May 3, 2020

Pages 2398
Whole Number 117


Mrs. Alma A. Upsdell, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V5P 3G5, is seeking information about the ancestry of her husband's great-greatgreat-great-grandfather, Robert Sparks, who probably was born in the general area of the counties of Hampshire and Sussex, England, ca. 1750. He married Frances MNU, ca. 1775, and they had seven children, all born at Westbourne, England. They were:

Elizabeth Sparks (1776-1855) married Charles Upsdell (1777-1847) in 1799 in Bedhampton, England, and a grandson, William John Upsdell, came to Lincoln County, Ontario, Canada, between 1866 and 1870 with his wife and two children. Mrs. Upsdell would like to correspond with anyone who has information about this branch of the Sparks family.

Sarah Sparks,
James Sparks,
Robert Sparks,
George Sparks,
Henry Sparks, and
Francis Sparks.


Myra D. Manley, P.O. Box 324, Ponca City, Oklahoma (74602) has asked us to publish the following query: "I am seeking information on the descendants of James Andrew Sparks and Nancy Ann Heaton who were married 20 June 1855 in Greene County, Indiana. Am trying to obtain information of their descendants for the SPARKS FAMILY REUNION, which is held around July 4th, Enid, Oklahoma. Please contact me if you have any information, or would like information about the Reunion."

Mrs. Manley has published two books pertaining to her Sparks ancestors, The Diary of Mary Melissa Sparks Clark, announced in the Quarterly of December 1980, Whole No. 112, page 2261 ($15.00); and Journal of James Andrew Sparks, announced in the Quarterly of June 1981, Whole No. 1171-page317 ($15.00). Mrs. Manley's new address is shown above.

Page 2403-2404
Whole Number 117


(Taken in the spring or summer of 1903 in front of the home of James Wiley and Margaret Lucinda Sparks in Shawmut, Arkansas, this photograph includes these persons: (left to right, seated) Lona Etta Sparks, James Wiley Sparks, Maudie Mae Sparks, Margaret Lucinda (Speakman) Sparks holding baby Jettie Dora Sparks, and Exia Veloria Sparks. Standing, left to right, are Grover C. Sparks (second son of James Wiley and "Cindy" Sparks) and Leonard Sparks, a cousin who was visiting from Alabama.)


Sue Sparks Rudolph, Phillips Drive, Rt. 1, Box H, Gurdon, Arkansas (71743) is seeking information regarding the parentage and ancestry of her great-grandfather, James Wiley Sparks. He was born February 6, 1853, in Georgia near Columbus. He appears on the 1880 census of Caddo Township, Clark County, Arkansas, with the notation that both of his parents had been natives of Georgia. His father (name not known) is believed to have served in the Civil War and was killed during the war. An older sister, name unknown, died at the age of about two years in 1853 or 1854, and his mother, whose name is said to have been Lydia, died ca. 1858 or 1859.

James Wiley Sparks is said to have lived with his"Grandpa Sparks." Oral history reports that during the Civil War, fighting was so close to their home in Georgia that the family took livestock and hid in the woods. Their home was burned and they (whatever family he was living with) moved to Alabama. At the age of 12 or 13, he worked in a thread mill in Birmingham.

About 1869, when he was 16, James Wiley Sparks came to Arkansas, apparently with the family of William Thomas Speakman of Jefferson County, Alabama. When the 1880 census was taken, he was living with the family of O. P. and Mattie Griffin. Sparks was then 26 years of age.

In January 1881, James Wiley Sparks married Margaret Lucinda ["Cindy"] Speakman (age 16) in Clark County, Arkansas. She was born April 15, 1865, and was a daughter of William Thomas and Diartha L. (Campbell) Speakman. Also in 1381, a brother of Margaret Lucinda Speakman, James Thomas (Tom) Speakman was married, in Alabama, to Mary Elizabeth ["Mamie"] Sparks, who was born in November 1862 in Alabama.

Between 1886 and 1888, James T. and Mary Elizabeth (Sparks) Speakman also moved from Alabama to Clark County, Arkansas, and they were living in Leard Township when the 1890 census was taken. Their children at that time were Daisey, Rosa B., Retta M., Sardas S., Lola E., and Roma O. Living with them was Mattie E. Sparks, mother of Mary Elizabeth (Sparks) Speakman. Mattie's birthdate was given on the 1890 census as June 1836; she was born in Georgia and was a widow according to the census.

Some members of the family recall that James Wiley Sparks once stated that Mattie was a sister to his mother. She was known generally as "Aunt Matt" and lived to be 103 years old.

James Wiley Sparks eventually settled in Pike County, Arkansas, where he bouirht 80 acres of land along the Antoine River in Shawmut. When the railroad was being built, it passed through his property and he gave the workers permission to camp on his land. There was an outbreak of typhoid fever in the railroad camp and some members of the Sparks family contracted the disease.

Sometime prior to 1900, an "Uncle George Sparks" visited the James Wiley Sparks family; he was accompanied by two sons. Reproduced on page 2403 is a photograph taken ca. 1903 when a cousin named Leonard Sparks from Alabama, came to visit the family. In this photograph, Leonard Sparks was the young man standing and wearing a dark coat. Standing beside him, in shirt sleeves, was Grover C. Sparks, second son of James Wiley.

