Whole Number 172
[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 that was compiled for us many years ago. Using a special form provided by the National 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, that have been selected 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 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 widow, 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.]
LYMAN C. SPARKS, son of Leonard and Malinda (Love) Sparks, was born in or about 1848; he died in 1899. He married Lutitia Cunningham in 1878 in Cloud County, Kansas. He served in Company D, 62nd Regiment Illinois Infantry. File De- signations: Inv. Cert. No. 532,001; Wid. Cert. No. 486,487.
On November 2, 1878, Lyman C. Sparks, a resident of Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas, applied for an Invalid Pension. He stated that he had been enrolled on November 17, 1863, in Company D, commanded by Capt. John Hannah, of the 62nd Regiment Illinois Infantry and had served until he had been discharged at Little Rock, Arkansas, in June 1865. In May 1865, he had been hospitalized at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with an intermittent fever and a chronic case of diarrhea from which he had suffered ever since. Since leaving the service, he had lived in Kansas where he was a farmer. He appointed Nathan W. Fitzgerald, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. Israel Newton Love and T. E. Cunningham witnessed his signature.
The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service on May 28, 1879. As he had claimed, he had been enrolled on November 17, 1863, at Danville, Illinois, in Company K, 62nd Regiment Illinois Volunteers to serve for three years, or during the war. He had been present for duty until he was mustered out on a "Det. M.O. Roll" on June 20, 1865, at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, with the remark: "Entered hospital May 29, 1865, and had since been treated for intermittent fever."
On March 15, 1881, Sparks, now a resident of Laynesville, Saline County, Missouri, made a deposition to support his claim. He stated that prior to his enlistment, he had lived at Prairie City, Cumberland [County], Illinois. After his discharge from the Army, he resided near Point Commerce, Greene County, Indiana, for three or four years, then he had resided "near Stockton but in Clay County, Ind." In 1876, he had moved to Cloud County, Kansas, near Concordia, and resided there until "last fall." He had been a farmer all of his life, but was now  unable to farm because of the acute diarrhea brought on by his military service.
Invalid Certificate No. 532,001 was issued to Lyman C. Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll. He died January 19, 1899.
On February 7, 1899, Lutitia E. Sparks, aged 47, a resident of Cameron, Clinton, County, Missouri, applied for a Widow's Pension. She stated that she had been married to Lyman C. Sparks on March 25, 1878, at Concordia, Kansas. He had died on January 19, 1899, and had left her without any means of support other than her own daily labor. They had no children under the age of sixteen years. She appointed Edward D. Cornish of Cameron, Missouri, as her attorney. Maria E. Free and William B. Hack witnessed her signature.
On February 15, 1899, C. P. Smith, Probate Judge of Cloud County, Kansas, sent a copy of the marriage record of Lyman C. Sparks and Lutitia Cunningham to the Bureau of Pensions. They had been married on March 25, 1878, in Cloud County by S. D. Houston, Probate Judge. Sparks had been 29 years of age; his bride had been 25.
A joint affidavit was made on June 7, 1899, by Maria E. Free, aged 57, and Nancy V. Fowler, aged 54, residents of Cameron, Missouri, and Dover, Oklahoma Territory, respectively. They swore that neither Sparks nor his wife had been married before they were married to each other. They stated that they were well acquainted with both of them, since Mrs. Free was a sister of Mrs. Sparks. From the pension papers of Lyman's mother, that will be explained below, we know that Nancy V. Fowler was Lyman Sparks's sister.
Widow Certificate No. 486,487 was issued to Lutitia Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll. She applied for an increase in her pension on November 1, 1916, stating that she had been born on December 13, 1845. When she died in December 1922, she was receiving a pension of $30.00 per month.
[Editor's Note: Lyman C. Sparks was born in or about 1848 in Indiana. He was a son of Leonard and Malinda (Love) Sparks and was shown as a member of their household on the 1850 census of Jennings County, Indiana. His age was given as four years on that census, but when his mother made application in 1880 for a Mother's Pension, based on the death of Lyman's oldest brother, Francis M. Sparks, as a soldier in the Union Army on May 12, 1863, she stated that Lyman had been fifteen years old in 1863. (We published an abstract of Malinda Sparks's application for a Mother's Pension in the Quarterly of December 1987, Whole No. 140, pp. 3170-72.)
[The father of Lyman C. Sparks, Leonard Sparks, had been born in Franklin County, Indiana, in July 1821. There can be little doubt that he was a son of Elijah and Dianna (Duncan) Sparks, although our evidence of this relationship is circumstantial. Elijah Sparks, whom we believe to have been Lyman Sparks's grandfather, had been born ca. 1783. Elijah had been married in Shelby County, Kentucky, to Dianna Duncan in March 1803. He was a son of Walter and Phoebe Sparks. (See the Quarterly of December 1987, Whole No. 140, pp. 3130-63, for an article on Walter Sparks and his descendants.)
