January 18, 2018

Pages 3336-3339
Whole Number 144

RHODE ISLAND CENSUS RECORDS



Rhode Island, the 13th state to enter the Union, was included, of course, in the first census taken by the federal government in 1790. According to that census, which identified by name only heads of households, there was but one Sparks household in Rhode Island in 1790. It was that of Joseph Sparks who lived in the town of Warren in Bristol County. Living with him were two males under 16 years of age, along with one female. (The enumeration of members of households in 1790 was limited to giving the number of males over 16, the number under 16, and the number of females, regardless of age.)

From an application for a pension by the widow of Joseph Sparks in 1837, we know that Joseph had been a sailor and that he had "died on his homeward voyage from sea on January 8, 1795." Charity Sparks, widow of Joseph, had been married previously to Thomas Champlin in 1778, a Revolutionary war soldier who had sailed for the West Indies in October 1780, but "neither he, the crew, nor the vessel were ever heard from again." It was on Champlin's service in the Revolution that Charity based her claim for a pension.

Joseph and Charity Sparks had three children:

(1) Edward Cole Sparks, born June 1, 1788;
(2) Joseph Sparks, Jr., born April 19, 1790;
(3) Samuel Cole Sparks, born September 2, 1796.

The latter's birth, with the names of his parents identified as Joseph and Charity Sparks, is recorded in Book 2, page 100, of the Warren town records in Bristol County. His date of birth suggests that the date of death for his father, Joseph Sparks, as given by Charity Sparks in her pension application, must have been in error. The application which she signed in 1837 had been prepared by someone other than herself, judging from her signature, and the writer could well have misunderstood Charity when he noted Joseph's death as having occurred on the "3d day of January 1795." It is also possible that, after the passage of over 40 years, Charity, herself, recalled the date incorrectly.

We have given this information regarding the family of Joseph Sparks because, as will be seen from the following census records, his was the only Sparks family appearing on the Rhode Island census records from 1800 through 1840. In fact, this was also true when the 1850 census was taken of Rhode Island, except for the presence of a Helen Sparks (age 17, born in Connecticut) in East Greenwich in Kent County - - she w as a student there in a "Methodist school." (For a record of the persons named Sparks appearing on the 1850 census of Rhode Island, the reader is referred to the Quarterly of March 1985, Vol. No. XXXIII, No. 1, Whole No. 129, page 2735.)

As illustrated in the following census records for Rhode Island, only the head of each household was actually named on any federal census prior to 1850. Members of households, whether family members or not, were then enumerated by sex and age categories following the head's name (who was also included in the enumeration.) The age groupings gradually became more precise in succeeding decades, as will be noted.

SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS APPEARING ON THE 1800 CENSUS OF RHODE ISLAND

  Males   Females
  0
10
10
16
 16
26
26
45
45
up
||| 0
10
10
16
16
26
26
45
45
up
Bristol County           |||          
 Town of Warren           |||          
Charity Sparks (p. 32)   2 1 1   |||       1  
SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS APPEARING ON THE 1810 CENSUS OF RHODE ISLAND
Bristol County           |||          
 Town of Warren           |||          
Edward Sparks (p.15)     1     |||     1   1
SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS APPEARING ON THE 1820 CENSUS OF RHODE ISLAND
Bristol County           |||          
 Town of Bristol           |||          
Samuel C. Sparks (p.6)     1     |||     1    
Charity Sparks (p. 17)       1   |||         2

SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS APPEARING ON THE 1830 CENSUS OF RHODE ISLAND

  Males   Females
  0
5
5
10
10
15
15
20
20
30
30
40
40
50
50
60
60
70
70
80
80
90
90
100
+
100
||| 0
5
5
10
10
15
15
20
20
30
30
40
40
50
50
60
60
70
70
80
80
90
90
100
+
100
Bristol County                           |||                          
 Town of Bristol                           |||                          
Samuel Sparks (357) 1 1       1               ||| 1       1                
Joseph Sparks (357)             1             ||| 1         1     1        
SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS APPEARING ON THE 1840 CENSUS OF RHODE ISLAND
Bristol County                           |||                          
 Town of Warren                           |||                          
Edward Sparks (12)     1 1       1           |||       1  . 1   1          
 Town of Bristol                           |||                          
Joseph Sparks (35)               1           |||       1     1            
Sam'l Sparks (40) 1     1     1             ||| 1 2 1     1              

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