James Franklin Brooks was my great-great grandfather on my father's mother's side. He was born on October 19, 1832 in Henderson County, Tennessee to Midget Brooks (1792-1875) and Rebecca O'Neal (1802-1870). (See their earlier post here.) At the time of his birth, Midget was 40 and Rebecca was 30.
A farming family, the Brooks eventually found their Tennessee land unproductive. In his book My Reid and Harrison Families in North America from Their Arrival to the Present, researcher Larry E. Reid posits the Brooks family moved from Henderson County to Pemiscot County, Missouri by April 18, 1857. This was fertile land on the banks of the Mississippi, but perhaps a bit too fertile. The land was often "wet and soggy due to the annual overflow of the Mississippi River. In fact, the word 'Pemiscot' is a Native American word meaning 'liquid mud'" (Reid p. 47).
In fact, according to Pemiscot County Land Receiver records, in 1857, James and his brother Bailey bought quite a bit of land. Bailey was actually the first settler in the town of Cooter since the previous great flood.
Yet, the 1860 census finds James at age 28, living with his parents and his oldest sister, Mary Childers, in Pemiscot County. Midget is the overseer of the farm, and James is a farmer. Why is he not living on his land? Or perhaps they are living on his land, but James ceded to his father as head of the household? The census states James owns $1,000 worth of real estate. Is he waiting to marry? Is he waiting to see what will happen with the impending war?
During the Civil War, Missouri was a largely neutral state. At war's end, Missouri had sent "nearly 110,000 troops to the Union and about 40,000 troops for the Confederate Army" (Wikipedia.) It is not yet confirmed, but it's possible that James returns to Tennessee to volunteer for the Union Army on August 12th, 1863. He is mustered into the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Company F the day before. (I am waiting for his file to be found and sent from the National Archives.) His younger brother, William, joined the same unit, Company D, on September 16th, but he wasn't mustered until Feb. 23, 1864. I will update when/if this info can be confirmed.
Meanwhile, this is what Sarah's life was like:
Sarah Richardson was born 2 days before Christmas in 1841 in Henderson County, Tennessee to Enoch Benjamin Richardson (1798-1870) and Permelia (maiden name unknown) (1799-?). Sarah was their 9th and last child. According to census records, Enoch was a farmer. It appears they did not own slaves, but that cannot be confirmed at this time.
It is not clear when Permelia's mother died, at some point after 1850 and before 1870. She is found at 50 years old in 1850 living with Enoch, keeping house with 5 children 18 and under to care for. Grandmother Sarah was 8 in that year.
William, Sarah's older brother, married Mary Elizabeth Seaton in 1845. The 1850 census cannot be found for them, but they do have a daughter, Elizabeth, in Henderson County in 1848. Then a son, James Washington, the next year. Then two more sons, Elias Andrew and William in 1851, proving they are still in Tennessee at that time. Their next child, John, would be born in 1854 in Independence, Arkansas. So sometime between 1851-1854 they left Tennessee and moved West. Is this because his mother Permelia died? It is possible, but cannot be proven at this time.
William's whereabouts are important to Sarah and her older sister Lizzie who will soon leave home. After their mother dies, Enoch remarries a MUCH younger woman. He's in his 70s, she's in her late 30s. The woman's name was Mary A. Hurt, and she had three children: Louisa (12), Nancy (10), and Larry (9). Family lore has it that Sarah and Lizzie did not like their new stepmother and so they left home. On foot.
From a family researcher:
"In 1865, Sarah Richardson and her sister Lizzie Richardson walked from the Shiloh Battleground--probably in Hardin County, Tn. to Cooter, Mo. (Lizzie was crippled and it took them a while to make this trip [about 110 miles!]--stopping each night to eat and rest with people along their route.) They left home because their father had remarried and they did not get along with their step-mother. Their brother Will Richardson had already migrated to Cooter, Mo. It was he who built the first Methodist Church in Cooter."
This is problematic because I cannot find any proof that William Richardson ever lived in Pemiscott County, Missouri, but it's possible he, his wife, and children stopped there for a while before making it to Independence County, Arkansas. Pemiscot County IS on the way to Arkansas.The church that they are most likely talking about is the Mount Zion Church, which was the first church structure built in Cooter:
|An early rural church located at Upper Cooter, probably erected in 1854 or soon afterward. The first building, of logs, was used as church and school. The later structure was torn down in 1926 and the church disbanded. The name is still used for the cemetery. (This is also the cemetery where James Franklin Brooks and Sarah are buried.) Mount Zion is a common church name suggested by the Biblical Mount Zion in the city of Jerusalem. (Kelly, Doerner, Biblical map)|
|Source: Hamlett, Mayme L. "Place Names Of Six Southeast Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1938.|
And how did James Franklin Brooks and Sarah Richardson come to meet and be married anyway if William was in Arkansas by 1854 and in 1860 James was still living with his folks?
