Whole Number 134
(Editor's Note: From time to time over the past several years we have been publishing abstracts of the pension files of Union soldiers who served in the Civil War. For an explanation of these records, see the Quarterly of March 1986, Whole No. 133, page 2858.)
WILLIAM D. SPARKS was born November 15, 1819, in Pennsylvania, and he died on December 2, 1898. He married (first) Louisa Hasty in 1845 and (second) Ann Eliza Welde in 1848. He served in Co. E, 3rd Regt. Delaware Infantry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 179,867; Wid. Cert. No. 476,557.
On January 23, 1891, William D. Sparks, age 72, of Wilmington, Delaware, made application for an invalid pension under the 1890 Act of Congress. He stated that he was already receiving a pension under Invalid Certificate No. 179,867. He had enlisted in Company E, 3rd Regiment Delaware Infantry Volunteers, on February 12, 1862, and had been discharged at Washington, D.C., on February 20, 1865. He said he was unable to earn his support because of a wound of the right hand and head, an injury of the back, and general debility. He appointed John E. Wilson, Elkton, Maryland, as his attorney. Norris P. Eccleston and H. W. Morrow witnessed his signature and attested to his statements which were sworn to before James Monoghan, a notary public. There is nothing in this file of "selected papers" provided by the National Archives to indicate what action was taken on the application.
The military service of Sparks had been verified by the War Department on May 28, 1880, when he apparently made his initial pension application. His records showed that he had been enrolled in Company E, 3rd Regiment Delaware Volunteers on February 10, 1862, at Wilmington and that he had been mustered in as a 1st Sergeant on February 26, 1862, at Camden to serve for a period of three years. He was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on February 28, 1863, and was mustered out with his company on February 20, 1865.
On April 4, 1898, William D. Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married to Ann Eliza Welde on March 16, 1848, at Philadelphia by the Rev. Charlton. He had been previously married to Louisa Sparks who had died on September 5, 1847. He had two living children: William A. Sparks, born May 9, 1850, and Anna Sparks, born August 3, 1866.
William D. Sparks died of pneumonia on December 2, 1898, and he was buried in the Wilmington & Brandywine Cemetery. His death certificate stated that he was 79 years old, a native of Pennsylvania, and that he had resided at 720 East 7th Street in Wilmington. The attending physician was Thomas A. Brown, and Joseph Wigglesworth was the registrar.
Ann E. Sparks, widow of William D. Sparks, made application for a widow's pension on December 15, 1898. She said she was 66 years of age and a resident of Wilmington. She had been married to Sparks on March 16, 1848, under her maiden name of Ann Eliza Weldie by the Rev. Christian J. Page, a Baptist minister. She said she owned no real estate and had no source of income except her own daily labor. Annie E. Burton and Mary C. Carter witnessed her make her mark.
On December 28, 1898, Ann E. Sparks made a general affidavit concerning her marriage to William D. Sparks. She said she knew of no public or church record of her marriage and that the performing minister was dead. She asked that a sworn copy of the Bible record of her marriage be accepted as satisfactory proof. Mary E. Carter and John J. Kane witnessed her make her mark. Accompanying the affidavit was the following Bible record: "William D. Sparks and Louisa Hasty was married on 4th day of September 1845." "William D. Sparks and Ann Eliza Weldie was married on the 16th day of March 1848."
Thomas R. Lally, a notary public, certified that the entries in the Bible were truly copied from a dilapidated and worn Bible in the possession of Mrs. Ann E. Sparks and that they bore evidence of having been written many years before. There were no alterations or erasures in the Bible. The title page of the Bible showed that it was published in 1854.
Apparently the Bureau of Pensions accepted the Bible entries as satisfactory proof of her marriage, for the application of Ann E. Sparks for a pension was approved. When she died on May 8, 1905, she was receiving a pension of $8.00 per month.
