Whole Number 189
[Editor's Note: Fromtime 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 (some times 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 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 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 photo copies 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.]
JAMES SPARKS, son of James and Matilda (MNU) Sparks, was born January 12, 1840. He married Hiley Moore on September 20, 1866. He served in Company C, 7th Regiment Kentucky Infantry. He died in 1884 in Laurel County, Kentucky. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 419,349.
On June 24, 1887, Hiley Sparks, age 41, a resident of Laurel County, Kentucky, made application for a widow's pension . She stated that her husband, James Sparks, had served in Company C, 7th Regiment Kentucky Infantry, and had died on April 4, 1884, as a result of heart disease brought on by his military service. She and James Sparks had been married on September 20, 1866, at the widow Moore's in Laurel County by the Rev. Benjamin Chestnut of the Christian Church, in the presence of Lucy House, Lee Moore, Jesse Moore, and Thomas House. Children born to this marriage who were under the age of sixteen were:
Tilford Sparks, born December 8, 1868
Jesse A. Sparks, born September 4, 1870.
Liza Jane Sparks, born November 14, 1872.
Haly Ann Sparks, born February 17, 1875.
Julia C. Sparks, born October 11, 1878.
Arrie Sparks, born July 21, 1880.
William Sparks, born May 13, 1882.
Hiley Sparks went on to state that she had not remarried, and that all of the children she had named were under her care . James W. Moren and Richard 0. Hopkins witnessed her make her mark, and the application was sworn to before A . B . Brown, clerk of the Laurel County Circuit Court .
The military service of James Sparks was confirmed by the War Department on February 10, 1888. He had been enrolled as a corporal in Company C, 3rd Regiment Kentucky Infantry (later changed to the 7th Regiment) on August 19, 1861, at London, Kentucky, for three years. He had been present for duty until he was mustered out with the company on October 5, 1864, at Louisville, Kentucky, with the following exceptions: He was absent on detached service to Camp Chase, Ohio, during September to December 1862; absent sick on furlough August 1863; and absent sick at Memphis, Tennessee, November and Dec, 1863. The regiment had been in action at Chickasaw Bluffs, Mississippi, on December 29, 1862.
On February 15, 1890, C. W. Jones, clerk of the Laurel County Court, sent a copy of the marriage record of James Sparks and Hilia Moore to the Bureau of Pensions. The record showed that they had been married on September 20, 1866, at the home of Sarah Moore in the presence of Caleb Catchings and Alander Dunn by Benjamin Chestnut, a minister of the Christian Church.
William A . Cook, age 47, a resident of Laurel County, made an affidavit on May 21, 1890, to support the application of Hiley Sparks. He stated that he had been a member of Company C, 7th Regiment Kentucky Infantry, and was well acquainted with his comrade, James Sparks. In May and June 1863 at Vicksburg, Mississippi, Sparks had suffered from rheumatism in his hips and back. Cook said that after their discharge from the service, he and Sparks had lived as close neighbors, and from that time until his death, Sparks had complained of the severe pain of rheumatism in his hip and back . W. H . Jones and A. W. Alley witnessed the affidavit.
Apparently no positive action was taken on her first application, for on July 7, 1890, Hiley Sparks made another application under the 1890 Act of Congress. She stated that she had been born on December 31, 1846, in Laurel County and that she had been married to James Sparks on September 20, 1866. He had died of heart disease brought on by rheumatism incurred while serving in the late war. She stated that at the time of his death, James Sparks left the following children who had been under the age of sixteen. There were slight differences in this listing of the children from what she had given in 1887, with an additional son, Edmund Sparks.
Tilford Sparks, born December 8, 1868.
Jesse Sparks, born September 4, 1870, died May 8, 1890.
Eliza J. Sparks, born November 14, 1872.
Hala Ann Sparks, born February 17, 1875.
Edmund Sparks, born December 12, 1876.
Julia C. Sparks, born October 14, 1878.
Arrie Bell Sparks, born July 21, 1880.
William Sparks, born May 13, 1882.
Hiley Sparks appointed William J. Bryant of London, Kentucky, to serve as her attorney in helping her to obtain a pension. Thos. J. Conifax and C. F. Jones witnessed her make her mark, and P. F. Stilling, deputy clerk of Laurel County, certified her application.
On November 12, 1890, Hiley Sparks stated in an affidavit that she had tried to find Captain James H. McNeil, her husband's commanding officer, who was somewhere in Missouri, who could support her claim . She had also written to Captain David Stillings in Humboldt County, California, but failed to receive a reply, even though she had sent postage . Other commissioned officers who might have testified about her husband's disability were Captain Alexander Stephens, Lieutenant Roberson, and Lieutenant Melville Pheips . She had been unable to locate Stephens and Roberson, while Pheips has stated that he could not remember with certainty anything to support her claim . This affidavit was accompanied by two pages torn from her family Bible on which were recorded the births and deaths of the members of her family.
