Whole Number 171
[Editor's Note: From time to time, we have been publishing abstracts of pen- sion 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, B.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, or his heirs, 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, beginning 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 veteran 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.]
50.x.8.3 EDWARD H. SPARKS, son of Quartus and Mary (Hamilton) Sparks, was born in San Francisco, California, on February 7, 1849. He married Bessie Jefferies on December 12, 1870, at Salt Lake City, Utah. He served in Capt. John Hunt's Cavalry Company, Utah Territory Militia. File Designation: Invalid Application No. 13,363.
[Editor's Note: Although the service of Edward H. Sparks did not begin until after the Civil War had ended, we include his record in this series because his service began in 1866.]
On May 1, 1917, Edward H. Sparks, aged 68, a resident of Nephi, Utah, applied for a pension under the provisions of an Act of Congress that granted pensions to the survivors of certain wars and disturbances with, and cam- paigns against, Indians from 1817 to 1891. Sparks stated that he had been born in San Francisco on February 7, 1849. On June 6, 1866, he had enlisted at Beaver City, Utah Territory, in Capt. Joseph Betterson's Cavalry Company, Utah Territory Militia, and he had served until he was discharged on or about November 1, 1867. His company had seen action against the Black Hawk Indians. He had been 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue eyes, and brown hair at the time of his enlistment, and he was a rancher. G. R. Judd and Fred C. Chapman, residents of Nephi, Utah, witnessed his signature.
On July 27, 1917, Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He said that he had been married to Bessie Jefferies on December 22, 1870, at Salt Lake City by Bishop Winder. It had been the first marriage for both. To this marriage, nine children had been born:
50.x.8.3.1 Bessie Lizzette Sparks, born August 27, 1871 - now deceased
50.x.8.3.2 Mary Edna Sparks, born March 12, 1874
50.x.8.3.3 Edward Hamilton Sparks, born January 31, 1876
50.x.8.3.4 William Jefferies Sparks, born April 25, 1879 - now dead
50.x.8.3.5 Earle Franklin Sparks, born March 23, 1882
50.x.8.3.6 Genevieve Elizabeth Sparks, born April 11, 1885
50.x.8.3.7 Cleveland Sparks, born June 30, 1888
50.x.8.3.8 Phyllis Lucille Sparks, born April 30, 1890
50.x.8.3.9 Pearl Jefferies Sparks, born January 18, 1893
The Adjutant General of Utah answered a request from the Commissioner of Pensions on October 29, 1917, for the military records of Edward H. Sparks. Records in that office showed that Sparks had been mustered into service on August 15, 1866, at Beaver, Utah, as a private in Capt. John Hunt's Cavalry Company, Iron Military District of the Territory of Utah, and had served until he was discharged on July 20, 1867. His name did not appear on the original official muster roll of Capt. Joseph Betterson.
On March 9, 1918, the Utah Adjutant General advised the Commissioner of Pensions as follows: "In affidavit made February 8, 1910 (Vol. 9, Page 51 - Utah Service Records) one Edward H. Sparks stated that he was a resident of Nephi, Utah, and had been for 39 years; that he was 60 years of age; that he was enrolled on August 15, 1866, in Capt. John Hunt's Co. Cav. at which time he was a resident of Beaver, Utah, and 17 years of age; that he was released from service July 20, 1867; and that he made an expedition to Circleville and Grass Valley and served as a scout and patrol in the mountains."
On April 9, 1918, Sparks was advised by the Department of the Interior that his claim was rejected on the grounds that his alleged service in the Black Hawk Indian War in Utah in 1865-1867 was not established by the evidence required. The kinds of evidence which were acceptable were (1) records of the War Department; (2) a record from the Treasury Department showing payment of the soldier by the United States; or (3) the muster roll on file in the archives of the State of Utah. Since no record had been found showing Sparks's service in Capt. Betterson's Cavalry Company, his claim was rejected.
Edward H. Sparks appealed the rejection of his claim on July 23, 1918, on the grounds that (1) he should not be blamed because Capt. Betterson's company failed to keep proper records, and (2) other men with whom he had served were now drawing pensions. He asked permission to submit additional affidavits to support his claim. Apparently, his request was denied, or at least discouraged.
On January 26,1923, Edward H. Sparks again asked permission to renew his original claim No. 13,363, and two affidavits were filed to support his original application. On May 24, 1923, Albert S. Goodwin, aged 79, a resident of Bea- ver, Utah, testified that he, along with Edward H. Sparks and others, had enlisted in Capt. John Hunt's Cavalry Company in June 1866, and that shortly thereafter, the company had been sent to Fort Sanford with Capt. Joseph Bet- terson in command to relieve Capt. Edward Dalton's Company. Upon arriving at Fort Sanford, Capt. Dalton took the company to Circle Valley and left it under the command of Capt. Joseph Betterson. The company stayed at Circle Valley until it had been safe for people to move away, and then the company had returned to Beaver where it had been disbanded by Capt. Betterson and went back into the service as Capt. John Hunt's Company.
