Whole Number 24
by Paul E. Sparks
(Editor's Note: The book here reviewed should prove of particular interest to the descendants of the Sparkses who settled in the Yadkin Riven Valley of western North Carolina during the period 1750-70.)
Jemima, Daughter of Daniel Boone is a charming and refreshing story for teenage boys and girls, but it will be of interest to all who are interested in pioneer life as well.
The story begins in Oct, 1768, in the Yadkin River Valley, near Salisbury, North Carolina. Here live the Boones, the Bryans, the Grants, the Sparkses, and other pioneer families. As the story opens, plans are being made to leave for the new land of Kentucky -- plans that mature in September of the following year. (See The Sparks Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 3, September, 1953.)
This is the biography of a frontier girl, and it is told in simple but interesting style. The central character, of course, is Jemima Boone, who celebrates her sixth birthday in the first chapter. She marries Flanders Calloway ten years later, in the last. chapter. One of her favorite girl friends is Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of Jonas Sparks.
A good description is given of the ill-fated venture into Kentucky, which ended with the Indian attack in the Powell Riven Valley. Subsequently, the party turned back into Virginia, and the trip was not completed until the fall of 1775.
This book was written by Margaret Sutton (Mrs. William H. Sutton), and it was published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, in 1953. It costs $2.50, and the proceeds from the sale of the book go to a building fund of Mrs. Sutton's church. Mrs. Sutton lives at 261 Rutland Road, Freeport, New York.
Whole Number 72
A member of the Association has just published a very impressive book. Mr. Hoke Holland West, 6140 West Main St., Gallatin, Tennessee, has spent a quarter of a century gathering material on the West family. In the end, his book contained so much more than just a family record, Mr. West gave it a more descriptive title: WHAT IS IN A NAME? WEST, THE LIFE OF A FAMILY, A PEOPLE, THEIR HISTORY, THEIR HOMES, THEIR JANUS AND THEIR HOPES, THEIR LABORS AND THEIR COURAGE, THEIR FAITH, THEIR DEVOTION AND THEIR LOYALTY, THEIR LOVE AND THEIR DREAMS.
Miles West, ancestor of the West family portrayed in this volume, was born in Virginia in what is now Charlotte County on April 22, 1771. He was united with the Hunting Creek Baptist Church in 1801 and preached his first sermon at the water's edge before changing to dry clothes. He came to Tennessee in 1804, arriving at what is now Carthage on Christmas Eve and spent the night one mile north of there, moving on to the vicinity of Rome and Dixon Springs the following day. A short time thereafter, he cast his lot with Dixon Creek Baptist Church and in January 1807 he became the second pastor of that church. He served there until 1812 when he transferred to Salt Lick Church in Jackson County where he served as pastor the remainder of his life. He died in August 1804, having lived in Smith County, Tennessee, almost forty-one years. His wife, Lucy Parker, died about two months later. Miles West's father was Dr. Robin West, who came to Virginia ca. 1740-1750 from Ulster. He died in 1804 while on the trip to Tennessee and was buried at Jonesboro, Tennessee.
Mr. West, author of this volume, was the husband of Lois Weatherspoon West who painted the Sparks coat-of-arms for so many members of the Association prior to her death in 1966. (Mrs. S. R. Rountree, R.F.D. 1, Box 1114, Gatesville, North Carolina, 27938, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. West, is now performing this service; paintings may be ordered from her for $5.50 each.)
Mr. West's book may be ordered directly from him for $18.75 per copy, plus So cents for mailing costs. It contains nearly 1400 pages and measures 9 x 12 inches. There are many illustrations, some in color, including the West and Parker coats-of-arms. The volume is handsomely bound with an attractive jacket. Mr. West's address is: 6140 West Main St., Gallatin, Tennessee, 37066.
