Thomas Madison Brooks (1775-1838) and Wife Sarah Whitlock (1774-1837): Alabama Years, 1836-1838

Since Thomas and Sarah’s time in Alabama was short, there is not abundant documentation of their lives in these final years — though Thomas’s loose-papers estate file in Morgan County, Alabama, is a rich source of information about details of the couple’s life in the last year or two, including the care their daughter Jane Brooks Lindsey provided both in their final illnesses, and even about Thomas’s burial clothes and coffin.[1] In a number of previous postings, I have shared information from Thomas’s estate file, insofar as it that information focuses on the roles that members of the intermarried Lindsey family played in estate matters. 

Thomas Brooks’s Estate File: Documentation of His and Sarah’s Life in Alabama — Previously Discussed Documents

As I discuss the final days of Thomas Brooks and Sarah Whitlock in Alabama, I’d like to point you to the following previous postings that discuss documents in the loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks:

1. The Children of Mark Lindsey (1774-1848) and Mary Jane Dinsmore: Dennis Lindsey’s Wife Jane Brooks (1797-1852) and Their Children

As this posting shows, after Dennis Lindsey, husband of Thomas and Sarah’s oldest daughter Jane, died 28 August 1836 at Oakville in Lawrence County and after Thomas and Sarah moved to Morgan County, settling near Jane, in November 1836, Jane provided care for both her mother and father as they died in 1837 and 1838. Proof of this is in Thomas’s estate file.

A 13 November 1839 account in the estate file (a digital image is at the posting linked above) details the care Jane gave to her mother as she boarded and nursed Sarah for the last five months before Sarah’s death on 16 August 1837. The same account bill and receipts in Thomas’s estate file indicate that Jane nursed and boarded her father for three months as he approached his death on 25 August 1838. 

The estate file also contains a 5 November 1839 account of Dr. Joel W. Hickey (again, a digital image is at the posting linked above) of his visits to Sarah and Thomas at Jane’s house, and of medicine he prescribed them. The laudanum prescribed for Sarah suggests to me that Jane’s mother died of some painful illness that may well have been cancer — and the laudanum and morphine Dr. Hickey also gave to Thomas suggests the same to me.[2]

Dr. Hickey’s account shows him visiting Sarah at Jane’s house on 11 July 1837 and prescribing medicine. We can infer that the medicine he prescribed was or included laudanum, since an 1837-8 store account of Edward Wise in the estate file (a digital image is in the posting above) shows Mark Lindsey obtaining two vials of laudanum on Thomas Brooks’s account in August 1837 — the month in which Sarah died.

Dr. Hickey’s account also shows that, as Thomas Brooks approached death, Hickey prescribed medicine for Thomas on 3 September 1838 as Thomas attended a campground meeting, and again on 10th September when Thomas was at his daughter Jane’s house. Dr. Hickey came to Jane’s twice again twice on the 20th, both times giving Thomas two bottles of morphine. On 24 and 28 September and on 6 October, he came again, each time leaving two bottles of morphine. Thomas then died on 25 October at Jane’s house. 

Jane verified her account detailing her care for her parents on 13 November 1839 and signed a receipt for payment for $158 for this account on 14 March 1841. A digital image of this document is also in the posting linked above.

2. The Children of Mark Lindsey (1774-1848) and Mary Jane Dinsmore: David Dinsmore Lindsey (1815 – 1873)

Account of Hogan and Lindsey in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

Another document in Thomas’s loose-papers estate file shows that, even though he was approaching death when his youngest daughter Sarah married David Dinsmore Lindsey, son of Mark Lindsey and Mary Jane Dinsmore, on 1 May 1838 in Lawrence County, he married Sarah in style. We can conclude this on the basis of an account in the estate file of the firm of Hogan & Lindsey, which show Thomas buying on 14 April 1838, some two weeks before his daughter married, 10 yards of fancy silk, 3½ yards of Irish linen, a white belt, 2½ yards of blue ribbon, ¾ yards of white satin, and ½ yard white ribbon were bought. Next to these itemized purchases, the word “daughter” is written: these items were surely to dress Sarah for her wedding, perhaps, too, to decorate her father’s house as she was married.

Three days after this, Thomas purchased 4 yards of white ribbon, 4 yards of lace, an ounce of cinnamon, two nutmegs, a large bowl, a headdress, a bunch of flowers, and a paper of pins. On the 20th of April, he bought a pair of silk gloves along with three skeins of yellow silk and a pair of silk hose, and on the 23rd, receipts state that he bought more white satin. Prior to this in March Thomas had purchased two fine combs and two jugs of whiskey.

