February 23, 2018

Pages 4844-4848
Whole Number 178


[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 in creasingly generous in providing pensions for Civil War veterans and their widows as the years went by, and as their numbers became smaller. The organ ization 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 individual1s 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 '1selected papers!? from a given file. These are the papers in the file, usual ly 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. lt is also possible to obtain xerox copies of the papers in an individual!s '1non-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 his/her service, identity, or relationship, and neighbors or relatives provided depositions.

[Dr. Paul E. Sparks, President of our Association, has obtained many of the "selected files" for pensioners named Sparks and has abstracted them for publication in the Quarterly, beginning with the September 1967 issue, Whole No. 59. We will continue to use these as space permits, adding in editorial notes any genealogical information that we may have regarding the soldier and his family.] EPHRAIM ELLIS SPARKS, son of Joseph and Isabella (Ellis) Sparks, was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, on May 6, 1835. He married Rebecca Frances Smith on February 16, 1860, in Lee County, Iowa. He served in Company 1, 39th Regiment Missouri Infantry. He died January 4, 1901. File Designations: mv. Cert. No. 938,760; Wid. Cert. No. 655,117.

Ephraim E. Sparks, aged 60 years and a resident of Bison, Kansas, made applica tion for an Invalid Pension on June 4, 1895. He stated that he had been enrolled on August 8, 1864, in Company I, 39th Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry, at Hannibal, Missouri, to serve for six months. He had served until he was mus tered out with his company on March 25, 1865, at St. Louis, Missouri. When he entered the service, he had been 29 years old; he had blue eyes, dark hair, and a fair complexion; he was 5 feet, 8 inches in height; and he was a farmer. He was now (1895) suffering from asthma, a kidney disorder, and general debility that prevented him from earning his support by manual labor. He appointed W. W. Dudley, Washington, D.C., as his attorney. His declaration was witnessed by H. L. Brown and James Nickel and was sworn to before B. G. Lewis, a Probate Judge of Rush County, Kansas.

On July 22, 1895, the War Department sent the Bureau of Pensions a confirma tion of Sparks's statements. He had served in Company 1, 39th Regiment Mis souri Infantry from August 8, 1864, until March 25, 1865, and was carried on the company muster roll as a 1st Sergeant. His medical records, however, could not be found.

Sparks made two affidavits in March 1897 to support his claim. He stated that he had begun to have chronic asthma in 1867, and that it became "so violent that it prostrated him for days at a time.1' His doctor had advised him to change cli mates, and he had moved to western Kansas in 1889. He had also begun to have urinary problems about the same time. These diseases had become so debilitating that he was now unable to earn his living by manual labor. The affidavits were sworn to before Judge John Renner, who certified that Sparks's statements were "dictated by himself and in his own handwriting.

Invalid Certificate No. 938,760 was issued to Ephraim Sparks, and he was placed upon the pension roll.

On May 13, 1898, Sparks returned a questionnaire to the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had been married on February 16, 1860, to Rebecca Frances in Lee County, Iowa, by the Rev. T. D. Boyle. It had been the first marriage for both of them. Four children had been born to the union. They were:

Annie I. (Sparks) Timken, born 5 February 1861, and now dead.
Jennie C. (Sparks) Lupton, born April 3, 1865.
Joseph Sparks, born 1 April 1870.
Susie R. (Sparks) Timken, born January 6, 1872.

Ephraim E. Sparks died January 4, 1901. He was receiving a pension of $12.00 per month. Four months later, on May 31, 1901, his widow, Rebecca F. Sparks, applied for a Widow's Pension. She was 63 years of age and a resident of Bison, Kansas. She stated that she and Sparks had been married in Keokuk, Iowa, on February 16, 1860, by the Rev. T. D. Boyle. The death of her husband had left her without any means of support except that of daily labor. She appointed W. W. Dudley, Washington, D.C., as her attorney. George Wilson and P. D. Thorp witnessed her signature, and the declaration was sworn to before Samuel Rothweiler, a notary public.

A joint affidavit was made on May 2, 1908, to support Rebecca Sparks's claim to a pension. John H. Tiniken, aged 49, and Henry Ahrens, aged 59, both resi dents of Bison, Kansas, swore that they had known Rebecca Sparks for nineteen years and knew that she had not remarried after the death of her husband.

