Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ancestral Pride and Ancestral Shame in working on ORNERY PEOPLE

            Around 1780 George Parks, then a young fellow in the Patriot militia, tricked my GGGGGG Grandfather Solomon Sparks by appealing to his better nature and lived to boast about it in 1833: “Not long after, & all during said eighteen months service he and others of said Company of Minute men, Captured Old Solomon Sparks a celebrated Tory. They employed a Whig from a distant neighborhood and a stranger to said Old Tory to decoy him out of his house without his gun under the pretence of being a traveller & enquiring the Road. They succeeded admirably. He fought bravely without arms and considerably injured this Applicant by kicking him. He was sent down the Ya[d]kin in a Canoe. After tied hand and foot on his back he repeatedly hollowed “‘Hurra for King George.’” (“Celebrated,” of course, meant “notorious.”) Grandpa Sparks may have been the orneriest of us all, but at least he got his licks in against the young Parks.
            I have to talk about the wretched trickster George Parks because he is the only source of information about this episode in the life of Grandpa Sparks. Born in Virginia, Parks was brought to Rowan County (later Wilkes), grew up there, had a daughter by Jane Rainey out of wedlock in 1778, married twice over the next decades, had more than a dozen children, and died at the end of 1837 in Monroe County, Indiana. We forget that North Carolina and South Carolina Scots-Irish and Germans settled parts of newly opened French Illinois and even Indiana after the Revolution, opening up new migration trails, particularly about the time of the War of 1812. George Parks first moved after the war to Burke County, not taking his first child whom he was supposed to provide for. There in Burke County (remember that counties changed names and sizes frequently) another George Parks, nephew of the kidnapper, married Polly Moore, born in January 1791. Polly was the daughter of my cousin Daniel Moore, who at 16 became a private in the Continental line. The kidnapper’s oldest son, James, was born in September 1781, the month before Yorktown, a year or so after his busy father was kicked severely by Solomon Sparks. He lived with his father until he was twenty-five, as he wrote in an absolutely fascinating memoir when he was 97, four years before his death at 101 in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1842 at the age of 78 Cousin Daniel Moore saddled his horse in the Globe, Burke County, and rode off to Bloomington, Indiana, to see his son-in-law James Parks, son of the kidnapper, and some of the children of his dead daughter Nancy (1789-1828), and on to Georgetown, Illinois, to see his daughter Polly and her husband George Parks, namesake and nephew of the kidnapper. The weather was bad in that long flat stretch between the two midwestern towns, and Daniel suffered after he made it home to the Globe. I am proud of Cousin Daniel, uncle of tens of thousands of Arkansas Cokers. Like it or not, also on the paternal side, I am kin to descendants of the kidnapper through his son James and Nancy and their children and kin to the descendants of this James’s cousin George Parks, nephew of the kidnapper, and his wife Polly. Still worse, James’s and Nancy’s daughter Hannah Parks, born in 1797, married William Nelson Pruitt (1797-1876), one of my Bedford County Virginia Pruitts, so I am doubly kin to Hannah’s descendants through her and her husband. I just hope the young trickster of the Yadkin is not kin to Cynthia Martha Parks, my GG Grandmother, wife of Samuel Henderson.
       My Double Cousin Lois says that in the South if you are not kin you are connected. The trouble is that most of the time you ARE kin. What a wretched thing to do to Solomon Sparks!

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