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LIBRARY

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

SANTA BARBARA



PRESENTED BY

MRS. MACKINLEY HELM



JOHN COTTON BROOKS



JOHN COTTON BROOKS

BY
JAMES CLEMENT SHARP

FORMERLY ASSISTANT MINISTER AT CHRIST CHURCH
SPRINGFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS




CAMBRIDGE

PRINTED BY THE UNIVERSITY PRESS
MCMIX



COPYRIGHT, 1909
BY JAMES C. SHARP






S43

PREFACE

THIS book is an attempt to put in a
concrete and detailed form some facts of
an active and successful ministry. In the
midst of the changing religious thought
and conditions of his time John Cotton
Brooks exhibited a singleness of aim,
with a consecration and a devotion to
duty, that was as remarkable as it was
fruitful. The first chapter contains a
sketch of two Puritan families, the
Brooks and the Phillips, from the time
of their arrival on these New England
shores until they were united two hundred
years later by the marriage of William
Gray Brooks and Mary Ann Phillips,
the parents of Mr. Brooks. The second



iv PREFACE

chapter is an account of the family in-
fluences of his early life. With these
facts in mind we can better understand
the forces which moulded his character
and set his face towards the work he was
to accomplish in later years. In the
remaining chapters the emphasis is upon
the Springfield ministry.

Mr. Brooks began his ministry at
Christ Church, Springfield, Massachu-
setts, when the financial difficulties of the
parish were very great. At the end of
his first four years, when the debt had
increased rather than diminished, he
declined a unanimous call to become
rector of the Church of the Intercession,
New York City. Duty bade him re-
main and work out the problem to which
he believed God had called him. For
nearly a quarter of a century he labored
to remove the debt. Meanwhile he



PREFACE v

succeeded in building up Christ Church,
until it became at the time of his death
the second largest Episcopal parish in
New England. The secret of his suc-
cess was his pastoral love. He knew
his people, and he won their friend-
ship. He aimed to be with them in
the trials and sorrows of life. Above
all else his Church and his people came
first.

He served the city as effectively as he
did his parish. In his deep sense of
justice, and in his patriotic impulses
there glowed the fire which impelled him
in every effort for social reform and civic
betterment. In such work he was earnest,
intelligent, and practical. He sought to
ennoble and uplift the standard of living,
morally and spiritually in the city, as he
did in the Church. His self-sacrificing
spirit in helping humanity, both within



vi PREFACE

and without his parish, stands conspicuous
as a witness to his simple but profound
faith in God and man.

He preached Jesus Christ with an
earnestness and conviction that brought
sure and lasting results. At times he was
eloquent, always persuasive, aiming to
lead his people to a spiritual outlook, that
they might see their own capacities for
higher and nobler living. His purpose
was to instruct in God's word, to arouse
the conscience, and to make real the
power of God and Christ.

In the hope that this book may be of
interest to his parishioners and friends,
and in some measure a source of help
and inspiration to others into whose
hands it may fall, perchance to young
men entering the ministry of Jesus Christ,
I send it forth as the record of the
life of a good and consecrated man.



PREFACE vii

The materials for the making of this
brief biography have come from the
reminiscences of his parishioners and
friends, and from my own association
with Mr. Brooks for more than seven
years as assistant minister. To the late
Rev. A. V. G. Allen, D.D., of Cam-
bridge, I am indebted for advice and
encouragement in beginning this book,
and to the members of the family, Mrs.
John Cotton Brooks, and the Misses
Brooks, Mr. William Gray Brooks, and
Rev. Daniel Dulany Addison, D.D., for
their sympathy and assistance. To
Messrs. E. P. Dutton and Company, the
publishers of the life of Phillips Brooks,
I am indebted for the kind permission
to use some extracts from letters. To the
Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, D.D.,
Bishop of Massachusetts, and to Rev.
George Hodges, D.D., Dean of the Epis-



viii PREFACE

copal Theological School at Cambridge,
I am deeply grateful for generous help

and kind suggestions.

