Biography of Matthew B. Sparks
Jefferson County, IA Biographies





Matthew B. Sparks, who has the distinction of being one of the oldest practicing attorneys in Jefferson county, was born in Scottville, Macoupin county, Illinois, on April 17, 1838, being a son of John and Elizabeth (Bradshaw) Sparks. His father, although born and reared in Virginia, was of English extraction, the paternal great grandfather, Matthew B. Sparks, a farmer by occupation, being a native of the mother country. His mother, who was born in White county, Tennessee, was a direct descendant of John Bradshaw, a general in the army of Oliver Cromwell. He was president of the court that condemned to death Charles the First of England, signing the warrant of execution. Two of John Bradshaw's sons escaped the wrath of Charles the Second after the restoration by coming to America, and it was from one of these that Mrs. Sparks was descended. In 1830 together with his wife and family John Sparks came west to Illinois, locating in Macoupin county where he followed the carpenter's trade and fanning during the remainder of his active life, passing away near Carlinville, in 1882. The mother survived for several years thereafter, her demise occurring at Jacksonville, Illinois. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Sparks numbered nine children, as follows: William and Fannie, both of whom are deceased; Matthew B., our subject; and Nancy, John Byrum, Ryal, Amanda, Emma, also deceased; and Louisa, the widow of W. H. Hendrickson, ex secretary of state and member of congress from Illinois, who is now living at Alexander, Illinois.

The first nineteen years of his life Matthew B. Sparks spent under the parental roof, attending the district and high schools in the vicinity of his home in the acquirement of an education. Upon the completion of the course therein pursued he came to Iowa, locating in Van Buren county, where for several years he engaged in teaching. He subsequently went to Scotland county, Missouri, where he continued to teach until the breaking out of the Civil war. On the 13th of July, 1861, he answered his country's call for troops and went to Memphis, Missouri, where he enlisted in Company C. Twenty first Missouri Volunteer Infantry. He remained at the front until the 22d of September, 1862, at which time he was discharged at Keokuk. Iowa, on account of disability. He participated in a number of notable skirmishes and engagements in Missouri during the autumn of 1861 and in the following spring his regiment was ordered to join General Grant's army at Pittsburg Landing. Their campaign was opened at Shiloh, where his company met with heavy losses, but twenty seven of their eighty three men surviving that terrible conflict. After he was mustered out Mr. Sparks came to Batavia, where he again engaged in teaching, devoting his unoccupied hours to the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in 186 and immediately thereafter opened an office here and engaged in the practice of his profession, with which he has ever since been identified, being the oldest practicing attorney in Jefferson county with the exception of Isaac D. Jones of Fairfield.

On the 2d of September, 1858, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Sparks and Miss Sarah J. Killebrew, a daughter of Captain Finess and Louisa (Evans) Killebrew, the family being of Scotch extraction in the paternal line. Her father was a native of Tennessee, having been horn near the Kentucky line, while the mother's birthplace was Lexington, Kentucky. The paternal grandfather, Lawrence Killebrew, was a pioneer Methodist preacher of Pike county, Missouri, where he was born and reared. He withdrew from the Missouri conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, when the church divided on the slavery question and went to Illinois, where he spent his latter years, his death occurring in Winchester, Scott county, that state. In the maternal line Mrs. Sparks is descended from Captain Maberry Evans, her grandfather, who was a millwright of Kentucky, having been a son of the Revolutionary hero. Captain Finess Killebrew was a sawmill owner and operator in his native state, whence he removed to Iowa in the late '30s, locating near Hillsboro, where he engaged in farming. He was commissioned captain in the Iowa State Militia in 1840, which office he also held during the Black Hawk war. During the Rebellion he lived in Missouri, but when peace was restored returned to Iowa, purchasing a farm near Libertyville, this county, where both he and his wife passed away in 1866. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Killebrew: Murina, who is deceased; Elizabeth, the widow of Loren Rawson, now living near Parsons, Kansas; Sarah J., now Mrs. Sparks; Maberry, who is deceased; Parthina, who never married and is now a resident of Parsons, Kansas; and John J., who is also deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Sparks were the parents of six children.

The family affiliate with the Methodist Episcopal church of which Mrs. Sparks is an earnest member. During his earlier years Mr. Sparks always voted the straight republican ticket, but he now accords his support to the men and measures he deems best adapted to subserve the interests of the majority, irrespective of party affiliation. He has always taken an active and helpful interest in all municipal affairs, and for many years has been a member of the town council and for ten years he was mayor of Batavia and was president of the school board for a long period. That he proved to be efficient and loyal to the best interests of his community is attested by the length of his periods of incumbency in his various public positions. He is one of the highly honored members of the Jefferson County Bar Association and he also belongs to the George Strong Post of the Grand Army of the Republic of Fairfield. Mr. Sparks has been one of the factors in the development and upbuilding of Batavia, his time and energy ever having been liberally contributed toward the promotion and advancement of every movement that promised the betterment of the intellectual or moral welfare of the town, of which he has been a resident for more than forty six years.

From:
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement Vol II
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1914


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