These are clearly items bought for Sarah’s wedding and perhaps for a wedding party. The large bowl would likely have been for punch, and the cinnamon and nutmeg may well have been used to spice the punch and/or Sarah’s wedding cake. It’s touching to see a father dying of an illness that appears to have been progressive and painful showing such solicitude for his youngest daughter as she married in the final months of his life.

3. The Children of Mark Lindsey (1774-1848) and Mary Jane Dinsmore: Dennis Lindsey (1794 – 1836) — Inventory of Notes Held by Estate and Estate Sale Account

Memorandum of notes owed to estate of Dennis Lindsey, Lawrence County, Alabama, November 1836, in Jane Lindsey v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake as Administrators of Dennis Lindsey (Lawrence County, Alabama, loose court case files, #247, box 171, folder 6

A document in the estate records of Thomas’s son-in-law Dennis Lindsey provides information about a debt Thomas owed to Dennis when Dennis died on 28 August 1836. A memorandum of notes owed to Dennis’s estate compiled in November 1836 by estate administrators John W. Lindsey, Dennis’s son, and James B. Speake, Dennis’s son-in-law, and filed at Lawrence County court in December 1836, shows Thomas Brooks owing his son-in-law Dennis $13.88, per a promissory note.[3]

4. The Children of Dennis Lindsey (abt. 1755-1795): Mark Lindsey (1774-1848) (3)

Thomas Brooks’s loose-papers estate file also captures information about some of his business dealings in Alabama after his move there. For instance, in the estate file one finds a 13 May 1838 deed of trust in which Thomas’s son Samuel K. Brooks mortgaged property to Thomas Brooks, with Mark Lindsey entering into the deed of trust to hold the mortgaged property until Samuel had paid his debt. A digital copy of this document, with the signatures of all three men, is found in the posting linked above.

5. Children of Dennis Lindsey (1794-1836) and Jane Brooks: John Wesley Lindsey (1814-1903) — Wayne County, Kentucky, and Lawrence County, Alabama, Years

Original will (holographic, pages 2-3) of Thomas Madison Brooks of Morgan County, Alabama,, 2 October 1838, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

Thomas Brooks made his will on 2 October 1838. The posting I’ve just linked discusses the will briefly, noting that the original holographic will — in the handwriting, it seems to me, of his grandson John Wesley Lindsey — is in Thomas’s loose-papers estate file.[4] Thomas was evidently too sick in October 1838 to write his own will. The first page of Thomas’s original will is in the digital images at the head of this posting.

The posting linked above reproduces Thomas’s signature to the will, which is very shaky, indicating how ill he was. It also reproduces the signatures of the two witnesses, his grandson John W. Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, and his doctor, Dr. Joel W. Hickey. Though the will rightly states that Thomas was of Morgan County and his residence was in that county, I suspect Thomas made the will at the house of his daughter Jane in Lawrence County, and that this was one of the reasons that his grandson John W. Lindsey was present to witness the will. The fact that Thomas’s doctor Joel W. Hickey witnessed it also suggests to me that Thomas had been informed his days were dwindling, and this caused him to dictate the will.

Thomas’s will leaves to sons Samuel and James the whole of his land in Morgan County that was his residence, and all his livestock (horses, cattle, hogs, and sheep), wagon gear, and farming utensils. This will item has the name of Thomas’s son Charles Brooks written before the names of Samuel and James, but Charles’s name has been struck out.

The will stipulates that Thomas’s children Thomas W. Brooks, Margaret Vanwinkle, James Brooks, and Sarah Lindsey were each to have $100 legacy money, the amount of legacy money he had already given to his children Charles Brooks, Jane Lindsey, Alexander Brooks, Hannah Huffaker, and Samuel Brooks. All other money belonging to the estate as it was settled was to be divided equally among the children Thomas had named. 

The will made Thomas’s son Charles Brooks of Lawrence County his executor. Charles presented the will in Morgan County court on 16 February 1839, and it was proven in court by Joel W. Hickey and John Wesley Lindsey on the 25thof February.[5] On the same day in February, Charles Brooks was appointed executor (the original appointment is in the loose-papers estate file), and Joel W. Hickey, John W. Lindsey, and David Dinsmore Lindsey gave bond with Charles for his execution of the estate.[6] Dinsmore Lindsey was John W. Lindsey’s uncle and also Charles Brooks’s brother-in-law. 

