Whole Number 109
(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. Readers are referred to page 2110 of the June 1979 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 106, for an explanation of these abstracts.)
WILLIAM JASPER SPARKS, son of 14.6 Josiah A. Sparks, Jr. and Anna (Gilkey) Sparks, was born January 17, 1838, in Adair County, KY. He married (first) Eliza Jane Duncan in January 1857 and (second) Elizabeth A. (Smiley) Lampton in December 1895. He served in Co. G,, 2nd Regt. Nebraska Cavalry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 912,101; Wid. Cert. No. 828,208.
William J. Sparks made an application for an invalid pension prior to October 13^ 1893, for on that date the War Department confirmed his military service to the Bureau of Pensions. He had enlisted in Company G, 2nd Regiment Nebraska Cavalry on November 6, 1862, and was mustered out on December 14, 1863 ? at Falls City, Nebr. The record showed him to have been sick from May 11-13, 1863, but he was returned to duty. Apparently his initial pension application was not approved.
On November 27^ 1895, Sparks again applied for pension benefits. He "was 57 years of age and a resident of Kalispell, Flathead County, Mont. He said that he suffered from chronic diarrhea and piles which were caused by the constant jolting in the saddle combined "with the excessive weight of arms and ammunition belted to his waist. He also said he was almost totally blind from an explosion of a cartridge which he was extracting from a gun in April 1893. He appointed John Wedderburn, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. John Myers and Alvin R. Laws witnessed his signature.
Sparks's attorney apparently asked him for more information about his blindness, for three undated affidavits concerning that incident were among the documents we have received from his pension file in the National Archives. Chester D. Lloyd, age 25; Elmer E. Rollins, age 33; and Rhenault R. Rollins, age 52; all of Flathead County, testified that on or about April 3^ 1893^ Sparks was extracting a shell from a Winchester rifle when the shell exploded and damaged his eyes. The right eye had to be removed and the left eye was left with such little vision that he was unable to move about freely and carry on his business or perform manual labor.
William J. Sparks was placed on the pension rolls under Invalid Certificate No. 912,101. On February 12, 1898, he replied to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He said he married Elizabeth A. Smiley on December 26, 1895, at Kalispell, Montana, by the Rev. George M. Fisher. Her present age (in 1898) was 52 years. Prior to this marriage, he had. 'been married to Eliza Jane Duncan "who had died at Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri., on September 5? 1885. He said that he had eleven living children, the oldest "was 'born December 22, 1859, and "the youngest was born November 29, 1883.
When William. J. Sparks died on February 17, 1908, he was receiving a pension of $12.00 per month. Two months later, the Flathead County Clerk, A. W. Swaney, sent a copy of Sparks's marriage record to the Bureau of Pensions. It stated that on December 26, 1895, William J. Sparks, age 57, born at Columbia, Adair County, KY, and a son of 14.6 Josiah A. Sparks and Anna Gilkey, married Elizabeth A. Lampton, age 50, 'born at Otterville, Cooper County, Missouri., a daughter of Gustavius A. Smiley and Catherine Slo--- (illegible) and the widow of Emmons E. Lampton who had died on January 14, 1890.
Elizabeth A. Sparks, widow of William J. Sparks, applied for and received a widow's pension under the 1908 Act of Congress. The pension was issued under Widow's Certificate No. 828,208. When she died on June 10, 1919, she was receiving a pension of $25.00 per month.
(Editor's note: William. J. Sparks was a descendant of the Sparkses who went from Prince Georges County, Maryland, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, ca. 1777. About 1800, some members of this family moved to Adair County, KY, and then on westward to Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. An article on this branch of the family has been published in the December 1979 issue of the Quarterly and continued in the present issue. See page 2180 and the pages following for additional information regarding William Jasper Sparks.)
JOHN R. SPARKS, son of 14.6 Josiah A. Sparks, Jr . and Anna (Gilkey) Sparks, born ca. 1829 and died on January 17, 188l. He married Priscilla H. Reese in Adair County, KY, on May 6, 1847. He served in Company L, 13th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 242,973.
