October 23, 2020

Pages 373-374
Whole Number 25

QUERY WILLIAM SPARKS, SR. (ca. 1809-1860)

Mrs. B. W. Chandler, is seeking information regarding the family and ancestry of her great-grandfather, William Sparks, Sr., who was born ca. 1809 and died in 1860. On the 1850 census, his birthplace was given as North Carolina, but on the 1860 census it was given as South Carolina. He spent most of his adult life in Tennessee. When the 1850 census was taken, he was living in McNairy County, Tennessee. It is believed that he had lived earlier in Hardeman County, but this has not been proved conclusively. Shortly before his death, he moved with his family to Prairie County, Arkansas. He is known to have been a member of the Baptist Church and to have been married twice. His first wife was Emiline Moore (called Emily on the 1850 census), who was born ca. 1820 in Alabama. His second wife was a widow, Mrs. Lucinda Davis. All children seem to be from Emiline.

When the 1850 census was taken of McNairy County, Tennessee, the family living on the farm adjoining that of William Sparks was that of David Sparks, Jr., who was born ca. 1808. Likewise, on the 1860 census of Prairie County, Arkansas, the two families were living very near to each other. Since William and David were so nearly the same age and appear to have moved from Tennessee to Arkansas at about the same time, it seems probable that they were brothers. David Sparks's wife's name was Comfort (an aunt of Mrs. Chandler's remembers her parents speaking of an "Aunt Comfort"), who, according to census records, was born ca. 1810 in North Carolina. From the census records, it appears that David and Comfort Sparks were the parents of the following children, all born in Tennessee: David Sparks, Jr. was born ca. 1808 in Rowan County, North Carolina. He accompanied his parents to Tennessee and was married in Madison County, Tennessee, on September 17, 1827, to Comfort Moffett, daughter of John Moffett of Hardeman County, Tennessee. He was married on the same day as his brother Daniel Sparks. Comfort Moffett was born ca. 1810 in North Carolina. David Sparks, Jr., moved to Prairie County, Arkansas, with his brother William Sparks prior to 1860. From the census records, it appears that David Sparks, Jr., and his wife, Comfort (Moffett) Sparks, were the parents of the following children: Julia A. Sparks, born ca. 1829, in Tennessee. Fonety Sparks, born ca. 1831, in Tennessee. Sarah Sparks, born ca. 1833, in Tennessee. Spencer Sparks, born ca. 1836, in Tennessee. Comfort Sparks, born ca. 1838, in Tennessee. John Sparks, born ca. 1842, in Tennessee. William Sparks, born January 22, 1844, in Hardeman County, Tennessee. Almeda Sparks, born ca. 1849, in Tennessee. Amanda Sparks, born ca. 1852, in Tennessee. James D. Sparks, born ca. 1854, in Tennessee.

David Sparks was listed on the 1840 census of Hardeman County, Tennessee. Near him was living David Sparks, Sr., who was still living in Hardeman County in 1850. On the 1850 census he was listed as being 82 years old, a farmer, born in North Carolina. With him in 1850 was living "Minus" Sparks (male), aged 39, also born in North Carolina. As will be pointed out below, it is believed that this was intended for "Miner" Sparks, but the writing of the census taker is difficult to decipher.

This David Sparks, Sr., who was 82 years old in 1850, was the son of Jonas Sparks of Rowan County, North Carolina, who referred to "my son David Sparks" in his will dated May 11, 1805. Many years ago a Judge Cooledge of Buchanan, Michigan, who descended from David Sparks, wrote that David's father (Jonas), married, as his second wife, a Dutch woman named FNU Little who was a widow. David disapproved of his father's second marriage, but eventually married the Dutch woman's pretty daughter, Mary Little. Judge Cooledge descended from Cornelius Sparks, eldest son of David and Mary (Little) Sparks. Cornelius Sparks migrated to Indiana from Tennessee as a young man and later settled in Michigan. According to Judge Cooledge, David and Mary (Little) Sparks were the parents of the following children: (Note sons William and David.) Cornelius Sparks, born 1793 Joseph Sparks John Sparks William Sparks Daniel Sparks David Sparks Jonas Sparks Miner Sparks (probably the "Minus" Sparks living with David in 1850) Betsy Sparks Folly Sparks Sally Julina Sparks

On the 1850 census of Hardeman County, Tennessee, living next door to David Sparks, was Julila [Julia?] Birkhead, age 36, apparently a widow, born in North Carolina. Living with her was William Birkhead, age 15, also born in North Carolina, Eleaser Birkhead, age 14, David Birkhead, age 12, and ary Birkhead, age 10, the latter three born in Tennessee. This was probably the Sally Julina Sparks whom Judge Cooledge listed as David Sparks's youngest child.