Whole Number 101
Late in 1977, Nancy Chambers Underwood published a genealogical volume comprising nearly 570 pages under the title Fifty Families: A History. Each of the families featured in this work, representing a decade of research, is connected in some way with the family of Mrs. Underwood. One of these is a branch of the Sparks family to which eight pages of text are devoted along with several pages of photographs. This chapter was contributed by Baxter Abbott Sparks, Jr., long a member of the Sparks Family Association.
The ancestor of this particular Sparks family was William Millington Sparks, a Maryland planter, who was married on May 25, 1797, to Rebecca Brooks. A son was Samuel Wyatt Sparks, born July 7, 1803; he married Sarah Deal in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1829. Samuel Wyatt Sparks lived in Mississippi and Arkansas before finally settling with his family in Lampasas County, Texas, in 1857.
Among the children of Samuel W. and Sarah (Deal) Sparks was John Sparks, born August 30, 1843, who was twice elected governor of Nevada, in 1903 and in 1907. Another son was Martin Van Buren Sparks, born April 3, 1837, whose portrait has been reproduced in this volume. He married Susan Louise Bull. Information is given on the descendants of Martin Van Buren Sparks, including Andrea Jean Sparks, his great-great-granddaughter (born 1951) who married George Milton Underwood III, son of the compiler of this work.
Copies of Fifty Families: A History may be ordered directly from Nancy Chambers Underwood, 12700 Park Central Plaza, Suite 1606, Dallas, Texas (75251) for $25.00 plus $1.00 for shipping and handling.
Whole Number 105
(Editor's Note: During the Fall of 1978, several members of the Sparks Family Association received material from the American Genealogical Research Institute advertising a book entitled SPARKS FAMILY HISTORY and inviting them to buy it. President Paul E. Sparks purchased a copy and presents a review for our readers.)
The SPARKS FAMILY HISTORY, prepared by the American Genealogical Research Institute, 1235 Kenilworth Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. (20019), was printed by Heritage Press, Inc. of the same city. It was copyrighted by the Institute in 1978. It is an 81 page paperback book with a 50-page appendix. It contains eight chapters. According to the advertising, only 1250 copies were printed. The book costs $5.95.
The book is quite superficial for even an unsophisticated beginning genealogist. Much of the material in each chapter could be used in a history of any family, be it the JONES family, the SMITH family, or the SPARKS family. A trip to a modern library with a genealogical section should result in the same amount of knowledge. The superficiality, however, would not be too difficult to deal with, if it were not for the glaring errors and the omissions of vital data with which the unsuspecting buyer must cope. Here is a review of each chapter.
1. Family Name and Arms - 9 pages. The derivation of the surname SPARKS is treated on one page only. The SPARKS crest (or arms is from Burke's General Armory.
2. Ancestral Emigrants - 25 pages. The Institute gives major attention to material more suitable for an introductory course in American history than for a history of the SPARKS family. After sixteen pages with no mention of a person named SPARKS, the statement is made, "For a start, if your ancestor immigrated in or prior to 1800, the chances are good that you need look no further. The listing which follows contains all known recorded immigrants of the SPARKS family for that time frame." Then follows the names of twenty-two men named SPARKS, the date they arrived in America, and the colony where they settled. (Underlining is by President Sparks.)
Obviously, this statement is misleading, and taken literally, many persons would probably look no further for their immigrant SPARKS ancestor. This statement, however, cannot be correct. It is doubtful whether anyone has collected together all known recorded Sparkses who came to early America. The sources are many and knowledge of these persons continues to grow. As an example, no mention was made in this book of the Sparkses who came to early Maryland as reported in Early Settlers of Maryland, edited by Gust Skordas in 1968. These Sparks men were: Matt Sparks, 1676; William Sparks, 1662; Richard Sparks, 1673; Thomas Sparks, 1669; and William Sparks, 1663.