(Editor's Note: The reader is referred to the Query beginning on page 2899 of the present issue of the Quarterly in which data are presented regarding Henry Sparks, father of William D. Sparks, and more specifically to page 2901 -- a record appears listing the children of William D. Sparks.)
BENJAMIN WILLIAM SPARKS, son of William McCurdy and Penelope Terrell (Milner) Sparks, was born ca. 1837 in Georgia. He married Ruth Evans Brown on June 20, 1869, in Warren Co., Tenn. He served as a Contract Surgeon in the U.S. Army at Geneva, Ga., from August 1865 to January 1866. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 720,112; Wid. Appl. No. 1,017,513.
Benjamin W. Sparks apparently made application for an invalid pension prior to December 23, 1891, for on that date, the Bureau of Pensions requested his military records from the War Department. On December 26, 1891, the Surgeon General's Office stated that "The records of this office show Dr. Benj. W. Sparks to have been paid for medical services rendered as Acting Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Army at Geneva, Ga., from August 1, 1865 to January 25, 1866."
Invalid Certificate No. 720,112 was issued to Benjamin W. Sparks and he was placed upon the pension roll. On May 24, 1893, he responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He said that he had been married to Ruth Evans Brown at Irving College, Tennessee, on June 20, 1869, by the Rev. Wm. S. Brown. Their children were:
McCurdy Belote Sparks, born May 24, 1870
Ovid Benjamin Sparks, born July 28, 1872
Mirabeau Edgar Sparks, born May 9, 1875
Susan Penelope Sparks, born December 14, 1877
Samuel Osgood Sparks, born November 24, 1879
Jennie Olga Sparks, born January 11, 1884
On January 8, 1897, the Bureau of Pensions again asked the War Department to confirm the military and medical history of Benjamin W. Sparks. On January 12, 1897, the War Department stated that "the medical records show Benjamin W. Sparks to have served under contract surgeon on August 1, 1865, in the Field Hospital at Geneva, Georgia, and was discharged there in February 1866. He was 5 feet, 10 inches tall; he had a fair complexion, dark hair and hazel eyes. While a member of the army organization in October 1865, he was called out of camp one night to attend a soldier who was attacked by cholera morbus and was caught in a heavy rain and took cold. Rheumatism set in very severely and continued to the present time. He also was attacked by an excessive flow of urine and a great thirst so that he would pass as much as two gallons of urine in a 24-hour period resulting in a loss of about 80 pounds of weight.
Sparks said he was treated by Dr. Charles M. Smith of Box Spring, Georgia, and Dr. Sanford of Columbus, Georgia. Since leaving the service, he had lived at Geneva, Georgia, and in Warren County, Tennessee. His occupation was that of a physician. He appointed David A. Gourick, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. Isaac Van Hoose and Samuel Hope witnessed his signature.
Benjamin W. Sparks died a year later, on August 29, 1903, and on October 30, 1913, his widow, Ruth Evans Sparks., applied for a widow's pension. She was 66 years of age and a resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She said she and Sparks had been married on June 20, 1869. It was the first marriage for both. M. F. Pitner and O. B. Minor witnessed her signature, and the declaration was sworn to before P. J. Nelligan, Deputy Clerk of Hamilton County, Tennessee.
On December 13, 1913, the Bureau of Pensions rejected Mrs. Sparks's declaration on the ground that "Claimants husband served as a contract surgeon and was not regularly enlisted or mustered into the U.S. Service" and thus had no title under the 1908 Act of Congress.
(Editor's Note: Benjamin W. Sparks was a son of William McCurdy and Penelope Terrell (Milner) Sparks of Georgia. For further details about this family, see page 318 of the September 1958 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 23, and page 701 of the December 1962 issue, Whole No. 40.)
JOHN W. SPARKS, was born January 6, 1843, at Mount Royal, Gloucester Co., New Jersey. He married Sallie Elizabeth Overlin on June 30, 1864, in Camden County, New Jersey. He served during Civil War as a seaman on the ships: Porters, Princeton, Neptune, Ohio, and North Carolina. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 33, 625.
