Tintype, believed to be *William Harvey Sparks. This tintype was about the only tangible thing my grandmother had from her family, no doubt commandeered by her forceful mother, Mellie Sparks...
I had terribly little on the Wm. Sparks family of Arkansas who started out in Miller County but eventually ended up in Cleveland County, Arkansas. Thanks to my cousin Richard Cushman, that has all changed! In a big way.

*William Harvey "W. H." Sparks was born in Pickens County, Alabama in 1848 or 49. The son of *John Sterrett Sparks (1800-1870) who was born in South Carolina, he was a Civil War Veteran. Recorded as a private in Company H, 25th Alabama Infantry, he rose to the rank of sergeant in Company A, 2nd battalion, Hilliard's Legion.

He married *Amanda Irene Adcock about 1870 in Alabama. The 1880 Census had them living in Pickens, Alabama, but by the 1900 Census he was 51 and living and farming in Miller County, Arkansas. The 1910 Census had him age 61 and living in Cleveland Co., Arkansas, and it is assumed he eventually died in Arkansas.

By her physical description and other speculations, it was strongly suspected by my grandmother that Amanda had some Native American blood. They called it "Black Dutch" as Amanda was diminutive, dark complected, with long black braids. And she was quite pretty according to Bertha. Certainly my great grandmother Mellie's appearance does nothing to discourage that possibility.

Anyway, the Sparks' migrations placed them adjacent to Bradley County and the Spraggins, of future importance to usRichard Cushman found our Sparks ancestors all the way back to before the American Revolution! Here is what he sent me:

*John S. Sparks married *Elizabeth Webb (1807, N.C.-1870, Pickens Co., Al.) abt. 1826. Their children were:
 James M.
Mary A.
Eli A.
Minerva Caroline
Catherine R.
*William Harvey

John died about 1870 in Pickens Co., Alabama. Descendants say that John and Elizabeth Sparks were buried in unmarked graves in the Sparks Family Cemetery. This cemetery is located north of the Antioch Church and on the road to the Bethlehem Church in Pickens Co., Al.
His father was *Jesse Sparks who was born about 1785 in Greenville Co., South Carolina.He married *Isabella Armstrong (1779-1809, S.C.) It is said that Jesse abandoned the family and that John and his 3 other siblings were taken in by Isabella's family when she died. Jesse Sparks died in Greenville Co., S.C. in 1824 at age 39.

His father was *Steven Sparks who was born in Newberry Co., S.C. about 1760 and Steven died at the same place on 10 July 1816 at age 56.

His father was *Zachariah Sparks who was born inLaurens, S.C. in 1740.

Zachariah Sparks married *Mary Lawson (1750, S.C. - 1823, Indiana) in 1765 at age 25.
He died in 1781 in Laurens, S.C.

Anyway, back to our Arkansas Sparks, W. H. and Amanda.

According to my mother's mother, Bertha Thomas Spraggins, who lived with and knew them, their children were:
At some point Mellie's brother Oscar Sparks wandered into Bradley County and married a local girl, and found friends and work, and he put down roots.  That may be how his sister Mellie and her three children were introduced and grafted into the Ebeneezer community near Warren Arkansas... one of them was my grandmother.

*Mellie Sparks Thomas with two of her babies, probably Harvey and Bertha, about 1905.
*Millie/Mellie/Nellie Sparks married a fellow in Miller County named *"Sam" (Jeff) Thomas in 1903 and was calling herself Nellie (or the County clerk misspelled) at the time. It is strange that neither of these young people used their legal names on their marriage records. He was probably *Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jr., third son of *Thomas Jefferson and *Lona Thomas of Miller County, Arkansas. After Mellie bore him three children, they split hard and never saw each other again. In fact, she usually refused to speak of him, even his name.

Abandoned early, Harvey, Louis and Bertha
Nellie "farmed out" her kids when they were old enough to work. by 1910 she had moved in with her parents in Cleveland County... and claimed to be a widow.
1910  Cleveland Co. AR
William Harvey Sparks  61 farmer m. 40 yrs       AL- AL- AL
Amanda Adcock Sparks   60, wife/  8 children,    AL- AL- AL
*Millie Thomas      28, dau, widow, 3 children  AL- AL- AL
Harvey Thomas       6,  g son                AR- AR- AL
*Bertha Thomas       4,  g dau                AR- AR- AL
Louis Thomas        2,  g son                AR- AR- AL 
We know even less about the Thomas side of this union. Only that they too were in Miller County, Arkansas where the couple met.
Little Louis Nolan must have been a real pistol, as he was branded early as "Sam," a nickname (or a pejorative!) he carried all of his life.

Left to right: Mellie Sparks Parrot, my grandmother *Bertha Thomas Spraggins, Regina Thomas (brother Sam's dau), Shirley Spraggins, hugging her father *Shelby Spraggins,  Bertha's half-sister Jean Parrot and her step-father Mr. Parnell. WHEW!


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