May 10, 2019

Pages 3389-3394
Whole Number 145


[Editor's Note: From time to time we have been publishing abstracts of pension application files for Union soldiers who served in the Civil War. (Confederate soldiers could not qualify for federal pensions.) A great many Union soldiers and their widows (sometimes their parents and children) received federal pensions for their war 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 to all of the pension files for persons named Sparks which was compiled for us a number of years ago. For $5.00 it is possible to request copies from the Nation Archives of what are called the "selected papers" from a given file. These are the papers in the file (usually no more than ten sheets) which have been chosen because they are the papers thought to be most significant from a genealogical point of view. It is also possible to obtain xerox copies of all the papers in a file, but the cost can run as high as $35. 00, de pending upon the size of the file. Dr. Paul E. Sparks, President of our Association, has obtained many of these "selected" files and has abstracted them for publication over the past several years. We shall continue to use these as space permits, with notes regarding our further knowledge of the former soldier and his family when available. It should be remembered when reading these abstracts
that we have been limited to what someone at the National Archives has considered to be the most significant from a genealogical viewpoint. These "selected" papers often fail to tell the complete story of the former soldier's attempt (or that of a family member) to obtain a pension. Anyone wishing us to obtain copies of all
the papers in a given file may request your editor to do so for the cost involved. ]

SAMUEL PRESTON SPARKS, son of William W. and Lucretia C. (Pryor) Sparks, was born on January 1, 1844, in Surry County, North Carolina. He married (first) Myra Curtis on April 6, 1871, in Henry County, Missouri, and (second) Nannie Rebecca Cunningham on April 8, 1874, at Little Rock, Arkansas. He served in Companies B and H, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry. He died on September 16, 1892. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 397,351.

 On December 5, 1892, Nannie R. Sparks, aged 38, a resident of Warrensburg, Missouri, made a declaration for a Widow's Pension under the provisions of the 1890 Act of Congress. She said she was a widow of Samuel Preston Sparks who had enlisted on March 15, 1862, at Lexington, Missouri, as a private in Company H, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia and had served until he was mustered out with his company on May 13, 1865. He died on September 16, 1892. She married Sparks on April 8, 1874, at Little Rock, Arkansas, by the Rev. Thos. B. Lee. Sparks had been previously married to Myra Curtis on April 6, 1871, but she had died on January 19, 1872. The only child of Samuel Sparks under the age of sixteen was Bayard P. Sparks who was born December 16, 1889. Mrs. Sparks appointed S. J. Burnett of Warrensburg, Missouri, as her attorney, and the declaration was sworn to before W. S. Hornbuckle and J. W. McFarland.

A week later, Dr. Francis C. Smith, M.D., made an affidavit that he was the attending physician when Bayard Sparks, son of Samuel P. Sparks, was born December 16, 1889. Shortly thereafter, Henry Neill, aged 65, and O.D. Williams, aged 67, both residents of Warrensburg, Missouri, swore that they had known Nannie R. Sparks for over twenty years and that she had been married only one time and that was to Samuel P. Sparks. She and Sparks had lived together as man and wife until his death on September 16, 1892.

William E. Crissey, aged 53, of Warrensburg, Missouri, made an affidavit on behalf of the application of Nannie R. Sparks on April 6, 1893. He said that he was an abstractor of titles, a notary public, and a general loan agent. During the past 25 years, he had been intimately acquainted with Samuel P. Sparks. He knew Sparks's first wife, Myra Curtis, who had died some years ago and whose body was interred in the Warrensburg Cemetery. He also knew Nannie R. Sparks, now the widow of Samuel P. Sparks. Nannie now owned a tract of land 100 by 300 feet with a dwelling, her home, worth about $3,000, but which had an encumbrance of about $1,500. She had no income and was dependent upon her own labor. Since the death of her husband, she had not remarried or had she abandoned the support of her child.

Two days later, the Recorder of Johnson County, Missouri, John C. Rivers, certified that there was a record in his office of the marriage of Sam'l. P. Sparks, of Warrensburg, Missouri, and Miss Myra Curtis of Henry County, Missouri, on April 6, 1871. They had been married by the Rev. J. S. Newcomb, Pastor of the M.E. Church. A short time later, the assistant rector of Christ Church, South, Little Rock, Arkansas, certified that, according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, Samuel Preston Sparks and Nannie Rebecca Cunningham had been married in his church on April 8, 1874.

On the same day, Green B. Lannom, aged 67, a resident of Warrensburg, testified that he was the sexton of the Warrensburg Cemetery at the time of the death of Myra, first wife of Samuel P. Sparks, and that he was present and assisted at her burial. He said that the inscription on the marble stone which marked her grave read as follows: "Sacred to the memory of Mira, dearly beloved wife of Samuel P. Sparks, died January 19, 1872, aged 31 years 4 months."