Family lore has it that Lizzie also married a Brooks.
I believe that Sarah Richardson's sister Lizzie married James Franklin's brother William R. Brooks (1838-1880). In 1860, he is married to an Elizabeth from Tennessee and they had 2 young daughters, Rebecca and Emiline. They would go on to have three more children, Molly, Thomas, and Sarah. This is all just guessing at this point that the Elizabeth that appears in these census records is Sarah's sister, but it is encouraging that they would name their first daughter Rebecca (Lizzie and Sarah's mother's name and their last daughter Sarah.
Back to Sarah Richardson and James Franklin Brooks:
Nearly ten years apart in age, Sarah and James would not have attended school together in Henderson County, but it is likely their origins brought them together somehow. If Lizzie married James' brother, then this would explain the connection. Going along with my theory that Lizzie did marry James's brother, Lizzie and William's first child was born in 1857, so they were married before then. Sarah is not listed as living with them in the 1860 census. It is not clear where she was in 1860. I have a hunch she may have gone back to live on her father's farm in Tennessee. He is the only family member for whom an 1860 census is also not available.
However it happened, Sarah and James married on February 24, 1866. On June 12, 1867, their first son, Marcus De Lafayette Brooks (Dee) was born in Cooter, Missouri. In 1869, another son was born, Furnander Jadie HW Brooks.
The 1870 census shows that James and Sarah's young family lived right next door to James's father, mother and older sister Mary. Both James and his father were farmers.
July 26, 1870, Sarah's father Enoch Richardson dies at age 72 in Henderson County, Tennessee.
The other children born to James and Sarah are as follows:
1871: Their first daughter, Keturah
1877: Theodore was born and died the same day, his unnamed twin was stillborn
The 1880 census shows them living close to James' brother William and his wife (Sarah's sister) Elizabeth and their young children.
Other children born to them that decade:
1882: twins Dora and G. Noah "Sam" Brooks
1884: My great-grandfather Emery Brooks. While otherwise perfectly normal, and very handsome, he was born with 2 fingers on one hand, a cousin and fellow researcher believes it was the middle and the ring finger, that never separated in utero. Both Aunt Geneva and Grandma Susie told her about this. The medical term is called syndactyly.
Sarah would have been 42. This was her last child.
Sarah was a housekeeper. Her nickname was "Puss" or "Aunt Puss" or "Grandma Puss". They lived in a house about a half mile north of the town of Cooter.
On Dec. 13, 1888, James/Sarah filed for a Civil War pension. It must have been denied because Sarah would apply as a widow years later. (Waiting for complete file.)
In 1892 on June 2nd, Sarah and James' first grandchild is born. Keturah and her husband Will Reid have a son, Louis Edward. Their happiness, however, would have been cut short, because just a mere three days later, on June 5th, their daughter Louella died at age 12. The cause is unknown.
Then James died on Nov. 12, 1893 at age 61. The cause is not known. He was buried in Pemiscot County next to their daughter Louella; they share a headstone.
The rest of Sarah's life:
A few weeks after James' death, Keturah has another son, Fred. Hopefully, this would have been a comfort to Sarah. 1895, Jadie and his wife Emma Jane have a son, Harry. In '96 and '97, Keturah would have two more children, Frank and Sarah's first granddaughter, Affie. In '97 and '99, Jadie has two sons, Tally and Bryan, who are born and don't survive.
In 1899, Dee and his wife Mattie have their first child, Vera. She dies though, after only 9 months.
1900 finds Sarah at age 60 as the head of her household, owner of the family farm. She is no longer a housekeeper, rather her occupation is stated as farmer. This is a testament to the strength of her character, as well as the changing times. Living with her are the twins, Dora and Sam, now 18. My great-grandfather Emery, 16, is also there, as well as her sister (and sister-in-law and now widow) Elizabeth (Lizzie.) She also has taken in a boarder who works as a dredger, 20 year old C.F. Warner.
Also in 1900, Jadie has another son, Rolla Elmer and Keturah also has a son, Henry "Clay".
This is the decade that will bring Sarah many grandchildren. They will come as follows:
1901: Jadie and Emma Jane have Molly, but I do not believe she survives.
1902: Dee and Mattie have Joseph D; Keturah has William "Carl"; Dora has her first child, Homer.
1903: Jadie's daughter Mannon is born.
1904: Jadie's daughter Margaret is born, but she does not survive.
1905: Dora's daughter Marcella is born.
1906: Dee and Mattie have Gladys Marie; Jadie's last child, Floyd is born.
In 1906, Sarah's youngest, Emery, marries my great-grandmother Susie Jane Patrick.