Original inventory of personal estate of Thomas Brooks filed 14 March 1839 by appraisers Henry T. Pendleton, Stephen Johnson, and Edward Wise, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

Also on 25 February, Morgan County orphans court ordered Edward Wise, Stephen Johnson, Drury Stovall, H.T. Pendleton, and George M. Echols to appraise the estate, and Charles Brooks was given permission to hold the estate sale.[7] The estate file contains the original copies of these court orders. It also has the original estate inventory along with a 14 March 1839 document signed by Henry Pendleton, Stephen Johnson, and Edward Wise showing that they had appraised the estate and the court had accepted the appraisal on the March date.[8]

I’ll say more about Henry T. Pendleton, one of the estate appraisers, below. Another appraiser, Stephen Johnson (1808-1879), was the husband of Elizabeth Ann Gibson (1811-1904), daughter of Sylvanus Gibson and Mary Orr. John Wesley Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, married Elizabeth’s sister Margaret S. Gibson as his first wife.  John’s brother Thomas Madison Lindsey married as his first wife Margaret Jane Torrence, whose sister Elizabeth Grizelle Torrence married Margaret and Elizabeth Gibson’s brother Sylvanus Gibson Jr. Two of the daughters of Thomas Brooks’s son Charles — his daughters Frances Eunice and Margaret Lindsey Brooks — would marry sons of Stephen Johnson and Elizabeth Ann Gibson, William Daniel Johnson and Robert Christopher Johnson.

Thomas’s personal estate included four beds and their furnishings, books (including, as the sale account will show, a large bible bought by his son Charles), a clock and looking glass, a drop-leaf table, a cupboard and furniture, a chest, a trunk, eight chairs, and various farm implements and kitchen items, all appraised at $219.64. Since Thomas and wife Sarah moved to Alabama at the very end of their lives, it’s likely that they had given much of their estate to their children before their death, keeping only items necessary for their livelihood in their last years.

Receipt of John W. Lindsey of Lindsey and Gibson for payment from estate of Thomas Brooks, 10 May 1839, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

As the posting linked above also states, Thomas Brooks’s estate file also contains a receipt to the firm of (John W.) Lindsey and (William A.) Gibson for purchases made when Thomas Brooks died, including a white vest (handled via Simpson & Co.), 1½ yards of cambric, and silk and a shroud. These were, it would seem, items bought for dressing Thomas Brooks for burial; the next item in the list of purchases is “making one coffin.” John W. Lindsey signed a receipt for payment from the estate for these items on 10 May 1839.

Receipt of Edward Wise, 7 March 1840 for payment from estate of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

Another receipt in the estate file, this one to Edward Wise, shows that the family bought another 5 yards of cambric on the 26th of October, the day after Thomas died — I suspect for funeral clothes and for Thomas’s coffin as he was laid out.  Yet another receipt on the day of Thomas’s death shows that the family bought from Cooper, Price & Co. items I cannot decipher. One of these may be a pair of staves; if that’s correct, then these may well have been items for Thomas’s burial. William Simpson verified this account statement on 27 June 1839.

Receipt of Cooper and Price firm, 28 January 1840, for payment from estate of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

The sale of Thomas Brooks’s estate was held 20 April 1839 in Morgan County, with Charles Brooks recording the sale account. This previous posting contains a digital image, in Charles’s handwriting, of the original sale account filed in Thomas’s loose-papers estate file.[9] The principal buyers were Thomas and Sarah’s children living in Lawrence County, Alabama, at the time of Thomas’s death — Jane Lindsey and Charles, James, and Samuel Brooks. Other buyers who were family members included Jane’s son Mark Jefferson Lindsey, who bought a clock, and Thomas’s nephew Thomas R. Brooks, who bought a skillet.

Jane Lindsey’s purchases included three books, a half bushel, and a shovel and tongs. Her brother Charles purchased “one large Bible” — obviously the bible whose register of births and deaths was transcribed in the publication Itawamba Settlers in September 1988. In addition, Charles bought a lot of glassware and a glue pot. Jane and Charles had married some years prior to their parents’ death — Jane in 1813 and Charles in 1823 — and had established households, so they did not need many of the household goods purchased by their younger siblings Samuel and James. 

Samuel K. Brooks had married less than a month prior to his father’s death: he married Mary Ann Puckett, daughter of Jared Puckett and Anne Collins, in Morgan County on 27 September 1838.[10] Samuel’s brother Alexander Mackey Brooks had married Mary Ann’s sister Carolina Puckett in Lawrence County on 2 July 1835, and by the time of their father’s death, had left Carolina and gone to Texas.[11] On 2 April 1840 in Lawrence County, James R. Brooks would marry Jane Puckett, who was possibly a sister of Mary Ann and Carolina. After James received his inheritance from his father’s estate, he lit out for California, where he was panning for gold in a mining camp in El Dorado County by 1850.[12] James’s wife Jane was not with him in California in 1850. I have found no record of her after they married in 1840.