On June 28, 1884, Priscilla H. Sparks, age 55 years, of Adair County, KY, applied for a pension stating that she was the widow of John R. Sparks who was a waggoner in Company L, 13th Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry in the War of 186l. She said she married Sparks on May 6, 1847, under the maiden name of Priscilla H. Reese by the Rev. Spencer Jones. Her husband had died on January 17, 1881, of consumption caused by pneumonia which he had contracted while in the U.S. Army. She had not remarried and she had two children by John R. Sparks who were living and under the age of sixteen, namely: Greenup S. Sparks, born July 13? 1867^ and Jacob C. Sparks, born October 7, 1869. She said she supported the children and would not permit them to be adopted. Her postoffice was Breeding, KY. Reuben A. Baker and George T. Simpson attested to her application which was accompanied by a copy of the marriage certificate which confirmed the date of the marriage.
On August 14, 1884, the Adjutant General's Office confirmed the military service of John R. Sparks. He had enlisted in Company L, 13th Regt. Kentucky Cavalry on September 1, 1863, for one year. He was present on the company muster rolls, with one exception, until he was mustered out at Camp Nelson, KY, on January 10, 1865. The exception was when he was in arrest or confinement at Burkesville, KY, in October 1864. There was no evidence of the alleged disability, nor did his name appear on the regimental hospital records.
The Bureau of Pensions apparently required additional information from Priscilla Sparks for, between September 1884 and May 1887 ? six documents of evidence were filed which included statements about John R. Sparks's marriage, the birth of his youngest children and his disability. The first of these documents, dated September 20, 1884, and entitled "Neighbor Evidence" was made by Thomas J. Barnes, age 48, William M. England, age 47, and. Jahu C. Simpson, age 52, all of Breeding, KY. They stated that as residents of Adair County, they had known the deceased soldier, John R. Sparks, for 35 years and that they were also well acquainted with his widow, Priscilla H. Sparks. Prior to his enlistment in the U.S. Army, Sparks was of good sound bodily health and able to perform all kinds of labor, 'but when he returned to Adair County after his discharge, he was suffering from lung trouble and an infection about his breast which frequently prevented him from performing manual labor. This condition gradually grew worse and eventually caused his death. John P. Curry and R. A. Baker witnessed the affidavit which was notarized by W. H. Hamilton.
Three days later, Thomas Barnes and John Simpson again made an affidavit that John R. Sparks and Priscilla H. Sparks had been married on May 5, 1847, by the Rev. Spencer Janes and that they had lived together since that date until his death and that they "were never but once married." George Dillon and J. D. Scott witnessed the affidavit which was notarized by W. H. Hamilton.
An "Officer's Certificate" was prepared on October 29, 1885, by Lt. Blackmon Hughes of Horse Cave, KY, who stated that he had commanded Company L, 13th Regiment Kentucky Cavalry in the War of 186l and was well acquainted with John R. Sparks as a member of his company. He said that during the latter part of the winter of 1864, while stationed at Neatsville, KY, Sparks had contracted pneumonia fever because of exposure and that he was treated by Dr. Richard H. Ferryman, the hospital steward. The disability did not respond to treatment, but gradually increased after Sparks's discharge from the service until his death which occurred of consumption, on January 17, 188l, in Metcalfe County, KY. J. S. Bailey and J. E. Abbott attested to the affidavit which was notarized by Samuel Meartin of Hart County, KY.
On July 12, 1886, Cyrena Sparks, a midwife, nurse, and friend residing at Red Lick, KY, made an affidavit that she was the midwife at the birth of Jacob C. Sparks on October 7, 1869, and that he was the legitimate offspring of John R. and Priscilla H. Sparks. William Jessey and Joseph A. England witnessed the affidavit which was notarized by William England. On December 21, 1886, Priscilla H. Sparks, now living at Elroy, KY, made an affidavit that she could furnish the testimony of only one party to the birth of her son, Greenup S. Sparks, the legitimate offspring of John R. Sparks, deceased, and that "those who were present on said occasion acting in the capacity of nurse and friends have departed this life and there is no public or church record." R. A. Baker and W. L. Janes witnessed the affidavit which was notarized by William M. England of Adair County.
