But for the Sparks family of Wilkes/Surry County (they didn't know which they were put in from one tax season to the next) there's a thrilling challenge. Because so many men joined the Revolution in their youth and lived so very long, there's a dozen and more pension applications telling close to the same story with different emphases and different gaps. Those barbaric Highlanders down in the sandy part of the state! Those rampaging Tories in our counties! The Tory Ben Cleveland gave a choice--be hanged or take a dull knife and cut off your own ears. Cousin William, who told what happened after Tories looted his father's house.
There's an unsung hero of American History, Will Graves, who has devoted himself to transcribing these Southern Campaign pension application. Bless him and give him years of healthy life! This is Will's transcription of 85 year old William Sparks's application, made in Nacogoches, Texas.
In less than a year after my return from the campaign against the Cherokees above detailed, a party of Tories, about 150 in number, robbed my Father, taking a horse, saddle, and bridle , six guns, all our pewter (we had no delftware in those days) and whatever else they could carry. My company was immediately called out and others amounting in all to about one hundred and fifty mounted gunmen under the command of Colo. Benjamin Cleveland. We pursued the above named Tories a distance of between 60 and 70 miles and overtook them in Coxe's settlement near the Virginia line. They were feasting, frolicking and many of them drunk. We killed and wounded 25 or 30 of them in a fight, made prisoners of nearly all the rest, of whom hung five or six, the balance of the prisoners were discharged by Col. Cleveland upon their promise not to molest the patriots for the future. In this expedition I was engaged three weeks.
A chapter telling one little episode of Revolutionary History from the ground up, old codgers, Sparks brothers and Sparks cousins and several of their neighbors, all trying to remember. I like it.