J. C. S.

WABAN (NEWTON), MASS., May, 1909.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. Two PURITAN FAMILIES 13

II. THE EARLY YEARS 26

III. THE BEGINNING OF THE SPRINGFIELD

MINISTRY 43

IV. THE GROWTH OF THE PARISH. . . 57
V. THE SUCCESS OF THE SOCIETIES . . 72

VI. TRAITS THAT HELPED 91

VII. BEYOND THE PARISH 101

VIII. THE PREACHER 120

IX. THE MINISTER OF CONSOLATION . . 140

X. Two MEMORABLE SERVICES . . . 158

XI. THE LAST VOYAGE 178



ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

PORTRAIT OF THE REV. JOHN COTTON BROOKS

Frontispiece

CHRIST CHURCH 50

THE PARISH HOUSE 50

THE RECTORY 92

MR. BROOKS IN HIS VESTMENTS .... 120



JOHN COTTON BROOKS

CHAPTER I

TWO PURITAN FAMILIES

IN the year 1630 Thomas Brooks heard
the first sermon preached in Watertown,
Massachusetts. The Minister was Rev.
George Phillips. These two were the
first ancestors of John Cotton Brooks to
settle in this country, and they were also
among the first settlers of Watertown. A
family record tells us that in company
with Governor John Winthrop they ar-
rived at Salem Harbor in the ship "Ara-
bella," the twelfth of June, 1630. Thomas
Brooks lived a few years in Watertown,
and then moved to Concord. He was a
well-to-do farmer, as is evidenced by his



14 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

purchase of a farm at Medford, on which
his son Caleb settled after his marriage,
and there two sons, Ebenezer and Sam-
uel, were born to him. From this time
the Brooks family is closely identified
with the history of Medford.

In the year 1635 Thomas Boylston
arrived at Boston. His son, Dr. Thomas
Boylston, had a family of twelve children,
of whom one, named Peter, was a direct
ancestor of John Adams, the second Presi-
dent of the United States. The name of
Boylston was to become conspicuous later
in the history of Boston and Harvard Col-
lege. Abigail, a daughter of Dr. Boyls-
ton, married Ebenezer Brooks, and their
grandson was John Brooks. At the out-
break of the Revolutionary War this John
Brooks led a company at the battle of Lex-
ington, fought at Bunker Hill and Sara-
toga, and step by step was raised in rank,



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 15

until at the battle of Monmouth he was
acting adjutant-general. As a confidant
and friend of Washington he attained a
high place in the councils of the nation.
After the Revolution he practised his
profession as a physician, keeping in
touch meanwhile with public life. He
was Governor of Massachusetts for seven
years, and died in 1825.

Through Samuel Brooks, the half-
brother of Ebenezer, came the direct line
of descent to John Cotton Brooks. He
married Sarah Boylston, a sister of Abi-
gail, and their son Samuel had a son of
the same name, who had four sons and
one daughter. It fell to Edward Brooks,
the second son, to be the first representa-
tive of his family in the ministry. He set-
tled at North Yarmouth, Maine, where
differences between him and his parishion-
ers arose, as to his theological doctrines.



16 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

He was more liberal than his congrega-
tion, and his anti-Calvinistic tendencies
were to them a sore grievance. After
giving them his blessing, and expressing
the hope that "they may get another
pastor who shall feed them with spiritual
knowledge and understanding," he re-
signed his charge and returned to Med-
ford. Although out of health when the
call to arms came in 1775, but "with a
competent share of courage," he hurried
away from Medford to engage in the Con-
cord fight. Afterwards, as chaplain of the
frigate "Hancock," he was captured by
the British and carried to Halifax, where
he had the smallpox. He returned to
Medford and died soon after, in 1781.

Abigail Brown, his wife, the daughter
of Joanna Cotton of Haverhill, was the
great-granddaughter of Rev. John Cot-
ton, the first minister of Boston, and also



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 17

the great-grandmother of John Cotton
Brooks. Their son, Cotton Brown Brooks,
the grandfather of John Cotton Brooks,
settled in Portland, Maine, where he be-
came an honored citizen and a prosperous
business man. His son, William Gray
Brooks, at the age of nineteen came to
Boston to seek his fortunes. His father's
brother, Peter Chardon Brooks, lived
at Medford, and to his house William
went as a frequent visitor. Peter Chardon
Brooks was said to be the richest man in
Boston at the time of his death in 1849.