On July 13, 1903, John W. Sparks, aged 60, a resident of Camden, New Jersey, applied for an Invalid Pension. He said that he had enrolled on the U.S.S. Porteus on September 5, 1864, and had served until he was discharged on June 6, 1865. He was now unable to earn a support because of rheumatism, heart palpitation and general debility. He appointed W. V. Sickel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as his attorney. Edwin P. Groff and Ho race Sparks witnessed his signature.
On September 9, 1903, the Auditing Office for the Navy Department sent the following record to the Commissioner of Pensions: "John W. Sparks, enlisted September 5/64; as 2nd Class Fireman On the Porteus to May 9/65; on the N. Carolina to May 27/65 when he was discharged." The Medical Journals of these ships failed to give any information about Sparks.
On September 8, 1903, John W. Sparks responded to two questionnaires from the Bureau of Pensions. He said that he had been born January 6, 1843, at Mount Royal, New Jersey. When he enlisted in the naval service, he lived at Clarksboro, New Jersey, and was a waterman. He was discharged on June 6, 1865, at Boston, Massachusetts. Since leaving the naval service, he had lived at Mount Royal from 1865 to 1879; at Woodbury, New Jersey, from 1879 to 1886; at Gloucester, New Jersey, from 1886 to 1888, and at Camden, New Jersey, since 1888. He was 5 feet, 8 inches tall when he entered service; he weighed 120 pounds; he had a light complexion, light hair and blue eyes; and his occupation was running a steam engine. He had a coat-of-arms on his right arm and a scar from a burn on his left arm. He married Sallie Elizabeth Overlin on June 30, 1864, at Gloucester, New Jersey, by the Rev. Joseph McMurray, pastor of the Gloucester Presbyterian Church. It was the first marriage for both. They had three living children: John C. Sparks, Horace Sparks, and Ralph Cameron Sparks.
Invalid Certificate No. 33,625 was issued to John W. Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll at the rate of $6.00 per month.
On March 20, 1907, Sparks applied for additional pension benefits under the 1907 Act of Congress. He was now 64 years of age. His request was approved and his pension was increased to $12.00 per month.
John W. Sparks completed another questionnaire for the Bureau of Pensions on April 13, 1915. He said he was still living with his wife, Sallie Elizabeth Sparks nee Overlin. They had had eight children, but only three were still living. Their children were:
George H. Sparks, born January 17, 1866. Died in 1874.
John O. Sparks, born May 12, 1869.
Randall Sparks, born July 11, 1874. Died in 1875.
Marcus Sparks, born February 12, 1876. Died in 1876.
Horace B. Sparks, born May 28, 1877.
Walter S. Sparks, born June 22, 1880. Died in 1891.
Leon Sparks, born July 13, 1882. Died in 1886.
Ralph Cameron Sparks, born November 11, 1884.
When John W. Sparks died on July 23, 1920, he was receiving a pension of $32.00 per month.
(Editor's Note: On the 1850 census of New Jersey there was a farmer named Samuel C. Sparks, age 39 (born in New Jersey), living with his family in Mannington Township, Salem County. His wife was named Sarah A. Sparks, age 35. Among their children was an 8-year-boy named John W. Sparks. Although the John W. Sparks whose pension application was abstracted above, was actually only seven years old in 1850, a year's difference in age on a census record is not usually significant. It seems probable that this was the same John W. Sparks. See page 2440 of the September 1982 issue of the Quarterly Whole No. 119, for this census record.)
WILLIAM H. SPARKS, probable son of William Lampson and Elizabeth ["Betsey"] (Hardyear) Sparks, was born ca. 1836 at Derby, Connecticut. He married Frances E. ["Fanny"] LaForge on March 12, 1868, at Bridgeport, Conn. He served in Co. A, 10th Regt. Corm. Infantry. File Designation: Minor Appl. No. 886,935.