At their father Thomas Brooks’s estate sale, his sons Samuel and James both bought two beds and their furniture. In addition, Samuel purchased a volume of Wesley’s notes, a lot of books, a looking glass, a folding table, two pitchers, and kitchen and dining room items including a lot of queensware, a dish and platter, two bowls, a lot of knives and forks, and a cupboard and chest. Samuel also bought two smoothing irons, a churn and coffee pot, a judge, eight chairs, a bucket, wash pan, and strainers, a tin bucket, a kettle and hooks, a wash tub, a pot rack, an oven and lid, a tray and sifter, a pail and cup, a lot of pot ware, and a table. I’m not quite sure what a judge was, but am assuming it was a kitchen item, since it’s listed after the churn and coffee pot.

In addition to the beds and bed furniture James bought, he also purchased a lot of books, a trunk, and a pair of saddlebags. The sale of Thomas’s estate netted $150.68¾. The reason that Thomas and Sarah’s children Thomas Whitlock Brooks, Margaret Brooks Vanwinkle, Alexander Mackey Brooks, and Hannah Brooks Huffaker are not represented in the estate sale is obviously that they were all living at a distance from their parents when Thomas and Sarah died: Thomas in Randolph County, Missouri, Margaret and husband Ransom Vanwinkle in Morgan County, Illinois, Alexander in Jefferson County, Texas, and Hannah and husband Wesley Huffaker in Wayne County, Kentucky.

Additional Documentation of the Final Years of Thomas and Sarah Brooks from Thomas’s Estate File and Morgan and Lawrence County, Alabama, Records

28 December 1830 receipt of Charles Brooks and Wesley Huffaker to Thomas Brooks for legacy money, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

28 December 1830: a receipt in the loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks shows Thomas’s son Charles Brooks and son-in-law Wesley Huffaker both signing on this date their receipt of $100 “as legacy.” As noted previously, Thomas’s will states that he had given $100 legacy money to his children Charles, Jane, Alexander, Hannah, and Samuel Brooks. The date of this receipt suggests that this legacy money was coming to Thomas Brooks’s children from their grandfather Thomas Whitlock, who died around May 1830 in Cumberland County, Kentucky, and whose estate was sold in June 1830. (On Thomas Whitlock’s estate records, see the previous posting.)

18 December 1836: Thomas’s estate file contains a promissory note with this date signed by Charles Brooks and J.H. Huffaker shows both promising to pay Thomas Brooks $300 for value received from him. With this note is a receipt with Thomas’s signature showing that he was paid $120 on 4 March 1837; this note has his signature. The balance appears to have been paid as part of the estate settlement, since there are receipts from Milton McClanahan for it. 

Jacob H. Huffaker was among the buyers at Thomas’s estate sale on 20 April 1839. As has been previously noted, Jacob H. Huffaker appears in a number of records involving members of the Brooks and Lindsey families in Lawrence and Morgan County, Alabama, and is clearly related to Thomas’s son-in-law Wesley Huffaker. As the link I’ve just provided shows, on 15 September 1838, Mark Jefferson Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, acted as trustee in a deed of trust Jacob H. Huffaker made with John M. Davis at Oakville in Lawrence County.[13]

Thomas Brooks’s estate file also has a promissory note dated the same day (i.e., 18 December 1836) signed by Samuel Brooks, another of Thomas’s sons, and J.H. Huffaker. The return of Thomas Brooks’s estate recorded on 18 May 1839 in Morgan County shows two notes owed to the estate by Thomas’s son Samuel Brooks along with J.H. Huffaker.[14] A 10 March 1840 estate account filed by Charles Brooks found in the estate file also lists J.H. Huffaker owing notes to the estate. The estate file also contains two notes to the estate dated 20 April 1839, one co-signed by Mark J. Lindsey, Jacob H. Huffaker, and James Brooks for $5.00, and another co-signed by Mark J. Lindsey, J.H. Huffaker, and Samuel K. Brooks for $120.15. A digital image of the latter note is provided in the posting I have just linked above.

November 1836-October 1838?: I put a question mark here because there’s some mystery about when or even whether Thomas Brooks acquired land in Morgan County prior to his death. As we’ve seen, his will states that he owned land there that he was bequeathing to sons Samuel and James. But there are not deeds at all in Morgan County showing Thomas purchasing land there prior to his death in October 1838, nor are there any federal land records showing him patenting land.

