John Hansparker was an emancipated Virginia slave born in May of 1836. He found his way to Cuyahoga Falls after the Civil War where he immediately met Emeline Hopp. Emeline, or Emily as she was called, was born in Missouri in July of 1847. Emily was bi-racial and also a formerly enslaved person.
John and Emily met in Cuyahoga Falls in 1866 and married in Cuyahoga Falls on November 19, 1867. The went on to have two children who did not survive childhood.
Both stayed employed throughout their lives, John working at the Falls Rivet Works as well as a groundskeeper and porter. Emily had employment as a laundress. They lived in a small cottage at 325 South Front Street where Sheraton Suites southernmost parking lot is located.
The Hansparkers seemed to have lived in harmony with other well-known Fallsites like the Browns, Roethigs and Sills. When they were first married, they boarded with Gordon Meahan, a black man from Massachusetts who came to the area after the war. As a barber, Gordon was able to support the John and Emily until they got on their feet. They, in turn, took boarders in throughout their lifetime to assist other African Americans in Cuyahoga Falls and Akron.
It was forbidden to learn to read and write while enslaved but later in life John Hansparker learned to read. He practiced his reading with the neighborhood children who were very fond of him.
John Hansparker died in 1906/7 and Emily Hansparker died as a widow on September 12, 1907. Both were buried along with a Helen Hansparker in Oakwood Cemetery. Their graves, along with all but one other African American, remain unmarked. Research continues for everyone buried in these two sections of the cemetery but right now we want to commemorate and memorialize John and Emily Hansparker with a beautiful gravestone that will include the names and dates of John, Emily and their little one, Helen. The stone will also include a quote to honor them.
The graphic above is designed from a photograph of John Hansparker courtesy of the Prior Family Collection.