The members of the Brooks family
were thus typical New Englanders. In
early days they were tillers of the soil,
and were prosperous. As time went on
they came to the cities and were success-
ful in business life. In the words of the
family record, "Of the Brooks family who
came to Medford from the time of the

2



18 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

first Caleb, they were worthy men in com-
fortable circumstances, rather rich for
farmers, men of influence in town affairs.
None except the Governor were men of
distinction as magistrates, except that
some of them were Justices of the Peace,
and representatives to the General Court."
When we turn to the Phillips family, we
find them graduates of Harvard, ministers
of great influence, men eminent in vari-
ous offices of State, founders of institu-
tions of learning, and men who showed by
their acts a reverence for the past, and a
deep responsibility as to the future. In
Church, and State, and in social life they
were conspicuous.

The Rev. George Phillips, who sailed
with Governor Winthrop for New Eng-
land in 1630, had been ordained in the
Church of England. He cast his lot with
the Puritans and came across the seas to



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 19

aid in establishing a new form of worship,
for fourteen years ministering to the little
settlement at Watertown. He died in
1644. Winthrop speaks well of him in
his journal, as a scholar of ability and a
good preacher. He was a lover of liberty,
both political and religious, and guarded
with a jealous eye any encroachments
upon his own church rights by other
churches or by the civil authorities. He
believed in independent church govern-
ment, and later his views were formulated
into Congregationalism. As to political
liberty, he remonstrated when the Gov-
ernor levied a tax without the consent of
the people, and before the next tax was
levied two representatives were appointed
from each plantation to consider the
question he had raised.

The Rev. Samuel Phillips, his son, was
graduated from Harvard College in 1650.



20 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

For forty-five years he labored in his
parish at Rowley, until his death in 1696.
His son of the same name became a
goldsmith at Salem, and married Mary
Emerson of Gloucester, a clergyman's
daughter. Their son was the Rev. Sam-
uel Phillips, the third of that name. He
was graduated at Harvard and studied
for the ministry, and in 1711 was ordained
at the South Church, Andover. With his
ministry begins the association of the
Phillips family with the town of Andover.
He was a stern Puritan, and as such is
said to have been a representative spirit
of the eighteenth century. A strong
Calvinist, he preached with power, and
wielded a great influence over the lives
of his parishioners. An hour-glass upon
his pulpit desk measured the length of
his sermons. When family evening pray-
ers were said his sense of economy



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 21

prompted him to blow out his candle, but
he was able to send his sons to Harvard
College, and give away a tenth of his
income.

The Honorable Samuel Phillips, who
represented the next generation, instead
of entering the ministry chose a business
career. He accumulated wealth and be-
came active in political life. As a mem-
ber of the House of Representatives and
of the Council of the Commonwealth he
was respected for his ability and charac-
ter. He built the Phillips homestead at
North Andover. His son Samuel, known
as Judge Phillips, was the great-grand-
father of John Cotton Brooks.

Judge Phillips was born in 1752. While
at Harvard College he showed marked
ability and diligence, standing seventh in
his class, and he was the first president
of the "Institute of 1770," a society still



22 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

popular at Harvard. It was in those
days that a romance began which was to
affect the future history of Andover.
Phoebe Foxcroft was of a prominent
Cambridge family, a woman of rare gifts
and of a vivacious nature, but Phoebe
happened to be nine years older than her
lover, and his parents objected to their
marriage. It was only Samuel's illness
after his graduation that gained him their
consent. They were married in 1773, and
took up their new life at the old Phillips
homestead in North Andover, and later,
upon his presidential tour in 1789, Wash-
ington visited them. Judge Phillips be-
came interested in many business enter-
prises, and during the Revolutionary War
manufactured gunpowder, digging salt-
petre out of his cellar. As owner of a
grist-mill, a sawmill, and of stores in
Andover and Methuen, he received a



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 23

large income. To his business ability
were added qualities of statesmanship.
For fifteen years he was President of the
State Senate, and for sixteen years Judge
of the Essex Court of Common Pleas.
He was an Overseer of Harvard College
for twenty years, and the year before his
death was elected Lieutenant- Governor
of Massachusetts. He won his greatest
distinction, however, as one of the found-
ers of Phillips Andover Academy, which
received more than one hundred thou-
sand dollars from different members of
his family. By his influence, his uncle,
John Phillips of Exeter, gave liberally to
its foundation, and at the same time
founded a similar academy at Exeter.

The religious spirit of his fathers was
strong in Judge Phillips and the ruling
motive of his life. With a profound sense
of his responsibility to God, he aimed to



24 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

apply his wealth to the highest and noblest
ends. His sudden death in 1802, at the
age of fifty, however, left his long cher-
ished plans incomplete. His wife, Phoebe
Foxcroft, showed both strength of char-
acter and ability when she established in
1808, with the aid of her son, the Andover
Theological Seminary.