29 January 1840 petition by Charles Brooks, executor of Thomas Brooks, to sell land of Thomas’s estate, Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 383

On 29 January 1840, as executor of his father’s will, Charles Brooks filed a petition in Morgan County court to sell the land of the estate (though, as I have just noted, Thomas’s will stated that his sons Samuel and James were to inherit his land).[15] Citations were issued to Jane Lindsey, Samuel Brooks, James Brooks, and David Dinsmore Lindsey to approve this sale. These were the children still living in Alabama — Dinsmore Lindsey acting on behalf of his wife Sarah. 

The petition to sell the land of the estate provides important information about Thomas’s landholdings (or presumed landholdings, since, as we’ll see, he seems not to have had title to this land) in Morgan County. The petition states that there were two tracts: the east ½ of the southeast ¼ of section 30, township 7, range 5 west, and the east ½ of the northeast ¼ of section 31, township 7, range 5 west. This land is between Danville and Neel in southwestern Morgan County, near the line shared by Morgan and Lawrence Counties and a bit more than 6 miles east of Oakville where Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks lived.   

April 1840 Morgan County, Alabama, court permission for Milton McClanahan, executor of Thomas Brooks, to sell the land of Thomas Brooks, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 397

In April 1840, Charles Brooks resigned as executor of his father’s estate — he was moving to Itawamba County, Mississippi — and Milton McClanahan assumed the role of estate administrator. At April court 1840, McClanahan petitioned to sell Thomas’s real estate and the court gave permission for the land sale.[16] The estate file contains a 20 June 1840 receipt of W.G. Stephenson for the advertisement of the land sale in the Decatur Register, and a 17 June 1840 statement that McClanahan had sold the two tracts of land belonging to the estate pursuant to an April court order to sell the land. 

The first tract described in the 29 January 1840 petition to sell the land, 80 acres, went to David Dinsmore Lindsey for $720, at $9.00 per acre, with Mark Lindsey and H.H. Terry giving bond with Dinsmore Lindsey for the land purchase. The second tract, 80 acres, went to James Brooks for $422.40, at $5.28, with the same bondsmen. The document in the loose-papers estate file recording this land sale states that the sale was recorded in county court records on 25 March 1841. For reasons that will become clear in a moment, there are no deeds for these two land sales in the index to Morgan County deeds. As this preceding post notes, I think the tract purchased by Dinsmore Lindsey was likely Thomas Brooks’s home tract at the time of his death.

The documents in the estate file include a 27 October 1846 account of the estate filed by Milton McClanahan as part of a partial settlement, which begins with a notation of the sale of the land, netting the estate $1142.40. McClanahan made this account the day before he resigned as estate administrator, to be succeeded by David Dinsmore Lindsey. 

As these land records indicate, at some point either before his move to Alabama or after he arrived there, Thomas Brooks had acquired — or seems to have thought he acquired — land in Alabama. Since I can find no record showing Thomas Brooks buying or patenting the two tracts of land described above, I have checked the U.S. General Land Office tract books for Alabama to see who first patented these two pieces of land, and what became of these tracts after they were originally patented.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office, Alabama Tract Bk. 303, pp. 5
U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office, Alabama Tract Bk. 303, pp. 6
Patent Bk. 128, p. 209 
Patent Bk. 135, p. 191

I find John Donelson patenting the east ½ of the southeast ¼ of section 30, township 7, range 5 west on 17 July 1818 and assigning the patent to James Patterson, and Robert F. Houston and James F. Cowan patenting the northeast ¼ of section 31, township 7, range 5 west on 30 June 1831.[17] The patent to Patterson was issued 15 December 1829 and to Houston & Cowan Co. 3 June 1833.

On 29 May 1834, James Patterson of Giles County, Tennessee, then sold his tract of land to Matthew C. Houston of Morgan County for $750, and on 2 September 1835 Robert F. Houston and wife Ann and James H. Cowan and wife Eliza P. sold their piece of land to Matthew Houston, all of Morgan County, for $1000.[18]

Morgan County, Alabama, Deed Bk. C, pp. 527-8

On 22 January 1838, Matthew C. Houston and wife Martha L. then sold both pieces of land — the Patterson tract and the Houston and Cowan tract — to Henry T. Pendleton, all of Morgan County. These are the two pieces of land sold by Thomas Brooks’s estate executors as Thomas’s land.[19] At the time of Thomas Brooks’s death, Henry T. Pendleton held title to the land that his executors would sell as Thomas’s land. Why Thomas Brooks and his executors thought he owned this land is a mystery to me.

Henry T. Pendleton is the H.T. Pendleton who was an appraiser of Thomas’s estate (see above). We’ve met him in previous postings, since he had dealings with Mark Lindsey. As this previous posting notes, the 1840 federal census shows Mark living next to Milton McClanahan and two houses from Henry T. Pendleton. The posting I’ve just linked cites a number of records showing Mark Lindsey and Henry Pendleton interacting, including a 24 June 1841 deed of trust in Morgan County I which, Mark mortgaged property, with Henry acting as trustee, in a debt Mark owed Benjamin Cooper and Mark’s son Dinsmore Lindsey.