James Sparks was born January the 12, 1840
Hily Sparks was born December the 31st 1846
E. B. Sparks was born August the 12th 1867
Tilferd Sparks was orn December the 8th 1868
Jesse Sparks was born September . the 4th 1870
Eliza Sane Sparks was born November the 14th 1872
Halyan Sparks was born February the 17th 1875
Edmon Sparks was born December the 12th 1876
J. C. Sparks was born October the 14th 1878
Arrie Bell Sparks was born July the 21st 1880
William Sparks was born May the 13th 1882
James Sparks Died April the 4th 1884
Jesse Sparks Died May the 8th 1890
Four affidavits were made on March 31, 1892, to support Mrs. Sparks's claim, and all were sworn to before C. N. Scoville, clerk of Laurel County. The first was made by Malinda Hopper, age 60, of The Glades, Kentucky, and Elizabeth Catchings, age 62, of Fariston, Kentucky, who testified that they had been present when Tilford Sparks was born December 8, 1868, to James and Hiley Sparks. The second was made by Ellen Sassar, age 47, and Martha A. Bullard, age 36, both of London, Kentucky, who swore that they had been present when J. C. Sparks was born October 14, 1878, and Arrie Bell Sparks was born July 21, 1880--both children of James and Hiley Sparks. The third affidavit had been made by Eliza Jane McFadden, age 44, and Ellen Sassar, age 47, both of London, Kentucky, who testified that they had been present when Haley A. Sparks was born February 17, 1875, and when William Sparks was born May 13, 1882, to James and Hiley Sparks. The fourth affidavit was made by Eliza J. McFadden, age 44, and Martha A. Bullard, age 36, both of London, Kentucky, who swore that they had been present when Edmund Sparks was born December 12, 1876, to James and Hiley Sparks.
Hiley Sparks was issued Widow's Certificate No. 419,349, and she was placed on the pension roll. When she died April 8, 1909, she was receiving a pension of $12.00 per month.
[Editor's Note: James Sparks was a son of James and Matilda (---- ) Sparks of Laurel County, Kentucky. See the December 1965 issue of THE SPARKS Quarterly, Whole No. 52, for further details of this family. See also the Quarterly of March 1980, Whole No. 109, pp. 2194-97 for a "Query: James Sparks (ca.1803-ca. 1880) of Harlen and Laurel Counties, Kentucky," in which the children of James and Matilda Sparks, including the Civil War veteran, James Sparks, were listed with brief biographical data about each.]
SANFORD SPARKS, was born ca. 1833, probably in Kentucky. He married Mary Ann Smith on April 20, 1858, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served in Company A, 55th Regiment Kentucky lnfantry. File Designations: Wid. Cert. No. 220,934; Minor Cert. No. 220,935.
On November 18, 1879, Mary A. Buffington, age 39, a resident of Aurora, Indiana, appeared before Warren Tebbs, Clerk of Dearborn County, Indiana, to make application for a widow's pension. She stated that she was the widow of Sanford Sparks who had enlisted on September 19, 1864, at Covington, Kentucky, in Company A, 55th Regiment Kentucky Infantry, and that he had contracted lung disease while stationed near Saltville, Tennessee . Her husband had died from the disease on September 29, 1871, leaving her with three children:
Charles Sparks, born August 12, 1860
Edward Sparks, born January 17, 1867
William Sparks, born February 7, 1870
Mrs. Buffington went on to say that she and Sparks had been married on April 30, 1858, in Cincinnati, Ohio, by Peter Bell, Esq. After the death of Sanford Sparks, she had been married to Josephus Buffington on April 28, 1874, in Dear born County, Indiana. She appointed A . W. McCormick of Cincinnati to be her attorney in assist her renewed attempt to secure a pension . Henry Williams and Clinton Ireland witnessed her signature.
Sparks's military service was confirmed by the War Department on November 15, 1880. He had been mustered into Company A, 55th Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry on September 19, 1864, at Covington, Kentucky, to serve for one year. The only muster rolls on file were from February to August 1865 which showed him present for duty . He was mustered out with his company on September 19, 1865.
A supplementary report of Sparks's military service was furnished by the Surgeon General's Office on March 15, 1881. Sparks had been admitted to the Covingion General Hospital from Webster Barracks in Covington on March 12, 1865, with typhoid fever. He was returned to duty on April 26, 1865.
Mary Ann Buffington's application was not approved since she was no longer a widow, having been married to Josephus Bufflngton prior to her making an application for a widow's pension. She learned, however, that her children could qualify for pensions, until reaching the age of 16. On November 25, 1881, Thomas L . Baker was appointed guardian of the minor children of Sanford Sparks: Edward Sparks and William Sparks. On January 10, 1882, Baker made applicaflon for pension benefits for his wards . He stated that their brother, Charles Sparks, was reported to have been lost at sea on or about April 5, 1880. He appointed A. W. McCormick as his attorney.
Minor Certificate No. 220,935 was issued to Edward Sparks and to William Sparks to be effective until they had reached their respective sixteenth birthdays.
