Whole Number 87
The portrait reproduced on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly is that of Colonel Richard Sparks, who is the subject of the article that follows. A photograph of this painting was given to the editor in 1955 by United States Senator Edward Martin of Pennsylvania. Senator Martin's wife was a descendant of Richard Sparks. According to the Senator writing in 1955: "...Mrs. Martin and I are not sure of the location of the painting of Colonel Richard Sparks. It is some place in Mississippi or Tennessee. Mr. Wall, a cousin of Mrs. Martin, had the first print of the painting made many years ago. Mr. Wall, who for many years was employed by the Department of Internal Affairs of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as head of the Drafting Bureau, is now dead and for that reason we cannot secure this information."
Perhaps a member of the Association with an interest in military history will be able to identify the uniform worn by Richard Sparks in this painting. Judging from his youthful face, the portrait must have been painted long before he achieved the rank of colonel.
By Russell E. Bidlack
For many years the present writer has been collecting data on the first American named Sparks to achieve the distinction of holding high rank in the United States Army. He was Colonel Richard Sparks, whose portrait appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly.
Events in the life of Richard Sparks in addition to those described here, along with further details regarding his family, will doubtless be discovered later, but we believe that the time has come for us to publish what we have learned to date.
In the Quarterly of December 1971 (Vol. XIX, No. 4, Whole No. 76) we published a record of the life of the father of Richard Sparks, whose name was also 32. Richard; he was born ca. 1725 and lived in Middlesex County, New Jersey, as a young man. This elder Richard Sparks moved, prior to 1773, to what later became Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where he died ca. 1792. In the account of the elder Richard Sparks's life, we referred to his son Richard as Richard Sparks, Junior. In this account of the younger Richard's life, however, we shall not call him "Junior," since he was never called this in his adult life, but we shall refer to his father as "Richard Sparks, Senior."
32. Richard Sparks, Senior, born ca. 1725 is known to have had five sons:
32.1 James Sparks, born in the early 1750's and died in Jackson County, Indiana, on May 25, 1834;
32.2 Benjamin Sparks, born in 1754 and died in 1801 in Allegheny County, PA;
32.3 Richard Sparks, the subject of this sketch;
32.4 Walter Sparks, born ca. 1760, died probably between 1827 and 1830 in Jefferson County, Kentucky; and
32.5 Daniel Sparks, born February 10, 1763, died probably in Scott County, Indiana, shortly before 1820.
A separate sketch of the life of each of these brothers will be published in future issues of the Quarterly. We are sure that Richard Sparks, Senior, also had daughters, but we have no proof of their names. We are sure from circumstantial evidence, however, that one was named Elizabeth and that she was married three times. She married (first) Samuel Ketcham who died in 1778 in what is now Washington County, Pennsylvania; Elizabeth is known to have had a daughter named Hannah Ketcham who married Samuel Griffy (also spelled Griffith) in Jefferson County, Kentucky, in 1792; Elizabeth married (second) Moses Kuykendall (whose first wife, Sarah Feree, born 1742, died on August 12, 1802 ); Elizabeth moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky, with her second husband prior to 1784; Moses Kuykendall died there in 1807. Elizabeth married as her third husband, William Steele; the Jefferson County, Kentucky, marriage bond was dated June 20, 1808.
[Note: The following paragraph is a correction to the above mention of Sarah Feree as the first wife of Moses Kuykendall.
[Arlene Saffell of El Segundo, California, an authority on the Kuykendall family, has called our attention to this error. Moses Kuykendall, whom Elizabeth Sparks married as her second husband, had not been married first to Sarah Feree as stated. Sarah Feree was the second wife of Benjamin Kuykendall, father of Moses Kuykendall, and was thus the latter's step-mother. She died in 1802 and is buried in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in a graveyard on Old River Road between Wilson and Coal Valley, just north of Clairton. Elizabeth Sparks's first husband, Samuel Ketcham, died, as stated on page 1673, in 1778. How many years passed before she married Moses Kuykendall is not known; we know that they were married before January 20, 1792, for on that date Moses Kuykendall signed, as bondsman, the marriage bond for Samuel Griffy and Hannah Ketcham in Jefferson County, Kentucky (Bond Book 1781-1826, page 15). On this bond, Moses Kuykendall is identified as Hannah Ketcham's step-father, proving that Hannah's mother, Elizabeth Sparks, married Moses Kuykendall at that time. Since Elizabeth's first husband, Samuel Ketcham, had died in 1778, she was probably married to noses Kuykendall in the early 1780's. Moses Kuykendall owned lard in 1769 in that portion of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, that became Washington County. He was born ca. 1748; whether he had been married prior to his marriage to Elizabeth (Sparks) Ketcham is not known. ]
We have found no clue by which to identify the wife of Richard Sparks, Senior, the mother of his five sons. We know that she died some years before her husband. Richard Sparks, Senior, married (second) Sarah MNU, who was still living in 1800.
The exact whereabouts of 32. Richard Sparks, Senior, and his family between 1758, the date of our last record of him in New Jersey, and 1773, our earliest record of him in Pennsylvania, is a mystery, though from records pertaining to the Indian captivity of his son, Richard, we have some clues. We have found no contemporary record giving the date of birth of Richard Sparks, the son, but we believe that, based on the testimony of a number of men who knew him, he was born ca. 1757, though possibly as late as 1760. He was born while the family was still in New Jersey.
When young Richard Sparks was between three and five years of age, he was stolen (kidnapped, we would say today) by a party of Shawnee Indians. This surely could not have happened in New Jersey, but rather somewhere on the frontier where the family had moved very early in the 1760's.
In 1852, a man named James Magoffin, who had acted as Richard Sparks's secretary toward the end of his life, stated in a letter to Henry R. Schoolcraft that Sparks had told him that the Shawnees had stolen him when he was living with his parents "near Wheeling, on the Ohio." Wheeling is located in what is now West Virginia, on the tip between Ohio and Pennsylvania, about fifty milts from Pittsburgh. This is not far from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where the family lived after 1773. (Wheeling is in Ohio County, West Virginia, and it is interesting to note that in 1777 Absolom Sparks and George Sparks of Ohio County took an oath of allegiance to the new American government while a William Sparks, also of Ohio County, refused to take the oath; we know of no connection between these Sparkses and the Richard Sparks family, however.)
Lyman Draper, whose interviews with hundreds of 18th and 19th century pioneers and retired military men during the 1840's are preserved in the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, noted that Colonel George Wilson, who had known Richard Sparks, believed that he "was captured near Pittsburg, when 4 or 5 years old..." J.F.H. Claiborne, in his book entitled Mississippi as a Province, Territory, and State, published in Jackson in 1880, stated p. 221): "When he [Richard Sparks] was only five years old, he had been captured by the Shawnees, in one of their raids in Kentucky." This statement was made by Claiborne as a footnote to the text of a letter written by his father, Governor William Claiborne,to James Madison in 1801 in which Sparks was mentioned. What J.F.H. Claiborne's source of information regarding Sparks may have been, we do not know; he may have been confused by the fact that three of Richard Sparks's brothers were early settlers in Kentucky.
There are numerous accounts in American history of Indian captivities, a number of which involved children who were reared by their captors. The story of Richard Sparks's captivity is not unique.
Young Richard Sparks was probably stolen by the Shawnee Indians between 1760 and 1762. His captor was a Shawnee sub-chief at Old Chillicothe (the present Oldtown, Ohio, between Xenia and Yellow Springs) whose name was Blackfish. At about the same time that he adopted Richard Sparks, Blackfish also adopted another white captive, a boy named Stephen Ruddell. Years later, Ruddell wrote an account of his captivity, but, unfortunately, the manuscript has been lost. For awhile, Daniel Boone, whom Blackfish surprised in Kentucky with a party of saltmakers in 1769, was a foster brother at Old Chillicothe, but Boone escaped.
