University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Sparks Family Papers

1823 - 1945


Manuscript Collection Number: 408
Accessioned: Gift of Ethyl Sparks Sikes, 1994 and 1996
Extent: 1 linear ft.
Content: Photographs, financial documents, printed material, correspondence, and realia
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: Sally W. Donatello, April 2001

for reference assistance email Special Collections
or contact:

Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Introductory Note

During the first few decades of the twentieth century the Sparks family was involved in the poultry business in Perkasie, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Spry A. Sparks (1899- 1979), his wife Mary Kulp Sparks (1898-1992), and his older brother, James C. (b. 1884) were part of this family enterprise. Spry Sparks was the proprietor of the Sparks Poultry Farm and the Cedar Ridge Poultry Farm, both located in Perkasie. Spry Sparks managed Sparks Poultry Farm and Mary Sparks managed the Cedar Ridge farm. By the 1940s, the Sparks lived on Courses’ Landing Road in Woodstown, New Jersey, where they raised turkeys.

Spry Sparks and his wife had a daughter, Ethyl. In September 1941 Ethyl entered Penns Grove Regional High School, three months before the beginning of World War II. She graduated on June 12, 1945, which was two months prior to the end of that war. Ethyl Sparks Sikes became a resident of Newark, Delaware, where her father died at the end of 1979.

James C. Sparks was born on September 28, 1884 in Philadelphia. His parents were John G. and Mary Sparks. James Sparks lived at several locations in center-city Philadelphia during the 1920s and the 1930s. In addition to the poultry business, he may have sold antiques and used furniture.


Introductory note derived from the collection and the Social Security Death Index.

Scope and Content Note

The Sparks Family Papers provide numerous details of a family-owned egg and poultry business that was operated in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and later in Woodstown, New Jersey. The papers, spanning the dates 1823-1945 (bulk dates 1919-1944), consist of one linear foot of photographs, financial documents, tax records, ledgers, letters, envelopes, a postcard, metal egg carton, feed bag, certificate, and printed material.

This small collection is arranged in two series: the Sparks poultry businesses and the papers of James C. Sparks. Most of the material is found in Box 1. Series I consists of documents, photographs, and printed materials about the Sparks family businesses (F1-F12). These items represent different elements and tools used for the operation of a poultry farm, such as a mating list for 1927; an envelope from Edwin F. Stover, who was a dealer in flour, feed, and grain; a price list from Kentucky Hatchery; an illustrated price list of “Victor” and “regulation-style” eggs; a handwritten note verifying that Sparks also owned Cedar Ridge Poultry Farm in Perkasie, Pennsylvania; and an article on “Mating Breeders for Heavy Egg Yields” from the State News Bulletin (F1). Twenty-one black-and-white photographs of the Sparks family and friends show small vignettes of farm life (F2). A cash book, ledger, and financial documents are housed in F3-F6. Realia and ephemera in the collection include a metal egg carton that was used to send by postal delivery two-dozen eggs in a self- mailer (F7), Purina Trap Nest Records (F8), and a 100 lb.- feed bag for Red Rose Starter and Grower from John W. Eshelman & Sons (F9). Also two books are included in the collection: The Eshelman Book of Farm Information (1940; F10) and The Production of 300-Eggers and Better by Line Breeders (1923; F11). Finally, printed horticultural material is included: a handwritten plan of trees planted on the poultry farm, a description of plant cultivation, and an article entitled “How to Plant,Grow, Prune and Care for Trees and Plants” (F12).

Series II contains personal papers of James C. Sparks (F13-F18), and shows that he lived in Perkasie and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sparks’s papers consist of a certificate of membership in the American Flag House and Betsy Ross Memorial Association, 1904 (F13); a copy of his birth certificate, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 28, 1884 (F14); a 1923-1924 Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) membership card for the Philadelphia branch (F14); and a card certifying his enrollment in a correspondence course given by the Pennsylvania State College’s School of Agriculture, October 30, 1920 (F14). Various financial documents from 1919-1928 include numerous invoices, letters, and receipts for purchases of sundry items from clothing to hardware supplies (F15). A daily record dated 1928-1929 appears to list customers’ names with notations about them or their desired purchases (F16). Financial receipts from 1924-1930 are from the J.G. Moyer & Sons Co. of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, which sold lumber, lime, coal, and other building materials (F17). Finally, documents and receipts for Sparks’s 1927-1932 taxes are included (F18).

Related Collections:

Ms 411 J.K. Wright Printing Ink Company Records. The Wrights were related to the Sparks family.

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Sparks Poultry Businesses
          This series consists of papers that document
          glimpses of the family poultry businesses in
          Perkasie, Pennsylvania and Woodstown, New Jersey.

1    F1   Handwritten and printed material, ca. 1923-1927 (5
     F2   Photographs
          Black-and-white photographs, ca. 1920s-1944 (21
          “Uncle Jim Sparks, Perkasie, Pennsylvania,” n.d
          2.5” x 3.5”
          “Charles Applegate, James Sparks, Minnie Fite,
          Mrs. Applegate,
          Mary and Spry Sparks, and Leo at Perkasie Pa.
          Menlo Park,” 1927
          2.75” x 4.5”
          A sheet of nine small photographs of the Spry
          Poultry Farm, Perkasie, ca. 1920s
          1.875” x 2.75”
          “Uncle Jim Sparks by Castor oil plant in garden,”
          August 1944
          4” x 6”
          “Old turkey gobbler, Sparks turkey, Woodstown,
          N.J,” May 1944
          2.75” x 4.5”
          “Ethyl (Sparks) and old turkey gobbler, war time,”
          2.75” x 4.5”
          “Grace Wright and the Sparks’ turkeys,” June 1944
          2.75” x 4.5”

          “Uncle Jim Sparks and Helen (Cass) Kuhns,
          Perkasie, Pa”
          2.75” x 4.5”
          “Uncle Jim Sparks & Ethyl S. in her graduation dress
          & shoes, graduating from 8th grade, N.J.,” 1941
          3.75” x 6”
          “Turkeys raised by Mary & Spry Sparks, Course’s
          Landing Road, Rural Woodstown, N.J., war time,”
          2.75” x 4.5”

          “Old turkey gobbler, Woodstown, N.J., raised by
          Mary Sparks," May 1944
          2.75” x 4.5”
          “Ethyl standing next to caged turkeys,” 1944
          2.75” x 4.5”

     F3   Financial documents, 1920-1925 (4 items)
          Invoices for egg boxes as well as purchase of
          pullets (chickens) and mash (feed)

     F4   Ledger, 1921-1928
          Index found on last page

     F5   Receipts, 1923-1924 (22 items)
          Includes sales receipts for items bought at public

     F6   Cash book and journal, 1923-1925

     F7   Metal egg carton, n.d. (2 items)
          9” x 13”
          Holds two dozen eggs and is used to mail product
          in a self-mailer

     F8   Purina Trap Nest Records, 1926-1927 (10 items)
          Lists number of eggs laid by chickens; nine charts
          with data and one blank
     F9   Eshelman Red Rose Starter & Grower feed bag (2
          Feed bag with company logo and a color photograph
          of feed bag

     F10  The Eshelman Book of Farm Information. Lancaster:
          John W. Eshelman & Sons, 1940

     F11  M.E, Atkinson and Grant M. Curtis.  By Line
          Breeder.  Dayton, Ohio:  Reliable Poultry Journal
          Publishing Co., 1923
     F12  Printed horticultural material (3 items)
          Series II James C. Sparks
          This series contains the personal papers of Sparks who lived both
          in Perkasie and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1    F13  Certificate, 1904
          Sparks’s membership in the American Flag House and Betsy
          Ross Memorial Association, Philadelphia
     F14  Personal documents, 1884-1924 (3 items)
          A copy of Sparks’s birth certificate, Youth Men’s
          Christian Association (YMCA) membership card, and
          a card recording enrollment in a correspondence
          course at The Pennsylvania State College

     F15  Financial documents, 1919-1928 (66 items)
          Sales receipts and correspondence

     F16  Journal, 1928-1929 (4 items)

     F17  Financial receipts, 1924-1930 (35 items)
          Receipts from J. G. Moyer & Sons Co., Perkasie,
     F18  Taxes, 1927-1932

2         Contents of folders I. F7 and I. F8 (3 items)
          Metal egg carton
          “Eshelman Red Rose Starter and Grower” feed bag

Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page

+ Return to List of Manuscript Finding Aids by Title

This page is maintained by Special Collections
Last modified: 01/19/11
  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014