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"SPARKSES IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by William Perry Johnson

(Editors note: In the following documents, capitalization and punctuation have been modernized for the sake of clarity, but no changes have been made in spelling or content. The file number given to the application papers of John Sparks in The National Archives is S-7580.)

REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSION APPLICATION OF JOHN SPARKS

"State of North Carolina) SS.

County of Wilkes

"On this 30th day of October 1832 personally appeared in open Court before the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions of the County of Wilkes &State of North Carolina, now setting, John Sparkes Esquire, a resident of the County of Wilkes & State of North Carolina, aged seventy-nine years, who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

"That he was born on the 25th day of February 1753 in the County of Rowan in the State of North Carolina, where he lived until he removed with his father to what is now Wilkes (then Surry) County, N.C., about the year 1772. He resided in Wilkes until the commencement of the Revolution, and about the year 1775 or 1776 he volunteered himself and entered the service of the United States in Captain Jesse Waltonís company of minute men who had volunteered for two years.

"Soon after the company was organized, they were called upon to go against the Scotch & Tories who were said to be committing great depredations in the country around Cros's Creek or Fayetteville. At the time the company marched, this Deponent happened to be from home, but as soon as he returned, and being informed that they had gone, he took his horse & pursued with all speed, but did not overtake them; having heard that the Tories were suppressed and the troops on their return, he immediately turned about & returned home. Soon after this he was ordered out by Captain Walton., to take command of a scouting party & scour the country around through Surry & Wilkes & to suppress the Tories or to bring in such as was supposed to be disaffected. In these little expeditions, he supposes he was in service two or three weeks.

"After remaining at home some months, orders were received from Col. Martin Armstrong to repair and rendezvous at the head of the Yadkin, preparatory to marching against the Cherokee Indians. They did rendezvous at or near the head of Yadkin, and there remained until they built Fort Defiance where Gen. Wm. Lenoir now lives, during which time this Deponent had the command of the company, Capt. Walton having been appointed a Major.

"About the time the Fort was completed, orders were received from Major Walton for the company to return home and prepare for an expedition against the Cherokee Indians. This Deponent and the company under his command did return home having been gone about a month, and prepared with all possible dispatch to go against the Indians, and in a few days marched to headquarters at the Pleasant Gardens where they joined Gen. Rutherford, at which time the company, under the command of this Deponent, was attached to the company under the command of Capt. Benj. Cleveland, and the entire command transferred to Capt. Cleveland.

"After organizing at headquarters, they marched immediately to the Cherokee Towns of Watauga, Cowee, Oconoluftee, Hiwassee, Tuckaseegie & Big Chota, with some others not recollected. This deponent was detailed while in the Nation, with others, to act as a spy, and on one occasion their party fell in with a small body of Indians on the Hiwassee, with whom they had an engagement in which they killed ten & took three prisoners, without losing any men on their side.

"After this little skirmish they returned to the main army with their prisoners and delivered them up to Gen. Rutherford. The main body of Indians having fled and abandoned the country, it was thought unnecessary to pursue them, and after burning their houses, destroying their corn, and committing such other depredation upon them as they could, they returned to North Carolina, where they were discharged and returned home, having been gone about three months.

"Soon after the return of this Deponent, he was again called out and served in various short expeditions against the Tories, but the particular periods of each cannot now be recollected. About the time Lord Cornwallis was approaching North Carolina from the South, this Deponent was again called upon and marched, under the command of Colo. Benjamin Herndon, in pursuit of Lord Cornwallis as he was on his march from Cowans Ford on the Catawba to Guilford, and occasionally annoyed and kept in check his out-posts and foraging parties, one of whom they captured amounting to twenty or thirty men and detailed them prisoners until they were sent off to Virginia.

"This deponent and the troops with whom he was associated, pursued their march until they reached Gen. Green's army at the high rock on Haw River, where they remained several days after which Gen. Green discharged them, and they returned home, having been gone in this expedition at least one month. In a few days after their return home, this Deponent was again called out with others to march in pursuit of Lord Cornwallis who had retreated to Wilmington. They marched immediately and rendezvoused under Gen. Rutherford some distance on this side of Fayetteville.