It was on the banks of the Scioto River in what is now southern Ohio, that Richard Sparks was reared by his Indian father. Blackfish called him "Shantunte" and within a few months the boy had forgotten his white parents and his real name.
Another minor chief of the Shawnees living on the Scioto River was Pukeesheno whose wife, a Cherokee woman named Meetheetoske, bore two famous sons, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa (called The Prophet by the Americans). Richard Sparks, some ten to twelve years Tecumseh's senior, recalled in later years that little Tecumseh, as a child, "gave indications of his future greatness" and remembered playing with him. Tecumseh was born in 1768. When he was seven years old, his father was killed by some wandering whites, and Tecumseh was adopted by Blackfish. This occurred, however, about the time Richard Sparks was released by the Indians.
Richard Sparks remained with the Shawnees until February, 1775. Four months earlier, on October 10, 1774, an army of Virginians under the command of Governor Dunmore defeated the Shawnees at the Battle of Point Pleasant. "The war between the Indians and Virginians is over," wrote Arthur St. Clair on December 4, 1774. "Peace is certainly made with the Shawnees, one condition of which is the return of all property and prisoners taken from the white people." Word quickly spread that the Shawnees had agreed to give up their white captives, and families who had lost relatives to the Indians journeyed from all directions to Point Pleasant hoping against hope that their loved ones would be among the captives. Richard's parents went on the rare chance that their lost son might be among the prisoners. As though by a miracle, he was. According to one account, his mother recognized him from a small birthmark. Years later, Richard told friends that he had had no memory of his parents and when his mother began crying for joy when she recognized him, he assumed that he must be doomed for burning at the stake. The only time that he had seen a woman weep had been when some squaws had protested the burning of a captive Cherokee.
During his lifetime, Richard Sparks often told friends about his captivity, but, with the exception of one incident, no record was made until long after his death in 1815. If only someone had written down the story from Sparks's own lips!
In 1844, Lyman C. Draper, mentioned earlier as a prominent historian of the 19th century, interviewed Colonel E. W. Sevier, a brother-in-law of Richard Sparks. According to Draper's notes made during this interview, now preserved in the Wisconsin State Historical Society Library, Sevier stated: "Sparks had, when a boy, been adopted in the family of Tecumseh's father [i.e., Blackfish, who would become Tecumseh's foster father] - - staied several years & was a prisoner among the Shawnees & could speak the Indian tongue." Later in his interview, Draper asked Sevier more about Richard Sparks, and he made the following notes of what Sevier told him: "Col. Sparks was born ca. 1757- - perhaps from one to 4 years later. When a small boy (Col. E.W.S. thinks some 3 or 4 years old) & while out at play, a party of Shawnees took him prisoner - - carried him to their towns, and adopted him into the family of Tecumseh's father actually Tecumseh's foster father, Blackfish] ... & used to remark that little Tecumseh then gave indications of his future greatness - - used to play with him. Col. Sevier thinks Sparks remained nine years with the Indians, & when the Indians had to give up all their prisoners ... young Sparks about 13 or 14, hid himself - - didn't want to leave the Indians - - had lived with them so long, had entirely forgotten his own language - was returned to his friends, & when returned, seeing his mother & sisters weeping - - no doubt from his Indian look & talk - - he thought he was to be burned - - for he had often observed the Squaws weep when some white prisoner was about to be committed to the stake. It was many years before he entirely got over his Indian habits."
Later, Draper inserted the following note in his account of Sevier's recollections: "Col. Geo. Wilson thinks Col. Sparks was captured near Pittsburgh, when 4 or 5 years old - - kept till 17 or 18. A Cherokee was taken & burned, & the squaws cried."
If Colonel Sevier was correct in thinking that Richard Sparks remained with the Indians for nine years and was from three to five years old when taken captive, he must have been born ca. 1760. If Colonel Wilson was correct in thinking he was 17 or 18 when released in 1774, he would have been born in 1756 or 1757. When he died in 1815, an obituary appearing in the Washington Republican gave his age as "about sixty-two." This would place his birth ca. 1753.
James Magoffin, an Army officer who served as Sparks's secretary in his later years, was asked by a friend in 1812 to interview Sparks and record his memories of Chief Tahgahjute (or Logan, as he was called by the Americans). Magoffin later gave Henry R. Schoolcraft, an historian and political leader who was very much interested in the history of the Indians, a copy of this interview and Schoolcraft published it in his Information Respecting the History, Condition, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, (Part IV, Philadelphia, 1854, pp-629-32.) Logan had been a friend of the whites and prior to 1774 he had often helped to prevent Indian warfare on the frontier. In the spring of 1774, however, a group of American soldiers from Pennsylvania under the command of a Captain Michael Cresap, murdered Logan's family near Pluggy's Town on the Scioto River. Captain Cresap, a neighbor and friend of Richard Sparks, Senior, had camped near Logan's cabin with the intention of protecting the Indian's family. Since a number of the men in his command, having suffered losses from the savages, would kill any Indian they could, Cresap believed that by camping near Logan's cabin, he could keep his own men under control. On the pretense of looking for food, several of the men slipped away and attacked the cabin, killing Logan's wife, children, and two other relatives. Logan himself was absent, and when he learned what had happened he went into a rage and swore revenge on all whites. Hundreds of settlers in lower Ohio and Kentucky were murdered by Logan's people and it was to stop this bloodshed that Governor Dunmore led his army against the Shawnees in the autumn of 1774. For many years thereafter, Michael Cresap was blamed for having caused this uprising, but he steadfastly maintained that he had actually tried to protect Logan's family.
James Magoffin discovered that Richard Sparks had personal knowledge of this event, and in a document dated Nov, 1812, he recorded Sparks's memories of it. (He did this upon the request of Judge Harry Toulmin of Mobile.) According to this document, Richard Sparks stated that he, himself, while still with the Indians, had heard Logan address a war council in which he declared that "from this time forward I declare war against all white people, and I expect that my warriors will revenge the blood of my family." Sparks added, however, that in the same speech Logan had stated that "he knew Cresap's family, his father, and him; he knew that it was not Cresap's fault." After Richard Sparks returned to his white parents, he learned that one of his own brothers had been a member of Cresap's company, but, unfortunately, Magoffin did not record the brother's name. He learned also that when Captain Cresap had returned to Redstone, on the Monongahela River, near where the Sparks family lived, Cresap had told the elder Richard Sparks what had happened and "was much distressed." (The brother who served with Cresap must have been either James Sparks or Benjamin Sparks, both of whom served in the Revolution.)
James Magoffin closed his account of his interview with Richard Sparks with the following statement: "At the time  Col. R. Sparks had been a prisoner among the Indians several years; spoke their language; knew no other; was fourteen years old, and distinctly recollects every thing that occurred; had all the feelings of an Indian, and was equally impressed as the others with the circumstances of the time." This is our only record written about Richard Sparks while he was still living and it was written by Magoffin in the presence of Richard Sparks as he recalled the events. It would seem that this should be our most authentic reference to his date of birth, i.e., if he was fourteen in 1774, he must have been born ca. 1760. From other evidence, however, it would appear that he probably was born two or three years earlier.
Other Indian captives have told of their difficulty in adjusting to white civilization following their release, and we can be sure that young Sparks suffered the same difficulty. In a letter written in 1852 telling of the interview with Richard Sparks that he had recorded in 1812, Magoffin gave this description of him: "Col. Richard Sparks had been in the army of the United States from a young man, and esteemed, as I was informed, in a military point of view; was illiterate, but possessed of a good share of intellectual powers; brave, cool, and determined on all occasions. He never attempted to read a volume of any kind, and with much difficulty made his signature. ... I regularly read the papers to the colonel, penned his communications to the Secretary of War, and read to him those from the War Department. ... Col. Sparks was remarked by the officers around him, as also by citizens who intimately knew him, for a singularly tenacious memory. The common remark of 'forgetting nothing' was daily applied to him by even the common soldiery. The extent to which he exhibited the peculiarities of Indian character was a subject also of common remark, as also his partiality and knowledge of Indian customs and character. In the enjoyment of his 'siesta' his favorite place was a buffalo robe or two on the floor; his most agreeable diet, bear-meat, venison, wild turkey, opossum, etc." In his letter to Schoolcraft, Magoffin also recalled that Richard Sparks remarked: "... and I will just say to you that if you ever become an Indian (giving an arch look) you will find that your recollection of occurrences at all interesting during the time will be better remembered through life than any other."