Another previous posting notes that on 8 May 1848, Morgan County court appointed Henry T. Pendleton and others to appraise Mark Lindsey’s estate. As this posting also notes, the chancery court case that ensued among Mark’s heirs as his estate was handled shows that Dr. Henry T. Pendleton was the doctor attending Mark at the time of his death. A native of Amherst County, Virginia, Henry T. Pendleton (1803-1875) moved from Virginia to Morgan County, Alabama, in the 1830s, and then to Mississippi before 1850, where he died at West Point in Clay County and is buried in Greenwood cemetery there.[20]

That the Pendletons held legal title to the land Thomas Brooks’s executors sold in June 1840 as Thomas’s land is evident in a 26 November 1845 that Henry T. and Sarah A. Pendleton made to Milton McClanahan as administrator of Thomas Brooks’s estate.[21] On that date, the Pendletons sold McClanahan as Thomas Brooks’s administrtor, all residing in Morgan County, the two tracts of land listed as Thomas’s property in his estate records, which the Pendletons had gotten from Matthew C. Houston on 22 January 1838. The estate bought this land for $1000. The Pendletons acknowledged the deed on 16 April 1844 [sic], and it was not recorded until 21 April 1865, long years after Thomas Brooks’s death and years after his son James, who had bought one tract of the land in 1840, had gone to California and apparently died there after 1850. I don’t find records showing that James Brooks and Dinsmore Lindsey, the two buyers of Thomas’s land in June 1840, ever actually owned this land.

Nor have I found records showing that Thomas Brooks acquired any other land in Alabama. On 20 November 1834, a Thomas Brooks filed a homestead claim on a tract of river improvement land in Lawrence County, the north ½ of the west ½ of the southwest ¼ of section 31, township 4 south, range 8 west. This record could perhaps pertain to Thomas Madison Brooks, but since there is no record of his having this piece of land in his estate documents, I think in all likelihood, this is a record belonging to Thomas’s nephew Thomas R. Brooks, son of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell, who lived in Lawrence County in the general vicinity of this land. Thomas R. Brooks was the only Thomas Brooks in Lawrence or Morgan County in this time frame, and I find a number of records of him before his uncle Thomas Brooks’s arrival in Morgan County giving his name as merely Thomas Brooks, with no middle initial.

I also find mention of a Thomas Brooks in Itawamba County, Mississippi, Abstract Books engaging in two transactions for land in section 20, township 10, range 7 east in 1836.[22] Since Thomas Madison Brooks’s sons Charles and Samuel both settled in that county, it seems possible that their father could have acquired land in Itawamba County as he moved to Alabama. But I think it’s much likelier that the Thomas Brooks of this record belongs to the family of the Thomas Brooks (1821-1892) buried in Keyes cemetery at Fulton in Itawamba County, Mississippi. A number of family trees state that this Thomas had a father Thomas Brooks who came from Tennessee to Mississippi with him. Though I have not seen proof of that assertion, it seems to me likely that the Thomas Brooks with land in Itawamba County in 1836 was a member of this Brooks family, whose connection to the family of Thomas Madison Brooks, if any, I know nothing about.

4 February 1837: a receipt in Thomas Brooks’s estate file shows James B. Speake and John W. Lindsey, administrators of Dennis Lindsey, acknowledging receipt of $100 in legacy money from Thomas Brooks for Jane Lindsey. A digital image of this receipt is in this previous posting. Once again: this is the legacy money Thomas Brooks mentions in his will, which he had given to children Charles, Jane, Alexander, Hannah, and Samuel prior to making his will. On my reasons for concluding that this legacy money was coming to them from the estate of their grandfather Thomas Whitlock, see my comments above about the receipt Charles Brooks and Wesley Huffaker, Hannah’s husband, signed in December 1830 as they got their portion of legacy money. On the back of James B. Speake and John W. Lindsey’s receipt is written a note that this legacy money was requested on behalf of Jane Lindsey and was deducted from the $250 that she and other heirs received as a share of Thomas’s estate.

4 March 1837 receipt of Thomas Brooks for payment from Brooks and Huffaker, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

4 March 1837: a receipt in the estate file shows Thomas Brooks signing for his receipt of a payment of $160 from a note for $310 signed by Brooks and Huffaker on 18 December 1836. Written on the note is a note by Milton McClanahan that he had received another $89 of this note on 18 June 1842, and on the same date, $5 from the sale of a bay mare on a deed of trust.