The Sparks family Bible has been lost, but the record of the births of the eleven children of James Wiley and "Cindy" Sparks given below is believed to have been taken from the Bible record. These children were all born at Shawmut except Martha Elizabeth who was born at Amity.

1. Luther Deskin Sparks, born January 16, 1882. He married (first) Emma Campbell and married (second) Mae Lawrence.
2. Grover Cleveland Sparks, born September 26, 1884. He married Laura Taylor.
3. Alvie Roscoe Sparks, born July 6, 1886. He married Edith Winters.
4. Bradie Parlee Sparks, born July 18, 1888. She married Floyd Hendrix.
5. Thomas Malcolm Sparks, born April 9, 1890. He married Claudia Crow.
6. James Ollo Sparks, born April 28, 1893. He married Cecil Crow.
7. Martha Elizabeth Sparks, born January 18, 1895. She married Millard Hendrix.

8. Lona Etta Sparks, born July 27, 1897. She married John T. Anderson.
9. Exia Veloria Sparks, born July 16, 1899. She married Cleo Anderson.
10. Maudie Mae Sparks, born October 3, 1901. She married Albert Mitchell.
11. Jettie Dora Sparks, born January 25, 1903. She married George Cline.

In September 1922, James Wiley and "Cindy's Sparks (she was then in poor health) moved to Texas where their son, Luther Sparks, and other members of the family had moved. "Cindy's died there on October 20, 1922, and was buried at Medicine Mound near Quanah, Texas. James Wiley Sparks moved back to Arkansas and stated near Kirby where he later remarried. His second wife was named Healy (?) and she had four sons by a previous marriage. by her, James Wiley Sparks had one child, a son named William Lee Sparks, born December 7, 1927, who married Helen MNU.

James Wiley Sparks died February 2, 1930, at Valley Grove, Arkansas, and was buried in Valley Grove Cemetery between Kirby and the Amity Highway. Any information regarding the parentage and ancestry of James Wiley Sparks will be gratefully received by Sue Sparks Rudolph whose address was given above.

Page 2405-2406
Whole Number 117

QUERY - JOHN R. SPARKS (born ca. 1806, died 1898)

Helen Sparks Dreher, 838 Lois Ave., Sunnyvale, California (94084) is seeking information on the family of John R. Sparks who was born ca. 1806 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. His parents were Matthew Brooks Sparks and Nancy (Sutton) Sparks, also of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. (Matthew Brooks Sparks was born ca. 1780 and was a son of 17.2.1 Matthew and Kezia (Stone) Sparks. He served in the War of 1812 and received bounty land for that service--see the Quarterly of March 1902, Whole No. 37, pp. 636-637, for an abstract of his application for bounty land.)

We believe that John R. Sparks was married first to Anna ["Anny"] Owen (or Gwin ?) in 1825 in Harrison County, Indiana, and that they had a son. (See the Quarterly of September 1977, Whole No. 99, p. 1924, for this marriage record.) This wife and son probably died. In 1833, John R. Sparks married (we believe she was a second wife) Elizabeth Bradshaw who was born ca. 1814 in Tennessee. This marriage took place in Macoupin County, Illinois. They had three sons and four daughters: William Ware Sparks, born 1835. He married Emma Prince. Fanny E. Sparks, born ca. 1836. Matthew Brooks Sparks, born April 17, 1838. He married Sarah Jane Killebrew in Van Buren County, Iowa, on September 2, 1858. Royal G. Sparks, born May 26, 1845. He married Maria A. Wason on December 12, 1880, in Ventura County, California. Mary Amanda Sparks, born ca. 1848. She married William Hugh Carson on January 5, 1865, in Morgan County, Illinois. Elizabeth Emma Sparks, born 1850. She married Samuel Edmonds on October 17, 1872, in Morgan County, Illinois. (On the marriage record her name was given as Emma E. Sparks.) Louise Elvira Sparks, born ca. 1853. She married William H. Henricksen
on July 13, 1873, in Morgan County, Illinois. (On the marriage record her name was given as Louisa Sparks,)

John R. Sparks enlisted in the Union Army on September 1, 1862, in Company K, 101st Regiment Illinois Infantry. He and Elizabeth had been divorced the previous April. He was then 56 years old. Less than a month earlier his son, Royal G. Sparks, had enlisted in the same unit. John R. Sparks was discharged on September 28, 1864, in St. Louis, Missouri, because of "old age and a hernia." In later years he received a pension for his Civil War service, as did his two sons, Matthew B. Sparks and Royal G. Sparks. We plan to publish abstracts of each of these pension files in a future issue of the Quarterly.

On May 18, 1865, John R. Sparks married in Morgan County, Illinois, a widow named Elizabeth Ann King. On December 25, 1878, he was married still another time to a widow named Mary Ann Brakebill. John R. Sparks died on December 15, 1898.

Mrs. Dreher, who has submitted this query, is a granddaughter of William Ware Sparks, the oldest son of John R. and Elizabeth (Bradshaw) Sparks. William Ware Sparks moved to Ventura County, California, with his brother, Royal, in 1874. Mrs. Dreher is especially anxious to correspond with descendants of the four daughters of John R. and Elizabeth (Bradshaw) Sparks.