Whole Number 154
By Russell E. Bidlack
This is a map of the area in western North Carolina where several members of the Sparks family of Frederick County, Maryland, settled in the decade 1754-1764. See the article on William Sparks (ca.1725-1801/02) which follows. Today's counties are shown, although from 1753 until 1770, this area was all part of Rowan County. In 1770, Surry County was cut off from Rowan and included Wilkes, Stokes, Forsyth, and Yadkin Counties. Iredell County was cut off from Rowan in 1788; Davidson in 1822; and Davie in 1836.
[Author's preliminary note: As was true with the article on 188.8.131.52 William Sample Sparks appearing in the December 1989 issue of the Quarterly, No. 148, with that which follows here about his son: this is a promise long in the keeping. I fear that many members of the Association having an interest in this William Sparks may have given up hope that I would ever compile in narrative form the bits of information that I and others have collected about him over a period of nearly half a century. It is my hope, however, that they will recognize that my having waited until now means that the story is more complete than if I had compiled it earlier. There still remain many gaps in the story of William Sparks's life; however, but considering that no personal records pertaining to him or any of his children appear to have survived in the hands of any of his many descendants, it is quite remarkable that the many references to him existing in official records have filled out the story of his life as well as they have.
[Many people have contributed to our search for information regarding William Sparks, the principal contributor having been the president of our Association, Dr. Paul E. Sparks. Another researcher who uncovered facts regarding our subject in the early years of our search was the late William Perry Johnson. While it is not possible to name all who have assisted, it is appropriate to mention also Frank R. Russell of Moorestown, New Jersey; George Horvath, Jr. of Eldersburg, Maryland; Margie M. Bertie of Titusville, Florida; and Dr. Carson Gibb of Annapolis, Maryland. I am greatly indebted to the local historians who have copied and published texts, abstracts, and indexes of and to courthouse and other archival records. Among those to whom I am especially grateful are Jo White Linn whose abstracts of court and other records from Rowan County, North Carolina, are invaluable, and Mrs. W. O. Absher who has produced a wealth of information from land, court, and probate records in Wilkes and Surry Counties, North Carolina. Mrs. Linn also very kindly edited this article before its publication here.]
In the Quarterly of December 1989, Whole No. 148, we published an article devoted to the life of 184.108.40.206 William Sample Sparks who was born ca. 1700 in Queen Annes County, Maryland, and who died in Rowan County, North Carolina, about 1765. In that article, the present writer noted that we have convincing evidence that the eldest son of William Sample Sparks was also named 220.127.116.11.1 William, although he had no middle name. It is this William Sparks who is the subject of this article.
It had become a tradition in this branch of the Sparks family for the first son to be named William. Our present subject's father usually used the middle name "Sample" to help distinguish himself from his own father and several cousins also named William Sparks. We believe that he added his middle name after becoming an adult.
The Sparks family of Queen Annes County, Maryland, were members of St. Paul's Parish. When St. Luke's Parish was formed in 1728, their land was found to lie in the new parish, for which many records survive. A map showing that area appeared on the cover of the March 1971 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 73. We also included in that issue a biographical record of our present subject's great-grandfather, the first William Sparks to appear in Queen Annes County; he died there in 1709. (See pp. 1381-89)
As explained in that article, land records in Queen Annes County prove that this first 1.2 William Sparks had come to Maryland from Hampshire County, England, at least as early as 1670, as had also his brother, 1.1 John Sparks. Recent research strongly suggests that they were sons of Thomas and Joane (Davis) Sparks who had been married in Fareham Parish in Hampshire County, England, on Oct 19, 1635. Among the children of Thomas and Joane was a son named William Sparks, baptized on August 6, 1646, and a son named John Sparks, baptized on December 3, 1649. They also had two other sons baptized in the Fareham Parish Church: Francis Sparks, baptized on July 20, 1641, and Richard Sparks, baptized on December 10, 1658.
The oldest son of the immigrant William Sparks (died 1709) was also named William; he was called 1.2.1 "William Sparks, Jr." in official records during the time that his father was living. William, Jr. was born ca. 1674. From the will and estate records of the elder William Sparks (died 1709), we know that there were also sons named 1.2.2 George Sparks, born ca. 1679; 1.2.4 John, born ca. 1684; and 1.2.5 Joseph, born ca. 1690. An article about John Sparks and his family appeared in the December 1974 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 88, pp. 1699-1704, and one devoted to Joseph Sparks and his family (he was born ca. 1690 and died in 1749), appeared in the Quarterly of March 1990, Issue No. 149, pp. 3554-61.
William Sparks, Jr., grandfather of our present subject, was born ca. 1674 and died in Queen Annes County sometime after 1734. He did not leave a will, and no records have been found pertaining to the settlement of his estate. He was married twice. His first wife, to whom he was married sometime prior to March 1696, was Margaret Hamilton, daughter of Josiah Hamilton of New Castle, Delaware. She died prior to 1729, and William Sparks, Jr. was then married to Anne ______, who died December 16, 1730. William Sample Sparks was, we feel confident, a son of the first marriage. As noted above, he was born ca. 1700.
As was noted in the article appearing in the December 1989 issue of the Quarterly, we believe that William Sample Sparks was married more than once, possibly even three times. The marriage of a William Sparks and a Mary Courmon (or Corman) dated August 24, 1732, and recorded in St. Luke's Parish register [page 41], may have been that of William Sample Sparks, but, if so, it could not have been his first marriage. There can be little doubt that his son William was a child of an earlier union.
We can be sure that 18.104.22.168.1 William Sparks, subject of this sketch, was at least twenty-one years old when he became owner of his first tract of land in Frederick County, Maryland, on July 11, 1749.
It was in or about 1736 that William Sample Sparks moved his family from Queen Annes County, Maryland, across the Chesapeake Bay and beyond the small town of Baltimore, to what was then the western frontier of Maryland. He settled in that part of Prince Georges County that is now the western part of Carroll County (Carroll County was not formed until 1837 when it was cut off from Frederick County; Frederick County had been cut off from Prince Georges County in 1748). William Sparks, subject of this sketch, accompanied his father as a lad of perhaps ten or eleven years. (For further details regarding this move, the reader is referred to pages 3487-88 of the December 1989 Quarterly. A map showing the area of the family's settlement near Big and Little Pipe Creeks is shown also on page 3488.) William Sample Sparks always signed his name by mark, doubtless indicating that he had never learned to write. This does not necessarily mean that he could not read. It appears that his children, likewise, never learned to write. No record has been found giving us a list of the children of William Sample Sparks, but strong circumstantial evidence supports our belief that, in addition to his son named William, he was the father of 22.214.171.124.2 Matthew Sparks, born in the 1750s. (See the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pp. 557-58, for a biographical record of Matthew Sparks who was killed by Indians in Georgia in 1793; we had not determined that he was a son of William Sample Sparks, however, when that article was published.) There may have been still other sons of William Sample Sparks whom we have not yet identified; he had at least one daughter named Rachel.
After spending about eighteen years in that part of Prince Georges County which, in 1748, had been cut off to form Frederick County, Maryland, William Sample Sparks, now a man in his fifties, made one more major move to a new land.
As explained in our article in the December 1989 issue of the Quarterly, he went from Maryland to the Forks of the Yadkin in North Carolina, an area that was then within Rowan County, in or about 1754. He was accompanied by most members of his family with the exception of his oldest son, William Sparks, subject of the present article. Three cousins of William Sample Sparks, sons of his uncle, Joseph Sparks who had died in Frederick County in 1749, also made this journey.
(These cousins, Solomon, Jonas, and Jonathan Sparks, were a generation younger than William Sample Sparks. See the Quarterly of March 1990, Whole No. 149, pp. 3554-61, for an article about Joseph Sparks, died 1749, and his family.)
A probable reason why William Sparks did not accompany his father and siblings to North Carolina in or about 1754 was the fact that he had become a land owner; in all likelihood, he was also married by that time.
It was on July 11, 1749, that William Sparks acquired his first tract of land in Frederick County, Maryland. Before discussing this, however, we must say a few words about land ownership in Maryland in the colonial period in order to understand the nature of William's purchase in 1749.
Maryland had been established as a "Proprietary Colony" in 1633 by a Royal Charter from King Charles I to Lord Baltimore and his heirs and successors. This charter gave only to the Proprietor, through his resident agent, the right to confer land upon Maryland settlers. From the charter, it would seem that the Proprietor (Lord Baltimore) was the sole and absolute landlord while the settlers or planters were his lawful tenants. In reality, however, a grant of land from the Proprietor carried with it most of the same rights that would be those of a landowner today, except that a yearly quit-rent was required (a rather modest amount, actually), and another tax, called an "alienation fine," was charged when the owner" sold his land or when it passed to an heir. This fee was paid by the new owner. The system remained in effect in Maryland until the American colonies won their independence from England.
By 1749, even as far west as Frederick County, "vacant land," i.e., land that had never been granted by the Lord Proprietor, was becoming rather scarce, although an enterprising individual might still find such tracts. Upon receiving a claim, the colony's land office would investigate to determine if it were true that no one else had been granted all or part of the tract. If no prior claim were found, a warrant would be issued to the claimant and a survey taken. There was one other condition, however: the grantee had to prove himself to be a solid citizen who could be counted upon to pay the annual quit-rent. In 1749, the quit-rent was one pound sterling for 500 acres or less.
So it was that on July 11, 1749, the colony's land office accepted the claim that William Sparks had made for fifty acres of vacant land and issued him a "certificate of survey" or warrant. Since William Sparks was quite a young man in 1749, and the fact that his father was not a land owner, we wonder whether he may have married about this time and whether his father-in-law might have "backed" him in this enterprise. Unfortunately, we have found no record revealing the name of William's wife other than the fact that her first name was Ann.
Four months later, on Nov 4, 1749, the colony's deputy surveyor for Frederick County, a man named Isaac Brooke, measured William Sparks's claim.
The system used throughout the colonial period for measuring and describing tracts of land was called "Metes and Bounds." The "Rectangular System" in use today, based on the Principal Meridians, which run north and south, and the Base Lines running east and west, was adopted by Congress in 1785. Under the "Metes and Bounds" system, a known land-mark was required for a place of beginning, and then lines would be followed according to the compass-needle (or magnetic bearing), or the course of a stream, the track of a path or road, or the boundary line of a grant previously made to someone else. Because the place of beginning such a survey might be a tree or even a pile of stones, and the points identified along the way were usually of equal impermanence, one can imagine the confusion that often followed over the years as land owners tried to determine where a fence belonged or a road should be laid out. Farms usually had strange shapes under the "Metes and Bounds" system.
There was another interesting custom in land ownership in Maryland which had been brought from England. Each tract of land was given a name by its first owner, and this name usually continued in use even after the tract passed into the hands of another person. It is interesting to speculate upon the message that a landowner intended to give when he chose a name for his tract.
The document produced by a surveyor was called a patent and was recorded by the Proprietor's agent in the colony's land office. These are found today in the Commissioner Land Office in Annapolis. A copy of that pertaining to William Sparks's fifty acres was obtained a number of years ago from Liber BY & GS, folio 25, and is given below as an illustration of the "Metes and Bounds" system of surveying. As will be seen, William chose the name SPARKS DELIGHT for his tract, obviously expressing his pleasure at becoming a landowner.
The Patent (or survey) of SPARKS DELIGHT reads as follows:
Frederick County ss: By virtue of a Warrant granted out of his Lordships Land Office Qf this Province to William Sparks of said County for Fifty acres of Land bearing date July 11th 1749 I therefore Certifie as Deputy Surveyor under his Excellency Samuel Ogle Esq Governor of Maryland I have carefully laid out and in the name of said Sparks all that Tract of Land called SPARKS DELIGHT Beginning at two Bounded Spanish Oaks standing at the foot of a hill between the said hill and the Beaver Pond and on the East side of Monocacy [River] running thence South three degrees East thirty six perches then South eighty seven degrees West eight perches then North thirty nine degrees West sixty two perches then North seventy four degrees West sixteen perches then North five degrees West sixty perches then South eighty five degrees East twenty six perches then South thirty eight perches then South fifty five degrees East eighteen perches then North nine degrees East forty two perches then South fifty six degrees East sixty perches then North eighty three degrees East forty perches then South sixty perches then by a straight line to the Beginning Trees Containing and now laid out for Fifty Acres of Land to be held of Conococheague Manor Surveyed Nov 4th 1749
pr Isaac Brooke Dty Surv
10 August 1750 Examined and passed
It should be noted that when William Sparks obtained this land, it was in Frederick County, but that when, in 1837, that portion of Frederick County that lay east of the Monocacy River became Carroll County, SPARKS DELIGHT was included in Carroll County.
The description and measurements found in this survey were typical of the system called "Metes and Bounds." A "perch" was 16.5 feet in length, the same as today's rod. The mention of "Conococheague Manor" refers to the fact that Cecilius Calvert, the Second Lord Baltimore and the first Proprietor of Maryland, had set aside this, along with several other large tracts of land, each called a manor, in which it was his plan that the land therein would be leased but not sold. The manor called Conococheague was the one nearest William Sparks's tract of land, but its mention here apparently had only some administrative meaning.
On the same day that the survey of SPARKS DELIGHT was recorded in Maryland's land office (Nov 4, 1749), a deed was also issued to William Sparks that was signed by Samuel Ogle, whose impressive title was "Lieutenant General and Chief Governor of our said Province of Maryland, Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal thereof." This document (the deed) specified that, while William Sparks and his heirs might hold his land "forever," he would be required "at our City of St. Marys at the two most usual feasts in the year, viz. the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary [March 25] and St. Michael the Arch Angel [Sep 29] by even and equal portions the Rent of two shilings in Silver or Gold." This was the quit-rent required of each Maryland landowner, set at the rate of one pound sterling per 500 acres.
As was the custom, the deed also specified that there would be "a fine upon every Alienation of the said Land or any part or parcel thereof." As has been noted, this would be the fee that was required from the purchaser or heir when land passed to a new owner. The amount of such a "fine" was not specified because it could vary in amount as the Proprietor should see fit. It was usually equal, however, to one year 5 quit-rent.
A plat of this tract, with its complicated measurements, has been drawn for us by George J. Horvath, Jr. whose Olde Map Shop is located in Eldersburg, Maryland. His plat is shown on the page 3756.
Taneytown is the nearest town to SPARKS DELIGHT today, being about eight miles southeast. The Taneytown Pike (Highway 140) passes through the tract's southern tip.
Four months after William Sparks acquired his SPARKS DELIGHT, 126.96.36.199 Solomon Sparks, a first cousin of William's father, obtained a warrant for a tract of land comprising ninety-three acres located on the opposite (the western side) of the Monocacy River on Beaver Dam Branch, in what is still Frederick County today. Beaver Dam Creek is a small stream flowing from south to north and joins Little Pipe Creek about two miles west of Union Bridge.
Solomon Sparks's land was a tract that had been granted originally to Dr. Joshua Warfield, who had named it COLD FRIDAY. Warfield apparently transferred his warrant to Solomon Sparks who then had it surveyed in his own name [see Liber BY & GS #4, p. 406]. Three years later, on June 20, 1753, Solomon Sparks and his wife, Sarah, sold this same tract to Matthew Howard for thirty-five pounds sterling [Frederick Co. Deed Book E, pp. 194-95]. Solomon Sparks was one of the cousins of William Sample Sparks who accompanied him the following year to North Carolina. (Solomon was a son of Joseph Sparks who died in Frederick County in 1749.)
Another son of Joseph Sparks (died 1749), 188.8.131.52 Joseph Sparks, Jr., obtained a warrant for 150 acres of vacant land on Oct 31, 1751. It was surveyed for him by Isaac Brooke on Nov 10, 1741 [Liber Y & S, Folio 131-33]. Like COLD FRIDAY, this tract lay on Beaver Dam Branch on the west side of the Monocacy. It is curious that Joseph named his land also SPARKS DELIGHT, the same name chosen by William Sparks for his fifty-acre tract on the east side of the Monocacy. For two tracts of land in the same general area to be given identical names was highly unusual.
William Sparks probably built a cabin on SPARKS DELIGHT shortly after obtaining his deed and began farming the land. His principal crop was surely tobacco. Whether his marriage had come shortly before acquiring his fifty acres or soon thereafter, we do not know, and, as we have noted, our only knowledge of his wife is that her name was Ann.
It appears that William prospered because six years after his first land acquisition, he was able to add to his fifty acres. One wonders whether he may have been assisted by a helpful father-in-law. In any case, on August 13, 1755, he purchased from a wealthy land owner named James Brooke a tract comprising seventy-one acres which lay on the east and north sides of SPARKS DELIGHT.
