FAMILY OF OSWEGO COUNTY, NEW YORK
The following narrative describes
the travels of several members of the Brooks family from their home in
Connecticut to New York State and on to Wisconsin. Much of the information
here was collected by my mother, Eleanore Hollister. It comes from published
sources (county histories, obituaries, etc.) and personal correspondence
that has been saved through the years. When pieced together - and combined
with other general information of these times and areas - it gives some
small insight into these people. I prepared it as a way of sharing this
information with others researching this family.
thanks Wayne, for this wonderful family history!)
The story Stephen and Samuel Brooks, early settlers of Winnebago County WI, begins in Connecticut toward the end of the Revolutionary War. Stephen was born in Middletown CT on Feb 2, 1781. He was the son of Samuel Brooks and Sibil Johnson Brooks, the first child of Samuel's second marriage.
Samuel was born Mar 24, 1740 at South Farms, Middletown CT (to limit confusion caused by multiple Samuels, the name will be followed by the generation number). Samuel 1 was the son of Jabez Brooks and Abigail Johnson. Jabez Brooks was in Middletown CT by the 1720s when he married the first of three wives, Ann Wickham on Apr 4, 1728. They had one child, Jabez, born May 4, 1728. Ann died on Oct 20, 1729 and was buried in Old Farm Hill Cemetery in Middletown CT.
On Apr 13, 1732 Jabez married Abigail Johnson. Jabez is descended from Henry Brooks who was living in Woburn MA in 1650 (New England Genealogical and Historical Register Jan 1904 pg 48). Abigail is a descendant of John Johnson who came to the colonies with the Winthrop Fleet of 1630 (The Genealogy of Captain John Johnson of Roxbury MA 1945 pg 26). Jabez and Abigail had seven children -
Ann born July 2, 1733
With Sarah HedgesSamuel2 born 1769With Sibil Johnson
Stephen and Samuel 2 grew up during a time when population pressures in Connecticut were great. Prior to the Revolution, western expansion was limited by the powerful Iroquois confederation and restrictions enforced by the British. But the war left the Iroquois nation decimated. Since many tribes had fought with the British, they were treated as conquered enemies. By 1790 almost all Indian claims in western New York state had been relinquished. These land were bought up by speculators for prices as low as $0.12 an acre. In turn these speculators would sell parcels of land to groups of settlers.
Family tradition holds that the Brooks were Tories and perhaps this might be a motive to get out of Connecticut and start a new life. Initially, a young Stephen Brooks showed little interest in heading west. Rather, he wanted to be a sailor. However, according to his granddaughter Frederica Schooley Hollister "his parents disliked the idea and to prevent it, sent him off with some emigrants into the wilds of central New York."
In 1791 a land speculator named Alexander Macomb bought a vast tract of land occupying much of the northern part of New York state. This land was sold and resold before it was made available to settlers. In 1795, a Middletown CT Sea Captain named Nathan Sage visited this area with a few other men. They came back in 1797 with glowing accounts of the fine level flats on the Salmon River, fertile soil, vigorous growth of timber and - above all - pure, clean water. It is not known if they mentioned the winters when lake effect snows can bring snow depths to five feet.
Captain Sage was a Middletown CT shipbuilder, sea captain and a slaveholder. He was active in the Revolutionary war, commanding the Hunter and Middletown, capturing a British powder ship. He also kept a tavern. He is not the only Sage with a connection to the Brooks. His uncle, Comfort Sage was a colonel during the Revolution. Serving under him at a battle on July 5, 1777 was a Captain Jabez Brooks, half brother of Samuel 1. So ... not all Brooks were Tories.
In late 1798, a group of settlers headed by Captain Sage left Middletown CT for one of the eastern townships on the Salmon River. Among these settlers were half brothers Stephen and Samuel 2 Brooks. Samuel 2 was about 28 years old and Stephen was 16.
Generally, travel to these wilderness areas was usually done during the cold weather. Due to the conditions of the roads, winter travel was necessary. Usually roads were constructed by chopping out underbrush and smaller trees in a swath 10 to 30 feet wide. Some of the larger trees were left standing. Often stumps of trees remained in the middle of these roads. When a wagon or sled was caught on one of these the driver was said to be "stumped". Eventually "stumped" came to mean stuck or unable to resolve a problem. Although these roads would be impassible quagmires during wet weather, deep packed snow offered a smooth surface and travel by sled was relatively easy. Most settlers migrated just before spring for that reason.
Samuel's 2nd daughter Sarah, described the decision to settle in Redfield in a "Sketch Of My Life" which appears in A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story of Sheldon Brooks (a son of Samuel 2).
