Information about Sparks Ancestry

A cousin of mine forwarded to me a very interesting letter containing information and inquiries about the Sailer family history. The letter was in the house of my Aunt Priscilla Kelley, born Priscilla Sparks Sailer, who died in 1994. To provide a little background, this letter concerns the ancestors of the Sailers. For those who are not familiar with the Sailer line, I’ll give a quick rundown of how I (along with my siblings and cousins, of course) am descended from the Sailers, with emphasis on the Sparks connection.

Captain George Sparks in 1784 married Priscilla Harrison. Their daughter, Ann Harrison “Nancy” Sparks, in 1805 married Isaac Doughten. The Doughtens’ daughter Priscilla, born in 1808, married Joseph Sailer; they had a son, John Sailer, born in 1840, who married Emily Woodward in 1866 after Joseph’s service in the Civil War. Their son, another Joseph Sailer, was born in 1867. In 1901 he married Mary Lowber Strawbridge, the mother of my mother (Mary Lowber Sailer), Priscilla Sparks Sailer, and eight other children.

With that background, here is the text of the letter. It is dated March 15, 1973, from Francis James Dallett, University Archivist, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, to Mr. Maurice Browning Cramer, with copies to Mrs. George F. Tyler, Mrs. J. Horace Churchman, and Mrs. Sydney S. Morris. It is typed on a single sheet of University of Pennsylvania stationery. Another single sheet is stapled to it; I include the information from that sheet below, immediately after the closing of the letter.

Dear Mr. Cramer,

You and I share, with the others to whom I am addressing this letter, a common descent from Captain George Sparks, the Philadelphia mariner who was married at Christ Church in 1784 to Priscilla Harrison Simpson, granddaughter of the Hon. William Harrison, member of the Proprietary Council of New Jersey.

In 1942, when I was in my teens, I corresponded with the late Miss Alice Browning Doughten, of Moorestown, and with the late Mrs. Joseph Sailer, of Chestnut Hill, about our mutual ancestors and relations. The Sailers and Doughtens descend from the elder Sparks daughter, Ann Harrison (“Nancy”) who married Isaac Doughten, the storekeeper at Westville, New Jersey. I descend from the younger daughter, Mary Sparks, who married Abraham Powell, a ship joiner of Philadelphia. I am much interested in family history and am following up on some of the information given to me thirty years ago.

Miss Alice Doughten referred in her letters to ìthe Isaac Doughten Family Bible and she also sent me a copy of a loose sheet of paper which was preserved in that Bible which gives dates of members of the Sparks family (I enclose a copy of it). Miss Doughten did not say who actually owned the Bible and the loose page.

I am writing this letter in an attempt to locate both Bible and loose paper. I would like very much to obtain photostat copies of both. If other original Sparks Bibles or papers exist, would certainly be glad to know of them.

One of the questions I hope will be answered by the Bible is where, and by whom, the November 9, 1805 marriage of Isaac Doughten and Nancy Sparks was performed. I hope this will provide a clue to the marriage place of Abraham Powell and Mary Sparks. The Powells were wed on January 21, 1808 when Abraham was only 15 (Mary was four years older), a mature young man who rowed himself across the river every day from Gloucester Point to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Both sisters were probably married by a rural Justice of the Peace in Gloucester County.

My grandmother (the late Mrs. Frank Dallett, of Wayne, Pa.)’s two cousins, the late Mrs. J. Kearsley Mitchell and the late Mrs. Sydney Emlen Hutchinson, assembled a mass of family information when they joined some of the patriotic societies but there are gaps in their Powell and Sparks data which I have seen.

I will be grateful for any information, especially about the Isaac Doughten Bible and the “loose page.” Thank you for your assistance.

Yours sincerely,

F.J. Dallett

[Following is the text of the single sheet stapled to this letter; all material, below, including that in brackets at the end, is reproduced as on that page.]

Simon Sparks Departed this life February the 20 in the year of our Lord 1786 Age 61.

Thomas Sparks Departed this life March the 1 in the 20 year of his Age A. D. 1786.

James Simpson Departed this life December the 22 in the 23 year of his Age A. D. 1785.

[…] Sparks was born November 19, 1784.

“The above entries were found on a loose leaf of paper preserved in the Family Bible of Isaac Doughten and Ann Harrison (Sparks) Doughten, his wife. The paper is very old, worn and discoloured and the writing is very old-fashioned. The name in the last entry was torn at the time of making the copy above, but from a previous examination of the paper, I know that the name now missing was “Nancy” – this Nancy being the Ann Harrison Sparks who became the wife of Isaac Doughten, these two being my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Mary Sparks, sister of Nancy, married Abraham Powell. Alice Browning Doughten.”

[The foregoing is extracted from a letter written in 1942 by Miss Alice Browning Doughten, Moorestown, N.J., to Francis James Dallett]