In the meantime, on August 31, 1893, the War Department had sent the Commissioner of Pensions the military and medical history of Samuel P. Sparks. He had been enrolled as a private on March 15, 1862, in Company B, 13th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry and was transferred (through reorganization to Company B, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia. He was mustered out with his detachment on April 27, 1865. At the time of his enlistment, he had been 19 years of age; he was 5 ft. 9 in. tall; he had a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair; he had been born in Surry County, North Carolina; and he was a farmer. He was present for duty with the following exceptions: August 24, 1862, on scout; December 31, 1863 to February 28, 1865, detailed as a hospital steward at Waynes ville, Missouri; June 11, 1862, hospitalized with scabies; 1 April 1865, hospitalized for bronchitus ; April 16, 1865, to May 5, 1865, "int. fever."

Widow Certificate No. 397,351 was issued to Nannie R. Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll.

On January 16, 1929, Nannie R. Sparks wrote the following letter to the Commissioner of Pensions: "This coming April 1929, I will be 75 years old, God willing. Born April 30, 1854. Married to Samuel P. Sparks April 8, 1874. Samuel P. Sparks died September 16, 1892. This is the Bible record. My pension voucher was made out so many years ago, I don't know how correct it is. Does this not entitle me to an increase in pension next April? Im now receiving $30 per month. [signed] Nannie R. Sparks, 761 W. 180th St., Apt. 68, New York City."
The last document (in chronological order) from the "selected papers" in the pension file for Nannie R. Sparks provided by the National Archives is a memorandum dated June 6, 1936, authorizing the suspension of her pension payments of $40 per month, pending the verification of her death which apparently occurred prior to April 30, 1936.

[Editor's Note: A biographical sketch of the life of Samuel P. Sparks appears on pp. 732-33 of THE HISTORY OF JOHNSON COUNTY, MISSOURI, published in Kansas City in 1881, and describes him as "prominent in the legal profession." His father was William W. Sparks who had come to Missouri in 1844 from Surry County, North Carolina. He was a farmer; he died on February 16, 1876. Because only children under 16 could benefit from a Civil War pension, only Bayard P. Sparks was mentioned in this application as a child of Samuel P. Sparks. From other sources, it is known that he and his second wife, Nannie Rebecca, also had three other children: Leonard F. Sparks, born ca. 1875; Russell C. Sparks, born ca. 1878; and Mary V. Sparks. Samuel Preston Sparks was a grandson of Joel Sparks, Sr. who had served in the War of 1812 from Surry County, North Carolina. As a resident of Bates County, Missouri, in 1855, Joel Sparks, Sr. had applied for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812. (See the Quarterly of September 1961, Vol. XI, Whole No. 35, pp. 579-580 for the papers supporting Joel's application.) A correction should be noted, however, in the Editor's Note on page 580. While the name of Joel's father was given correctly as Matthew Sparks, his grandfather's name was given incorrectly as William Sample Sparks. This should have been William Sparks. William Sparks was born ca. 1728 in Queen Annes County, Maryland, married Ann MNU, moved to Frederick County, Maryland in the late 1840s, then to North Carolina in 1764, and died in Surry County, North Carolina, in the spring of 1802. It was William Sparks's father who was named William Sample Sparks.]

45.5.z OZIAS T. SPARKS,  son of 45.5 Ozias and Wilthe (?) B. (Burnett) Sparks, was born on May 4, 1837, in Potter County, Pennsylvania. He served in Company L, 3rd Regiment Colorado Infan try. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 912-878.

On April 2, 1892, Ozias T. Sparks, aged 55, a resident of Nevadaville, Colorado, applied for an Invalid Pension. He said that he had enlisted on August 18, 1864, in Company L, 3rd Regiment Colorado Cavalry and had served until he was discharged on December 31, 1864, at Denver, Colorado. He was now unable to earn his support because of crippling contractions of the tendons in the little and ring fingers of both hands. He appointed Charles & William B. King, Washington, D. C., as his attorneys.

The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service on October 11, 1893. He had enlisted as a private on August 18, 1864, in Company L, 3rd Regiment Colorado Cavalry and was mustered out with his company on December 31, 1864, at Denver City, Colorado Territory. No medical records for him could be found.

On December 14, 1894, Perry A. Kline testified that he had known Sparks from 1866 until the present time, and had seen him on an average of once a week with a few exceptions. He knew that Sparks was suffering from a crippling condition caused by contractions of the little and ring finger of his left hand which rendered him incapable of handling mining tools and equipment.