3. Early Marriage Records - 4 pages. Only three SPARKS marriage records are listed.
4. Census of 1790 - 5 pages. A listing of persons named SPARKS who appeared on the 1790 census of the United States should be an easy task, since this census is well known and has been widely distributed in printed form. It is disconserting, therefore, to note the errors and omissions in this chapter. Among these are the following:
Connecticut. Jonathan Sparks was listed, but we cannot find him. Not listed were: Tolland County: Jno. Sparks & Jos. Sparks; Windham County: Isaiah Sparks, Lemuel Sparks, John Sparks & Saml. Sparks.
Maine. Not listed were: Cumberland County: David Sparks; Lincoln County: James Sparks.
Maryland. Not listed were: Caroline County: Daniel Sparkes; Frederick County Joseph Sparks.
North Carolina. Two Jonathan Sparkses were listed from Morgan District whom we cannot find. Not listed were: Wilkes County: John Sparks & John Sparks; Rowan County: William Sparks.
Pennsylvania. Not listed was Widow Sparks of Fayette County.
South Carolina. Not listed were: Newberry County: George Sparks; Union County: Zachariah Sparks & John Sparks; Laurens County: William Sparks.
Virginia. Not listed were: Culpeper County: Elizabeth Sparks, Henry Sparks, Humphrey Sparks, John Sparks, Thomas Sparks, & Thomas Sparks, Jr.; Fayette County: Isaac Sparks; Lincoln County: Thomas Sparks; Prince William County: James Sparks, John Sparks, John Sparks, & William Sparks; Westmoreland County: Alexander Sparks' Est. & Caty Sparks.
5. Patriots and Veterans - 21 pages. Seventeen pages are devoted to a general treatment of the military records of all persons who have served our country, before the names of fifteen men named SPARKS are listed. Good references are given for these names. Not included, however, are the names of eight men who actually received a pension for their military service in the American Revolution, including: New York: Abraham Sparks & Pearl Sparks; Massachusetts: David Sparks; Pennsylvania: James Sparks & Solomon Sparks; New Jersey: John Sparks & John Sparks; Connecticut: Joseph Sparks.
6. Short Biographies - 5 pages. Only four men named SPARKS were included. A standard encyclopedia of well-known Americans would have provided several other names which should have been included.
7. Place Names - 2 pages. The listing appears fairly complete; however, one place name is in error. Sparkman, Arkansas was named for a person named SPARKMAN, not for one named SPARKS.
8. Constructing Your Family Tree - 7 pages. We find no fault with this chapter, although it, too, is fairly superficial. Perhaps the best statement we found in the entire book appears here. It says, "This advice may be had for the mere price of the effort required to visit your nearest public library." We suggest that the reader use his or her money on a trip to a good library, rather than spending it for a copy of this book.
(Editor's Note: Because of the great popularity of genealogy brought about in part by the recent celebration of the Nation's bicentennial and the publication and TV production of Roots, a number of publishers are attempting to capitalize on this popularity by publishing "how-to-do-it" books. Some of these are given misleading titles suggesting that they are devoted to a particular family whereas in reality they are simply advice on how to do genealogical research with only a few references to a particular family. Members of the Sparks Family Association are urged to beware of this kind of misleading advertising.)
Whole Number 107
to be published in 1980
In the article devoted to the descendants of Nicholas Sparks of Truro, Mass., appearing in the March and September, 1979, issues of the Quarterly, frequent reference is made to tombstone inscriptions found in Provincetown, Mass. Lurana H. Cook, co-author of this article, is, indeed, an authority on the cemetery records of Provincetown. She is one of four individuals, including her husband, Hugh Francis Cook, Anne Gleason MacIntyre, and John Stuart MacIntyre, who have spent countless hours recording the vital information soon to be published in book form by Heritage Books, Inc., of Bowie, Maryland.
We wish that we might reproduce here the entire introduction to this publication written by Mrs. Cook and her associates. It begins: "Nowhere is one struck more tangibly by a sense of one's own mortality than when standing alone in a quiet cemetery." The final paragraph reads: "As individuals we have ties of blood and/or affinity with these past generations of Provincetown. When they were laid to rest in these cemeteries it was certainly with a. hope of lasting remembrance, a hope that today seems to be threatened by the passage of time. by preserving these cemetery inscriptions we are trying to extend that remembrance into the future."