Following his release from the Indians in 1775, Richard Sparks went to live with his parents in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. We can only imagine how difficult his adjustment must have been. We know that in 1778, three years following his release, perhaps when he reached the age of eighteen, he joined Captain B. Bowen's Company of the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment commaned by Col. Richard Butler. He quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant, probably because of his ability to use weapons and his familiarity with Indian warfare. This was a ranger company concerned with the protection of the frontier against the Indians. (Descendants of Richard Sparks may join the D.A.R. on the basis of his service as a ranger.) It was probably while he was a member of Bowen's ranger company that he had the experiences that Colonel Sevier recounted to Draper as "Sparks' first service." This portion of Draper's transcription of Colonel Sevier's recollections of Richard Sparks reads as follows:
"When he returned from his Indian captivity, [he] was frequently out with Brady on scouting service. Once they, with a small party all disguised as Indians, met a party of the enemy about their own number, who had a woman prisoner. Brady's party proved victorious, & rescued the prisoner; she seemed reluctant at her change of masters, as the Indian party had treated her well, & she had not yet recognized them as whites - - said Brady, 'I am Sam Brady; run for your life.' - - She was agreeably surprised at the unexpected discovery of White friends & she did run, pulling up her coats & streaked it in fine style - - So Col.Sparks used to relate with much sang froid. They got her in - - Prior to this, probably from '76 to 78 - - perhaps the defeat below Wheeling, 1777, Sparks had been out with a party - - commander not recollected - - going along through a bottom bordering on a stream, with thick undergrowth; Sparks suggested to the Captain the propriety of taking the high land, to avoid ambuscade. The suggestion was not heeded - - & soon were fired on, many killed, & the balance routed - - Sparks made up the high ground, and soon discovered an Indian in close pursuit, & seemed to be gaining on him - - imagined the tall dry grass crushed down under his pursuer's feet almost touched his own heels - - suddenly turned & fired; the Indian fell, dead with a broken neck. The Indian's gun was empty; he had thought to take the young stripling prisoner. Sparks escaped. This was Sparks' first service."
In 1782, 32.3 Richard Sparks was married in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to Frances Nash, daughter of Thomas Nash. She had brothers named Noble Nash and Harmon Nash and a sister named Elizabeth who married Lt. Richard Johnson. Nothing is known of their life together, though a family tradition suggests that it was not a happy marriage. Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks were the parents of six children:
32.3.1 Mary Sparks married Garret Wall
32.3.2 Catherine Sparks
32.3.3 Charity Sparks
32.3.4 Elizabeth Sparks
32.3.5 Eleanor Sparks
32.3.6 Jesse Sparks.
Frances (Nash) Sparks died ca. 1794 and the children were reared by relatives and friends. Jesse, the only son, died in youth.
A number of records exist that prove that Richard Sparks found it impossible to live the routine life of a farmer like his father and brothers. Having grown up as an Indian, he was not content to remain for long in one place. Furthermore, his services as a ranger during the latter years of the Revolution were still needed even after the war with the British had ended. Indian warfare continued on the frontier and young Sparks joined one expedition after another in an attempt by the Americans to punish the Indians to the point that peace could be established. All too often, such attempts resulted in more white deaths than Indian. Colonel Sevier, in his interview with Lyman C. Draper, recalled Sparks's telling of his experiences in these expeditions, usually as a scout dressed as an Indian. One was with Colonel William Crawford, a close friend of Washington, who in the spring of 1782 led an expedition to Sandusky against the Wyandot, Delaware and Mingo tribes. The battle which followed was a disaster for the Americans and Crawford himself was burned at the stake. The survivors, who included Sparks and another scout named Sam Brady, scattered through the woods. Draper's transcription of Colonel Sevier's oral account, as Sevier remembered Sparks telling it, reads as follows: (Apparently Colonel Sevier later corrected himself regarding Sam Brady's presence and Draper crossed out the references to Brady.)
"He Sparks] was also out on Crawford's Campaign & defeat & Col. Sevier thinks Brady was also along. [This statement regarding Brady is crossed out.] During this scattered retreat, (& Brady with him, if out on the campaign) [this reference to Brady was also crossed out by Draper] Sparks well nigh starved, found a nest of young blackbirds, & devoured them raw! Once hotly pursued by an Indian party, they made into a swamp & escaped after no small trouble. There was a squad of men who Sparks & Brady [the words "& Brady" are crossed out] wished to accompany them, & they shd. be safe - - an officer with this squad persuaded them to decline the protection of Brady & Sparks; & when the latter reached Pittsburg, they met the officer who came to them with tears trickling down his cheeks & made known the melancholy tidings, save himself all had fallen victims to savage vengence (his own other brother among them) which wd not have happened, had Sparks & B's advice been heeded."
In 1791, Richard Sparks was commissioned a captain in the Pennsylvania Militia and shortly thereafter he joined General Arthur St. Clair, whom Washington had ordered to destroy the Miamis. On November 4, 1791, St. Clair's army was routed at Saint Mary's by Little Turtle in one of the most severe defeats ever inflicted on white men by the Indians. Shortly before this famous battle took place, Richard Sparks was ordered to go on scout duty, leaving the rest of St. Clair's army, to accompany a friendly Chickasaw Indian chief named Piomingo. A letter from St. Clair to Secretary of War Knox, dated October 29, 1791, outlined the plan: "Piomingo and his people accompanied by Captain Sparks and four good riflemen going on a scout; they do not propose to return under ten days, unless they sooner succeed in taking prisoners." (In The St. Clair Papers edited by W. H. Smith, Cincinnati, 1882, Vol. II, p. 250.)
As recorded by Draper, Colonel Sevier recalled the account that he had heard Richard Sparks relate on many occasions: "Shortly before the defeat of St. Clair, Piomingo and his party of Chickasaws together with Capt. Richd Sparks who commanded PA riflemen, were sent out in Scout. In Piomingo's party-probably 14 in all - - were Wm. & George Colbert. Brady & Sparks were in Indian dress [the name of Brady is scratched out in the Draper manuscript - - apparently Colonel Sevier corrected himself regarding Brady's presence]."
The Draper manuscript continues as follows:
"They went to the Indian towns & finding no warriors there, they at once concluded the Indians had gone out to meet St. Clair. On their return, they met an Indian returning from the fight, & seeing in Dragoon dress & on a Dragoon horse - - a Dragoon sword & gun, Sparks & Brady at once but too truly surmised the fate of St. Clair's army. As the Indian came nearer not dreaming of an enemy, & they hailed him & he freely & unsuspectingly gave full information of the defeat, & had tomahawked & scalped until his arm was weary. Capt. Sparks observed that the rifle the Indian had, was his; he had left it with his sergeant before starting out on the scout. Hearing a gun fire over a ridge, the dragoon Indian was asked who that was? He replied, 'He is my brother, killing deer for provisions.' While the others were still conversing with him, Wm. Colbert stole off towards the hunter, the report of a gun told his fate - Colbert in a few minutes returned & whispered to Sparks, 'Me kill 'em.' The Indian was then told by Piomingo, that he must die - - his arms were extended & held by the two young warriors, while a third shot him. Afterwards killed several others (probably 3 more)--when they met a straggling party too strong, they evaded & went around them.
