Francis Atwater.

Some account of Thomas Jefferson Brooks, 1805-1882, and some of his family, Massachusetts-Indiana, 1635-1906, and the family reunion, August 10, 1906 online

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Online LibraryFrancis AtwaterSome account of Thomas Jefferson Brooks, 1805-1882, and some of his family, Massachusetts-Indiana, 1635-1906, and the family reunion, August 10, 1906 → online text (page 1 of 4)
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Thomas Jefferson Brooks



His Family




The Family Reunion

AUGUST 10, 1906.




I M^ 5 "

NOV 2 4 1952 3 1


The descendants of Thomas Jefferson and Susan
Poor Brooks, with a few relatives and invited guests
had their first general reunion in the grove at Mt.
Pleasant, Martin county, Indiana, August 10, 1906.
This was the first attempt to gather the family since
the times of more than a generation since when the
saint whom the middle aged call grandmother, and
whom our children never knew, gathered her children
and children's children and those of her sister at the
celebration of the, then unusual in Indiana, Puritan
Feast of Thanksgiving.

This reunion had its origin and impetus with Miss
Susan Brooks, of Wildvvoods Farm, and Mrs. Susan B.
Chenoweth, of Bloomington, tho soon all joined with
enthusiasm in "Lending a hand." The day was ideal,
the spirit was right, the larder was full, everything
tended to make it a joyous, happy day always to be
remembered as an event in life.

It was proposed at first to hold the meeting at
Wildwoods, the home of Col. Lewis Brooks. This
would have been appropriate as it lies within a mile of
the site of the former town Hindostan where Thomas
J. Brooks first settled in Indiana. It was changed to
Mt. Pleasant. This old town and vicinity was the
home and center of business activity of Mr. Brooks a


great part of his life. The town has passed away.
There remain a few of the old dwellings, notably the
brick residence of Lewis Brooks, a brother, built
about 1830. It is now a place of memory for the old-
er, and to the younger a town of fable and tradition,
and the home of ours who sleep the long sleep.

William B. Trask of Erie, Pa., was present, hav-
ing come to the reunion and to visit his kin. When his
mother taught school in Mt. Pleasant he lived with her
in the family of Thomas J. Brooks and attended the
school. Mr. Trask is only three score and ten, but he
has known soldiers of each war of this nation, the
Revolution, of 181 2, Mexican War, Civil War and
Spanish War.

Further particulars of the meeting appear in the
press notices which are here reprinted.

The Martin County News.

The Brooks family reunion held at "old" Mt.
Pleasant last Friday met every anticipation, as it was
an ideal day and the grounds had been well selected
and prepared for that event. This was the first reun-
ion held by the Brooks family and its success will
doubtless make it an annual affair in the future.

Mt. Pleasant was famous in the early history of

Martin county and was the county seat before the da}*
of railroads; and the arrival of the old stage coach run-
ning between Louisville, Ky., and Vincennes was at
that time an event that excited the inhabitants more
than the arrival of the daily trains at the present time.
Thomas J. Brooks came to this county in 1823 and
lived here until his death at Loogootee in 1882. He

was a native of Massachusetts to which colony his
ancestor, Thomas Brooks, came from England in
1635. The families present were the descendants of
Thomas J. Brooks and his wife, Susan, representing
the western branch of the Brooks family.

The morning was spent in greeting friends and
relatives who had not met in years and renewing old
friendships. A long table had been erected and it
was bountifully filled at both dinner and supper and
those present were loth to departjafter a well spent day.

One of the novel and perhaps most interesting
features was the meeting of Mrs. Rebecca Trask's
scholars of 1845. Sixty-one years ago, before the day
of public schools, Thomas J. Brooks built a school
house at Mt. Pleasant and brought his widowed sister,
Mrs. Rebecca Trask, a gifted Yankee school teacher
of Massachusetts, to Indiana, who taught in that
house. There were probably twenty-two scholars
who attended that school and nine of them, Col. Lewis
Brooks, William B. Trask, Major William Hough-
ton, John C. Cusack, L. L. Dilley, Emily Brooks
Campbell, Susan Brooks Niblack, Mason Rielly and
Mrs. John O' Brian, met for the first time in years.
There were two survivors, Col. James T. Rogers, of
this city, and Mrs. A. R. Brown, who were unable to
be present. It was to them a day to be remembered
through life as the pleasant reminiscences of the pion-
eer days and vivid scenes of childhood were recalled
to memory. The "school children" as they were
designated by those present, had their pictures taken
in a group and enjoyed the experience.