On July 3, 1901, Mary Ann Bufflngton, who gave her age as 61 years and a resident of Aurora, Indiana, asked that her application for a pension now be considered under and act of Congress of 1901 which permitted widow's of a second marriage to apply for a pension based on a first husband's service. She noted that her rights to a pension had been surrendered with her marriage to Buffington on April 26, 1874, but that he had died April 20, 1901, leaving her with out any means of support. She stated that she had no property except her house and seven acres of land which she owned jointly with her children . A widow's certificate was issued to her, but we do not know the amount.
[Editor's Note: We have no knowledge of Sanford Sparks other than that contained in Mary Ann's pension applications.]
MELVIN P. SPARKS, son of Amos and Desire (Sylvester) Sparks, was born February 15, 1832, in Cortland County, New York. He died on April 24, 1881. On July 29, 1862, he married Ellen E. Kibby in Ottawa County, Michigan. He served in Company G, 21st Regiment Michigan Volunteers . File Designations: Inv . Cert . No. 104,382; id.Cert.No.883,263; Minor Cert.No.321,726.
Melvin P. Sparks applied for an invalid pension on or about July 11, 1875; however, a copy of his application is not included in the "Selected Papers" from his file at the National Archives . The earliest document (in chronological order) among these papers is a memorandum from the War Department to the Bureau of Pensions dated October 26, 1878, which verified Sparks's military service. He had been enrolled on July 28, 1862, at Grand Haven, Michigan, in Company G, 21st Regiment Michigan Volunteers, to serve for three years. He was mustered into service on September 3, 1862, at Ionia, Michigan, and was mustered out with his company on June 8, 1865, at Washington, D.C. He was present for duty except for a period of hospitalization at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the summer of 1863.
Sparks was issued Invalid Certificate No. 104,382, and he was placed upon the pension roll. He died April 24, 1881, at Crockery, Michigan. His death certificate gave the cause of his death as Bright's Disease. He was 49 years, 2 months, and 7 days old. He had been born in New York to Amos and Desirah [sic] Sparks. He was married and a farmer.
The widow of Melvin P. Sparks, Ellen E. Sparks Fox, apparently applied for a widow's pension on or about September 20, 1889, but she was informed that she was not eligible to receive a pension since she had remarried . The children born to her and to Sparks, however, were eligible for minors' pensions, and so they were placed under the guardianship of Warren Gee, age 60, a resident of Spring Lake, Michigan. The children and their birth dates were:
Hattie L. Sparks, born September 30, 1869
Alice J. Sparks, born February 26, 1871
Curtis P. Sparks, born February 1, 1873
Amos C. Sparks, born August 14, 1875
Willie M. Sparks, born October 1, 1877
George A. Sparks, born March 9, 1880
Several affidavits were made on or about November 28, 1890, to support the pension claims of the minor children. James A . Cross, age 55, and Frank Gardiner, age 41, both residents of Spring Lake, Michigan, testified that they were well acquainted with Melvin and Ellen Sparks and knew that they had six children: Hattie, Alice, Curtis, Amos, Willie, and George. Flora McMann, age 40; William McMann, age 53; William Frick, age 37; and Orville 0. Sparks, age 61, ali residents of Nunica, Michigan, gave testimony concerning the physical disability of Melvin Sparks which had affected his ability to earn a living.
Minor Certificate No. 321,727 was issued, and the minor children of Melvin P. Sparks were placed on the pension roll where each remained until he or she reached his or her sixteenth birthday.
On September 20, 1910, Ellen E. (Kibby) Sparks Fox, age 63 and a resident of Grand Haven, Michigan, made a declaration for a widow's pension under the provisions of the 1908 Act of Congress. She stated that she and Melvin P. Sparks had been married under her maiden name of Ellen E. Kibby . It was the first marriage for both . After the death of her husband, Melvin P. Sparks, she afterwards married John Fox on March 30, 1883, but he later deserted her, leaving her without support. .She sued him for a divorce, but he died before the divorce could be granted. She stated that she had made an earlier application under Claim No. 409,051.
Apparently the application of Ellen E. Fox was not approved, for on June 25, 1917, she reapplied under the provisions of the 1916 Act of Congress . She stated that she had been born on April 2, 1847, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She had been married to Melvin P. Sparks on July 29, 1862, and he had died April 24, 1881. She had been married (second) to John Fox on March 30, 1883, and he had died on December 8, 1909. She said Fox had never served in the United States Army.
Widow certificate No. 883,263 was issued to Ellen E. Fox, and she was placed upon the pension roll. When she died June 15, 1927, she was living at Spring Lake, Michigan; her pension was $50.00 per month at that time.
(Editor's Note: Melvin P. Sparks was a son of Amos and Desire (Sylvester) Sparks; a grandson of Isaiah and Felisity (Dawset) Sparks; and a great-grandson of Joseph and Mehetabel (Johnson) Sparks of Connecticut. For further details about this branch of the Sparks family see the following issues of the Quarterly: December 1958, Whole No. 24; September 1965, Whole No. 51; March 1969, Whole No. 65; and June 1970, Whole No. 70.)