[Lyman Sparks's mother applied for a Mother's Pension based on the fact that her oldest son, Francis M. Sparks, had provided support for the family until his death from wounds suffered in the Civil War. A number of years passed, however, be- fore Malinda's application was approved, and in one of her affidavits dated March 16, 1882, she stated that in 1863, when her son died, she and her family had re- sided at Majority Point in Cumberland County, Illinois. It is seen from Lyman Sparks's application for a pension, that he was living in Cumberland County in 1863, prior to his own enlistment.
[The children of Leonard and Malinda (Love) Sparks were listed in Malinda's 1882 affidavit as follows:
Francis M. Sparks, 22 years old in 1863. Nancy V. Sparks, 18 years old in 1863. Lyman C. Sparks, 15 years old in 1863. Mary E. Sparks, 12 years old in 1863. Lucinda I. Sparks, 10 years old in 1863. Sarah E. Sparks, 7 years old in 1863. Israel L. Sparks, 3 years old in 1863.
[A Mother's Pension for Malinda Sparks was approved, apparently in 1882, which she continued to receive until her death on January 21, 1901, in Cameron, Missouri. Leonard Sparks, her husband, then applied for a Father's Pension, also based on the death of Francis M. Sparks in the service in 1863. He stated that he and Malinda Love had been married on February 14, 1840, in Bartholomew County, Indiana. He listed the dates of birth of his and Malinda's four children who had been under the age of sixteen when Francis M. Sparks had died in May 1863:
Mary Ellen Sparks, born August 11, 1850. Lucinda I. Sparks, born April 8, 1853. Sarah Elizabeth Sparks, born January 13, 1855. Israel L. Sparks, born February 14, 1861.
[As seen when we compare Malinda's list of all her children, she indicated that Lyman had been fifteen when Francis died, but when Leonard gave his list of children who had been under sixteen in 1863, he did not include Lyman, indicating, perhaps, that he had been born in 1847. Leonard Sparks gave his own age as eighty years when he applied for a Father's Pension in February 1901, placing his year of birth as in or about 1821. It appears that Leonard Sparks had died before his application was acted upon. ]
CHARLES SPARKS, alias CHARLES J. JOHNSON, was born ca. 1840. He married Lavinia McQueen in 1868. He served in Company K, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. File Designations:
Inv. Appl. No. 918,281; Wid. Appl. No. 781,011.
On October 11, 1900, Charles J. Johnson, aged 60, a resident of Bennettsville, South Carolina, reapplied for an invalid pension. He stated that he had been enrolled in March 1865 as CHARLES SPARKS in Company K, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, and that he had served until he had been discharged at Fort Macon, North Carolina, on December 11, 1865. He was suffering from rheumatism and general debility. T. J. Crosland and Julian McLarren witnessed him sign his name as C. J. Johnson.
The War Department confirmed the military service of Charles Sparks. He had served in Company K, 14th Regiment U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery from April 4, 1865, to December 11, 1865. No medical records were found.
Charles J. Johnson died in December 1902, and on March 23, 1903, Lavinia Johnson, aged 72, applied for a widow's pension. She stated that she was the widow of Chas. J. Johnson who had enlisted on March 11, 1865, under the name of CHARLES SPARKS, in Company K, 14th Regiment, U.S.C.H.A. and had served until December 11, 1865. She had been married to Chas. J. Johnson in 1868 by the Rev. Thomas Biliup under the name of Lavinia McQueen. They had no children under the age of sixteen. Landis Hollier and William B. Townsend witnessed her make her mark.
Apparently no pension certificate was issued to either Charles J. Johnson or to his widow, Lavinia Johnson.
THOMAS J. SPARKS, son of Thomas and Mary Sparks, was born in 1844 in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and he died in San Francisco on October 19, 1910. He married (first) Annie B. Roberts, and married (second) to Harriet E. (Holden) Mussey. He served in Company H, 134th Regiment Illinois Infantry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 579,509; Wid. Cert. No. 859,569.
On April 22, 1890, Thomas J. Sparks, aged 45, a resident of Lovelock, Butte County, California, made a declaration for an invalid pension. He stated that he had been enrolled on May 18, 1864, in Company H, 134th Regiment Illinois Infantry, commanded by Col. McChesney, and he had been discharged at Chicago on October 25, 1864. He was 6 feet, 1 inch in height, and he had a florid complexion, dark hair, and blue eyes at his enlistment. On or about June 15, 1864, he had had a severe attack of pleurisy in his right side caused by cold and exposure for which he had been treated in the regimental hospital at Columbus, Kentucky, from June to August 1864. The pleurisy had finally settled in his kidneys and liver and resulted in such poor health that he was now unable to perform any manual labor. He appointed Tucker & Evans, Washington, D.C., as his attorneys. R. D. Lancie and John Guidery witnessed his signature.
