Thursday, February 6, 2020

Through Her Eyes Thursday~Elizabeth Weaver Sparks

First in a new Thursday Genealogy Prompt

This is the first in a new genealogy blogging prompt called Through Her Eyes Thursday. 
In the past, the history books rarely, if ever, mentioned women. The census didn't even give them their names until 1850. In any newspaper articles or the like, their names where always listed as ~Mrs. John Doe~ never as Anne Doe.
So, to bring the attention to where it rightly deserves, many bloggers have chosen to join me to shine a light on their stories.

I begin by sharing my story of Elizabeth Weaver Sparks

Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks
Photo courtesy of

Elizabeth Weaver was born a few years before the Revolutionary War on December 1st, 1772  in New Holland, Lancaster County, British Colonial America. She was raised in the Mennonite religion, as her maternal 2x-great grandfather, Hans Herr, is rumored to have been the first Mennonite Bishop in Colonial America. Her paternal grandfather, George Weaver, along with two of his brothers, received land from William Penn himself.

The daughter of George Weaver and Frances Brechbuhl (Brackbill, Brachbuhl) was raised in Lancaster County until her father's death. Elizabeth was around the age of 10 or 11 at the time of his death. Her mother moved the family to Virginia, and continued raising them in the Mennonite religion.

Elizabeth Charts Her Own Path

According to her obituary in The Western Christian Advocate, Elizabeth and three other women, decided to go listen to a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. Their minds were all turned by what they heard; and they became baptized at the following month's meeting.

Elizabeth Weaver's heart was also turned by him. On August 8, 1793, she married that circuit-riding preacher by the name of Elijah Sparks.

A Family of Her Own

Her oldest child, Hamlet Sparks, is born ca. 1796. He is her only child to be born in Virginia.

With a move to Kentucky in 1798, Elijah started practicing law and they had two more children: Norval (1800) & Eliza Ann (1803) In 1806, they moved across the Ohio River to Dearborn County, Indiana Territory, where Elizabeth's two brothers were already living. Here, Elizabeth would give birth to three more children: Green (1808), Helen (1812) and America Columbia (ca. 1814-15).

By 1814, Elizabeth was raising six children. Her husband had just become Judge  of the Third Circuit Court of the Indiana Territory. He would have travelled quite extensively in this position due to the sparsely-populated area.

On Her Own

On a trip back east, Elijah passed away on April 30, 1815. The children were ages 3-19 at his death. Elizabeth's mother had moved out to the area, and her brothers also lived nearby. Although she was now a widow with young children at home, she had family nearby to be able to lean on for support.

The obituary in the Western Christian Advocate mentions that Elizabeth never married again, and turned her attention to her church. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Lawrenceburg for 58 years.

Hamline United Methodist Church
Lawrenceburg, IN
(Source: Wikipedia)

Her last years

For a woman that was born before the Revolutionary War, it is amazing that I have a photo of Elizabeth. However, it is just as amazing to be able to report that a 91-year-old Elizabeth did her part during the Civil War by assisting in making clothes for the Union soldiers.

A year later would find Elizabeth on her deathbed. The church being so important to Elizabeth, I would like to include a quote from her obituary. "She never failed to do her part in paying her pastor's salary. On her death-bed she gave him some money, stating at the same time she would not likely live to see the next ensuing quarterly meeting."

Elizabeth (Weaver) Sparks died on March 13, 1864 in the home of her son, Hamlet, in Moores Hill, Dearborn County, Indiana.


  • The Western Christian Advocate; Methodist publication. [Issue dated 3 January 1866, p. 6, Col. 1]


  1. A formidable woman and you are truly fortunate to have this picture of her.

    1. She does sound like a very formidable woman, doesn't she? But, I think she almost had to be. I know that I am extremely fortunate to have this photo! Thank you!

  2. A remarkable woman who lived a long life that included so many historical events. I see you and I are traveling along the same Colonial path with our women ancestors. Many similarities in our Colonial women, both in time and places they lived. Neat that you have a portrait of Elizabeth.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

  3. Sue, I agree! What all she must have seen in her long life...Wow! Your ancestor and mine do seem to share a lot of similarities, with mine just tailing behind about 20 years. Yes, I feel very blessed to have this photo of Elizabeth!

  4. That is truly wonderful to have her picture and to find so much info on her. Well done!

    1. Thank you, Virginia! Sometime soon I will do a post on the source of all this info. It is worth a post of it's own.

  5. What a gift to have a photograph of an ancestor born in 1772! Elizabeth had to be determined and resilient to cope with what life threw at her - as did so many women in early America. I found fascinating too some of the names of her children.

  6. The names of her children are quite different! Helen and Eliza Ann are the only two with "normal" names. Due to that Shakespeare guy, I find it a little harder to search for Hamlet. I keep getting results about a play! LOL

  7. A young woman with a mind of her own, indeed. And fortitude, at the time raising her children alone, even with family help, cannot have been easy.

  8. Diane, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I raised my son as a single parent for about 10 years. That was only about 15-20 years ago with lots of family help, and it was still tough! I can't even begin to imagine what it was like 200 years ago with 3 of them still quite young.