John Sparks

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John Sparks was one of Newark’s earliest inhabitants, calling this area his home from the late 1700s until he died in 1846.[1] Sparks was known as having supposedly been on the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804.[2] Glenn Cunningham, a retired Newark Police Sergeant, spent ten years researching and tracking down information on Sparks. Cunningham discovered that Sparks was actually a member of the expedition team of Zebulon Pike in 1805, who explored the mouth of the Mississippi River and later the southwest.[3] During the second of his expeditions with Pike in 1807, Sparks was left behind twice in Colorado, having fallen victim to frostbite and later taken captive by the Spanish. After escaping captivity, John Sparks returned to Licking County. His brother, George Sparks, lived in St. Louisville.[4]

Cunningham’s research helped lead to the dedication of a new headstone for Sparks in Hollar Cemetery, located just north of Newark on Route 13. The site was scanned with a magnetometer to validate the burials at that location. The remains of five people were found, and four headstones were located and restored. All of the grave markers, along with the new Sparks monument, were placed in the center of the cemetery.[5] A ceremony was held on May 25, 2002 in Hollar Cemetery to dedicate the new monument in memory of John Sparks.[6]



  1. Connie Rutter, “Who’s John Sparks?,” Community Booster East, May 5, 2002, 2.
  2. L.B. Whyde, “Ceremony Honors a Forgotten Hero,” The Advocate, May 25, 2002, 1A.
  3. Whyde, “Ceremony Honors a Forgotten Hero.”
  4. L.B. Whyde, “Sparks Worked As Guide, Hunter,” The Advocate, May 25, 2002, 1A.
  5. Whyde, “Ceremony Honors a Forgotten Hero,” 1A, 14A.
  6. Whyde, “Ceremony Honors a Forgotten Hero.”