Biography of Riley Sparks

A Progressive Farmer for his day

Riley Sparks was a citizen of Franklin County for a great many years. Born October 22, 1811, in Spartanburg District, South Carolina and died at his home near Frankfort, Alabama, December 29, 1892. Mr. Sparks was a son of Wm. Sparks, who came to Franklin County from Spartanburg District, South Carolina in the year 1820, arriving in Russellville on December 20th. He and his family located west of Russellville toward Frankfort.

William Sparks, father of Riley Sparks, was a planter and a workman. Our father and mother now have a cook table which is said to have been made by him. He is said to have possessed a passionate temper, but so far as we know, he was a good, law-abiding citizen. His brother, Enoch Sparks, who was also a pioneer settler of Franklin County, was a soldier in the War of 1812 and according to Jimmie Roe Sparks, his grandson was in the great battle of New Orleans.

Riley Sparks, subject of this sketch, owned a large tract of land in the Tollison Creek section and was a progressive farmer for his day. He was noted for his economical manner of living. The late Senator W. I. Bullock, who wrote Mr. Sparks’ obituary, said that some thought him parsimonious, but stated that he was not. He was a life-long Democrat, voting first for Jackson in 1832 and last (Presidential) for Grover Cleveland in 1892. In religion he was affiliated with the Presbyterians.

Mr. Sparks was twice married. His first wife was Miss Nancy Benson, daughter of John Benson, a pioneer settler on Tollison’s Creek. Several children were born to the first marriage. His second wife was Miss Nancy Malone, daughter of James and Polly (Cook) Malone, who also resided on Tollison’s Creek. No children were born to the second marriage.

Among the children of the first marriage were: (1) William, a farmer of Franklin County. (2) Christopher C. (“Kit”), who was a tax assessor of Franklin County three terms. (3) Mrs. Carroll McRight. (4) Mrs. Thomas Malone. (5) Jennie. (6) Frank. (7) Lemuel, and one or two sons who died in the Civil War.

Lemuel Sparks resides at Red Bay, Alabama and is the only surviving member. He formerly lived on Lost Creek, Franklin County, and was a successful farmer. He is one of Franklin’s highly respected citizens.

Riley Sparks and his two wives are buried in the Sparks Cemetery between Duncan and Tollison’s Creeks. A host of descendants live in Franklin County, many who are quite prominent.


Source: Source: James, R. L. Distinguished Men, Women and Families of Franklin County, Alabama. Russellville, Ala., Private Publication, 1928. 111 p.

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