Widow Certificate No. 655,117 was issued to Rebecca F. Sparks, and she was placed on the pension roll. When she died April 11, 1920, she was receiving a pension of $25.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: The family of Joseph and Isabella (Ellis) Sparks, parents of Ephraim Ellis Sparks, was the subject of articles in two earlier issues of the Sparks Quarterly. These can be found on page 1342 of the September 1970 issue, Whole No. 71, and pages 1417-18 of the September 1971 issue, Whole No. 75. It is interesting to note that, like several of his cousins, Ephraim Ellis Sparks was probably named for his great-grandfather, Ephraim Wilson, father of Rebecca Wilson, whose husband was Caleb Sparks. Born in Sussex County, Delaware, on July 18, 1756, Ephraim Wilson was living in that part of Yohogania County, Virginia, that became Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1781. He enlisted to serve in the Pennsylvania Line in the American Revolution, for which many years later, he received a pension. In 1795, he moved to Kentucky, then, twenty-two years later, to Ripley County, Indiana, where he was living when he applied for a pension on May 13, 1833.]

GEORGE H. SPARKS was born at Suffield, Connecticut, in May 1844. On January 11, 1884, he married Mary O. Meacham, at West field, Massachusetts. He died February 2, 1904. He served in Company K, 10th Regiment Massachusetts In fantry. File Designations: Inv. Appl. No. 1,304,321; Wid. Appl. No. 1,110,531.

On September 24, 1903, George H. Sparks, aged 63 years, a resident of West field, Massachusetts, made application for an invalid pension. He stated that he had been enrolled on August 22, 1862, in Company K, 10th Regiment Massachu setts Volunteer Infantry, and he was discharged at White Plains, Virginia, on November 9, 1862.

He stated that he had suffered from an inguinal hernia and chronic cystitis. Homer Herrick and William Schneider witnessed him make his mark, and the application was sworn to before Frederick A. Ballou, a notary public.

The War Department confirmed Sparks's military service. He had been enrolled on August 22, 1862, in Company K, 10th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry, and he had been discharged on November 16, 1862, on a Surgeon's Certificate of disability. The company roll, however, showed that he joined the company at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 9, 1862, while his name appeared first on the company roll on October 31, 1862, and there was no record of the Sur geon's Certificate of Disability. At the time of his enlistment, Sparks had been 18 and 3/4 years of age; he was 5 feet, 5 inches in height; and he had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and dark hair. He had been born at Suffleld, Connecti cut, and was a laborer by occupation.

No pension was granted to George H. Sparks, possibly because he had failed to serve the required minimum of 90 days; or it may have been because of his death a few months later, on February 2, 1904. Apparently, his case was not opened again until February 14, 1917, when his widow, Mary 0. Sparks, made application for a widow's pension. She stated that she had been born at West field, Massachusetts, on September 21, 1851, and that she had been married to George H. Sparks on January 18, 1884, under her maiden name of Mary 0. Meacham, by 0. E. Puracker at Westfield, Massachusetts. It was the first March riage for both. George Sparks had enlisted at Springfield, Massachusetts, on August 22, 1862, into Company K, 10th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry, and had been discharged on November 9, 1862. She appointed James L. Bowen as her attorney. John Sahner and Geo. W. Clapp witnessed her signature.

Apparently, Mary O. Sparks's application was denied, for on September 11, 1920, she reapplied for a pension. She was now 68 years of age and still lived at Westfield, Massachusetts. In her application, she reaffirmed the information she had given earlier, but in addition she stated that her husband "was allowed military aid, but died before the same was paid." [She was mistaken in this re gard.] Aimee Chandler and Mabel Renth witnessed her signature.

On February 25, 1921, Mrs. Sparks received a letter from the Commissioner of the Widows Division, F. D. byington, who wrote that her claim was rejected on the grounds that her husband had served less than 90 days in the Civil War, and had not been discharged for disability incurred in the service, as shown by reports in the records of the War Department.