22 March 1838: Alabama’s Civil Register of County Officials shows Thomas Brooks being commissioned a justice of the peace in Morgan County on this date.[23]

8 May 1838 promissory note of Charles Brooks to Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

8 May 1838: Charles Brooks made a promissory note to his father Thomas for $45.40. The note is in Thomas’s estate file.

May 1839: a 31 January 1840 note by Mark Lindsey in Thomas Brooks’s estate file shows Mark acknowledging a charge of $2.00 by Thomas’s estate for two gallons of whiskey. A digital image of this document is in this previous posting. Thomas’s estate sale had been held in April 1839. It was a common practice to offer buyers at estate sales spirits like whiskey or brandy, so I think it’s possible that the May 1839 account showing Mark Lindsey buying whiskey on behalf of the estate had to do with the estate sale, though it’s dated in the following month.

24 February 1840: Morgan County court minutes show David Dinsmore Lindsey being released as a security for Charles Brooks in his execution of his father’s estate, with a citation to Charles to appear in court to secure his bond as estate executor.[24] Since Charles Brooks begins appearing in Itawamba County, Mississippi, records shortly after this, I suspect that Charles was moving or had moved to Mississippi at this point, and this is why Dinsmore Lindsey petitioned to be released from his obligation as Charles’s security.[25]

2 March 1840: Morgan County court minutes say that Charles Brooks failed to appear in court to secure his bond as executor of his father’s estate, and an attachment was issued.[26]

9 March 1840: Charles Brooks made a final return as executor of his father’s estate and was released as executor.[27] The final return notes that Charles had taken in $2556.47 as executor.  The return shows notes in the amount of $2390.45 owed to the estate by Daniel Shearer, Charles Brooks, Samuel Brooks and J.H. Huffaker, and A.M. Brooks. 

Milton McClanahan, from his Find a Grave memorial page, Prospect cemetery, Lee County, Texas, created by A. Pearson, who has uploaded this photo

On the same date — 10 March 1840 — Charles Brooks was removed as estate executor (or resigned: the minutes are not clear on this point) and Milton McClanahan was made administrator, with Mark Lindsey and Henry H. Terry giving bond with him for the administration. The original document appointing McClanahan estate administrator is in the estate file. As noted in this previous posting, McClanahan was at this time representing Morgan County in the Alabama House, and in 1845 would become a state senator.[28] Milton McClanahan’s Find a Grave memorial page (he’s buried in Prospect cemetery in Lee County, Texas) provides valuable biographical information about him and is my source for the photo of him above.[29]

10 March 1840 inventory of notes owed to estate of Thomas Brooks, made by Milton McClanahan as executor, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

As McClanahan assumed the position of estate administrator on 10 March 1840, he made an inventory of the estate’s assets and debts owed to it. This document, dated 10 March 1840, is in the estate file. It shows that, in addition to cash received at Thomas’s estate sale, the sale took notes from Mark Lindsey, J.H. Huffaker, J. Brooks, James R. Brooks, Samuel K. Brooks, Mark J. Lindsey, and Jane Lindsey. This account also says that Charles Brooks had about 30 barrels of corn he had received as rent for Thomas Brooks’s land in 1839, and contains an inventory of the notes owed to the estate amounting to $2390.45. The money owed to Thomas Brooks’s estate by Daniel Shearer was money Shearer still owed for the land he had purchased from Thomas Brooks as Thomas and wife Sarah moved to Alabama. The inventory of notes also shows a note dated 2 August 1830, on W. and S. Summers, which was due 14 November 1837.  

Two notes of Alexander M. Brooks to Thomas Brooks, 9 February 1838, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

As indicated in a previous posting, by the latter part of 1838, Thomas’s son Alexander M. Brooks, who had been in business with Mark Lindsey’s son William Burke Lindsey, was heavily in debt, and in the fall of 1838, Alexander left Alabama for Texas, leaving his debts behind — and his wife Carolina, who then sued for a divorce on grounds of abandonment and afterwards married Burke Lindsey. The inventory of notes owed to Thomas Brooks’s estate compiled by Milton McClahanan and in Charles Brooks’s final return contains notes owed by Alexander M. Brooks and Co. in the amount of $1400. 

As noted above, in April 1840, McClanahan petitioned for sale of the land of Thomas Brooks’s estate and was given permission by the court to sell the land.