My grandparents were natives of Connecticut and moved into this town (Redfield) in 1799, then an unbroken wilderness... At that time they could have purchased land in Utica or Whitestown nearly as cheaply as here, but immigrants from Connecticut who had settled about those places complained of the water and advised those in search of new homes to go on until they found good water. When they came here and saw our beautiful river and its branches with such pure water, well stocked with speckled trout, and nice trees with thick underbrush, they supposed the soil to be very fertile and thought it a favorable location for their families. The heavy snowstorms they new nothing about or the stony soil beneath the underbrush, nor realized the difficulties to be encountered by being located so far from our settlements.The settlers arrived in 1798 and started to carve out their new farms along the Salmon River. At that time the area was still part of Oneida County NY - and would not become Oswego County until 1816. On March 14, 1800, the village of Redfield was formed.
On August 25th, 1798, a purchase of 130 acres of land in lot 22 of Township Number Twelve in Boyltons Purchase on the Salmon River in the county of Oneida was made by Samuel 2 for $400. He bought the land from Ezra L. Hommedieu of Suffolk County, New York. Samuel Brooks "of Middletown in the County of Middlesex and the state of Connecticut" bought two adjoining fifty acres tracts in lots 26 and 32 Nathaniel Eells from Frankfort in Herkimer County NY on October 17, 1801.
On September 30th, 1803, a purchase by Stephen Brooks of fifty acres along the Salmon River was recorded. Stephen had purchased it from John Edwards for $350. Edwards had originally bought it from Ezra L. Hommedieu. In 1807 Stephen bought another 2 acres from Edwards. However, 2 years later on October 17th, 1809 Stephen sold the 50 acres to a Walter Woodworth. No further record of land ownership is made for Stephen. The 1814 Oswego County survey of landowners in Redfield included a Samuel, Henry and Widow Brooks but no Stephen.
Life in Redfield, New York
The first marriage in Redfield was between the 30 year old bachelor, Samuel 2 Brooks and Lament Strong, daughter of Eli Strong. They were married in Oct 1801. Over the next 12 years they had five children.
Frederick born 12 Aug 1803
In 1800 local government was formed. The name Redfield was selected from an early settler of the area, a doctor, who had died. Among the first steps by the government was to establish a $5 fine for felling trees into the Salmon River and offer a $5 bounty on wolves. A church was established in 1802. When a preacher visited the area in 1802 he noted that "the most I can say is that they behaved with tolerable decency. The people are in general nothing-arians or fatalist, or Methodists and Baptists, who are the worst of all."
Samuel 2 was appointed Commissioner of Highways for the new township. At one point he was given permission to negotiate with neighboring Orwell to build a bridge across the Salmon River - as long as it cost the village no more than $30. Stephen Brooks was also involved with the development of roads in the area. Surveying and road building seems to run in the Brooks family. The Brooks were involved in cutting the first road from Redfield to Rome NY. Another story is that main motivation behind a road from Redfield to neighboring Orwell was to make it easier for Stephen to court a young lady in the next township - Hannah Bennett.
The Bennetts came to Orwell Oswego County NY from Renssalaer County in 1807. Born on April 3, 1790, Hannah was the daughter of Nathaniel Bennett Jr and Anna Gill. Both her grandfathers - Nathaniel Bennett Sr. and Obadiah Gill fought in the Revolution. Apparently the Brooks' Tory leanings did not matter by now. The first marriage in Orwell was in 1808 when Betsey Bennett, daughter of Nathaniel Sr. married David Eastman. Stephen and Hannah must have been married shortly after that. Nathaniel Bennett III , son of Nathaniel Bennett Jr., married Laura Strong, daughter of Eli Strong and sister of Lament Strong Brooks.
Those Orwell NY Brooks
Coincidentally, the Bennetts settled next to yet another Samuel Brooks. This Samuel - a revolutionary war veteran - was born in Killingly CT on Sep 21, 1749. His brother John Brooks also lived in Orwell. Some Brooks from Killingly CT area are descended from Henry Brooks of Woburn MA and so this Samuel may be distantly related to Stephen and Samuel 2 Brooks.
Samuel and John Brooks of Orwell are the sons of John and Abigail Brooks of Killingly, Windham County CT. According to the Vital Records of Killingly CT John and Abigail had the following children:
Sarah b 19 Nov 1747
According to Revolutionary War pension records, this Orwell NY Samuel Brooks moved from Killingly CT to Deerfield in Oneida County NY then on to Oswego County living for a time in Redfield before moving to Orwell. He married Elizabeth Chaplan on July 19, 1799. The 1820 census shows a household of six people. The pension papers list 3 children: Samuel (another one), Charles J. and Electa Cable.
Samuel, son of Samuel and Elizabeth Chaplin was probably the Rev. Samuel Brooks, born 1802 and died 1894. Rev Samuel had a son, S. C. Brooks who lived in Williamstown, NY. S.C. had a son, Milford D. and two daughters.
In 1834 there is a deed transfer listing Samuel Brooks as the grantor and Charles J Brooks as the Grantee. This Charles married Fidelia Strong who was born in Redfield NY in 1809 and died in Orwell in 1859. Tombstone information in the Pekin Cemetery in Orwell NY, show Charles Brooks died Aug 21, 1874 age 67 and Fidelia C. Strong, wife of C. J. Brooks, died May 30, 1862 age 50 years. Charles and Fidelia had seven children.