This was a small part of a huge tract of land (9,078 acres) that had been obtained by James Brooke in 1754 and was named ADDITION TO BROOKE DISCOVERY ON THE RICH LAND. These 9,078 acres stretched out in what is now both Frederick and Carroll Counties "on the Branches of Monocacy River." As a land speculator, James Brooke, like other members of the Brooke family in Frederick County, acquired land primarily to hold it until the desire of small farmers to own land of their own grew to the point that they were willing and able to pay a price that Brooke would find acceptable. He would then sell his investment in small parcels.
William Sparks paid Brooke "three pounds [and] Eleven Shillings Sterling money of Great Britain" for his seventy-one acres, and it was William, not Brooke, of course, who was required to pay the "alienation fine" (2 shillings and 10 pence, sterling) to the agent of the Lord Proprietor, Edward Lloyd, Esquire. The deed was witnessed by Thomas Beatty and Joseph Wood [Frederick Co. Deed Book E, page 824]. Both of these men had figured in settling the estate of Joseph Sparks, William's grand-uncle, in 1749. With the addition of these seventy-one acres, William's farm now had the shape shown on the following page.
Seven years passed before William was able to enlarge his farm again. During that time, Brooke had sold parcels of his 9,078 acres to several men who had thus become William's neighbors. Included among these neighbors were men named Peter Tanner, John and Isaac Everhart, Abraham Hayter, George Geree, Richard Brooke, John McKorkel, John Wimer, George Smith, Andrew Row, and William Currans. By 1762, however, there Still remained unsold some of Brooke's land that adjoined that of William Sparks, and on April 3 of that year he was able to purchase two tracts. The larger of these, comprising 104 acres, lay largely on the west side of the Monocacy River, between tracts owned by William Currans and John Everett. For this tract, William paid Brooke twenty-five pounds; he also paid the "alienation fine" Of four shillings and two pence, sterling. The witnesses to this deed were Charles Jones and David Linn, both of whom were then justices of the peace [Frederick Co. Deed Book G, pp. 463-64]
On the same day, April 12, 1762, William Sparks purchased still another tract from James Brooke comprising forty acres [Deed Book G, pp. 460-61]. This tract lay on the east side of the Monocacy, in what is now Carroll County, and adjoined SPARKS DELIGHT on the south. What is especially interesting about this purchase is the price--only "Five shillings sterling ." This was no more than a token payment. The explanation for Brooke's generosity was included in the text of the deed--it was "for the good will which he [Brooke] beareth unto the said William Sparks and for divers other good causes and considerations.
We can only speculate regarding the basis for Brooke's "good will" toward William Sparks. Perhaps it was because he had been paid a good price for the larger tract which Sparks purchased from him on the same day. Perhaps these forty 40 acres were of poor quality. There is also the fact that when Peter Tanner had bought a tract of 103 acres from Brooke in May 1756, these forty acres had been left surrounded by Tanner1s land and SPARKS DELIGHT. Brooke may have concluded that no one else would ever want this small parcel which had only the river as an outlet. There is also the possibility that William's wife, Ann, may have been related in some manner to James Brooke, and that he did her husband a favor for this reason. William Sparks paid the "alienation fine" in the amount of '1one shilling and seven pence half penny sterling." (James Brooke died in 1767, and in his will mentioned his wife, Hannah, a son named Amos, daughters named Deborah and Elizabeth, and brothers Roger Brooke, Richard Brooke, and Basil Brooke [See Frederick Co. Will Book Al, pp. 299-392].
William Sparks was able to enlarge his farm one more time. He discovered that there was a small parcel of vacant land lying along the west side of the Monocacy River, across from SPARKS DELIGHT and adjoining the tract that Brooke had sold to William Currans in 1761; it had not been included in Brooke's large grant in 1754. The fact that this was "vacant land" must have come to light in connection with his acquisition of the forty-acre parcel, for on the very next day, April 13, 1762, William obtained a warrant for the eighteen acres which it comprised. On June 2, 1762, a survey was made on behalf of William Sparks, thus giving him the privilege of choosing a name for this addition to his farm. The name he chose was WILLIAM AND ANN, his own and his wife's forenames. One may wonder whether possibly Ann could have played a roll in obtaining this warrant. The grant was made official on June 9, 1762, with a patent that was recorded in the Commissioner Land Office, Liber BC & GS #17, Folio 642.
William Sparks agreed to pay a yearly quit-rent to the Lord Proprietor of "Nine Pence Sterling in Silver or Gold" on the same two feast days as specified in his patent to SPARKS DELIGHT in 1749. (Actually, all quit-rents were due on those days throughout the province.) Horatio Sharpe signed the patent for WILLIAM AND ANN as "Lieutenant General and Chief Governor of said Province of Maryland and Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal thereof."
With the additions that William Sparks made to his farm in 1762, he now owned a total of 283 acres. (This has been platted for us by George Horvath, Jr., and we have reproduced his outline on page 3761.) While he could not have qualified as a major landowner in Frederick County in 1762, William Sparks surely ranked as a prosperous farmer, for he owned considerably more land than did the typical farmer of his day. He could not possibly have cultivated all 283 acres by himself, however. He may have hired men to work for him, or he may have rented portions of his land to his neighbors.
Few records from Frederick County dating from prior to the American Revolution survive today, except those pertaining to land ownership, court decisions, and the settling of estates. We have no knowledge of whether William Sparks was a member of any church during his years in Frederick County. The only newspaper published during this period in Maryland was the Maryland Gazette in Annapolis, and the only occasion that William Sparks was mentioned in that was in the issue of August 23, 1759. This was in connection with the settlement of the estate of Isaac Brooke, the man who had surveyed William's first land grant, SPARKS DELIGHT, in 1749. Brooke had died suddenly "in the Prime of Life" according to the Gazette of Nov 18, 1756, and Richard Brooke became the executor of his estate. Richard Brooke advertised for sale a tract of land in Frederick County that had belonged to Isaac Brooke called FRENCHMAN'S PURCHASE which lay on the west side of the Monocacy River, about three-quarters of a mile north from SPARKS DELIGHT. In his notice, Richard Brooke directed interested parties to "Apply to William Sparks living near the land."
A frequent type of notice appearing in colonial newspapers pertained to stray livestock. Joseph Sparks, a cousin of William's father who now lived near William on land he had purcahsed from Raphel Taney on Piney Creek in 1760, was noted in the Gazette of June 13, 1754: "Joseph Sparks, near Piney Creek in Frederick County [now Carroll County], has a stray mare." Then, in the issue for Sep 3, 1761, his name appeared again: "Joseph Sparks, near Piney Creek has a stray mare at his plantation." Custom required that livestock which had strayed onto a farmer's land should be described in an advertisement in order to remove any question that the animal might have been stolen. If the owner then appeared to claim his stray, he was expected to pay for its keep as well as the cost of the advertisement.
We have learned of three settlements of estates in Frederick County in which William Sparks was a debtor. When Margaret Riddle's estate was settled in 1750, he was listed as owing one shilling and six pence for "one days work." [Inventories Book A, No. 1, pp. 65-66] It would appear that Margaret Riddle had "hired out" someone in her household to work for a day for Sparks for which he had not yet paid. An inventory of the estate of William Barrick taken Nov 6, 1750, listed William Sparks as a debtor, but for what reason was not stated [Inventories Book A, No. 1, p. 84] Also, in the settlement of the estate of Edward Beatty in 1752, William Sparks and his cousin, Joseph Sparks, were both listed as debtors [Inventories Book A, No. 1, p. 298-310]. William Sparks was also listed as a debtor in the settlement of the estate of Susanna Beatty in 1755 [Inventories Book A, No. 1, p. 325]. Susanna Beatty and her son, William, lived on what "is known today as Glade Valley Farms near the village of Mount Pleasant." [Quoted from Pioneers of Old Monocacy by Grace L. Tracey and John P. Dern, published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1987, p. 119.]
On April 25, 1761, William Sparks, Joseph Parks, and Richard Wells reported to the Frederick County Court that they had surveyed a new road connecting with the road "from the head of Little Pipe Creek to Baltimore Town." They added that 1'there is very good ground for a wagon road." [Frederick Co. Court Judgements, August Court, 1761, pp. 232-33] (Was Joseph Parks meant for Joseph Sparks?) Their report was in response to a request made by "sundry inhabitants" at the June 1761 meeting of the Frederick County Court stating that they lived between Piney and Great Pipe Creeks?? and requested authority "to clear a road from the Temporary Line drawn by Peter Erb's mill into the new road near the head of Little Pipe Creek." ["Great Pipe Creek" is now called Big Pipe Creek.)
The most interesting reference to William Sparks found thus far among the Frederick County Court records pertains to his having had his "Castor Hatt" stolen on June 20, 1761. Castor hats were made from beaver hides and were highly valued in Europe as well as in the American colonies. William Sparks's hat was considered to be worth the equivalent of 140 pounds of tobacco. (Tobacco often served as a form of currency--the tobacco itself was not usually traded, but rather "shares" of tobacco housed in a central tobacco warehouse.) The person charged with the theft was Thomas Stevenson, a farmer living in Frederick County. He was not only accused by William Sparks; his charge was supported by several of William's neighbors who testified, including William Currance, George, John, and Thomas Norris, William Purseley, Jean Ogullion, Richard Meyrick, John McGlockran, and William Luckett.
The formal charge drawn up against Stevenson was that he "feloniously took, stole and Carried away, against the Peace of the Lord Proprietary, his Good Rule and Government [William Sparks's] Castor Hatt." When Stevenson was brought before the Court on August 18, 1761, he stated that he was "in no ways Guilty of the premises to him in form aforesaid Imposed and therefore for Good and Ill puts himself upon the Country." A jury was then appointed to hear the case, consisting of Joseph, Robert, Archibald, and James Beall, James Duley, Jeremiah Hays, Samuel Ellis, Richard Watts, John Dowdon, James Remmer, Alexander Magruder, and William Cammack. The prosecutor was Thomas Johnson, Jr. Stevenson seems not to have had benefit of legal counsel. In any case, the jury returned a verdict of guilty, whereupon the Court informed the sheriff that Stevenson should "be sett in the Pillory for and during the space of five Minutes and that afterwards he be set to the Whipping Post and there receive on his Bare Body Ten Lashes for his offense ... and that he pay to William Sparks, the sd Proprietor of the Hatt so Stolen as aforesaid, Five hundred and sixty pounds of Tobacco for fourfold thereof and restore to the same William Sparks the Hatt so stolen."
A glimpse of William Sparks's character may be revealed by the next Court record pertaining to this case. After Stevenson had received his corporal punishment, William came before the Court "& releases the fourfold," that is, he declined to demand payment of the 560 pounds of tobacco which Stevenson had been ordered to give him. Apparently, all William wanted was to have his hat back. A friend of Stevenson's named Andrew Owler then paid the fees due the Court and Thomas Stevenson was "Dismist." [See Judgement Records, Frederick Co., Vol. 1761-62]
As has been noted earlier, William Sparks's father, William Sample Sparks, had moved with his family from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin in Rowan County, North Carolina, in, we believe, 1754. Only William, the oldest of his sons, had remained behind. The family had been accompanied by three of the sons of Joseph Sparks (uncle of William Sample Sparks who had died in 1749). These three were Solomon, James, and Jonathan Sparks. It was Solomon, it will be recalled, who had obtained a grant for ninety-three acres of vacant land on the west side of the Monocacy River in the same year that William Sparks received his warrant for SPARKS DELIGHT. Solomon Sparks had called his tract COLD FRIDAY. When he sold it to Matthew Howard on June 20, 1753, for "35 Pounds sterling money," he was making preparation for the move to North Carolina. [See Frederick Co. Deed Book E, pp. 194-95.]
Four other sons of 1.2.5 Joseph Sparks (died 1749) remained in Frederick County: 184.108.40.206 Joseph, Jr., 220.127.116.11 Charles, 18.104.22.168 George, and 22.214.171.124 William. (This William Sparks must not be confused with the subject of the present article.) These four brothers all eventually moved to Bedford and Washington Counties, Pennsylvania. (Material on Joseph Sparks, Jr., son of Joseph (died 1749), has appeared in the Quarterly of March 1955, Whole No. 9; that of December 1960, Whole No. 32; that of Sep 1961, Whole No. 35; that of Sep 1986, Whole No. 135; and the December 1986 issue, Whole No. 136. See the Quarterly of December 1990, Whole No. 152, for an article on Charles Sparks, son of Joseph (died 1749). The June 1963 issue, Whole No. 42, contains information on George Sparks, another son of Joseph (died 1749). Information on William Sparks, son of Joseph (died 1749), appeared in the Quarterly of June 1963, Whole No. 42; March 1984, Whole No. 125; and June 1984, Whole No. 126.)
We have no knowledge of whether or how William Sparks may have kept in touch with his father and other family members in North Carolina. There was no postal service, of course, letters and oral messages were frequently carried by travellers. Since neither William Sample Sparks nor any of his sons could write, any message would have had to have been by word of mouth. A letter was published in The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal of May 1984 (Vol. X, No. 2, p.79) that was written on Sep 27, 1767, by a Rowan County settler named Nicholas Massy to his brother back in Kent County, Maryland, provides a glimpse of the kind of message that William Sparks might have received from his relatives in North Carolina. We quote it here for that reason:
Dear Brother this comes to you two let you know we are all well in good health at present ... Hoping these lines will find you and your family in the same and let me know Whether mother is alive or not ... It was the twenty fifth day of March when we beg ... [there is a hole in the letter here] Five thousand corn hills the 18 or 19 of May and I do not doubt but make thirety barrels of it and we planted three thousand Seven Hundred hills the fifteenth of June and good Corn is Common to see Kent County ... if it is not past full hard for Roasting & a good Turnip patch ... no more at present but Remain your Loving Brother till Death ... please write Back how all our acquaintances is who a [hole] ... home [?] is Dad NB Please to Send your Bells to me by Thomas Huff as they are of no service to you and Send your letter to me Whither you did or not.
[signed] Nicholas Massy
There must have been communication of some kind between William Sparks and his relatives in the Forks of the Yadkin because in 1764, just a decade after his father, brothers, and cousins left Frederick County, William followed them to to their new home. In preparation for this move, on April 26, 1746, he sold his entire farm, comprising some 283 acres, to Christian Newswanger for 400 pounds.
From his name, we can assume that Newswanger was a member of the growing community of German immigrants (Mennonites) in Frederick County, and since neither the words "sterling" nor "gold" followed "four hundred pounds" in the deed, we can probably assume that Newswanger paid William Sparks in "proclamation money" which the had a lower real value (at least twenty-five percent) than the same amount in gold or silver.
The deed which William Sparks signed on this occasion signified a major change in his and his family1s lives, for which reason we quote it here in full. Readers may also find interesting the terminology used in all deeds of that time. It will be noted that in this deed, which was recorded in the Frederick County Court house on the same day that it was signed [Deed Book J, pp. 305-06], the three parcels of land which William had purchased at different times from James Brooke were described as a single tract, but SPARKS DELIGHT and WILLIAM AND ANN were noted separately. The reference to a tract of land called GOOSE QUARTER is of interest--John Everett had obtained a patent for this parcel in 1746.