Several hours in the afternoon were spent in ad-
dresses, Major Will Houghton presiding. He spoke
in an eloquent and feeling manner of the first school
erected by Thomas Brooks sixty-one years ago and of
the benefit derived from the first knowledge instilled in
the minds of the youthful scholars by Mrs. Rebecca
Trask, the Yankee school teacher, which was the
foundation for their future life and success.

Mrs. Emily Brooks Campbell related incidents of
their school days which was greeted with laughter and
applause. There were many forgotten incidents
brought out during these talks that were refreshing
and interesting to the younger relatives as well as
those to whom memory made them dear,

William B. Trask made an excellent address on
early reminiscences and during which he said it was
not the first picnic that he had attended at that spot.
That while going to school, Lewis Brooks and himself
were sent to the department store at Mt. Pleasant
(which was not as large as John Wanamaker's but
in accordance with the size of the place carried as
great a variety of stock) for a jug of molasses, and
that before starting they slipped pieces of corn bread
in their pockets. As they returned with a stick
through the handle of the jug which they carried be-
tween them, they stopped under a tree at the spot
where they were then assembled and held their first
picnic. He also related how work was suspended in
the school by the passing of a company of soldiers en-
route for the Mexican war, and the wonderful progress
that has been made in the country.


Col. Brooks's address on his father, Thomas J.
Brooks, related an interesting story of his life and
pioneer days and how he came to locate at Mt. Pleas-
ant being attracted from Louisville, Ky., by the
manufacture of the Hindostan whetstone.

L. L. Dilley's address on "Our Pioneer Neigh-
bors" was very interesting and recalled names that a
few years since were familiar throughout the country
but now almost forgotton. He gave several amusing
instances of early life in Martin county that were
awarded with laughter and applause.

Thomas J. Brooks, who with his family have just
returned from a visit with the eastern relatives in
Massachusetts, gave a brief history of the family from
the landing of the first one in 1635. Among other
facts it appeared that the family had among their an-
cestors five soldiers of the Revolution, two of the
French and Indian wars, and two of the Narragansett
and King Philip's war with the Indians. He gave an
interesting sketch of the line of Brooks down to the
present time and also authentic authority tracing it back
thro many generations born on American soil.

After supper the reunion broke up and each wish-
ing the other many future years of health and happi-
ness and "God speed."

The Martin County Tribune.

The descendants of Thomas J. Brooks, who was

one of the early pioneers of Martin county and who

perhaps more than any other man helped to develop

the resources of our county and establish schools for


the education of the children in those primitive days
when free schools were unknown and good teachers
almost an impossibility, held a reunion on last Friday.
He settled in old Mt. Pleasant, living on a farm one
mile west of town and for many years was the leading
business man in the then metropolis of our county.

Sixty-five years ago he had built a comfortable
and well equipped school house which stood by the
Haysville road about one-fourth mile south of Mt. Pleas-
ant. He persuaded his sister, Mrs. Rebecca Trask,
to come from Massachusetts to take charge of the
school. She came with her only child Will Trask,
who was about the age of Col. Lewis Brooks and was
one of about 35 pupils in that memorable school.

The reunion was held in a locust grove near where
the old George Fraim residence stood. It is a roman-
tic spot and overlooked the old town, the site of the
cemetery where rest the ancestors of the Brooks fami-
ly and others who have "passed beyond."

The meeting was remarkably well attended.

Nearly all the descendants of Thomas J. and Susan
Brooks being present. Three of his children are liv-
ing and were in attendance, Mrs. Emily Campbell, of
Washington, Col. Lewis Brooks, of Wildwoods Farm,
and Mrs. Susan B. Niblack and husband, of Wheat-

The morning hour was spent revisiting old scenes,
the school ground, the spring, cemetery and recalling
memories of "Auld Lang Syne."

Tables had been erected in the grove and at noon
a bountiful repast was spread under the direction of

Mrs. Maggie Brooks, ably assisted by Mrs. Mary
Shirley, Susie Brooks and others. Ample justice hav-
ing been done the splendid dinner the guests were
then assembled for the program of the day.

Major Houghton was asked to preside and make
an address on the subject "The Yankee School Ma'm
in Indiana." This was followed by Mrs. Emily
Campbell with "Earliest Recollections of Mt. Pleas-
ant." Next William Trask on the subject "Differences
of 60 years in Indiana," gave an amusing and instruc-
tive talk, reciting their trip from Massachusetts to
Indiana 65 years ago by stage, railroad, canal and
steamboat. The trip occupied three weeks that is now
made in thirty-six hours. Col. Brooks gave a clear
and concise statement of his father's life and career
the subject being "Thomas J. Brooks as a Pioneer
Citizen and what he did to Develop the Country." L.
L. Dilley gave a very interesting talk on "Their Pio-
neer Neighbors." He recalled the Reillys, Fraims,
Davises, Browns, Shermans, and many others whose
names are almost forgotten.

