October 7, 2020

Pages 264-266
Whole Number 20


Ruth Ely Porter (Mrs. Milby Porter) of Houston, Texas, is seeking information regarding the ancestry of her grandfather, Albert Cyrus Sparks. He was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, on January 8, 1830, and died at Fort Scott, Kansas, on March 22, 1915 (buried in the Chapel Grove Cemetery). It is known that the Christian name of Albert Cyrus Sparks's mother was Elizabeth MNU, but the name of his father has not been proved, although there is some reason to believe that it was James Sparks. Mrs. Porter has a picture (tin-type) of Albert Cyrus Sparks's father; he is believed to have had English ancestry. See the Quarterly, Whole No. 70, for information on this family.

Albert C. Sparks is known to have had at least two brothers, Henry ("Harry") Sparks and John Sparks, of the vicinity of Cloverdale, Putnam County, Indiana. There was also an aunt, "Eliza Sparks," but whether she was a sister or a sister-in-law of Albert C. Sparks is unknown. Albert C. Sparks was a member of the Campbellite, or Christian, Church. It appears that in his youth he lived in Indiana, probably Putnam County, and was married in Indiana, date unknown, to Sarah Jane Collins, who was born January 20 (or 30), 1836, in Putnam County, Indiana; she died on August 29, 1876, near Webb City, Missouri. Sarah Jane was the daughter of John Collins, whose tombstone in Evergreen Cemetery, Pleasant Grove, Minnesota, indicates that he was born August 1, 1806, and died on August 25, 1886. (The eldest child of John Collins was Betsy Ann Collins Burgan who was born at Somerset, Kentucky, on February 27, 1827; died at 87 years in 1911, at Pleasant Grove, Minnesota, Sarah Jane's brothers, William H. Collins (whose farm is still owned and cultivated by his descendants) and John Collins served in the Indian Wars and in the Civil War, from August, 1862, to August, 1865. William Collins enlisted, at 32 years of age, John at 31. Both are buried at Pleasant Grove.)

It would seem probable that there was a close relationship between Albert Cyrus Sparks and James Harvey Sparks of Putnam County, Indiana. According to a history of Putnam County by Jesse W. Weik (1910), James H. Sparks was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, on February 8, 1826, the son of James and Elizabeth (Gilman) Sparks. (Elizabeth Gilman was the granddaughter of Henry Gilman, a soldier in the Revolution under General Wayne.) According to Mr. Weik's account, the family moved from Lewis County, Kentucky, to Putnam County, Indiana, ca. 1838, locating near Mt. Meridian. It seems probable that Albert C. Sparks was a member of this family. James Sparks, father of James Harvey Sparks, was listed on the 1840 census of Putnam County, Indiana, as follows:

himself, between 40 and 50 years
wife, between 30 and 40
2 sons under 5
2 sons between 5 and 10
1 son between 10 and 15
2 sons between 15 and 20
1 daughter between 5 and 10
1 daughter between 10 and 15

Mr. Weik stated that James H. Sparks learned the blacksmith trade in Greencastle and on February 27, 1851, married Emily Jane Coffman, daughter of John and Mary (Williams) Coffman of Fountain County, Indiana. She died February 7, 1902, at the age of 69. James H. Sparks was still living in 1910 and was a member of the Christian Church. He served in Company I, 43rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. On the 1850 census of Putnam County, Cloverdale Township, James H. Sparks was listed as "Harvey Sparks," which was his middle name. He was living with the family of Greenburg and Lucinda Lyon. Greenburg Lyon was also a blacksmith. The only other Sparks living in Putnam County in 1850 was Elizabeth Sparks, age 22, born in Indiana, who was living with the family of David C. and Elizabeth A. Allen in Floyd Township. Albert Cyrus Sparks moved to Minnesota as a young man and settled near Pleasant Grove in Olmstead County. The exact date on which he moved is unknown, but it was some prior to the summer of 1856 for in August of that year his oldest child was born Minnesota. The first census of Minnesota was taken in 1857. Albert C. Sparks was listed in Olmstead County as 28 years old, a farmer, born in Kentucky, with his wife and first child. He was living in "Town 105, Range 13." Living next to Albert C. Sparks was the family of Elizabeth Sparks, 54 years old, born in Pennsylvania. Without doubt, this was the mother of Albert C. Sparks. Living with her were William Sparks, age 18, and Mary Sparks, age 16, both born in Indiana; these were doubtless younger children of Elizabeth. Also living with her were E. R. Tubbs, age 5, born in Iowa, and L. J. Tubbs, age 3, born in Minnesota. Perhaps these were grandchildren. Living with the family of Allen and Alice Dice nearby was John Sparks, age 11, born in Indiana. Perhaps he was also a son of Elizabeth. Also living in Olmstead County in 1857, only a few houses from Albert C. Sparks, was Joseph Sparks, age 25, farmer, born in Indiana, and his wife, Armela Sparks, age 18, also born in Indiana.