Samuel's brother, John Brooks was born Apr 13, 1758 in Killingly CT. John also served in the Connecticut line, during the Revolution. According to his pension papers, John lived in Killingly after the war. He then moved to Stafford CT, on to Deerfield and Westmoreland in Oneida County, NY and finally to Orwell, Oswego County NY. In the 1820 census he is shown living with 1 female over 45. On Dec 18, 1819, John Brooks 'took letter' from First Cong. Church of Westmoreland to a church in Orwell.
The Orwell town historian reports that a Frederick Brooks was living in Orwell in 1817. Samuel 2 ,did have a son, Frederick, born Aug 12, 1803. This Frederick would have only been 14 in 1817 and unlikely living on his own.
Back to the Redfield Brooks:
According to the family Bible, Stephen and Hannah had nine children while living in Oswego County.
Ann born 28 Apr 1811Sometime between 1810 and 1816 another Brooks brother, Henry, moved from Middletown CT to Redfield. Henry fought for the Americans in the War of 1812. It is not known if he participated before coming to Redfield, or was part of the militia that fought with the American regulars in the battle at Fort Oswego, just down the road from Redfield. After the war, Henry took over operation of the general store. Henry and his wife, Hannah had several children, most of them born before their arrival in Redfield. They included Henry Jr., James, John, Reuben, Maria (?) and another daughter.
Also between 1810 and 1820, the three brother's parents - Samuel 1 and Sibel - came to Redfield. On January 27, 1814 Samuel 2 died, leaving a pregnant widow and four children. He is buried in the Village Square Cemetery in Redfield NY. Sarah Brooks described those times in A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story of Sheldon Brooks:
My father Samuel Brooks, Jr., and my mother, Minta Strong were married October 1801. My oldest brother, Frederick was born 1803 and named after Doctor Frederick Redfield, the present name of our town. The town was first called Strickland, but he for whom it was named. ran away with another's man wife, so the inhabitants changed the name. Dr. Redfield, having lately died, they said he could not elope... Father built the usual log house of the times. In it his children were all born, and I suppose, were as happy and comfortable as pioneer children usually are, both parents being frugal, industrious people. Father commenced building a frame house in the fall of 1813, had it planked and roof shingled. In January 1814 he was taken sick. After three weeks illness, he died, leaving mother in a sad situation. She had sent to Rome 30 miles away, for a Doctor and had to sell her horse to pay Dr. Alden's bill for his services that were of no avail.Sarah describes her early life in Redfield in detail and is recommended reading for anyone with further interest in the area. Sarah stayed in Redfield, married a widower, George McKinney. She died in 1883.
On July 1, 1819 the senior Samuel 1 died and is buried in the Village Square cemetery. The 1820 census shows Stephen and Henry Brooks families listed next to each other and the widow, Lament, a few names away.
Samuel's 3rd daughter, Lucy Williams described Samuel's 3 early life in a letter printed in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern November 17, 1939:
"I was born Dec. 31, 1847, the daughter of Samuel and Julia (Alden) Brooks, and have lived in Winnebago county all my life. My father was born in Oswego County, New York, in 1805, and my mother was born at Cape Cod, in 1812.For the next 17 years, Stephen's family grew, but in the mid to late 1830's Stephen considered leaving Redfield. Redfield had never become a major crossroads. Most growth and commerce was further south, along the Erie Canal which was completed in 1825. Also, the Erie Canal allowed agricultural produce in the fertile lands opening up in the west to be cheaply sent to market. It became more difficult for western New York farmers to compete with crops grown in the prime agricultural areas in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. There are also indications that Stephen's success at farming was limited. He never was an extensive property holder in Redfield. His son-in-law Simon Quartermas would later say that Stephen's parents "spoiled a perfectly good sailor by making a very poor farmer out of him." The death of his mother on December 14, 1835 at the age of 92 may have loosened the ties that bound Stephen to Redfield.
During this time, Samuel 3 Brooks, his mother Lament and his brothers and sister were involved in a transfer of the Redfield land settled on by Samuel 2 Brooks. On a transfer recorded 18 Sep 1837, Lament, Frederick, Samuel, Sheldon and Sarah Brooks sold two lots of fifty acres to Henry Brooks "in consideration of the sum of one dollar." Lament died 18 Mar 1845 and is buried in the Village Square Cemetery in Redfield. Samuel 3, Frederick and Sheldon would soon leave Redfield.
After extensive travels around the eastern U.S., Sheldon Brooks returned to Redfield in 1842. He married Jeannette Ranney, daughter of Willette Ranney and Betsey Robbins, on Mar 5, 1844. The Ranneys had lived in Redfield for a while in the late 1820's before moving to Smithville NY.