On March 4, 1908, L. Belle Sparks, aged 39, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, made a declaration for a Minor Pension for herself and her sister, Jessie E. (Sparks) McGrath. She said they were the children of William H. Sparks who had served in Company A, 10th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers and who had died on July 14, 1877, at Paradise Valley, Nevada, of consumption caused by the exposure and hardships incurred during his military service. Their mother, Frances E. LaFarge, married their father at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on March 12, 1868. She had died on July 21, 1876. L. Belle Sparks was born March 21, 1869, and her sister, Jessie E. (Sparks) McGrath, was born June 16, 1870. Wm. H. Orters and Sarah N. Sanborn witnessed Miss Sparks's signature.
The War Department confirmed the military service of William H. Sparks on April 4, 1908. He was 25 years of age when he enlisted as a private on September 21, 1861, in Company A, 10th Regiment Connecticut Infantry. He had been 5 feet, 8 inches tall at that time; he had a light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair; he had been born at Derby, Connecticut; and he was a mechanic. He was mustered out with his company on October 8, 1864.
On April 23, 1908, Robert Weber, Register of Records of Births, Marriages Deaths at Bridgeport, Connecticut, sent copies of the following records to the Bureau of Pensions:
1. William H. Sparks, aged 31, born Derby, Conn-, married Fannie E. LaForge, aged 25, born Branchville, N.J., on March 12, 1868, by the Rev. Geo. Richards, minister.
2. Issabella Sparks and Jessie Elizabeth Sparks, daughters of William and Fanny Sparks, were born on March 21, 1869, and June 16, 1870, respectively, as certified by Dr. L. H. Norton.
3. Frances E. Sparks, aged 35, born Jefferson, PA, died on July 2, 1876, at Bridgeport, Conn., of phthisis pulmonalis, as certified by Dr. A. A. Holmes.
4. Jessie Elizabeth Sparks, aged 22, married Albert Lamont McGrath on May 11, 1893, at Bridgeport, Conn., by the Rev. S. O. Curtis, clergyman.
On June 5, 1908, William A. Sperry, aged 67, and a resident of Paradise Valley, Nevada, made an affidavit that William H. Sparks had died at his (Sperry's) home on July 14, 1877, of consumption.
Marcus E. LaForge, aged 51, a resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, made four affidavits on September 8, 1908, as follows: (1) L. Belle (or Issabella) Sparks and Jessie E. Sparks McGrath were his nieces; (2) his brother-in-law, William H. Sparks, had died of consumption caused by exposure and hardships of war and by prison life while at war; (3) William H. Sparks had not re-married after the death of his wife, Frances E. Sparks; and (4) neither William H. Sparks nor Frances E. LaForge Sparks had been married before their marriage to each other.
L. Belle Sparks wrote to the Bureau of Pensions on February 10, 1909, that she was unable to furnish any testimony of a physician who had attended her father's illness, nor could she find the surgeon who had treated him while he was in the service.
On February 23, 1909, the Bureau of Pensions informed L. Belle Sparks that her claim for a Minor Pension had been rejected on the ground that no records, medical or otherwise, could be found showing that the alleged fatal consumption of her father was connected in any way with his military service.
(Editor's Note: In all probability, William H. Sparks was a son of William Lampton and Elizabeth ["Betsey"] (Hardyear) Sparks who were listed on the 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 censuses of New Haven County, Connecticut. According to these censuses, this couple was married, ca. 1815, and they had seven children. William died between 1840 and 1850. When the 1850 census was taken, Betsey Sparks was living in the household of her mother, Clarissa Hardyear, aged 82. Betsey was 55. With her were a son, William, 14, and a daughter, Cabella, 12.)
