James Lewis Sparks
James Lewis was born 16 June 1861, He was the only child of John Landrum Sparks and Mary Ann Mintz. [Read more about them and others in John Sparks’ Descendents List.] James Lewis married Cassa Dorinda Clementine Spake, who was born on 25 March 1854, the daughter of George Spake and Cynthia Adeline Morningstar. They were married on 15 September 1879 in Rutherford County. He was eighteen years old and she was twenty-five years old. Witnesses at their marriage were P. A. Miller, Albert Morrow and Jane Morrow (Clementine’s sister).
Clementine was a carrier for hemophilia, which she had inherited from her mother, Cynthia Adeline Morningstar, the daughter of James Morningstar and Rhoda Vinesett. Rhoda Vinesett was the daughter of John Vinesett and Mary (Molly) Green. The hemophilia was inherited from Mary’s mother, who is unknown at this writing, although she is known to be the wife of William Green from Goochland County, Virginia.
Jim and Clementine had fourteen children; however, several died of hemophilia while they were young. Sometime after the birth of several children, the family moved to the Pacolet Mills area of South Carolina. Several of the girls met their husbands there and settled down to rear their families in that area. Perhaps the flood of 1903 caused the family to move back to the Cliffside area of North Carolina. In the Cliffside Baptist Church minutes of 1903, J. L. Sparks and wife, Clementine, requested that they and their children, John, Robert, Docia, and Dovey come under the watchcare of the church. Later they moved back to the Shiloh community and were living there when Clementine died on 16 March 1911 at the age of fifty-six. She is buried at Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery.
The house in which the Jim Sparks family lived while they were in the Shiloh community of Rutherford County still stands, although it has undergone complete remodeling. They were members of Shiloh Baptist Church, where Clementine played the accordion for the services until the church could afford an organ. After the church purchased an organ, she remained the organist until her death. Miss Minnie Millard tells the story that because Clementine had asthma, the church members would not paint the sanctuary until after her death.
After the death of Clementine, James Lewis married his second wife, Montie Culbreth, the daughter of L. D. Culbreth and Mary Louise Bradley. Montie was born on 26 June 1889 and was twenty-two when she married fifty year old Jim. The couple had nine children: Monroe, Morgan, Louellen, Virginia, Charles, Garland, Montie Ree, Lorenzo Dow (Jack) and Emory. They lived on farms in southern Virginia and later settled in Oxford, NC. James Lewis Sparks died on 28 January 1938 and is buried at Gray Rock Methodist Church cemetery in Kittrell.
It is apparent from talking with people who knew him that James Lewis Sparks was indeed a character. Some tell of his dancing antics in the community of Shiloh and they looked forward to having jovial cousin Jimmy visit. He was a talker who never met a stranger and must have been spoiled as an only child. He moved his family quite a bit and there are several records of land sales in Rutherford Co. The property in Ruth where his son, John, had lived was sold to Uncle John by his father. Rev. Watson Abrams tells the story in his book of having a severe toothache when he was a boy living in the Shiloh community. He tells that his mother sent him to the home of Mr. Jim Sparks to have his tooth extracted. Inez Harding, his granddaughter, and daughter of Docia Sparks Abrams, says he was “a jack of all trades; master of none.” A son by his second marriage says he treated Montie, his second wife, with great love, but to the children he was “as mean as a damn snake.” My father, Robert Lee Sparks, told of leaving home as a young man because of his father’s drinking and the problems that sprang from the alcohol abuse.
From Some of the Ancestors and Descendents of Robert Lee Sparks and Ebber Sloan Bostic by Jimmy Louis Sparks, 1999