"Sparks & his Chickasaw friends, having killed several of the Enemy, were in turn pursued - - they made their way for Fort Jefferson (- - at all events, to a fort where Majr. Mahon (or McMahon) commanded). Sparks, leaving the Chickasaw party a short distance in the rear, carefully advancing from tree to tree approached the Fort, & hailed - - the soldiers did not know them, & they were afraid to approach within gun shot - - they asked who commanded. The reply was Major McMahon. The Major was well acquainted with them, all Pennsylvanians - - Mahon came; he had been in the battle, was in command of the Fort, & did not know of Sparks going out on scout, or if he did, did not recognize them in their Indian disguise. When Mahon came to the port hole, they hailed, 'I am Dick Sparks, & close by is our Chickasaw party that went out with us on Scout - - for God's sake let us in; we are pressed by a large party of the Enemy.' Mahon was affected even to tears - - they were old friends. Sparks gave the signal, the Chickasaws came up, & all barely got into the Fort when the Enemy made their appearance.
"That winter Sparks remained in the garrison; & the Fort was illy supplied with provisions from the difficulty & danger of forwarding supplies. Brady & Sparks [the words "Brady &" have been crossed out] acted as hunters, being good woodmen, & by their exertions aided not a little in killing game, to provide the garrison. It was dangerous. One time Brady & Sparks [the words "Brady &" have been crossed out] were out together--a light fall of snow made it more than usually perilous to be in the woods; & an Enemy, wiley & vigilant, all through the frontier country, could easily follow their trail if shd chance to strike it. At length Brady & Sparks [the words "Brady &" have been crossed out] discovered a party of nine Indians on their trail - - the hunters fled, at some suitableplace they secreted themselves, & as the Indians approached, one fired & killed one of their pursuers; the other reserved his shot to cover their retreat until the empty gun could be loaded as they ran; again when out of sight, wd. again secret themselves & kill another of their pursuers - - In this way they killed four of the Indian party; & finally escaped by following along the bed of an open stream & reached the fort in safety. At another time, Sparks & a soldier were out on a hunt, two Indians were discovered stealing upon the soldiers, at a distance, undiscovered by the Indians, making himself a ramrod - Sparks crept up in their rear in a position ranging with both the Indians & fired, killing one & wounding the other. The wounded one escaped to a large Indian party near by - - Sparks & the other soldier escaped. Brady once out alone was hotly pursued by several Indians, & when within sight of the fort, but beyond the reach of aid - - the soldiers called out at the top of their voice, 'Run Brady, run: Run Brady, run!' When he got near the Fort, with the gate open for his reception, he bawled out, half out of breath, 'D-m it, do you think I'm running jockey?' Brady was probably not out on Wayne's campaign; Sparks was, & commanded a company. Sparks was a large, rawboned, active, bold man, & dead rifle shot; raised on the frontiers of Pennsylvania - - & when he returned from his Indian captivity, was frequently out with Brady on Scouting service."
On March 5, 1792, Richard Sparks was commissioned a captain in the regular Army of the United States. He was first assigned to the Third Sublegion and given command of a company under General Anthony Wayne, then stationed at Pittsburgh. He was with General Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794, on the Maumee River about 15 miles from present-day Toledo, Ohio. This defeat of the Indians, in which eight Wyandot chiefs were slain, was the greatest defeat ever suffered by the northwestern Indians, led in the following year to the Treaty of Greenville and finally brought peace to the frontier. Later, when the British finally withdrew from their western forts, Richard Sparks accompanied the American Army to Detroit, arriving with Colonel Hamtramck on October 22, 1794. In 1796, he was sent to Knoxville as the Knoxville Gazette noted on December 26, 1796: "Thursday last arrived in town from Detroit a company of Federal troops, commanded by Captain Sparks." An Act of Congress on May 19, 1796, had provided for the regulation of trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes and for the preservation of peace on the Southern frontier. Captain Sparks was assigned to help enforce this act. His Indian background was a definite advantage to him in this assignment.
It is not possible in the space available here to trace Colonel Sparks 's subsequent career in detail. This was done by Leota S. Driver in a lengthy article entitled "Colonel Richard Sparks - - The White Indian" in the Tennessee Historical Magazine, Series II, Vol. II, No. 1, January 1932. Unfortunately, Miss Driver had no knowledge of Colonel Sparks's family and made numerous errors regarding his early life. Her account of his Army career after 1796, however, is accurate.
During the remainder of his Army career, Richard Sparks was associated with the Old Southwest. In 1806, he was promoted to the rank of major in the U.S. Second Infantry and by 1809 he had advanced to lieutenant colonel. On July 6, 1812, he became a full colonel.
By April 15, 1797, Captain Sparks and his company had been transferred to South West Point in Tennessee where he remained until 1801 when he was transferred to Memphis to command Fort Pickering. Governor Claiborne, writing to Secretary Madison on November 24, 1801, noted:
"On the eastern or American bank of the Mississippi, the only improvements until I reached the Walnut Hills, was our Fort Pickering, at the bluffs below Wolf river. Captain Sparks of the 3rd. regiment is in command. He is an intelligent and efficient officer, has rendered many services to our countrymen navigating the Mississippi, to boats in distress to emigrants, to the sick. And he has maintained a good understanding with the Indians."
(This quotation is taken from W. C. C. Caliborne's letter to Secretary Madison, dated November 24, 1801, and printed in the Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, edited by Dunbar Rowland, Vol. I, p. 10. To the substance of this letter, Governor Claiborne added: "This deserving Officer is a Captain Sparks of the 3rd Regiment, his truly benevolent and patriotic conduct has procured him of the Esteem of the Western Citizens, and will I am sure, recommend him to the President.")
Two months following Richard Sparks's transfer to South West Point in Tennessee, on June 29, 1797, he married his second wife, Ruth Sevier, daughter of General John Sevier, a famous Indian fighter and hero of the American Revolution who had served as a captain in the Virginia line during Dunmore's War - - the war which had resulted in Richard Sparks's being released from the Indians. In fact, there is a strong likelihood that Sparks came to Sevier's attention at that time. In 1796, John Sevier became Governor of the new state of Tennessee. There can be no doubt that Sparks owned at least part of his advance as an Army officer to Sevier's influence. Ruth Sevier, oldest daughter of the Governor and his second wife, Catherine Sherrill, was born in 1781 and was thus at least twenty years younger than her husband. Romantic stories are told in the Sevier family of the attraction that the "White Indian" had for Ruth and how she set out to teach him to appreciate literature. During their eighteen years of marriage, she traveled with Richard Sparks on his various military assignments. Following his death in 1815, she was married on December 3, 1816, to her second husband, David Vertner. She had no children by either of her husbands. She died in 1834.
Shortly after his transfer to the Second Infantry in April 1802, Richard Sparks was sent to Fort Adams. In 1806, he led the Exploring Expedition of the Red River for which he received special praise from President Jefferson. His promotion to major was during this expedition. By 1810, he was located at Fort Stoddart and held the rank of lieutenant colonel. In April, 1813, now a full colonel, Sparks was transferred to Fort Charlotte. Following the War of 1812, as the armed forces were reduced in size, Colonel Sparks was required to retire. The excuse was given that younger officers should be given the opportunity to advance in rank. Perhaps there was more to it than this, however; as the country became more sophisticated and the U.S. Army more professional, it probably seemed incongruous to many that an old Indian fighter who could scarcely read and write should hold the rank of colonel. His last post was at Fort Charlotte and it was there that he was discharged on June 15, 1815. He retired to a home that he had built earlier at Bayou Pierre in Claiborne County, Mississippi, and there he died sixteen days later on July 2, 1815. Some claimed that he had died of a broken heart because of having been forced to leave the Army.
The following obituary appeared in the Washington Republican of July 15, 1815:
"Departed this life, on the second instant at his plantation near the Grindstone ford, in this territory, Col. Richard Sparks, late of the second United States' infantry, aged about sixty-two years.
