Whole Number 188
[Editor's Note: From time to time, we have been publishing abstracts of pension 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 poor health and/or financial need resulting from 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 Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was a powerful lobby in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for 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 not 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 photocopies of the papers in an individual's "non-selected file" as well, but this separate collection can cost as much as $50,00 (or more), 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 when neighbors, former army comrades, or relatives were called upon for depositions.
[In the Quarterly of September 1967, Whole No. 59, we began publishing abstracts of the "selected files" of Union soldiers named Sparks. We will continue to use these as space permits, adding editorial notes of any genealogical information that we may have regarding the soldier and his family,]
WILLIAM SPARKS was born August 22, 1820 in Ohio and died about 1897 in Missouri. He served in Company A, 33rd Regiment Missouri Enrolled Militia. File Designation: Inv. Application 1,002,521.
On February 28, 1891, William Sparks, age 71 years and a resident of Braymer, Caldwell County, Missouri, prepared a "Declaration for Invalid Pension." He stated that he had been enrolled on July 25, 1862, as a private in Company A, 33rd Regiment Missouri Enrolled Militia and had served until he had been discharged "by publication" in 1865. He was now unable to earn his support by manual labor because of a heart disease and nervous prostration. He appointed H. J. Hayden a Company, Washington, DC, as his attorneys to assist him in obtaining a pension. J. W. A. Gorty and John Eichler witnessed him sign the declaration .
Sparks's application was supported by a Physician's Affidavit prepared on April 25, 1891, by Dr. N. B. Woolsy. He swore that he had examined Sparks and had found that he suffered from "(1) a general nervous debility and vertigo caused by his heart; (2) chronic bronchitis affecting the left lung; and (3) chronic urinary gravel which was constant in depositing sediment which alternately suppressed the urinary flow or caused to frequent desire to urinate." These diseases gave Sparks a three- quarter incapacity to do manual labor. Dr. Woolsy said that he had practiced medicine for twelve gears. The affidavit was notarized by William McKim.
On June 30, 1891, Green B. Raum, Commissioner of the Bureau of Pensions, asked the Third Auditor, U.S. Treasury, to furnish a statement of the military service of William Sparks, and on August 7, 1891, the request was answered as follows:
"The name of William Sparks is borne on the roll of Co. A, 33rd Regt. E.II.M. as private from July 26, 1862 to April 30, 1883, when relieved. In service 52 days. If name of [his] commanding officer be given, further examination (for subsequent service) can be made."
On August 29, 1891, Charles P. Lincoln, Acting Commissioner of the Bureau of Pensions, asked the War Department to furnish a record of Sparks's military service. Two days later, on August 31, 1891, the War Department responded that:
"It does not appear from the records of this office, that such an organization as the 33rd En. Mo. Mil, was in the service of the United States." Four days later, on September 4, 1891, the Board of Review of the Pension Bureau informed Sparks's attorneys that his application had been rejected on the grounds that the claimant was not in the U.S.S. [sic] during the rebellion.
On October 4, 1927, Fred Wightman, cashier of the First National Bank of Braymer, Missouri, asked the Commissioner of Pensions whether or not a son of William Sparks, about 45 or 50 years of age and having an unsound mind, could be considered for a pension because of Sparks's military service during the Civil War. (William Sparks had been dead for over 30 years at this time.) In reply, Commissioner Winfield Scott advised Wightman that, since Company A, 33rd Enrolled Missouri Militia Infantry, had never been mustered into the military service of the United States, Sparks's son would have no title to such a pension,
[Editor's Note: William Sparks was a son of Elijah and Elizabeth (Porter) Sparks. See the Quarterly of June 1999, Whole No. 186, p.5186, for a biographical sketch of William Sparks.]
CHARLES THOMAS SPARKS was born August 4, 1839; he died June 8, 1910. He served in Company H, 7th ]Regiment Tennessee Infantry, and Company B, CST Tennessee Light Artillery. File Designation: Inv. Cert. No. 791,913.
Charles T. Sparks apparently applied for an invalid pension in July 1890, for on August 4th of that year, David Stokes and J. J. Swanson, both residents of Chattanooga, Tennessee, made a joint affidavit to support his claim. They stated that Sparks, a man of temperate habits, was totally disabled by reason of the loss of his left leg which was amputated in 1811 because of injuries received while he was in the military service.
On March 24, 1891, Sparks, age 51, also made an affidavit. He stated that he had Lived at St. Elmo, Hamilton County, Tennessee, since he had left the military service on July 10, 1865. Two months earlier, on May 29, 189l, Sparks went into greater detail about his disability. He stated that he had served in Company B, 1st Tennessee Light Artillery, and during the winter of 1863, while on detached service with the Quartermaster Department at Lexington, Kentucky, he was kicked in the left leg by a mule. At first the injury did not appear to be serious and healed over, but in the fall of 1863, he hurt the same leg in a foraging expedition by being hit accidentally by a gun. When he was discharged, the old injury seemed to be getting better, but it soon broke out in a sore which gradually got worse until it became necessary to amputate his leg.
The application of Charles T. Sparks was approved, and he was issued a pension under Invalid certificate No. 797,913.
On March 30, 1910, Sparks applied for increased pension benefits under the 1907 Act of Congress. He stated that he had been born on August 4, 1839. On October 17, 1861, he had joined Company H, 7th Regiment Tennessee Infantry, but subsequently he had been transferred to Company B, CST Battalion Tennessee Light Artillery. He had continued to serve in that organization until he was mustered out with his company on June 20, 1865. He stated that he was now 7O years of age and Lived at St. Elmo, Tennessee. J. M. Tiersing [?] and Charles Watson witnessed him make his mark on his application.
The Bureau of Pensions reissued a pension certificate to Sparks on April 15, 1910, entitling him to a pension of $15.00 per month. He died two months later, on June 8, 1910.
On July 16, 1910, a sister of Charles T. Sparks, Mrs. F. L. Alread, who was a widow, made application for reimbursement for expenses paid during Sparks's last illness and burial. She stated that Sparks had never been married, He had a small paid-up insurance policy of 855.00. He left no money, real estate, or personal property. His funeral expenses were $131.00 and his physicians, Dr. J. H. Wood and Dr. George T. Prince, had charged $2.00 and $8.00, respectively. Sparks was buried in the National Cemetery in Chattanooga.
[Editor's Note: Charles Thomas Sparks was probably the Charles Sparks shown on the 1850 census of Hamilton County, Tennessee (see the June 1975 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 90, p.1745). This Charles Sparks was shown as 12 years old and a member of the household headed by James Sparks, age 39, a farmer who had been born in Virginia. James's wife was Luvania Sparks., age 42 and a native of Kentucky. The nine children listed in their household had all been born in Tennessee. With their ages, these nine were: Martha, 17; Mary, 17; Andrew, 14; Jane, 13; Charles, 12; Cela, 10; Catharine, 8; Roda, 6; and Lucinda, 1.]