The inscriptions of Provincetown's oldest cemetery (called Cemetery Number One) were published many years ago. Therefore, the Cooks and the MacIntyres devoted their attention to the next three oldest cemeteries, known as Number Two, Gifford, and Hamilton. There are over 4,000 burials in these three cemeteries. According to the introduction: "Each cemetery's contents are recorded separately by lot numbers; each cemetery is indexed by names, death dates and lot numbers. Maps of the three cemeteries are included in this book."
As noted earlier, this book is scheduled for publication early in 1980. Persons interested in learning more about it should feel free to write to Lurana H. Cook, P.O. Box 54, Cooper Road, Truro, Mass. (02666)
Whole Number 114
Myra D. Manley of Moore, Oklahoma, has transcribed and published a journal kept by her great-great-grandfather, James Andrew Sparks, from July 1886 to December 1892. James Andrew Sparks was a son of David Wallace and Nancy (Marks) Sparks who were married in Clarke County, Ohio, on May 21, 1836. He was a grandson of Andrew Sinnickson and Jane (Templeton) Sparks who were originally from New Jersey. Andrew S. Sparks and his brother, Simon Sparks, were in Greene County, Ohio, as early as 1813. (See the Quarterly of June 1963, Whole No. 142, pp. 738-141, for a record of their service in the War of 1812.)
Earlier, in the Quarterly of December 1980, Whole No. 112, page 2261, we announced Mrs. Manley's publication of the diary of Mary Melissa (Sparks) Clarke, daughter of James Andrew Sparks and his wife, Nancy (Heaton) Sparks. (James Andrew Sparks and Nancy Heaton were married in Greene County, Indiana, on June 21, 1855; they had six children: Mary, Joseph Henry, David Ellsworth, Margaret, Edward Langston, and Claude Lovell.)
The diary of Mary Melissa (Sparks) Clarke was written (with some gaps) between 1879 and 1898, during which period the family moved from Iowa to Kansas and from Kansas to Oklahoma. The diary of James Andrew Sparks was kept while the family was living in Kansas and fills 72 printed pages. Also included in this publication are the minutes of the Leesburgh Farmers Alliance No. 278 from 1889 to 1891 (50 pages), an organization with which the Sparks family was very much involved. Mrs. Manley has provided a name index to these minutes as well as to the journal. She has also included a transcription of the 1880 census of York Township, Stafford County, Kansas, to help in the identification of individuals mentioned in the journal.
This publication, like the one cited earlier, is available from Mrs. Manley for $15.00. Copies may be obtained by writing to her at P.O. Box 6812, Moore, Oklahoma. (73153).
Whole Number 120
(Published by Beatrice Bayley, Inc.)
A Critical Review, by Russell E. Bidlack
Last spring thousands of persons named Sparks, including members of our Association, received a postal card dated April 21, 1982, bearing the printed signature of one "Beatrice Bayley" of Sterling, Pennsylvania. The card announced that The Sparks Family Heritage Book would be published on May 19. It would be limited to only one edition, and, therefore, if the recipient of the postal card wanted a copy, he or she would have to order immediately. "It is limited to one book per household," the advertisement read, "and it will be printed only on your specific order. Requests for this single printing must be placed before May 19. Orders posted after this date must be declined."
The postal card stated that the book would be "a guide to the discovery and documentation of your personal and family heritage." It is interesting to note that the wording did not actually state that the book would contain genealogical materials on the Sparks family, although the announced title would certainly suggest this. Bayley went on to state that she had spent thousands of dollars and months of work to research through 70 million families and I have located almost every SPARKS FAMILY in these United States." "The SPARKS name is very rare," Bayley continued, "and my research has shown there is only about one SPARKS family for every quarter million Americans."
