Note    H2075         Index

SPARKS QUARTERLY, March 1994, Whole No. 165, p. 4276 states: Isaac Sparks, son of Jesse and Nancy Sparks, was born about 1830. He was married to a widow named Nancy Jones, and they had four children: James, Eli, Moses and Amanda.


Note    H2076         Index

SQ 177: Article is an early summary of the family of Matthew ("the elder") (256) who is brother to William IV (199). He is called the elder to distinguish him from his son Matthew (529) ("the younger") and Matthew (334), son of William IV. Isaac is one of the youngest of Matthew the elder' s 13 children. The article mentions Isaac as follows: "Isaac Sparks, as was stated above, was living in Carrroll County, Tennessee, in 186O... (pg.178) In a letter written by his niece, Beddie C. Smith (daughter of Bailey (538) Sparks), in 1899, appears the following statement: 'When I was a child old Uncle Mathew (529) Sparks made his home with his brother, Isaac, but spent much of his time with Father and Mama.' "

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SQ 3O64 is an article about Abel Sparks (366), a grandson of Joseph (344) who was a brother to William II (202). It states on page 3064: "Isaac Sparks and his wife Sarah were received into the Mars Hill Baptist Church [located in Clarke County, Georgia] "by letter" at about the same time as Abel--on April 14, 1804. Isaac and Sarah were "dismissed by letter" on March 15, 1806 (i.e. they were given a letter to present to another Baptist Church showing that they had been in good standing at the Mars Hill Church.) However, on October 18, 1806, "Brother Isaac and wife Sarah [were] Excluded for disobeying Church." We feel certain that this Isaac Sparks was a son (probably next to the youngest ) of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks who were among the first members of the Sparks family to move from Frederick County, Maryland, to Rowan County, North Carolina. A sketch of the family of Matthew and Sarah (Thompson) Sparks was published at pp. 556-66...There can be little doubt that as members of the Mars Hill Baptist Church, Abel Sparks and Isaac Sparks were well acquainted, even though they were rather distantly related. (Sarah, wife of Isaac Sparks, was his first wife; she was a daughter of William Nutt of Clarke County who named Isaac Sparks as his son-in-law in his will of 1818. After her death, Isaac married Wilmoth Noland or Knowland.")


See THE SPARKS QUARTERLY, December 2001, Whole No. 196, pp 5605-5630, p. 5610:

"Isaac Sparks, son of Matthew and Sarah Sparks, was born on July 15, 1780, in what was then Wilkes
County, North Carolina, but is now Ashe County. He died about 1869 in Carroll County, Tennessee. He had been three or four years old when he accompanied his parents and a number of his siblings in their move to Georgia. He was married in or about 1804 in Clarke County, Georgia, to Sarah Nutt, a daughter of William Nutt. Sarah died. between 1806 and 1808, and shortly thereafter Isaac was married (second) to Wilmoth Noland (also spelled Knowland and Knowling) , daughter of James Noland and a sister of Martha Noland, who was married to Isaac's brother, Bailey Sparks. Isaac was the father of twelve children. See the present issue of the QUARTERLY, beginning on page 5621, for an article about Isaac Sparks and his family."

Pp 5621-5630:

Isaac Sparks (1780-ca,1767)

Son of Matthew and Sarah Sparks

"Much of the introduction to the biographical sketch of Bailey Sparks, beginning on page 5611, also pertains to his brother, Isaac Sparks, and will not be repeated here. As noted, there were only 14 months' difference in the ages of these two brothers, Bailey having been born on May 3, 1778, and Isaac on July 15, 1780. Their oldest brother, John Sparks, had been born 25 years before Isaac Bailey and Isaac being so nearly the same age may account for the close friendship that they appear to have enjoyed throughout their lives; they even married sisters.

"Isaac Sparks was born on his parents' 400-acre tract of land in what later became Ashe County , North Carolina, although at his birth , the Sparks home was still within the county of Wilkes . Wilkes County had been created from Surry County in 1777, and it was not until 1799 that Ashe was cut off from Wilkes. At its creation, Ashe County was described as "that part of Wilkes County lying west of the extreme height of the Appalachian mountains. " Today it borders Grayson County, Virginia, on the north and Johnson County, Tennessee, on the west.

'Isaac Sparks's parents had moved from the Forks of the Yadkin, now part pf Davie County, North Carolina, to their 400-acre tract of land in Wilkes County in 1775, but it had not been until November 5, 1778, that Matthew Sparks had obtained an actual title to it from what was then still the Colony of North Carolina. In his warrant , the tract was described as "...on the north side of New River, beginning on Little Naked Creek. " (The text of the initial survey of Matthew's land was included in the article devoted to him in the QUARTERLY of June 1961, Whole No.34.)