On June 21, 1935, Richard R. Flynn, Commissioner of State Aid & Pensions of Massachusetts, wrote to the Veterans Administration and asked for Mrs. Sparks's case to be reopened. He stated that she was receiving aid under state laws, and noted that her husband had been discharged for disability. The Director of Widows Claim Service, E. L. Bailey, replied that the case had been carefully reviewed, and the claim was still disallowed.

JAMES H. SPARKS, son of James and Sarah A. ( ) Sparks, was born April 26, 1844, at Smyrna, Delaware. He died June 13, 1909. He served in Company C, 139th Regiment Ohio Infantry and in Company H, 186th Regiment Ohio Infantry. File Designation: mv. Cert. No. 1,135,750.

On February 23, 1907, James H. Sparks, aged 62, a resident of Chicago, Illinois, applied for a Service Pension on Age under the provisions of the 1907 Act of Congress.

He stated that he had been enrolled on May 2, 1864, in Company C, 139th Regiment Ohio National Guards and had served until August 26, 1864. He had also served in Company H, 186th Regiment Ohio Infantry from January 30, 1865, until September 18, 1865, where he held the rank of sergeant. He stated that he had been born on April 26, 1844. He appointed Joshua R. H. Potts, Chicago, Illinois, as his attorney.

The War Department confirmed the military service of James H. Sparks on April 25, 1907. He had been enrolled on May 2, 1864, in Company C, 139th Ohio Volun teer Infantry and was mustered out with that organization on August 26, 1864. He was then 20 years of age; he had been born at Smyrna, Delaware; was 5 feet, 10 inches tall; weighed 150 pounds; had a dark complexion, grey eyes, and black hair; and he was a carpenter. Sparks had also been enrolled on January 30, 1865, in Company H, 186th Regiment Ohio Infantry and was mustered out with that company on September 18, 1865, with the rank of sergeant.

On May 1, 1907, Sparks answered a questionnaire from the Bureau of Pensions. He stated that he had never been married, nor did he have any children. He had been born on April 26, 1844, at Smyrna, Delaware. He had enlisted at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was a carpenter and car builder. His first army discharge was at Camp Dennison, Ohio; his second one was at Nashville, Tennessee. Since leaving the service, he had lived in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, California, and Wis consin, and he now (1907) lived in Chicago, Illinois, where he did cabinet work for the Pullman Car Company.

On May 29, 1907, Sparks made an affidavit that he had served 30 days in the United States Navy on the Ohio River. His statement said: "The side-wheel steamboat, Izetta, was converted into a temporary gunboat on the lower deck. I was in the gun squad. We left Cincinnati and went to Louisville to report or get orders and laid up on the Indiana side at the upper end of Jeffersonville, all the time. When we got back to Cincinnati we were musterd out or simply discharged without receiving any papers to show for our service."

The Adjutant General's Office confirmed Sparks's statement that the steamer, Izetta, had been under hire, charter, and detention by the Quartermaster Dept. from January 1, 1862, to 1865; however, the dfficers and crew were hired and paid by its owners and not by the United States.

Invalid Certificate No. 1,135,750 was issued to James H. Sparks, and he war placed upon the pension roll for service in Company H, 186th Regiment, Ohio Infantry. When he died June 13, 1909, he was receiving $12.00 per month.

[Editor's Note: On the 1850 census of Hamilton County, Ohio, James H. Sparks was shown as seven years of age in the household of James Sparks, age 35, a blacksmith, living in Spencer Township. He and his wife, Sarah A. Sparks, age 32, were both natives of New Jersey, as were Rebecca A. Sparks, age 13, and Alexander R. Sparks, age 11. James H. Sparks had been born in Delaware, how ever, as had Sarah E. Sparks, age 4, and Mary S. Sparks, age 3. The youngest child in the family, 4-month old John P. Sparks, however, had been born in Ohio. An abstract of the pension papers of Alexander Sparks (1839-1912), older brother of James H. Sparks, was published on pp. 1422-23 of the Quarterly of September 1971, Whole No. 75. At that time, however, we had not identified him as a son of James and Sarah A. Sparks. Alexander R. Sparks married Malancie J. Hammon on October 10, 1858 (or 1860).]