From Redfield New York to Winnebago County, Wisconsin
Samuel 3 Brooks prospected for new areas in Ohio but returned to New York. While in Cleveland OH, Samuel 3 married Lucy Alden. Samuel's 3rd brother, Sheldon also traveled to Ohio (he traveled throughout the eastern US in his younger years). In April 1838, Sheldon had a contract for 13 acres of land near Newark OH. He began clearing the land and cutting timber for the house he planned to build for himself, his brother Samuel 3 and Samuel's wife Lucy. Samuel 3 and Lucy arrived in May, helped Sheldon finish the house and they all moved in on June 18th. Samuel started teaching school in town and Sheldon did the farming. Later that year Sheldon became sick. According to his sister "he swam in the Licking River and got his system impregnated with malaria so he was sick nigh to death." In the fall of 1838 Sheldon returned to Redfield.
While in Ohio, Samuel 3 and Lucy had one son. However, Lucy died young of consumption in 1841. According to the Sheldon Brooks narrative, she died in Redfield. It appears that Samuel 3 then left his young child with his wife's family, as he explored further west.
Stephen was also looking west. In the summer of 1836 the territorial government of Wisconsin negotiated the Treaty of the Cedars to purchase land from the Menominee Indians. The Indians surrendered title to all land in east central Wisconsin west of the Fox River, east of Wolf River and north of Lake Butte des Mortes. In early 1837, at the age of 56, Stephen left his home of almost 40 years and with his sons, headed west to check it out.
The Brooks arrived in Green Bay, Wisconsin Territory in May of 1837. By coming in through Green Bay it is very likely they traveled on a Great Lakes vessel. An observer in Green Bay wrote:
"We returned to Green Bay in the autumn of 1836 in the height of land speculation when there was much immigration to that place. The old steamer Michigan at one time brought one thousand passengers in her cabin, her fare amounting to $10,000, while the steerage more than paid for the expenses. The inhabitants of the jumping off place as Green Bay was at that time designated were hopeful that it would become a great business center. But they were doomed to disappointment as the heavily timbered country around it did not offer the inducement to settlers which the prairie land in the southern part of the territory presented."For a time, Stephen worked on the "military road" that ran from Fort Howard to Fort Winnebago. This road ran from Green Bay, south along the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago, then southwest to the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. This would have brought him close to the lands recently made available by the Treaty of the Cedars. In May 1839 Stephen set his claim on the west shore of Lake Winnebago. According to the General Land Office records:
Certificate 2418 "...Stephen Brooks, of Brown County, Wisconsin Territory has deposited in the General Land Office of the United States, a Certificate of the Register Of The Land Office at Green Bay whereby it appears that full payment has been made by the said Stephen Brooks ... for the SE quarter of the SE quarter (North of the Fox River) of Section thirty-six in Township nineteen North, of Range sixteen East, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Green Bay Wisconsin Territory, containing forty acres...
Supposedly, Williams was this "Lost Dauphin" of France. The story was related in the Oshkosh Times, in 1877:
The party (The Brooks family) started from Ft Howard, upon the Military Road, up which they proceeded until at the Clifton Settlement, then consisting of Cato Stanton's tavern and one or two squatters' shanties. Cato Stanton, was a Negro with a Brothertown squaw for a consort, and the pair were well known to every western tourist and settler of those early days; the Stanton tavern was a half-way house between Milwaukee and Green Bay, and had also the advantage of accommodating the travel on the military thoroughfare from Ft. Winnebago down to the mouth of the Fox.The Brooks family crossed Lake Winnebago in canoes and settled on their claim. The Brooks were not the first in the area. Ira Aikens, with his mother and two sisters had arrived in Green Bay with the Brooks. According to one account they were distantly related. In fall of 1838 Aikens erected a log house on the western shore of Lake Winnebago where the Winnebago County Hospital now stands. The Brooks' land was just southwest of there. Stephen's wife, Hannah Bennett, had an aunt Anna Bennett, born Sept 9, 1782 who married an Aiken. There was an Anna Aiken on the Nekimi Township, Winnebago County census for 1850 who was living next to Hannah's brother, Elisha. Her age was shows and 67 and an Asa Aiken age 36, born in Vermont, was listed as living with her. Perhaps this is somehow tied to the 'distantly related' Aikens who Stephen settled near.
The next year, Samuel 3 Brooks arrived in the area, crossing the frozen Lake Winnebago on foot. Their claim reads:
Certificate 2851 and 2852 "...Samuel L. Brooks, of Brown County, Wisconsin Territory has deposited in the General Land Office of the United States, a Certificate of the Register Of The Land Office at Green Bay whereby it appears that full payment has been made by the said Samuel L. Brooks for (certificate 2851) the SW quarter of the SW quarter of Section 30 in Township 19 North, Range 17 East in the District of Lands subject to sale at Green Bay Wisconsin Territory, containing forty acres... (certificate 2852) SE quarter of the SE quarter of Section 25 Township 19 North, Range 16 East in the District of Lands subject to sale at Green Bay Wisconsin Territory, containing forty acres...