The son of Judge Phillips and Phcebe
Foxcroft was John Phillips, the grand-
father of John Cotton Brooks. After his
graduation from Harvard College he
studied law, but on account of ill health
gave up its practice. As an orator he
achieved distinction in public life. He
was a member of the State Senate, and a
Governor's Aid, but his part in the found-
ing of the Andover Theological Seminary
was considered the crowning achieve-
ment of his life. He married Lydia, the
daughter of Nathaniel Gorham of Charles-



TWO PURITAN FAMILIES 25

town, and another daughter married Peter
Chardon Brooks of Medford. Thus John
Phillips and Peter Chardon Brooks were
brothers-in-law. It was at her uncle's
Medford home that Mary Ann Phillips
came from Andover to visit, and there she
met her future husband, William Gray
Brooks. They were the parents of John
Cotton Brooks. Thus in 1833, after a
period of a little more than two hundred
years, the direct descendants of Rev.
George Phillips, the first minister at
Watertown, and his parishioner, Thomas
Brooks, were joined together in marriage.



CHAPTER II

THE EARLY YEARS

OF the six sons of William Gray Brooks
and his wife, Mary Ann Phillips, four en-
tered the ministry of the Episcopal Church.
John Cotton Brooks, the youngest, was
born at 3 Rowe Street (now a part of
Chauncy Street), Boston, August 29,
1849. On All Saints' Day of the same
year his parents took him to St. Paul's
Church, where he was baptized by the
Rev. Dr. Vinton.

His father, according to the custom of
the day, kept a diary, in which from the
time of their birth he recorded many facts
in the lives of his six sons. He tells us that
John weighed nine pounds at birth, and
walked at nineteen months. He gives us



THE EARLY YEARS 27

the exact date of his inoculation and
states that it took well. He records the
diseases of his youth. Such trifling facts
were absurd to relate, did they not show a
devotion and interest which led the fond
father to chronicle in later years more im-
portant facts, such as how his sons pro-
gressed, and when and where they began
their life-work. Above all, such details tell
us of parental love and pride, and afford
us a glimpse of the close relationship
which existed in the Brooks' household.
At the age of six John was sent to a pri-
vate school kept by Miss Capen. As a
boy he was very shy, and on his first day
at school he remained under the table and
refused to come out, this was jokingly
referred to in after years by his brothers
as an instance of his youthful modesty.
It must be left for the reader to deter-
mine whether his presence at a school



28 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

exhibition, where his father found him
sitting on the front settee,, contentedly
listening to the speaking, was due to the
passing of his shyness, or to his early thirst
for knowledge, for John had reached the
age of nine.

The fact that four of the sons chose the
ministry is evidence of the influence of
their home training, both secular and re-
ligious. Family prayers were said twice a
day, and on Sunday afternoons the Bible
was read aloud and each son recited a
hymn. The father kept in a little book a
list of the hymns learned by the boys.
John was very fond of being read to by
his parents. In later years, with his own
children about him, he read a story for
an hour each night, and if some duty in-
terrupted, they would eagerly await his
return. His love for children was re-
vealed in his fondness for juvenile books.



THE EARLY YEARS 29

When Sunday came the Brooks family
went regularly to church, and in after
years John laid great emphasis upon the
church as a home. "Take such a pew as
you can always keep, " he said one day to
a woman who was selecting a pew; "it
will become a church home that your chil-
dren will always hold sacred after you
have passed away." Then his mind wan-
dered back to his youth, and he said
that it seemed but yesterday since his
own parents walked into St. Paul's
Church, Boston, with his brothers and
himself following them into the pew,
where during their boyhood years they
spent their Sunday mornings.

In 1839, ten years before John's birth,
his parents began to go to St. Paul's
Episcopal Church. For the six years pre-
ceding they had attended the First Church,
which had been the charge of their ances-



30 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

tor, Rev. John Cotton, the first minister
of Boston. The pastor at that time, the
Rev. N. L. Frothingham, was a relative
of Mr. Brooks.