At the request of Christian Newswanger the following Deed was recorded April the 26th 1764, To Wit: This Indenture made the Twenty Sixth Day of April in the year of our Lord God one Thousand Seven hundred & Sixty four Between William Sparks of Frederick County in the province of Maryland, Farmer, of the one part, and Christian Newswanger of the county & province aforesaid of the Other part, Witnesseth that the said William Sparks for and in Consideration of the Sum of four hundred pounds to him in hand paid By the said Christian Newswanger, the receipt whereof he doth hereby Acknowledge, hath Given, Granted, Bargaind, sold and Confirmed, and by these presents he the said William Sparks doth for himself and his heirs, give, grant, Bargain, sell and Confirm unto the said Christian Newswanger, his heirs and assigns for ever, all that part of three Tracts of Land, Vizt part of a Tract Called the Addition of Brook Discovery on the Richland, all that Tract Called William and Ann, and that Tract Called Sparks Delight Beginning for the out Bounds of the whole at the End of the one hundred and Eighty fourth Line of the Addition to Brooke Discovery on the Richland and Runing thence South Sixty eight degrees west sixty three perches to the End of the third Line of William and Ann, then with said Line Reverst North Twenty one Degrees west Seventy perches, west Twenty four perches to the End of the Sixth Line of a parcel of Land James [Brooke] sold William Currans [Currence] out of the Addition to Brooke Discovery on the Richland, then By and with said Line Reverst North fourteen Degrees west one hundred and Sixty four perches, North Sixty nine Degrees East Twenty one [perches] to the End of the Sixth Line of Goose Quarter, South fifty one Degrees East forty perches, East thirty perches, South Ten Degrees East thirty perches, South Twenty five Degrees East twenty Six perches, North Eighty Six Degrees East Sixteen perches, South thirty Six Degrees East twenty four perches, South Eighty four Degrees East Eighty four perches, North Sixty two Degrees East one hundred and four perches, South Nine Degrees East Sixty five perches, South fifty Degrees West one hundred and Eighteen perches, West seventy four perches, Then with a Straight Line to the Beginning place, Containing and now laid out For two hundred and Eighty three Acres of Land, be the Same more or less, together with all and singular the improvements, Conveniences and advantages thereon or thereunto any wise Appertaining or Belonging. To have and to Hold the Land and premises aforesaid unto him the said Christian Newswanger, his heirs & Assigns for ever, to the proper use & behoof of him the said Christian Newswanger, his heirs and Assigns, and to no other use, intent or purpose whatsoever and the said William Sparks does for himself, his heirs, Executors and Administrators, Covenant, promise, grant, agree to and with the said Christian Newswanger, his heirs & Assigns, the Land and premisses aforesaid, According to the meets and Bounds aforesaid, for ever hereafter against all manner of persons of Claims whatsoever that shall Claim By, from or under him, to warrant and defend, in Testimony whereof the party to these presents hath interchangeably set their hand and affixed their seal the day and year first above written
Sealed and delivered in the presnce of his
Thos Beatty J. Dickson William o Sparks (seal)
mark & seal
on the Back of which Deed was the following Indorsement, To Wit--Received this 26th day of April 1764 of Christian Newswanger, party to the within Deed four hundred pounds, the Consideration money within Expressed.
Thos Beatty J. Dickson his
William o Sparks
Then came William Sparks, party to the within Deed, and acknowledged the same with the Lands and premisses therein mentioned to Be the right of the within mentioned Christian Newswanger, his heirs and Assigns, forever According to the Directions of the Act of Assembly in such cases made and provided, and at the same time Came Ann Sparks, Wife of the said William Sparks, who Being privately Examined out of the hearing of her said husband, acknowledged that [she] relinquished all her Right of Dower to the Land and premisses within mentioned, which she declared she did fully & Volluntarily Without Being induced thereto By any threats of her said Husband or fear of his Displeasure.
Acknowledged this 26th day of April 1764 before
Thos Beatty J. Dickson
April the 26th 1764 Then received of Christian Newswanger Eleven Shillings and four pence half penny sterling as an Alination fine on the within mentined Two Hundred and Eighty [sic] acres of Land by order of Edward Loyd, Esquire, Agent of his Lordship the right honorable the Lord proprietary of Maryland
pr. John Darnall C.Clerk
The wording of this deed is typical of all deeds throughout the American colonies at this time, including the description of Ann Sparks being questioned out of the hearing of her husband as to whether she had given up her dower right to this land of her own free will, although in some colonies a wife did this simply by signing the deed with her husband. In Maryland, only the husband actually signed. (A wife's dower right was usually calculated to be one third of her husband's real property at the time of his death.)
As has been noted earlier, William Sparks signed legal documents by mark, but he did not make the typical X. He drew a small circle, as shown on this deed.
Little has been learned regarding Christian Newswanger. As his name suggests, he was, we are sure, a German immigrant. He did not hold for long the land he purchased from William Sparks. In 1767, he sold a portion of it to Leonard Pauther, and the following year, 1768, he sold other parts to Norman Bruce and Abraham Hayter. He held both SPARKS DELIGHT and WILLIAM AND ANN, however, until August 21, 1771, when he sold them to Michael Trout, another member of the German community in Frederick County. Trout died in 1780, and his land was then sold in order to divide his estate among his widow, Susannah, and their seven children. The Frederick County "Debt Books," in which records were maintained of the quit-rents collected from each land owner, continued to list William Sparks as owner of SPARKS DELIGHT and WILLIAM AND ANN into the early 1770s, but this was because soon after William Sparks moved his family to North Carolina in 1764, the agitation over the Stamp Act caused many Maryland owners to ignore paying their quit-rent to the Lord Proprietor. The whole system of land ownership in Maryland was changed with the American Revolution, of course.
The decision by William Sparks to follow his father and siblings to North Carolina in 1764 may well have related to the growing political unrest in western Maryland. The French and Indian War, which was the American phase of the Seven Years War in Europe, had finally come to an end in 1763, but the threat from hostile Indians continued to be a constant worry. While the Indian attacks against Frederick County settlers had been well to the west of the settlements along the Monocacy River, in the area that now comprises the counties of Washington, Allegany, and Garrett, the stories carried eastward of Indian atrocities received wide publicity. A writer living in Fredericktown (now called Frederick) wrote in July 1763 to the Maryland Gazette: "Every day, for some time past, has offered the melancholy scene of poor, distressed families driving downwards through this town with their effects, who have deserted their plantations for fear of falling into the cruel hands of our savage enemies, now daily seen in the woods."
Although our evidence is quite limited regarding the political attitude of this branch of the Sparks family toward the growing antipathy of American leaders toward the British Crown, there is some reason to believe that those who belonged to William's generation tended to be Tories, i.e., they continued to be loyal to the mother country. Further discussion of this will appear later in this article, but it is possible that William Sparks was increasingly uncomfortable with many of his neighbors' angry opposition to the Stamp Act, which required that a revenue stamp be attached to all legal documents, even the records of court proceedings. In fact, a year following William's departure, at its Nov 1765 meeting, the Frederick County Court actually repudiated the Stamp Act, an action that is still celebrated in the county today on each Nov 23rd. The Maryland Gazette of December 16, 1765, reported that a mock funeral had been held in Frederick and that the legend on the coffin had proclaimed that the Stamp Act had "expired." [See This Was the Life by Millard M. Rice, published in Redwood, CA, in 1979, pp. 273-77.] We suspect that William Sparks would have found this action of the Frederick County Court to be quite reprehensible had he still been a resident of the county at the time.
Another possible factor in William Sparks's decision to move to North Carolina was that land was still relatively cheap in the Carolinas. The 400 pounds he had received for his farm would provide him with a substantial amount of capital in starting a new life in Rowan County.
A word about land ownership in North Carolina may be in order here. To reward eight noblemen who had assisted King Charles II to regain the English throne, the King, in 1663, had granted to them the colony of Carolina. Thus, Carolina was to be a proprietary colony, as was Maryland, with the Crown to receive only a small portion of the profits therefrom. Whereas in Maryland there was one proprietor, in Carolina Colony there were eight, and they had problems from the start. These were too numerous to discuss here, except to note that in 1711 the portion of Carolina that became South Carolina was restored to the Crown. Then in 1728, Parliament authorized King George II to purchase the proprietors' shares, now in the hands of descendants, and to make North Carolina a royal colony. Seven of the proprietors readily accepted the 2,500 pounds offered each of them (along with a share of 5,000 additional pounds for uncollected quit-rents), but one, the heir of Sir George Carteret, refused to sell his share. This was the Right Honourable John Earl Granville (1690-1763) who, with the death of his mother in 1744, became the second Earl Granville. He was then given one-eighth share of the colony, from the Virginia border on the north to the parallel line on the south, which is the lower level of Rowan County.
While Lord Granville was given no role in governing his part of North Carolina, he alone had the authority to sell his land and to collect quit-rents. He, himself, never visited his vast domain; agents acted for him in the land sales.
At the time of the arrival of the Sparkses in the Forks of the Yadkin in 1754, a hundred acres of Granville land could be purchased for only three shillings, plus three shillings silver (or four shillings "proclamation money") each year thereafter as quit-rent. According to his deed, Matthew Sparks paid only ten shillings in silver for his 372 acres in 1761, although there was probably an additional "fee" charged by Granville’s agent. These additional fees charged by the agents and other county officials were a cause of growing resentment among the settlers.
In 1763, the year before William Sparks set out for North Carolina, Lord Granville died, and his land offices were closed. It was assumed, however, that his heirs would soon reopen them and that sales to settlers would resume. Prospective buyers had been quite accustomed to "squatting" on vacant land for a time, often several years, before actually buying it, and this practice continued.
The Forks of the Yadkin (now Davie County), where William's father, brothers, and cousins had gone ten years earlier, was part of the Granville land, and this area became William Sparks's destination when he and his family began their journey in the late spring of 1764. Whether other Frederick County families accompanied them, we do not know, although when the 1765 quit-rent list was prepared for Frederick County, the words "gone to Carolina" followed ten of the names.
In the article devoted to William Sample Sparks in the Quarterly of December 1989, we speculated regarding the route that he and his party had probably taken to the Forks of the Yadkin in 1754. We can guess that now, in 1764, his son followed a similar route.
The likelihood is that William Sparks traveled down the Great Trading Path (also called the Great Wagon Road) from Frederick, Maryland, though Winchester and Staunton in Virginia, to Drapers Meadows, Chiswells, and Wolf Hills, then along the north and east side of the (North) Yadkin River to where it is joined by the South Yadkin. He may have crossed the Yadkin at the Shallow Ford in what is now southeast Yadkin County, or he may have continued a few miles beyond the Fork where his brother, Matthew, had acquired Granville land in 1761, to the Trading Ford near the village of Salisbury. If he chose the latter, he would then have travelled back northward to Howard's Ferry across the South Yadkin.
Based on research among North Carolina official records as well as later family records, Dr. Paul E. Sparks and the present writer are convinced that William Sparks and his wife, Ann, were the parents of ten children. We believe that at least six of these children were born in Maryland, before the family set out for the Forks of the Yadkin. These were, we believe, William, Jr., Matthew, Rachel, Nancy, George, and James. William, Jr., the oldest son, whose name fitted family tradition, was thirteen or fourteen years old in 1764. The other four children of William and Ann, born, we believe, in North Carolina, were named Margaret, Thomas, Benjamin, and Jeremiah.
A map of the Forks of the Yadkin appears on page 3495 of the December 1989 issue of the Quarterly. There we show the exact location of a tract of the 372 acres which William's brother, Matthew Sparks, had purchased from Lord Granville’s agent on April 4, 1761, for 10 shillings sterling. As shown, this tract lay at the very point where the South Yadkin River joins the (North) Yadkin River. (Sometimes to distinguish between the two rivers above the fork, the Yadkin is called the Main Yadkin as well as the North Yadkin.) The tract which Matthew's cousin, Solomon Sparks, purchased also in 1761, lay on the North or Main Yadkin.
It was not until 1836 that the area between the two rivers was cut off from Rowan County to become Davie County. (The name "Forks of the Yadkin" is often used for this area, but it has sometimes been used, also, for a larger area, even including parts of what are now Iredell and Davidson Counties.)
We believe that Matthew Sparks, who was about five years younger than William, had "squatted" on his land for a number of years before he actually purchased it, this being a custom followed by most of the early settlers on Granville lands. We believe that William Sample Sparks, father of William and Matthew, had made his home on Matthew's land. We know from court records that it was in his home that he had a license to "keep an ordinary" (that is, a tavern to accommodate travellers), beginning in 1762. The seat of justice for Rowan County, the town of Salisbury, is located only nine miles further down on the Yadkin River, so Matthew1s land would have been a strategic spot for an "ordinary." His house no doubt stood near the river which formed a natural highway. It is quite probable that William Sample Sparks, his wife (whose name, we believe, was Rachel, although she was surely a second or even third wife), and his younger children, lived near his son, Matthew. (An article about Matthew Sparks and his family appeared in the Quarterly of June 1961, Whole No. 34, pp. 556-66, although at that time we had not determined that he was a son of William Sample Sparks and a younger brother of the William Sparks who is the subject of this article.)
On the map appearing on page 3769, we show the location of other land owners living (or at least owning land) near Matthew's and Solomon's grants prior to Lord Granville's death in 1763, that is, before the land office was closed. While it was assumed at the time that Granville's heirs would soon begin selling vacant land again, for a variety of reasons this did not happen, and it was not until the state of North Carolina confiscated Granville's estate did land sales commence again in 1778. From 1763 to 1778, the only way that an individual could acquire a legal title to a tract of land in the Granville District was to purchase it from someone who had obtained a grant prior to 1763. Families continued to "squat" on vacant land, however, many of whom expected to buy their tracts eventually.
It can be assumed that Matthew and Solomon Sparks had more neighbors than suggested by this map because of the presence of squatters. Regarding the squatters, Jo White Linn has written: "Possessing no legal title to the land on which they lived, they remained virtually invisible in the records, their names not appearing on tax lists, in deed books, nor in will books, since they lacked ownership of real property." [See Mrs. Linn's "Prolegomenon" for Rowan Count , NC, Vacant Land Entries 1778-1789 abstracted by Richard A. Enochs, 1988
It was to the Sparks home(s) on Matthew's land that William and Ann went with their family in 1764.
[Based on research conducted by Andrew Lagle, this map of the lower southeast quarter of today's Davie County, North Carolina, identifies the landowners there at the time William Sparks arrived in 1764. Much of the "vacant" land, however, was occupied by squatters. It was not possible to purchase vacant land between 1763 and 1778.]
The earliest settler in the area now constituting Davie County of whom we have record had been Morgan Bryan, a Quaker, who had settled first in what is now Yadkin County in 1748. After a year or two, Bryan had moved with his grown sons to what is now the northeast corner of Davie County. Morgan Bryan and his seven sons gradually acquired some 5,000 acres, and the area in which they lived came to be called "the Bryan Settlement." Another early settler had been Squire Boone, originally from Pennsylvania and an old acquaintance of Morgan Bryan. He had arrived with his family in either 1751 or 1752. His seventeen-year-old son, Daniel, accompanied him, and in 1756 Daniel Boone, who was destined to become famous, married Rebecca Bryan, daughter of Morgan.
Mention is made here of the Boone family because a description of Squire Boone's cabin has been preserved. It was probably not very different from the cabin in which William Sparks found his brother, Matthew, living when he arrived at the Forks of the Yadkin in 1764. This description of the Boone home was written by a man named H. H. Helper in 1883. Helper had been born And reared near the Boone cabin and recalled its appearance for the historian, Lyman C. Draper, whose papers are preserved by the Wisconsin State Historical Society. Helper said that Boone's one-room house was one story high; its length was 22 feet and its width was 18 feet. Each of the faced logs with which it was built measured 12 by 18 inches, and the roof had a 60 degree slope. There was but one door made of heavy planks which hung on wooden hinges. The door had some nails in it, but otherwise the structure was pegged." The floor was made of oak boards, adzed smooth. The chimney was 7 feet wide in front and 6 feet wide behind, with a deep fireplace. It was built of soapstone rocks with mud for mortar.
During the ten years between the arrival of Williams's father, brothers, and cousins, the population of the Forks of the Yadkin had grown, but not dramatically, for this had been the period of the French and Indian War. While the war had caused hardships in western Maryland, as has been noted earlier, it had been even more devastating for the settlers along the Yadkin River. The French had directed their allies, the Cherokee Indians, to conduct numerous raids against the settlers, although our records of these events are few. We know that Daniel Boone feared so for the safety of his family that either in late 1759 or early 1760, he moved his wife and children to Culpeper County, Virginia, while his parents returned to Maryland. During 1761 and 1762, however, the Cherokees were subdued, and Daniel Boone, who had figured prominently in this war against the Cherokees, brought his family back to the Forks of the Yadkin that year. It will be recalled that it was also in 1762 that William Sample Sparks obtained his first license to keep an ordinary.
So it was that by 1764, when William Sparks arrived in North Carolina, peace had returned to the Forks of the Yadkin. How fascinating it would be today if we could listen to the stories that William's father and brothers had to tell him and Ann of their experiences during the previous ten years. They would also have had many questions to ask William and Ann regarding events during the past decade back home in Frederick County, Maryland.
In his Histories of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, William Byrd wrote in 1728 that "the Soil is exceedingly rich on both sides of the Yadkin, abounding in rank grass and prodigiously large trees; and for plenty of Fish, Fowel and Venison is inferior to No Part of the Nothern Continent." James W. Wall, in his History of Davie County in the Forks of the Yadkin (Spartanburg, SC, 1985), p. 7, has noted:
Davie County in the forks of the Yadkin and South Yadkin Rivers was an ideal place for the pioneer to settle. Here he found gentle rolling hills, valleys and bottoms, fertile soil - both clay and loam - some land already cleared for planting. The climate was mild without extremes, and the area was not subject to severe or frequent storms, drought, or floods. Forests of oak, poplar, and pine furnished aboundant timber and fuel. There were ample grass for grazing and hay, numerous springs and streams for water, and fish and game for food.
The Rev. Jethro Rumple, writing in 1881, described the life of the early settler in his A History of Rowan County, North Carolina (pp. 170-71) as follows:
With the exception of a few articles, such as Iron, salt, a little sugar and coffee or chocolate, pepper and spice, the farm, the flocks and herds yielded all that was consumed at the homes of our people. The table was loaded with home productions.
The operations of the farm were carried on with rude and simple implements and in a primitive way. The market for grain and flour was several hundred miles distant, and the expense of transportation was too great to justify the raising of more than was needed on the farm. The rich new grounds and bottom lands with their virgin soil brought forth a bountiful crop with little labor, and left a large margin of time for fishing and hunting. There was always a "slack season" between the "laying by" of crops and fodder-pulling time. That was the time to hunt squirrels, and the crack of the rifle might be heard around the cornfields on all sides. And then fishing expeditions, were organized to some favorite pond or stretch of the river, where with long circling seine the jumping trout and the blushing redhorse were captured. The farmers' boys knew where the sweetest wild grapes or the most tempting muscadines grew, or where the thinnest-shelled black haws were to be found, and visited them accordingly. Those same farmers' boys also knew the haw trees, persimmon trees, and grapevines in all the country around that were likely to be frequented by the fat opossums in the later fall, and they had their 'possum dogs in good training by the time the first hard frost ripened the persimmons and the opossum himself, and made his flesh fit for eating.
Until the arrival of William Sparks in 1764, his father, William Sample Sparks, had been identified in records kept by the Rowan County Court simply as "William Sparks" or "Will Sparks," although at any time he initiated a record himself, such as when he requested a license to keep his ordinary, he used his middle as well as his first name. After the arrival of his son in 1764, we are quite certain that the clerk referred thereafter to the son when he wrote the name William or Will Sparks.
In North Carolina, from 1760 until after the Civil War, the county court, comprised of the justices of the peace within the county, and whose decisions affected nearly every aspect of the lives of the people, was called An Inferior Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions. In common usage, however, it was called simply the "County Court," and that is the name we shall use in this article.
On July 14, 1764, the Rowan County Court ordered that "a Road be Laid Out the Neares[t] & Best Way from John Howard's Ferey to the Road from Bethabara to Salisbury Near Reedy Creek, runing up from sd Ferey to the Fork to Boons Road." (Bethabara was the central village in the Moravian settlement in what is now Forsyth County--the Moravians had obtained some 100,000 acres of land from Lord Granville in 1752.) Twelve men from the area where this road was to be laid out, including both Matthew Sparks and "Will" Sparks," were directed to perform this task. After this was accomplished, the court, on Oct 11, 1764, ordered that "William Sparks Bee & is hereby Apptd Overseer" to build this road, and that "all the Inhabitants within that District Worke under him." [See Vol. II of Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Rowan County, North Carolina, 1763-TF74, by Jo White Linn, Salisbury, NC, 1979, pp. 29 & 31:vwe are certain that this referred to William Sparks, not his father, William Sample Sparks--this was a task for a man in his forties rather than in his sixties. From this we know, also, that William had arrived and was settled in the Forks of the Yadkin by July 1764. The ferry kept by John Howard was located on the South Yadkin above the northwestern corner of Matthew Sparks's land.
John Howard, who operated the ferry, like the Sparkses, was formerly of Frederick County, Maryland; he was one of the ten landowners there who had been identified on the quit-rent list of 1768/69 as living in "Carolina." He and William Sparks may well have known each other in Frederick County.
Perhaps a reason that William Sparks was chosen by the court as overseer of this road rather than his brother, Matthew, was because the officials were aware that Matthew was about to sell to his brother a major portion of his 372-acre tract. Matthew may well have communicated this offer to his brother while William was still in Maryland, and this could have been a factor in his decision to move to the Forks of the Yadkin. There is also the possibility that William did not want to run the risk of squatting on land that might already be claimed by someone or might not later be granted to him for some other reason. In any case, on April 10, 1765, Matthew conveyed the lower 200 acres of his 372-acre tract to his brother. William paid Matthew fifty pounds in "proclamation money," a portion of the 400 pounds, no doubt, that he had received for his farm in Frederick County. [See Rowan Co. Deed Book 6, p. 139] The witnesses were John Huston and Thomas and William Frohock. (It is interesting to note that Matthew's wife, Sarah, signed this deed with her husband, both by mark. This was not required in North Carolina to assure a wife's relinquishment of her dower right to land, but was often a precaution insisted on by the buyer to preclude a cloud upon the title.
The Yadkin River provided an important source for food for the settlers living near its banks, and to facilitate catching the fish therein, Matthew had built what became known as the "Sparks Fish Dam" located on the North Yadkin. We can be fairly certain that his home was not far distant from his fish dam. The description of the 200 acres which Matthew sold to William contained in the deed was as follows: "... that piece, parcel & Tract of Land lying & being in Rowan County and Butted & bounded as follows, to wit, Beginning at a Dogwood Sapling standing on the Bank of the south side of the Main River at the Fish Dam, Thence runing West 20 chains to a red oak, thence South 20 degrees West 10 chains to a white Oak sapling, Thence South 50 degrees West 30 chains to a pine, Thence South 38 degrees West 21 chains to a red oak on the Bank of the south River, Thence Down the said River thro Various Courses to the Fork, thence up the Main River thro Various Courses to the Beginning..." [Rowan Co. Deed Book 6, p. 139]. (The reference to the "Main River" was to the Yadkin, or specifically to the North Yadkin, above the "Fork," while the "south River" was the South Yadkin.) A surveyor’s chain measures 66 feet.
From this description of the 200-acre tract purchased by William Sparks, we know that his northeast corner was opposite his brother's fish dam. This was doubtless arranged in order that Matthew, who continued to live on his remaining 172 acres, might also continue to benefit from this facility. Two years later, however, on Sep 17, 1767, Matthew sold the remaining portion of his grant to William Haden (or Haiden) for 150 pounds, three times the amount he had received from his brother for 200 acres. Whether this difference was based on brotherly love or simply on a difference in the quality of the land and its improvements, we do not know.
From surviving tax records and the testimony of two of Matthew’s sons when they applied for pensions for their service in the American Revolution, it appears that Matthew and his family continued to live in the Forks of the Yadkin until 1773. Perhaps he and William Sparks formed a partnership in cultivating William's 200 acres, or Matthew may have rented the land he had sold to Haden for several years. In the words of Matthew's son named William (born April 3, 1761), his father had moved from his home on the Yadkin "across the Blue Ridge to a place on New River" in what was then Surry County. This area was cut off to form Wilkes County in 1777 and then Ashe County in 1799. Matthew Sparks was taxed there for the first time in 1775. (See the Quarterly of March and June 1954 for a transcript of the pension application of William Sparks, son of Matthew.)
The earliest surviving tax list for Rowan County is dated 1759, and, although it is incomplete, it contains the names of Solomon and Jonas Sparks. That for 1768 survives and has been copied by Jo White Linn, the leading authority on Rowan County history. It appeared in the North Carolina Genealogical Society's Journal of Nov 1983 [Vol. IX, No. 4, pp. 194-216]. The tax in 1768 was simply a poll tax. Every white male over 16 was considered to be a poll, although men beyond fifty, it is believed, were omitted. Slaves aged between 12 and 50 were also taxed as polls.
To collect the 1768 poll tax, the Rowan County Court divided the county into districts with a justice for each, but the boundaries of the districts were not always clearly understood and, as Mrs. Linn has noted, "some justices included areas alotted to others." So it was that, although we know William and Matthew Sparks were living near one another, William was included on John Ford's list while Matthew, as well as his younger brother, James Sparks, were included in Morgan Bryan's district. Since Bryan's district comprised the "Lower end of the Forks," all three brothers should have appeared on his list, but John Ford, whose district covered roughly what is today Davidson County, seems to have crossed the river to pick up William Sparks as well as at least two of his neighbors, William Giles and James Williams. Solomon Sparks, cousin of Matthew, William, and James, whose land on the North Yadkin was some 12 miles further north (as the crow flies), was included on Jonathan Hunt's list for what was called "the Yadkin River District."
It is quite doubtful that William Sample Sparks was still living by 1768. Our last reference to him among Rowan County records is dated April 15, 1764, when the Rowan County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions agreed to his request that his license to operate his ordinary "at his own dwelling house" be renewed. [See Vol. II of Mrs. Linn's abstracts of these records, p. 554.] It seems probable that both he and his wife, whose name we believe was Rachel, lived out their last years near their son, William, in the Forks of the Yadkin.
On May 11, 1769, William Sparks was reappointed overseer of the "road leading to Boons ford" in the Forks of the Yadkin, an assignment that he seems to have had for the next several years. (This road is shown on the map on page 3769.) On Nov 1, 1774, however, the Rowan County Court ordered that William be replaced by William Haden. This was the same William Haden (or Haiden) who had purchased the 172 acres of land from Matthew Sparks in 1767.
[The records of these appointments are found in Mrs. Linn's abstracts, noted earlier, Vol. 3, p. 104 and Vol. 4, p. 185.]
The reason for William Sparks's replacement as overseer of this road in 1774 was that on 27 January 1773, he had sold to William Frohock the 200 acres that he had bought from his brother eight years before. [See Rowan Co. Deed Book 8, p. 104] Like his brother, William had decided to move his family to Surry County. He received 150 pounds in proclamation money, three times the amount that he had paid Matthew Sparks in 1765. We can assume that he had made a good many improvements on the land during those eight years. In this deed, William was called "Planter of Rowan County," a title more distinguished than "Farmer." Henry Zevely and James Carson witnessed William make his mark on this deed--he drew a small circle as was his custom.
Because of the fluctuation in the value of currency through the years, one way to imagine the value of 150 pounds in proclamation money in 1773 is note the costs of other things. During its August 1774 session, the Rowan County Court set the amounts that John Howard could charge in the operation of his ferry, located just above the land that had been owned by Matthew and William Sparks. Because the South Yadkin (called the "South fork" on this occasion) was only about half as wide as the North Yadkin, he could charge only half as much as Samuel Bryan was allowed to charge for his ferry across the North Yadkin. This meant that Howard could charge 2 shillings and 6 pence to transport a "Wagon & Team with 4-6 horses," but he could charge only one shilling and 6 pence for a "cart with 3 or more horses." A single horse, cow, or steer could cost 2 pence, while a "Footman" could be charged only 1 ½ pence. A man riding a horse "with saddle bags & travel furniture" would have to pay 3 pence; a "horse with load thereon led" would cost 3 pence, also. Howard could charge only one pence to transport a single sheep or hog across the South Yadkin.
"Tavern Rates" were also set during the August 1774 meeting of the Rowan County Court. A tavern (or ordinary) keeper could charge only 8 pence for "Horse stabling 24 hrs with plenty of hay or Fodder in Common woodshed," but if the traveller wished his horse to have "English grass such as Timothy or Clover, and Corn or Oats" he would be charged 8 pence per quart for the latter. For the traveller, himself, lodging for a night with a "good bed & clean sheets," the charge was set at 4 pence; either his breakfast or supper "with hott meat & small drink" would cost him 8 pence. However, if he wanted coffee, he would have to pay an additional 4 pence, making the entire meal cost a whole shilling. "Dinner with a Sufficient Dish of Wholesome well dressed and well served up with meat" might be had for one shilling. For a quart of "Toddy made of West India rum with loaf sugar" the cost was set at one shilling and 4 pence. The tavern keeper was permitted to sell either a "Gallon of West India Rum" or of "Madeira or Vidonia wine" for 16 shillings, but the same amount of brandy or whiskey was only 10 shillings. It may be assumed that tavern keepers did not always have on hand all the items mentioned above.
There were, of course, twelve pence in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound in those days.
William Frohock, who was a land speculator and politician, did not keep for long the 200 acres which he bought from William Sparks in 1773. On Nov 7, 1777, he sold it "to Joseph Haden, Gent[leman]" for 250 pounds, thus making a substantial profit. Joseph Haden and William Haden were brothers, and together they then owned the entire tract that Matthew Sparks had obtained from Lord Granville in 1761.
Whether the two Sparks brothers, William and Matthew, left the Forks of the Yadkin with their families at the same time to seek new homes in Surry County, we do not know. It is quite possible that they had gone earlier without their families to select land on which to settle (squat, actually), although they did not select locations near each other. Matthew chose land in what is now the northwest corner of North Carolina, bordering Virginia on the north, that is Ashe County, while William chose a spot on what is now the Yadkin County side of the line which divides Wilkes and Yadkin Counties. (At the time, this was all Surry County and only recently cut off from Rowan.)
We can only speculate regarding the reason both William and Matthew Sparks decided to move from the Forks of the Yadkin into an area that was largely unsettled, but there can be little doubt that they were influenced by their cousin, Solomon Sparks, who had gone there two years earlier.
Solomon Sparks had come to the Forks of the Yadkin with Matthew in 1754 and had obtained a grant of 250 acres on the west side of the North (or Main) Yadkin.
(In some descriptions of land along the west side of the North Yadkin, the direction is given as "south side" because of the sharp bends in the river.) Solomon's land was opposite the mouth of Muddy Creek, i.e., across from what is now Davidson County. This was about nine miles (as the crow flies) from Matthew Sparks's 372-acre grant. In 1762, Solomon had obtained an additional grant of 290 acres adjoining his earlier grant, but in 1763 he had sold this second tract, part of it to his brother, Jonas Sparks, and the rest to Valentine Vanhauser. Solomon continued to live on his first grant until about 1770/71 when he moved to that part of Rowan County which had just been cut off to form Surry County. He did not dispose of his first grant of 250 acres on the Yadkin, however, until many years later. (He sold 160 acres of this to Zepheniah Harris in 1787 and the remainder to his brother, Jonas Sparks, on May 8, 1788.)
As we look at maps that have been drawn showing roads existing in Rowan and Surry Counties at the time William Sparks must have been pondering how best to transport his family and moveable possessions from his home at the Fork to his destination (today's dividing line between Wilkes and Yadkin Counties), we can speculate that he probably decided to follow the road that he, himself, had helped to build, i.e. the half-mile distance to the Boone Road. Boone Road, an improved Indian path, led northward to a site called Mock's Old Field, then west across Bear Creek where it intersected with a more travelled road called the Trading Road. This would have taken William and his family to within a few miles of where Solomon Sparks had already settled, on the North Branch of Hunting Creek, which was now William's destination as well.
In choosing land on which to settle, according to Jo White Linn, men usually preferred "an area where the terrain was similar to that which they were accustomed to farming. Men accustomed to farming hilly land might pass right over good bottom land on their way to a hilly patch on which they felt more comfortable." [See Mrs. Linn's "Tips for Genealogists Working in North Carolina Records" in the Rowan County Register, May 1986, Vol. I, No. 2, p.82] Did the area where William Sparks chose to settle in 1773 remind him of his farm back in Maryland?
James Sparks, younger brother of Matthew, apparently moved to Surry County (to what became Ashe County) with Matthew, while Solomon's younger brother, Jonathan Sparks, either accompanied Solomon or William when they moved to Surry County. Of the Sparkses who had come from Frederick County, Maryland, to the Forks of the Yadkin, all had moved away by 1773 except Jonas, brother of Solomon and Jonathan. In the Quarterly of March 1964, Whole No. 45, pp. 790-807, we published an article devoted to Jonas and his family, although at that time we had not found the evidence discovered later proving that he was a son of Joseph Sparks (died 1749).
Jonas Sparks was a young man, not yet of age, when he accompanied his brothers and cousins to the Forks of the Yadkin. His name appeared on a Rowan County tax list in 1759 thus proving that he had reached age twenty-one. The fragment of a tax list for 1761 shows that he was living then on the opposite side of the Yadkin River from his brother, Solomon. He had squatted on a tract near Muddy Creek on a small branch thereof which yet bears his name, "Sparks Creek." In a land claim made by one Evan Davis in 1778, the description referred to "Jonas Sparks' Branch." Jonas made some improvements on his land, but he failed to purchase it from Lord Granville prior to January 1762 when one of the Moravian German settlers nearby named Jacob Lash (or Loesch) obtained from Granville's land agent two different tracts totalling 1,384 acres which included the land on which Jonas had been living. [See Rowan Co. Deed Book 6, pp.108-09] It was after this misfortune that Jonas purchased from his brother for only five pounds slightly over 130 acres on the west (or south) side of the North Yadkin [Rowan Co. Deed Book 5, p. 275].