"After organizing, Gen. Rutherford detached near four hundred mounted men, of whom this Deponent was one, and placed them under the command of Colo. Smith & Major Graham, and ordered them to proceed down on the south side of Deep & Cape Fear Rivers until they reached Wilmington while he (Gen. Rutherford), with the balance of the troops, crossed the river and proceeded down on the north side. Previous to their arrival at Wilmington, they heard that Cornwallis had left the place, but that he had left a portion of the British troops to keep possession of the town. Before, however, they reached the town, a small detachment was sent ahead to reconnoitre and ascertain the situation of the place. When they returned, it was ascertained that most of the troops were on the northern side of the river but that a small body had been left on the south to act as a piquet guard, upon whom Col. Smith marched and surprised and succeeded in killing and taking every man without surprising the camp.

"In a day or two, Gen. Rutherford arrived on the north side of the river, about which time the news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis was received, upon which the British troops immediately evacuated the town and made their escape down the river in the night. The small pox having been left in Wilmington by the British, it was deemed unsafe for the troops to enter the place, and a discretion was given to the troops to return home or remain with Gen. Rutherford.

"Many did return home, of whom this Deponent was one, having been gone in this expedition nearly three months, (& having volunteered for three months would have remained that length of time, but for the smallpox breaking out as before Mentioned.) The capture of Lord Cornwallis being considered the closing scene of the war, this Deponent was not again called upon to perform any other service. He has no documentary evidence to prove his services, nor never received a written discharge that he has any recollection of. He refers to Captain Samuel Johnson as a witness who can testify to part of his services. And he also refers to Captain Samuel Johnson & Reuben Sparkes as persons to whom he is well acquainted in his neighborhood, and who can testify as to his character for veracity, and their belief of his services. This Deponent has no record of his age, but the information herein given on that subject was derived from his mother many years ago, and he believes it to be correct. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatsoever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any state.

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid.

signed: John Sparks

signed R. Martin, Clk.

On the day and year aforesaid., personally appeared in open Court before the Court aforesaid. Capt. Saml. Johnson, who being first duly sworn according to law, deposeth & saith that he served with John Sparkes, Esqr., the above Applicant, during the three months tour performed under Gen. Rutherford to the Cherokee Nation, and further that the said three months tour as set forth & specified in the foregoing declaration as having been performed by the said John Sparks, Esq., was performed by him.

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid.

signed: R. Martin Elk. signed: Saml. Johnson

We, Saml. Johnson & Reuben Sparkes., residents of the County of Wilkes &State of North Carolina, do hereby certify that we are well acquainted with John Sparkes, Esq., who has subscribed & sworn to the above declaration--that we believe him to be seventy-nine years of age--that he is reputed and believed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the Revolution, and that we concur in that opinion.

signed: Saml Johnson signed: Reuben Sparks.

And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the interrogatories prescribed by the War Department that the above applicant was a Revolutionary soldier and served as he states. And the Court further certifies that it appears to them, that Capt. Saml. Johnson and Reuben Sparkes who have signed the preceding certificate are residents of the County of Wilkes and are credible persons, and that their statement is entitled to credit.

signed: Jno Walsh Ck Ct

Amended Declaration

State of North Carolina)

Wilkes County ) Personally appeared before me, the undersigned., a Justice of the Peace in and for the County aforesaid, John Sparkes, Esqr., who, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith that by reason of old age, and the consequent loss of memory, he cannot swear positively as to the precise length of his service, but according to the best of his recollection he served not less than the periods mentioned below, and in the following grades: For 'Eight Months and twenty-one days" I served as a Private, and for such service I claim a pension. This deponent further saith by way of amendment to the foregoing declaration, that there is no clergyman residing in his neighborhood nor any within a reasonable distance whose testimony he could procure in favour of his veracity and their belief of his services as a soldier of the Revolution.

Sworn to & subscribed this 23d day of May 1833 before me, M. H. Wheatley, J.P.

signed: John Sparks

See THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, December 1956, Whole No. 12, pp 97-104:

THE GENEALOGY OF JOHN SPARKS, REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSIONER OF WILKES COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA

By William Perry Johnson:

"As John Sparks stated in his pension application, he was born on the25th of February 1753, near Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina, and removed with his father to what is now Wilkes (then Burry) County, North Carolina, about the year 1772. John Sparks did not identify his father in his application, but other records prove that his name was Solomon Sparks. Surry County was formed from Rowan County in 1770, and the Surry tax lists for 1771 and 1772 have been preserved. On the 1771 tax list, Solomon Sparks is listed, with 3 polls, and William Sparks, with 1 poll. In 1772 only Solomon Sparks is listed., with 3 polls. The 1774 Surry tax list enumerated four Sparks families; William Sparks, with 1 poll; Will Sparks and son Matthew., 2 polls; James Sparks, 1 poll; and Solomon Sparks, with sons Joseph and John, 3 polls. These four families were undoubtedly closely related, but this account will be limited to the family of John Sparks, son of Solomon. (The Matthew Sparks who is listed in the 1774 tax list with his father, Will Sparks, was the great-great-grandfather of our vice-president., Oral A. Sparks.)

"Solomon Sparks lived in Maryland before settling in North Carolina and was very probably the son of Joseph Sparks who died intestate in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749. (Note that Solomon named his eldest son Joseph, probably for his father. Note also that the Solomon Sparks whose pension application was reproduced in the March, 1955, issue of the QULRTERLY was born in Frederick County, Maryland., in 1758.)

"On the 20th of March 1750, Solomon Sparks patented 93 acres in Frederick County, Maryland, and gave his land the descriptive name of Cold Friday. This land was located on Beaver Dam Branch., a tributary of Linganore Creek. On the 20th of June 1753, Solomon Sparks and wife "Sarah, sold these 93 acres for 34 Pounds, to Mathew Howard. Solomon is designated in this deed as a "farmer". If Solomon Sparks and wife Sarah were living in Frederick County, Maryland., as late as June 20, 1753, as this deed would indicate, then their son John, born Feb. 25, 1753, was born in Frederick County, Maryland, rather than in Rowan County, North Carolina, and was carried to North Carolina as a babe in arms. Although we cannot be sure of the exact date, it is reasonably certain that Solomon Sparks removed with his family sometime in 1753 to near Salisbury, Rowan Co., N.C. (Rowan County was formed April 12., 1753, from Anson County.)

"The following description of Salisbury is found in a letter written on November 24, 1755,, by Governor Arthur Dobbs: "The Yadkin here (Trading Ford) is a large beautiful river where is a ferry. It is near 300 yards over, it was at this time fordable scarce coming to the horses bellies. At 6 miles distance I arrived at Salisbury the County town of Rowan., the town is but just laid out., the Court House built and 7 or 8log Houses erected." (The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. 5,page 355.) The 1950 population of Salisbury was 20.,102.

"The Sparkses settled in the Forks of the Yadkin, less than ten miles north of Salisbury, in what is now Davie Co., N.C. Solomon Sparks obtained a land grant in 1761, for 250 acres in Rowan County, on the west side of the Yadkin River, opposite the mouth of Muddy Creek. In 1762 he obtained a grant for 290 acres on the south side of the Yadkin River, which adjoined his other land. In 1763 Solomon sold 130 and 3/4 acres to Jonas Sparks, and 159 and 1/4 acres to Valentine Vanhouser. According to the statement -.made by John Sparks in his pension application, Solomon Sparks and his family removed from Rowan County to "what is now Wilkes(then Surry), N.C. about the year 1772.11 In 1787, as residents of Surry Co., N.C., Solomon and Sarah Sparks sold 160 acres in Rowan County to Zephemiah Harris, and in 1.788 they sold 170 (?) acres in Rowan County to Jonas Sparks. Solomon and Sarah Sparks disappear from North Carolina records after 1788. Solomon does not appear on the 1790 census, and there is no will, no intestate record, and no record of Solomon and Sarah Sparks buying or selling land in Surry or Wilkes Counties, although when the Surry--Wilkes County Line was surveyed in 1778 it mentioned the plantation of Solomon Sparks. A full copy of this interesting document is given below:

