Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Sparks family papers
mssHM 60739-60822  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (67.70 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Arrangement
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sparks family papers
    Dates: 1856-1897
    Dates: bulk 1861-1864
    Collection Number: mssHM 60739-60822
    Creator OR Collector: Sparks (Family)
    Extent: 84 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2203
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: Correspondence and documents of the Sparks and Reed families.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site  .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sparks family papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Purchased from Butterfield & Butterfield, May 1999.

    Biographical Note

    The Sparks family of Bell County, Texas, was founded by William C. Sparks, a native of Mississippi. Having obtained a grant of land from the Mexican government, he settled in Robertson county and moved to Bell County in the early 1850s. He married Jane Alexander (d. 1867), a native of Arkansas. They had six children: Clara Jane (who married Volney Cavitt and lived in Wheelock, Robertson County), John, Elijah (private of Co. I of the 17th Texas Infantry, who died of pneumonia in camp in Dec. 1862), William C. (private of Co. E of 2nd Texas), Minerva (wife of Michael Reed), and Samuel A. (who ended the Civil War with the rank of the Lieutenant, and later was a farmer in Wilkinson Valley and sheriff of the Bell County).
    Michael R. Reed, son of John R. Reed and husband of Minerva Sparks, joined the 17th Regiment of the Texas Infantry in June 1862, together with his brothers, Henry and Edmund, and his brother-in-law, Elijah. The regiment, part of Walker's Texas Division, McCulloch's Brigade, took part in the Red River Campaign. In Dec. 1862, Michael Reed was a male nurse at a hospital in Austin, Arkansas. In June-July 1863, he was sent to a convalescent camp four miles north of Monroe, Louisiana. In Dec. 1863 he went home on furlough. In March, when he returned to camp, he was arrested and was about to be court-martialed. He died of wounds in July, 1864 near Alexandria, La.
    William Sparks, brother of Minerva Sparks Reed, joined the 2nd Texas Infantry, nicknamed "2nd Texas Sharpshooters." The regiment, one of the best drilled regiments in the Confederate Army, took part in the battle of Shiloh, Farmington, occupation of Juka, siege of Corinth, and siege of Vicksburg. It surrendered with the remainder of the Vicksburg garrison on July 4, 1863. After the surrender of Vicksburg, William Sparks made it back to Texas. The regiment was reorganized at Houston in the fall 1863, and served on the coast of Texas to the end of the war.


    The collection is arranged chronologically. It is housed in two boxes.

    Scope and Content

    Letters from Michael R. Reed, William Sparks, and Clara Jane Cavitt to Minerva Sparks Reed; also documents relating to the Sparks family.
    Michael Reed's letters describe the regiment's march through Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, the minutia of camp life, and encounters with Union prisoners. He at length discusses conscription, substitutes, and desertions, and duly reported war news, often rather distorted (thus he reported rumors of a complete Confederate victory at Gettysburg and Vicksburg).
    William Sparks' letters were written during the siege of Vicksburg and blockade of Galveston. They contain information about camp life, diseases, (especially the outbreak of yellow fever), conscripts, Methodist preaching in Galveston, war news, and discussion of Confederate politics.
    The letters of Clara Jane Cavitt and other papers of the Sparks family document life in Texas in 1850-1860s, including charity and war efforts, reaction to the conscript law of April 1862, and discussion of war news.
    Typewritten transcripts are available.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Cavitt, Clara Jane Sparks
    Reed, Michael R.
    Reed, Minerva Sparks
    Sparks (Family)
    Sparks, William C.

    Corporate Names

    Confederate States of America. Army -- Military life -- Sources
    Confederate States of America. Army. Texas Infantry Regiment, 2nd
    Confederate States of America. Army. Texas Infantry Regiment, 17th


    Red River Expedition, 1864 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
    Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862 -- Personal narratives, Confederate
    Soldiers -- Southern States -- Correspondence

    Geographic Areas

    Galveston (Tex.) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
    Texas -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Regimental histories -- Sources
    Texas -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives, Confederate.
    Vicksburg (Miss.) -- History -- Siege, 1863 -- Personal narratives, Confederate


    Family papers -- Texas -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- Confederate States of America