Jonas Sparks and Daniel Boone were about the same age, and because as teenagers and young married men they lived near each other, they became good friends. In 1773, about two years after his brother, Solomon, had left for Surry County and his cousins, William and Matthew Sparks, had followed him, Jonas and his young family set out on an even more adventurous journey.
Daniel Boone had returned from his exploration of Kentucky and invited others to join him and his family as settlers in that new and wonderful land. Jonas was one of five young men to volunteer, the others being Boone's brother, Squire Boone, Jr., and three sons of Morgan Bryan: James, Morgan, Jr., and William. These six families left to follow the "Wilderness Trail" to Kentucky on Sep 25, 1773, according to Daniel Boone's autobiography. Along the way, they were joined by several other families.
The tragedies and hardships faced by these emigrants on the trail to Kentucky, and then in their settlement at Boonesborough, proved too much for Jonas Sparks and likewise for some members of the Bryan family. They returned to their old homes in the Forks of the Yadkin, but in what year we do not know. We believe that Jonas Sparks's first wife died in Kentucky; in 1805 he married a widow named Mary Eakie.
It was on the eve of the American Revolution that William Sparks and his relatives moved to their new homes in Surry County, and one wonders whether the anticipation of those hostilities may have been a factor in their deciding to move to a less populated area. Another factor may well have been that called "the Regulators." During the 1760s, a large number of settlers in western North Carolina had become convinced that their county sheriffs, justices, and other officials were corrupt. It was claimed that a number of sheriffs, who were the tax collectors, were pocketing a large portion of the taxes they collected, and that many of the fees these officials were charging for services were both excessive and illegal. The Royal Governor of North Carolina, Governor Tryon, while believing that these complaints were probably true, feared the people's determination to "regulate" these officials would be more dangerous than the corruption. After a number of incidents of violence, he used force to put down the "uprising." Calling out the militia, mainly from the eastern counties, the Governor was responsible for what came to be called the Battle of Alamance on May 16, 1771, where a force of 2,000 Regulars was defeated with considerable bloodshed. We have no knowledge of where the sympathies of the Sparks brothers and cousins lay in this dispute, but it is quite possible that their decision to move to a more thinly populated area could have been related to the Regulator Movement.
Several records survive which suggest that the Sparkses of William's generation were quite content for the American colonies to remain under British rule. There is ample evidence that a large number of men living in the Forks of the Yadkin were Tories, or Loyalists. There is the story that the militia of the area was so evenly divided among Tories and Whigs that it was agreed that a fist fight between an officer of each party would determine which side the men would take.
Although the Tory leader, Samuel Bryan (one of the seven sons of Morgan Bryan), lost, he continued as the principal leader of the Loyalists in Rowan County.
A call went out in the spring of 1774 to hold a Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In North Carolina, a meeting was held on August 25, 1774, to elect delegates. Following this meeting, Committees of Safety were established in each county which took over the local government. As explained by James S. Brawley, a North Carolina historian, these committees "established prices, collected arms, embodied troops and formed sub-committees to influence the disaffected." The "disaffected" were those citizens who opposed taking up arms against the mother country. As noted, we believe that at least the older members of the Sparks family were among the "disaffected."
In March 1775, Samuel Bryan, whose operation of the ferry across the North Yadkin has been mentioned, secured the signatures of 195 citizens of Rowan and Surry Counties to a pledge of allegiance to the British Governor of North Carolina. Unfortunately, the names of these Loyalists have not been preserved.
In 1778, soon after Jonas Sparks had returned from Kentucky, the new "state" of North Carolina demanded that all of its adult male citizens sign oaths of allegiance to the new state government. When the Rowan County Court met on August 5, 1778, the justices took note of a long list of individuals who had "neglected or refused ... to take the Oath of Allegiance." Among those listed was Jonas Sparks [Rowan Co. Court Minutes, Vol. 4, p.159]. The punishment for refusing to take this oath was the confiscation of one's estate, but this action seems not to have been taken against Jonas, perhaps because he repented his earlier neglect or refusal to sign. Nevertheless, four years later, on Nov 9, 1782, following the surrender of General Cornwallis, Jonas Sparks was brought before the same Court, with five other men, "to Shew Court Cause why their Estates should not be Confiscated." The Court record is disappointingly brief regarding the action taken, but apparently Jonas, as well as the others, was able to explain their earlier opposition to the Revolution, and all of them "were discharged." [Vol. 4, p. 333; these two references are found in Mrs. Linn's abstracts of these court records, Vol. III, pp. 38 & 86.]
We know that Solomon Sparks, older brother of Jonas, and close neighbor of William Sparks in Surry County, remained openly loyal to the British Crown. This is graphically revealed in an application for a Revolutionary War pension application by one George Parks, dated April 10, 1833. Congress had passed legislation in 1832 providing pensions for all surviving Revolutionary War soldiers whether or not they were in financial need, and Parks was one of those who applied. Like many of his fellow veterans, however, Parks could find no documentary proof of his service, which was required by the War Department before a pension could be issued. What veterans with this problem often did, besides seeking affidavits from others who remembered their service was to try to recall in as much detail as possible the events during the war in which they had been participants. This George Parks did in his application. He recalled that at the time of the Revolution, he had lived in that part of Surry County, North Carolina, that was cut off to form Wilkes County in 1777 and that in 1779, he thought "in the fall season," he had enlisted in a "Company of Minute Men" for a period of eighteen months. It was the primary mission of this company, which was commanded by Captain William Lenore, to find men in their neighborhood who belonged to Tory military units. Some they would hang when they captured them, while others were whipped "nearly to death." They also punished civilians who were judged to be Loyalists, but less severely.
One of the incidents recalled by Parks had involved "Old Solomon Sparks," whom he described as "a celebrated Tory." He and several other men from Captain Lenore's Company were determined to punish Solomon for his Tory sentiments, but they knew that he was aware of this danger and was usually armed. In order to entice him out of his house unarmed, Parks recalled how he and his comrades had "employed a Whig from a distant neighborhood and a stranger to said Old Tory, to decoy him out of his house without his gun, under the pretence of being a traveller & inquiring the Road." Parks stated that the stranger "succeeded admirably" and that Solomon had, indeed, stepped outside his house unarmed to point the way for the stranger. The soldiers, who had been hiding, then grabbed Solomon. "He fought bravely without arms," Parks admitted with a certain degree of admiration, and in the fracas, Solomon had "considerably injured this applicant by kicking him." The soldiers had succeeded in overpowering Solomon Sparks, however, and "he was sent down the Yadkin in a Canoe ... tied hand and foot, on his back." Although Solomon's plight must have been quite precarious, Parks recalled that "he repeatedly hallowed 'hurra for King George'," as he floated helplessly downstream. [See Parks's Revolutionary War Pension File, W27456; BLWt. 53670-150-55 at the National Archives]
Who finally rescued Solomon Sparks we do not know, but he did survive his ordeal for he was still living in 1788 when he sold to his brother, Jonas, the last of his land in the Forks of the Yadkin.
We have found no record contemporaneous with the life spans of William Sparks and his brother, Matthew, to reveal how their sentiments regarding the American struggle for independence compared with those of their cousins, Solomon and Jonas, but we imagine that they were similar. As in many families of that period, however, there was surely a "generation gap" on this issue among the Sparkses. We know that three of Matthew’s sons served in the American Army, and, furthermore, a son of Solomon Sparks named John (born February 25, 1753) served the American cause for which he later received a pension. We can wonder what John's reaction was to the punishment meted out to his father by George Parks and the other Minute Men and how Solomon felt about his son's fighting against King George III. (See the December 1955 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 12, pp. 94-104, for a transcript of this John Sparks's pension application--he was a great-great-great-grandfather of our Association's president, Paul E. Sparks.) At least two of the sons of William Sparks are also known to have served in the American Revolution, George and James.
No better example of family division over whether or not to go to war with England can be found than that which existed in the Bryan family. While his brothers supported the Revolution, Samuel Bryan (the ferry operator mentioned earlier) became the first American tried for high treason in North Carolina. He had recruited hundreds of volunteers to fight on the Tory side throughout Rowan and Surry Counties. In 1780, he had been placed on Cornwallis' payroll, and, with 810 Tories, he set out to join the British in South Carolina. His small army was defeated in battles called Colson's Tavern and Hanging Rock, and Samuel Bryan, himself, was finally captured by the Patriots in 1782. It was then that he was convicted of high treason. He escaped death, however, when he was traded for a Virginia Patriot held by the British, and several years later Bryan quitely returned to the Forks of the Yadkin to live out his years.
There is even evidence that James Sparks, younger brother of William and Matthew, served in the American army. This is found in the pension application of William Sparks (born April 3, 1761), son of Matthew, dated Sep 14, 1846. He recalled that in 1778, while his company, under the command of Capt. John Beverly, was camped on the French Broad River, the foot company from Wilkes County in which was my uncle James Sparks, and which marched behind us, built a station, and remained to guard the frontier until our return from the Indian Country. Here I saw my uncle on my return. (See the Quarterly of March and June 1954, Whole Nos. 5 & 6, pp. 29-30, 36-38, for a full transcript of this pension application.)
After the war ended, several members of the Sparks family made claims for losses they had suffered because of "Sundries furnished the Militia of North Carolina, Virginia & South Carolina." Most of the items "furnished" had actually been appropriated by the military without asking the consent of the owners, of course. In 1782, even Solomon Sparks asked for reimbursement from the new government "for 1 Beef, &c" as well as "1 horse." [See Book A, pp. 199 & 232 of Revolutionary War Army Accounts ]
We now return in our narrative to the eve of the American Revolution, when the Sparkses left the Forks of the Yadkin for Surry County.
As has been noted earlier, William and Matthew are believed to have set out for their new homes at about the same time in the spring of 1773, but Matthew settled some forty miles northwest of the sites chosen by William and their cousin, Solomon. Matthew lived in that part of Surry which became Wilkes County in 1777 and then Ashe County in 1799, near the Virginia border. His land was on New River, near the present site of Jefferson. There was probably little communication between the families of Matthew and William during the period of the Revolution, and what little there might have been ceased altogether in the early 1780s when Matthew again moved his family to a new frontier. He went to Georgia, where he was killed during an Indian uprising in 1793.
As we have noted, William Sparks settled (squatted, actually) on vacant land near where his cousin, Solomon Sparks, had chosen to live two or three years earlier. This was on land drained by what was called at the time the North Fork of Hunting Creek. Today this creek is generally called Flat Rock Creek, although on some modern maps it is called the North Hunting Creek. Both it and Deep Creek, the watercourse mentioned frequently in descriptions of the land where William's oldest son, William Sparks, Jr., settled, have sources quite near each other.
Solomon Sparks was not the first settler on the land he chose in Surry County. On Sep 5, 1778, John Cleveland entered a claim [#316] when the state of North Carolina began selling vacant land in what had been the Granville District. In describing the tract that he wanted, Cleveland referred to it as lying "below improvement made by Moses Darnel and sold to Solomon Sparks." This doubtless means that a cabin had already been built there by Darnel into which Solomon could move his family. We shall return to this matter later in this article.
We cannot be certain of the exact date when William Sparks moved to Surry County. We know that he was still in Rowan County on 27 January 1773, for he signed a deed there on that date transferring his land in the Forks of the Yadkin to William Frohock, as has been mentioned. The earliest tax list for Surry County which survives is dated 1771, and on this we find the name of Solomon Sparks with three polls (probably himself and his two oldest sons, John and Joseph). Also appearing on this list is a William Sparks with one poll (himself). There can be little doubt that this was the oldest son of the William of this article, i.e., William Sparks, Jr. He had been born ca. 1750 and seems to have accompanied Solomon Sparks to Surry County.
There are documents which suggest that William Sparks was living in Surry County as early as the spring of 1772, but we believe that they are in error. These are found in the pension application file at the National Archives of William's daughter, Rachel, who applied for a pension in 1843 based on the Revolutionary War service of her deceased husband, John Rose. Rachel had no document proving that she and John Rose had been married, but she thought the ceremony had taken place in 1772. There is good reason to believe, however, that she was mistaken, and that it had actually been in 1773. Nevertheless, she was able to find two people who remembered the occasion and were willing to sign affidavits under oath to this effect. One of those was Charles Johnson who had lived near Rachel's parents both in Rowan County and then in Surry County and who later married into the Sparks family. In 1784, Susannah Sparks, daughter of Solomon Sparks (she was born ca. 1763) became the wife of Charles Johnson. (William Perry Johnson, one of the founders of the Sparks Family Association and until his death our historian-genealogist, was a 4th-great-grandson of this couple.) While there can be no doubt that Charles Johnson did, indeed, remember the occasion when Rachel and John Rose had been married in Surry County, we suspect that his recalling the date as "June 1772" was simply that this was the date Rachel claimed.
AFFIDAVIT BY CHARLES JOHNSON, Nov 25, 1843
As seen in the reproduction of Charles Johnson's affidavit on page 3780, he recalled that Rachel Rose "before marriage was a Sparks, the daughter of William Sparks" and that, although he had not been a member of the wedding party which went to the home of a justice of the peace named Edward Riggs for the ceremony, he had no doubt that they had been "married as they (and their company) said." He also noted that the marriage had been "by having the banns of Matrimony published." This means that the planned marriage of John and Rachel Sparks had been announced at church during three successive Sundays, thus giving ample time for anyone to protest who had reason to believe the marriage should not take place. The alternative method of legalizing a marriage was for the prospective groom to obtain a marriage bond, signed by a bondsman who would be financially liable if it were later discovered there was a legal obstacle to the union. A marriage could be performed immediately following the issuance of the marriage bond by the county court.
As will be noted at the end of Charles Johnson's affidavit, John Bryan certified that he was well acquainted with Johnson and knew him to be a credible witness. This John Bryan was a brother of the Tory, Samuel Bryan, mentioned earlier.
A brother-in-law of Rachel (Sparks) Rose named Sterling Rose was still living in 1843, and he, also, signed an affidavit stating that he remembered the marriage of Rachel and his brother, John Rose, in June 1772, although like Charles Johnson, he had not seen the actual ceremony. He, too, had "remained at her fathers" while the young couple "went with others a few miles" to the home of Edward Riggs where, he was certain, they had been "married in a lawful manner."
Despite these statements, as we noted earlier, we are convinced that the year of Rachel's and John's marriage was 1773, not 1772.
It is interesting to note that, while in John Rose's application for his pension dated August 6, 1832, he stated that he had volunteered "in the latter part of the Sumer or first of Fall in the Year 1779, under Capt. Jarvis, Liet. William Gray, Col. Charles Gordon & Major Jesse Walter to go against the Indians on the head of the Yadkin..." he had not always been a supporter of the Patriot cause. In the Minutes of the Salisbury District Superior Court for March 5, 1777, it is revealed that John Rose had been accused of "signing and encouraging sending a Petition to Josias Martin [North Carolina's Royal Governor at the time] Injurious to the Independence of the State & Other Misdemeanors." The record indicates that Rose, along with several others, then agreed to take the oath of allegiance to the state of North Carolina and was "discharged."
A poll tax list for Surry County for the year 1774 has been preserved. Those subject to the tax were white males over 16 and under 60, plus slaves aged between 12 and 50. If there were more than one white poll in a household, those other than the head might or might not be named, depending upon the whim of the tax collector. In all, Surry County polls totalled 1,528 in 1774, but it must be kept in mind that Surry then included the present day counties of Ashe, Alleghany, Wilkes, Surry, Yadkin, Stokes, and Forsyth. For taxing and militia organizational purposes, North Carolina counties in those days were divided into districts, of which there were seven in Surry County. The part of the county in which William and Solomon Sparks were living in 1774 was called Benjamin Cleveland's District. (Cleveland's name figures prominently in the area's history, particularly in military affairs during the Revolution.) William Sparks was named (he was called "Will Sparks") with his second son, Matthew, who was now of age but still living at home. William's oldest son, William, Jr., was shown as heading his own household, as was James Sparks, the younger brother of William. Solomon Sparks was listed with two of his sons, John and Joseph.
None of the Sparkses were shown as slave owners on the 1774 tax list. In fact, of the 310 heads of households appearing on Cleveland's list, only 22 were credited with owning slaves in the age category to be taxed, and of these, only two owned as many as five, they being Ralph Hudspeth and Hugh Montgomery.
