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Ruth Sevier Sparks ~ Kentucky


Ruth Sparks, whose maiden name was Ruth Sevier, was the daughter of General John Sevier by his second wife, Catherine Sherrill. General Sevier commanded his troops through the Indian wars, and proved the greatest friend and protector of the settlement. General Sevier was most successful in his dealings with the Indians, and during the intervals of peace, the chiefs of the tribes were often seen at his house. Ruth always manifested the greatest interest in the Indian history and lives. At one time General Sevier had thirty Indian prisoners at his house, whom he fed and cared for at his own expense, and through this kindness the greatest friendship was shown him by the neighboring tribes, and Ruth learned from them the Cherokee language. The Indians always predicted that she would someday be a chiefs wife, and strange as it may seem, this was really fulfilled. In the early settling of Kentucky, many bloody conflicts had taken place between the Indians and the white settlers, and during one of these a white child four years of age was captured by the Indians and taken to the Shawnee settlement on the Kentucky River. The old chief of the Shawnees had two sons about the age of this young white captive, whom he immediately adopted as a son, and he was reared with them, his name changed to Shawtunte.

 After his release from captivity, he was given the name of Richard Sparks. Here he lived until he had reached the age of sixteen, becoming almost an Indian in his habits and, of course, knew no other language, he having been taken when so young among them. In 1794 he was released and returned to Kentucky just before the victories of General Wayne over the Indians. On his return none of his relatives recognized him, and he was only recognized by his mother by a small mark on his body. Sparks sought the aid and protection of General Sevier, who found his knowledge and experience of the Indians most valuable. General Sevier used his influence to procure for him a military appointment, and he was given a captain's commission. He performed very valuable service for General Wayne, and stood very high among all the officers.

He met Ruth Sevier, and won her love and the ultimate consent of the Governor for her marriage to this untutored young man. She found him a very apt scholar, and he was soon able to pass the examination which enabled him to be promoted to the rank of colonel in the United States army, being ordered to Fort Pickering on the Mississippi, now the beautiful city of Memphis. This was one of the chain of forts established to maintain peace among the Chickasaw Indians. After the purchase of Louisiana, Colonel Sparks was moved to New Orleans.

Mrs. Sparks proved a most valuable helpmeet and aid to her husband, performing the duties of his secretary, keeping his accounts, writing his letters, and making out his reports to the War Department Owing to his early life among the Indians and General Sevier's well-known reputation of humanity, both Colonel and Mrs. Sparks had a most beneficial influence over the Indians of the lower Mississippi. Colonel Sparks' health failed, and he was at first allowed to return to Mrs. Sparks' old home, but they finally removed to Staunton, Virginia, at which place he died in 1815. Mrs. Sparks married the second time a wealthy planter of Mississippi, and lived near Port Gibson in Mississippi. While on a visit in 1874 to some friends in Maysville, Kentucky, she died.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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