April 4, 2018

Pages 3458-3462
Whole Number 147

UNION SOLDIERS NAMED SPARKS WHO APPLIED
OR WHOSE HEIRS APPLIED
FOR PENSIONS FOR SERVICE IN THE CIVIL WAR



[Editor's Note: Readers are referred to the Editor's note appearing on page 3388 of the March 1989 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 145, for an explanation of these abstracts of pension records. Here we give abstracts of two applications pertaining to veterans mentioned as sons of Henry S. Sparks, subject of a preceding article.]

RUSSELL JONES SPARKS, son of Henry S. and Martha (Osborn) Sparks, was born August 24, 1830, in Georgia. On November 5, 1852, he married Sarah Caroline Osborn in Clark County, Arkansas. He served in Company B, 3rd Regiment Arkansas Infantry and in Company B, 4th Regiment Arkansas Cavalry. File Designation: Wid. Appl. No. 574,492.

On May 2, 1891, Sarah C. Sparks, age 58, a resident of Amity, Clark County, Arkansas, made application for a widow's pension under an 1890 Act of Congress. She stated that she was the widow of Russell J. Sparks who had enlisted in Company B, 4th Regiment Arkansas Cavalry on November 17, 1863, at Benton, Arkansas, and was discharged at Dardenelle, Arkansas, on March 28, 1864. She added that she had been married to Sparks under her maiden name of Sarah C. Osborn November 5, 1852, by the Rev. Wm. Spates. Her husband had died in 1871, and she had not remarried. She had applied for a pension earlier, but she had lost the claim number. She appointed A. B. Webb, Washington, D. C., as her attorney. Apparently her claim was not approved.

On May 28, 1895, Caroline Sparks, aged 61, of Silver, Montgomery County, Arkansas, again applied for a widow's pension. She repeated her earlier statement regarding her husband's military service, but she was more precise regarding his death date; she said he had died September 29, 1871, in Clark County, Arkansas. She stated that she and Russell J. Sparks had been married on October 4, 1850, in Clark County by Wm. Spates, a minister of the Gospel. [Note that in 1891 she said they had been married on November 5, 1852.] She chose Thomas Bales, Fort Smith, Arkansas, as her attorney. S. H. Carpenter and R. P. Carpenter witnessed her make her mark.

The War Department confirmed the military service of Russell J. Sparks on October 19, 1895. He had served in Company B, 3rd Regiment Arkansas Infantry and also in Company B, 4th Regiment Arkansas Cavalry. The report went on to say: "It has this day, April 22, 1893, been determined by this Department from records on file that the four incomplete companies of this Regiment mustered into service in 1863 to serve for one year and the only mustered recruits were in the military service of the United States; that these companies were disbanded March 28, 1864, at Little Rock, Ark., and were mustered out of the service of the United States for the reason that their services were no longer required. No medical records found."

On May 1, 1896, W. F. White, age 54, and Robert W. Johnson, age 57, both residents of Amity, Arkansas, testified that they were well acquainted with Russell J. Sparks and his widow, Caroline Sparks, as near neighbors, and knew that they were never divorced. They also knew that she had not remarried and that she had no means of support, and that she was an invalid and had been confined to her bed for three years or more.

Caroline Sparks [note that here she used her middle name] testified on her own behalf on July 14, 1896. She was now age 63 years old and still a resident of Silver, Arkansas. She stated that she was paralyzed on her left side and unable to do any work. She had no property and had to depend upon relatives for her support. She indicated that the statements she made were written for her by P. A. Tompkins at the residence of Lee Carpenter in Montgomery County, Arkansas.

The Montgomery County Clerk, J. S. Nelson, supported the claim of Sarah C. Sparks by sending a statement that she had no property on the tax rolls for 1894 and 1895. On October 19, 1896, S. H. Carpenter, age 52, and J. C. Carpenter, age 47, both residents of Silver, Arkansas, stated that Sarah C. Sparks and Caroline Sparks were one and the same person, and that the names were used interchangeably. On that same day, Sarah C. Sparks made an affidavit that her husband, Russell J. Sparks, had served in the Confederate Army for eight months, but had deserted to join the Union Army.