Judging from the sequence of names of taxables recorded by Cleveland, it appears that William Sparks's closest neighbors in 1774 were John Rose, who had been married to Rachel Sparks the year before, and Benjamin Johnson, believed to have been the father of Charles Johnson whose affidavit was reproduced on page 3780. Besides Solomon Sparks, William's other near neighbors were William Riseden, John Greer, Bartley Williams, and Boaman Cass.
An interesting description of life in Surry County at this point in time appears in a letter written by one of the county's wealthiest citizens, General William Lenoir, in 1824. He wrote in response to a query from a man named Ramsey who was writing a history of Tennessee. Lenoir had settled in March 1775 near the site that would become the town of Wilkesboro. General Lenoir wrote:
Surry was frontier country in 1775, including Wilkes, Ashe, and Burke and extending to the Mississippi River. It was thinly inhabited, being an entire wilderness. Then the Mulberry Fields Meeting House was the only place of worship in said county. It was built by the Baptists and very large congregations of different persuasions of people attended the meetings.
The gentlemen generally dressed in hunting shirts, short breeches, leggins and Moccasins; the ladies in linsy petticoats and bed gowns and often without shoes in summer. Some had bonnets and bed gowns made of calico, but generally of linsy, and some of them had on men's hats. Their hair was commonly clubbed sic]. Men generally had long hair and wore it either in a cue or clubbed. Once at a large meeting I noticed there were but two ladies that had on long gowns. One of them was laced genteely and the body of the other was open and thetail thereof drawn up and tucked in her apron or coat string.
They appeared very orderly and devout at meetings, and going to their homes you would find them living well and they would treat you with great hospitality, giving you plenty of pork, beef, bear meat and venison also milk, butter, cheese and honey. The buffaloes and elk were then chiefly destroyed. When you left them, as there were no public roads and few paths, the men would go with you to show you the way until you could thus be accommodated by some other person. You might travel hundreds of miles and not meet with any person who would receive pay. [Copied from the Bulletin of the Wilkes County Genealogical Society, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1976.]
The Mulberry Fields Meeting House mentioned by Lenoir had been organized by a group of Baptists and was located in what became the town of Wilkesboro, the county seat of Wilkes County. Little is known of this meeting house, but historians of the area are convinced that it had been built before the Revolution. It seems highly probable that William Sparks and his family attended this church, at least on occasion. Unfortunately, none of its records seem to have been preserved.
As was noted earlier, while there was an abundance of vacant land in Surry County when William Sparks moved there in, we believe, 1773, there was no way that any settler could obtain a legal title to any of this unclaimed land. Granville's heirs had not been able to reopen the land office, and it was not until Nov 15, 1777, that the North Carolina General Assembly, meeting at New Bern passed the Confiscation Act giving the state authority to sell Granville's land, along with land formerly owned by Loyalists which had been confiscated. Land offices were to be opened for this purpose, and each county's justices of the peace (who comprised the County Court) were to meet to choose an official to serve as "Entry Taker." This individual was to record applications or claims for tracts of land in an "Entry Book." The justices were also directed to chose surveyors who would then measure each claim. Joseph Winston became the Entry Taker for Surry County and continued in that post until 1781. The first land entry for the county under this new system was dated April 29, 1778. (Winston's entry book has been preserved and was published in printed form in 1987 by Agnes Wells, and others.)
During the fifteen years that no one could purchase vacant land, settlers like William Sparks had simply "squatted" on tracts which they liked and which appeared not to have been claimed by any other settler. In some instances, one would be able to purchase improvements that someone else had made on the land in question, as Solomon Sparks had done, but such an arrangement carried with it no title to the land itself. The squatter cleared and cultivated "his" land, and built improvements" with the hope that at some future time he could obtain a legal title. So it was that William Sparks had chosen his tract on North Hunting Creek. His tract was located less that a mile south of what later became the site of the tiny village called Cycle. As has been noted previously, William's tract was included in Yadkin County when it was cut off from Surry in 1850.
Highway 421 passes today very near the spot where William, with the help of his son, Matthew, made his improvements. There is the possibility that, like Solomon, William may have been able to buy the improvements, including a house, that someone else had built on the land. William's oldest son, William Sparks, Jr., had chosen land for himself about three miles northeast of his father.
With the capital that William Sparks had in hand following the sale of his land in the Forks of the Yadkin, he was able to do more than just build (or improve) a cabin for his family on North Hunting Creek; he also constructed a grist mill for the benefit not only of himself but for his neighbors as well. A grist mill was essential to every community in those days, providing a service for which others were glad to pay, although usually in kind. For many years, deeds for land (after 1778) near William's mill contained references to "Sparks Mill Tract."
In 1777, North Carolina's General Assembly passed legislation creating the county of Wilkes to become effective in the following February. Most of the new county had been formerly part of Surry County. When the dividing line was drawn be between Wilkes and Surry, all of the land occupied by William Sparks remained in Surry County, adjoining the new line on the east. Solomon Sparks's land just above William's, however, was divided, with 340 acres remaining in Surry and 150 acres now in Wilkes. A description survives of the running of this dividing line in the report of the commissioners who had been assigned the task. Because it contains specific mention of Solomon Sparks, we copy it here:
... Beginning on Rowan County line about half a mile below Daniel Rashes at White Oak Standing in the head of a Branch of Hunting Creek thence north Crossing the mulbery Field Road abot haft a mile below Hamlins Old Store House thence through Solomon Spark's Plantation leaveing the sd Sparks's House in Surry County thence Crossing the Brushey mountain at the head of the nort fork of Swan Creek thence crossing the Yadkin River a little below Capt Parks's & through the Lower end of Carrols Plantation on the north side of sd River thence Crossing the Big Elkin at the long Sholes thence Crossing the south fork of Mitchels River abot half a mile above Riggs 5 Road, thence crossing Mitchels River a little below John Scott's Crossing the Top of the Poiney nobb to the main Ridge of mountains abt Two miles west of Fishes Peak, thence to the Virginia Line. The above line being Run Exactly Twenty six miles west of Surry Courthouse agreeable to act of Assembly
Commissioners Henry Spier
[Copied from pp. 276-77 of David Leroy Corbitt's The Formation of the North Carolina Counties, 1663-1943, Raleigh, 1950.]
There was a rush by settlers throughout the old Granville District in 1778 to make claims for the vacant land now made available by the Confiscation Act of the General Assembly. In making a claim, one's first step was to prepare, or have prepared, a written description of the tract one wished to acquire, including the name of the nearest watercourse. With this document, one then went to the Entry Taker who, for a fee of sixteen shillings, would enroll one's name in his Entry Book, with an estimate of the number of acres claimed along with the written description. The Entry Taker assigned a successive number to each entry. There followed a three-month waiting period to give interested parties opportunity to file an objection. Where there were conflicting claims, the matter was brought before the County Court for a jury trial. If and when a claim was determined to be clear, a warrant was issued followed by a survey of the tract by the County Surveyor or one of his deputies. For this there was a fee of thirty shillings for every 300 acres, plus three shillings for each 100 additional acres. The surveyor was assisted by two chain carriers (or bearers), usually relatives or neighbors of the person making the claim. The law required that they be at least twelve years of age. The resulting survey frequently revealed a different number of acres than had been estimated by the claimant.
After the survey was completed, a copy of the surveyor's plat was sent to the Secretary of State who was supposed to issue grants, endorsed by the governor, twice each year, on April first and Oct first. The Secretary of State charged a fee of five shillings for making out and recording the grant, and the Governor's secretary charged three more shillings for attaching the "great seal." When he finally received the grant (deed, actually), the claimant was to have it recorded at the courthouse.
Whenever and wherever government land has been offered for sale, there have been land speculators--men with money to invest with the hope that the price would increase. Even though the fees mentioned above were a burden for many, the danger was that another person able to pay them would "steal" the tract on which one had squatted. In recognition of this the North Carolina legislators had provided some protection for the squatters. In judging a claim, the Entry Taker and the County Court were to give preference to a person who had settled on and improved land for at least seven years prior to 1777. In 1778, the word "improvement" was defined by the State Assembly as "erected a House thereon, or cleared, enclosed and cultivated a part thereof." This "prior claim" provision, however, extended only to 1 January 1779. After that date, the squatter of seven or more years had no advantage over a newcomer.
There was another important provision in the Confiscation Act. As Richard A. Enochs explained in 1988 in his foreword to his Rowan County, NC, Vacant Land Entries, 1778-1789, p. ii: "Enterers, except guardians claiming in the right of an orphan or those in military service, WERE TO TAKE AN OATH OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE STATE." (Capital letters added by this writer). On July 24, 1778, when a man named George Philips made a claim for a tract of land located on "the North Fork of Hunting Creek," he described it as adjoining "the claim of William Sparks, Senr." The Philips claim was assigned #310 in the Surry County Entry Book. Claim #311, recorded on the same day for Thomas Yates, was also for land described as lying on the North Fork of Hunting Creek "joining William Sparks and William Willcocks."
No claim, however, was registered by William Sparks for the tract on which he had settled and built his grist mill, it being the land referred to by Philips and Yates in their adjoining claims.
While no records have been found to explain why William Sparks failed to enter a claim, his reason for not doing so was probably because of the requirement mentioned earlier--that all claimants must take the oath of allegiance to the state as the legal government of North Carolina. As we have noted earlier, Solomon Sparks was certainly a Loyalist. We also know that he and William lived on nearly adjoining land and that they were close friends as well as being cousins.
We strongly suspect that William, likewise, held Loyalist convictions.
The Revolution was far from over in 1778 and 1779, and many of the inhabitants of western North Carolina remained convinced that the Patriots would lose. If one remained loyal to the King in his heart, he could not, in good conscience, take an oath renouncing him. Following is the text of the oath of allegiance which we believe William Sparks could not bring himself to sign, even though this meant that he could not register a claim for "his" land.
I will bear Faithful and true Allegiance to the State of North Carolina and will do the utmost of my Power, Support, Maintain and defend, the Independent Government thereof, against George the 3rd, King of Great Britain and his successors and the attempts of any other Person, Prince, Power, State or Potentate, who by secret Arts, treason and Conspiracies or by open Force shall attempt to Subject the same, and will in every respect conduct myself as a peacefull orderly subject and that I will disclose and make known to the Governor, some member of the Council of State or some Justice of the Peace all treasons, Conspiracies and attempts committed or intended against the State that shall come to my knowledge, So help me God.
A study of the entry books of both Surry and Wilkes Counties reveals that a man named William Terrell Lewis entered a large number of claims in both counties for tracts of land containing "improvements" that had been made by others. He was a man of some means. He was credited with owning fifty-eight slaves when the 1790 census was taken, for example; he was also a high ranking officer in the Surry County Militia as well as a "bounty hunter" as shown by the fact that he received monetary rewards from the state on a number of occasions for identifying and locating army deserters and draft-dodgers. Because of these activities, Lewis was probably quite aware of which settlers might be reluctant or unwilling to take the required oath and thus be in no position to protest when he laid claim for land they had spent years improving. He actions were legal, but his ethics might be questioned. Other members of the Lewis family (Joel and Micajah Lewis) appear to have pursued the same tactics.
So it was that on Sep 7, 1778 (a Monday), William T. Lewis entered a Surry County claim [#680] for 200 acres "on the waters of Hunting Creek including William Sparks' mill and plantation." On the same day, Lewis entered two other claims for land already settled in Surry County, one being a 250-acre tract on the north side of the Yadkin River on which William Riggs had built his home [#679]. The other was for 200 acres on Deep Creek, "including George Robards plantation" [#681].
From the surviving records, it seem apparent that, upon learning of Lewis' action, William Sparks attempted to save his home and investments by selling his mill and improvements to his son, Matthew Sparks. As a member of the next generation, we can speculate that Matthew had no objections to taking the oath of allegiance--perhaps he had already done so.
Because he had no legal title to the land, William could not give a deed to his son, so he made the transfer in the form of a "Bill of Sale." He did this on Sep ber 12, 1778, just six days after Lewis had registered his claim. The recorded copy of this document reads as follows:
BILL OF SALE
Know all men by these presents that I William Sparks of the County of Surry and State of North Carolina for and in Consideration of the Sum of one Hundred Pounds to me in hand paid by Matthew Sparks of the County and State aforesaid have Bargained and sold unto the Said Matthew Sparks One Grist Mill and Improvement of Land lying and being in Surry County on the North fork of hunting Creek Which Mill and Improvement I do warrant unto the Said Matthew Sparks from any person or persons Laying any Just Claim thereunto Except the Lord of the Soil Given under my hand this 12th day of Sep 1778
William O. Sparks
North Carolina Surry County Nov Court 1778
The Execution of the within Bill of sale was aknowledged in open court by the sd Wm Spark and ordered to be Recorded
Recorded according &c
[Surry Co. Will Book 1, p. 121] [signed] Jo Williams C C
On the Monday following the signing of this bill of sale, Matthew Sparks appeared before the Surry County Entry Taker, Joseph Winston, to challenge the claim made by Lewis. This was called making a "caveat to the claim," and the law required that such a caveat then be filed with the Secretary of State's office. Winston was also required to turn the dispute over to the County Court for a jury to determine who was the rightful claimant. He wrote in the margin of the Lewis: "Sep 14, 1778--caveated by Matthew Sparks--returned to Court."
When the Surry County Court met on Nov 11, 1778, four justices were present (John Hudspeth, William Hall, Michael Howzer, and William Hankins). They listened to William Sparks's explanation of the sale of his mill and improvements to his son, as well as Matthew's challenge of the claim of William T. Lewis for his father's land. Unfortunately, court minutes of this period are almost always quite brief, and the only entry regarding this matter by the clerk reads: "Deed from William Sparks to Matthew Sparks." From this entry, however, it appears that the justices accepted William's bill of sale as though it had the authority of a deed. The clerk, for a reason we do not understand, recorded this document in the county's will book rather than in its deed book, even though it was customary to record bills of sale with the deeds rather than among the probate records.
Subsequent records prove that Matthew Sparks did, indeed, come to own the land upon which his father had built the mill as well as the mill itself. Whether Matthew had to compensate Lewis in some manner, we do not know--no formal grant of the land to Matthew by the state has been found. Many years later, however, following an adjustment in the dividing line between Wilkes and Surry Counties, a grant was issued to Matthew by the state on December 3, 1795, (#2054) for 350 acres which included "Sparks' former survey." [Surry Co. Deed Book I, p. 437]
Curiously, on Nov 12, 1779, William T. Lewis transferred to William Sparks a warrant for a 200-acre tract he had obtained on the same day (#1734). This tract was described in the warrant as "near the waters of Deep Creek, including William Cates's Improvement." In making the transfer, however, Lewis stipulated: "I Transfer this warrant to Wm. Sparkes that he obliges him self not to Lay it on the place it calls for but to put it on some other land that he may chuse at his own Risk [signed] Wm. T. Lewis.1' Why Lewis made this transfer to William remains a mystery.
From subsequent tax lists of Surry County, it appears that William Sparks was able to use this warrant to acquire a tract on a spur of Brushy Mountain about three miles northeast from his mill, near land which his oldest son, William, Jr., had acquired. This tract, described as Joining Gilbert Keens Line," and comprising 200 acres, was shown on a 1781 tax list for Surry County. This tax list also credited William with five horses and nine cattle, as well as "40 pounds of money at interest." It was not until July 19, 1794, however, that William actually received the grant from the state for this land. [See Surry Co. Deed Book G, p. 240) The chain carriers were James Sparks and Thomas Sparks.
While the record pertaining to the attempt by William T. Lewis to appropriate to himself the land on which William Sparks had squatted is not entirely clear, there is less mystery regarding Solomon Sparks's loss of his land. Mention was made earlier regarding the reference to Solomon's "plantation" in the report of the commissioners charged with determining the dividing line between Surry and Wilkes Counties in 1777. The line had been drawn through Solomon's "plantation," leaving his house and the bulk of "his" land in Surry County while the smaller part now lay in Wilkes County. This tract, on which one Moses Darnell had squatted initially, contained 490 acres. It will be recalled that Darnell had sold his "improvement," which doubtless included a house, to Solomon, but, of course, Solomon had no title to the land itself. We can assume that Solomon had continued to make improvements with the expectation that, eventually, he would be able to purchase this land from Granville's heirs. The line drawn by the commissioners had left 340 acres, including Solomon's house, in Surry County and 150 in the new county of Wilkes.