As her family increased Mrs. Brooks
became deeply solicitous about their re-
ligious training. The family traditions,
and the efforts of her father and her
grandmother, Phoebe Foxcroft, in the
founding of the Andover Theological
Seminary, made it difficult for her to
identify herself permanently with the Uni-
tarian church. Becoming dissatisfied, she
looked about for another place of worship.
At that time the rector of St. Paul's Church
was the Rev. Dr. Stone, a representative
low Churchman. To him Mrs. Brooks
went for counsel and advice, and in 1839
she was confirmed in the Episcopal
Church. When the Rev. Dr. Vinton, the
foremost preacher in Boston of his day,



THE EARLY YEARS 31

became rector a few years later, there
began a pastoral relationship with the
Brooks family that was to exert for many
years a remarkable influence over the lives
of its members. In 1847, Mr. Brooks,
although at first indifferent to a change in
his church life, through the influence of his
wife and Doctor Vinton, was also con-
firmed. Thus the Brooks and the Phillips
families returned to the Church which
their ancestors had left over two cen-
turies before.

John Cotton Brooks strongly resembled
his mother, and from her he inherited a
passion for righteousness and a devotion
to duty which were the chief characteris-
tics of his ministry. Physically he resem-
bled her also, never robust nor strong,
but with a highly organized nervous tem-
perament which kept him working on,
often when the frailty of the body forbade



32 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

it. His father was a practical man of
affairs, a strong character, interested
in the topics of the day. A devoted hus-
band and father, he gave of his means
unsparingly for the education of his sons.
He was patient and broad-minded, and
possessing the confidence of his sons,
he was always a wise counselor and a
most interested helper.

Thus John Cotton Brooks inherited
from his mother a desire to set the world
aright, and a devotion to Christ, which
made him a faithful shepherd of souls,
while from his father came "a gift for
the manifold detail of life," and that prac-
tical interest in civic affairs that won for
him in after years the name of "model
citizen." His mother's traits and charac-
teristics, however, predominated.

When his brothers grew up and left
home for college, John, as the youngest



THE EARLY YEARS 33

of the family, became the special object
of his mother's watchfulness and care.
He went with her on errands and to mar-
ket, and theirs was a close companionship
which developed in him a regard for pa-
rental authority and a love for home. In
those early years he imbibed her love for
God and the Church. To a parishioner
he once said, when she worried over the
future of her boys and wished that they
might become better Churchmen, "Don't
be discouraged, it will come in good time,
the discipline of life will bring them to it.
Your example will not be lost, for there is
nothing lost in God's economy." Was he
not thinking then of his mother's influence
upon his own life ?

As the early years passed, the older
brothers left for college, and the family
circle became smaller. At vacation times,
however, when the boys came home,

3



34 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

there was plenty of fun, and none of his
brothers had more humor than John.
The holidays were times of special gaiety.
Phillips Brooks wrote home one Thanks-
giving Day, "What a stunner of a fowl.
See John measuring it solemnly with his
eye, and trying to make out whether he
or it is the biggest. . . . Here comes the
pudding. . . . Well, dinner 's over and
John's jacket just covers the small of his
back." 1

The years of the Civil War were passed
by John in the pursuit of his studies and
preparation for college. Too young to
serve as a soldier, he invariably found
some place in the crowds where he could
stand and watch each regiment pass on to
the scenes of battle. So strong, however,
was his desire to take an active part, that

1 Dr. Allen's Life of Phillip Brooks, Vol. I, p.
343.



THE EARLY YEARS 35

he went one day to Mrs. Harrison Gray
Otis, of the Committee on Military Dona-
tions, and asked her what he could do.
The position of errand boy was offered to
him and in that capacity he served faith-
fully. During these years came the first
break in the family circle, caused by the
death of his brother George from typhoid
fever, while in the service of his country.
In the year 1867 John was graduated
from the Latin School this was also the
year of his confirmation. In the fall he
entered Harvard College without condi-
tions with the Class of 1871. He studied
hard, and as his health gave out he was
obliged to obtain a leave of absence from
college. He spent the next few months
at a farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and
while there his devotion to the Church
was shown by his going several miles, lan-
tern in hand, to the evening services of



36 JOHN COTTON BROOKS

the Episcopal Church in Greenfield. Ill
health thus caused the loss of a year at
college, and the following autumn he
began again with the Class of 1872. At
the end of his freshman year he stood
ninth in his class. In those days class
spirit at Harvard was different from what
it is now, and it was harder to make the
friendships which are so important to the
college youth, when one had made a break
with his class. But this did not prevent his
making good progress in the social life,
for he became a member of the "Institute
of 1770," of which his great-grand-


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