"Wilkes Co., N.C., Court Minutes, 1778 - "A Return of the Proceedings of the Commissioners who were appointed to Run the Deviding line between the County of Surry and Wilkes - (To Wit) Beginning on Rowan County 'Line about half a mile below Daniel Rashes at a White Oak Standing in the head of a Branch of Hunting Creek thence North Crossing the mulberry Field Road about half a Mile below Hamlinís Old Store House thence through Solomon Sparke's Plantation leaving the said Sparks House in Surry County thence Crossing the Brushey mountains at the head of the north fork of Swan Creek thence Crossing the Yadkin River a little below Capt. Parkes and through the Lower end of Carrols Plantation on the north side of River, then crossing the Big Elkin at the long sholes thence Crossing the south fork of Mitchels River about half a mile above Riggs's Road, thence Crossing Mitchels River a little bellow John Scott's Crossing the Top of the Piney Knob to the main Ridge of the Mountains about Two miles west of Fisher Peak thence to the Virginia line. The above line being Run exactly Twenty Six miles west of Surry Courthouse agreeable to Act of Assembly.'

"Thus, Solomon Sparks lived just south of the village of Swan Creek in the western part of Surry (now Yadkin) County., North Carolina., with land in Wilkes as well as in Surry. Around 1800 the Sparkses and their connections owned land for several miles along the Surry (nowYadkin)-Wilkes County line, and there are still many descendants in that area today.

"It is believed that Solomon and Sarah Sparks were both deceased by1800, or possibly by 1790. Since neither of them left a will, and no family Bible or other record has been located, it has been difficult to ascertain the names of the children of this couple. However, a power of attorney recorded in Wilkes County, N.C., Court Minutes, on Tuesday, August 4, 1801, gives what we feel certain is a listing of at least eight of the children of Solomon and Sarah Sparks. This instrument reads as follows.- "A Letter of Attorney from John Sparks, Reuben Sparks, Solomon Sparks, Mary Jacks, Hannah Denny, Susannah Johnson, and Joseph Sparks to Abel Sparks, dated 31st July 1801, was proven by Thomas Benge."(Susannah (Sparks) Johnson and her husband, Charles Johnson., are the great-great-great-great-grand- parents of William Perry Johnson " author of this sketch.

We know that John Sparks was born in 1753 and that Abel Sparks was born in 1767, so assuming that the eight persons named in the above power of attorney were listed in their order of birth, which is quite possible, we would have: (1) John, born 1753; (2) Reuben, born about 1755; (3) Solomon., Jr., born about 1757; (4) Mary, born about1759; (5) Harmah., born about 1761; (6) Susannah, born about 1763,married Charles Johnson in Wilkes Co., N.C., in 1784; (7) Joseph, born about 1764; and (8) Abel.19 born 1767. There may have been other children of Solomon and Sarah Sparks who were living far removed from this area in 1801, or others may have been deceased. It is known that the eight named in the power of attorney were all living in Surry (now Yadkin) and Wilkes Counties, N.C., at that time. Of course, since then, branches of the family have scattered from coast to coast.

"John Sparks, son of Solomon and Sarah, lived in Surry County, North Carolina,, from the time he removed there with his father about 1771,until 1786. By 1782 John Sparks had purchased 200 acres of land in Surry, on Brushy Mountain, and was taxed with 200 acres and 1 poll, 2horses (or mules) and 6 cattle. In 1784 he was taxed with 200 acres and1 poll; same for 1785 and 1786. He does not appear on the Surry County tax lists for 1787, 1788 or 1789, and he is given on the 1790 census of Wilkes County, rather than Surry. There is no record in Surry of John Sparks purchasing or selling his 200 acres. (In those unsettled times, many, many deeds failed to get taken to the county seat for recording.)On 17 May 1780, John Sparks entered 200 acres of land in Wilkes County, which was issued to him 22 Sept. 1785. (Land Grant Office, Raleigh, N.C.., Book 59, page 253.) The 1790 census of Wilkes Co. lists John Sparks with a total of eight persons in his family, apparently himself, his wife, four sons aged under 16, and 2 daughters. (The other John Sparks on the 1790 census of Wilkes Co. is thought to be the John Sparks who married in Wilkes in 1781 Mary Parmely; however, it, is possible that John, son of Solomon, was listed twice, which happened occasionally. There was no John Sparks given on the 1790 census of Surry County.)