"We have understood that Col. Sparks was amongst the earliest avengers of his insulted country. That in the Revolutionary War, he took up arms in favor of freedom. In a very distinguished manner he shared the dangers and fatigues in St. Clair's campaign against the Northern Indians and was universally considered a most valuable officer. His amiable qualities gained him, in a high degree, the esteem and affection o£ his companions in arms.
"In private life his benignity of disposition and simplicy of manners and deportment, gave him strength and happiness amongst his friends, and secured him from calumny. We may truly say he was 'circled round by virtues... ' "
Colonel G. W. Sevier, brother-in-law of Colonel Sparks, told Lyman Draper: "Col. Sparks was grieved when he heard that he had been dismissed at the reduction of the army in 1815 - -that younger officers had been retained who had seen but little service; & he, like an old worn out war horse turned out upon the hillside to graze as he could. He did not long survive - - died 2d July 1815. Col. Silas Dinsmoor wrote an obituary - - said his remains had been intered with military honors, & there he will rest undisturbed until the morning of the Grand Revelie, when all souls shall arise, & when honest men shall have a preference - - whatever may be their politics."
Colonel Sevier remembered this obituary well. It appears in a Nashville, Tennessee, newspaper as follows: "About the lst. inst., the corruptible part of our friend Col. Richard Sparks, late of the 2nd Infantry, was relieved from duty, and put in snug quarters till the grand reveille shall awaken the armies of the universe for a final review and promotion, when honest men will have a preference, whatever may have been their politics. The Colonel of course stands a good chance."
Colonel Richard Sparks's will, which he wrote on March 6, 1814, was probated in October 1815, and was recorded in Book A, p. 61 in the office of the Chancery Clerk of Claiborne County, Mississippi, in Port Gibson. It reads as follows:
"In the name of God, Amen. I, Colonel Richard Sparks of the United States Army and of Claiborne County and Mississippi Territory, being in perfect health of body and of sound mind, memory and understanding, but considering the uncertainty of the transitory life, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, to wit:
"Principally and first of all, I commend my immortal Soul unto the hands of God who gave it, and my body to the earth, to be buried in decent and Christian like manner at the descretion of my executors and executrix herein after named; and as to such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life, I give and dispose of same in the following manner, to wit:
"In the first place I give and devise to my daughter Polly Wall the tract of land she now resides on in Alleghany County in the State of Pennsylvania, containing two hundred & fifty or three hundred acres be the same more or less, to her and her heirs forever.
"Secondly, I give and devise to my daughter Catharine McClure the tract of land she now resides on lying and being on the east fork of Little Miamme in the State of Ohio containing from two hundred and fifty, to three hundred acres, be the same more or less, to her and her heirs forever.
"Thirdly, I give and devise to my daughter Charity Cooper the tract of land lying on the waters of Big Bever in the state of Pennsylvania containing from two hundred and fifty to three hundred acres now in the hands & possession of Joseph Becket, Esquire, to her and her heirs forever.
"To my two daughters Elizabeth Breazeale and Eleanor Sparks, I give and devise six hundred acres of land lying and being in the State of Tennessee, to be equally divided between them, to be held as tenants in common and not as joint tenants, to them and their heirs forever.
"Fifthly, I give and devise to my much esteemed friend Captain George Washington Sevier my gold headed cane.
"Sixthly, I give and devise to Thomas D. Carson and Stephen D. Carson all my military apparel, & further I give and devise to Stephen D. Carson my rifle gun, it being my support in youth and companion in old age.
"Seventhly, I give and devise to my name sake Elvin Sparks Wooldridge, son of the late Colonel William H. Wooldridge, a lot of ground situated in the town of Bruinsburgh [Mississippi] to him and his heirs forever.
"Eightly, I give and devise to my much beloved wife Ruth Sparks my negroe wench named Bett, slave for life, with her three children, slaves for life, to wit, Tennessee, Anthony and Edward, to be at my said wife's disposal in any way she may think proper.
"Ninethly, I also give and devise to my much beloved wife Ruth Sparks my negroe boy Lyle, slave for life, to her and her heirs forever to be at her disposal in any [way] she may think proper.
"Tenthly, Touching all the rest, residue and remainder of my estate, both real and personal, not hereafter devised of, whatsoever kind and nature the same may be in the County of Claiborne or elsewhere, I give and devise the same to my dearly beloved wife Ruth Sparks during her natural life, she paying all my just debts out of the same; and from and after her decease I give and devise the same unto my five children, to wit, Polly, Catherine, Charity, Elizabeth & Eleanor, to be equally divided between them, share and share alike.
"And lastly I nominate, constitute and appoint my beloved wife Ruth Sparks my Executrix, and Daniel Vertner and Stephen D. Carson, my executors, of this rmy last will and testament, hereby revoking and anulling all other wills, legacies and bequests by me heretofore made and declaring this and no other to be my last will and testament. In testimony whereof I have [here] unto set my hand and seal this sixth day of March 1814.[signed R. Sparks (seal)
Signed, sealed, published pronounced and declared by the said Testator as his last will and testament in the presence of us who in presence and at his request have subscribed as witnesses:
F. L. Gray
Stephen D. Carson
Geo: K. Cooke"
It is of interest to note that in his will Richard Sparks made no mention of his son Jesse, who is listed as one of his children by a descendant of Richard's daughter, Catherine. It is apparent that the boy died in youth and that at the time he made his will in 1814, Richard Sparks's only living children were his five daughters. The Elvin Sparks Woolridge whom Colonel Sparks called "my name sake," was an only son of William H. Wooldridge whose will had been probated in Claiborne County, Mississippi, in May 1814. This will, dated April 18, 1810, had called the boy "Elam Sparks Wooldridge" rather than "Elvin." Richard Sparks had been named as executor of the Wooldridge estate, while his wife, Ruth Sparks, had signed as a witness. (See Estelle S. King's Mississippi Court Records, 1799 -1835, published in 1969, page 75.) It is interesting to speculate whether the "rifle gun, it being may support in youth and companion in old age" was the same gun that he recovered from the Indian who had stolen it during St. Clair's defeat by the Indians in November 1791. Might it still be preserved today by a descendant of Stephen D. Carson to whom Sparks left it in his will?
Frances (Nash) Sparks, the first wife of Colonel Richard Sparks, died ca. 1794. Their six children were reared by relatives, probably to some extent at least by Richard's step-mother, Sarah Sparks. When the 1800 census was taken, two girls were enumerated as living with Sarah Sparks, one aged 17-26, the other 11-16.
When Richard Sparks's eldest daughter, Mary Sparks, married Garrett Wall in 1800, Richard Sparks offered to deed a farm to his new son-in-law if he would agree to take care of the younger children. Garrett Wall accepted the offer.
Richard Sparks at one time owned a considerable amount of land in Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. How he came into possession of this land has not positively been determined, but it is certain that he inherited at least part of it from his father. On May 1, 1786, Richard Sparks sold for 400 pounds a tract of 148 acres to his brother, Benjamin Sparks. In the deed (Book 38, p.310) the land is described as that on which Benjamin Sparks was then living. It seems likely that this was a tract which the elder Ricard Sparks had left to these two sons and that Richard was simply selling to his brother his claim to it. On April 2, 1792, Richard Sparks and his brother Benjamin Sparks sold a tract which they owned jointly to Hezekiah Dowthwitt for 100 pounds (Book C3, p.23) Again it seems probable that this was a portion of the original tract owned by Richard Sparks, Senior. This land was described as being on Lick Run, as was also a three-acre tract that Richard Sparks sold to Samuel Applegate for 20 pounds on March 23, 1792 (Book B3, p.387).
On July 6, 1801, Richard Sparks and his second wife, Ruth (Sevier) Sparks, signed a document in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where they were apparently making a final visit, in the presence of Robert McFarland, Samuel Walker, and Martin Andrews, by which they appointed Joseph Becket their lawful attorney (Book L11, p.295). Becket was directed in this document to collect the debts owned to Richard Sparks in Allegheny County; he was directed also "to execute a good firm Warantee deed to my old farm or plantation situate in the Township aforesaid [Elizabeth] lately in the tenure of Ezra Brant joining lands with Garret Applegate and others, to confirm it over to may Son in law, Garrett Wall and Mary his wife ... they paying my said attorney two dollars in hand. I also constitute my said attorney to ... sell all my part, portion and share of the grist mill built in partnership with Joseph Applegate ... together with my part of the lot of land it is situated on containing about twenty acres." He also directed Becket to execute a deed to Hezekia Dowthwitt for the tract of land he had sold him in 1792.
From the document quoted below, it is apparent that the land given to Garrett Wall and Mary, Richard's daughter, had belonged to Richard's father, Richard Sparks, Senior, because Richard's step-mother was mentioned as having a dower right to a portion of the land. Note that there is also a reference to "some eight or ten acres in possession of Grandmother Sparks."
Garrett Wall's first wife, 32.3.1 Mary Sparks (daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks), died in 1821, and he subsequently married Mary Watson. When Garrett Wall wrote his will in 1846, he explained why he left nothing to the children of his first wife, Mary Sparks; in this explanation, he made interesting references to Richard Sparks, his father-in-law. (This is copied from a photostat of the original, on file in the Allegheny County Court House.)
"Some of my Children and friends May Not know the meaning of the foregoing Will, where I say in order to do Justice to my present Wife Mary and my Children by her, &c. The facts and surcomstances are these, My first Father in law Capt. Richard Sparks of the United States army had six Children by his first wife, who were bilited amoungst their friends in this neighborhood after their Mothers death, until I Marryed his eldest daughter, a fiew weeks after I Married his daughtor he cald in this Neighbourhood on his way to the War Office, Not having seen his children from the death of their Mother, some five or six years, haveing paid but little attention to them. I was prepareing, and on the eave of starting to New Orleans with a cargo of flour, the Night previous to My Starting being two days after his arrivel, as well as on the Morning I did start, he asked me what calculations I had made with respecting My Locating Myself. I told him if I made a favourable return from New Orleans My design was to Move to the neighood to Stubenville, that a friend of mine, a Mr. Castner was engaged to procure a half section of Congress land for me, and had a whole section in view for my use, he my Father in law replyed with much anxiety, that if I would perform certain servaces for him he would make me a Deed for the tract of land whereon I now live saying he considered I would have a good bargain for he considered the land altho poor, and with the incumbrance of his Stepmothers dower wright, to be worth five hundred dollars, this was said in presents of Garret Applegate, my Father and Mother. My Father and Mother as soon as they could get an oppurtunity cald me to one side, and most earnestly objected to my agreeing to Sparks offer, told me what I afterwards found to be the truth that Sparks would never live up to his engagements with me, that I would spend my money in his service, (which I did) and never would be thanked for it, the fact that I was young and inocently taken in by him who ought to have been my friend. Altho I spent seven hundred dollars in his Sparks Services including about 200 Dollars of debets paid for him in Pittsburgh, in all 200 Dollars more than the valuation put on the land by himself, forty six years ago this land was thought but of little value, there was when I came to it but thirty four acres cleared, besides some eight or ten acres in possession of Grandmother Sparks, the thirty four acres had been in the hands of tenants for some thirteen years was much exasted, bore little else than peneroyal, and in a manner destitute of fenies [i.e. fences] . Sparks treated me dishonestly. After acknowledging again, and again, by letters now in my possession (if not lost or destroyed) that I had performed my part of the contract, but would take special care not to send the promised deed or convayance. I was extremely dissatisfyed as well as my Wife who was dissatisfied from the first. She objected to the bargain from the beginning, said it would make a slave of Her. The fact is the land is justly mine, I paid a high price for it. Being desireous to do Justice to all my Children have but this remidy left (without going to law) that is to give my McMahan tract to my present Wife and my Children by her. Sparks never returned to see his children after he left his children with me.
May the 29th 1846 [signed] Garret Wall.
As is usually the case in a family controversy such as that described by Garrett Wall, we can be sure that there were two sides. The second wife doubtless played a role in persuading Garrett Wall to leave all of his property to her and her children. What Garrett Wall failed to mention in his statement was that when his father-in-law, Richard Sparks, visited Allegheny County in 1801 and made the arrangement with him, he had directed Joseph Becket "to execute a good firm Warantee deed to my old farm or plantation ... to confirm it over to my Son in law Garrett Wall and Mary his wife ...(Book Lll, p.295) Perhaps Joseph Becket, who seems to have been a lawyer as well as wealthy land owner, failed to execute the deed. However, in his will, Richard Sparks left to his daughter, Mary (Sparks) Wall, "the tract of land she now resides on in Allegheny County in the State of Pennsylvania, containing two hundred & fifty or three hundred acres be the same more or less." Perhaps what Garrett Wall was really protesting was the fact that in the end Richard Sparks left the farm to his daughter rather than to her husband, Garrett Wall. This farm did indeed pass into the hands of Mary's children. A legal problem may well have prevented Joseph Becket from drawing up the deed as he was directed in 1801. Richard Sparks, Senior, to whom this land originally belonged, did not leave a will. Three of his sons, James, Daniel, and Walter, had moved to Kentucky. The two remaining sons, Benjamin and Richard, seem to have simply taken over their father's property. Without the consent of the three sons in Kentucky, Becket may have found it impossible to draw up a legal deed by which one son, Richard, could transfer the property to his son-in-law. Richard Sparks's will probated in 1815, giving the farm to his daughter, may for the first time have provided the legal basis for the transfer of this land.
Following are the data that we have been able to gather regarding the five daughters of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks:
32.3.1 Mary (called Polly) Sparks, daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks, was born January 26,1783; she died in 1821. On February 16, 1800, she was married in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to Garrett Wall. He was born July 13, 1778, a son of James and Catherine (Van Eman) Wall. On March 16, 1824, Garrett Wall married as his second wife, Mary Watson. Garrett and Mary (Sparks) Wall were the parents of the following children:
126.96.36.199 Milo Wall.
188.8.131.52 Sparks Wall.
184.108.40.206 William Wall, died in the U.S. Army at Pueblo August 13, 1847.
220.127.116.11 Jesse S. Wall, born July 13, 1806, married Sarah Devore March 5, 1829.
18.104.22.168 Joseph Wall, born November 17, 1811, died July 13, 1881; he married May 5, 1836, Frances Allen, daughter of David and Mary Jane (Warne) Allen; she was born August 18, 1811, and died March 11, 1855. He married, second, on September 6, 1860, Susan H. Gilkison who was born September 15, 1816, and died February 5, 1897.
22.214.171.124 Gideon Wall.
126.96.36.199 Charity E. Wall, married James Dickey. (Their granddaughter was the wife of U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Edward Martin, who provided the photograph of Colonel Richard Sparks that appears on the cover of this issue of the Quarterly.)
188.8.131.52 Brisben Wall, born March 23, 1819; he married on May 27, 1847, Hannah Sutton, daughter of John Sutton.
(This information on Mary (Sparks) Wall and her family is taken largely from The History of Allegheny County by Warner, published in 1889 and The Old and New Monongahela by John S. Van Voorhis, published originally in Pittsburgh in 1993.
32.3.2 Catherine (or Katherine) Sparks was born July 4, 1787, and died October 21 (or 31), 1859, in Batavia, Ohio. She married Richard McClure, born Lancaster County, PA, December 25, 1777, and died in Batavia, Ohio, on July 18, 1833, a son of Andrew and Margaret (Barnett) McClure. They had eight children:
184.108.40.206 Andrew McClure.
220.127.116.11 Sparks McClure, born 1805, died ca. 1855. He was reared in Clermont County, Ohio, and resided on the Hays Farm in Mifflin Township, Allegheny County, PA. He married Elizabeth Hays, daughter of Thomas Hays of Allegheny County, PA.