On the reverse side of the card, Bayley claimed: "Since my retirement from school teaching, I have researched the locations of my own and other families across these United States. I think that you will be pleased with my work. If you're not, I guarantee you a full refund within ten days." She also described her book as "hard leather texture bound," "stamped and embossed in gold," and "serially numbered and registered to owner." Among its features, again quoting the postal card, under the heading "YOUR UNIQUE & DISTINCTIVE BOOK CONTAINS" appeared the following: "A special directory of almost every family with your name," "The history of our origins in the U.S.," "The development of family crests," "The origin of family names," and "Areas to add descriptions of new family members and existing family trees." In small type at the bottom of one side of the portion of the postal card to be returned with one's check appeared the price - - $29.85.
We believe, from information to which I shall refer later in this review, that this postal card was mailed to nearly 18,000 persons in the United States named Sparks. Note that if only one out of every fifty recipients of the card sent to Beatrice Bayley a check for $29.85, her total receipts would amount to well over $10,000.
Several members of The Sparks Family Association wrote to me before ordering the Bayley book, and I was able to warn them of the disappointment they would suffer if they did, indeed, purchase a copy. Unfortunately, I am afraid that many others wrote their checks for $29.85 only to learn in early September, when the volume arrived, that The Sparks Family Heritage Book has nothing to do with Sparks family history. In fact, the only place that the name Sparks appears in this unpaged volume is on the title-page and on a "certificate" following the title-page giving a number for the owner's particular copy. This "certificate" bears the identical reprint of the signature (?) of Beatrice Bayley that appeared on the postal card. The "certificate," however, contains the statement: "In Witness Whereof, Beatrice Bayley Incorporated has caused this certificate to be signed by its duly authorized officer." Actually, the signature is printed, not signed. The Sparks name appears in one other place in the book - - the section listing names and addresses of 17,928 Sparkses.
Who is "Beatrice Bayley" or "Beatrice Bayley, Incorporated"? There is reason to doubt that "she" even exists as a person connected with this publication. Her name does not appear in standard directories, such as Who's Who in Genealogy & Heraldry. It has even been suggested that "she" is actually a "he"--a man named Kurt Schneider, who was apprehended for fraud a few years ago. (See the June 8, 1982, Newsletter of the Essex Society of Genealogists.) Another writer (Jacquelyn L. Ricker, editor of The Connecticut Nutmegger published by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc. has noted that a "Sharon Taylor," whose operation is based in Copley, Ohio, has sent out announcements that "read almost word for word like Beatrice Bayley's." These two names, Beatrice Bayley and Sharon Taylor, are apparently being used by the same individual or company.
The telephone information service for area 717 in which Sterling, Pennsylvania, is located, readily provides a number for Beatrice Bayley (689-2684). In fact, when I called information for the number, the operator indicated with a laugh that there are frequent requests for Ms. Bayley's number. Initially, I tried calling the number on a weekend, but there was never an answer. When I tried on a weekday, however, a young man answered who identified himself as Beatrice Bayley's secretary. He said that I could not speak to Ms. Bayley, however, because "she is traveling." I then asked whether she is ever available to take a call, and he admitted that she never is. To my blunt question as to whether she actually exists, the young man assured me that she does and that he had actually seen her on one occasion.
The reason that I was able to warn Association members who wrote to me regarding the Bayley book was because the postal card announcing publication of The Sparks Family Heritage Book was identical, except for the name Sparks, to the card I had received dated February 17, 1982, announcing publication of The Bidlack Family Heritage Book. It was also identical, except for the surname, to that dated August 19,1981, addressed to my secretary announcing the publication of The Rider Family Heritage Book. Earlier, a professional colleague had received the identical card announcing The Womer Family Heritage Book. I also know of others who have received the same card for the names Boaz, Kaplan, Gebhart, Halbert, Durkee, Reedy, and Rose. Apparently there have been scores, if not hundreds, of others.
