SPARKS, ELIJAH. - Land in Sangamon County is so valuable that many of the farmers are devoting it to specialties, realizing that this method of farming produces a larger income than those which involve the handling of larger acreage. One of the progressive farmers of this class is Elijah sparks, of Section 32, Williams township. He was born in Tennessee in 1822, a son of Truelove and Polly (Anderson) Sparks, natives of North Carolina and Tennessee. Truelove Sparks went from North Carolina to Kentucky with his father at a very early date, settling on a forty acre farm, which they operated for several years, but not being suited, they moved on to Sangamon County, locating on a farm west of Springfield. Truelove Sparks there entered 320 acres from the Government, located near Williamsville, and held possession of it for ten years, then sold it, moving to Missouri, where he bought a small farm. As this was during the disturbed period of the Civil War, he returned to Sangamon County, resuming farming in the vicinity of Sherman. Still later he went to Nebraska, where he farmed for several years. Once more he came to Illinois and for five years farmed there, then returned to Missouri, where he bought eighty acres of land. This he operated to the time of his death, which took place when he was ninety-six years old. His second wife also died on this farm, his first wife having died when Elijah was a small child. There were eight children, four sons and four daughters, in the family of Truelove Sparks, and three of the son served during the Civil War, two being wounded in the siege of Vicksburg and dying from the effects of their wounds. Of this large family Elijah Sparks is the only survivor.
The education of Mr. Sparks was received in Sangamon County, and he worked on the several farms owned by his father, finally adopting agriculture as his calling. For the past few years he has resided on his present property but in early manhood worked for a short time, at blacksmithing. Although now in his eighty-ninth year, he is hale and hearty, carrying his age lightly.
The marriage of Mr. Sparks occurred in Williams Township, October 23, 1862, to Mary Ann Garner, born in Indiana, January 11, 1843, daughter of Andrew Garner, of Tennessee. The family moved to Indiana, where Mr. Garner engaged in farming until his death. There were five sons and three daughters in his family. His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and the family has been prominent in the history of th several communities in which its representatives are to be found. Mr. and Mrs. Sparks became parents of the following children: Polly, wife of Thomas Renfro, residing on a farm near Sherman: Laura A., wife of Gilbert Moore, also on a farm near Sherman; Matthew, on a farm north of Sherman; Lydia, wife of John Mills, residing in Williams Township; Flora, widow of James E. Mills, lives with her sister, Mrs. John Mills; Noah, at home; Oliver C., on a farm in Williams Township; Jane, at home. There are thirty-one grandchildren in the family and one great-grandchild.
Mr. Sparks is a fine specimen of the farmer of early days. Although he has worked hard all his life, and has been subjected to many of the hardships incident to pioneer days, he has enjoyed excellent health and he has accomplished much of which he may well be proud. He has lived to see his children grow up about him, developing into useful men and women, and is very proud of them and his any grandchildren. The old home is becoming too small to hold all the connections when there is a gathering, as there often is, but the warm, cordial welcome which each member receives from the grand old man and his wife compensates for a little crowding.