In the spring of 1899, Robert W. Johnson, John Lightfoot, and William F. W. White, all former comrades of Russell J. Sparks, made affidavits to support the pension claim of Sarah Caroline Sparks. Because these statements provide an unusual insight into those troubled times, the affidavit of William F. W. White is given here in its entirety. It was made on March 29, 1899. White was then 57 years of age and a resident of Amity, Clark County, Arkansas. Here is his affidavit, without editing or correction of spelling.

"I, Wm. F. W. White, Cor. of Co. B, 4 Reg. Ark. Vol. Cavl. or Inf. Mtd., Col. Wm. Fishbacks Reg., do hereby certify that I hav bin well acquainted with Russell J. Sparks Ever Sense July 1861 who was a Private of Co. B, 4 Reg. Arks. Vol. Cav. or Mtd. Inf. & lived a near neighbor to him Ever sense that time until his death which occured on or about the 29th day of September 1871 & I [have] known him to be a union & loyel man ever sense my first acquaintance with him & he Remained loyel until his Death.
"Yes, I know Russell J. Sparks were forsed to Enter the confederate army. On or about the last of June or first of July 1862, Cap. J. W. Hanson, a recruiting officer for Col. Monres Reg. came into this neighborhood where I now live with a part of a Co. of men, hunting me who was subject to the sconscrip law. This neighborhood were known to be a loyel union Neighborhood. Very few men had gone to the confederate army from this Neighborhood at this time.

"Yes, Capt. J. W. Hanson and his men went scouting all over this neighborhood after Every man subject to the sconscrip law telling all of us the time had come when we would hav to go to the confederate army and that we must report to him, J. W. Hanson, at his camp at once. As we saw the time had come that we was forsed to go Disagreable to our will, I with Russell J. Sparks & sevrel Reported to Capt. J. W. Hanson Camp & in a few days Hanson started to Pine Bluff Arks with us to Join the confederate army that were camped at Pine Bluff at the time. The 2 day morning after he started with us, Sevrel of us Desided that we would not go any fourther with him. So I myself & Russell J. Sparks, Wm. E. Sparks & John Sparks, J. J. Osburn, Wm. E. Osburn & Washington Osburn and sevrel others I do not remember there names at prest. mad our Escape and come back hom & then we all hid in the woods to avoid going to the confederate army."

"Then Capt. J. W. Hanson went on to Pine Bluff Arks and reported to his Col. Munroe that sevrel of the men that he had got had runaway and gone back home. Capt. Hanson claimed that he had received orders from his Col. to come back in this neighborhood. Then Capt. Hanson told the old men of this neighborhood that he had come back after us boys and would hav us if he had to houn us out of the woods. Hanson sent us word by the old neighbor men if we did not come in and go to the confederate army that he would houn us up that is catch us with dogs and if had that to do that he would hav us all shot, tho if we would come in and go to the confederate army we would not be hurt. So we Desided we had better come in & go to the army and Risk geting to the union army. So we come in and Reported to Capt. Hanson again. Hanson then carried us I & Russell J. Sparks & sevrel others to Pine Bluff Arks & Put us all Right in confederate Prison with charges against us that we all were union men & had runaway from him & had bin hiding in the woods to keep from going to the confederate army. This was about the last of July or 1 of August 1862.

"We remained there in Prison I & Russell J. Sparks & others until the last of November 1862 at wich time we were all courtmashald & Released & Sent to Col. Munroes Reg. Col. Munroe put me, J. J. Osborn, Washington Osborn & Wm. Osborn all in Capt. Wolfs Co. & Russell J. Sparks, Wm. E. Sparks & John Sparks in Capt. J. W. Hansons Co. in his Reg. Col. Munroe did this. We remained with the Reg until about the last of December 1862 or first of January following at which time I & Russell J. Sparks & sevrel others mad our Escape again & came home & lay in the woods until November 1863 at which time I & Russell J. Sparks & sevrel others mad our way to the union army at Benton, Saline Co. Arks and I know that Russell J. Sparks never were with the confederate army any more. And I certainly and Personley know that the Above named Russell J. Sparks Never did performe any service in the confederate army. "

The last document (in chronological order) received from the pension file of Russell J. Sparks is a request from the Bureau of Pensions to the War Department to furnish the Confederate military records of John Lightfoot, W. F. W. White, and Robert W. Johnson who were soldiers in Monroe's 1st Arkansas Cavalry. Two days later, on September 29, 1900, the War Department responded. All three men had enlisted on June 3, 1862, in Clark County, Arkansas in Co. F, Monroe's 1st Arkansas Cavalry. J. A. Lightfoot deserted on November 25, 1862, at Van Buren, Arkansas. R. W. Johnson deserted in Clark County, Arkansas, on March 25, 1863. W. W. Wright was reported on the rolls until June 30, 1863, and his name did not appear thereafter.