On the 1860 census of Olmstead County, Minnesota, Albert C. Sparks was listed with his wife and two children, but also living with him were two nephews, Winfield Sparks who was born February 20, 1852, and Benjamin Sparks, born October 3, 1857; both were born in Iowa. Elizabeth Sparks was not listed in the 1860 census of Olmstead County--perhaps she had died between 1857 and 1860, or she may have moved back to Indiana. Living next-door to Albert C. Sparks in 1860 was James Sparks, age 27, farmer, born in Kentucky, with his wife Sarah (age 21, born in Indiana), and two children, Angeline Sparks, age 2, and James Sparks, age 1 month, both born in Minnesota. Living with them was a Josephine Sparks, age 7, born in Iowa.

Following the Civil War, Albert C. Sparks and his family moved from Minnesota to Missouri, later to Kansas, where he operated a saw mill. Albert Cyrus and Sarah Jane (Collins) Sparks were the parents of the following children: Hester Ann Sparks, born August 27, 1856, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died April 1945, at Fort Scott, Kansas. She married Francis Marion Gross on July 3, 1876. They were the parents of four children: Frankie May Gross, born April 28, 1878; died April 15, 1881, presumably in Newton County, Missouri. Jesse Norman Gross, born November 12, 1881, in Newton County, Missouri. Charles Orville Gross, born March 22, 1887, at Fort Scott, Kansas; died November 24, 1936, at Fort Scott, Kansas. and Nellie Matilda Gross, born January 30, 1895, at Fort Scott, Kansas.. (Note: Corrections found) Charles Sparks, born July 7, 1858, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died on December 10 1951, in Colorado Springs, Cob. He married, first, Otie Rosetta Lee, who was born in Fredonia, Kansas, and died in Chandler, Oklahoma., on August 20, 1895. They were the parents of two children: Albert Sparks, born January 28, 1891, at Fredonia; and Syble Sparks, born August 20, 1893.

Charles Sparks married, second, at Chandler, OK, on December 28, 1898, Madge Evelyn Funk, who was born August 8, 1874, in Stark County, Illinois. She was the daughter of Edgar Mortimer Funk, born September 23, 1848, near Peoria, IL., and Jennie Sharer, born near Laceyville, PA, on February 26, 1849. They were married at Toubon, Stark Co., IL., on September 23, 1869; died near Vernon, Colo., and were buried in Chandler, Oklahoma. Edgar Mortimer Funk was the son of Jesse Funk, born in Fayette County, Ohio, and his wife Cynthia (Hanes) Funk, born in Brooks County, Va., near Natural Bridge. Jennie (Sharer) Funk was the daughter of Samuel Sharer, born in New York, a Baptist minister, who died in Ewart, Iowa, and his wife, Jerusha (Smith) Sharer who was born in Pennsylvania, a school teacher, of the Quaker Faith. Charles and Madge were the parents of the following children: Phyllis Sparks; Jennie Sparks; and Isaac Sparks. James Madison Sparks, born October 17, 1860, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died April 30, 1937, at Los Angeles, California.; buried in Westminster Memorial Park Cemetery. Matilda Jane Sparks, born May 15, 1862, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died August 8, 1905, at Palmyra, MO. She married Alphonso Ethelbert Mills Ely at Ft. Scott, Kansas, on March 26, 1883. They were the parents of the following children: Ruth Ely (Mrs. Milby Porter, author of this query); Drusilla Ely; and A. E. M. Ely. Albert Sparks, born January 27, 1864, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died August, 1891, in a silver mine accident at Lamertine, Cob.; buried in Idaho Cemetery, close to Cripple Creek. Aletha Sparks, born June 22, 1866, at Pleasant Grove, MN; married Napoleon B. Simonds on August 27, 1885. They had an apple orchard at Doniphan, Kansas.They were the parents of three children: Lula Simonds; Earl Simonds; Walter Simonds.
(One of the boys died at Camp Funston while in training for World War I.) Flora Sparks, born May 15, 1868, at Pleasant Grove, MN; died June 3, 1869. Luella May Sparks, born June 27, 1870, near Webb City, Missouri; died August 10, 1871. Stella May Sparks (twin), born June 27, 1870, near Webb City, Missouri; died in childhood. Cora Sparks, born October 21, 1871, at Boonville, Missouri; died May 6, 1952, at Atchison, Kansas. She married Ira Jett in August, 1895, at Doniphan, Kansas. He was born March 3, 1870, at Doniphan, Kansas, and died May 28, 1929, at Atchison, Kansas. Nora Sparks, born December, 1874; died August 11, 1876.