May 7, 2021

Pages 3571-3572
Whole Number 149


For a prospective state within the Northwest Territory to enter the Union in the 19th century, it was required that it have a population of at least 60,000. In 1838, Iowa was officially designated a Territory, which was also a necessary step toward statehood, A census had been taken of its population in 1836, showing a total of 10,531 white inhabitants.

For the two years preceding its becoming a territory, Iowa had been part of Wisconsin Territory, and prior to that time it had been included in Michigan Territory. It had once (1812-1821) been part of Missouri Territory and between 1824 and 1834 it had been an "unorganized territory."

Until about 1833, there had been few white settlers in what is now the state of Iowa because of Indian hostility, but in 1833 a treaty was signed with several of the Indian tribes of the area which gave settlers a greater sense of security. The influx of white settlers which followed came from both the eastern and the southern states. When the 1836 census was taken, two households headed by men named Sparks were recorded, as shown below. When the 1840 census was taken, however, there was only one Sparks household, even though the total population had increased to over 43,000. (See the Quarterly of December 1988, Whole No. 144, p. 3334 for this 1840 record.) Iowa was admitted to the Union in 1846.

In 1836, J. R. Sparks (whose full name was John R. Sparks) was shown as living in "Demoine" County, but in 1840 he was in Van Buren County. What became of the William Sparks shown as living also in "Demoine" County in 1836, we do not know.

John R. Sparks was a son of Matthew and Polly (Robinson) Sparks and was born on March 16, 1806, in Green County, Kentucky. He married Elizabeth Matthews in 1828. In 1845, John R. Sparks moved his family to Jasper County, Iowa, where he died on August 17, 1886. (See the Quarterly of March 1976, Whole No. 93, pp. 1798-1804, for a detailed account of him and his family. See the Quarterly of December 1984, Whole No. 128, pp. 2690-94 for a record of the persons named Sparks who appeared on the 1850 census of Iowa.)

Iowa Territorial Census - 1836

  Males Females
      over 21 under 21 over 21 under 21
William Sparks Demoine Co. p. 55 4 1 3 1
J. R. Sparks     "           " p. 64 3 1 2 1