Friday, March 16, 2012

A Revolutionary Man: Thomas Brooks G4 Grandfather (1738-1822)

Thomas Brooks G4 Grandfather (1738-1822)

Youngest son of Stephen Brooks and an unknown mother, Thomas was born on March 7, 1738 in Hyde County, North Carolina, not far from the Atlantic ocean. Some researchers claim he was a mariner like his father, though not a pirate like his grandfather. Little data exists to tell us what his life was like in the early years. But research on the spit of land outcropped into the ocean proves their lives were never easy or romantic. Half the year they would have threat of hurricanes, and always the difficulty of trying to grow food from sand, and of making a living from what the sea would bring close.

In 1777, at age 39, he joined the 10th North Carolina Continental Army for a term of 3 years.

Muster Roll

After the war, he met Angelica Riordane. They married in 1783, when he was 45. Her age is unknown, but it is believed she was considerably younger. Together, they had 9 children, but three would die in infancy.

I believe their first two children were twins: David and Thomas Jr., born in 1784. David died before his first birthday. Thomas Jr. went on to marry and have children of his own. More about him later.

In 1785, Christopher was born. He would live to be 68, married twice, with at least two sons.

Their next son, John, would also die before his first birthday.

In 1790, their son Deuteronomy, was born. Deuteronomy died before the age of 1 .

The next year, their only daughter was born, Polly. She would grow up to marry the son of Thomas's best friend and war buddy, and have children.

In 1792, my g-3 grandfather, Midget, was born. Midget is a strange name, but it was most definitely a local family surname in the outerbanks. He is the reason why I believe Thomas's wife's maiden name was Midgett rather than Riordane, but so far I have not found anything hard to prove it. Much more about Midgett in a separate post.

Stephen is their second-to-last son, born in 1794. He would marry and have children and settle in Missouri.

The baby of the family was Jeremiah, born in 1796. Surprisingly, he and his family settled in Oxford, Mississippi, where I now live. His daughter and her family are buried less than 10 miles from my home.


Many researchers believe Thomas's wife Angelica was the daughter of a French man named Denis Riordane, but upon looking closer into the dates of Denis and his Angelica, it is my belief that Thomas's wife Angelica is actually Denis's granddaughter. It is entirely plausible that Angelica the daughter had her own daughter and named her after herself. This was quite common. I saw no evidence that Denis was actually french. In fact, he was more likely to be Irish.

The reason why I have trouble believing there is only one Angelica is the proof that is in Denis Riordane's will of January 18th, 1723:

In The Name of God Amen I Denis RIORDANE of of the prect of Corotuck in the County of Albemarle and in ye Province of North Carolina Being Sick and Weak of Body But of Perfect mind and Memory Blessed Be God for itt and Calling to Mind that It is appoynted... that My Loveing Wife Sarah RIORDANE have and possess all my Lands in this Govermt that is to Say
Dureing her Naturall Life that is to Say Not Debaring My Daughter Angilica RIORDANE If She Marry from takeing on any part of my Said Land Dureing her Mothers Life Not Disterbing My Said wife Dureing her Naturall Life afore Said and at my Said wives Decease I Give all my Lands afore Said to my Said Daughter Angilica RIORDANE and ye heirs of her body Lawfully Begotten If any but If none My Will & Meaning is that My Said Lands Desend and Come to Thomas VINCE and Wm VINCE and to the heirs of there Bodys Lawfully Begotten If any but If they Die with out any Such heirs as afore Said My will and Meaning is that all Land Desend and be to and for the maintaining Three of the Poress [poorest] Men in the Parish and So to Desend and be from age to age for Ever.
farther my will and Meaning is that If My Wife Die and Depart this Life Before My Daughter Angelica RIORDANE Come or attain to ye full age of Sixteen or Married that My friend Luke WHITE have her and her Estate in his Ceare to Bring up my Said Daughter till She Come to ye afore Said age of Sixteen or marry but live [next 4 or 5 words unreadable] Possessions. Also My Will and Meaning is that all the Rest of my Movable Estate Both within Dores and With out Excepting one Small Gon [Gun] to be Equally Devided
Between My Loveing Wife Sarah RIORDANE and My Daughter Angelica RIORDANE but Not to be Devided by appraismt but by Two Members of ye Court Chosen for that purpose to Make ye Devision afore Said but If My Said Daughter Should Die and Depart this Life Without Lawful Isue of her Body.

It's obvious from this will that this Angelica was not yet 16 in 1723.

The death date for Thomas's Angelica is 1847, which is documented in government correspondence. Even if Angelica were only an infant at the time of Denis' will, she would have been 120 years old when she died. This is why I cannot say for certain that Thomas married an Angelica Riordane, even though many claim that he did. I'm not sure that this mystery will ever be solved, but I will continue to try.


