February 24, 2019

Pages 1914-1917
Whole Number 98


(Editor's Note: From time to time we have been publishing abstracts of the pension files of Union soldiers who served in the Civil War. A great many Union soldiers and their widows (sometimes parents and children) received Federal pensions for their service and the papers comprising their files in the National Archives in Washington contain fascinating records of both historical and genealogical significance. We have an index of all of the pension files for persons named Sparks that was compiled for us a number of years ago by Carrie Grant Heppen. There are over 600 names on this list. For $3.00 (until recently the amount was $2.00) it is possible to request that a clerk in the National Archives select and xerox the papers in a given file that appear to the clerk to have genealogical importance. It is also possible to obtain xerox copies of all the papers in a file, but the cost can run from $10.00 to $25.00 depending upon the number. If members of the Association have Sparks ancestors Who served in the Civil War, we shall be glad to obtain xerox copies (the $3.00 search) and publish an abstract in the Quarterly.

Dr. Paul E. Sparks, President of our Association, has obtained a number of these files (selected papers) and has abstracted them for publication. We shall use these as space permits, but it will be many, many years before we can publish all $600. It must be remembered in reading these abstracts that we have been limited to those papers which a clerk in the National Archives has considered significant.) WILSON W. SPARKS son of David and Sarah (MNU) Sparks, was born ca. 1841 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. He died on November 16, 1898. He married Mary C. Williams on February 7, 1866. He served in Co. K, 208th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 447,628; Wid. Cert. No. 478,616.

Wilson W. Sparks, age 47, a resident of Everett, Pennsylvania, appeared before the clerk of the Common Pleas Court of Bedford County, PA, on December 20, 1888, and made an application for an invalid pension. He stated that he had enrolled as a 2nd Lieutenant on September 12, 1864, in Co. K, 208th Regt. Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Adam Weaverling, and was discharged on June l, 1865, at Alexandria, Virginia. While commanding his company at Petersburg, Va., on April 2, 1865, he received an injury to his back and spine from a shell, throrm by the enemy, which burst under him. He said that he was thrown several feet and was unconscious for about an hour. Because of his injury, he was now greatly disabled and unable to perform his job as a farmer.

During the month of February 1889, three of Sparks's former comrades: Joseph Avey, age 67, and Joseph S. Bussard, age 50, both residents of Everett, PA, and William Davis, age 45, a resident of Graceville, PA, made affidavits to support Sparks's application. They stated that Sparks was in charge of their company in front of Petersburg, Va., and on April 2, 1865, he was standing on a platform when a shell, thrown by the enemy, exploded and injured him. They said that Sparks did not stay in the hospital after treatment, but continued to perfcrm his military duties until the company was discharged. All of the men said that they had continued to see Sparks after his discharge and that he was laid up and unable to perform his work as a farmer. G. W. Richey and James Spar}cs witnessed the affidavits.

On March 1, 1889, Sparks made an affidavit to support his application. He said that on April 2, 1865, they had engaged in a battle with the enemy in front of Petersburg; and had captured a small fort. He was inside the fort, standing on a platform, and was urging his men to do their duty and trying to encourage them when the enemy threw a shell which exploded under the platform. The explosion threw him about ten or twelve feet and rendered him unconscious. When he came to, he was unable to walk and he was examined by the Field Surgeon who ordered him to be taken back t:o camp. He was able to rejoin his company the next day, but continued to suffer, more or less, all the time until he was discharged. When he returned home he was treated by Dr. James Henry until ca. 1867 when he went to Dr. E. J. Miller who had continued to treat him for the injury until the present. G. W. Richey witnessed the affidavit.

The following day (March 2nd) Dr. E. J. Miller, age 52, a resident of Everett, made a supporting affidavit to Sparks's application. He said he had treated Sparks for an old back injury in 1867 which had gradually grown worse until he was now what could be classified as a confirmed invalid. At first, Sparks was able to perform about a half day's work at easy labor by conforming to a most rigid discipline and with the help of favorable weather, but if he over-exerted himself, he suffered from a paralysis of his lower extremities. At the present time, he was entirely disabled and confined to his bed most of the time. His back muscles were nowr atrophying and he was suffering from curvature of the spine all of which in his (the doctor's) opinion was a direct result of the earlier back injury.

On March 2, 1889, the War Department confirmed Sparks's military service. He was mustered in at Bloody Run, PA, as a 2nd Lieutenant in Co. K, 208th Rest. of Pennsylvania Volunteers on September 12, 1864, to serve for one year. He was present for duty until May 20, 1865, when he was recorded as "present-sick." He was "absent-sick" from May 27 to the 29th, 1865, in the Regimental Hospital and then was recorded "present-sick" on May 30 and 31. He was mustered out with his company on June 1, 1865. The regiment was in action on April 2, 1865, at Petersburg, Virginia.

Sparks was issued Invalid Certificate No. 447,628 and he was placed on the pension rolls. He died on November 16, 1898.

On December 29, 1898, Mary C. Sparks, age 55, widow of Wilson W. Sparks, made an application for a widow's pension. She said she had been married to Sparks under her maiden name of Mary C. Williams on February 7, 1866, by the Rev. J. W. Leckie at Rainsburg, PA. It was the first marriage for both of them. She said they had no children under the age of sixteen years. J. H. Appel and J. M. Stailey witnessed her application.

Mary C. Sparks was issued Widow's Certificate No. 478,616 and she was placed on the pension rolls. On February 13, 1929, her pension was increased from 40.00 per month to 50.00 per month by a special Act of Congress. She died on August 17, 1932.

(Editor's Note: Wilson W. Sparks was a son of David and Sarah (MNU) Sparks who appeared on the 1850 census of Bedford County, PA, in West Providence Township. David Sparks (born ca. 1809, died 1869) was a son of James and Nancy (Rogers) Sparks, and a grandson of Joseph Sparks, Sr. (born ca. 1730, died 1809) and his wife, Mary (McDaniel) Sparks, natives of Frederick County, Maryland. For further details on these families, see the September 1961 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 35, page 587).

WILLIAM B. SPARKS, probably a son of William and Sarah Sparks of New Jersey and Indiana, was born ca. 1832 in New Jersey. He died on December 13, 1864. He married Phoebe Ellen Faucett on September 3, 1854, in Hendricks Co., Ind. He served in Co. H, 25th Regt. Indiana Infantry. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 100,146.

On January 17, 1865, Phoebe Ellen Sparks, age 33, a resident of Hendricks Co., Ind., made an application for a widow's pension. She stated that she was the widow of William B. Sparks who enlisted on September 21, 1864, in Co. H, 25th Regt. Indiana Volunteers, commanded by Capt. Solomon Boyer. On or about December 14, 1864, her husband died from lung fever while on a march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. She and Sparks were married on September 2, 1854, in Hendricks Co., Indiana. Mrs. Sparks went on to say that she and William B. Sparks had three children:

(1) Joseph M. Sparks, born August 17, 1855
(2) John Fletcher Sparks, born January 15, 1858
(3) Ellena Viola Sparks, born October 2, 1862.

She appointed W. H. DeMotte, Washington, D.C., as her attorney. Ann Miller and James Burcham witnessed her signature and the declaration was sworn to before William Wallace, Clerk of Marion County (Ind.) Circuit Court.

On January 24, 1865, Levi Ritter, Clerk of Hendricks Co., Ind., sent the Bureau of Pensions a record of the marriage of William B. Sparks and Phoebe Ellen Faucett. They were married on September 3, 1854, by Harrison Burgess, M.G.

The War Department confirmed the military service of William B. Sparks on November 8, 1865 He was drafted into Co. H, 25th Regt. Indiana Volunteers on October 21, 1864, at Indianapolis to serve for one year. He died near Savannah, Georgia, on or about December 26, 1864, but the cause of his death was not on record.

Apparently the Bureau of Pensions required further information about the death of Sparks, for on September l, 1866, two of Sparks's military comrades, Joseph Bailey and Thomas Francis, made a joint affidavit to support Mrs. Sparks's application. They said they had served in the same military company with Sparks and that on or about December 1, 1864, while on the march with General Sherman from Atlanta to Savannah, Sparks contracted lung fever from exposure. He was placed in an ambulance and carried along with the army until it stopped in front of Savannah on December 14, 1864, when Sparks died.

On November 21, 1866, Capt. Solomon Boyer completed a Commissioned Officer's Certificate of Soldier's Death in which he stated that he was in command of Co. H, 25th Regt. Ind. Veteran Volunteers when Sparks was assigned Sparks was assigned to it on September 21, 1864. Sparks was born in New Jersey; he was 31 years of age; he had blue eyes, light hair, and a light complexion; he was a farmer. While serving and in the line of duty, Sparks contracted pneumonia fever from which he died on December 13, 1864, near Savannah, Georgia, in the regimental hospital. The certificate was sworn to before A. J. Honeycutt, a notary public.