JAMES KNOX POLK SPARKS, son of William and Martha (Scarborough) Sparks, was born in Union Co., Ga., on June 23, 1843, He married Nancy Ann Grimes in Bell Co., Texas, on March 11, 1868. He served as a landsman in the U. S. Navy from January 31, 1864, to June 9, 1865. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 33,449.
On March 2, 1903, J. P. Sparks, aged 59, a resident of Bland, Texas, applied for an invalid pension. He stated that he had enrolled at Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1864 as a sailor on The Commodore Jones and had served until he was discharged at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, on June 7, 1865. At the time of his enlistment, he had been 21 years of age; 5 feet, 8 inches tall; and he had a fair complexion, dark hair, and dark eyes. When The Commodore Jones was blown up in 1865, he received a severe injury to his arms, shoulders, and hips, and was now incapacitated for earning a living. He appointed W. W. Hair, Belton, Texas, as his attorney. C. H. White and W. W. Hair witnessed his signature.
Three weeks later, Sparks answered two circulars from the Bureau of Pensions. He said he had been born June 23, 1843, at Blairsville, Georgia. He had lived in Bell County, Texas, since 1867, and it had been there that he had married Nancy Ann Grimes on March 11, 1868, with the Rev. Eazell Williams officiating. He and Nancy had ten children, living and dead. They were:
Martha Caroline Sparks, born January 24, 1869
Mary Emily Sparks, born July 15, 1871
Annie Laura Sparks, born March 4, 1874
Willie Leota Sparks (daughter), born ca. 1877
Louis Harvey Sparks, born October 3, 1879
Royal D. Sparks, born August 7, 1882
Farrar Sparks, born January 4, 1887
Arward Sparks, born April 26, 1889
Hiram Thomas Sparks, born ca. 1891
Ruby Edna Sparks, born November 4, 1893
The Navy Department confirmed Sparks's naval service on March 28, 1903. He had enlisted on January 29, 1864, and had served as a landsman on The Commodore Reed, The Brandywine, TheCommodore Jones, The Norfolk Hospital, The Onandaga and was with The North Carolina when he was discharged on June 9, 1865.
On August 9, 1903, Sparks made an affidavit that his full name was James Knox Polk Sparks. He also stated that he had served in Company I, 43rd East Tennessee Regiment of Randall's Brigade, Confederate States Army, and was with that unit when he was captured on May 16, 1863, at Bakers Creek, Mississippi.
The War Department confirmed Sparks's service in the Confederate States Army. He had enlisted as a drummer on November 13, 1861, at Charleston, Tennessee, for one year. He had been captured on May 16, 1863, at Big Black, Mississippi, and confined at Point Lookout, Maryland, on September 26, 1863. He joined the United States service on January 25, 1864.
Invalid Certificate No. 33,449 was issued to Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll. He applied for pension increases on July 15, 1904, and again on January 8, 1906, pointing out that he was almost blind and suffered from chronic rheumatism. When he died on February 13, 1920, he was receiving a pension of $35.00 per month.
(Editor's Note: James Knox Polk Sparks was a son of William and Martha (Scarborough) Sparks and a grandson of Richard and Sarah (Peterson) Sparks. For further details of this branch of the Sparks family, see the June 1978 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 102. He was called "Polk Sparks" on page 2003 of this article and his date of birth was given as "about 1843.")
VINEYARD THEODORE SPARKS, son of Asa and Ailsy (Purcell) Sparks, was born ca. 1849 in Spencer County, KY. He married Mary Purcell on November 4, 1869, in Vigo County, Ind. He served in Co. E, 124th Regt. Infantry. File Designation: Wid. Appl. No. 271,314.
Mary (Purcell) Sparks, widow of Vineyard T. Sparks, filed an application for a Widow's Pension on June 25, 1880, but no copy of that record was included in the "selected papers" sent by the National Archives from her husband's pension file.