The last document (in chronological order) in the pension file is a joint affidavit made on May 21, 1887, by Dr. George T. Simpson and Albert W. Smith, both of Elroy, KY, in which they declared that they were well and intimately acquainted with John R. Sparks who died on January 17, 188l, of consumption which was contracted in the United States Army. They said they had never known of John R. Sparks being afflicted of any disability other than the one mentioned above and that their knowledge was derived from personal observation. John M. Simpson and W. R. Grissom witnessed the affidavit which was notarized by W. H. Hamilton.
Apparently all of the evidence given above convinced the Bureau of Pensions that Priscilla (Reese) Sparks had a valid claim for she was issued a pension under Widow Certificate No. 242,973; however, there is nothing in the file provided by the National Archives to indicate the date of issuance nor the amount of the pension.
(Editor's Note: John R. Sparks was a brother of William Jasper Sparks whose pension papers were abstracted on pages 2189-90, see the Editor's Note on page 2190. Also see page 2179-80 for a record of John R. Sparks and a list of his children.)
CHARLES SPARKS, alias JARED S. BENJAMIN, was born ca. 1838 in Fayette County, Ohio. He served in Company D, 20th Regt. Iowa Infantry and in Company E, 29th Regiment Iowa Infantry. He married. Sarah A. Sayler in 1858 in Jasper County;, Ind. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 684,200.
On July 19, 1890, Sarah H. Benjamin;, aged 52:, a resident of Renssalaer, Indiana, applied for a widow's pension. She said. she had been married to Jared. S. Benjamin on October 30, 1858, in Jasper County, Ind., under her maiden name of Sarah A. Sayler. On June 14, 186l, her husband had enlisted in Company H, 15th Regiment Indiana Infantry at Rensselaer, Ind.., and. had served until he was discharged at Louisville, KY, on September 21, 1863. In the spring of 1865, her husband, had. disappeared and since that time she had. never heard from him. She had previously applied, for a pension, but her former application was now abandoned, since she could find no evidence that her husband had died of disease or from injury received in the service. She appointed James A. Burnham, Rensselaer, Ind., as her attorney. Ezra S. Clark and Charles Platt witnessed, her signature.
Jared S. Benjamin had received a Certificate of Disability for Discharge on September 21, 1863. Surgeon F. Meacham, Hospital Corps, Louisville, KY, certified that Benjamin was incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of a valvular disease of the heart. He was 23 years of age and a native of Fayette County, Ohio. He was 5 feet, 8 inches tall; he had a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair; and he was a farmer. His address was Brook, Indiana.
On August 13, 1864, Jared S. Benjamin, aged 26, a resident of Brook, Indiana, had. applied for an invalid pension. He said. that on July 1, 1863? while on duty at Manchester, Tennessee, he was attacked by a rheumatic disease that ultimately settled in his heart and was so severe that he was discharged from the service. Now he was unable to earn his support. He appointed W. W. Leathers, Indianapolis, Ind., as his attorney. Thomas J. Yeoman and Stephen B. Yeoman witnessed his signature. Nothing was sent from this pension file to indicate what action was taken on the application.
After Mrs. Benjamin applied for a pension in 1890, the Bureau of Pensions apparently tried, to find Jared S. Benjamin, or perhaps someone informed Mrs. Benjamin that her husband had. taken an alias. Whatever the reason, on November 4, 1897 ? the War Department sent the military record of CHARLES SPARKS to the Bureau of Pensions. Sparks had enlisted on January 9, 1865 ? at Davenport, Iowa, in Company D, 20th Regiment Iowa Infantry and had. been transferred, in July 1865 to Company E, 29th Iowa Infantry. (Note that Mrs. Benjamin stated in 1890 that her husband, Jared S. Benjamin, had disappeared in the spring of 1865.) The enlistment of Charles Sparks was credited to the 4th Ward., Davenport, Scott County, Iowa 2nd Congressional District. The report went on to say, "No other CHARLES SPARKS found on general index of Iowa Volunteers. The name Jared. Moore had. not been found on the general index of Iowa Volunteers."