Sparks's military service was confirmed by the War Department on December 5, 1890. He had served as a wagoner in Company H, 134th Regiment Illinois Volunteers from May 18th to October 25th, 1864. Company rolls showed that he had been treated on June 19th, and from July 2nd to the 14th, 1864, for diarrhea. Sparks was issued Invalid Certificate No. 579,509, and he was placed upon the pension roll.
On January 30, 1898, Sparks replied to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married to Harriet E. Holden in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 15, 1895, by the Rev. Minot J. Savage, a Unitarian minister. Prior to this marriage, he had been married to Annie B. Roberts, but they had been divorced at Leadville, Colorado, in 1879. Children born to his first marriage were:
Ida Isabelle Sparks, born May 13, 1866. Bessie lona Sparks, born February 22, 1868. Charles Henry Sparks, born in October 1869.
Thomas Sparks applied for increased pension benefits on March 15, 1907, under the 1907 Act of Congress. He was now 62 years of age and a resident of San Francisco. He stated that he had been born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1844. After leaving the service, he had lived in Illinois until 1866, in Kansas until 1872, in Missouri until 1875, and since that time he had lived in California. James J. Dolan and Charles Rickoff witnessed his signature.
Thomas J. Sparks died in the U.S. Army Hospital in San Francisco on October 19, 1910, and he was buried in the National Cemetery there. On November 28, 1910, the Boston, Massachusetts, City Registrar filed the marriage record of Thomas J. Sparks and Harriet E. Mussey with the Bureau of Pensions. They had been married on January 15, 1895, by the Rev. M. J. Savage. Sparks was 59 years old, described as a real estate owner and the son of Thomas and Mary Sparks. Harriet was 49 years old, a lecturer, and a daughter of James S. and Elizabeth P. Hoi den.
On September 26, 1916, Harriet E. Sparks applied for a widow's pension based on her husband's service in the Civil War. (She had probably filed an application earlier than this, but that document was not included in the file obtained from the National Archives.) She was 75 years of age, and a resident of San Francisco. She stated that her first husband, Benjamin E. Mussey, had died at Rutland, Vermont, on April 5, 1885, and that she had been married to Thomas J. Sparks on January 15, 1895. When her husband, Thomas Sparks, died October 19, 1910, he had been receiving a pension under certificate number 579,509.
Apparently the pension application of Harriet Sparks was held to determine whether or not she or her husband had been previously married more than one time, and whether or not she had remarried. The delay apparently caused Mrs. Sparks to write the following letter: (Some punctuation has been added.)
October 23, 1917
Mrs. Woodrow Wilson,
My Dear & Treasured Friend, I am writing a letter to you instead of writing to your Husband, as I know he is so burdened with National things and I am afraid if I write & send through his Secretary it might never reach him. I have written him several tiroes. The first was to say that altho I was a Republican I was working hard to re- elect him, as I am a great admirer of him. I worked hard [and] con- verted many of my friends who voted for him. Now I wish to ask you to, when he can listen to you, lay my Case before him as he is the man who made it possible for me to get a Pension when he passed the Pension Law last year.
My Husband was an Old Soldier of the Civil War, [he] died in 1910, the 19th of October. Now after your Husband passed the law permitting me to get it, I sent all my papers, even my Marriage Certificate, to Wm. Fletcher & Co., Attorneys & Solicitors, Washington, D.C. This is over a year ago. I spent lots of money to procure all they demanded, but I got all they asked. Now they come back demanding me to furnish them with two signatures of people who knew both of my husbands [and] that we were neither one married before we were married the first time. I know you can see that to be a very unjust Law or demand on us old people, for I do not know one person who lives that knew any of us so long ago, for I am near 80 years old and was married when 18 years old first, so any one now living at that time would shurely [sic] be more than one hundred years old. I cannot see why such a demand should be made. I am only asking for [a] Pension from the Soldier who was in the Civil War and have proven all about my first Husband, even where he is buried and other questions.
I have the discharge papers of my Husband, Thomas Sparks, and he is buried here in the Prescedio [sic] in the National Cemetery. I feel that it is very unjust to keep me out of the small sum which would help me out so much in my old age, and surely can be for a very few years. And now I am so anxious to purchase a Liberty Bond and if your good Husband would just sign a letter to the Pension Dept, which would give me a Pension and all the back pay from the time I sent in my papers, I will invest the money in a Liberty Bond, then I give so much back to the Government and I will be so happy, for I am a true American & if I had the money, which I had when I came to Cal. and lost it here, I could buy a big Bond, but I do so want to do a little.