On the same day, Sparks also made an affidavit that he knew of no reason why the little fingers of both of his hands should contract unless it was caused by the callouses which had formed because of constant work for years with a pick, shovel, hammer or drill as a miner in the Nevada Mining District in Gilpin County, Colorado.

William C. Fullerton and David A. HaMarch both made supporting affidavits for the claim of 45.5 Ozias T. Sparks. They said they had served in the same company in the army with Sparks and knew of the crippling condition of his hands, a condition which had gotten steadily worse for the past thirty years.

Invalid Certificate No. 912,878 was issued to Ozias T. Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll at the rate of $8.00 per month. He died on or about November 27, 1899.

[Editor's Note: Ozias T. Sparks was a grandson of 45. John and Lovinia (Brewster) Sparks of New Jersey and New York. John served in the Revolutionary War and received a pension for his services. A brother of Ozias T. Sparks who also served in the Civil War was George W. Sparks; he received a pension and his pension file was abstracted for the June 1988 issue of the Quarterly, Vol. XXXVI, Whole No. 142, pp. 3257-58. For further details about this family, see pages 251-260 of the December 1957 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 20.] - - - - - - - - - -

RICHARD G. SPARKS served in Company C, 72nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. He died on July 6, 1863, of wounds received during the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He married Catherine Robinson on January 10, 1850, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. File Designations: Wid. Cert. No. 19,463; Minor Cert. No. 125,303.

On July 27, 1863, Catherine Sparks, aged 28, a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, applied for a Widow's Pension under the 1862 Act of Congress. She stated that her husband, Richard G. Sparks, had served in Company C, 72nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers and had died on July 6, 1863, of wounds received in action near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.

Catherine (Robinson) Sparks stated that she had been married to Richard G. Sparks on January 10, 1850, and that they had had three children, as follows

1. George L. Sparks, born April 11, 1852
2. John M. Sparks, born December 2, 1855
3. Mary E. Sparks, born August 13, 1858

She appointed Joseph E. Devitt & Co., Philadelphia, as her attorneys, and her declaration was sworn to before Fred G. Wolbert, Prothonotary of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. J. B. Gumpers and M. Lichten witnessed her make her mark.

On September 2, 1863, the Rev. P. Light Wilson, a resident of Uniontown, Maryland, and a minister of the Methodist Protestant Church, made an affidavit that he had married Richard G. Sparks and Catherine Robinson on Thursday evening, January 10, 1850, in the City and County of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The affidavit was sworn to before Henry H. Herbaugh, a justice of the peace of Carroll County, Maryland.

The Adjutant General's Office confirmed the military service of Richard Sparks on October 23, 1863. He was mustered into the service on August 10, 1861, as a corporal in Company C (commanded by Capt. Lockhart) of the 72nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers to serve for three years. He was present for duty until the July roster of 1863, when he was reported as "Died from wounds received at Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863, a Sergeant."

On March 21, 1846, 1st Lieut. Frederick Coppes, commanding Co. C of the 72nd Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, stationed at Stevensburg, Virginia, wrote that Richard Sparks had been a sergeant in his company and was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. He had died from the effects of this wound at the 2nd Corps Hospital near Gettysburg on July 6, 1863.

Catherine Sparks was issued Widow's Certificate No. 19,463 on 1 April 1864, and she was placed upon the pension rolls at the rate of $8.00 per month. In addition, each of her three children was also placed upon the pension roll at the rate of $2.00 per month until each should reach the age of sixteen years.

Catherine Sparks applied for increased pension benefits on November 19, 1866, under the July 1866 Act of Congress. She furnished proof of the births of each of her three children. Dr. Joseph R. Bryan testified on January 24, 1867, that he had delivered John M. Sparks, son of Mrs. Sparks, on December 2, 1855, and Mary E. Sparks, daughter of Mrs. Sparks, on August 13, 1858. On 5 February 1867, Mary E. Painter, a nurse, testified that she had attended Mrs. Sparks when her son, George L. Sparks, was born April 11, 1852.

On October 9, 1867, Catherine Sparks married (as her second husband) William A. McCoy. He was 42 years old and a stone-cutter. On September 8, 1868, Catherine completed a Guardian's Application for Pension for her children. (Her re-marriage had canceled her own pension, of course.) She presented a certificate from the Orphan's Court of Philadelphia that she had been appointed guardian of her children. Minor Certificate No. 125,303 was issued to her, and her three children continued to receive a pension at the rate of $2.00 per month until each reached age sixteen.

[Editor's Note: We have not succeeded in identifying the parentage of this Richard G. Sparks. Although he and Catherine Robinson were married in Philadelphia on January 10, 1850, we have not found them on the 1850 census of Pennsylvania. Should any of our readers be able to identify this family, please share your information with the editor.]  

