August 29, 2017

Pages 4396-4401
Whole Number 168


[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 veterans, or their widows (sometimes their parents and their children), received pensions from the U.S. government based on their military service. Congress was increasingly generous in providing pensions for Civil War veterans and their widows as the years went by, and as their numbers became smaller. The organization known as the GAR was a powerful lobby in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in obtaining benefits for its members.

[The papers comprising each applicant's file, including rejected applications, are preserved at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and many of them contain fascinating information, not only about the nature of the individual's military service, but about his family as well.

[We have an index of all of the pension files for persons named Sparks which was compiled for us many years ago. Using a special form provided by the Archives, and for a fee of $10.00, one can request copies 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 selected because they are the papers thought to be most significant from a genealogical point of view. It is also pos- sible to obtain xerox copies of the papers in an individual's "non-selected file" as well, but this separate file can cost from $10.00 to $50.00, depending upon its size. In most instances, the papers in the "non-selected files" are of a rather routine nature, but sometimes they can be quite helpful, especially where the veteran had difficulty proving what his service had been.

[Dr. Paul E. Sparks, President of our Association, has obtained many of the "selected files" and has abstracted them for publication in the Quarterly, be- ginning with the September 1967 issue. Whole No. 59. We shall continue to use these as space permits, adding in editorial notes any genealogical information that we may have regarding the soldier and his family.

[It should be remembered, when reading these abstracts, that Dr. Sparks has usually been limited to the items contained in the "selected papers" for the soldier under consideration. Anyone wishing us to obtain copies of all the papers in a given file, both "selected" and "non-selected," may request the editor to do this for the cost involved. It usually requires at least three months to obtain the copies, and, as noted, the cost can vary.]

JOHN D. SPARKS, son of Duncan and Rachel (Martin) Sparks, was born ca. 1840, probably in Vigo County, Indiana. He served in Com- pany F, 43rd Regiment Indiana Volunteers from August 29, 1861, to November 27, 1861. He married Cena --. File Designation: Inv. Appl. 416,583.

On January 29, 1881, John D. Sparks, aged 41, a resident of Pike County, Mis- souri, applied for an invalid pension. He said that he had been enrolled on August 29, 1861, in Company F, 43rd Regiment Indiana Volunteers, commanded by Captain Alex H. Gainey, to serve for three years, and that he had served until November 27, 1861, when he had been discharged at Camp Vigo, Indiana. He had been 5 feet, 6 inches tall, with a fair complexion, light hair, and blue eyes when he had entered the army, and he had been a farmer. During the last of Oct

1861. while serving as a nurse in the hospital at Camp Vigo, he had contracted measles and rheumatism which affected him so severely that he was now unable to do any manual labor. Since leaving the service, he had lived in Greene and Sul- livan Counties, Indiana; in Douglas County, Illinois; and in Pike County, Mis- souri. He appointed T. W. Tallmadge, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. Robert Sweeting and Benjamin F. Sparks witnessed him make his mark.

In January 1883, the War Department confirmed that Captain Alexander H. Gainey was listed on the roll of Company F, 43rd Regiment Indiana Volunteers from August 31, 1861, until February 28, 1862, under a six-month muster. He was reported as "resigned, January 20, 1862," and the resignation had been accepted. The regiment was stationed at Calhoun, Kentucky. The name of John D. Sparks was not borne on the rolls of that company.

On March 4, 1882, the Commissioner of Pensions wrote to Attorney T. W. Tall- madge that John D. Sparks should file his certificate of discharge. Sparks re- plied on June 20, 1884. He was then a resident of Colorado, Kansas. He stated that he had given his discharge papers to Uriah Coulson of Sullivan, Indiana, in

1862. so that he (Coulson) could collect his (Sparks's) pay and bounty. Coulson said that he had sent the papers off and they had not been returned. Now Coulson said he got all the records burned and could give no account of them.