Joseph Schooley, future son-in-law of Stephen Brooks also arrived in Wisconsin. He wrote about his travels which started after he left Texas where he had joined Houston's army in the war of Texas independence from Mexico:
"We landed (in New York) on the 4th of March, 1837, the day Martin Van Buren was inaugurated President of the United States. I stopped for a short time in the city and started for my old home in Easton, Pa. where I remained until about the 18th of April when I left for Wisconsin no boats running as yet. We took stage for Erie, Pa. and turned over twice. The last time I was marred and bruised badly. At Erie we took a boat for Detroit. I stopped at Toledo, a town just in its infancy with a few houses scattered here and there. When we got to Detroit we learned that Mackinaw straits were not open yet and no prospect of opening soon. A number of us men concluded not to wait in Detroit for the opening of the straits and hired a team to carry us and baggage to Chicago, a new town of only a few years growth. About six men started with the team over the worse road I ever traveled - chuck up and down and in and out of holes was continuous. Walking was better than riding which was done most of the way. When we got to Clinton, sore and tired, I abandoned that way of locomotion and stopped there until I heard of the opening of the straits when I returned to Detroit and took passage to Green Bay on the steamer Michigan. I think it was the second boat leaving that place for the upper lakes. And on the 12th day of June, 1837 we landed in Green Bay, a little over 18 months after leaving New York for Texas."
Samuel 3, built the first frame dwelling on the west shore of Lake Winnebago. The lumber was hauled by horse team from Watertown, WI and the shingles were made by hand. According to his daughter:
In 1843 father got the 'western fever' and came to Wisconsin and took up land at what is now known as 'Brooks Corners,' and in the winter of 1844 he got out the timbers for a new house. The lumber came across the lake from Stockbridge in a sailboat. The timbers and shingles were all made by hand. Our house was the first frame house built this side of Lake Winnebago.
In 1845 father went to Cleveland, O., and was married a second time, and with his little son, then 5 years old, he came back to Wisconsin. At first they lived in a little log house down near where the state hospital in located.Samuel's 3, second wife was Julia Ann Alden. Julia was born Oct 3, 1812 in Yarmouth MA. She was the daughter of Oliver Alden and his wife Lucy. She may have been the sister of Samuel's 3rd, first wife, Lucy Alden. The Aldens had 8 children including a Lucy, born 1 Apr 1824. This Lucy would have only been 15 or 16 at the time of her marriage to Samuel 3 who would have been 31 or 32 at the time. According to A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story of Sheldon Brooks, Julia was Lucy's cousin. In any case, the Alden’s are descended from Mayflower passenger, John Alden.
Although the treaties with the natives had been signed in the mid 1830's, there were Winnebago and Menominee villages in the area. A Menominee village was just south of the Brooks claim. A biography of Samuel 3 Brooks written after his death gives some detail on those early years.
The Indian trail from Fort Winnebago to the chute of the lower Fox, at the time of his settling here, ran about a mile south of this house, and for months at a time he never saw the face of a white man. His home was the stopping place for every band of Indians that passed on the trail, and no dusky visitor ever darkened its doors without being fed and cared for. In fact, Mr. Brooks became so well known and beloved by the aborigines, that, young and old, they took delight in visiting and smoking the pipe of peace under his hospitable roof.Lucy Williams, a daughter of Samuel 3 Brooks also recorded some memories of those times:
Mother, like many others, had fever and ague, and was very much afraid of the Indians, fearing that they would steal little Alden; but the Indians were friendly and good to father. They brought him wild game and maple syrup. The syrup was boiled down until it was nearly white and they made little baskets they called 'mococks' in which they put the sugar. I remember at one time seven Indian chiefs came to our house and stayed two or three days. They held a regular pow-wow, built their fires in our yard and had all kinds of dances around it. Before they went away they smoked the pipe of peace with father, and then gave him the pipe. It is made of red sandstone and Mrs. Mary Brooks now has it.Although the settlers in the area would trade for maple syrup they generally avoided the native diet of maize, wild rice, fish and game. Instead they relied on goods imported from the east. Wheat flour and kegged pork came from Buffalo NY by way of Green Bay at very high prices. The bulk of their food and supplies was carried down from Green Bay on the Indian trail along the Fox River. Area families would give money and lists of items to strong young men of the community. With empty backpacks they walked to Green Bay - a two day journey - purchased goods, picked up mail and returned.
