George E. SPARLING, who follows farming on section 21, Senachwine township, and who is proprietor of the Undercliff hotel, was born within a half mile of his present residence, November 1, 1843, and with the exception of three years and seven months spent in the army his home has always been in this locality. He attended the country schools and also had the benefit of a short course of instruction in the seminary at Henry, Illinois. When quite young he began work upon his father's farm and made a hand at plowing or driving a horse when eight years old. Since that time he has been more or less closely connected with agricultural interests and at the age of eighteen years he enlisted as a member of Company C, One Hundred and Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, known as the Board of Trade regiment. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant and after serving his term with that command he re-enlisted for one hundred days' service as a member of Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-ninth Illinois Infantry. He was mustered into the United States service with the latter regiment, October 1, 1862, and his enlistment papers bore the signature of Abraham Lincoln, and are therefore highly prized. He proved a faithful soldier, always loyal to the cause which he espoused and displayed valor upon many a southern battlefield.
After his return from the army Mr. SPARLING worked upon the home farm until twenty-three years of age, when, desiring that his labors should more directly benefit himself, he rented land and engaged in fanning on his own account for seven or eight years. He then purchased two hundred acres of land, where he still lives, known as the Silas LOCK farm. It had been settled in a very early day, and the old house, which was built by Mr. LOCK, still stood on the place at that time, and in fact remained the residence of Mr. SPARLING for ten years. He then erected a beautiful frame house, one of the finest in the township, and in this home is now pleasantly located. In 1882 he erected a hotel on the bank of Senachwine lake, and for eleven years was proprietor of and conducted the Undercliff hotel. People came from long distances to enjoy an outing here and to engage in hunting and fishing in the district. At the present time Mr. SPARLING leases the hotel and occupies his beautiful country home. That he has prospered in his undertakings is indicated by the fact that he is now the owner of eight hundred and twenty acres of land, all in one body. There is no richer or more productive soil for agricultural purposes than is to be found in this part of Illinois, and the farm of Mr. SPARLING is therefore a very desirable one, responding readily to the care and labor which is bestowed upon it.
On the 1st of November, 1866,, was celebrated the marriage of George E. SPARLING and Miss Carrie I. BAGLEY, who was born in Fulton county, Illinois, September 3, 1848. Her father, Nelson BAGLEY, was born at Crown Point, New York, in 1807, and died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. SPARLING, when eighty-seven years of age. His wife bore the maiden name of Elizabeth MORAN, and was born in Baltimore, in 1817, while her death occurred in Springfield, South Dakota, in 1889. They were married in Fulton county, Illinois, in 1837, and there resided until 1864, when they removed to Putnam county, Illinois, where they made their home until 1872. In that year they removed to Springfield, South Dakota, where the mother passed away, after which the father came to make his home with Mrs. SPARLING. There are also four other children living: Eveline, who likewise resides with Mrs. SPARLING; Mrs. J. C. HOUTTON, of Illinois; J. M. BAGLEY, of South Dakota; and Mrs. M. G. COTNEY, of Oklahoma, whose husband was an old settler of Marshall county. When a boy of seven years Mrs. SPARLING's father witnessed the sinking of the ships on Lake Champlain that were captured by the British in the war of 1812.
Mrs. SPARLING has in her possession many interesting old relics, including a fine collection of Indian relics, of geological specimens and rare coins. These have not only been secured from this district, but have been sought in various parts of the United States. Both she and her husband are well versed in geology, and have in their possession many valuable and rare stones which many people would pass by without notice. Mrs. SPARLING is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
For twenty years Mr. SPARLING has been identified with the Masonic fraternity, and he also belongs to the Grand Army post at Henry. In politics he is a republican, and for twenty-four years has filled the office of constable, while for eighteen years he has been road commissioner and is now township treasurer. He never misses attending a term of court, yet he has never had a lawsuit. In manner he is genial and jovial, and has gained many friends during the long years of his residence in this county and among those whom he has entertained as guests at the Undercliff Hotel.
Extracted July 2011 by Norma Hass from Past and Present of Marshall and Putnam Counties Illinois, 1907.