The event of the day was a paper by Hon. Thom-
as J. Brooks, of Bedford, on "Our Ancestors in the
East," in which he traced unbroken the Brooks line
from Thomas Brooks who came over from England in
1635 to his grandfather who lies buried in "God's
Acre" near where the old school stood.

Photographs were taken of the nine survivors of
Mrs. Trask's school. Also a group consisting of the
descendants of Thomas J. Brooks and a third group
containing all present.


At five o'clock the tables were again spread and
after a light repast goodbyes were spoken and the
guests departed. The day was ideal and the reunion
was greatly enjoyed by all.

It is a matter of regret among the survivors of
Mrs. Trask's school that Mrs. A. R. Brown was not
present. The fact that she was one of the pupils was
not brought to mind until too late to send for her. The
reunion of the old pupils was one of the pleasant epi-
sodes of the Brooks reunion.


Members of the families of the children of Thomas
Jefferson and Susan Brooks.

Family of Col. Lewis Brooks:

Col. Lewis Brooks; his daughter Susan; son Dan-
iel; son Thomas Jefferson and his wife, Lorabel
Wallace, and daughter May; his son Lewis and his
wife Susan Stafford and sons, Fred, Lewis and Thom-
as J.; his daughter Amanda M. and her husband Al-
bert C. Hacker and children, Helen, Lewis Brooks
and Dorothy Bel; and daughter Annie and her hus-
band Edward H. Schwey and children Susie, Horace,
Emilie, Marian and Edna May; his son William
Francis and his wife Rose Zinkinand children, Mabel,
Mary and Grace Lucy.

Family of Emily Brooks Campbell:

Emily B. Campbell; her daughter Ida; her
daughter, Ethel C. Clements; her daughter, Eugenia
C. Chappell and children, Eugene, Freeman, Philena
and Miller; her daughter, Susan B. Chenoweth, was
unable to attend, but was represented by her children,
Ida, Ardys, Wilson and Ainslie; her daughter Mary
C. Shirley and children, Herman and Lois.

Family of Susan Brooks Niblack:
Susan B. Niblack and her husband Sandford L. ;
their son John H. Niblack and wife Ann Scroggin and


children, Martha, John, Herman and Griffiths Brooks;
their son William E. and wife Mollie and their child-
ren Howard and Sarah; their daughter Helen Niblack
McClure and her daughter Persis; their son and
daughter, Herman G. and Persis.

The family of Thomas J. Brooks, 2nd:

Lewis C. Brooks and his wife Maggie Reynolds,
and their children, Libbie and Hattie.

The family of Eustace Adams Brooks:

His daughter Grace Brooks.

The family of Seymour Waldo Brooks:

His son Onas W. Brooks.


Family of Rebecca B. Trask, sister of Thomas
J. Brooks:

Her son William B. Trask.

Family of Harriet Poor Houghton, sister of Mrs.
Thomas J. Brooks:

Her son Maj. William Houghton; Lemuel L. Dil-
ley, surviving husband of her daughter Jeanette, and
daughter Eula, and Kenner Dilley, their son, with his
wife Lota Eastman and children, Jeanette and Dorothy.


Mason Rielley, John C. Cusack, Mr. and Mrs.
Moser, Mrs. John R. O'Brian, and Mrs. Hill.

Of the above, the members of Mrs. Trask's school
present were: Mr. William B. Trask, Col. Lewis
Brooks, Maj. Wm. Houghton, Mrs. Emily B. Camp-
bell, Mrs. Susan B. Niblack, Mrs. John R. O'Brian,
Mr. Mason Rielley and Mr. John C. Cusack.


After the noon dinner several addresses were
made which are partially reported. With the excep-
tion of the first, all were impromptu and were after-
wards reduced to writing from memory.

Our Ancestors In the East


Thomas J. Brooks.

"To forget one's ancestors, is to be a brook without
a source, a tree without a root."

The subject to which I am expected to respond
this afternoon is too great in volume for either the op-
portunity of the speaker in investigation or the time of
the listeners. I have therefore limited it to the ances-
tors of the Thomas Jefferson Brooks from whom we
descend and who made his home in this then far west-
ern state, more than eighty years ago. Not only do
I make that limitation but limit the remarks to his an-
cestry in the direct line and in the Brooks name alone.
What I may say to you will show you that in the an-
cestry of the names of Dakin, Hoar, Billings, Merriam,
whose strains were part of the blood of Thomas J.
Brooks, there remains for us ample food for investiga-
tion and "remarks" for future reunions of great and
absorbing interest.

