Whole Number 175
[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, 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 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.]
ERASTUS FELTON SPARKS, son of William and Sidney (Cunningham) Sparks, wasborn November 21, 1837, in Muskingum County, Ohio; he died September 8, 1923, in Clermont County, Ohio. He married (first) Sarah J.Dodd in 1858 in Licking County, Ohio, and (second) to Irene S. Vesey in 1883 in Franklin County, Ohio.He served in Company E, 135th Regiment Ohio National Guards and Company C, 1st Regiment U.S. Veteran Volunteer Engineers. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 468,484; Wid. Cert. No. 948,678.
Erastus Felton Sparks made application for an invalid pension prior to October 12, 1886, for on that date the War Department confirmed his military service to the Bureau of Pensions. He had been enrolled on March 27, 1865, at Newark, Ohio, in Company C, 1st Regiment U.S. Veteran Engineers for one year and had been mustered out with his company at Nashville, Tennessee, on September 26, 1865. He had served also in Company E, 135th Regiment Ohio National Guards from May 2, 1864, to September 1, 1864. He was placed on the pension rolls under Invalid Certificate No. 468,484, but we have not learned the date nor the amount of his pension.
On January 28, 1891, Erastus F. Sparks, age 54, made application for an increase in his pension. He was receiving $4.00 per month. He said that he was now available to have the required physical examination. Five years later, on January 22, 1896, he again made application for increased pension benefits. He stated that in August 1865, while working in a government sawmill near Chattanooga, Tennessee, he suffered a broken kneecap and had been hospitalized in the Field Hospital for three weeks and was then sent to the general hospital in Chattanooga. He rejoined his company on or about September 15, 1865. He said that his commanding officer, Capt. A. A. Alcott, was now dead, and he was unable to furnish further proof of his injury. J. S. Irvin prepared the application which Sparks signed. His post-office was Williamsburg, Ohio.
Sparks responded to questionnaires from the Bureau of Pensions on July 15, 1898, and again on March 19, 1915. He stated that he had been born in Muskingum County, Ohio, on November 21, 1837. He had been married to Sarah J. Dodd at Newark, Ohio, and they had one son, Edwin E. Sparks, born July 16, 1859. Sarah J. (Dodd) Sparks had died October 16, 1880, at London, Ohio. On February 13, 1883, he had been married to Irene S. Vesey in Franklin County, Ohio, and they had two sons: Frank V. Sparks, born August 17, 1891, at Columbus, Ohio, and Harry S. Sparks, born July 13, 1895, at Williamsburg, Ohio.
On May 14, 1920, Erastus F. Sparks, now age 83, a resident of Williamsburg, Ohio, made another application for increased pension benefits. He stated that he had been enrolled in Company E, 135th Regiment Ohio National Guards on May 2, 1864, and had served until he had been mustered out at Camp Chase, Ohio, on September 1, 1864. At the time of his enlistment, he had been 5 feet, 7 inches tall; he had a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair; and he was a carpenter by occupation. He said that his advanced age prevents him from performing the necessary duties of life without an attendant. Since leaving the military service, he had lived in the Ohio counties of Licking, Clinton, Clermont, and Franklin. 0. L. Towner and Elizabeth Lochard witnessed his signature, and the application was notarized by C. H. Lochard.
Erastus Felton Sparks died September 8, 1923, at Williamsburg, Ohio. According to information given by his widow on his death certificate, his father had been William Sparks, a native of Ohio. His mother's name was not given on the death certificate. At the time of his death, he was receiving a pension of $72.00 per month. He was buried at Williamsburg.
On September 21, 1923, Irene V. Sparks, age 72, a resident of Williamsburg, Ohio, made application for a widow's pension. She stated that she had been born April 28, 1851, on a farm near Columbus, Ohio. She had been married to Erastus F. Sparks on February 13, 1883, at Groveport, Ohio, by the Rev. S. D. Smith. Mrs. Roseann Lanham witnessed her signature, and Elizabeth Lochard notarized the application. Irene V. Sparks was placed on the pension rolls under Widow Certificate No. 948,678. She died January 6, 1936 and was buried at Williamsburg, Ohio.