'Isaac Sparks was the eleventh child born to his parents , a fact that was even noted in a biographical sketch of his son, Isaac H. Sparks, published in 1891/2. The twelfth and last child of Matthew and Sarah Sparks was also a son (their tenth) , named Hardy; he was born on May 23, 1783. His mother was then either 43 or 44 years of age.

'We can be sure that , as an adult , Isaac Sparks retained few if any memories of his life in North Carolina, for he had scarcely reached his third birthday when the Sparks family moved south to Georgia. Sarah Sparks was doubtless thankful that there were older children , including two daughters, to assist in caring for their youthful siblings during what must have been a tiresome journey . We will not repeat here the events of Georgia's Oconee War that engulfed the family , even resulting in the murder of the father when Isaac was only 13 years old. These events were outlined in the preceding article on Bailey Sparks. We do have, however, a reference to Isaac when he was only five years old.

'This early incident in Isaac's life is mentioned in a letter written by Bettie C. Smith, a granddaughter of Isaac's brother, Nathan Sparks (1775-1844). This letter was published, with an analysis, in the article devoted to Nathan in the QUARTERLY of De cember 1995, Whole No. 172, pp.4574-77. As noted there, Bettie Smith (whose maiden name had been Elizabeth B . Sparks) , stated that she had heard the family stories contained in her letter to a nephew, from "Old Matthew Sparks" (1759-1841), who had been the second oldest of the ten sons of Matthew and Sarah Sparks . Referring to a time in Georgia when the famIly got up one morning to discover that all but one of their horses had been stolen by the Creek Indians , Bettie wrote : " . . . they started for the fort, twenty-five miles bareheaded...Uncle Isaac was five years old, and brother & sister swung (him] by his arms all the way." If Bettie Smith's memory of "Old Matthew's" account was correct , this incident must have happened in 1785 or 1786. It is also in Bettie Smith's letter that we learn the circumstance under which Isaac's father, Matthew Sparks, the elder, lost his life in 1793: "He went out to kill a turkey one morning, and was shot by Indians. "

"When the Sparks family had settled in Georgia in 1783/84, their land was located within a huge county created in 1784 called Franklin . Before 1784, it had been known as part of the "Cherokee Lands." The Sparkses lived in that part of Franklin County that was cut off to from Jackson County in 1796. Then, in 1801, they found themselves in Clarke County when the portion of Jackson County in which they lived was cut off to form this new county. A tax list for Clarke County is extant for the year 1802. Isaac Sparks, as well as his brothers, Jesse and William, being white males over 21, were taxed simply as polls, but Isaac was taxed, also, for owning land. We have no record of his acquiring this land, however. In 1875, long after the Sparkses had left the area, the county of Oconee was created from Clarke County.

"On June 1, 1799, a Baptist church was organized at what was called Mars Hill in that part of Jackson that became Clarke County and is Oconee County today. The original minute book of Mars Hill Baptist Church is still extant; it was transcribed a number of years ago by Frances West Reid and placed in the D. A . R. Library in Washington, D.C. From this minute book, we learn that on April 14, 1804, "Isaac Sparks and Sarah, his wife" were received into membership "by letter . " This should mean that they had earlier been members of another Baptist congregation that had recommended them as being in good standing. The minute book does not, however , reveal the congregation to which they had formerly belonged .

"Isaac Sparks was 23 years of age when he was received into the Mars Hill Church. It is obvious that he had been married to Sarah before April 14, 1804. No record of their marriage has been found, however, and it is only through the will of Sarah's father, dated June 15, 1818, that we can identify her as a daughter of William and Jane Nutt. William Nutt called Isaac his son-in-law in his will, although we believe that Sarah had died before her father.

'The Mars Hill Baptist Church minute book contains another entry under membership dated only four days after the entry for Isaac and Sarah being received "by letter." This entry simply reads: "March 18, 1804, Isaac Sparks, Member before this. " It would appear that, therefore, it had been only Sarah's membership that had been "by letter" following her marriage to Isaac . Then , on September 14, 1804, Isaac Sparks was "Dismissed , " without explanation. A year and one half later, on March 15, 1806, an entry in the minute book reads: "March 15, 1806, Isaac Sparks & wife Sarah, Dismissed by letter. " Such action in the Baptist denomination normally means that the couple was about to move away from the Mars Hill area and were given a letter to introduce them to another church as being in good standing. However, an entry dated October 18, 1806, reads: "Brother Isaac Sparks and wife Sarah, Excluded for disobeying Church." No later reference to Isaac or Sarah is to be found in the Mars Hill Baptist Church membership records.

