April 7, 2018

Pages 2683-2684
Whole Number 128





Mrs. Cheryl Meecha of 7324 Ticonderoga Drive, Louisville, Kentucky (40214) would like to correspond with descendants of her great-great-great-grandparents, James and Matilda Sparks of Harlan and Laurel Counties, Kentucky. Information regarding James and Matilda Sparks appeared in a query published on pp. 2194-2197 of the Quarterly for March 1980, Whole No. 109.

James Sparks was born ca. 1803 in Virginia. He may have been a son of Absalom and Elizabeth (McQuann or McQuawm) Sparks who were married in Washington County Virginia, on January 5, 1801. Information regarding Absalom appeared in the query mentioned above, along with data on the ten children of James and Matilda Sparks.

A daughter of James and Matilda Sparks for whom we had no information beyond census data when the query appeared in 1980 was Nancy Sparks. Mrs. Meecha has informed us that Nancy, her great-great-grandmother, was born March 11, 1839; she died on March 3, 1917, in Laurel County, Kentucky. A photograph of Nancy furnished by Mrs. Meecha has been reproduced above.

Nancy Sparks, daughter of James and Matilda Sparks, married Robert Johnson, on September 10, 1863, in Laurel County, Kentucky. He was a son of Elliott and Easter (Blanton) Johnson and was born April 21, 1841, in Breathitt County, Kentucky; he died in Laurel County on April 17, 1914. Both Nancy and Robert were buried in the Wiggington Cemetery on Route #1 near London, Kentucky.

For many years, according to Mrs. Meecha, Robert and Nancy (Sparks) Johnson operated a stage stop between London and Sublimity Springs, Kentucky. The house where they lived is now owned by a descendant of their son, Montgomery Johnson. Nancy was the first postmistress of Skate, Kentucky, and is said to have provided the name, although no one knows why she chose the name "Skate." The post office was in a small store that she kept which was located in a corner of their yard.

Robert and Nancy (Sparks) Johnson were the parents of eight children, as follows:

1. Elizabeth Ann Johnson was born March 11, 1865, and died on July 25, 1910. On January 2, 1887, she married Leonard Greene in Laurel County.

2. Montgomery Johnson was born June 16, 1867, and died on August 24, 1924. He married Olivia Sparks on December 5, 1894, in Tazewell County, Virginia. It is not known at this time whether there was any relationship between Olivia Sparks and Montgomery Johnson's mother, Nancy Sparks.

3. Easter Johnson was born ca. 1868. She was married on January 23, 1885, to Bowman Stevens in Laurel County, Kentucky.

4. Matilda Johnson was born September 6, 1870. She married (first) Henry Jones on June 13, 1892, in Laurel County, Kentucky; she was married (second) to Enos Graybeal on June 5, 1904, also in Laurel County.

5. Elliott Johnson was born ca. 1873. He married Marinda Tyree.

6. Emily Johnson was born in May 1875. She died on November 1, 1876, in Laurel County.

7. Orlena Johnson was born ca. 1878. She married William Turner on December 29, 1907, in Laurel County, Kentucky.

8. Robert R. Johnson was born October 18, 1880; he died on May 4, 1964. He married Julia McFadden on April 7, 1904, in Laurel County, Kentucky.

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Mrs. Charlotte Warner of 761 Bristol Ave., Simi Valley, California (93065) would like to correspond with anyone having knowledge of descendants of William Sparks who was born in Virginia ca. 1814. He was a shoemaker by occupation. On February 6, 1840, he married Rebecca Johnson who had been born in March 1822 in Ohio. They were married in Morgan County, Ohio, in which county they then settled into housekeeping, in the town of McConnelsville. It was there that they reared their seven children. Only one other early Sparks marriage has been found on record in Morgan County, Ohio. On August 27, 1836, Anna Sparks married Jacob Swisher. We do not know of any relationship between this Anna Sparks and William Sparks.

The oldest child of William and Rebecca (Johnson) Sparks was Martha Sparks. born August 16, 1841. She was Mrs. Warner's great-grandmother. Mrs. Warner has provided us with a photograph of her great-grandmother which appears on the following page.




Children of William and Rebecca (Johnson) Sparks:

1. Martha Sparks was born August 16, 1841, in Morgan County, Ohio, and died on June 13, 1911, in Neodesha, Wilson County, Kansas. On August 28, 1864, she married James A. Davis at Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa. She learned the tailoring trade in Ohio and was known. to be a fine seamstress. After their marriage, she and her husband lived in Jefferson County, Iowa, but by 1880 they had moved to Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa, where James died in 1898. Both were buried in Graceland Cemetery in Marion County.