It seems to me, however, that the most fit subject
for thought and reading for our next reunion would be
in remembrance of the good woman, the helpmate of
Thomas Jefferson Brooks, Susannah Poor, and her
remarkable line of ancestry through the Poors, Chutes,
Thurstons and others.

At this reunion of the descendants of Thomas Jef-


ferson Brooks, assembled at Mt. Pleasant, the scene of
the greatest activities and successes of his life, it is
well to speak of his ancestry. He was born and
lived until eighteen years of age at beautiful Lincoln,
Massachusetts, in that part of the town which in 1754
was set off from Concord, that town of illustrious his-
tory, redolent of great deeds, stirring incidents and
wonderful men and women.

The first of the name in America was Thomas and
the first mention of the name that I find reads:

"Mr. Bulkely, then 52 years of age, embarked at
London, May 9, 1635, in the ship 'Susan and Ellen'
accompanied by William Buttrick and Thomas
Brooke." »

You will notice the spelling, Brooke. I find the
name in the old records spelled in different ways; and
that spelling was frequent.

This was Peter Bulkely, a minister from St.
John's College in Cambridge, a man of wealth,
benevolence and great learning, who became the lead-
er in the settlement of Concord, the first settlement in
English America above tidewater. Under his leader-
ship in the autumn of that year they bought of the
Indians six miles square and founded the town that
one da} T was to engage the attention of the world, and
which to-day is the Mecca of those who delight in the
history of their country and are interested in its litera-
ture. Their first shelter was in burrows in the hillside
where probably the oldest of their dead now lie
sleeping. "The forest rang in psalms, and the poor-
est of God's people in the whole world, unable to ex-


eel in numbers, strength or riches, resolved to strive
to excel in grace and in holiness." 2 This Buttrick 3
was the ancestor of Major John Buttrick, who at Con-
cord Bridge on the eventful April 19th, gave the first
order to fire on the British, "Fire, fellow soldiers, for
God's sake, fire." The response was the shot heard
round the world. Great company was this in which
our Thomas sailed for the new world.

Walcott says Mr. Bulkely's wife came over in an-
other ship to avoid some regulation or prohibition. Per-
haps Grace, the wife of our Thomas, came separately
also, for our author does not mention her sailing in the
Susan and Ellen, tho she may have come with her

Why Thomas failed to go to Concord with Mr.
Bulkely and Simon Willard we do not know. For
some reason he seems to have first settled in Water-
town, near Cambridge, where he was made a free-
man on December 7, 1636. 4 So this is our first date
in America — near three centuries ago. However, he
tarried but a short time but joined his former com-
rades at Concord and became a very active man in the
affairs of the town.

From Shattuck's History of Concord, (Boston,
1835,) I learn of his first mention in the town records
in 1638, when be was constable of the town. 5 In
1640 he was, with Lt. Willard and William Wood,
appointed on a commission to value horses, cows,
oxen, goats and "hoggs" in Concord. 6

I don't know whether the lands in Concord were
at first held in common or not, but presume they were


largely so, for I find that in 1654 a committee of nine
were appointed to make a division of land and also to
provide for the care of the highways, etc. This divi-
sion was made and rules were made for the care of
certain highways by those residing in portions of the
town, which was all put in writing and signed by the
entire commission on January 7, 1654. This agree-
ment or rules remained in force for fifty years. Our
ancestor, Thomas Brooks, was a member of the com-
mission and signed the instrument. 7 In that same
year he was appointed to carry into effect the law to
prevent drunkenness among the Indians. 8

The importance of preserving land titles and hav-
ing them kept of record was early recognized, so that
we rind in 1663 the selectmen of Concord were de-
sired to get a new "Booke" in which to record the
titles to "the land that men now doe hold" and "the
thing tending to pece and to prevention of strife."
They desired the help of Rev. Bulkely, Minister, and
Thomas Brooks and Joseph Wheeler, names which
were afterwards prominent throughout the history of
Concord and Lincoln, which company set about it on
January 25th and called a meeting for the 29th, which
concluded to transcribe every man's title in a new
"Booke." 9

About that time Joshua Brooks, son of Thomas,
and through whom we are descended, appears to own
eleven lots, 195 acres. His brother Caleb had twelve
lots, 150 acres. 10 The name of Thomas Brooks does
not appear as a land owner. He probably had con-
veyed his lands to his sons.