"Another member of the Sparks family appears in the Mars Hill Baptist Church membership records . This was Abel Sparks who was "Received by experience" on March 18, 1804. Abel Sparks was a son of Solomon and Sarah Sparks of Surry and Wilkes Counties, North Carolina. Abel Sparks's grandfather, Joseph Sparks, who had died in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1749, was a brother of Isaac Sparks's great-grandfather, William Sparks, Jr. , who had died in Queen Annes County in the 1730s. Thus, Isaac Sparks and Abel Sparks were second cousins, once removed . Despite their rather distant relationship, Isaac and Abel obviously knew each other as fellow members of the Mars Hill Church, although Abel had not moved to Clarke County from North Carolina, before at least 1802. (For a detai ed record of the life of Abel Sparks, see the QUARTERLY of June 1987, Whole No. 138, beginning on page 3062.)

"In 1803, a land lottery was sponsored by the state of Georgia to encourage settlement in its new counties of Baldwin, Wayne, and Wilkinson. Although the final drawing of winners did not take place until 1805, the rules applied to participants as of 1803. This lottery entitled a bachelor over 21 to one draw, if he were a citizen of the U.S. and had lived in Georgia for at least one year. The same residency requirements applied to Others , but a married man , with or without children , was entitled to two draws . Women were excluded except widows with one or more minor children--they were also entitled to two draws. A minor orphan, or family of orphans, with father and mother dead or remarried, was entitled to one draw. In Baldwin and Wilkinson Counties, the size of the lots to be won was 2O2 1/2 acres; in Wayne County, the size was 490 acres. There were five subsequent land lotteries in Georgia, but only for that dated 1803, but not drawn until 1805, have the names and resident counties been preserved; only the names of the winners of subsequent drawings have been preserved. Seven persons named Sparks were registered in Clarke County for the first drawing. (Note that this was the county in which the Mars Hill Baptist Church was located until Oconee County was cut off in 1875.) One of the seven was
listed as "Garrot Sparks," but other records prove that this was an error; it was intended for "Garrot Spinks." The remaining six were:

Abel Sparks 2 draws
Isaac Sparks 2 draws
Jesse Sparks 2 draws
Sarah Sparks 2 draws
Theophelus Sparks 1 draw
William Sparks 2 draws

'Abel Sparks was, as noted earlier, a second cousin, once removed, from Isaac Sparks and his brothers, Jesse and William. Sarah Sparks was the brothers' mother, widow of Matthew , who had been killed in 1793; she was entitled to 2 draws because in 1803 her youngest son , Hardy Sparks, was still under age 21. We have not succeeded in identifying Theophelus Sparks, obviously unmarried, since he had only one draw; he could have been a son of William Sparks.

"The only winner from Clarke County in the 1803/05 drawing was Isaac Sparks. He won Lot #25 in District 5 of Baldwin County, 202 1/2 acres. This part of Baldwin County was included in the formation of Morgan County, Georgia, in 1807.

"Although the purpose of the 1803/05 Lottery was to attract settlers to the three counties listed above , the winners were not required actually to occupy the land they received. So it was quite legal for Isaac Sparks, on November 2, 1806, to sell half of his Baldwin County lot to a man named William Mothershead, who was described in the deed (Book B, p.369) as "of the State of South Carolina." Mothershead paid Isaac $200 for the "one hundred and one and one-fourth acres. " The witnesses were William Nutt and James McLeroy. William Nutt was probably Isaac's father-in-law, and we know that Sarah's sister was called Catherine McLeroy. We have not found a record of his sale of the other half of his lot .

"In Georgia, a wife was expected to sign the deed for selling land with her husband , thus acknowledging her agreement for the sale and relinquishment of her dower right to the land. The fact that Sarah (Nutt) Sparks did not sign this deed with Isaac may mean that she had died by 1806.

"By 1810, Isaac Sparks had moved to Humphreys County, Tennessee. On May 29, 1810, he was
commissioned a lieutenant in the 38th Regiment of the Tennessee Militia from Humphreys County. (See
Records of Commissions in the Tennessee Militia, 1796-1811, compiled by Mrs. John Trotwood Moore,
1947.) A Water muster roll has also been preserved showing that on January 12, 1812, a company of militia was formed by a Capt. William Teas comprised of settlers in the two adjoining counties, Humphreys and Hickman, "for the protection of the frontier of West Tennessee." Both Isaac and Bailey Sparks were members of Capt. Teas's company at the time of its organization.

"We believe , but cannot be certain , that Isaac Sparks was a widower when he moved to Tennessee. It was relatively soon after settling in Humphreys County that he was married to Wilmoth Noland , daughter of James Noland, also a resident of Humphreys County. At about the same time, perhaps in 1807 or 1808, Bailey Sparks was married to Wilmoth's sister, Martha Noland. From the census records of 1850, 1860, and 1870, for which census takers were instructed to record the names of all persons in every household, with their ages as of June 1st. of the census year and their places of birth , it appears that Wilmoth had been born in or about 1790 in Tennessee. Isaac was thus ten years her senior.

"In the biographical sketch of Bailey Sparks (page 5615 of the present issue of the QUARTERLY), appears an abstract of a deed dated September 10, 1832, proving that Wilmoth and Martha Noland were daughters of James Noland , who had died before the making of this deed. With this deed, Jesse Noland, probably a brother of Wilmoth and Martha , purchased from them , as well as from another sister named Elizabeth, wife of Henry Epperson, these three sisters' shares of inheritance of James Noland's land in Humphreys County, for a total of $170 .

'The earliest census taken in Tennessee was that for 1820. Both Isaac and Bailey Sparks were shown as heads of households in Humphreys County . The brothers were shown in the 26 to 45 age category, as were their wives. Isaac was credited with five children in his household: 1 male between 10 and 16; 2 males under 10 years; and 2 females also under 10 years.

'There is a record that on April 11, 1818, Isaac had received a grant from the state of Tennessee for a 10-acre tract of land in Humphreys County. (See "General Grants #11418, Book T, p.834.) On January 9, 1822, Isaac sold these 10 acres for $60 to Thomas Epperson; both men were Identified in the deed (Book C, p.317) as of Humphreys County . The tract was described as " on Hurricane Creek of Duck River" and adjoining land owned by James Mercer. The witnesses were Benjamin Noland and Henry Epperson. Then, on June 29, 1822, Isaac sold to WIlliam Lain, also living in Humphreys County, a tract of 100 acres also located on the east side of Hurricane Creek. (Humphreys County Deed Book C, p.177.) We have not found a record of Isaac Sparks acquiring this tract. There were four men who witnessed this deed: James Teas, John Lain, Rheuben S. Harman, and Thomas Epperson. There can be little doubt that Isaac Sparks's reason for selling his land in Humphreys County was his intention to move west to the newly created Carroll County, Tennessee, formerly part of the state's "Western District." (Benton County, cut off from Humphreys County in 1835, now lies between Humphreys and Carroll Counties.)

"When the 1830 census was taken in Carroll County, Isaac's brothers Bailey and Hardy, were also shown
heading households there, as was their nephew, also named Isaac Sparks, a son of their much older brother, Nathan Sparks (born 1775). Nathan Sparks was then living in Wilson County, Tennessee. On the 1830 census, as in most other documents of the period when the "uncle Isaac" and the "nephew Isaac" were both living in Carroll County, they were distinguished from each other, when named in the same document, by being called "Isaac Sparks, Sr." and "Isaac Sparks , Jr . " While this usage of senior and junior for other than father and son of the same name can be confusing to the family historian , it was not unusual in the 19th century simply to use the terms to distinguish between an older and a younger person with the same name, regardless of the relationship, if any.

"In this sketch of Isaac Sparks, born in 1780, we will continue to refer to him simply as Isaac, while his nephew will be called Isaac, Jr. As was noted in the sketch of Isaac, Jr. in the QUARTERLY of December, 1995, pp.4542-54, he became a prominent dealer in land, resulting in many deeds Involving him being recorded in Carroll County, Tennessee . In these deeds, "Jr." was rarely added to his name unless his uncle was also mentioned. The result is that one has considerable difficulty identifying the relatively few deeds that pertain to the elder Isaac, unless he was called "Sr." We do know, however, that Isaac (the elder) owned and lived on land located on Gwens Creek in Carroll County , and that it bordered Marlsboro Road .

By 1830, Isaac and Wilmoth had nine living children who were enumerated in their household by the census taker, 5 sons and 4 daughters. After the 1830 census was taken, two more daughters were added to their family.

"From the enumeration of Isaac's household when the 1840 census was taken, we learn that only their eldest son, William N . Sparks , had left home by then.

