February 5, 2019

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Mrs. R. E. Greene, 9201 211 Ave. East, Sumner, Washington (98390) is searching for information on JAMES MONROE SPARKS who was born in June 1833 in Kentucky. She does not know where in Kentucky he was born, nor the names of parents, brothers, or sisters. He was married in March 1856 to Sara A. McPhearson (or McPherson) who was born in Kentucky in December 1831. Nothing is known of her parentage.

James Monroe Sparks and his wife, Sara, settled in Hardin County, Illinois, sometime prior to 1860. He was postmaster in the small hamlet of Sparks Hill for a time. In all probability, Sparks Hill was named for him. It is known that he either lived in or visited relatives in Peoria, Illinois, at one time. His wife, Sara A. McPhearson Sparks, died in 1874, perhaps in Illinois.

James Monroe Sparks married as his second wife, a widow named Melissa Jane Helm Jones. She had two small children by her previous husband when they were married. She is believed to have been born near Walpole, Illinois, in 1852. She had a brother named Russell Helm, but nothing is known of her parents. James Monroe Sparks eventually moved to Pittsburg, Kansas, date not known, where he died in
1906. His second wife, Melissa, died in Piggott, Arkansas, in 1897.

James Monroe Sparks and his first wife, Sara, were the parents of:

(1) Jenetti Sparks, born May 8, 1857, died October 10, 1857.
(2) John William Sparks, born June 25, 1859.
(3) Nancy Ellen Sparks, born December 18, 1860.
(4) Thomas J. Sparks, born August 14, 1862.
(5) Mary J. Sparks, born March 31, 1864.
(6) William Sherman Sparks, born January 28, 1867.

by his second wife, Melissa, James Monroe Sparks had the following children:

(7) Eliza May Sparks, born April 6, 1876, died March 17, 1897, in Kansas.
(8) James A. Sparks, born October 28, 1878.
(9) Bessie Lavina Sparks, born August 31, 1881, died August 1966, in Missouri.

(10) Charlie R. Sparks, born March 5, 1885, died March 3, 1950, in California.

(11) Lottie R. Sparks, born October 19, 1888, died July 10, 1889.
(12) Lucy Pearl Sparks, born July 9, 1890, in Arkansas.
(13) Elsie Fay Sparks, born August 13, 1893.

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A volume published in 1968 by the University of Oklahoma Press entitled Penny-an-Acre Empire in the West, edited by Edgar I. Stewart, contains a letter written from Fort Buford, Dakota Territory, on September 6, 1874, by an army contractor named James Leighton. It was addressed to General W. B. Hazen. This letter contains the following interesting paragraph: “I have been talking with Mr. Joseph Sparks, who has been employed by the contractors at this post and at Fort Stevenson for the past six years, and he says that, in an average season at Stevenson, they would generally get about 300 tons [of hay], and any amount above this they had to haul not less than twenty-five miles.”

Fort Buford was located where the town of Buford is now, on the western edge of what became North Dakota. Fort Stevenson was located 89 miles above Bismarck on the north.bank of the Missouri River. Who was this Joseph Sparks?

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Mrs. Mae P. Hinton, 630 Linden Street, Chico, California (95926) has asked us to publish a query regarding her branch of the Sparks family.

Jemima Sparks, born August 20, 1806, in New York City, NY, was a daughter of Christopher and Abigail Sparks. She was married in New York City to George W. Bacon, who was born in Vermont on November 20, 1803. Their children were: Emma, Samuel, Saline, Sarah J., Cordelia, Fidelia, Mark, and one other daughter. Mrs. Hinton descends from the daughter Sarah J. Bacon. Jemima Sparks Bacon and her husband, George W. Bacon, and family moved to Green Lake County, Wisconsin, in 1851; in 1856 they moved to Marquette County, Wisconsin, where Sarah J. Bacon married John Murray Hinton (or Henton) on April 8, 1858. In 1863 they moved to Nashville Township, Martin County, Minnesota, where they both died.

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Richard K. Sparks, 2020 West Paul Ave., Fesno, California (93705) has been a member of the Association for a number of years. He wrote recently that, as he has read the issues of The Sparks Quarterly as they have been published, he has kept hoping that one might contain a clue regarding his father, WILLIAM ASTOR SPARKS. He believes that his father was born either in New York or Connecticut about 1873. He attended New York University School of Architecture, possibly graduating sometime between 1895 and 1897. He studied in France, probably in Paris, following (or during) his work at New York University. William Astor Sparks was married about 1911 or 1912 to Mildred Cuthbert Hopkins; this marriage took place, probably, in New York or Connecticut. He worked as an architect in San Francisco prior to and/or during his marriage to Mildred Cuthbert Hopkins. He may have resided for a period of time in Los Angeles sometime around 1914 or 1915, followed by a separation from his wife. Beyond this point, all traces seem to vanish.

In requesting us to publish this query, Richard K. Sparks has noted: “We realize that these data are rather old and somewhat vague. They are derived from bits and pieces related by my mother, Mildred Cuthbert Hopkins Sparks, prior to her death. We would be most grateful for any suggestions you may have which might help to extend our knowledge beyond the items listed above. There are grandchildren and now, great-grandchildren, who need to know something more about their background. You may be certain that any assistance will be greatly appreciated.”

We hope that someone may, indeed, have a record of WILLIAM ASTOR SPARKS.

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Ellen Brozska of 402 W. Nob Hill Blvd., Yakima, Washington (98902) has written to inquire about a POLLY SPARKS whose death on June 23, 1816, is recorded in the family Bible that once belonged to Levi Cline. (We may assume that “Polly” was a nickname for Mary.) Levi Cline, who married Elizabeth McClaskey (born 1799) in 1816 in Shelby County, Kentucky, was living in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 1810; ca. 1816 the family moved to Jefferson County, Indiana. Also recorded in this family Bible is the death on October it, 1816, of Martha Cline, whose maiden name was McClaskey and whom Mrs. Brozska believes to have been the first wife of Aaron Cline; they had been married in 1813. Another entry in the Bible records the death of Martha McClaskey who died at the age of 72 on March 27, 1827. Still another entry records the death of Nancy Ventioner on March 23, 1834.

Because of these several McClaskey records in the Bible, it seems probable that the Polly Sparks who died on June 23, 1816, was the Mary McClaskey whose bond to marry Henry Sparks was recorded on January 15, 1807, in Gallatin County, Kentucky. This is the only Sparks marriage bond recorded in Gallatin County, and we have not succeeded in identifying this Henry Sparks. Gallatin County was formed in 1798 from Franklin and Shelby Counties. It is not far from Jefferson County, Kentucky, nor from Jefferson County, Indiana, where Levi Cline lived. It seems highly likely that Mary (Polly) McClaskey who married Henry Sparks was a sister of Elizabeth McClaskey who married Levi Cline in 1816 and of the Martha McClaskey who married Aaron Cline in 1813 and died in 1816. Perhaps Nancy Ventioner who died in 1834 was still another sister. Does anyone have knowledge of this family?