1907: Emery and Susie's first daughter Floella was born; Dora's last child, Deward is born. This is the year Noah (Sam) and Linnie marry.
1908: Tragically, Floella died at 7 mos. of age.
Here, Sarah is photographed with her daughter Keturah Brooks Reid and family in front of the Reid home. This photo was taken at the beginning of the century, about 1907 based on the ages of the youngest boys:
|Thanks to Larry E. Reid for the photo. This photo appears in his book mentioned above. (Sarah is on the far right.) [Louis, Fred, Frank, Affie, Clay, Carl, Joe D (I argue this is Dee's son), Will, Keturah, and Sarah]|
1908: Later that year, Susie and Emery's second daughter, Geneva was born. Then a third daughter, Jane, would be born in 1909 but she would die the same day. It is unknown when exactly, but Sam and Linnie's first child will be born before 1910, but will not survive.
At some point during this decade, Dee's wife Mattie dies, leaving him with two small children, Joe D and Gladys.
Sarah is now 69. She has apparently given up the farm and has moved in with her oldest son Marcus Dee Lafayette, as his wife Mattie is dead and his children are 7 and 4. The print is fuzzy, but the 1910 census appears to show Dee is a dry goods salesman who owns his home free and clear.
1911: Susie and Emery have my grandmother Mildred.
1912: Noah and Linnie's second child, Ruby is born.
1914: Susie and Emery's first and only son, Charles Frank is born.
On Dec. 9, 1914, Sarah applies again for a war pension as a widow from the state of Tennessee.
1915: Noah and Linnie's third and last child, Nina is born.
Sarah is now living with her son Noah in Madison County, Tennessee. The household consists of Noah, his wife Linnie, their two daughters Ruby and Nina, and Linnie's father James Moore, who is a widower. Noah is a farmer.
Tragedy strikes three times in 1922: Sarah's grandson, son of Furnander Jadie, Rolla Elmer, dies at age 22 on June 12th. The exact cause is unknown, but it was a long illness. Apparently, he was much beloved and always cheerful. On Sept. 8th, Sarah loses yet another grandson. Keturah's Henry Clay Reid also dies at age 22. Then, four months later, Sarah's second born, Furnander Jadie dies from a heart attack on October 11th. He is only 53. He leaves his wife, Emma Jane, two living sons, and one daughter. Like his son, he had a "bright and sunny disposition." From his obit:
Jadie was one of those big, open-hearted fellows, seldom seeing the more serious side of life. The world to him was more like a big playground than the wearisom and monotonous grind some make of it.
This would have been a serious blow to Sarah, who had already endured so much loss and heartache. A few years later in 1925, Jadie's other son Floyd will die at age 19 in a head on car accident. See obit:
Floyd Brooks of Osceola, Ark., who formerly lived at Cooter was injured so badly Monday night about ten p.m. that he died at two a.m. Tuesday morning.
It is understood that Floyd with a party of boy friends were going North on the hard road between Luxora and Burdette, Ark, when a car form Cape Girardeau, Missouri going south crashed into their car causing it to turn turtle (?). Floyd's head was dashed against the pavement with so much force as to fatally injure him.
All other occupants of the car escaped serious injury.
The body was brought to Cooter Wednesday for burial. Floyd was only nineteen when he met death and he was well known throughout this part of the country, having lived at Cooter for many years.
He is survived by his mother, Mrs. J.J. Brooks of Osceola and a brother, Harry Brooks, of Blytheville.
The funeral was held at 12 o'clock Wednesday at Cooter with the minister of the Methodist church of Osceola saying the last rites.
Six young men who were very dear friends of Floyd came from Osceola with the body as pall bearers and their grief for the loss of so dear a friend was distinctly apparent.
The floral offerings were a beautiful token of the high esteem in which the young man was held in the community.
Relatives of Steele and vicinity are very thankful for the kindness and and courtesy of his dear friends.
The Steele Enterprise, Steele, Missouri
Thursday, August 13, 1925
F.J. Brooks, known among his friends and acquaintances as Jadie, died at four o'clock last Wednesday morning, at his home near this city. Funeral services were conducted Thursday afternoon, by Rev. C.N. Gaines, pastor of the Methodist Church and interment was made at Mt. Zion Cemetery. The funeral services were solemn and impressive and a beautiful part of the last rites was the participation of the Vaugh Quartette.
Jadie was a native of Pemiscot County, and was about 53 years old. Besides many relatives and a host of friends, he leaves a wife and two sons and one daughter to mourn his departure.
Jadie was one of those big, open-hearted fellows, seldom seeing the more serious side of life. The world to him was more like a big playground than the wearisom and monotonous grind some make of it. Of a bright and sunny disposition, he leaves a memory that will live long in the hearts of all who knew him and he will be missed.