"In her 1899 letter , noted earlier in this article, Bettie Smith , daughter of Nathan Sparks , recalled that her
grand-uncle , "old Matthew Sparks," lived with his brother , Isaac, when she was a child. This was Matthew Sparks, Jr. (1759-1841), who appears to have been living with Isaac and Wilmoth as early as 1832, the year in which he applied for his Revolutionary War pension. A Carroll County Court record dated September 14, 1832, reads:

This day came Matthew Sparks Into open court and filed his declaration proofs, &c. in order to get
a pension as a Revolutionary Soldier according to Acts of Congress and was qualified to same

"As part of the 1840 general population census, a record was made of Revolutionary War pensioners and where they were living. Matthew Sparks was listed as 79 years old and a member of the household of Isaac Sparks in Carroll County. The 1840 census was also designed to tabulate the occupations of males in each household who were 16 and over. The census taker who visited Isaac's household noted that there were four members "engaged in Agriculture. " These four were probably Isaac, him self, and his sons named J. H., Bailey N., and Jesse P. Sparks.

"In 1849, Isaac Sparks obtained from the state of Tennessee a grant of 212 1/2 acres of land in Carroll County (Entry No. 240). We do not have a copy of this grant, but when the son named Jesse P. Sparks sold his share of it , an undivided 8th part , following his father's death , it was noted in the deed that it adjoined a tract of land that had been granted to James Dinwiddie. (Carroll County Deed Book P, pp.539-40.)

"It was on the 1850 census of the United States that, for the first time, the name, age , and place of birth , were included for all members of every household , along with the value of any land that they owned , and ther occupation of males who were 16 and over. Isaac was shown as 67 years old (he was actually 71), a native of North Carolina, and a farmer with real estate valued at $1,000. The census taker, a man named C . C . Hurt, recorded Wilmoth's age as 36, and a native of Tennessee. Wilmoth was actually 60 years old in 1850; if Mr. Hurt was guessing at ages in 1850, we must assume that Wilmoth had retained her youthful appearance after bearing eleven children. Seven of Isaac and Wilmoth's children were still at home in 1850 , including their widowed daughter, Sarah Tyson, age 28, with her 4-year-old son, Isaac S. Tyson. Their other six children at home were: Bailey N. , 33 (he also owned land valued at $60); Jesse P., 27; Isaac H., 21; Ann J., 24; Wilmoth, 19; and Mahala T., 15. The three sons were all shown as "Farming. "

The 1860 census included a bit more information regarding families than did that of 1850, including the name of their post office and the value of personal estate as well as real estate. The post office for Isaac Sparks's family was shown as Macedonia, with his real estate now worth $3,000, and his personal estate, $2500. (In a gazetteer published in 1850, Macedonia was described as a "post village , 108 miles west of Nashville, and 793 miles from Washington, D.C.") Two sons of Isaac and Wilmoth were still living at home in 1860, Bailey N., 45, and Jesse H., 33, as were Ann , 35, and Sarah Tyson , 37, who was called "in dwelling" by the census taker, with her son, Isaac Tyson, now 12 years old.

"It is from the deed dated July 31, 1867, by which Isaac and Wilmoth's son, Jesse P. Sparks, sold to J. L.
Seawright , his share of his father's land, that we know that Isaac had died prior to this date. When the 1870 census was taken, Wilmoth Sparks, Isaac's widow, was living with her unmarried son, Jesse P. Sparks, age 45. Wilmoth's age in 1870 was given as 70 although she was more nearly 80; she was shown as Keeping House .

"Isaac Sparks did not leave a will, and no administrator of his estate was appointed by the Carroll County Court until the July 1871 Court term, perhaps because his widow did not request a settlement. When an administrator was finally appointed, it was Isaac Sparks, Jr., Isaac's nephew , who agreed to serve. Unfortunately, no other document pertaining to the estate has been preserved , according to a search by the Carroll County Court clerk a number of years ago.

"We have not discovered the date that Wilmoth (Noland) Sparks died, although there is a document preserved by the Court that her estate's administrator, Moses T. Sparks , a son of Isaac Sparks , Jr. , submitted a final settlement on November 21, 1881. Among his expenditures, Moses Sparks noted the expenditure of $13.00 for her coffin, paid to G. W. Rogers. Another item was $4.50 paid to "Gilbert &. Stofle, Burial Bill." The "amount In administrator's hands [on] November 21, 1881, was $246.39," in personal estate for division among Wilmoth's heirs.

"The eleven children of Isaac and Wilmoth (Noland) Sparks were the following:"
[JS Note: For information concerning these children, see their individual sheets.]