Part of an old map of the San Jacinto area from the Texas Revolution

Veteran Bio

Texian Location:  Participant

The Kemp Sketch

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SPARKS, STEPHEN FRANKLIN -- Born in Yazoo County, Mississippi, April 7, 1819, a son of Richard and Elizabeth Sparks. His father served in the war of 1812 and moved to Texas in 1833 and settled in what is now San Augustine County. In the fall of that year he moved to a place five miles north of Nacogdoches. Stephen F., was a member of Captain H. T. Edwards Company in the campaign of 1835.

Reminiscences of Mr. Sparks were written by him to Reverend J. L. Walker of Bruceville, Texas, March 16, 1895, and were published in the Quarterly of the Texas Historical Association in July, 1908. From there this sketch was largely prepared.

Returning home from the army Mr. Sparks attended for a short time a school taught by Thomas D. Brooks. On March 8, 1836, a volunteer company was organized at Nacogdoches of which a Mr. Henderson was elected captain. The company reached Washington-on-the-Brazos on the day that word was received there of the fall of the Alamo. The company was disbanded the next day and Mr. Henderson started on his return to Nacogdoches. On the day following this Mr. Sparks, Thomas D. Brooks, Howard Bailey and Samuel McGlothin were ordered to go to Harrisburg and impress horses and guns for the army. They were thus engaged for a period of two weeks. "Our orders from the cabinet," wrote Mr. Sparks, "were to press every horse and gun that was necessary for the protection of the people who were fleeing before Santa Anna's army; to press every horse that we found on the prairie that was suitable for the army, to receipt him if we could find the owner, and in any case to send him to the army."

Further on Mr. Sparks wrote: "I think it was the next day that Captain Wiley came from Galveston with two pieces of cannon, called the 'twin sisters', He asked the authorities to let us go with Captain Wiley, and join Houston's army. They agreed to let us go, and the next day we took up the line of march, arriving at Houston's army the following afternoon. They were then at what was known as Groce's. It was about two o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived, and nearly all the army had crossed to the east side of the river. We looked around for the Nacogdoches company, and after finding them, we joined them."

In Service Record No. 4686 signed at Harrisburg April 8, 1836, it is certified that S. F. Sparks, Thomas D. Brooks, Howard Bailey, Henry Chapman and Henry M. Brewer entered the service at Nacogdoches March 8, 1836, as volunteers and had been engaged by the government in various services. On April 8th they were ordered to report themselves to the commander-in-chief of the army. They enlisted in Captain Hayden Arnold's "Nacogdoches Company," April 12, 1836.

On May 4, 1846 Mr. Sparks was issued Donation Certificate No. 11, for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle of San Jacinto. An act of the Legislature, approved September 1, 1856, appropriated 640 acres of land to him for having participated in the Storming and Capture of Bexar, December 5 to 10, 1835. This was unusual since it was customary to issue only one Donation Certificate to a soldier, regardless of the number of conflicts he had been engaged in. In Headright Certificate No. 73 issued to him February 1, 1838 for one labor of land by the Nacogdoches County Board, it was stated that he came to Texas in January, 1833.

Mr. Sparks was married to Emily B. Whitaker, daughter of __________ October 6, 1836. Mrs. Sparks died __________. Mr. Sparks died March 12, 1908 at Rockport while a member of the Texas Veteran Association. Children of Mr. and Mrs. Sparks were _________.

Written by Louis W. Kemp, between 1930 and 1952. Please note that typographical and factual errors have not been corrected from the original sketches. The biographies have been scanned from the original typescripts, a process that sometimes allows for mistakes in the new text. Researchers should verify the accuracy of the texts' contents through other sources before quoting in publications. Additional information on the veteran may be available in the Herzstein Library.

Battle Statistics

  • Died in Battle: No
  • Wounded in Battle: Yes - in knee with bayonet
  • Rank: Private
  • Company: Capt. Hayden S. Arnold
  • Battle Account: Heroes of Texas : S. F. Sparks, His Recollections. Houston : Union National Bank, 1933. F390.S67 1933

Personal Statistics

  • Alternate Names: Spanks
  • Date of Birth: 1819 Apr 7
  • Birthplace: Mississippi, Yazoo County
  • Came to Texas: 1833 Jan
  • Date of Death: 1908 Mar 12
  • Other Battles: Bexar
  • Donation Certificate: 11
  • Wife: Emily B. Whitaker