[Editor's Note: See page 4680 of the present issue of the SPARKS Quarterly for further information regarding Erastus Felton Sparks.]
GEORGE B. SPARKS, probable son of William and Sidney (Cunningham) Sparks,was born between 1837 and 1843; he died October 19,1903, at Sparta, Ohio. He married Rebecca Hoagland on December 12, 1877, in Stark County, Ohio. Heserved in Company B, 24th Regiment Ohio Infantry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 800,576; Wid. Appl. No. 795,728.
On June 6, 1891, George B. Sparks, age 48, a resident of New Cumberland, Tus-carawas County, Ohio, made application for an invalid pension. He stated that he had been enrolled on May 30, 1861, in Company B, 24th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and had served until he had been discharged on June 21, 1864. He was now unable to earn his support because of a general debility and broken down condition. He appointed Robert C. Jones of Waynesburgh, Stark County, Ohio, as his attorney. Jordan H. Banks and Clement R. Jones witnessed his signature.
A few weeks later, on July 24, 1891, Sparks made an affidavit to support his application. In this, he stated that he had been taken as a prisoner-of-war at the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee, on December 31, 1862, and had been imprisoned at Libby Prison, Virginia, for four months. During his stay in prison, he had contracted scurvy which had remained with him ever since.
Sparks was supported in his application by Dr. J. D. Herron, who, on July 27, 1891, stated that he was Sparks's personal physician and had treated him for scurvy for several years. The scurvy had resulted in a severe ulceration of the gums which had literally exposed the root tips of Sparks's teeth. Sparks had also suffered from indigestion and constipation which required medical treatment as frequently as two or three times each week.
The military service of George B. Sparks was confirmed by the War Department on October 17, 1891. He had been enrolled on May 30, 1861, in Company B, 24th Regiment Ohio Infantry and had served until he had been mustered out with his company on June 21, 1864, at Columbus, Ohio. He had been wounded slightly at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee, on April 7, 1862, and had been hospitalized until June 30, 1862. He had been wounded severely in his left leg on December 31, 1862, at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and had been captured. He had remained in prison until he was paroled at Camp Chase, Ohio, on June 13, 1863. He had rejoined his company on August 6, 1863. He had been wounded at Buzzards Roost, Georgia, on February 29, 1864, but had been returned to duty.
Invalid Certificate No. 800,576 was issued to George B. Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll. On June 4, 1898, he responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married to Rebecca Hoagland on December 12, 1877, in Stark County, Ohio, by the Rev. E. A. Williams. It had been the first marriage for both. They had had one child, Charles C. Sparks, born February 14, 1879.
George B. Sparks died October 19, 1903, at Sparta, Ohio. On November 27, 1903, his widow, Rebecca Sparks, applied for a widow's pension. She was 53 years of age and a resident of Pierce, Stark County, Ohio. John Keehner and Sadie Smith witnessed her signature. Nothing was included among the "selected papers" from this file provided by the National Archives to reveal what action was taken on her application, but no Widow's Certificate was issued to her. Perhaps she died or remarried before any action could be taken on her application.
[Editor's Note: See page 4681 of the present issue of the SPARKS Quarterly for further information regarding the probable parentage of George B. Sparks.]
SAMUEL J. SPARKS, son of John Burton and Susan (Garner) Sparks, was bornon June 10, 1836, and he died April 8, 1913. He wasmarried to Lettie Jones on September 27, 1863, in LaSalle County, Illinois. He served in Company F, 53rd Regiment Illinois Infantry. File designations: Inv. Cert. No. 404,428; Wid. Cert. No. 761,327.
Sometime prior to December 9, 1863, Samuel J. Sparks applied for an invalid pension for on that day the Adjutant General's Office furnished the following information to the Commissioner of Pensions: "Samuel J. Sparks was mustered into Company F, 53rd Regt. Illinois Vols. at Ottawa, Illinois, as a private on January 1, 1862, to serve for a period of three years. In September & October 1862 he was sick in the hospital at Memphis, Tenn. There is no evidence of death or discharge on file." Apparently no official action was taken on the claim.
