Texas Bob Travels

John Brooks Sr., Esquire

Note from Texas Bob: I am told that this was taken from an old book by Ida Brooks Kellam, "Brooks and Kindred Families," now out of print.

This record is concerned with John Brooks, Esq, Sr. Tradition says he brought his wife, Susan, and six sons to Virginia, lived there a short while, then came to North Carolina, about 1735. An old genealogy of the family written by Joseph Headen in 1869 say, "The first Brooks that ever lived in Chatham county came from Fayetteville, North Carolina, having owned that land where the town now stands." Again it says, "He first stopped in the West Indies with his five other brothers, then they came to Virginia and stopped for awhile, there the brothers separated, three of them went North, the other three came South." Joseph Headen married a great granddaughter of John Brooks, Sr., he was born during the life of some of the sons of John Brooks Sr. Those six brothers could not have been the sons of John Brooks, Sr. as they were too young to have been pioneering.

The first record found of John Brooks, Sr. in North Carolina was in 1735 when he was granted land in Bladen County, later included in Cumberland County. Bible records show that he came from near the mouth of the James River in Virginia. Another Bible record say "John Brooks and consort, Susan, from England, thought about 1700." Through succeeding generations there has been handed down a chest known as the "Sea Chest" and said to have been brought from England by Susan Brooks, wife of John Brooks, Sr. On the side of the chest in the original lettering is "S.B - 1735". So with all this evidence left behind, we accept the tradition that John Brooks, Sr., brought his family with six young sons and his wife, Susan, from England to America in the early part of the seventeen hundreds.

Colonial records of North Carolina gives us interesting items on the life of John Brooks, Sr., in Bladen County, N.C. Soon after settling there John Brooks Esq., appeared before the counsel appealing to the court to settle a land question. After he had been granted land he built a mill on what he supposed to be his on land. Later the adjoining land was granted and it was found that the mill was on his neighbor's grant. The Court adjusted the trouble by granting more land to the other grant. In 1743-49-50 and 51, John Brooks, Esq., was appointed as Justice of the Peace for Bladen County, N.C. It must be remembered that at this time county courts were composed of Justices and they were called the Commission of Peace. In 1754 and Act was passed by North Carolina Legislature to erect a county from the upper part of Bladen County and St David's parish. John Brooks, Esq., was appointed vestryman for this parish. The new county was what is now Cumberland County, N.C. On 3-18-1756, the name of John Brooks was dropped as Justice of the Peace for Cumberland County. It was at this time that John and his family moved to Orange County, N.C., now Chatham County.

Cumberland County records show that on 10-1-1756 John Brooks, Esq., of Cumberland County sold Edward Dunsfield land that had been patented to him 9-10-1735, about ten miles above Rock Fish Creek. He sold it " in consideration of the sum of eight pistols, to him in hand paid by the said Edward Dunsfield". Then in 1757 John Brooks, Esq., of Orange County sold Edward Dunsfield 100 acres in Cumberland County and joining the tract of 400 acres which he sold him in 1756. This definitely establishes the date of his removal to Orange County, N.C.

On 5-9-1755 John Brooks was granted 640 acres in Orange County, North Carolina, by the agent of Lord Granville. All of his grants in Orange County total about 1,500 acres. His home included in Chatham County when it was formed in 1770. John Brooks, Sr., settled on the South side of Tick Creek, about three miles east of Ore Hill, N.C. His son, Thomas Brooks, settled on the South side of Rocky River near the Hugh Dixon Mill, now called Thomas Mill, originally built by John Harris. His sons, Joab and Mark Brooks settled on the head waters of Ephraims Creek, about two miles northwest of Ore Hill. At or before the death of John Brooks, Sr., the homeplace fell to the youngest son, Isaac Brooks. Tradition says that John Brooks, Sr. and his sons, traveled from Cross Creek in Cumberland County, N.C., to Orange County (now Chatham) in canoes up the waters of the Cape Fear River and Deep River, leaving their canoes about where the town of Gulf now stands. They went North on foot for about fifteen miles, and after locating the place for their future home, they returned to their canoes and went back to Cross Creek for their family.

Records show us that John Brooks, St., was a man of influence. The family in England had been outstanding before they came to America. Named among the incorporators of the Virginia Company, 1609, was Sir John Brooks, listed "in Virginia Commission 1631". So it is easy to understand why John Brooks Esq., came to America and was immediately identified as a member of the Courts in his adopted land. He also seems to have been a man of wealth. He built what was then considered a costly home. The house was a two story building, framed, weather boarded, ceiled and had glass windows and paneled doors. A good building that stood until about 1940.

John Brooks, Esq., deeded his lands to his children and the deeds were presented to the Courts in November, 1767, proved by the oath of Thomas Brooks, and ordered to be recorded. An estate sale in Orange County, N.C., in 1762 refers to him as "Old Brooks". It is evident that he was born about 1690 and died about 1766 or 67. Records indicate that he might have had a daughter, Martha Goodman. When John Brooks deeded gifts of land to his sons, he also deeded land to Martha Goodman. She was the wife of Samuel Goodman and they lived in Cumberland County. Records show they sold several large tracts of land there. On 4-28-1768 they sold Arthur Mabson of New Hanover County, N.C., land in Cumberland County, joining the Rutherford plantation. In 1764 he sold the Hannah Goodman plantation in Cumberland County. Their daughter, Hannah Goodman, married Micajah Terrell, a brother of Ruth (Terrell) Brooks. In 1768 Joab Brooks presented a land dispute to the Courts against Samuel Goodman and the Courts settled the case in favor of Joab Brooks. It is interesting to note that we find them in the same section of South Carolina with members of the Brooks family. On 2-19-1788 John Williams of Laurens County, S.C. sold Samuel Goodman his original grant of 1765.


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