Being the "celebrated old Tory" that he was (using the words of Thomas Parks), Solomon Sparks could scarcely have taken the oath of allegiance required in order to enter a claim when the state of North Carolina authorized the sale of "vacant" land beginning in 1778. Not surprisingly, the same William T. Lewis who tried to "steal" William Sparks's land and mill, also entered a claim for the 150 acres of Solomon Sparks's "plantation" that lay in Wilkes County. He did this on Nov 29, 1779. [Wilkes Co. Entry #1322 ] Another wealthy land speculator, however, had gotten ahead of Lewis in making a claim for that part of Solomon's land lying in Surry County. This was Richard Goode, another Surry County Militia officer and, beginning in 1779, a justice of the peace. On August 13, 1778, Goode made claim to "340 acres of land in Surry County on the waters of Hunting Creek including Solomon Sparkes improvement for compliment." [Surry Co. Entry #537] No caveat was entered against either claimant, and in due course Richard Goode and William T . Lewis acquired titles to the land that Solomon Sparks had once considered to be virtually his own. Neither man seems to have been in a hurry to pay for the required survey, however. Lewis did not receive his deed from the state for the 150 acres in Wilkes County until Oct 23, 1782 [Wilkes Co. Deed Book A-1, p. 290], and it was not until Oct 13, 1783, that Goode obtained his deed for the 340 acres he had claimed in Surry County [Surry Co. Deed Book B, pp.352-53].
Richard Goode permitted Solomon Sparks and his family to continue to occupy their house and to farm the land, although he probably charged them rent. A document dated 1 January 1791, proves this. On that date, Henry Speer, a deputy surveyor for Surry County, made claim to a 300-acre tract which may have been land confiscated from a Loyalist [Surry Co. Entry #0120]. In making his claim, Speer described the tract as "300 acres on the waters of Hunting Creek adjoining the south side of Richard Goode's land whereon Solomon Sparks now lives including the long meadow and both sides of the road that leads from Allin's Iron Works Mines at Yeate's place." A survey of this tract was made for Speer "Beginning at a pine the second corner of the old Mill Tract in Matt Sparks line." Here we have proof of how close the land on which Solomon Sparks had squatted was to the tract on which William Sparks had built his mill.
The sons of Solomon Sparks must have had strong attachment to their father's "plantation," as it had been called by the commissioners who had surveyed the line between Surry and Wilkes Counties in 1777. On 12 January 1791, Solomon Sparks, Jr. purchased from William T. Lewis the 150 acres which lay in Wilkes County, for which he paid Lewis six pounds and eight shillings [Wilkes Co. Deed Book F-I, p. 153]. Robert Lewis and Joseph Sparks, another son of Solomon and Sarah Sparks, witnessed this deed. (Solomon Sparks, Jr. was born ca. 1764; an article about him and his family appeared in the Quarterly of June 1959, Whole No. 26, although at that time we did not realize that the land which he purchased from Lewis had been part of his father's "plantation.")
On August 11, 1792, Reuben Sparks, born ca. 1755, who was another of the sons of Solomon and Sarah, purchased the 340 acres in Surry County on which his parents' home was located. He paid Richard Goode "fifty pounds current money." [See Surry Co. Deed Book E, pp.229-230] The witnesses to this deed were John Cooley, Sr., John Cooley, Jr., and Hannah Cooley. (For biographical information on Reuben Sparks, see the Quarterly of Sep 1967, Whole No. 59.)
On March 8, 1779, Matthew Sparks had made claim [#1466] for "200 acres of land in Surry County on the top of Brushy Mountain adjoining William Sparks's and Simon Leach." (This was William Sparks, Jr.) No one contested his claim, and a year later, on March 9, 1780, Matthew transferred his warrant for this tract to his father for whom a survey was made the same day by Henry Speer, Deputy Surveyor for Surry County. Speer noted in his survey of this tract that he began his measurements "at William Sparks Junr. Beginning corner." William Sparks, Jr. and John Gwin served as chain carriers. It was probably not necessary for William Sparks to take the oath of allegiance in order to receive the warrant for this vacant land as a gift from his son.
Just when William and Ann Sparks left their home and mill on the North Branch of Hunting Creek (now called either Flat Rock Creek or North Hunting Creek), to move to near land drained by Deep Creek on Brushy Mountain, we do not know. We assume that they settled on the 200-acre tract obtained for William by his son, Matthew. about 1780. They thus came to live very near their eldest son, William Sparks, Jr., and it was there that they spent the remainder of their lives.
William Sparks, Jr. had become a "squatter" on Brushy Mountain as early as 1771. On Sep 17, 1778, he laid claim [#734] to the tract he had chosen.
In his claim, William Sparks, Jr. described the tract as lying "on the top of Brushy Mountain." [See Surry Co. Claim #1468 and Surry Co. Deed Book B, pp. 236 and 245]
In Surry County (the part that is now Yadkin County), Brushy Mountain is mentioned frequently in land records of the period under study here. Across the line in Wilkes County, however, there are the Brushy Mountains, causing considerable confusion for one who has never visited the area. Bill Sharpe, in his A New Geography of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC, 1958), in his chapter on Wilkes County, wrote:
The Blue Ridge crosses the extreme part of [Wilkes] County, trending a westerly direction, attaining a width in the county from one-half mile to 3 miles, and an elevation of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The Blue Ridge which is the continental divide--presents an abrupt face to the east, but sends long ridges down into the plateau.
A curiosity is the Brushy Mountain range, a spur of the Blue Ridges running off from the parent range at a right angle and occupying the southern border. These low, confused ridges reach a height of from 1,500 to 2,500 feet and occupy a bilt of from 1 ½ to 6 miles wide. They are deeply dissected by narrow valleys and ravines. Their slopes vary from gentle to steep and their tops are narrow but comparatively smooth. [Vol. II, p. 1,084]
In his chapter on Yadkin County, Sharpe wrote:
[Yadkin County] sits high on the northwest plateau, backed up to the foothills of Wilkes and cradled in the generous curve of the Yadkin River. Its rolling landscape is one of small, tidy farms and quiet, middling-sized towns.
A spur of the Ridge, the Brushy Mountain range, wanders gently over the county's upper left hand corner, thrusting up one peak to 1,590 feet above sea level. The average elevation is 1,000 feet. Numerous streams, all emptying into the Yadkin, thoroughly drain the rolling to broken floorlands. [Vol. IV, p.2229]
In part grass-covered in William Sparks's lifetime, Brushy Mountain in Surry, now Yadkin County, called "spur of the Ridge [of] the Brushy Mountain range" by Sharpe, was attractive to a number of early settlers because of the prevalence there of wild game. Not all of the wild animals on the mountain were valued, of course. Wolves and wild cats were especially troublesome because they preyed upon the settlers' livestock. To encourage their elimination, the county offered a bounty for any that were killed. When the Surry County Court met on August 18, 1787, for example, the clerk recorded the fact that "William Sparks, Senr." had presented proof, probably in the form of severed ears, that he had killed "7 young wolves," while his son, "Wm. Sparks, Junr." was rewarded for having killed two wild cats.
In 1789, William Sparks obtained a grant in his own name for 200 acres "on the South Side of Brushy Mountain11 through which Deep Creek flowed [Surry Co. Deed Book E, pp.7-8]. By this time, of course, the Revolution had been won and the taking of oaths of allegiance was a thing of the past, except for foreigners.
A number of Surry County tax lists survive from the close of the American Revolution to after 1800. During the 1780s, William Sparks's name appeared regularly, as did the names of his sons, William, Jr. and Matthew.
When the first federal census was taken in 1790, William Sparks's name appeared on that for Surry County, as did also the names of his sons William, Jr., Matthew, George, and Thomas. The 1790 census enumerated households simply as free males over sisteen, free males under sixteen, and free females of all ages. Besides William and Ann, their household included a male under sixteen. Ann was surely too old for this to be a son of hers and William's; we can only conjecture that he may have been a grandson. A daughter of William and Ann named Margaret, who was born ca. 1764, married William Gibson in 1782. He lived on Blues Creek in Surry County. We believe that Margaret died within a few years of her marriage and that it is possible that she left a son who was taken into the home of her parents. This is only a conjecture by the present writer, however.
On February 26, 1791, William Sparks purchased a tract of 100 acres from Joel Lewis for fifteen pounds. This tract adjoined some of William's own land as well as land owned by James Parsons. The witnesses to this deed were "Wm. T. Lewis [and] William Sparks, Junr." [See Surry Co. Deed Book E, pp.134-35]
This was the last occasion on which William Sparks acquired land. On March 6, 1800, he sold to his son, George Sparks, the 200-acre tract that he had obtained from the state in 1789. In this deed, the tract was described as located on "the South side of Fox Knob," a detail not included in the earlier description. George paid his father "the sum of forty Pounds Current Money of the State of N. Carolina." The witnesses on this occasion were "Wm Cook Senr. [and] Saml. Marsh." [See Surry Co. Deed Book K, pp.167-68]
In 1801, William Sparks sold to his son, Benjamin, the 200 acres that he had obtained after William T. Lewis had transferred to him a warrant which Lewis had obtained from the state in 1779. It will be recalled that Lewis had required, however, that William "not Lay it on the place it calls for but to put it on some other land that he may chuse at his own Risk." Although he did not receive a clear title until 1794, William had used the warrant to obtain a 200-acre tract near his other land on Brushy Mountain "joining Gilbert Keen's line." Benjamin Sparks paid his father "fifty Pounds Current money of the state of North Carolina" for this tract on 3 February 1801. The witnesses were William's son, George Sparks, and a neighbor named Richard Gentrey (or Gentry) who was also a Baptist preacher. [See Surry Co. Deed Book K, p. 179]
It is probable that William Sparks's health had failed when he sold these two tracts of land to these two sons. On both of the deeds, he made an "X" as his mark rather than carefully drawing the small circle as had been his custom.
The federal census of 1800, like that for 1790, called for only the name of the head of each household, with all members, including the head, then enumerated in age categories. There were more categories in 1800 than in 1790, however. Again, in William Sparks's household, besides Ann (who was enumerated as a female over forty-five) there was a child, a male shown in 1800 as aged between ten and sixteen. It would appear that this was the same child shown in William's household in 1790, whom this writer believes may have been a grandson.
On December 21, 1801, William Sparks made his last will and testament. Whether he had made an earlier will which this superseded, we do not know. Fortunately the original of this will has been preserved in the North Carolina State Archives. It is reproduced on the following page.
As seen, William Sparks made no mention of being ill, but he must have sensed that death was approaching. At this time in American history, age seventy-five (or thereabout) was considered to be remarkably old. As he had done in signing the deeds noted above, William Sparks made his mark on his will with an awkward "X" rather than the dainty circle of the past.
A photographic reproduction of the original will of William Sparks which is preserved at the North Carolina State Archives in Raleigh. This has been reduced by about 40 percent.
Following is a transcription of the will of William Sparks:
In the Name of God Amen I William Sparks of the County of Surry and State of North Carolina Being of sound and perfect mind and memory Blessed be God do this 21 Day of December 1801 make and Publish this my Last will and Testament in manner following Viz -
first I will and Desire my Loving Wife Ann Sparks to have her Feather Bed and Furniture and One Cow and Calf and her Chest During her Life All the Rest of my Estate Be it Land or Moveable propertie or whatever to be found of my propertie may be Sold and then the money Equally and peaceably divided amongst my Children and wife She Taking an Equal Share with One of the Children and I do Constitute and Appoint William Wilcox William Sparks Thomas Sparks and George Sparks Executors of this my Last will and Testament and Trustees for my wife and Other Children In Witness where of I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and Year Above Written
Signed Sealed published and declared By the Said William Sparks the Testator as his Last Will and Testament in the presence of us who were present at the Time of Signing and Sealing thereof
NB the words Estate and Executors was
Interlined Before Assigned Text
William X Sparks (seal) mark
Jeremiah Sparks mark
Major Austill Juat mark
When the will of William Sparks was recorded in Surry County Will Book 3, p.52a, the following probate information was added:
State of North Carolina, Surry County, May Session A.D. 1802
Major Austill, one of the subscribing witnesses to the foregoing last will and testament of William Sparks, made oath that he saw the said William sign publish and declare the same to be his last will and testament that he was of sound disposing mind andmemory and at the same time he [saw] Richard Gentry and Jeremiah Sparks sign the same as witnesses thereto: which was ordered to be recorded.
Recorded accordingly Jo Williams CC
From this court record, we know that William Sparks died sometime between December 21, 1801, and May 1802. It is probable that his death occurred in 1802, but we cannot be positive.
It is probable, also, that it was Richard Gentry who wrote the will for William Sparks as well as signing as a witness. Richard Gentry was a Baptist preacher. This suggests that William Sparks was probably a Baptist, since he obviously called on Richard Gentry to assist him to made his will.
From William Sparks's will, we know that his wife, Ann, was still living in 1802. It seems odd that, except for her feather bed, a cow and calf, and her own chest, William left his wife only a child's portion of his estate. Under the law in North Carolina at the time, this was the minimum that a wife could receive as her dower right. On the other hand, it is possible that William had given Ann the money that he had received from selling the two tracts of land to his sons, George and Benjamin, and/or there may well have been verbal arrangements for one or more of William's and Ann's children to care for Ann during her remaining days. We have no further information regarding her.
From a genealogical point of view, it is unfortunate that William Sparks did not name each of his children in his will. He named three of his sons, William, Jr., Thomas, and George, as executors, along with his son-in-law, William Wilcox, who used the name "Wilcockson," not Wilcox.
William Sparks, Jr. did not participate in the settlement of his father's estate. Sometime prior to the summer of 1798, he had moved to Burke County, North Carolina, for on August 10, 1798, he sold the 350 acres of land that he owned "on the top of Brushy Mountain" to David Weatherspoon, and in that deed he was described as "William Sparks, Junior of Burke County.
William Wilcockson, Thomas Sparks, and George Sparks, as executors of the estate of William Sparks, carried out his directions that his real and personal property be sold. Thomas Sparks bought the 100-acre tract that his father had purchased in 1791 from Joel Lewis--he paid the estate $143.50 in "hard money" [Surry Co. Deed Book K, p.181]. Major Austill, who witnessed William Sparks sign (by mark) his will, was also a witness to this deed, along with George Hemrick.
One other tract of land owed by William Sparks remained unsold when he died. This was the tract of 200 acres that Matthew Sparks had obtained as a grant from the state on Nov 9, 1779, and which he transferred to his father on March 9, 1780. It was probably the land on which William had actually lived. It was sold by his executors to John Edwards for $500.
The sale of William Sparks's personal property amounted to $362 .90. His entire estate thus amounted to $1,005.59. No inventory of the items sold survives, but three of the executors (William Wilcockson, Thomas Sparks, and George Sparks) signed an extant document which lists the names of all the purchasers, among whom were Ann Sparks and four of her sons. We can guess that Ann bought some item which she prized--she gave her note for $1.00. The Charles Sparks who purchased something for $14.12 ½ was the same Charles Sparks who had purchased land in Wilkes County in 1794, on "Duggars Branch of Hunting Creek." He was actually Charles Sparks, Jr., a son of the Charles Sparks who was a brother of Solomon Sparks. His exact relationship to William Sparks whose estate was being sold was that of second cousin.. (See the Quarterly of December 1990, Whole No. 152, pp. 3674-3681, for further information on this Charles Sparks, Jr.)
The full list of individuals who purchased items at the sale of the estate of William Sparks in 1802 follows:
Thomas Anthony William Dowel
Major Austill John Edwards
John Ballinger Nimrod Elliott
William Burch Ellis Haines
Ephraim Carter George Henrick
Daniel Cockerham James Hicks
David Cook Jacob Hinshaw
Claiborn Howard Benjamin Sparks
______ Jenkins Charles Sparks
Hugh McAlyea George Sparks
Samuel Marsh Joseph Sparks
John Martin Matthew Sparks
_____ Mooney _____ Vincent
James Sisk Noel Waddle
Timothy Sisk Thomas Walker
Ann Sparks J. Weisner
How long Ann Sparks may have lived after her husband’s death, we do not know, nor have we any knowledge of where William and Ann may have been buried. In his Cemeteries of Yadkin County (Spartanburg, SC, 1985), Carl C. Hoots observed [p.xii]: "As there were few church graveyards until well into the 1800s, early settlers had their own family cemeteries, usually on the brow of a hill, overlooking the stream they had settled on."
