October 6, 2017

Pages 3572-3574
Whole Number 149

SPARKS HOUSEHOLDS IN ILLINOIS in 1820 and 1830



Illinois was admitted to the Union in 1818 as the 21st state. It had been a territory since 1809. Visited by French explorers in the late 1600s, Illinois' fertile land attracted settlers initially from the southern states, primarily North Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky. They settled in the southern counties while after about 1825 New Englanders began arriving in large numbers in the northern part of the state.

In earlier issues of the Quarterly we have published a record of Sparkses found on the 1840 and 1850 censuses of Illinois. (See the issue for September 1968, Whole No. 63, pp. 1175-77 for the 1840 census and the issue for March 1983, Whole No. 121, pp. 2503-2512 for the 1850 census.)

Illinois' earliest territorial census was taken in 1810, but only part of it survives. Shown on the surviving portion, however, is an entry for a "C. Sparkes" (male) aged between 26 and 45 and with him a female in the same age category. No county is given. Another territorial census was taken in 1818, of which, again, only a portion survives. That for St. Clair County is extant, however, and shows David Sparks as a male over 21 and living with him were 9 other whites. Also, the 1818 census of Union County survives and shows a Mathew Sparks as
a free while male with 4 other whites living in his household.

Until the federal census of 1850 was taken, the only names recorded were those of heads of households. All members of the household were then enumerated, including the head, by age categories with separate columns for males and females. We can assume that, in most instances, these enumerations represented family members (i.e., a spouse and children), but we cannot be sure. Men and women employed by the head of the household were counted by the census taker as part of the family if they were living in the home, as were also relatives or others who had been taken into the family for one reason or another.

It is probable that where a household was headed by a male, he was also the eldest male enumerated, although there were exceptions such as an older relative. Likewise, for a household headed by a female (as in the case of Sally Sparks shown in 1820), she was probably the oldest female enumerated.

A confusing category for enumeration was provided on the 1820 census for males aged between 16 and 18 while another column was for males between 16 and 26. It was intended that able-bodied males between 16 and 18 should be counted to help determine the military strength of the country, and that they would not be included in the 16 to 26 category, but it is apparent that some census takers counted such youths twice.

The Abel Sparks shown in Bond County, Illinois, in 1820 was born in or about 1778 in Surry County, North Carolina, and was a son of Joseph Sparks. Abel married Sarah Cochran. He did not appear on the 1830 census of Illinois because by that time he had moved his family to Crawford County, Missouri. (See the Quarterly of June 1987, Whole No. 138, for a detailed article on Abel Sparks, beginning on page 3069. There he is called "Abel Sparks the Younger" to distinguish him from an uncle of the same name.)

The David Sparks appearing on the 1820 census of St. Clair County, Illinois, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina, on August 11, 1770, and was a son of Joseph and Mary Sparks of Rowan County. According to family tradition, Joseph Sparks, David's father, was killed fighting on the American side in the Battle of King's Mountain. Fought on October 7, 1780, this was a key battle in the American Revolution, and from other records we know that, indeed, a Joseph Sparks from Rowan County, North Carolina, was killed there. David Sparks was married on January 2, 1798, to Araminta Cox in Lincoln County, Kentucky. (The marriage bond was dated December 30, 1797.) She was a daughter of Edward and Susie Cox. The family Bible of David and Araminta ["Minta"] was owned by Mrs. Ada (McFarland) Liensch in St. Clair, Illinois, in 1936, and from this the late Mrs. James R. Spraker copied the family record of David and Araminta Sparks and their 9 children. This family record was published in the Quarterly of June 1955, Whole No. 10, p. 77. David Sparks died in St. Clair County on April 25, 1845.

We have not identified the Sally Sparks shown as heading a household on the 1820 census of St. Clair County. She was probably a widow with several small children. Since a girl in her household was aged under 10, it seems probable that Sally had not been a widow for very many years prior to 1820. There was probably a family connection between her and David Sparks.

Sparks Households Listed on the 1820 Census of Illinois

  Males   Females
  0
10
10
16
16
18
16
26
26
45
45
up
||| 0
10
10
16
16
26
26
45
45
up
Bond County
McCord Township
  Able Sparks 2     1 1   ||| 3 3   1  
St. Clair County
Town of Belleville
  Sally Sparks (p.119)    1  1  1     |||  1  2  1  1  
Ogle Township
  David Sparks (p.122) 1 1 1 1 1 1 ||| 2 2     1

Sparks Households Listed on the 1830 Census of Illinois

  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
Clark County
 Martin Sparks (p. 51)          2 3               ||| 2 1     1 1      1        
+ 1 free colored female
                            |||                          
Morgan County 
John R. Sparks (p.69)  1        1                 |||          1                
Elihu Sparks (p.103)  1  1  1      1               |||    1  1    1  1              
 
St. Clair County 
David Sparks (p.134)      1      2      1         |||      1  1        1          
 
Schuyler County 
 Matthew Sparks (p.85)                  1         |||            1    1          
 Lemuel sparks (p.89)  1  2        1  1             |||  1  1  1      1              

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