These are miscellaneous stories about some of our ‘collateral relatives’ (not direct ancestors). Click on a photo to enlarge; use arrows at right and left to navigate.
Richard Sparks, Jr. (1757-1815) – Held Captive by the Shawnees for 12 Years
(First cousin 5x removed to the Applegate sisters)
Johanna Applegate, sister of William Applegate, 4th great-grandfather of the Applegate sisters, married Richard Sparks. The Applegate and Sparks families had been living in New Jersey for three generations. Richard Sparks, Walter Wall, and several Applegates migrated to the frontier of southwestern Pennsylvania, which became known as the “Jersey Settlement”. The founders and first settlers were the Applegate and Wall families, who arrived in the 1760s. Richard Sparks, Jr., son of Richard Sparks and Johanna Applegate, was born in 1757. When Richard, Jr. was about five years old, he was taken by Shawnee Indians and held captive until he was about 17. Richard had been adopted into the family of Chief Pukeesheno, father of the famous Tecumseh. He was reared as an Indian and was given the name Shawtunte.
From the book “Tecumseh: A Life” by John Sugden:
Pukeesheno probably took Richard because he felt he would be a good companion for his own son, Cheeseekau, who was about the same age. Certainly the boy was treated with the humanity that marked several members of Pukeesheno’s family, including Tecumseh himself. One who later interviewed Richard Spark’s wife testified that Richard was given the name Shawtunte and raised with unusual kindness and indulgence. It is a tribute to the affection Pukeesheno had for him that the family refused to give the boy up for some twelve years, despite the heavy pressure the British put upon the Shawnees to surrender prisoners. And perhaps it is an even greater tribute to the relationship that Shawtunte himself fiercely resisted repatriation. “I remember his telling me how great a calamity he considered it to be taken away from the Indians,” recalled his brother-in-law, “and of his schemes for making his escape and returning to them.”
The release of Richard came in February 1775, following the Battle of Point Pleasant fought the previous October, during the colonial war, known as Lord Dunmore’s War (Lord Dunmore was then the Royal Governor of VA and his troops were Virginians). After their severe defeat in this battle, the Shawnees agreed to give up their white captives. Word went out that this release would take place the following February at Point Pleasant and families journeyed from afar hoping to find their lost ones. Richard’s mother recognized him by a small birthmark. Richard did not want to leave the Indians because he had lived with them for so long. He had forgotten his own language and his parents. Richard recalled that when his mother recognized him and began to cry, he thought he was going to be burned at the stake – the only occasion when he had seen an Indian woman cry. Taking him back home to Allegheny County, PA, his parents and siblings set about “civilizing” him.
Richard became involved in military affairs, largely as a scout for the Americans in fighting the Indians during and following the Revolution. He was married in 1782 to Frances Nash, a young woman living with her parents in the Jersey Settlement, and in the following year the first of their six children was born. Frances died with the birth of their sixth child in 1794.
Timeline of the Army career of Richard Sparks, Jr.:
1791 – Commissioned a Captain in the PA Militia.
1792 – Commissioned a Captain in the regular Army of the U.S.
1794 – The year his first wife died, he was with General Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers where he commanded a company.
1797 – Married Ruth Sevier, daughter of Gen John Sevier, a famous Indian fighter and hero of the American Revolution, who had become governor of the new state of Tennessee in 1796.
1806 – Promoted to the rank of Major in the U.S. Second Infantry.
1809 – Advanced to Lt. Colonel.
1812 – Became a Full Colonel.
1814 – Suffered a severe stroke and was forced to resign his commission.
2 Jul 1815 – Died in Mississippi.
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