JAMES W. SPARKS,  son of Nathan B. and Harriet (Skaats) Sparks, was born April 16, 1848, in Bartholomew County, Indiana. He married Julia Crist on July 22, 1871, in Knox County, Indiana. He served in Company G, 1st Regiment Indiana Heavy Artillery. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 866,872; Wid. Cert. No. 884,211.

James W. Sparks, aged 42 years, a resident of Monroe City, Indiana, appeared before Albert G. Alor, Circuit Clerk of Knox County, Indiana, on July 20, 1889, and made an application for an Invalid Pension. He said that he had enlisted as a Veteran Volunteer on March 31, 1864, at Indianapolis, Indiana, in Company G, commanded by Lt. W. H. H. Turner, of the 1st Regiment Indiana Heavy Artillery and had served until he was mustered out with his company on January 10, 1866, at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While stationed at Baton Rouge in August 1864, he incurred a sunstroke which caused damage to his nervous system. In addition, he had lost much of his hearing in both ears because of the concussion and jar of the heavy artillery he helped to fire. Since leaving the service, he had lived in Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky where his occupation was that of tinner.

On February 21, 1890, the Commissioner of Pensions asked the War Department for the records of Sparks's military service; however, nothing was sent from his pension file to indicate the action taken upon the Commissioner's request. In all probability, however, the War Department confirmed his military service and his disability, for he was placed upon the pension roll under Invalid Certificate No. 866,872.

On April 22, 1915, James W. Sparks answered a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He said that he had been born at Mount Carmel, Indiana. He had been married to Julia Crist at Monroe City, Indiana, on July 22, 1871, by Jacob G. Sowers, a justice of the peace. It was the first marriage for both. To the question, "Are you still living with your wife?" Sparks responded, "Still living together, thank God!" They had one child, Jessie Winnonie Sparks, born on January 7, 1876, at Monroe City, Indiana.

On August 26, 1918, Sparks, aged 70, a resident of Jonesboro, Arkansas, asked for an increase in his pension under the 1918 Act of Congress. He stated that he had been born on April 16, 1848, in Bartholomew County, Indiana. He was 5 ft. 6 in. in height; he had a dark complexion, blue eyes and brown hair; and he was an engineer. He had served as a bugler in Company G, 1st Regiment Indiana Heavy Artillery from March 31, 1864, until January 10, 1866. After leaving the service, he lived at Vincennes, Indiana, from 1867 to 1884; Huntington, West Virginia, from 1884 to 1889; and Evansville, Indiana and Jonesboro, Arkansas, for six years.

James W. Sparks died on September 6, 1919, at Jonesboro, Arkansas, and on November 8, 1919, his widow, Julia L. Sparks, applied for a Widow's Pension. She said she had been born on December 27, 1856, at Rome, Indiana, and had married James W. Sparks on July 22, 1871, at Monroe City, Indiana. They had one child, Jessie Sparks, born on January 17, 1876. E. A. Hogue and Mary P. Atkinson witnessed her signature, and the declaration was sworn to before J. R. Gregson, a justice of the peace of Craighead County, Arkansas.
The Arkansas Bureau of Vital Statistics sent a copy of the Certificate of Death for James W. Sparks to the Bureau of Pensions on December 23, 1919. According to information given by Mrs. Julia L. Sparks on this certificate, he had died on September 6, 1919, of apoplexy, a condition which had lasted about one month. His parents were identified as Nathan B. and Harriet Sparks.

Included in the pension file of James W. Sparks is an undated printout of the House of Representatives Bill No. 10,320. According to this bill, the pension of Mrs. Julia Sparks was recommended to be increased from $30.00 to $50.00 per month, because she now required constant aid and attendance of another person because of helplessness caused by paralysis. She had no property and no income other than the pension.

When Julia L. Sparks died on November 18, 1928, she was receiving a pension of $50.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: In the Quarterly of June 1982, Vol. XXX, Whole No. 118, pp. 2426-28, we published an abstract of the Civil War pension application papers of Dr. Nathan B. Sparks (1815-1904), father of James W. Sparks, with an extended Editor's Note regarding him and his family. On the cover of that issue of the Quarterly, we reproduced photographs of Nathan and his wife, Harriet E. (Skaats) Sparks (1822-ca.1900). We also gave in the same issue an abstract of the documents in the "selected papers" file of Miltiades Miller Sparks (1845-1885), with portraits of him and his wife (pp. 2428-2432). Miltiades Miller Sparks was also a son of Dr. Nathan B. and Harriet E. (Skaats) Sparks. In that account of the life of Dr. Nathan B. Sparks, we noted that one of his sons was named James W. Sparks, but we had no information regarding him at that time. The above abstract of his pension papers provides significant information regarding this son, James W. Sparks.]