I will have the monthly amount of Pension which will help me to eat so long as I live. My people are all gone, and I am alone. Now wont you kindly lay this before your Husband and perhaps he will permit you to write the letter to the Pension Office vetoing such an unjust law which it is impossible to carry out. My only Brother was killed in the Civil War, so you see I am left all alone, and I do so want to buy the Liberty Bond. I hope you can and will excuse me for troubling you about this, but was so afraid he would never see my letter if I sent it through the White House. I will wait with great hopes, as you see I am one of the drops in the bucket of human beings, so I will thank you and say God bless you and our great, good and true President. Sincerely,
[signed] H. E. Sparks, 273 Russ Bidg, San Francisco, Cal.
The case of Harriet E. Sparks was placed in the hands of a special examiner, Wm. L. Towles, who made a report on August 31, 1918. He had interviewed Mary Elizabeth Jewell, daughter of Mrs. Sparks, and he now recommended that the daughter of Thomas J. Sparks also be interviewed. Her name was Ida B. Carey, and she lived at Granite, Colorado.
Nothing was sent from this pension file by the National Archives to indicate whether the interview with Mrs. Carey was ever arranged, but Harriet E. Sparks was placed upon the pension roll. When she died November 11, 1926, she was receiving a pension of $30.00 per month.
[Editor's Note: Despite the fact that Thomas J. Sparks stated he had been born in 1844 in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, and that his marriage certificate gives the names of his parents as Thomas and Mary Sparks, we have not succeeded in learning anything about his parents or his ancestry. Should any reader have knowledge of Thomas J. Sparks or any of his children, please let us hear from you.
When she stated that her husband, Thomas Sparks, had been "buried here in the Prescedio in the National Cemetery," Mrs. Sparks may have meant the U.S. military installation where the foreign language school was once located, called the "Presidio."]
CLINTON SPARKS, was born March 15, 1842, in Hardin County, Kentucky. He married Amelia Johnson on November 10, 1875. He served in Company A, 4th Regiment Kentucky Infantry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 894,732.
On December 15, 1891, the Bureau of Pensions asked the War Department to furnish a record of the military service of Clinton Sparks who had applied for an invalid pension. Sparks claimed that he had enlisted as a private in Company A, 4th Regiment Kentucky Infantry on July 16, 1861, and had been discharged on October 25, 1864, at Nashville, Tennessee. He claimed that he had been disabled by wounds received in the Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky, and also by a rupture.
The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service on December 16, 1891. He had been enrolled in Company A, 4th Regiment Kentucky Infantry on August 7, 1861, at Stanford, Kentucky, as a "Wagoner-Private," and he had served until he was mustered out with his detachment on October 25, 1864. He had been wounded in action at Old Fields on January 19, 1862, and, as a result, he had been in and out of military hospitals during most of 1862 and 1863. His medical records showed that he had been treated for a gunshot wound in the back of the head and had suffered from paralysis of his left arm. Sparks was issued a pension on Invalid Certificate No. 894,732.
On May 23, 1912, Clinton Sparks, age 70 and a resident of Velva, McHenry County, North Dakota, made application for increased pension benefits under the 1912 Act of Congress. He stated that at the time of his enlistment, he had been 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and that he had a dark complexion, blue eyes, and dark hair. He had been born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on March 15, 1842, and he had been a laborer by occupation. After leaving the service, he had lived in Illinois until 1869, then went to Steele County, Minnesota, where he had stayed until 1873. From there he went to Grant County, Minnesota, where he had stayed until 1903, when he went to Velva, North Dakota. Henry Peter- son and Unfin Gelland [?] witnessed the declaration that was notarized by Rufus Trer [?], a notary public of North Dakota.
Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions on April 4, 1916. He stated that he had been married to Miss Amelia Johnson on November 10, 1875, at Owatonna, Minnesota, by the Rev. Tanner, an Episcopal minister. He was still living with his wife, and they had seven children, "either living or dead." They were:
Otto Sparks, born September 27, 1876. Henry Sparks, born February 20, 1879. Hugh Sparks, born November 22, 1881. Jennie Sparks, born January 10, 1884. Tim Sparks, born August 12, 1886. Willie Sparks, born January 13, 1888. Selma Sparks, born October 6, 1896.
Clinton Sparks received his last pension payment to October 4, 1924. At that time he was living at Nashua, Minnesota, and he was receiving a pension of $50.00 per month. The Finance Division was advised to drop him from the roll because of his death, but the date of his death was not known.
[Editor's Note: Dr. Paul E. Sparks, who has done extensive research over many years among Kentucky records searching for references to persons named Sparks, reports that he had not succeeded in finding a single clue to identify the parentage of Clinton Sparks. Should any reader have knowledge of Clinton Sparks or of any of his children, please let us hear from you.]