Sparks went on to say that he had been discharged from Camp Vigo, Terre Haute, Indiana, on November 16, 1861, because of disabilities caused by measles. He said that he was uniformed, drilled, performed camp duty, and "was sent to the camp hospital as nerse [sic] to wate on my brother and others who had measels, and had contracted measels and they come so near killing me that the Dr. dis- charged me and Capt. A. H. Ganey sent me home." W. M. White and W. T. Todd witnessed him make his mark.

On July 11, 1884, the Commissioner of Pensions again wrote to T. W. Tallmadge as follows: "In the claim for invalid pension No. 416,583 of John D. Sparks, this office would state that his name is not borne on any rolls of Co. F, 43rd Ind. Vols. on file in the War Department. The only Sparks in said company and regiment is Benjamin Sparks."

On November 5, 1884, a "Proof of Disability" was executed by two of Sparks's former comrades. Harrison Moore, aged 42, of Ottaway County, Kansas, and Benjamin F. Sparks, aged 49, of Lincoln County, Kansas, swore that John D. Sparks, Private, Company F, 43rd Regiment Indiana Volunteers, had been discharged on or about November 14, 1861, at Camp Vigo, Indiana. Sparks had been helping care for the sick in the camp hospital and took the measles which nearly killed him, and the doctors discharged him and sent him home. The doctors were Dr. Smith, Dr. Darnell, and Dr. 0. K. Helmer, who was the hospital steward. A similar statement, unsigned, was sworn to by Leroy Garrison, aged 63, a resident of Piatt County, Illinois.

On June 10, 1886, John D. Sparks, a resident of Vandalia, Missouri, entered into an agreement with his attorney, T. W. Tallmadge, under which Sparks would pay Tallmadge $25.00 if the pension claim was granted. T. A. Russell and B. F. Sparks witnessed the agreement.

On March 25, 1887, Joseph Pedigo swore that he saw John D. Sparks sworn into the U.S. Army in August 1861 and that Sparks had been discharged from the ser- vice by the doctors about November 3, 1861.

On February 15, 1888, the Adjutant-General again informed the Commissioner of Pensions that the name of John D. Sparks was not borne on the rolls of Company F, 43rd Indiana Infantry Volunteers.

Despite the sworn statements made by Sparks's fellow soldiers, no pension was ever authorized for him.

[Editor's Note: John D. Sparks was a son of Duncan and Rachel (Martin) Sparks. See pages 4371-72 of this issue of the Quarterly for a record of him and his family. ]

JAMES NELSON SPARKS, son of Asa and Ailsa (Purcell) Sparks, was born in Spencer County, Kentucky, on September 1, 1842. He died in service on January 19, 1865. File Designation: Father's Application No. 645,966.

On December 24, 1896, Asa Sparks, aged 82, a resident of Pierson Township, Vigo County, Indiana, applied for a Dependent Father's Pension. He stated that he was the father of James Nelson Sparks who had enlisted at Pimento, Indiana, in the 85th Regiment Indiana Infantry and who had died January 19, 1865, from the effects of chronic Diarrhea and quick consumption. He said that his son had taken sick at Little Rock, Arkansas, and had been sent to Jefferson Barracks where he was hospitalized until he had been sent home on a sick furlough in the fall of 1864. Sparks stated that he had been married to his son's mother on June 9, 1838, in Spencer County, Kentucky, by the Rev. William Stout. She had died 1 April 1851, in Vigo County, Indiana. He appointed George 0. Dix of Terre Haute, Indiana, as his attorney. William H. Armstrong and Robert B. Stimson witnessed him make his mark.

On April 12, 1897, the Bureau of Pensions asked the War Department for an official statement of the military and medical history of James Nelson Sparks. The reply was that Sparks had enlisted on August 6, 1862, in Company F, 85th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Records further indicated that he had deserted at Louisville, Kentucky, on February 2, 1863, and never returned; therefore, he had never been discharged from the service.

A few days later, C. Stanton, Examiner, recommended to the Bureau of Pensions that the application of Asa Sparks be rejected. On May 3, 1897, W. Smith, Legal Reviewer, concurred, and the case was marked both "Rejected" and "Abandoned."

