June 22, 2019
Whole Number 121
Can anyone identify the Sparks family mentioned below?
A newspaper called The Augusta Chronicle & Gazette of the State was published in Augusta, Georgia, in the latter part of the 18th Century. A news item appeared in the issue of November 7, 1795, under the heading "Indian Troubles," in which an affidavit was quoted that had been sworn to by a man named Daniel Currie and dated September 15, 1795. In his affidavit, Currie stated that he had been a workman at Captain Benjamin Harrison's "boatyard" located in Montgomery County, Georgia, and that on the previous day (September 14, 1795) a party of five armed Indians had attacked him (Currie) and had cursed another workman named Vessells (or Vessell). The two men fled and soon met up -with three other white men, Capt. Benjamin Harrison, Levi Glass, and William McKissack. Returning to the boatyard with their three friends, they had managed to kill all five Indians.
On the same day (September 14, 1795), according to another affidavit by Benjamin Harrison (owner of the boatyard), Indians had come to his house demanding rum. When he told them he had none, they had called him a liar and he had ordered them off his place. Another man named James Vessell had signed an affidavit verifying this statement by Harrison. (This James Vessell was apparently the same man as Currie had called "Vessells.) The assumption seems to have been that these were the same Indians that attacked Currie.
The newspaper quoted another affidavit dated October 8, 1795, made by Benjamin Harrison along with David Blackshear and Capt. Edward Blackshear. These three men testified that on the previous Sunday (October 4, 1795), while at the home of Benjamin Harrison, they had seen "a painted Indian." Fearing an attack, a group of men from nearby organized a search party to drive off any Indians that might be involved. The men participating in the search in addition to Benjamin Harrison were JOSIAH SPARKS, SAMUEL SPARKS, CHARLES SPARKS, William McKissack, Daniel Currie, William Bush, John Bush, John Hemphill, Michael Griffin, Joseph Blackshear, Moses Tison, George Muse, Ashley Wood, James Hall, Thomas Harvey, Andrew Hemphill, William Wall, Robert Spurlock, and Samuel Smith.
A "few miles up the river," these 20 white men spotted eight Indians. They attacked and killed seven of the eight. However, they lost two of their own men, William McKissack, who was killed during the "battle", and JOSIAH SPARKS, who died of wounds between October 4, 1795, the day of the battle, and October 8.
Nothing further appeared in this newspaper (at least in the extant issues) regarding this incident.
In 1795, Montgomery County included modern day Wheeler County. The river on which Benjamin Harrison had his boatyard was probably either the Ocmulgee or the Oconee. We can assume that the Josiah Sparks who died in 1795 from wounds received in the incident described above was closely related to the Samuel Sparks and the Charles Sparks mentioned as having been members of the party of white men who attacked the Indians. Does any reader have further knowledge of this branch of the Sparks family? If so, please write to the editor (Russell E. Bidlack, 1709 Cherokee Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104.)