SAMUEL PRESTON SPARKS, CIVIL WAR PENSION APPLICATION
SAMUEL PRESTON SPARKS, son of William W. and Lucretia C. (Pryor) Sparks, was born on January 1, 1844, in Surry County, North Carolina. He married (1st) Myra Curtis on April 6, 1871, in Henry County, Missouri, and (2nd) Nannie Rebecca Cunningham on April 8, 1874, at Little Rock, Arkansas. He served in Companies B and H, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry. He died on September 16, 1892. File Designation: Wid. Cert. No. 397,351.
On December 5, 1892, Nannie R. Sparks, aged 38, a resident of Warrensburg, Missouri, made a declaration for a Widow's Pension under the provisions of the 1890 Act of Congress. She said she was a widow of Samuel Preston Sparks who had enlisted on March 15, 1862, at Lexington, Missouri, as a private in Company H, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia and had served until he was mustered out with his company on May 13, 1865. He died on September 16, 1892. She was married to Sparks on April 8, 1874, at Little Rock, Arkansas, by the Rev. Thos. B. Lee. Sparks had been previously married to Myra Curtis on April 6, 1871, but she had died on January 19, 1872. The only child of Samuel Sparks under the age of sixteen was Bayard P. Sparks who was born on December 16, 1889. Mrs. Sparks appointed S. J. Burnett of Warrensburg, Missouri, as her attorney, and the declaration was sworn to before W. S. Hornbuckle and J. W. McFarland.
A week later, Dr. Francis C. Smith, M.D., made an affidavit that he was the attending physician when Bayard Sparks, son of Samuel P. Sparks, was born on December 16, 1889. Shortly thereafter, Henry Neill, aged 65, and O.D. Williams, aged 67, both residents of Warrensburg, Missouri, swore that they had known Nannie R. Sparks for over twenty years and that she had been married only one time and that was to Samuel P. Sparks. She and Sparks had lived together as man and wife until his death on September 16, 1892.
William E. Crissey, aged 53, of Warrensburg, Missouri, made an affidavit on behalf of the application of Nannie R. Sparks on April 6, 1893. He said that he was an abstractor of titles, a notary public, and a general loan agent. During the past 25 years, he had been intimately acquainted with Samuel P. Sparks. He knew Sparks's first wife, Myra Curtis, who had died some years ago and whose body was interred in the Warrensburg Cemetery. He also knew Nannie R. Sparks, now the widow of Samuel P. Sparks. Nannie now owned a tract of land 100 by 300 feet with a dwelling, her home, worth about $3,000, but which had an encumbrance of about $1,500. She had no income and was dependent upon her own labor. Since the death of her husband, she had not remarried or had she abandoned the support of her child.
Two days later, the Recorder of Johnson County, Missouri, John C. Rivers, certified that there was a record in his office of the marriage of Sam'l. P. Sparks, of Warrensburg, Missouri, and Miss Myra Curtis of Henry County, Missouri, on April 6, 1871. They had been married by the Rev. J. S. Newcomb, Pastor of the M.E. Church. A short time later, the assistant rector of Christ Church, South, Little Rock, Arkansas, certified that, according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, Samuel Preston Sparks and Nannie Rebecca Cunningham had been married in his church on April 8, 1874.
On the same day, Green B. Lannom, aged 67, a resident of Warrensburg, testified that he was the sexton of the Warrensburg Cemetery at the time of the death of Myra, first wife of Samuel P. Sparks, and that he was present and assisted at her burial. He said that the inscription on the marble stone which marked her grave read as follows: "Sacred to the memory of Mira, dearly beloved wife of Samuel P. Sparks, died Jan. 19, 1872, aged 31 years 4 months."
In the meantime, on August 31, 1893, the War Department had sent the Commissioner of Pensions the military and medical history of Samuel P. Sparks. He had been enrolled as a private on March 15, 1862, in Company B, 13th Regiment Missouri State Militia Cavalry and was transferred (through reorganization to Company B, 5th Regiment Missouri State Militia. He was mustered out with his detachment on April 27, 1865. At the time of his enlistment, he had been 19 years of age; he was 5 ft. 9 in. tall; he had a dark complexion, black eyes and black hair; he had been born in Surry County, North Carolina; and he was a farmer. He was present for duty with the following exceptions: August 24, 1862, on scout; December 31, 1863 to February 28, 1865, detailed as a hospital steward at Waynes ville, Missouri; June 11, 1862, hospitalized with scabies; April 1, 1865, hospitalized for bronchitus ; April 16, 1865, to May 5, 1865, "int. fever."
Widow Certificate No. 397,351 was issued to Nannie R. Sparks, and she was placed upon the pension roll.
On January 16, 1929, Nannie R. Sparks wrote the following letter to the Commissioner of Pensions: "This coming April 1929, I will be 75 years old, God willing. Born April 30, 1854. Married to Samuel P. Sparks April 8, 1874. Samuel P. Sparks died September 16, 1892. This is the Bible record. My pension voucher was made out so many years ago, I don't know how correct it is. Does this not entitle me to an increase in pension next April? Im now receiving $30 per month. [signed] Nannie R. Sparks, 761 W. 180th St., Apt. 68, New York City."
The last document (in chronological order) from the "selected papers" in the pension file for Nannie R. Sparks provided by the National Archives is a memorandum dated June 6, 1936, authorizing the suspension of her pension payments of $40 per month, pending the verification of her death which apparently occurred prior to April 30, 1936.
[Editor's Note: A biographical sketch of the life of Samuel P. Sparks appears on pp. 732-33 of THE HISTORY OF JOHNSON COUNTY, MISSOURI, published in Kansas City in 1881, and describes him as "prominent in the legal profession." His father was William W. Sparks who had come to Missouri in 1844 from Surry County, North Carolina. He was a farmer; he died on February 16, 1876. Because only children under 16 could benefit from a Civil War pension, only Bayard P. Sparks was mentioned in this application as a child of Samuel P. Sparks. From other sources, it is known that he and his second wife, Nannie Rebecca, also had three other children: Leonard F. Sparks, born about 1875; Russell C. Sparks, born about 1878; and Mary V. Sparks. Samuel Preston Sparks was a grandson of Joel Sparks, Sr. who had served in the War of 1812 from Surry County, North Carolina. As a resident of Bates County, Missouri, in 1855, Joel Sparks, Sr. had applied for bounty land based on his service in the War of 1812. (See the QUARTERLY of September 1961, Vol. XI, Whole No. 35, pp. 579-580 for the papers supporting Joel's application.) A correction should be noted, however, in the editor's note on page 580. While the name of Joel's father was given correctly as Matthew, his grandfather's name was given incorrectly as William Sample Sparks. This should have been simply William Sparks. William Sparks was born about 1728 in Queen Annes County, Maryland, married a woman named Ann -----, moved to Frederick County, Maryland in the late 1840s, then to North Carolina in 1764, and died in Surry County, North Carolina, in the spring of 1802. It was William Sparks's father who was named William Sample Sparks.]