William and Emiline (Moore) Sparks, Mrs. Chandler's great-grandparents, are said to have been the parents of eight children, although from census records only six can be clearly identified. It is believed that Emiline died soon after the youngest child, Mary Ann, was born. Following are the known children of William and Emiline (Moore) Sparks: Rufus Sparks, born November 2, 1838, in Tennessee. He lived in Prairie Co., Arkansas; married Em MNU (some say her name was Mary), and had at least two children, Mary Sparks and Flora Sparks; Daniel Sparks, born ca. 1841 in Tennessee. Albert or John Sparks,called John on the 1860 census, born ca. 1842 in Tennessee Martha Sparks, born ca. 1844 in Tennessee. She married Sam Ferguson, both died at Denton, Texas; no children; William Sparks, Jr., born July 9, 1846, in Tennessee. Mary Ann Sparks, born ca. 1849, in Tennessee. She married Sam Orrick in Prairie Co., Arkansas, and had children: Ida Orrick, Hubert Orrick, and Lily Orrick.

It is not believed that William Sparks had children by his second wife, Lucinda. For a more complete record of this family, see The Sparks Quarterly of March, 1959, Whole No. 25, pp. 373-4. and The Sparks Quarterly of March, 1964 Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807.

William Sparks married, as his second wife, Mrs. Lucinda Davis. It is known that Mrs. Davis, when she married William Sparks, had a son by her former husband named James H. Davis. On the 1860 census of Prairie County, Arkansas, James was listed as living in the Sparks household, but was mistakenly listed as "James H. Sparks". Also listed were Marandy, age 11; Ellen, age 4; Cordelia, age 3; and Virginia, age 1. These four girls, like James, were listed by the ‘census taken as named Sparks, but it seems probable that they were all Mrs. Davis' children by her first marriage. William Sparks, Jr., son of William and Emiline (Moore) Sparks, was Mrs. Chandler's grandfather. He was born in McNairy County, Tennessee, on July 9, 1846. He grew up in Prairie County, Arkansas, where in 1861 he enlisted in the Confederate Army, Smith's Artillery, Polk's Division, later joining Whitfield's Legion, Army of the Tennessee. He fought at Shiloh as well as in other famous engagements. In 1863 he came west of the Mississippi River and served in Arkansas and Missouri until the end of the conflict. He was married in Prairie County, Arkansas, on February 15, 1864, to Miss Frances Elizabeth Gatewood, born January 21, 1842, in Carroll County, Mississippi. She was a daughter of Peter Gatewood, born in Virginia in 1813, and Nancy Hoover (Smith) Gatewood, born in Tennessee in 1818. In 1874, William Sparks, Jr., moved with his family to Texas, where he followed farming until 1879, when he was appointed deputy sheriff of Denton County, Texas. In 1886 and again in 1888, he was elected sheriff of Denton County. William Sparks, Jr., died in Denton County on December 4, 1893; Frances Elizabeth died in Dallas, Texas, on April 11, 1936. They were the parents of the following children: William Sparks, born 1866, died 1883; Thomas J. Sparks, born 1867, died 1931, married his cousin, Molly Sparks, daughter of John and Mitty Sparks of Arkansas; they had one son; James N. Sparks, born 1869, died 1921, married Louvisa Elizabeth Smith; they had three children; Virginia Ann Sparks, born 1872, died 1933, married J. W. Durbin; they had six children; Della Jane Sparks, born 1877, died 1953, married Claud May; they had three children; Martha Elizabeth Sparks, born 1879, married J. H. Davis who was the son of Mrs. Lucinda Davis, second wife of William Sparks, Jr.; they had no children; and Samuel Sparks, born 1882, died 1955, married Mary Williams; they had no children.

Should anyone have additional information on any of the Sparkses mentioned in the above sketch, please write either to Mrs. Chandler or the webmaster, Nancy Frank.