On June 27, 1876, the claim was apparently reconsidered and the Adjutant General's Office was again asked to verify Sparks's military service. The same information was furnished as before, with the additional statement: "Discharged for disability at Memphis, Tenn., December 15, 1862." There is nothing in the file of "selected papers" provided by the National Archives by which to determine what action was taken when this new information was received.
On October 27, 1881, Samuel J. Sparks appeared before Peter W. Brocksleger, La Salle County [Illinois] Court Clerk, to make application for an invalid pension. He stated that he was 45 years of age. At the time of his service, he had been 5 feet, 6 inches tall; he had a light complexion, blue eyes, and auburn hair. Sparks stated that in July 1862 at Corinth, Mississippi, he had contracted inflam-ation of the eyes. The disease had become severely chronic and he had been sent to Overton General Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, where he had remained until his discharge for disability on December 15, 1862. Since his discharge, he had lived in Illinois where he was occupied as a well-driller. He said that he had applied for a pension sometime in 1863, but he didn't know whether there was any claim filed or not. He appointed E. S. Weeden, Chicago, Illinois, as his attorney. Louis Clairmont and J. G. Armstrong, both of Ottawa, Illinois, witnessed his signature and attested to his statements. The claim was approved, and he was issued an invalid pension under Certificate No. 404,428.
Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions on June 17, 1898. He stated that he had been married to Letty Jones on September 27, 1863, at Eariville, Illinois, by William R. Haight, a justice of the peace. It had been the first marriage for both of them. Children born to this marriage who were still living in 1898 were:
Mary E. Collier, born July 5, 1864.
Addie Monett, born November 4, 1869.
Emma A. Whipple, born May 28, 1871.
John B. Sparks, born October 12, 1872.
Blanche Hatres [?], born February 27, 1874.
Lewis L. Sparks, born March 8, 1881.
Maude Sparks, born April 10, 1884.
Elmer Lincoln Sparks, born May 7, 1887.
When Samuel J. Sparks died April 8, 1913, he was receiving a pension of $30.00 per month. His widow, Letta Sparks, applied for a widow's pension three weeks later. She stated that she was 67 years of age and lived in Marseilles, Illinois. Her husband had served from April 18, 1861, to July 29, 1861, as a private in Company F, 10th Regiment Illinois Light Artillery. He had also served from December 7, 1861, to December 24, 1862, as a private in Company F, 53rd Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry and had been discharged because of disability.
He was receiving a pension when he died. She appointed D. A. Nicholson, Marseilles, Illinois, as her attorney. Addie Monnett and Ida J. Tisler, both of Marseilles, witnessed her signature, and the application was notarized by byron A. Routh, a notary public. The application was accompanied by a copy of the marriage record of Samuel J. Sparks and Letta Jones on September 27, 1863, in LaSalle County, Illinois.
Letta Sparks was placed on the pension rolls under Widow Certificate No. 761,327, When she died October 15, 1917, she was receiving $20.00 per month.
[Editor's Note: Additional information regarding Samuel J. Sparks and his family may be found beginning on page 4685 of the present issue of the Quarterly.]
ELI B. SPARKS, son of John Burton and Susan (Garner) Sparks, was bornon September 17, 1838. He served in Company F, 39th Regiment Illinois Infantry.
The military records of Eli B. Sparks are quite brief. He was enrolled on October 11, 1861, at Chicago, Illinois, as a private in Capt. Woodruff's Company, 39th Regiment Illinois Infantry. He was 24 years of age and lived at Marseilles, Illinois. He was present for duty until April 18, 1862, when he was captured near New Market, Virginia. He was confined at Richmond, Virginia, on April 29, 1862, and he was paroled on May 11, 1862, according to information contained on a memorandum from prisoner-of-war records.