Through many years of research, we believe that we have succeeded in identifying the ten children of William and Ann Sparks, although we cannot be sure of the name of one daughter. We do not have the exact date of birth of a single one of these, however. Considering William's inability to write, it is unlikely that any family record was ever made. We list these children below with a minimum of biographical data on each since it is our hope to prepare individual articles on several of these children for future issues of the Quarterly. We are certain that many of the members of the Association descend from one of these children, and we shall welcome any information, including old photographs, that any member will send to us pertaining to his or her descent.
Children of William and Ann Sparks:
126.96.36.199.1.1 William Sparks, Jr., born in Frederick County, Maryland, about 1750. He was a lad of thirteen or fourteen when he accompanied his parents to the Forks of the Yadkin in 1764. We believe that in the family's next move to the then new county of Surry, William, Jr. preceded his parents by a year or two. He settled on Brushy Mountain, which is now in Yadkin County, near where his parents lived in the 1780s and 1790. In or about 1798, he moved to Burke County, North Carolina, where his name appeared on the 1890 census. We have not found the name of his wife. From census records, it appears that he and his wife may have had as many as ten children, eight of whom seem to have been living at home in 1800. His name did not appear on the 1810 census of Burke County; whether he had moved or died by then, we do not know. We cannot identify positively a single one of his children. From census records, their dates of birth are suggested below:
188.8.131.52.1.1.1 Son, born ca.1775. His name may have been John Sparks.
184.108.40.206.1.1.2 Daughter, born ca.1778.
220.127.116.11.1.1.3 Daughter, born ca.1781.
18.104.22.168.1.1.4 Son, born ca.1784. His name may have been Larkin Sparks.
22.214.171.124.1.1.5 Daughter, born ca.1787.
126.96.36.199.1.1.6 Daughter, born ca.1790.
188.8.131.52.1.1.7 Son, born ca.1792. His name may have been William Sparks.
184.108.40.206.1.1.8 Daughter, born ca.1794. Her name may have been Elizabeth Sparks.
220.127.116.11.1.1.9 Daughter, born ca.1796.
18.104.22.168.1.1.10 Son, born ca.1798.
22.214.171.124.1.2Matthew Sparks, born in Frederick County, Maryland, ca. 1752. His name first appeared in a Surry County, North Carolina, tax list dated 1774 as a poll in his father's household. He was married about 1775 to Eunice -----, whose nickname was "Nicy, " also "Unicy." They remained in that part of Surry County that was cut off to form Yadkin County in 1850. Matthew made his will on March 26, 1819, and died before May 1820. His wife lived until about 1837/38. Their children were:
126.96.36.199.1.2.1 Nancy Sparks, born ca.1777; she married Alexander Smith in 1796.
188.8.131.52.1.2.2 Margaret ["Peggy"] Sparks, born ca.1779; she was married to William West in 1799.
184.108.40.206.1.2.3 Sarah ["Sally"] Sparks, born ca.1781; she married Henry Bray in 1803.
220.127.116.11.1.2.4 Joel Sparks, born ca.1784. He was married twice; we have not learned the name of his first wife; he married Mary Shatley in 1846. He died in Missouri (probably in Bates County) ca.1861.
18.104.22.168.1.2.5 George Sparks, born ca.1787. He was probably the George Sparks who married Elizabeth Armstrong in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1814.
22.214.171.124.1.2.6 Matthew Sparks, Jr., born ca.1789. He married Sarah Elmore in 1808. He died in Polk County, Oregon, on 1 Aug 1854.
126.96.36.199.1.2.7 William D. Sparks, born ca.1791. His wife's name was given as "Priscitta" on the 1850 census of Cooper County, Missouri. He died there before 1860.
188.8.131.52.1.2.8 John Sparks, born ca.1793.
184.108.40.206.1.3 Rachel Sparks, daughter of William and Ann Sparks, born ca. 1754 in Frederick County, Maryland. She married John Rose in, we believe, 1773. She was still living in Surry County, North Carolina, in 1843 when she applied for a pension based on her husband's service in the Revolutionary War. According to record kept by John Rose and sent to the War Department with Rachell’s pension application, their children were:
220.127.116.11.1.3.1 Ann Rose, born Nov 27, 1774.
18.104.22.168.1.3.2 Milley Rose, born March 8, 1776.
22.214.171.124.1.3.3 Patience Rose, born March 4, 1778.
126.96.36.199.1.3.4 Rachel Rose, born 1781.
188.8.131.52.1.3.5 William Rose, born July 2, 1785.
184.108.40.206.1.3.6 John Rose, Jr., born December 11, 1787.
220.127.116.11.1.3.7 Elizabeth Rose, born 17 January 1790.
18.104.22.168.1.3.8 Hose Rose, born July 23, 1792.
22.214.171.124.1.3.9 Thomas Rose, born December 11, 1796.
126.96.36.199.1.4 (?) Nancy Sparks, believed to have been a daughter of William and Ann Sparks, born ca. 1756. She married William Wilcockson (sometimes spelled Wilcox and Wilcoxon). Shortly after he served as an executor of the estate of William Sparks, they moved to Green County, Kentucky, then to Barren County, Kentucky, where he died in 1828. Their children were:
188.8.131.52.1.4.1 Thomas Wilcockson.
184.108.40.206.1.4.2 Daniel Wilcockson.
220.127.116.11.1.4.3 Mary ["Polly"] Wilcockson. She married John Masters.
18.104.22.168.1.4.4 George Wilcockson.
22.214.171.124.1.4.5 William Wilcockson, Jr.
126.96.36.199.1.4.6 Sarah ["Sally"] Wilcockson. She married Horatio Short.
188.8.131.52.1.4.7 Nancy Wilcockson. She married William Mann on April 4, 1808.
184.108.40.206.1.4.8 Rachel Wilcockson. She married John Tibbs.
220.127.116.11.1.4.9 Martha ["Patsy"] Wilcockson. She married David Caldwell in 1810.
18.104.22.168.1.4.10 Isaac Wilcockson. He died before his father.
22.214.171.124.1.4.11 Catherine Wilcockson, born Nov 7, 1798. She married her first cousin, William Wilcoxson, in 1818.
126.96.36.199.1.5 George Sparks, son of William and Ann Sparks, was born ca. 1758/60 in Frederick County, Maryland, before his parents moved to North Carolina. He lived near the present site of the town of Jonesville in Yadkin County. His wife, whose name we have not found, apparently died about 1830. He made his will in 1833; it was probated in 1842. (See the Quarterly of June 1983, Whole No. 122, page 2521, for the text of this will.) He had the following children:
188.8.131.52.1.5.1 Son, born ca.1790. This may have been William Z. Sparks (or William S. Sparks) who was married (1st) to Elizabeth Gentry in 1813, and (2nd) toMary Benge.
184.108.40.206.1.5.2 Daughter, born ca.1793.
220.127.116.11.1.5.3 Daughter, born ca. 1797. She may have been the daughter known to have been married to Samuel Edwards and who died before her father.
18.104.22.168.1.5.4 Son, born ca.1799.
22.214.171.124.1.5.5 Martha Sparks, born Sep 9, 1801. She married Charles Russell.
126.96.36.199.1.5.6 Frances Sparks, born ca.1803. Called "Franky" in her father's will; she was unmarried when her father made his will in 1833.
188.8.131.52.1.5.7 George Sparks, Jr., born ca.1805. He is believed to have been married to Fanny Lindsay in Surry County in 1829. Shortly before 1850, he moved his family to Union County, Georgia. An article about George Sparks, Jr. and his family appeared in the June 1983 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 122, pp.2519-1524.
184.108.40.206.1.6 James Sparks, son of William and Ann Sparks, probably was born in Frederick County, Maryland, ca. 1762, and would have been about two years old when his parents moved to North Carolina. He served in the American Revolution. His wife’s name was Mary -----. He lived in Ashe County, North Carolina, then Lee County, Virginia. He and his brother, Thomas Sparks, took their families to eastern Kentucky soon after the 1820 census was taken, settling in what became Lawrence County in 1821. He died there about 1826. His children were:
220.127.116.11.1.6.1 Ephraim Sparks, born ca.1781. His wife’s name was Charlotte. They both died in Breathitt County, Kentucky, between 1850 and 1860.
18.104.22.168.1.6.2 William Sparks, born ca.1783. He was married about 1806 to Rhoda Pennington in Washington County, Virginia. About 1825 he moved his family to White County, Tennessee, where he died March 2, 1869. Rhoda died Oct 26, 1871. (For a record of this family, see the Quarterly of Sep 1982, Whole No. 119, pp.2453-57.)
22.214.171.124.1.6.3 Lela Sparks, born ca.1785.
126.96.36.199.1.6.4 Solomon Sparks, born ca.1788.
188.8.131.52.1.6.5 Nancy Sparks, born ca. 1790. She married Joshua Pennington in 1815. She died in 1878 in Floyd County, Kentucky.
184.108.40.206.1.6.6 James J. Sparks, born ca.1790. He died as a soldier in the U.S. Army in 1816. (See the March 1961 issue of the Quarterly, Whole No. 33, pp. 542-43, for an abstract of a bounty-land application filed by his siblings. )
220.127.116.11.1.6.7 Jesse Sparks, born ca.1797. His wife's name was Nancy. They left Lee County, Virginia, soon after the 1820 census was taken to settle in Lawrence County, Kentucky, where he died after 1869.
18.104.22.168.1.7 Margaret Sparks, daughter of William and Ann Sparks, was born ca.1764. She married William Gibson in 1782. There is reason to believe that she died young and possibly left a son who may have been reared by her parents.
22.214.171.124.1.8 Thomas Sparks, son of William and Ann Sparks, was born ca.1766 in North Carolina. He was married about 1787 to Rebecca -----. She may have been a daughter of Evan Beall (Bell) who died in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1794. She died about 1795, and Thomas was married (2nd) to Diana Wilcox about 1800. About 1817, he moved to the area where Lee and Scott Counties, Virginia, adjoin, but in 1821, with his brother, James Sparks, he moved again, this time taking his family to that part of Floyd County, Kentucky, which helped to form Lawrence County shortly thereafter. We believe that both he and Diana died there between 1836 and 1840. Thomas Sparks was the father of fourteen children, the first four (Hannah, Joseph, Eleanor, and Allen) by his first wife and the last ten by his second wife. They were:
126.96.36.199.1.8.1 Hannah Sparks, born ca.1788. She may have been married to _____Mauk.
188.8.131.52.1.8.2 Joseph Sparks, born ca.1790. He married Martha Edwards in 1815.
184.108.40.206.1.8.3 Eleanor ["Nettie"] Sparks, born February 15, 1791; died March 1858. She married Peter Mauk in 1818.
220.127.116.11.1.8.4 Allen Sparks, born ca.1795. He married Elizabeth Kozee in 1822.
18.104.22.168.1.8.5 Thomas Sparks, Jr., born Nov 8, 1801. He marriedCatherine Jayne in 1823. He died in 1876.
22.214.171.124.1.8.6 Sarah Sparks, born ca.1803; died Oct 14, 1893. She was married to Henry Jayne in 1824.
126.96.36.199.1.8.7 Matthew Sparks, born ca.1805. He married Alsey Osburn in 1832.
188.8.131.52.1.8.8 Daniel Wilcox Sparks, born Oct 27, 1806; He was married (1st) to Sarah Jayne in 1834; she died in 1854. He was married (2nd) to Ellender Caudill (or Cordial) in 1859; she died ca.1880. He was married (3rd) to Martha Hardy, a widow. He died in Oct 1900.
184.108.40.206.1.8.9 Lucy Frances ["Franky"] Sparks, born ca.1807. She was married in 1834 to William Gent.
220.127.116.11.1.8.10 Elisha Sparks, born ca.1809. He was married in 1833 to Susanna Pridemore.
18.104.22.168.1.8.11 Elijah Sparks, born ca.1811. He was married in 1832 to Sarah Evans.
22.214.171.124.1.8.12 Dianah Sparks, born ca.1813. She was married in 1832 to Pardon Morris.
126.96.36.199.1.8.13 Nicholas Sparks, born ca.1814. He was married in 1837 to Dorcas Ross.
188.8.131.52.1.8.14 Son whom we have been unable to identify was born between 1815 and 1820.
184.108.40.206.1.9 Benjamin Sparks, son of William and Ann Sparks, was born in what is now Davie County, North Carolina, ca. 1769/1770. He married Elizabeth Hicks in 1797 in Surry County, North Carolina. Benjamin Sparks, son of William and Ann, must not be confused with the 220.127.116.11.3.4 Benjamin Sparks who was born ca. 1785 and was a son of 18.104.22.168.3 Reuben and Cassie (Buttery) Sparks; that Benjamin Sparks was married to Sarah Jeffries about 1810. (For information on Benjamin and Sarah [Jeffries] Sparks, see the Quarterly of Sep 1988, Whole No. 143, pp.3265-69.)
In either 1820 or 1821, Benjamin Sparks (son of William and Ann) moved to Burke County, North Carolina, settling in what became Caldwell County in 1841. He died there between 1 Jun 1849, and 1 Jun 1850. Elizabeth was still living in 1860. From census and family records, we believe that Benjamin and Elizabeth (Hicks) Sparks were the parents of the following children:
22.214.171.124.1.9.1 Son, born ca.1798. We believe that this was Allen Sparks who married Beersheba ______. He died in 1849.
126.96.36.199.1.9.2 Daughter, born ca.1799/1800.
188.8.131.52.1.9.3 James S. Sparks, born ca.1802. He married Nancy Largent in 1838.
184.108.40.206.1.9.4 Son, born ca.1804.
220.127.116.11.1.9.5 Daughter, born ca.1806.
18.104.22.168.1.9.6 Son, born ca.1808. His name may have been George Sparks.
22.214.171.124.1.9.7 Elizabeth Sparks, born Oct 4, 1812; died December 10, 1881. She was married in Burke County, North Carolina, ca.1833 to Henry Craig.
126.96.36.199.1.10 Jeremiah Sparks, youngest child of William and Ann Sparks, was born ca. 1772. By 1800, he had moved from Surry County to Burke County, North Carolina. He was married ca.1801/02 to ----- Bell. They lived on Bear Creek, in that part of Burke County which became Mitchell County in 1861. His name did not appear on the 1840 census; he had probably died by that time. He had the following children:
188.8.131.52.1.10.1 Daughter, born ca.1801/02.
184.108.40.206.1.10.2 Thomas M. Sparks, born ca.1803. He was married ca.1835 to Mary A. Cook. He was called "E. M. Sparks" on the 1870 census.
220.127.116.11.1.10.3 Nancy Sparks, born ca.1803. She was married ca.1826 to Arthur Green.
18.104.22.168.1.10.4 Son, born ca.1810.
22.214.171.124.1.10.5 Jeremiah Sparks, Jr., born ca.1811. He was called "Myra." In ca.1831 he married Rachel-----. They lived in Mitchell County, North Carolina.
126.96.36.199.1.10.6 Matthew Sparks, born 4 February 1813; he died in 1892 in Mitchell County, North Carolina. He was married ca. 1835 to Elizabeth Buchanan, born June 10,1820.
188.8.131.52.1.10.7 Jennie Sparks, born ca.1813. This may have been a nickname for Virginia. She became the wife of Joseph Pittman.
184.108.40.206.1.10.8 Mary Sparks, born ca.1818. She married Clement Buchanan.
220.127.116.11.1.10.9 Samuel ["Sam"] D. Sparks, born ca.1821. He married Mary Stewart, who was born August 22, 1838.
[Editor's Note: While our identification of the grandchildren of William and Ann Sparks is far from complete, it appears that there were more than eighty. If about 80 percent of these grandchildren married and had an average of seven children each, that would mean there were at least 450 great-grandchildren. If 80 percent of these great-grandchildren married and had an average of six children each, that would mean there were about 2,150 great-great-grandchildren. If 80 percent of these great-great-grandchildren married and had an average of five children each, that would mean there were about 8,600 great-great-great-grand- children. And if 80 percent of these great-great-great-grandchildren married and had on an average of four children each, that would mean there are about 27,500 great-great-great-great-grandchildren. The editor’s wife, Melva (Sparks) Bidlack, is one of this number for she is a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of William and Ann Sparks. We know that a number of our members descend from William and Ann, but, as can be seen, their percentage of the whole is quite tiny.
[We have considerably more information on the ten children of William and Ann than we have given here, and we plan to devote individual articles to a number of them and their descendants, in future issues of the Quarterly. We shall welcome any family records that our readers are willing to share with us. Since photography did not become commonplace until the 1860s, we doubt that pictures were taken of any of William's and Ann's children, but photographs must exist of many of their grandchildren. We hope that those of our readers who have such photographs will write to the editor about arranging for them to be published in the Quarterly.]