We do not know the reason that Martha Sparks left her childhood home in Ohio and moved to Fairfield, Iowa. We believe that she met her future husband in Iowa, not Ohio. Were there relatives in Fairfield with whom she wished to be near? It is interesting to note that a printer named Augustus R. Sparks had established the Iowa Sentinel in Fairfield in June 1847; it was the first newspaper published in Jefferson County. When the 1850 census was taken of Fairfield, his name was given as A. R. Sparks, age 29, born in Virginia. Thus, he was born ca. 1821. His wife was named Sarah Ann; according to the census, she was born ca. 1825 in Pennsylvania. No children were listed in 1850. There is the possibility that Augustus R. Sparks was a relative of Martha and his presence in Fairfield may have been a reason for her going there.

2. Elizabeth Sparks was born ca. 1844.

3. Sarah J. Sparks was born ca. 1847. She married FNU Dougan and had a son named William Dougan born in January 1894.

4. William Robert Sparks was born in January 1850. He died at McConnelsville, Ohio, in 1920. He never married.

5. Joseph S. Sparks was born in November 1853. On January 23, 1878, he married Jane Milligan in Morgan County, Ohio. In 1900 this couple was living in Zanesville, Ohio, with a son named William Sparks who had been born in January 1883.

6. Theophilus C. Sparks was born in October 1856. He never married. In 1900, he was a patient at Athens State Hospital in Athens, Ohio.

7. Mary M. Sparks was born in May 1860.

William Sparks last appeared in the 1870 census, so he must have died sometime between then and 1880. Rebecca, his wife, was still living in McConnelsville in 1900.

(Editor's Note: The name "Theophilus" is unusual in the Sparks family, and, because William and Rebecca named a son Theophilus, one cannot help but wonder whether William might have been a grandson of the Theophilus Sparks who died in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, in 1780. (He did not leave a will and we have no knowledge of his family.) Several men named Sparks went to Pittsylvania County with their families from Maryland (Prince Georges and Frederick Counties) just prior to the American Revolution. This branch of the Sparks family was the subject of a two-part article in the Quarterly of September 1955, Whole No 11, and that of March 1956, Whole No. 13. by 1790 there were nine separate Sparks households living in Pittsylvania County. Four of these were headed by men named Thomas Sparks while three were headed by men named Matthew Sparks. This fact causes great difficulty in trying to trace descent.)

Page 2686

Whole Number 128


Addie O. Smith, 3050 S. Ewing Ave., Dallas, Texas (75216), is seeking information regarding Sarah Sparks, believed to have been born in Tennessee ca. 1835-37. She married Wilson Nathaniel De Witt, who was born in Tennessee in 1837. They had two sons, Samuel L. De Witt, born in Tennessee, and Hiram Martin De Witt, born in 1856 in Tennessee. Mrs. Smith would be pleased to hear from anyone having knowledge of this family.

Page 2687

Whole Number 128



Carl M. Stewart of 1100 Antioch Road, Carthage, Texas (75633) is seeking information regarding his great-great-grandmother, Sarah Caroline Sparks, who was born sometime between 1828 and 1835 in Mississippi; she died on February 22, 1894. Her parents, names not known, are said to have come from South Carolina. She married John Wilson Nix in Monroe County, Mississippi, on 5 February 1847. He had been born ca. 1827 in Mississippi and had been married previously, to Nancy J. Dick on October 17, 1844, in Monroe County. John W. and Sarah Caroline (Sparks) Nix were living in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, when the 1850 census was taken. When the 1880 census was taken, they were living in Columbia County, Arkansas. While they have not been located in either the 1860 or 1870 census, it is believed that they were still in Mississippi in those years. The children of John W. and Sarah Caroline (Sparks) Nix were: (1) William Moses F. Nix, born in August 1850; (2) Sarah H. Nix, born ca. 1854; (3) Mary L. Nix, born ca. 1856; (4) John Ervin Nix, born in January 1858; (5) Edwin Ruth Nix, born ca. 1861; and (6) James George Anderson Nix, born March 3, 1868. All were born in Mississippi.

(Editor's Note: There is a possibility that Sarah Caroline Sparks was related to, perhaps even a daughter of, Amon Sparks, who was born ca. 1795 in Union County, South Carolina. He was married in South Carolina to Mary Ann Gibson, daughter of Robert and Mary (Evans) Gibson. Shortly after their marriage, they moved to Blount County, Alabama, where their son, George Washington Sparks, was born April 27, 1819. About 1821, they moved to Monroe County, Mississippi, where Amon Sparks died ca. 1835. A query regarding Amon Sparks (sometimes spelled Amond) appeared in the Quarterly of September 1965, Whole No. 51, page 933. Considerably more information about him appears there, although we have never succeeded in learning the names of any of his children other than that of his eldest son, George W. Sparks.)