Goodwin's affidavit was supported by Gideon A. Murdock. Murdock, aged 82, and a resident of Beaver, Utah, stated that he had "carefully read the affidavit of Albert S. Goodwin ... and that the matters stated therein were true."
The last piece of correspondence sent to us from the "selected papers" in the pension file of Edward H. Sparks was from the Utah Adjutant General to the Commissioner of Pensions in Washington, D.C. This letter, written on September - tember 12, 1923, stated that the records of that office showed that John Hunt had not been appointed to the rank of captain until February 22, 1868.
Apparently, the pension claim of Edward H. Sparks was never approved.
[Editor's Note: Edward H. Sparks (the "H" stood for Hamilton) was a son of Quartus Strong and Mary Holland (Hamilton) Sparks. A biographical sketch of Quartus Strong Sparks appears in the present issue of the Quarterly, beginning on page 4500. See page 4511 for further information regarding Edward Hamilton Sparks.]
BENJAMIN SPARKS, son of James and Mary (Ellis) Sparks, was born at Bloomington, Indiana, on December 27, 1838. He was married three times: (first) Mary M. Curtis in December 1867; (second) Minerva Edmondson on January 10, 1882; and (third) Emma A. Blackford on August 15, 1883. He served in Company K, 54th Regiment Illinois Infantry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 292,625.
Benjamin Sparks apparently had made application for an invalid pension sometime prior to May 11, 1883, for on that date the War Department confirmed his military service to the Bureau of Pensions. He had been enrolled in Company K, 54th Regiment Illinois Volunteers on December 10, 1861, at Paris, Illinois, for three years. He had reenlisted on December 26, 1863, and had served until he had been mustered out with his company on October 15, 1865. He held the rank of corporal. He had been hospitalized with intermittent fever from July 26, 1865, to August 1, 1865.
Invalid Certificate No. 292,625 was issued to Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll.
On August 4, 1898, he responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he was not then married; however, he had been previously married three times. His first marriage had been to Mary M. Curtis in Moultrie County, Illinois, in December 1867. He and Mary had two children:
James Sparks, born in 1868, died March 28, 1869; and Cora A. Sparks, born in July 1872 at Chanute, Kansas, and from whom he had not heard in ten years. He and Mary had been divorced in 1876, and on January 10, 1882, he had been married to Minerva Edmondson. She had died in January 1883, and on August 15, 1883, he married Emma L. Blackford, a widow. They had been divorced on March 28, 1884.
On May 23, 1912, Benjamin Sparks, aged 73 years, and a resident of the National Military Home, Leavenworth, Kansas, applied for increased pension benefits under the provisions of the 1912 Act of Congress. He stated in this application that he had been born at Bloomington, Indiana, on December 27, 1838. At the time of his enlistment he had been 5 feet, 10 inches tall; he had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and brown hair; and he was a farmer.
Benjamin Sparks died October 30, 1915, at Chautauqua, Kansas. On June 23, 1917, George W. McKenney applied for reimbursement for Sparks's last illness and funeral expenses in the amount of $20.45. McKenney stated that he was the administrator of Sparks's estate, but that he was not related to him.
[Editor's Note: The parents of Benjamin Sparks were James and Mary "Polly" (Ellis) Sparks, who were married in Nicholas County, Kentucky, on November 1, 1827. (See the December 1965 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 52, page 946.) This family was listed on the 1850 census of Martin County, Indiana, which was published in the December 1959 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 25.]
BENJAMIN A. SPARKS was born July 25, 1848, in Bedford County, Tennessee. He served in Company C, 4th Regiment U.S.C. Heavy Artillery. File Designation: Inv. Appl. No. 730,442.
Apparently Benjamin A. Sparks applied for an invalid pension prior to January 25, 1890, for on that date the War Department sent the Commissioner of Pensions his military record as follows:
Benjamin A. Sparks, Co. C, 4th Regt. U.S.C. Hy. Arty. was enrolled on February 3, 1865, and dishonorably discharged by sentence of Gen. C.M. Order No. Ill, Dist. of Ky. Discharge furnished by Chf. Must. Officer of Ky. March 30, 1866 (under provisions of W.D. Circular No. 50, 1865) to date February 25, 1866, date of m.o. of Co. From enrolt. 1865 to August 31, 1865, he held the rank of Pvt. and during that period the rolls show him present except as follows: August 31, 1865., in confinement since July 3, 1865, at Louisville, Ky. The records furnish nothing additional bearing upon this case.
On January 9, 1917, Benjamin A. Sparks, aged 68, a resident of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, made a declaration for an invalid pension. He said that he had enlisted in Company C, 4th Regiment U.S.C.T. He added that he had been born in Bedford Co., Tenn., on July 25, 1848. Martin Winglade and E. A. Swan witnessed him make his mark.
[Editor's Note: Although Benjamin A. Sparks stated that he had been born in Bedford County, Tennessee, in 1848, we have not found him on the 1850 census of that county. We have not discovered his parentage, nor whether he left descendants.]