On January 1, 1867, Margaret D. Sparks, age 49, and Sarah Sparks, age 68, both residents of Indianapolis, Ind., made a joint affidavit that they were neighbors of William B. and Phoebe E. Sparks and were present when three of their children were born to them in Hendricks County, Ind.: Joseph M. Sparks, August 17, 1855; John F. Sparks, January 15, 1858; and Elena V. Sparks, October 2, 1862.

On the same day, Phoebe E. Sparks, now age 37 and a resident of Bridgeport, Ind., made a similar affidavit about the dates of birth of her children. The affidavit was witnessed by Joseph Faucett and Joseph W. Faucett and the affidavit was sworn to before William C. Smack, Clerk of Marion County, Indiana.

On September 17, 1867, T. C. Clark, Examiner for the Bureau of Pensions, directed the issuance of a Widow's Pension Certificate No. 100,146, to Phoebe Ellen Sparks for $8.00 per month commencing on December 14, 1864. He further directed the payment of $2.00 per month additional for each of her children commencing on July 25, 1866, and continuing for each child until that child had reached the age of sixteen years.

(Editor's Note: William B. Sparks was undoubtedly a son of William and Sarah Sparks who appeared on the 1850 census of Marion County, Indiana. See the December 1959 issue of The Sparks Quarterly, Vol. VII, No. 4, Whole No. 28, p.448.)

WILLIAM S. SPARKS was born March 19, 1843, in Kent County, Delaware. He served in Co. G, 4th Regt. Delaware Infantry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 169,605.

On May 13, 1873, William S. Sparks, age 30, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, made application for an Invalid Pension. He stated that he had enlisted on August 15, 1862, at Wilmington, Delaware, in Co. G, 4th Regt. Delaware Volunteers and had served until June 7, 1865. He said he was 5 ft. 6½ in. tall; he had a light complexion, dark hair and eyes; and he was a farmer by occupation. He said that on or about 4 p.m. on June 18, 1864, he received a gunshot wound in his right arm while charging the Confederate breatworks in front of Petersburg, Va. He was confined in the hospital at Willitts Point, Long Island, for five months while receiving treatment. After leaving the military service, he had resided in Kent Co., Maryland. He said he was unable to perform manual labor.

The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service on June 21, 1873. He had enlisted as a private on August 16, 1862, at Smyrna, Delaware, in Co. G, 4th Regt. Delaware Volunteers and was present for duty until June 18, 1864, when he was reported as "absent - - wounded." He was carried as absent - - wounded until he rejoined his unit in November 1864. He was mustered out with his company on June 3, 1865.

Apparently no action was taken on Sparks's first application and on October 17, 1879, he again applied for an invalid pension. He was now age 36 and a resident of Galena, Kent County, Md. He again recited his military service and added that he had served under Capt. William H. McClary. After he left the service, he worked as a tin smith in Middletown and Galena, Md. He appointed George E. Lemon, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. J. W. Chapman and E. G. Banjamin witnessed his signature and the application was sworn to before D. C.Blackiston, Clerk of the Kent County (Md.) Circuit Court. He was issued an invalid pension under Invalid Certificate No. 169,605.

On October 27, 1883, Sparks applied for an increase in his pension because of the increased disability from the gunshot wound. He said he was receiving a pension of $4.00 per month. James McDowell and Henry C. Spruance witnessed his signature. We received no document among those selected from his file at the National Archives which shows the action taken on this request.

On February 25, 1907, and again on July 6, 1912, Sparks applied for increased pension benefits under the 1907 and 1912 Acts of Congress, respectively. He now lived in Jersey City, N.J. He stated that he was born at Smyrna, Kent County, Delaware, on March 19, 1843. He lived in Galena, Md., from 1865 to 1882; in Philadelphia, PA, from 1882 to 1889; and in Jersey City from 1889 until the present (1912).

The last document (in chronological order) that we received from the pension file of William S. Sparks is his reply to a questionnaire on 1 April 1915. He now lived at Camden, N.J. He drew lines through most of the spaces provided for answers and simply wrote across the page, "I am a widower with no children ."