18.104.22.168 Hiram McClure, born March 5, 1807, died November 25, 1863; he married March 6, 1842, Sarah Slade, who was born March 15, 1822.
22.214.171.124 Eleanor McClure; she married Dr. Lyman.
126.96.36.199 Frances McClure; she married FNU Rapier and lived in Ohio.
188.8.131.52 Pamelia McClure; she died in 1849; she married Judge Jacob Flynn of Cincinnati, who died in 1868.
184.108.40.206 Cynthelia McClure; she married John Joliffe, an attorney of Cincinnati.
220.127.116.11 Commodore McClure; he never married.
(The information give on page 1686 on Catherine (Sparks) McClure and her family was taken largely from Pioneer McClure Families of the Mononagahela Valley by Cicero P. McClure and Roy F. MccClure, published in 1924. Some data came from the D.A.R. application of Emma L. McCord, a granddaughter of Catherine (Sparks) McClure.)
32.3.3 Charity Sparks, daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks, was born on February 10, 1789, and died in 1862. She was married three times. She married, first, Joshua Budd, Jr., son of Joshua Budd, Sr., from Somerset County, New Jersey. He died in New Orleans where he had gone with his boats loaded with produce and provisions. Apparently there were no children by this marriage.
Charity Sparks married, second, on March 2, 1809, John Cooper, a tanner, of Robbstown (West Newton); they moved to Williamsport in 1810. He was born in 1783 and died on March 1, 1820. John and Charity (Sparks) Cooper were the parents of
18.104.22.168 Richard Sparks Cooper, died November 13, 1857.
22.214.171.124 Hezikiah D. Cooper, born 1814, died 1874; he married in 1839 Mary Jane Layman, born 1818, died 1861.
126.96.36.199 John S. Cooper.
188.8.131.52 Robert F. Cooper, died in the U.S. Army in 1864.
184.108.40.206 Mary Jane Cooper, born October 10, 1818, died July 17, 1893, in Monongahela, PA. She married in 1848, Dr. R. F. Biddle.
Charity Sparks married, third, on March 28, 1828, John Shouse who kept the Valley Inn, later called Baidland Post Office, three miles west of Monongahela City, PA. He died on August 13, 1834. Known children:
220.127.116.11 William Henry Shouse; he married Rebecca L. Krepps; in 1893 he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio.
18.104.22.168 Fannie C. Shouse; she married the Rev. J. P. Fulton of Harper, Kansas.
(This information on Charity Sparks and her family was taken largely from George D. Albert's History of Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, published in Philadelphia in 1882, p. 564; and from the D.A.R. application materials of Mrs. Frances Fulton Hanlow, a great-granddaughter of Charity Sparks and her second husband, John Cooper.)
32.3.4 Elizabeth Sparks, daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks, was born ca. 1790. In her father's will, Elizabeth was called Elizabeth Breazeale. To her and her sister Eleanor, who was unmarried when Colonel Richard Sparks prepared his will on March 6, 1814, he left six hundred acres of land in Tennessee, to be divided equally between them. A descendant of Elizabeth's sister, Mary (Sparks) Wall, whose name was J. Sutton Wall, once wrote that he had found a letter dated August 26, 1801, from Louisville "on the falls of the Ohio" in Jefferson County, Kentucky, written by Major John Walker to his wife back in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, in which he said: "I have seen some of my acquaintances near this place, at Moses Kuykendall's, Caty Hart and Jack Frazier. You may tell Polly Wall that her sister that lives with Moses Kuykendall, has joined the Baptist Church and has been batpized, as well as those mentioned. There is a great stir of religion throughout many parts of KY. at this time." (See George B. Kuykendall's History of the Kuykendall Family published in 1919, pp.232-3.)
The Polly Wall to whom John Walker referred was 32.3.1 Mary (Sparks) Wall, and the sister of Polly Wall living with Moses Kuykendall must surely have been 32.3.4 Elizabeth Sparks (daughter of Colonel Richard Sparks). Apparently she was living with her aunt, Elizabeth (Sparks) Kuykendall, whose husband was Moses Kuykendall; they had moved to Jefferson County, Kentucky, a number of years earlier. The next year (1802) 32.3.4 Elizabeth Sparks (daughter of Colonel Richard Sparks) married Nathaniel Kuykendall, a younger brother of Moses Kuykendall. The marriage bond on file in Jefferson County, Kentucky, was dated November 29, 1802, and Moses Kuykendall and Peter Jones signed as bondsmen (Marriage Bonds, 1781-1826, page 45).
Nathaniel Kuykendall was identified in his father's will (Benjamin Kuykendall of Washington, now Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, will dated September 26, 1789) as one of the "youngest sons," while Moses was called his eldest son. Sometime prior to 1814, Nathaniel Kuykendall died. We believe that Nathaniel and Elizabeth had a son named 22.214.171.124 Moses Kuykendall. Apparently he lived near his grandfather, Colonel Richard Sparks, after his father, Nathaniel Kuykendall, died; he remained at Port Gibson until ca. 1825 when he went to Louisiana. There is some evidence that Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Sparks) Kuykendall also had a 126.96.36.199 daughter.
Prior to 1814, Elizabeth Sparks (daughter of Colonel Richard Sparks) married, as her second husband, Drury Wood Breazeale, whose first wife had died prior to 1813. There is reason to believe that Elizabeth had gone to her father's residence at Port Gibson, Mississippi, following her first husband's death and that it was there that she married Drury Wood Breazeale. According to recent correspondence with Mrs. Taney Brazeal of Fairhope, Alabama, an authority on the Brazeal (Breazeale) family, Elizabeth Sparks had no children by her second husband.
According to a letter that J. Sutton Wall wrote to Jennie C. Morton in 1897, he had learned that Elizabeth (Sparks) Kuykendall Breazeale died at the Sabine on the Red River on June 9, 1816. Drury Wood Breazeale married, for the third time, prior to 1826, Mary L. Barre. He died at Port Gibson, Mississippi, in 1836. He had been a supporter of the the American Colonization Society and made provision in his will for his slaves to be sent back to Africa, but his children successfully contested his will.
32.3.5 Eleanor Sparks, daughter of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks, is believed to have been born shortly before her mother's death, ca. 1794. Our only knowledge of her is a statement by Fanny Fulton Hanlon in her D.A.R. application in 1912 (she was a great-granddaughter of Charity (Sparks) Cooper) that Eleanor married John Printy. This marriage must have taken place after March 6, 1814, because in his will of that date Colonel Richard Sparks called her Eleanor Sparks. In John S. Vain Voorhis' The Old and New Monongahela published in 1893, page 292, it is also stated that Eleanor married John Printy and that he was "of Clermont County, Ohio."
32.3.6 Jesse Sparks, only son of Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks, died as a young man. No mention was made of him in his father's will.
Whole Number 183
In the Quarterly of September 1974, Whole No. 87, we presented biographical data on Richard Sparks, who was born ca. 1757 in New Jersey and died in 1815 in Mississippi. The story of his youth is especially interesting. When he was between three and five years old, after his parents had moved from Middlesex County, New Jersey, to what was then the American frontier in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, Richard was stolen by the Shawnee Indians, a not uncommon occurrence at that time and place. In later years, he reported that he had been treated kindly by his captors and had been adopted by a minor chief named Blackfish. He was given the Indian name "Shantunte," and, as the years passed, he gradually forgot his original name as well as his parents and siblings. An Indian boy, younger than himself, with whom he often played was named Tecumseh, who would figure importantly in later warfare with the White Americans.
Richard Sparks remained with the Shawnee Indians until February 1775, when he was about fifteen or sixteen years old. By then, he had no memory of his origin.
His release from captivity resulted from the defeat of the Shawnees on October 10, 1774, at the Battle of Point Pleasant. The army of Virginia that defeated the Indians was under the command of Governor Dunmore in what has been called "Dunmore's War." One of the demands made by Dunmore of the defeated Shawnees was that they bring all of their white captives for release at Point Pleasant in the following February. Located near the mouth of the Kanawha River, where it flows into the Ohio River, Point Pleasant was (and is) near today's border line between West Virginia and Ohio, on what was then the Virginia side.