The Bureau of Pensions requested the military records of Vineyard Sparks on July 6, 1882, and again on November 17, 1882, but it was not until June 18, 1883, that the War Department furnished the following report: "Vineyard T. Sparks was enrolled on November 22, 1863, in Posey Township, Clay County, Indiana, in Co. E, 124th Regt. Indiana Volunteers to serve for a period of three years. He was present for duty until May 15, 1864, when he was sent to the Cumberland General Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee, with inflammation of the lungs. He was transferred to the Jeffersonville General Hospital, Jeffersonville, Indiana, on May 31, 1864, with chronic diarrhea and was furloughed home on October 2, 1864. He returned to duty on November 13, 1864, and served until he was hospitalized again in the General Hospital at Nashville, Tennessee, on January 4, 1865, with chronic diarrhea. He deserted on January 19, 1865."
Four affidavits were made on March 29, 1883, to support the claim of Mary Sparks. (1) William S. Duncan and Riant Barnett, residents of Sullivan County, Indiana, swore that Vineyard Sparks died on September 17, 1878, leaving his widow, Mary, with four children under the age of 16 years; (2) Elizabeth Purcell, aged 70, and Melinda Barnett, aged 54, both of Farmersburg, Indiana, testified that they had been present when John Sparks, son of Vineyard Sparks, was born May 10, 1870; (3) Dr. J. H. Bennett testified that he had attended the birth of Charles R. Sparks, son of Vineyard and Mary Sparks, born July 18, 1872; and (4) Dr. William G. Duncan testified that he had attended the births of Albert Winfield Sparks on June 9, 1874, and of Stephen D. Sparks on January 1, 1877.
Apparently the application of Mary (Purcell) Sparks was rejected. On February 3, 1884, she married James H. Harrison Williams in Vigo County, Indiana.
On August 22, 1889, Asa Sparks, aged 75, a resident of Vigo County, made an affidavit to support the claim of Mary Williams, late widow of Vineyard Sparks. He said that he was the father of Vineyard T. Sparks and that when his son returned from the service, he was very sick with chronic diarrhea and lung trouble. Dr. Hixon (now dead) treated his son until his son's death on September 31, 1865. Theodore Walters and Charles R. Sparks witnessed him make his mark.
Mary Sparks Williams applied for a pension on June 21, 1909, on the basis of being the widow of James H. H. Williams who had served in Company H, 85th Regiment Indiana Infantry and who had been receiving a pension under Invalid Certificate No. 374,693 when he died on June 13, 1909. Since she was now the widow of two former soldiers and had made application for a pension using both of their records, this created a minor problem for the Bureau of Pensions. An affidavit from Mary (Purcell) Sparks Williams on July 30, 1909, cleared up the situation. She stated: "I first married Vin Sparks with whom I lived until his death in 1878. I married James Harrison Williams on January 31, 1884, and lived with him until his death on June 13, 1909. His first wife, Rose Ann William s, was my sister and she died in 1881. Vin Sparks, my first husband, was in the U.S. service in the Civil War and served about three years. I know that he never drew a pension and never had a discharge as far as I know." The affidavit was witnessed by Steven Sparks and J. H. Forties. The papers provided by the National Archives do not reveal whether she received a pension.
(Editor's Note: Vineyard Sparks was a grandson of Benjamin Sparks, born in 1778 in Pennsylvania, who settled with his parents in the area of Kentucky where Jefferson, Bullitt, Shelby, and Spencer Counties come together. Benjamin was the head of his family on the 1810 census of Shelby County; on the 1820 census of Bullitt County; and on the 1830 census of Spencer County. He died in Vigo County, Indiana, in 1851. We can only speculate as to the father of Benjamin; he must have been a son of either James, Daniel, or Walter Sparks (brothers) who came from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to Kentucky (the Ohio River falls area) ca. 1785. Since we feel fairly confident that we know the children of both Daniel and Walter Sparks and they they leave no room for Benjamin, we think it probable that James Was the father of Benjamin.)