Not only are the advertisements identical, but so are the family "heritage books" themselves, except for the substitution of the name on the title-page, the "certificate," and the section giving names and addresses for persons bearing the name in question.
Because I wished to review Bayley's The Sparks Family Heritage Book in the Quarterly, I sent the required check for $29.85 on May 15 in my wife's name, Melva Sparks Bidlack. According to a stamped endorsement on the back of the check, it was deposited in the Gladstone Bank in Gladstone, New Jersey, on May 19 in an account named "Peapack."
In early June, my wife received a form letter dated May 28 and postmarked by meter "North Wales, Pa." thanking her for her order. The return address on the envelope added "Springhill Road" to the Bayley address in Sterling, Pennsylvania, but on the letter-head of the form letter, "Inc." appears after the name Beatrice Bayley. A careful reading of this letter, as is true also of the original advertisement, gave no assurance that The Sparks Family Heritage Book would, indeed, constitute a family history. "As you might know," the form letter stated, "not only is each book specially bound to order, but all books for a 'family' must be prepared at one time. I'd like you to allow me four to six weeks to deliver your personal copy of this book."
My wife's copy of The Sparks Family Heritage Book arrived on September first, as I am sure it did in scores of other homes across the country. While I knew what to expect, I can imagine the disappointment that it must have brought to most recipients. (I would be interested to know whether any of our Association's members took advantage of the guarantee made on the original postal card: "I think you will be pleased with my work. If you're not, I guarantee you a fall refund within ten days.")
At first glance, the volume, containing about 250 unnumbered pages of which 87 actually contain text along with pictures, appears to be quite attractive. The binding, which is rather heavy green paper over cardboard, has a slight resemblance to leather, and the decoration of gold paint could be imagined as gold leaf. Claiming that "research for this publication" had led her to Colonial Williamsburg, Ms. Bayley asserts in her introduction that "the gold stamping on this cover is an original design based on art work discovered during my research" and she thanks "Kelly Ann Glinsky, the artist on my staff, as well as the Colonial Williamsburg Library for collaborating on this unusual and interesting cover." For a book that purports to have some relationship to the Sparks family not to have the name Sparks on either the spine or cover may strike one as curious until we remember that it is the same book, including the cover, that Beatrice Bayley, Inc. has mailed out for each of the scores of families for which she claims to have prepared a "family heritage book." There is, however, an "S" on the spine.
The table of contents lists the 22 parts into which the book is divided. Without even going beyond this table, one quickly realizes that he will search in vain for any information on the Sparks family, except the names and addresses of 17,928 persons who bear the name. The titles of the chapters reveal what the book really is - - a general "how-to-do-it" guide to genealogical research.
There are of course, dozens of "how-to-do-it" books for the beginning genealogist. Almost without exception, these dozens of other books are superior to that of Beatrice Bayley. Such works as Gilbert Doane's popular Searching for Your Ancestors, first published in 1937; Donald Lines Jacobus' Genealogy as Pastime and Profession, which dates back to 1930; Ethel Williams' Know Your Ancestors, A Guide to Genealogical Research, first published in 1960; and the 1980 revised edition of Genealogical Research: Methods and Sources, Vol. 1, edited by Milton Rubincam for the American Society of Genealogists 1980), are vastly superior to the Bayley volume at a fraction of the cost. In fact, a little 64-page pamphlet that I purchased for 49 cents in a supermarket two years ago (Finding Your Roots by Marilyn Markham Heimberg) is a better guide for the beginning genealogist than is the Bayley book in its many misleading titles.