"John Sparks had married in Surry County about 1777 Sarah Shores a daughter of Reuben and Susannah Shores of Surry (now Yadkin) County. Reuben Shores owned large tracts of land where Jonesville, N.C., now stands. Sarah is named as Sarah Sparks in the will of her mother, Susannah Shores, probated in 1806 in Surry County, N.C. (Susannah Shores willed her "household and kitchen furniture" to her youngest daughter, "Nancy Rousau". The other children listed in her will., to whom she left" one shilling Sterling each," were named as follows: "William Shores John Shores, Elizabeth Westmoreland, Sarah Sparks, Reuben Shores, Simeon Shores, Rebecca Mosley, David Shores, Rhoda Philips, Abiram Shores and Levi Shores.")

"Soon after removing to Wilkes County, John Sparks became active in the civil affairs of Trap Hill, the community where he had settled, about twenty miles north-east of Wilkesboro. He became a justice of the peace and performed marriages, listed taxes, and so on. On the 1800 tax list of Wilkes County, he is listed as John Sparks, Esquire, with 260 acres and 1 poll. (The title of Esquire was bestowed only on those of some standing in the community.) John Sparks was an active member of the Old Roaring River Baptist Church in Wilkes County, having joined on January12,, 1789 "by experience and baptism." According to the Church records, on April 10, 1790, "the church set apart Brother John Sparks to walk before the church until next meeting as deacon," and on August 12., 1790,he "set forward to do work of deacon." In 1790 and 1791, he was

"delegate to association," and on June 11., 1791, his wife, "Sister Sarah Sparks, was baptized. Like most other church members of the time, John Sparks was occasionally called to account for failing to live up to the strict Baptist rules. For instance, in August,, 1791, he was found guilty of gameing" but was pardoned. In 1794 he was accused of drunkenness, a charge which John Sparks denied and later "gave church satisfaction."

"John Sparks was listed on the 1840 census of Wilkes County as a Revolutionary War pensioner, and at that time he was living in the home of his son, Reuben Sparks. According to census records, John's wife, Sarah(Shores) Sparks, died sometime between 1830 and 1840. The date of death for John Sparks is not given on the Agency Books in Washington, D.C., but the last payment of his pension was made 3rd Quarter (Sept.) 1840, so it is apparent that he died sometime between then and March 1841, when the next payment fell due. His age at the time of his death was either 87 or88. After his death, his heirs did not claim his pension, which amounted to $29 per year. His pension application in the National Archives is the one and only application from a John Sparks who served in the Revolution from North Carolina.

"John Sparks, son of Solomon, is sometimes confused with another John Sparks who served in the Revolutionary War from South Carolina. This second John was born in 1755 (supposedly in North Carolina), and died in1834 in Washington County, Georgia. There is no record in the National Archives of his ever having applied for a pension, yet a number of his descendants have joined the D.A.R. through the pension application of John Sparks of Wilkes County, N.C. (An article on the genealogy of this John Sparks of South Carolina and Georgia is planned for a future issue of the QUARTERLY. (Note: see the issue for September 1964., Vol. XII, No. 3, Whole No . 47, pp. 835-39. )

"Like his father, John Sparks of Wilkes County left no will, and his family Bible cannot be located. All of his children and grandchildren are gone, and there are but two or three of his great-grandchildren living. His grave, near Trap Hill, North Carolina, is marked with a Revolutionary Soldier marker, but it does not give his date of death nor any other data that we do not already have. We have endeavored to compile a list of the children of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks, from living descendants, census, court, church, and other extant records. We are fairly certain of eight children, but there may have been a total often or twelve.

"The following record has been worked out by our President, Paul E. Sparks:

John Sparks, son of Solomon and Sarah Sparks born 25 Feb. 1753, in Rowan County, North Carolina died 1840-41, in Wilkes County, North Carolina, married about 1777, in Surry County, North Carolina, to Sarah Shores, daughter of Reuben and Susannah Shores born about 1757 (?) place not known, died between 1830 and 1840 in Wilkes County, North Carolina.(Here, commencing on p. 100 are the descendants of John and Sarah (Shores) Sparks.)

See more at SQ p 2269 and, concerning his status as a revolutionary soldier, p. 4965.