Apparently no word of his capture and subsequent parole reached his military unit for a special muster taken in August 1862 showed him still listed as "Missing since April 17. Supposed to be taken prisoner." When his company was mustered out on December 6, 1865, at Norfolk, Virginia, he was listed as "Deserted at Edinburg, Virginia." The record was finally set straight, and on the "Detachment Muster-out Roll," he was listed as mustered out at Washington, D.C., on May 12, 1862, with the remark: "Captured near New Market, Virginia, April 18, 1862."
[Editor's Note: We have no record of Eli B. Sparks ever applying for a pension based on his service in the Civil War. We provide the above military record to supplement the biographical sketch of him appearing on page 4686 of the present issue of the Quarterly. See also the reference to Eli B. Sparks in the second paragraph of the item on page 4687 pertaining to Eli Sparks, son of Stephen and Ann (Carman) Sparks.]
REUBEN HARPER SPARKS, son of Amos and Nancy Murcy (Harper) Sparks, wasborn July 6, 1832, in Franklin County, Indiana. He died on January 23, 1917, at Ottawa, Kansas. On August 5, 1855, he married Rachel Comptonin Fayette County, Indiana. He served in the 124th Regiment Indiana Infantry. File Designations: Inv. Cert. No. 765,818; Wid. Cert. No. 825,763.
Reuben H. Sparks applied for an invalid pension sometimes during August 1892, but no copy of the application form was included among the "selected papers" in his provided to us by the National Archives. His military record was furnished to the Bureau of Pensions by the War Department on October 20, 1891. He had been enrolled in Randolph County, Indiana, on November 17, 1864, as a Chaplain in the 124th Regiment Indiana Infantry, and he had been discharged on May 2, 1865, at Raleigh, North Carolina, upon tendering his resignation. Invalid Certificate No. 765,818 was issued to him, and he was placed upon the pension roll. He applied for increased pension benefits on July 6, 1908, under the provisions of the 1907 Act of Congress. He stated that he had been born in Franklin County, Indiana, on July 6, 1832. (In one other record, he stated that his year of birth had been 1833.) He was now 76 years of age and a resident of Ottawa, Kansas. John Chenoweth and L. C. Jones witnessed his signature, and the declaration was sworn to before George D. Stinebaugh, a notary public.
On May 20, 1912, Sparks again applied for increased pension benefits because of infirmity brought on by advanced age. He stated that he had been 5 feet, 7 inches in height when he entered the service, and that he had a light complexion, light colored hair and grey eyes; and that he had been a minister. He said that after leaving the service, he had lived in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas. He had lived in the latter state for 32 years. His pension was placed at $21.00 per month.
Sparks responded to a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions on April 7, 1915. He stated that he had been married to Rachel C. Compton on August 5, 1855, by the Rev. James S. Barnes, near Connersville, Indiana. It had been the first marriage for both, and they were still living together. They had four children:
Anna Bell Sparks, born May 20, 1856; she had died April 6, 1865, while he had been in the service.
Horace Beeeher Sparks, born September 3, 1858.
Frank Lemon Sparks, born February 8, 1864.
Mattie Mae Sparks, born July 23, 1870.
Reuben H. Sparks died January 23, 1917, at Ottawa, Kansas, and his widow made application for a widow's pension. She was 79 years of age. She stated that her husband was commissioned a Chaplain on November 17, 1864, at Indianapolis, Indiana, by the Governor, and he had served until he resigned on May 2, 1865. She had been married to her husband on August 5, 1855, by the Rev. James S. Barnes. She appointed Peter Kaiser, Ottawa, Kansas, as her attorney. B. A. and Mattie M. Hungerford witnessed her signature. A copy of the marriage record of Reuben H. Sparks and Rachel 'C. Compton was supplied by the Fayette County Clerk of Indiana.
Affidavits from three neighbors accompanied Mrs. Sparks's request for a widow's pension. Henry C. Long, age 56; J. T. Black, age 70; and Henry J. Chenoweth, age 42; all testified that (1) Reuben H. Sparks had been the Presiding Elder of that District of the Methodist Episcopal Church; (2) that his funeral had been held in the Ottawa Methodist Episcopal Church; and (3) that he had been buried in the Hope Cemetery, Ottawa, Kansas, with the G.A.R. Post No. 18 participating in the funeral service.