Once settled, the Brooks continued their tradition of road building. In 1843, with Stephen, Amos Gallup and Stephen's son-in-law, Jefferson Eaton as commissioners, and Samuel 3 Brooks as surveyor, the first road in the county - from Stanley's Ferry crossing in what was soon to be Oshkosh, north to Neenah - was laid out. In 1844, the second road in the county was developed on the townline between townships 18 and 19, from Lake Winnebago to Lake Butte des Morts. These roads intersected near Stephen's claim. According to Lucy Williams:
There were no roads when father came to this part of the country, only Indian trails. Father surveyed the first roads between Oshkosh and Neenah. The roads were all dirt of corduroy, and they were so rough it nearly shook the insides out of one to ride over them...I have heard mother say that the first ride she had in Wisconsin was in the month of June and it was in an ox sled with a board across the box. A French missionary was holding meetings down near where Menominee Park now is, and that is where they went.Samuel 3 Brook's land was north of Stephen's on the northern boundary of the Town of Oshkosh. Sometime between 1862 and 1873 Samuel 3 moved west one section. This 80 acres shows as being on what is now Brooks Road, across from where Brooks Cemetery is now located. The area became known as Brooks Corners.
Samuel 3 Brooks and his second wife had three children: Lucy, Frederick and Aden, all born at their new home, in Winnebago County WI.
In 1847 Samuel 3 established the Vineland Township post office at his house and for thirty years served as postmaster without pay. At the time of his death, there was only one postmaster older in the United States. He was the county surveyor from 1844 to 1846, register of deeds in 1847 and a frequent member of the board of supervisors of the township. In describing her father's public service Lucy Williams wrote:
"Father kept the Vineland post-office for 30 years. People asked him how he could hold the office through the different administrations and he said he could change as often as the administration did, but I think in those days politics did not trouble people as much as they do now. Father, was always a staunch Republican."In June 1855, Samuel's 3 brother, Doctor Sheldon Brooks, visited from Redfield NY. He made a record of his travels through correspondence with his wife, Jeanette. Copies are in the Oshkosh Public Library. After describing his trip via the Great Lakes Sheldon writes:
June 15, 1855 'Left Sheboygan (WI) at 3 o'clock pm yesterday in company with 4 men, 4 young children and 2 women, 3 horses and an old carriage. Passed 41 miles through some good country but generally rather hard. Arrived at Fond du Lac 2 o'clock am cold and tired and went to bed, got up at 6, took the boat at 8 arrived at Oshkosh at 10 ... there on foot , 6 miles to this place. Arrived at noon, cloths all wet through with sweat (it is warm enough to dry). Found Brother and family all well. Diner just ready, among other things a nice bowl of strawberries and cream, which luxury they have enjoyed for 10 days. Peas in garden 3 feet high. Wheat just heading out. Clover in blossom nearly ready to cut. Lightning Bugs 10,000,000 to the acre. I find Samuel in very good circumstances. Owns 200 acres land, plenty of timber, has nearly 50 acres under plow, over 20 of it in wheat, the rest in corn, oats and potatoes. Crops look well. He has 5 horses, 5 cows, 2 oxen several young cattle, pigs and poultry...'Doctor Brooks traveled down to Chicago, by train to Dubuque, up the Mississippi to Winona MN and by foot to the Whitewater valley. He returned to Redfield and a year later, brought his family back to the Whitewater valley to live. He laid out the town site of Beaver MN. On May 11, 1858 Sheldon Brooks was elected as the first town chairman of Whitewater Township. Sheldon Brooks died May 19, 1883. His wife, Jeanette, died Mar 15, 1894. Both are buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Winona MN. A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story of Sheldon Brooks contains extracts from the many journals and diaries he kept.
In the 1850 census Stephen and Hannah were living on their homestead in what was called the town of Winnebago. In the 1860 census, Stephen Brooks, age 79 was with his son, Oliver L. Brooks and family in Waupaca County, just west of Winnebago County. His wife, Hannah, was listed in the County of Winnebago, Village of Neenah with her son-in-law Simon Quatermas and family. Stephen died February 26, 1864. Hannah died November 21, 1872. There are no probate or will records for Stephen Brooks or Hannah Bennett Brooks in Winnebago County.
The Brooks are buried in Brooks Cemetery, on Brooks Road, a couple miles north of their original claim. Samuel 3 Brooks died on January 24, 1887. His wife, Julia, died November 10, 1890. They are also buried in the Brooks Cemetery.
In 1877, Frederick Brooks, the brother of Samuel 3 moved to Winnebago County and lived near Brooks Corners. Frederick was born Aug 3, 1803. In 1857, Frederick had moved from Redfield to Minnesota where he taught school. He may have taught in the area where his brother Sheldon settled. The last land record Frederick made in Redfield was in 1853 when he sold property to Sheldon Brooks. Frederick died May 11, 1892. In his obituary he was described as "a man of great reading and constant searcher after knowledge." His wife, Betsey, died October 23, 1889. They left no children.
