Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Boggs Murders on Colliers Creek, April 24, 1865

During the final days of the Civil War, members of Captain William Horton's Co. M, 10th KY Cavalry [CS] terrorized Unionists in what is now Elliott Co. as well as in Lawrence County, Kentucky. On April 24, 1865, Hugh Boggs and his first cousin, James Boggs were working in a field near the mouth of Colliers Creek when they were shot and killed by John L. Sparks.

The motive for these killings is mere speculation but it may have been a contributing factor that James Boggs' brother Hugh [sometimes confused with the victim Hugh Boggs] was a Union soldier who served in Co. B, 14th KY Infantry.
Sparks, on the other hand, was a member of the 10th KY Cavalry, Co. M, [CS] who had seen previous service in the 5th KY Mounted Infantry and Fields' Rangers [CS].
It may be of interest to note that Sparks was also listed as a particpant in a raid in Lawrence County on the very same day the killings took place.

27 year old Hugh Boggs left behind a four months pregnant wife and three small children, including 2/12 year old William Boggs who, according to tradition, would cry out for his father "Hugh! Hugh!" when taken to the cemetery.

It is also told that Sparks rode away after the murders wearing a fine pair of boots he had pulled off Hugh Boggs' feet. It is said that he afterwards sent a taunting message to the Boggs family, boasting of the deed. John L. Sparks subsequently fled to Scott County, Virginia.

Hugh Boggs' brother Jesse, a Confederate soldier, who is rumored to have served in the same unit as Sparks, pursued his brother's killer to Virginia. His younger brother Lorenzo Dow was too young to bear arms but followed his older brother Jesse and was present when he finally caught up with Sparks while he was working his land. Jesse Boggs shot Sparks down without mercy and left him for dead. Further records show that Jesse, formerly a member of the 64th VA Infantry and possibly a member of the 10th KY Cavalry [CS], surrendered at Cumberland Gap on May 5, 1865.

John L. Sparks survived and remained in Virginia for the rest of his life, maintaining very little contact with his relatives in Kentucky. His immediate family rejoined him and in 1868 a son was born to him and his wife Polly. The couple had ten children, five of which reached maturity. John L. Sparks began the practice of medicine and was generally known as "Doctor Sparks". According to descendants, he died in 1893.

Additional Information
Hugh Boggs: Son of William Boggs and Ann Johnson; married to Louisa Stidham. Born 1838.
Not to be confused with Hugh Boggs, son of David Boggs and Sarah Holbrook, a member of the 14th KY Infantry, Co. B, and a brother of the second victim, James Boggs. He died in Nebraska in 1914.

Jesse T. Boggs: Son of William Boggs and Ann Johnson;
Born 1830. Member of the 10th KY Cav.; formerly 64th VA Infantry. Surrendered at C-Gap 5/5/1865. Resided in Wise Co. VA in 1860. Born ca. 1830. Brother of the first victim, Hugh Boggs.

Lorenzo Dow Boggs: Son of William Boggs and Ann Johnson.
He was too young to bear arms, but he had followed his older brothers. He was present when his brother, Jesse, killed John Sparks in Virginia because John, who had been a member of Jesse's company in the Confederate Army, had bush-whacked Jesse's cousins, who had been pro-Union. Dow knew every spring and trail from Blaine to Wise County, Virginia.

James Boggs: Son of David and Sarah Holbrook Boggs.
Born April 17, 1837, Lawwrence Co. KY
Not to be confused with James H. "Goins" Boggs, Co. B, 14th KY Infantry [US]; James H. was discharged Jan. 31, 1865. Son of Hugh and Hannah Blevins Boggs.

John L. Sparks: Son of Levi and Sarah Lyon Sparks.
Born ca. 1820, Wilkes Co., NC. "He was carried as a baby to Lawrence County where his parents settled on the headwaters of Big Blaine Creek about 1821. He grew to maturity in the home of his parents and when fully grown, he was a tall, thin man." He was married to Mary "Polly" Hay about 1850, a daughter of James Hay and Elizabeth Johnson, b. abt. 1822. John L. and Polly lived on what is referred to today as the "Calvin Dobyns farm" on upper Blaine Creek. His neighbors included his brothers, Calvin and Wiley Sparks.

The wife of his half-brother Garrett Sparks was an aunt of Hugh Boggs [Elizabeth Boggs, b. abt. 1808, d/o John O. Boggs & Nancy Wells]. It has been handed down that during the Civil War John L. had a falling out with Garrett Sparks, possibly over the fact that three of Garrett's sons, Levi J., Walter & David L., served in the 14th KY Infantry, Co. B. As a result, John L. Sparks ransacked Garrett's house, even ripping apart the feather beds. It is possible that this incident led to further violence which resulted in the killing of Hugh and James Boggs. The latter is pure speculation on my part, of course.


  1. Hello, I am a cousin to the Boggs.
    Also M\my great great grandmother Lydia Margaret Bloomfield Hammond was murdered by her 2ed husband at Camp Chase in Columbus in 1918.

  2. Umm strange, Jason? That was my comment lol.

  3. Does anyone know for sure if the Boggs Family are Really Cherokee decent or not? Too many storys out there???

    1. Yes to your question Cherokee and Creek

    2. I am defendant of Loranza Dow Boggs,David Boggs, etc...John O. Boggs. I just had my DNA checked. I am linked to them as a grandchild and I have not one percentage of Native American DNA.?????

  4. looking for more information about John L. Sparks. I am his great great grandaughter

  5. Hugh Sparks was my Gr-Gr-Grand Father. I talked to my Grand Dad about his Grand Father Hugh Sparks. He wasnt working his land when he was killed. If you want to match info, I will tell you what I know. I have talked to 3 of Hugh's grand children in all. My number is 609-500-7908 and my name is George Sparks.

  6. James Ross had a son David Ross who's mother-in-law was a Sparks.