At that time Thomas Dakin ( 1624-1708) who is
an ancestor of Mrs Bathsheba Brooks, wife of Daniel
Brooks, mother of Thomas Jefferson, was then the
owner of four lots, 87 acres.

In 1652 there was granted to the town of Concoid
additional lands on condition that they would be im-
proved by that town before other towns improved it.
The town probabl)* had neglected taking possession of
the lands and other towns had been helping themselves,
for after many years Thomas Brooks with five other
citizens of Concord was appointed "to take a survey
of the rest remayning." They made this survey and
reported to the town in May, 1665, that there were
seven thousand acres of land left. n

In addition to the public offices that have already
been mentioned as held by Thomas Brooks, he served
as deputy in the General Court, which was and yet re-
mains the name of the Legislature of Massachusetts,
in 1642, 1643, 1654, and 1659 to 1662. 12 So that you
can see that in the very beginning our people were
partial to public offices and places of trust. Thomas
Brooks was probably a merchant, for we find that in
1657 for £5 he bought of the General Court the right
to the fur trade in Concord. 13 This was undoubtedly
a valuable privilege to him as Concord was then one
of the outposts of the colony.

This Thomas Boooks was also spoken of as Cap-
tain. He was captain in the Militia. 14 I have found
no record of any particular military service performed
by him, but it is safe to say that he as well as all the
other male citizens of the town performed military


duty in protecting the settlement and colony from the
Indians. He died May 21st, 1667. 15

After the Restoration, Charles II appointed royal
commissioners to regulate the affairs of the colonies,
this being one of the steps to subvert the liberty of self
government that had been permitted the colonies dur-
ing the time of the Commonwealth. The people of
Massachusetts took alarm at once and resisted as well
as they could these efforts. In 1664 nine-three resi-
dents of Concord, freemen and others, addressed
themselves to the General Court in a paper, which we
might say was a prophecy by more than a century of
the Declaration of Independence, wherein they pledged
for resistance to the illegal acts of the Royal Commis-
sioners, their lives and their estates. We are proud
that the name of Thomas Brooks, our ancestor, leads
all the rest. 16 The Massachusetts people kept up the
contest with the Commissioners and Governor Andros
until the Revolution of 1688.

Tne children of Thomas and Grace Brooks,
according to Shattuck 17 were Joshua, Caleb, who in
1670 went to Medford, Massachusetts, and from whom
was descended John Brooks, a distinguished soldier of
the Revolution and for several years Governor of
Massachusetts, 18 and also Bishop Phillips Brooks, V)
Gershom, Mary married to Wheeler of Concord,
Hugh, John of Woburn, Thomas, who went to Had-
don, Connecticutt, and perhaps others. Other records
give the names of but four children, Caleb, Gershom,
Joshua and Mary Wheeler. 20

Joshua went back to the old home of Watertown


and married Hannah, the daughter of Captain Hugh
Mason, 21 and from him he probably learned the busi-
ness which he afterward followed. Joshua was a tan-
ner 22 and settled in that part of Concord which was
afterwards, in the year 1754, set °^ an ^ became a part
of Lincoln, then established. The tannery existed for
near two centuries and was situate near the Brooks
Tavern in the Brooks village.

Concord must have taken to literary lines early,
for the town had a library as early as 1672. In that
year this Joshua and his brother Gershom were mem-
bers of a committee to recommend rules and regu-
lations to the selectmen and reported seventeen
articles of instruction to the selectmen, among others:
"3. That care be taken of the Booke of Marters and
other Bookes that belong to the town, that they be
kept from abusive usage and not be lent to persons
more than a month at a time." 23 It must be that many
of you have inherited your great love of books from
your ancestor, Joshua, though you may never have
seen the "Booke of Marters" and might find it grue-
some reading.

The children of Joshua and Hannah as given by
Shattuck 24 were Noah, Grace, married Potter, Daniel,
Thomas, Esther, married Whittmore, Joseph, Eliza-
beth, married Merriam, Job and Hugh. In the Gene-
alogical Dictionary and American Ancestory below
quoted, also appears as the first child, Hannah. She
was the namesake of her mother and 'probably died
young and unmarried, and for that reason is not men-
tioned in the other record.


The above named Daniel was born November 15,
1663, 25 and married on August 9, 1692, to Anna Mer-
riam, 26 and died October 18, 1733. Anna Merriam
was the daughter of John Merriam and his wife Mary
Cooper and was born September 7, 1669.

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Online LibraryFrancis AtwaterSome account of Thomas Jefferson Brooks, 1805-1882, and some of his family, Massachusetts-Indiana, 1635-1906, and the family reunion, August 10, 1906 → online text (page 1 of 4)