Rachel C. Sparks survived her husband by only a few months, dying on November 13, 1917.
[Editor's Note: For further information regarding the branch of the Sparks family to which Reuben Harper Sparks belonged, see the SPARKS Quarterly of December 1972, Whole No. 80, pp. 1517-1527, for an article entitled "Jeremiah Burris Sparks, 1808-1886, Son of Jesse R. Sparks (ca. 1780-1865)." Pages 1521-1527 of this article are devoted to the family of Jesse R. Sparks, including his son Amos (pp. 1526-1527) father of Reuben Harper Sparks. Amos Sparks, born in Ohio about 1811, was married, first, to Nancy Murcy Harper of Franklin County, Indiana, in 1829 (the marriage bond was dated October 15, 1829). She died prior to the summer of 1844. Amos Sparks was married, second, to Mary Dewees (the Franklin County, Indiana, marriage bond was dated August 5, 1844). When the 1850 census of Brookville Township, Franklin County, Indiana, was taken, the family of Amos Sparks was shown, with Reuben age 16. Also shown was Reuben's full brother, Charles ["Charlie"] Sparks, age 10. Charles Sparks also served in the Union Army in the Civil War and received a pension. An abstract of his pension file follows.]
CHARLES H. SPARKS, son of Amos and Nancy Mercy (Harper) Sparks,was born March 9, 1841 , in Franklin County, Indiana.He married Sarah J. Mackey on September 5, 1860,in Decatur County, Indiana. He served in Company B, 132nd Regiment Indiana Infantry. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 623,444.
Apparently Charles H. Sparks applied for a pension prior to January 16, 1897, for on that date the Bureau of Pensions requested his full military and medical history from the War Department. The response indicated that he had been enrolled on May 2, 1864, in Company B, 132nd Regiment Indiana Infantry. On June 17, 1864, he had been attacked by dysentery. He was mustered out with his company at Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 7, 1864. The Bureau of Pensions issued Invalid Certificate No. 623,444 to him, and he was placed upon the pension roll.
On August 26, 1900, Sparks responded to a circular from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married to Sarah J. Mackey on September 5, 1860, in Decatur County, Indiana, by the Rev. Reuben H. Sparks. It had been the first marriage for both. They had two living children in 1900:
Clara Z. Sparks, born June 30, 1866
Harry D. Sparks, born March 31, 1874
On February 14, 1907, Charles H. Sparks, now a resident of Newark, New Jersey, applied for increased pension benefits. He stated that he had been born in Franklin County, Indiana, on March 9, 1841 , thus he was now  entitled to a pension of $12.00 per month. He appointed Lavinia Smith of Newark as his attorney. Charles Morehouse and George D. Mitchell witnessed his signature, and the declaration was sworn to before Jennie S. Utter, a notary public.
Sparks applied for increased pension benefits again on May 21, 1912. He stated that at the time of his enlistment he had been 5 feet, 6 inches tall; he had a light complexion, grey eyes and light hair; and he was a clerk by occupation. Since leaving the service, he had lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, and in Newark, New Jersey. Jennie S. Utter and Helen H. Smith witnessed his signature, and the declaration was sworn to before Lavinia Smith, a notary public.
When Charles H. Sparks died August 26, 1913, he was receiving a pension of $19.00 per month.
[Editor's Note: Charles H. Sparks was a son of Amos and Nancy Murcy (or Mercy) (Harper) Sparks, and a grandson of Jesse and Margaret (Burris) Sparks. He was a brother of Reuben Harper Sparks who also served in the Civil War and had received a pension-see the abstract of his pension papers above, beginning on page 4700. Reuben was a Methodist clergyman and was the "Rev. Reuben H. Sparks" whom Charles indicated had performed his marriage to Sarah J. Mackey in 1860. See the Editor's Note following the abstract of Reuben's pension file, beginning on page 4701, for further information regarding this branch of the Sparks family.]