Several of the chapters in the Bayley "heritage books" appear to have been taken from old encyclopedias or American history textbooks and are on such subjects as heraldry (6 pages), the origin of names (4 pages), and ethnic origins of Americans (16 pages). In these chapters there are many pictures that occupy considerable space - - the same as one would find in cheap encyclopedias and old elementary-level textbooks on American history. All are black and white and are poorly reproduced; furthermore, they serve no purpose other than to fill space. There is a photo of Plymouth Rock, a dim drawing of a Viking ship, a blotch of black and white that purports to have been taken at a naturalization ceremony in New York in 1924, what appears to be a child's drawing of William Penn negotiating with Indians, etc. Many pages are occupied by blank charts on which one is supposed to record his own personal history and the names of ancestors. No fewer than nine pages are devoted to blank charts on which to keep tract of one's genealogical correspondence. There are six pages containing testimonial letters from happy receivers of previous Bayley "heritage books" - - the writers are identified only by initials or a first name, and, in a few instances, the state where the writer supposedly resides. Their authenticity is certainly open to question.
There is also a list of genealogical and historical societies in the United States with their addresses that has some value, along with a very limited bibliography of "Reference Books" for the genealogist. In this latter section, there are no other "how-to-do-it" books mentioned, nor is anything listed that has been publisted since 1978. It is not surprising, considering the kind of book this is, that there is no mention of The Sparks Family Association nor The Sparks Quarterly.
One other curiosity of The Sparks Family Heritage Book is its frontispiece, a full page devoted to the reproduction of what is labeled as a 1912 photograph taken in Brooklyn, New York. The subject, however, is not a member of the Sparks family as one might expect to find in a book having "Sparks Family" in its title, but instead is what purports to be four-year-old Beatrice Bayley with her beautiful mother. According to the caption, little Beatrice is wearing her "christening dress" while her mother is adorned in her "wedding gown." Considering the number of Bayley "heritage books" that have been printed, it would be my guess that this photograph should qualify for inclusion in the Guinness Book of Records as having been used as a frontispiece in more books than any other photograph in history. But, one would have to concede, it has always been the same book, just bearing different titles.
Beatrice Bayley, Inc. is, of course, taking advantage, unethical advantage in my opinion, of the great growth of interest in genealogy to make money. A number of articles have appeared in genealogical journals denouncing her technique of misleading people to believe that the "heritage books" are something that they are not. In the August 1981 issue of the National Genealogical Society's Newsletter, a genealogist named Victor H. Gebhart described The Reedy Family Heritage Book that he had examined and he urged members of the Society to warn people regarding all of the Bayley books. The Car-Del Scribe, a nationally circulated genealogical periodical, warned its subscribers to stay clear of Beatrice Bayley, Inc. and reported that "rumor has it that the firm is under investigation by Pennsylvania authorities." There has even been discussion, in a humorous vein, on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." Martin Kaplan, a regular commentator on that program, reported that "this month's most beguiling piece of junk mail comes from Beatrice Bayley." He described the usual Bayley postal card claiming to have "spent thousands of dollars and months of work to locate almost every KAPLAN family in these United States." (The text of Kaplan's remarks has been published in the April 1982 issue of Genealogy, a publication of the Family History Section, Indiana Historical Society.)
A number of disappointed purchasers of the Bayley "heritage books" have asked why legal action cannot be brought against Beatrice Bayley, Inc. for fraud, especially considering that the books are sent through the United States mails. According to the June 8, 1982, Newsletter of the Essex Society of Genealogists, a number of years ago Beatrice Bayley was, indeed, apprehended for fraud in connection with a similar publishing venture and turned out not be a "she" but a "he," a man named Kurt Schneider. According to this account, the party, then operating out of Maryland, went into "seclusion" for awhile, but then resurfaced in Sterling, Pennsylvania. Apparently "Beatrice" learned from "her" earlier experience, for when one reads the Bayley postal card carefully, no claim is made that, legally, could be considered a falsehood. Beatrice Bayley, Inc. will, I fear, continue to make a great deal of money by misleading people into buying "her" books. We can only hope that many of the victims will demand their money back promptly.
A final word should be said about the names and addresses found in each of the "heritage books" - - the only feature of the work having any direct relationship to the family name in question. The Bidlack Family Heritage Book contains fewer than 100 Bidlacks and their addresses, but the name Bidlack is, indeed, rare.