The Brooks Children - Stephen and Hannah's Family
Ann Brooks was the first child of Stephen and Hannah Bennett. Born Apr 28, 1811, Ann became the second wife of Garner Waite Allen on Aug 9, 1846. He was the son of Susan Waite Allen and the stepson of Ephraim Hollister. A granddaughter of Ephraim wrote of an attempt to visit the Allens in 1863:
"It was after Christmas. We had good sleighing then and after that came more snow so the drifts were plied high as the fences in some places. He (her Uncle, Asa Hollister) bundled us all in the sleigh and started to take us out to Uncle Garners Allen’s in the country. The nearer we got to his place the higher the drifts were. When we got in sight of the house we could go no further. The drifts were level with the fences. He had to back out and turn around and go back."Stephen and Hannah's second eldest daughter, was Jane Maria Brooks. Her obituary states she was born in Orwell, Oswego County NY in 1814. She taught school in the area. She married Jefferson Eaton in New Hartford, Oneida County NY in 1842. Mr. Eaton was born in Herkimer County in Sept. 1820. In 1842 the Eatons came west, riding on horseback on an Indian trail from Fond du Lac to the land recently settled by Jane's father. Their trip west is described in History of Winnebago County:
With the prevailing fever of emigration he came to Milwaukee, thence to Fond du Lac by team over a road just cut through that season. Leaving his family at the first hotel built at that place and kept by Thomas Green, he started on the trail for Oshkosh. Directed to keep to the main trail he was led far to the west, which he discovered too far to reach either place, but, returning to where he had left his course, he laid down beside a log until morning, when he resumed the direct trail which led him to Chester Ford's, where he stopped a short time, after he crossed the Fox River at Stanley's ferry, and proceeded on his way to the neighborhood where he subsequently resided.Eventually the Eatons owned 240 acres. He sold 80 acres for the site of the Insane Hospital in 1869. They lived on the remaining property until their deaths. Jane died in January, 1882. Jefferson died later that year. Both are buried in the Brooks Cemetery, on Brooks Road, north Oshkosh.
Julia Brooks was born in Oswego County NY July 3, 1816. Julia came to Wisconsin with her father in 1839. She married Simon Quartermas in 1846. Simon arrived in the area in 1842. According to a county history:
In 1842, M. C. Darling, the Fond du Lac postmaster engaged Simon Quartermas, a newcomer of this year, to undertake the carriage of the now largely increasing mail. Quartermas carried the bags for the first year of the contract, his conveyance being "Old Sime", an aged equine whose title was as household words from Fond du Lac to Wrightstown Ferry.The Quartermas family lived and farmed in the original Brooks land, then moved to Neenah, then to the Town of Vineland (near Brooks Corners) and lived their last years in at 35 Oxford street, Oshkosh. There are both buried in the Brooks Cemetery.
The fourth child of Stephen and Hannah was Sarah Brooks. She was born July 14, 1818 in Redfield NY. Like her sister, Jane, she became a teacher. There is a copy on a tuition bill for the spring 1842 term at Cazenovia Female Seminary in Cazenovia NY. In her obituary she is credited with being the first to teach school in Winnebago County WI. On September 19, 1848 she married Joseph Lewis Schooley, son of William Schooley and Margaret Schneider of Easton, PA at the home of Simon Quatermas. Joseph Schooley made an early claim close to Stephen Brooks in the town of Oshkosh. The History of Winnebago County described him:
Joseph L. Schooley was the next addition to the infant settlement. Mr. Schooley was born in Easton, Pa., in 1813 and at the age of 15 years entered the office of The Easton Argus, where he learned the typographic art. The Argus, which is still in existence, was then conducted by Wygant & Ineas, and was a prominent democratic organ in those early days of American journalism. He was afterwards a typo on the Philadelphia Post, and other Pennsylvania papers until about 1834 when he temporarily removed to Texas.Joseph Schooley's name appears in the Wisconsin Democrat in July 1839 as a participant in some early political process in Green Bay WI. In 1844 an agreement was written up between Joseph Schooley and Samuel 3 Brooks where Joseph leased his land and "one yoke of Oxen and two cows" to Samuel, for a two year period.
Sometime in the mid 1850's Joseph Schooley traveled to California to try his luck in the gold fields. On June 10, 1854, Sarah Brooks Schooley wrote to her husband:
Now Dear Sarah, about my return home. Had I a few hundred dollars in pocket over and above the four hundred I started, I would return with joy without a second request from you. But I think there is chances and opportunities to make money here and I think it is best to try a little longer yet....I will always feel I have not done my duty if I return home penniless, but it will not be so...Joseph eventually returned to Wisconsin and he and Sarah lived with their children in Oshkosh, Green Bay, Neenah, Shawano and finally Milwaukee where they died within 4 days of each other in February 1902. They are buried in the Brooks Cemetery.
Oliver Brooks was born Oct 16, 1820. In January of 1846 he married Maria Cadelia Osmer. In 1860 they were living in Lind Township in Waupaca Co. WI. He was living near Winona, Minnesota in 1882, perhaps near his cousin, Sheldon Brooks.