On May 6,1909, ln response to a query about Widow Application No. 426,436, the War Department sent the personal description of CHARLES SPARKS to the Commissione of Pensions. Sparks was described as 26 years, 4 months old. He was 5 feet, 8-^ inches tall, he had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair; he was a native of Fayette County, Ohio.
Apparently this description was acceptable to the Bureau of Pensions as proof that Jared S. Benjamin and. CHARLES SPARKS were the same person, for Widow Certificate No. 684,200 was issued to Sarah A. Benjamin and she was placed upon the pension roll. The military service was credited, to Jared. S. Benjamin, alias CHARLES SPARKS, of Co. D, 20th Regt. Iowa Volunteer Infantry. When Sarah A. Benjamin died on June 30, 1918, she was receiving a pension of $25.00 per month, and was living in or near Enid, Oklahoma.
(Editor's Note: There is obviously a mystery associated with this individual. Perhaps an examination of the complete pension file would help to explain it. We have had access only to the selected papers thought to have genealogical importance as supplied by the National Archives . One additional piece of information has "been found in a roster of Iowa soldiers who served in the Civil War that was published in 1911. He was mustered out of service with the 29th Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry in New Orleans on August 10, 1865.)
CORNELIUS WILLIAM SPARKS, son of Robert and Ellen (MNU) Sparks, was born May 5, 1838, in New York City. He died on March 2, 1926. He married (first) Agnes Neal and married (second) Ann Eliza McKigney. He served in Company E, 4th Regt. Illinois Cavalry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 143,466.
Cornelius W. Sparks apparently applied for an invalid pension prior to October 21, 1874, for on that date the War Department confirmed his military service to the Commissioner of Pensions. Sparks had enlisted on September 6, 186l, at Ottowa, Illinois, in Company E, 4th Regt. Illinois Cavalry for three years. He re-enlisted as a veteran on January 5, 1864, and was transferred to Company C, 4th Regt. Illinois Cavalry, and then to Company K, 12th Regiment Illinois Cavalry. He was mustered out with his company on February 27? 1866. His company was engaged in the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 14, 1862.
Invalid Certificate No. 143,466 was issued to Sparks and he was placed upon the pension roll.
On July 3, 1898, Sparks answered a circular from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married to Agnes Neal who had died at Hennepin, Illinois, on August 4, 1879. He married Ann Eliza (McKigney) Fleming, widow of Thomas Fleming, on March 16, 1880, in Putnam County, Illinois, by Peter Felter, a justice of the peace. She had died on March 13? 1898. Sparks said his children, living and dead, were:
1. Little Boy Sparks, born May 24, 1871, died May 25, 1871.
2. Josephine Sparks, born May 6, 1872.
3. Robert Sparks, born January 24, 1874.
4. Adah Belle Sparks, born February 28, 1877.
5. Chester Sparks, born December 25, 1878, died in September, 1879.
6. Margaret Sparks, born May 29, 188l, died in August 188l.
7. Charles Welden Sparks, born October 1, 1884.
8. Cleveland Sparks, born March 15? 1886.
9. William Sparks, born October 6, 1887. 10. Laura E. Sparks, born January 15? 1890.
On March 27? 1911 ? Sparks furnished a record of his birth to the Bureau of Pensions. The certificate, prepared by the Rev. Francis F. Donnelly, assistant pastor of St. Mary's Church, New York City? showed that Cornelius William Sparks was born May 5? 1838, and was baptized on July 17? 1838, with Catherine Cassidy as his sponsor. His parents were Robert and Ellen Sparks.
On October 21, 1924, Sparks, aged 86, a resident of Soldiers Home, Los Angeles? California, applied for increased pension benefits. Alwill Hacklander and John T. Turner, also residents of the Soldiers Home, witnessed his signature and the declaration was sworn to before Geo. H. Crofts, Deputy County Clerk, Los Angeles County.
When Cornelius W. Sparks died on March 2, 1926, he was receiving a pension of $62.00 per month.