As noted earlier, however, there are no fewer than 17,928 Sparkses listed in The Sparks Family Heritage Book. In the postal card advertisement, Bayley, Inc. claimed, as in all versions of the postal card, that "my research has shown there is only about one SPARKS family for every quarter million Americans." Were this true, "she" would have succeeded in locating a maximum of 920 Sparkses. Apparently, no inconsistency was noted in her statement when nearly 18,000 adults bearing the name were found.
To sell the heritage books, Beatrice Bayley, Inc. is obviously interested in finding the names and addresses of as many persons with the name in question as possible in order to mail the postal card advertisement. It is this mailing list, arranged by zip number, that is then reproduced in the book itself. What is the source of these names? The explanation given in the introduction of each "heritage book" mentions "data banks" to which Bayley, Inc. has computer access that "contain listings from automotive registrations, telephone directories and the results of house-to-house convassing for cross street directories." The claim is further made that the total "data bank" available contains 70 million names. This computerized data bank is obviously programmed in such a manner as to provide a print-out of all persons bearing the same surname, in zip code order.
This claim may well be true, for a check of our Association's membership list reveals that approximately 80 percent of those members named Sparks are, indeed, among the 17,928 names appearing in The Sparks Family Heritage Book. It is interesting to note, but not surprising, that the largest number of Sparkses, according to the Bayley list, live in Texas (2,064) while the smallest number (13) live in Rhode Island.
We cannot deny that having the addresses of nearly 18,000 persons named Sparks will be useful to us as we seek new members for the Association. This use of The Sparks Family Heritage Book by our Association is very unusual, however, and I doubt that many individuals purchasing it will find these thousands of names, arranged by zip number, to be particularly helpful. In fact, for many whose first real interest in genealogy was awakened when the Bayley postal card arrived, and who then ordered the book (at the outrageous price of $29.85), this interest was probably destroyed when the book arrived in September . Not only is Beatrice Bayley, Inc. thus making a great deal of money from a shoddy and misleading product, "her" unethical action is doing serious harm to the promotion of genealogical research. Shame on you, Beatrice Bayley, Inc.
Whole Number 135
A Book Review by Paul E. Sparks
It is safe to say that the Great Basin is a relatively little known area of the United States, yet, in size, it comprises most of the states of Nevada and Utah, along with portions of California, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. It embraces over 200,000 square miles. No water from this vast area drains into the ocean, yet its chief stream, the Humboldt River, is 375 miles long. The area was given its name in 1844 by soldier-explorer, John C. Fremont.
This dry, rugged and forbidding land was the last grazing resource to be exploited in the United States. The earliest ranchers have long since lost their identity, but their legendary story has survived in the stories of Jasper and Andrew Harrell and their longtime business associate, John Sparks. The story of these men and of their relationship to the Great Basin is told in a most interesting way in a recently published book, Cattle in the Cold Desert.
The authors of Cattle in the Cold Desert, James A. Young and B. Abbott Sparks, are well qualified to write about ranching. Dr. Young was reared in a ranching environment, and he spent over twenty years in soil and plant experimentation in the Great Basin. Abbott Sparks, a great-nephew of John Sparks, has spent most of his life in the publishing business, and he personally developed a publishing company.
The life experiences of John Sparks and Jasper Harrell are used by the authors to show how man, as a herdsman, used the native sagebrush and grasses of the Great Basin to feed his herds. The interaction of these two men with their environment was fierce at times, and both men had personal defeats and victories. Ultimately, however, the sagebrush and grass environment reacted negatively, and the ranchers were forced to learn the limitations which they must use if they were to be successful in raising cattle in the cold desert.
This 250-page book was published in 1985 by the Utah State University Press, located at Logan, Utah (84322). It costs $29.25, including postage and handling. Chapter 6, "John Sparks: Capital, Credit and Courage" is one of the most interesting of the thirteen chapters. The book should be a welcome addition to the library of anyone interested in the cattle industry of the old West.