Gilbert Brooks was born Feb. 22, 1824 in Redfield, Oswego County NY. In the early 1840's he was in Winnebago County, WI. He was employed by Harrison Reed who is considered the founder of Neenah WI. In 1843 Gilbert and Reed in cut the first road between Oshkosh and Neenah. (Many Brooks were involved in the establishment of this road). "Gill Brooks, then a newcomer near Oshkosh, and a man employed by Reed, assisted in the work, while Mrs. Reed followed them through in a buggy," recounted the Reverend O. P. Clinton. Gilbert was also an early mail carrier in the county as described in a county history written in 1877:
Brooks was born May 25, 1826. He married Sarah Bowron, daughter of
Bowron and Phebe. Sarah, born July 21, 1828, died Nov. 23 1854 and is buried
in the Brooks Cemetery. Enoch then married Rory Bell
on Jan 21, 1856.
Stewart Brooks, born Jan 1, 1828 in Redfield, Oswego County NY, married Mellisa Jones.
Jabez H. Brooks was the youngest child of Stephen and Hannah, born Sep 20, 1831 in Redfield, Oswego County NY. In his obituary he was described as one of the first white children brought to Oshkosh, coming with his parents when he was only eight years old. On July 2, 1856 he married Martha Andrews. Martha died Jan 28, 1867 and is buried in the Brooks cemetery. Jabez then married Rhoda Ann Townley on April 12, 1868. Jabez died Oct. 28, 1910 at the home of a granddaughter, in Bellingham WA. Rhoda died 6 days later. They are both buried in the Bay View Cemetery in Bellingham WA.
The Brooks Children - Samuel 3 and Lucy Alden/Julia Alden
Alden Brooks was the only child of Samuel3 Brooks and his first wife, Lucy Alden. Alden was born in or near Cleveland OH. Apparently Alden was left in Ohio or Redfield with the Alden family while his father evaluated settling in Wisconsin. Samuel then returned to Cleveland around 1846, married Julia Alden (his first wife’s sister or cousin) and brought his family to his new claim in Winnebago County WI. Alden enlisted in Company B, 21st Regt. of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry on Aug 12, 1862. He died on Dec 23, 1862 in Nashville TN, just after the battle of Perryville, KY.
Samuel3 Brooks and his second wife, Julia Alden had a daughter, Lucy, born in 1848. She married Edward Williams and lived in Neenah WI.
Frederick D Brooks was born Sep. 4, 1849. According to his biography Frederick was educated in Oshkosh and learned the trade of a tinner. He worked for a time in Minneiska MN, near Winona. He later moved to Medford WI where he opened a hardware store. That burned down a year later and in 1877, Frederick returned to Oshkosh and settled on the farm of his father.
On January 4, 1883 Frederick married Mary Forman, the daughter of Benjamin Foreman and Rebecca Ward. The Foremans' were natives of Lincolnshire, England. Frederick and Mary had three daughters. In 1894, Frederick was elected register of deeds for Winnebago County. For four years he represented the township of Oshkosh on the county board of supervisors.
The youngest child of Samuel3 and Julia was Aden Brooks. He was born around 1852. In the late 1800's. Aden was a hardware merchant in Baraboo, Sauk County, Wisconsin.
A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story
of Sheldon Brooks by Marney Brown Brooks1981 Long Leaf Press ISBN 0-9605842-0-x
The book A Pioneer's Legacy, The Story of Sheldon Brooks provides extensive detail on the Brooks family genealogy. The relationship between Stephen and Samuel3 is also identified in "The History of Winnebago County and The Fox River Valley 1541-1877" by R. G. Thwaites. This appeared in serial form in the Oshkosh Times in 1877. "Later in 1840, Samuel Brooks, a nephew of Stephen's, joined his relatives at the claim ... and soon established himself a few miles to the Northwest at what is denominated Brooks' Corners..."
The 1850 census for town of Vineland shows the Samuel 3 Brooks family. Living with them is an Israel Brooks, age 75, born in Mass. One undocumented account has Israel as the father of Samuel 3 . Obviously this is at odds with all the other evidence and records. Besides the information gathered from Redfield NY, in the 1880 census Samuel 3 Brooks indicated that his father and mother were born in Connecticut. There is no Israel Brooks in any census for Oswego County and no Israel in the land Grantor/Grantee records. Perhaps this Israel was a distant relative or maybe just a visitor, taking advantage of the Brooks' noted hospitality. More information is needed.
Both Brooks came from Redfield NY and Stephen Brooks was born in Middletown CT. The Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State 1860 reports that Redfield, Oswego County NY, first settled in 1798 was formed March 14, 1800. The settlers came from Connecticut and were lead by Captain Nathan Sage. In the 1790 census there is a Nathan Sage in Middletown CT. Among those listed as earlier settlers of Redfield was a Samuel Brooks. Landmarks of Oswego County states that the first marriage in Redfield was Samuel Brooks to Lament Strong, daughter of Eli Strong, in 1801. It also states that Samuel was appointed Commissioner of Highways. Brooks in the Village Square Cemetery, Redfield NY.
Samuel Brooks died July 1, 1819 in
his 78th year. His wife Sibil, died December 14, 1835 in her 92nd year.
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