George 0. Dix, attorney for Asa Sparks, made two inquiries about the case of his client. The first query was made on July 21, 1898, and was addressed to the De- partment of Interior, Washington, D.C. Apparently Dix received no reply for on December 10, 1898, he submitted the same query again. Nothing was sent to us among the "selected papers" from this pension application file at the National Archives to indicate whether or not he ever received an answer. In any case, no "Father's Certificate" was ever issued to Asa Sparks based on his son's service.

[Editor's Note: James Nelson Sparks was a son of Asa and Ailsa (Purcell) Sparks. See pages 4374-75 of this isue of the Quarterly for a record of Asa Sparks and his family, including reference to his son, James Nelson Sparks.]

JOHN LITTLE SPARKS, son of Benjamin D. and Nancy (McCroskey) Sparks, was born October 25, 1844, in Vigo County, Indiana. On March 21, 1869, he married Mary Ballenger in Cum- berland County, Illinois. He died March 29, 1904. He served in Company D, 15th Regiment Illinois Infantry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 893,645; Wid. Cert. No. 578,129.

On February 11, 1892, John L. Sparks, aged 47, a resident of Toledo, Illinois, ap- plied for an Invalid Pension. He stated that he had been enrolled on March 7, 1865, in Company D, 15th Regiment Illinois Infantry and had served until he had been discharged at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, on September 16, 1865. He said he now had partial blindness in his left eye and rheumatism which were brought on by his military service; and he was now unable to earn his support. He appointed D. B. Green, Toledo,. Illinois, as his attorney. Alfred R. Huston and Levi B. Ross witnessed his signature.

The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service on May 27, 1892. He had served in Company D, 15th Regiment Illinois Infantry from March 7, 1865, until he was mustered out with his company on September 16, 1865.

Sparks made an affidavit on April 27, 1893, to support his claim. He swore that he was almost totally blind in his left eye and that the vision in his right eye was dimmed. He was unable to perform manual labor because of rheumatism. Thomas L. Walker and John Drummond witnessed his signature. On the same day, three of his neighbors also made affidavits to support his application. They were Jabez R. Cowan, aged 46; John Drummond, aged 47; and Thomas L. Walker, aged 39.

Invalid Certificate No. 893,645 was issued to John L. Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll. On December 30, 1897, he responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He said that he had been married to Mary Ballen- ger on March 22, 1869, at Toledo, Illinois, by the Rev. M. Wyler, M.G. It had been the first marriage for both. Their living children in 1897 were:

[The living children of John L. and Mary (Ballenger) Sparks in 1897:]

Nettie E. Sparks, born March 1, 1877 John William Sparks, born June 5, 1878 Lewis E. Sparks, born June 27, 1880 Alonzo A. Sparks, born October 1, 1881 Charles W. Sparks, born April 27, 1883 Fred L. Sparks, born October 16, 1885

When John L. Sparks died March 29, 1904, he was receiving a pension of $8.00 per month. On April 4, 1904, his widow, Mary Sparks, aged 57, applied for a Widow's Pension. She stated that she had been married to Sparks under her mai- den name of Mary Ballenger on March 22, 1869. They had no children still under the age of sixteen in 1904. She said that her annual income did not exceed $250 per year. She appointed D. B. Green, Toledo, Illinois, as her attorney. A. J. Reeves and A. W. Bew witnessed her signature.

On May 26, 1904, John L. Carr of Cumberland County, Illinois, certified that on November 4, 1885, the courthouse had burned and had destroyed all books, papers, and records of the County Clerk's office pertaining to marriages.

On June 8, 1904, Mildred J. Ferris, aged 47; Phillip Huffman, aged 67; and E. C. Gadbury, aged 63, made an affidavit stating that they had been present on March 22, 1869, when John L. Sparks and Mary Ballenger were married.

Widow Certificate No. 578,129 was issued to Mary Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll. When she died January 19, 1912, she was receiving a pension of $12.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: John Little Sparks, who was called John L. Sparks in his military and pension records, was a son of Benjamin D. and Nancy L. (McCroskey) Sparks. See page 4376 of the present issue of the Quarterly for additional information about him and his family.]