As word spread that this event would take place, scores of parents whose children had been kidnapped by the Indians over the years, made their way to Point Pleasant hoping to find and recognize them. Richard's parents made the journey. His father's name was also Richard, but we have not discovered his mother's name.
The story of Richard being stolen by the Shawnees, his captivity, and his later military career was told in a carefully researched article by Leota S. Driver, published in the Tennessee Historical Magazine, Series II, Vol. II, No. 1, January 1932, under the title "Colonel Richard Sparks-The White Indian." Ms. Driver had not been able to learn Richard's parentage, nor was she in communication with any of his descendants, but she had located nearly all of the material that had been published about him, including memoirs by several men who had known him. Based on those records, Ms. Driver imagined how Richard's mother may have searched for him among the captives brought by the Shawnees to Point Pleasant that day in February 1775:
Many... must have studied the features of the returned captives, hoping to find someone whose fate had remained a mystery. Among them was a mother who, years before, had lost a little boy aged four. It required keen eyes to recognize in the tall, bronzed youth the person of four-year-old Dickie Sparks. But a mother's eyes are keen. She never forgets any feature of her child. This mother noted a mark which her little boy had carried, and she claimed him as her own. Shantunte could not understand the words spoken to him, but he did observe the tears in the eyes of his mother and sisters. Tears suggested only one thing to his mind. He had seen squaws cry sometimes when the warriors burned their prisoners at the stake. This, he concluded, was to be his fate.
It is not our intent here to repeat the rather long article on the life of Richard Sparks appearing in the September 1974 issue of the Quarterly, but to report a bit of backgound to introduce a recently discovered document pertaining to his last days. For those interested in Richard's father, Richard Sparks, Sr., an article about him and his family can be found in the Quarterly of December 1971, Whole No. 76. While we do not have a complete record of the sisters of Colonel Richard Sparks, we know that his four brothers were named James, Benjamin, Walter, and Daniel. An article about Benjamin Sparks will be published in the near future. Articles about the other three have appeared in the Quarterly as follows: James Sparks, September 1954, Whole No. 7, September & December 1994, Whole Nos. 167 & 168; Walter Sparks, December 1987, Whole No. 140; and Daniel Sparks, September 1993, Whole No. 163.
After he became "civilized" by his family, young Richard proved to be an effective scout for the American forces in their war against the British for Independence. Eventually, he became a career officer in the U.S. Army, although he had difficulty learning to read and write, as well as in giving up his Indian ways. For example, his army friends remembered that his preferred way of sleeping was on the floor, wrapped in a bear-skin rug.
Richard Sparks was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Army in 1792; he commanded a company under General Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on the Maumee River in 1794. By 1806, he had advanced to the rank of major in the U.S. Second Infantry, in which year he led the Exploring Expedition of the Red River for which service he received special praise from President Jefferson.
On July 6, 1812, Richard Sparks was promoted to the rank of colonel in the Second Division at Fort Charlotte in South Carolina, where he served until his retirement from the Army on June 15, 1815. Although Col. Sparks left no personal record of his unusual experiences in life, a number of men who had known him left accounts, as we reported in the September 1974 issue of the Quarterly. None, however, explained why Sparks had been required to end his military career, other than the fact that, following the War of 1812, the U.S. Army was reduced in size. A fellow officer. Colonel G. W. Sevier, who was also a brother of Sparks's second wife, was quoted by an historian, Lyman Draper, as stating: "Col. Sparks was grieved when he heard that he had been dismissed" and "like an old worn out war horse turned out upon the hillside to graze as he could."
A document has been brought to our attention, however, revealing that it was Sparks's state of health that required his retirement. This document has come to light through an odd set of circumstances.
A member of our Association, Catherine Y. Moulton of Rogers, Arkansas, reported recently that she had attended a lecture sponsored by the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research in Birmingham, Alabama. The lecturer had been Marie Varrelman Melchiori, a specialist in Union and Confederate Records at the National Archives in Washington. Ms. Melchiori had illustrated her lecture with photographic slides of little known documents at the Archives that can aid family historians in their research. One of her illustrations had been from "Record Group 94," entry 20, it being a confidential report completed on June 30, 1814, by the Assistant Inspector General of the U.S. Army, Daniel Hughes, regarding the commission- ed officers of the Seventh Military District between January 1 and June 30, 1814. Of Richard Sparks, Hughes had written:
Colonel Sparks of 2nd Infantry is rendered inadequate to the duties of his command by reason of a Paralytic affliction of the left side, depriving him of the free use of the leg, arm, and otherwise affecting him;
his mind is considerably impaired. This Officer has devoted his life to the service and from his Zealous exertions in the execution of his duty from the beginning of the North Western Indian Warfare to this day may be attributed his present melancholy situation. He is a good man, esteemed and respected by all who know him.
From this we know that, prior to June 30, 1814, Sparks had obviously suffered what would doubtless be diagnosed today as a severe stroke. It is rather remarkable that he had not been required to resign his commission a year earlier, rather than on June 15, 1815. It was then that he, with his second wife, Ruth Sevier, moved to a home that he had built at Bayou Pierre in Claiborne County, Mississippi. He died there on July 2, 1815, just seventeen days after his discharge. A comrade. Colonel Silas Dinsmore, wrote the following tribute for a Nashville, Tennessee, newspaper:
About the 1st inst., the corruptible part of our friend Col. Richard Sparks, late of the 2nd Infantry, was relieved from duty, and put in snug quarters till the grand reveille shall awaken the armies of the universe for a final review and promotion, when honest men will have a preference, whatever may have been their politics. The Colonel, of course, stands a good chance.
In 1782, seven years after his return to his family in western Pennsylvania from his Indian captivity, Richard Sparks married Frances Nash. They became the parents of five daughters and one son.
32.3.1 Mary ["Polly"] Sparks, born January 26,1783, died 1821. She was married in 1800 to Garrett Wall, and they had eight children. It was a descendant of Mary who provided us with the photograph of Colonel Sparks appearing on page 5030. We do not know the whereabouts of the painting today.
32.3.2 Catherine [or Katherine] Sparks, born July 4, 1787, died 1859. She married Richard McClure. They had eight children:
32.3.3. Charity Sparks, born February 10, 1789, died 1862. She was married, first, to Joshua Budd, second, to John Cooper, and, third, to John Shouse. There were five children by the second marriage and two by the third.
32.3.4. Elizabeth Sparks, born ca. 1791, died 1816. She was married, first, to Nathaniel Kuykendall and, second, to Drury Wood Breazeale. It is believed that Elizabeth had two children by her first husband.
32.3.5. Eleanor Sparks, born ca. 1794. She is believed to have been married to John Printy. We have no knowledge of any children.
32.3.6. Jesse Sparks. He was not mentioned in his father's will, dated March 6, 1814. We believe that he died in youth.
More detailed information regarding the children of Col. Richard and Frances (Nash) Sparks appears in the September 1974 issue of the Quarterly, pp. 1686-88.
Following the death of Frances (Nash) Sparks in 1794, Richard Sparks's children were reared by relatives, and they rarely saw their father during his army career.
It was on June 29, 1797, that Richard Sparks married (second) Ruth Sevier, daughter of General John Sevier and his second wife, Catherine Sherrill. Richard and Ruth had no children. Following his death in 1815, Ruth married (second) David Vertner. She died in 1834.
Although we published the photograph of the oil painting of Colonel Sparks on the cover of the September 1974 issue of the Quarterly, we have reproduced it again on page 5030 of the present issue because many of our current members have joined the Association since 1974. We have also reproduced an example of his signature. It is from a report that he submitted to the Secretary of War, William Eustis, on October 7, 1809 (found in Record Group No. 107 at the National Archives).