9 April 1840 note of Charles Brooks to Wesley Huffaker in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

9 April 1840: the estate file has a note written by Charles Brooks to his brother-in-law Wesley Huffaker asking him to pay Milton McClanahan $250 out of the note owed by Daniel Shearer to the estate, with Charles noting that the estate execution had passed from Charles to McClanahan. This suggests that Shearer’s note had somehow passed to into the hands of Wesley Huffaker.

17 June 1840 report to court of Milton McClanahan that he has sold land of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

17 June 1840: as noted previously, the estate file contains a 17 June 1840 statement that McClanahan had sold the two tracts of land belonging to the estate pursuant to an April court order to sell the land of the estate. On the same date, the estate a received a payment of $211.20 from James Brooks, Mark Lindsey, and H.H. Terry. On this document, which has the signature of all three men, see this previous posting.

26 October 1841: Milton McClanahan filed a partial return of Thomas’s estate, and publication of this partial settlement was ordered.[30]  

11 May 1842: a receipt by Jane Lindsey in the estate file shows her acknowledging payment of $72.20, part of her share of the estate. See this previous posting for a digital copy of the receipt.

18 June 1842: a receipt in the estate file by Samuel K. Brooks shows him acknowledging receipt from Milton McClanahan of $150 as a portion of his share of the estate.

22 June 1842 note of Charles Brooks to Milton McClanahan in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

22 June 1842: the estate file has a note of Charles Brooks to Milton McClanahan from Itawamba County, Mississippi, asking McClanahan to pay Charles Brooks’s share of the estate to his brother James R. Brooks, and has James’s receipt for that share. 

24 June 1842: Jane Lindsey acknowledged receipt of $55 as more of her share of the estate. This receipt is in the estate file and a digital copy is here.

27 June 1842 receipt of James R. Brooks to Milton McClanahan acknowledging payment from estate of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

27 June 1842: James R. Brooks acknowledged receipt of $89 from the estate — probably the share of Charles Brooks about which Charles sent a note to Milton McClanahan on 22 June.

4 August 1842: a receipt on the estate file shows David Dinsmore Lindsey acknowledging receipt of $250 of his wife Sarah’s share of Thomas Brooks’s estate. A digital image of this receipt is in this previous posting.

22 August 1842: Jane Lindsey acknowledged receipt of $22.79 from her father’s estate. A digital copy of this receipt is in this previous posting.

27 October 1846 return of Milton McClanahan for estate of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

27 October 1846: the estate file has an account of the estate by Milton McClanahan with this date, showing that the estate contained $3993.87 in proceeds from sales and notes still owing. This account also shows that the notes of Alexander M. Brooks were considered insolvent. The Shearer notes (which were evidently now in the hands of Thomas Brooks’s son-in-law Wesley Huffaker, also appear as insolvent debts here.  his report also shows that McClanahan had paid heirs and debtors $3583.02. With various adjustments, this left the estate with a balance of $290.97. This account was recorded in court minutes the same day, and on the following day, McClanahan resigned his execution of the estate.[31] A digital image of a portion of McClanahan’s original account in the estate file is here.

April 1847David Dinsmore Lindsey became administrator de bonis non of Thomas Brooks’s estate.[32]

12 April 1847: a receipt in the estate file shows Daniel Shearer paying Dinsmore Lindsey $665.61 of the portion Shearer owed the estate. Perhaps only a portion of his note to Thomas Brooks had come into the hands of Wesley Huffaker, and it was this portion that was considered insolvent in McClananan’s final report. 

29 June 1847 receipt of Ransom Vanwinkle for payment from estate of Thomas Brooks, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

29 June 1847: a receipt shows Ranson Vanwinkle acknowledging payment of his wife Margaret’s portion of $250 from the estate; Vanwinkle also received Thomas Whitlock Brooks’s portion of $250, acting as agent for this brother-in-law.

2 May 1850 letter of Wesley Huffaker to David Dinsmore Lindsey in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

2 May 1850: the estate file contains a letter Wesley Huffaker wrote on this date to his brother-in-law Dinsmore Lindsey as estate administrator. The letter concerned Huffaker’s debt of $255.50 to the estate. This letter is summarized and in part transcribed in this previous posting.

12 June 1850: a receipt in the estate file with this date by Nathaniel G. Blackford shows him being paid $5.00 by David Dinsmore Lindsey for his work on the grave of Thomas Brooks. 

20 January 1851 list of heirs of Thomas Brooks, compiled by David Dinsmore Lindsey, in loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County Archives

20 January 1851: Dinsmore Lindsey filed a final settlement of the estate. The original document is in the estate file. It shows that the estate still had a balance of $443.10, which had been distributed among the heirs. This final account also contains a list of legatees and heirs showing their whereabouts in January 1851: Charles Brooks, Mississippi; Thomas W. Brooks, Missouri; