with the terms of said certificate, and that the said Eleanor is entitled to receive at the rate of Eighty Dollars per annum from the fourth of March 1843 to May 2, 1843, the time of her death. That the said Eleanor at the time of her death left the following named children, to wit, Roxana Sparks, Origen Sparks, Solymon Sparks, and Joseph Sparks, all of said Willington and Daniel Sparks of the City and County of New York, & Caleb Sparks in the State of Vermont.

Sworn to and subscribed on the day and year first above written--in open Court.

[signed] Origin Sparks