Cush Sparks


Sparks, Cush (1877–1956) and Anna Emilia (Erickson) (1886–1973)

By Milton Hook


Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: January 18, 2024

Cush Sparks served as a nurse, a missionary in China and a printer at six different denominational publishing houses in North America.

Heritage and training

Cush Sparks was born in Dallas, Texas, on June 9, 1877, to Peter and Mary (Fiddler) Sparks. When he was a toddler his family relocated to a farm at Linton, south-west Indiana. Theirs was a large family of ten children: Iris (b.1862), Orian (b.1863), Ishmael (b.1866), Pascal (b.1867), Theo (b.1870), Marco (b.1872), Ura Joy (b.1873), Cush (b.1877), Virgil (b.1880) and Rueluff (b.1882).1

Cush joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church when he was eighteen years old. He began training as a nurse in 1898 at the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium. He was in the first graduation class in 1900 and continued nursing there. He furthered his education at Union College, Nebraska, from 1904 through 1908.2 He paid his tuition fees and supported himself by working in the International Publishing House, an entity associated with Union College that printed German and Scandinavian literature.3 During that time, on August 15, 1906, he married Anna Emilia Erickson of Swedish heritage.4

Appointment to China

Following his graduation from Union College Cush was appointed the Book and Bible House manager and Tract Society secretary for the Nebraska Conference. He served in this role for little more than a year before receiving an invitation to transfer to the South Central China Mission.5

Cush and Anna sailed for China in late 1909.6 They lived inland at Hankow (now Wuhan), Hubei Province. They were there only a few months before they reported that fellow missionaries had fled to them from Changsha in the neighboring province of Hunan, seeking safety from rioting and the destruction of all foreign entities.7 Twelve months later, after the rioting subsided, Cush reported he had pioneered Changsha and an average of seventy-five interested individuals were regularly attending his chapel.8 After a stay of only eighteen months Cush and Anna returned to America.9 Anna needed to recover from a lapse in her health.10

Homeland service

On his return to America Cush found employment as a printer for the Canadian Publishing Association at Port Hope, Ontario. That was his temporary position until he was appointed to Emmanuel Missionary College, Berrien Springs, Michigan.11 He not only operated the campus printing press but also served as an instructor in printing as part of the vocational staff.12 This arrangement was followed wherever he subsequently served on an educational campus.

For over six years Cush remained at Berrien Springs, from January 1914 through June 1920. Another temporary appointment of nine months followed at the Southern Publishing Company, Nashville, Tennessee. His skills were then utilized at Southern Junior College, Ooltewah, Tennessee, from April 1921 through June 1925. He then returned to the familiar territory of Nebraska to work as a printer and an instructor at Union College, from September 1926 through June 1930. He continued doing the same work at Campion Academy, Loveland, Colorado, retiring in June 1938 after twenty-four years of denominational service.13

Final years

For several years Cush established and conducted his own printing business, Sparks Printing Company, in Denver, Colorado.14 He and Anna had twins Robert and Roberta, born while at Emmanuel Missionary College. The twins had married, and the entire family lived in the same premises, Robert working as a carpenter, son-in-law Harold Morgan working as a truck driver, and Cush operating his printing company.15 Cush was able to continue his business until he began to suffer with sciatica and finally had to cease about 1942.16

Cush passed away in Denver, Colorado, on September 12, 1956.17 He rests in Crown Hill Cemetery, Wheat Ridge, Colorado.18 Anna passed away on October 22, 1973, at the age of eighty-seven. She was interred alongside Cush.19


Anna Emilia (Erickson) Sparks.” Find A Grave Memorial ID 20568266. July 22, 2007. Accessed September 26, 2023.

“Cush Sparks.” FamilySearch. Accessed September 26, 2023,

“Cush Sparks.” Find A Grave Memorial ID 20568259. July 22, 2007. Accessed September 26, 2023.

“Cush Sparks obituary,” ARH, February 28, 1957.

“Elder I.H. Evans writes….” ARH, July 6, 1911.

Laird, Percival J. “Good Tidings From Chang-Sha, China.” ARH, June 15, 1911.

“News and Notes.” Central Advance, February 10, 1904.

“Notes.” Asiatic Division Mission News, March 1, 1916.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Online Archives.

Sparks, Cush. Sustentation Fund Files, RG 33, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Silver Spring, MD, U.S.A. (GCA).

Winslow, H.H. “First Word From Chang-Sha, China.” ARH, May 26, 1910.


  1. “Cush Sparks,” FamilySearch, accessed September 26, 2023,

  2. Cush Sparks Sustentation Fund Files, November 9, 1941, RG 33, Record ID 2594, GCA.

  3. “News and Notes,” Central Advance, February 10, 1904, 12.

  4. Cush Sparks Sustentation Fund Files.

  5. Ibid.

  6. “Cush Sparks,” FamilySearch.

  7. H.H. Winslow, “First Word From Chang-Sha, China,” ARH, May 26, 1910, 24.

  8. Percival J. Laird, “Good Tidings From Chang-Sha, China,” ARH, June 15, 1911, 10.

  9. “Elder I.H. Evans writes…” ARH, July 6, 1911, 24.

  10. “Notes,” Asiatic Division Mission News, March 1, 1916, 4.

  11. Cush Sparks Sustentation Files.

  12. E.g., Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook for 1919, 198.

  13. Cush Sparks Sustentation Files.

  14. Ibid.

  15. “Cush Sparks,” FamilySearch.

  16. Cush Sparks Sustentation Files.

  17. “Cush Sparks obituary,” ARH, February 28, 1957, 26.

  18. “Cush Sparks,” Find A Grave Memorial ID 20568259, July 22, 2007, accessed September 25, 2023,

  19. “Anna Emilia (Erickson) Sparks,” Find A Grave Memorial ID 20568266, July 22, 2007, accessed September 25, 2023,


Hook, Milton. "Sparks, Cush (1877–1956) and Anna Emilia (Erickson) (1886–1973)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 18, 2024. Accessed May 23, 2024.

Hook, Milton. "Sparks, Cush (1877–1956) and Anna Emilia (Erickson) (1886–1973)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 18, 2024. Date of access May 23, 2024,

Hook, Milton (2024, January 18). Sparks, Cush (1877–1956) and Anna Emilia (Erickson) (1886–1973). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 23, 2024,