No pension was ever approved for Sarah Caroline Sparks.

[Editor's Note: Information regarding the family of Russell Jones Sparks appears on pp. 3450-51 of the present issue of the Quarterly. The Wm. E. Sparks to whom William F. W. White referred in his affidavit was doubtless William Erwin Sparks, younger brother Russell Jones Sparks (see page 3451) ; neither he nor his wife applied for a pension from the U.S. government. The John Sparks to whom White referred was doubtless John Britton Sparks, also a younger brother of Russell Jones Sparks, whose widow applied for a pension based on his service, the abstract of which follows.]

JOHN BRITTON SPARKS,  a son of Henry S. and Martha (Osburn) Sparks, was born August 22, 1840, in Georgia. He died on March 13, 1886, in Pike County, Arkansas. He married Sarah E. Carpenter on July 29, 1866. He served in Company B, 3rd Regiment Arkansas Infantry and in Company B, 4th Regiment Arkansas Cavalry. File Designation Wid. Cert. No. 555,495.

On September 3, 1890, Sarah E. Sparks, age 45, a resident of Caney Fork Township, Pike County, Arkansas, made application for a widow's pension under an Act of Congress passed in 1890. She stated that her husband, John B. Sparks, had enlisted at Benton, Arkansas, on November 17, 1863, in Company B, 4th Regiment Arkansas Cavalry, commanded by Col. Wm. M. Fishback, to serve for one year. He was mustered out on March 30, 1864, when his company was disbanded at Little Rock, Arkansas. She stated that she had been married to Sparks under her maiden name of Sarah E. Carpenter on July 29, 1866, by Andrew J. Osburn. John B. Sparks died on March 13, 1886, leaving her with three children under sixteen years of age. They were James E. Sparks, born January 10, 1875; Matthew Sparks, born July 5, 1879; and Katie Sparks, born December 13, 1881. She appointed N. W. Wills & Co., Washington, D . C ., as her attorneys. A. Jones and J. H. Elzey witnessed her signature.

The military service of Sparks was confirmed by the War Department on July 19, 1894; however, his military records gave his name as John P. Sparks rather than John B. Sparks. During his term of service, he had had pneumonia from December 19, 1863, to January 16, 1864, but had been returned to duty.

Apparently the Bureau of Pensions wanted further proof of Sarah E. Sparks's dependency, for on May 6, 1897, she swore that she was the mother of Matthew and Katy Sparks, minor children of John P. Sparks, and that their birthdates were recorded in the family Bible. The Bible was so mutilated and defaced, however, the dates were illegible. She said she owned 115 acres of land valued at $115.00, and she had about $25.00 worth of personal property. She had no income from any source.

Again, on April 14, 1902, Sarah E. Sparks, age 56, a resident of Elk, Pike County, Arkansas, swore that she owned 155 acres of poor mountain land from which she had received no income for two years. She stated that she was living with her children on whom she had to depend for support. Her last affidavit was made on May 1, 1902, when she stated that she had been married to John P. Sparks by Jackson Osburn, Esquire, and that the marriage was recorded at Murfreesboro, Arkansas. They were never separated, and she had not remarried after his death.

Sarah E. Sparks was issued a pension under Widow's Certificate No. 555,495, but nothing appears among the "selected papers" furnished by the National Archives to indicate the initial amount of the pension. When she died in Victoria, Texas, on March 3, 1923, however, she was receiving a pension of $30.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: Information regarding the life and family of John Britton Sparks appears on pp. 3453-54 of the present issue of the Quarterly. It is interesting to note that, unlike the widow of his brother, Russell Jones Sparks, Sarah E. Sparks made no reference in her application to the fact that John Britton Sparks had served in a Confederate regiment with two of his brothers before deserting to join the Union Army.]

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