Steele Enterprise - Steele, Missouri - Thursday, October 19, 1922
Back in Missouri now, Sarah is living at the home of her daughter Dora and her husband, Ham Smith, who is serving as Sheriff. In 1927, at age 85, Sarah has a fall while at the city jail and breaks her hip.
The hits keep coming in this decade. Just a few weeks into the 1929, Keturah falls ill with TB and dies. She is only 57. 6 months later, Dee dies from heart trouble and colitis. He is 62.
Sarah is still in the town of Steele, living with her daughter Dora, her husband James Ham Smith, a farmer now, and their 23 year old son Deward, who is a manager of some sort.
On April 9th, 1932, Sarah falls and hits her head on Dora's dining room table. The hit is severe, rendering her unconscious. A doctor is called, and she responds to treatment, but soon lapses back into a coma and dies a short while later. She was 90 years old.
Her obituary is as follows:
Mrs. Sarah Brooks, age 90 years, 3 months, and 11 days, died Saturday morning at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. Ham Smith, in this city, after a few weeks' illness. "Aunt Puss" as she was known by her wide acquaintanceship, was born at Lexington, Tenn., Dec. 23, 1841, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Richardson. In the year of 1864 she moved to Pemiscot county with her parents, and soon afterwards was married to James Franklin Brooks, a former Lexington boy, who had also moved to this community. To this union were born 10 children, three of whom are left to mourn her departure, Mrs. J.H. Smith, Emery, and Sam.
During her early life the deceased united with the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, and to the end retained her membership there, although the church has been removed. After her marriage a home was established at Cooter and lived there until about twenty-five years ago, and has since made her home with her children. Mr. Brooks died in the year 1892.
Besides the one daughter and two sons surviving she also is survived by sixty-eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren-71 in all who will forever cherish the memory of a kind and loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at the Methodist church conducted by the pastor, Rev. H.W.Doss. Special songs that were favorites of Aunt Puss were sung by a quartet from Steele and the No. 8 quartet. Burial with the German Undertaking Company in charge was made in the Mt. Zion cemetery.
Steele Enterprise - Steele, Missouri - Thursday, April 14, 1932
*Note: there is no proof that I've seen that she moved to Missouri with her parents; also no proof that she walked to Missouri.
James and Sarah's Legacy Summarized:
Marcus Dee Lafayette married Martha "Mattie" Anthony on Dec. 19, 1897. Marcus was 30. Marcus was a farmer. Their first child, Vera, was born on Feb. 15, 1899. She would not live to see her 1st birthday. Grandmother Sarah, still alive, would have had to see her first grandchild, who had lived 8 months, buried. Their next child was Joseph D Brooks. He was born Oct. 18, 1902. He would live a long life, dying in 1986 in California. Their last child, Gladys Marie, was born four years later on July 25, 1906. She would marry, have at least 1 daughter, live most of her life in Memphis, Tennessee. Like her brother and her mother, she would live a long life, dying at 90. Dee, however, would die of colitis and heart insufficiency at age 62 the day after Gladys' 23rd birthday on July 26, 1929.
Fernander Jadie married Emma Jane Ketchum a few weeks after his father's death. He was 24; Emma Jane was only 16. Their first child, Henry Holloway Brooks, was born a couple years later in February of 1895. They will have a total of 8 children together, of whom only 2 will live a full life. Jadie's own life was cut short by a heart attack. He died at age 53 in 1922.
Keturah married William Massie Reid when she was 18. Together, they had 6 children.
|Photo courtesy of Larry E. Reid, also appears in his book mentioned above.|
Dora married James Hamilton Smith in 1901 at age 19. They had two sons, Homer and Deward, and one daughter Marcella. Her husband "Ham" was the sheriff at one time. At age 37, Deward was killed in action, December 16, 1944, in the Battle of Luxembourg, near the small town of Wiltz. He was married but did not have any children. Dora would care for her mother until the end of her life. Dora lived to be 89.
Dora's twin, G. Noah "Sam" married Linnie Moore in 1907. He was 25; she was 24. Sam was a farmer. At some point before 1910, they had a child who did not survive. They would go on to have two daughters, Ruby and Nina. A month after Sarah's death, Sam died from pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a condition in which the body can't make enough healthy red blood cells because it doesn't have enough vitamin B12. Without enough vitamin B12, your red blood cells don't divide normally and are too large. Severe or long-lasting pernicious anemia can damage the heart, brain, and other organs in the body. The term “pernicious” means “deadly.” The condition is called pernicious anemia because it often was fatal in the past, before vitamin B12 treatments were available. Now, pernicious anemia usually is easy to treat with vitamin B12 pills or shots.
Emery's story can be found here.