Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey      -- Mini Bio


Sarah Jane Sparks

Sarah Jane was born on 6 July 1866 in Southwick, Steyning, Sussex, England. She was the third of eight children born to James & Martha Maria Hutchings Sparks, who eventually had three daughters and five sons.  About a month later she was taken to the Southwick Parrish Anglican Church where she was baptized and received her paternal grandmother’s name. 

When she was about six years old, her father took a job in London and the family moved north to that city for a couple years.  The big city life didn’t suit the Sparks clan, and they soon returned to Sussex, but this time they settled in Wick, Little Hampton, East Preston, Sussex.  This tiny village was located very close to the southern English coastline and the children spent many wonderful hours playing in the surf at the beach. 

In Wick, the last two children were born to her parents—Edward (“Ted”) & Ethel.  This youngest brother, Ted, figured heavily into her later life and was always a very kind and loving brother to her.

Sarah’s father, James Sparks, was especially close to his younger sister, Ruth Sparks and her husband, Daniel Bailey.  Their two families moved from town to town to be near one another, and their children grew up closely associated too.  One of their children, was a son named Joseph Bailey, who was born 1 Feb. 1868 in Kingston, Portsea, Hampshire, England making him about a year and a half younger than Sarah.  These two cousins grew up close to one another and their relationship matured to the point that they were married on 16 Feb. 1889 in the Church of the Ascension in Wandsworth, Surrey Co., (a village on the edge of London, just south of Westminster). 

Joseph had spent some time working as a coal miner, but in an attempt to improve his situation he had taken a job near London working as a train car conductor.  He and Sarah made their first home at 30 Gideon Road in Battersea, Surrey Co. 

This young couple did not seem to stay in any one place for very long.  Their first child, Joseph Reginald Bailey was born 23 Nov. 1889 while they resided in Kentish Town, another suburb of London.

Two years later, on 11 Sep. 1891, their next son, Fredrick William Bailey, was born in Maldon Road, London.  About this time, Joseph changed work again and became a steward on a small cruise line that operated by conveying passengers from London to Liverpool, with a mid-point stop in Southampton.  He decided to relocate his family to that mid-point so he could see them while both coming and going.

Their third son, Leonard Harold Bailey, was born on 29 Dec. 1893 in Woolston, Hampshire County; and their fourth child, and only daughter, Lillian Florence Bailey (future mother of Gladys Irene Morton McDonald) was born on 27 Feb. 1896.  At the time of this birth the family was living at 2 Cliff Terrace, Woodley Road, Woolston, Hampshire Co., in Saint Mary’s Parrish, near Southampton. 

The family seemed to be doing well, but the long periods of separation between Sarah and her husband, while he was working on his ship, began to effect their marital relationship and after a time Joseph quit coming home all together.  It was difficult for the little children to grow up without their daddy, and it put a tremendous hardship on Sarah as well. 

To support her children, Sarah took a job as a live-in nurse for a well-to-do family that resided across town.  But this work required her to live at that other home where she was a full-time caregiver for her employer.  To provide for her children, she had to leave them very early each Monday morning and be gone until the following Saturday night—with Sunday being her only day off.  She spent that day cleaning her own home, her children, their clothing, and fixing many meals that they could eat all week long until she came back home the following weekend.  Then, worn out, she would have to say “good-bye” to her four little children again and trudge across town to her work. 

At this time Sarah’s children ranged in age from about nine down to three.  In fact, the boys began taking little Lillian to school with them, as they could not leave her home alone, so she began her studies at a very early age.  Sarah came home to find her children had been sleeping in their clothes and wearing the same things day after day without changing or cleaning up.

Eventually Sarah’s younger brother, Ted, moved to Alberta, Canada and soon wrote to invite her to come join him there.  About the time of the outbreak of the First World War, she, with most of her children, moved to Canada.  Only Fred stayed behind where he enlisted in the army. 

Following the War, the family was reunited in Tabor, Alberta where the boys got work in the mines.  Here too they met a new friend by the name of Raymond Morton, who they really liked until he began showing an interest in their younger sister, and then he was no longer welcomed in their home.  But, after he and Lillian eloped and were married, both of them were accepted back home as close members of the family. 

Ted Sparks eventually sold his home and retired in San Jose, California.  As before, he invited his sister, Sarah, to come join him there.  Her children were now gone from home with families of their own and so she made the long train ride to relocate in a warmer climate.  Here she spent the rest of her days and passed away there on 11 July 1933. 

Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey

Dressed in her nurses uniform.

She worked as a nursemaid in both England and Canada

Sarah Sparks Bailey with three of her four children:

Left to right: Lillian Florence Bailey Morton, Frederick W. Bailey,

Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey, and J. Reginald Bailey.

Missing is Leonard H. Bailey.

Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey

with two of her children, three in-laws and six grandchildren

About 1929 in Tabor, Alberta, Canada

Back row, left to right: Edith Bailey, Leonard H. Bailey, Raymond Morton, Sarah Jane Sparks Bailey.

Middle row: young Leonard Y. S. Bailey, Gertrude Bailey (wife of Fred B.), Lillian Florence Bailey Morton

Front row: Dennis E. H. Bailey, Florence Bailey (daughter of Fred & Gert), Bernice Jane Louise Morton, Irene Gladys Morton and Bernard L. R. Bailey.