Thomas Brooks' time in the Army is well-recorded, but not for the usual reasons. Late descendants know so much about Thomas merely because years after his death, the government refused to give his children his pension, claiming he was never officially on record, (which is not true,) and because they could not prove Thomas and Angelica were legally married.

Here's what happened:

       On September 5th, 1853, Jeremiah, the baby of the family at age 58, and living in Henderson County, Tennessee at the time, swore an affadavit claiming that:
 ...he is the son of Thomas Brooks who was a private in Captain Wilson's company of the 10th Regiment and served during the war. He further declares that his father died in the county of Wilson in the State of Tennessee in the year 1822 on the 13th of June leaving a widow Angelico Brooks to whom he was married in the county of Hyde in the State of North Carolina. Jeremiah Brooks further declares that his mother, Angelico Brooks, remained a widow until her death which transpired in the county of Henderson in the State of Tennessee in the month of October 1847 and it is believed on the 5th day of that month, leaving four heirs, to wit: Christopher, Stephen, and Jeremiah and Midget. He further declares that his father Thomas Brooks enlisted in the State of North Carolina and that he never received any pension nor his mother Angelico Brooks. He makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the benefit of the Act of Congress of July 7th 1832 for himself and brothers.

Thus begins a long, drawn-out drama between Thomas's sons and the Pension Office discussing Thomas's service, the lack of its proof, and whether or not he and Angelica were ever married.

It ultimately ended in their request for a pension being denied four years later in 1857.

With the aid of modern technology, it is now proven that Thomas was in fact on several muster rolls for the NC Continental Army. Though Thomas Brooks' descendents were never given any money for his service.


Thomas and Angelica's legacy is one that is very interesting, especially because one of their sons settled in Oxford, Mississippi, a place I've called home for the last 7 years.

Thomas Brooks, Jr. (1784-1857) moved to Greene County, in East Tennessee and married the daughter of a German man, Mary Whittenberg when he was 24. Like any good farming family, they had nine children together: Henry, Nancy, William, Thomas, Manor, Sarah, Stephen, Benamin, amd Mary.

Christopher Brooks (1785-aft 1860) also married a Whittenberg girl, Susan, the youngest of 13 children, on February 19, 1824. They had their first daugter in NC, Nancy, but soon moved to Henderson County, Tennessee, the main county of choice for most of my father's family at the time. They had at least two sons, Alfred Alexander, who married a woman named Nancy Sheppard. Together they had seven children. In 1860, they lived with Christopher and Susan and were farmers. Christopher must have had quite a large estate, as it was worth 1500, a fortune then. Their other son, Christopher, married a woman named Martha, and together they had 5 children: John, Mary, Mariah, James, and Margaret. It seems they were partial to J and M names.

John Brooks (1786-87) died as an infant.

Their next son, Deuturonomy, also died as an infant (1790-91).

Thomas and Angelica had one daughter, Polly (1791-1853). When she was 25, she married Custes O'Neal, the son of one of Thomas's war buddies and neighbor. It is unknown whether or not they had any children.

Their next son was Midget (hopefully pronounced the French was with the silent "t".) He would become my third great grandfather. At 28, he marred Rebecca O'Neal, who I believe was a sister to Custes. Farmers, too, they would have 6 children: Polly, Mary, Robert Bailey, Warrington, James Franklin (my g-2), and William. Between 1850-1860, they moved from Tennessee to the banks of Missouri. Much more about them later.

Marriage certificate
Stephen Brooks (1794-1853) married Maria Swiney on September 30, 1818. They had only one child that I have been able to unearth, James Harrison Brooks (1821-1891). James was an interesting find, though, because he was a farmer turned Indian doctor apprentice. How that came to pass is still unknown. As far as I know, he was not part Indian, unless his mother Maria was.  He and his wife Dolly populated Arkansas with their 10 children.  This is a photo of one of James' children, James Winfield "Whistling Pete" Brooks and his progeny:

"Whistling Pete" is the old man seated. Photo circa 1915.

Jeremiah was the last son born to Thomas and Angelia (1796-1860). He married Lucy Nunn and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Laura. Jeremiah and his wife moved to Oxford, Mississippi before 1850. Jeremiah's daughters married local, land-owning farmers and raised their families there. Many of their descendents are still in the Oxford area, though quite a few moved out to Texas and California. As I have devoted many months to researching this distant local branch of the family, I will post about them in more detail later.

Researching Thomas's side has taken much time, but luckily there was much to find. I am still waiting on a packet of information about him from the Green County, Tennessee local genealogical society. Through researching his line, I found a unique tie to a place I thought I wasn't tied to, and that is a precious find indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment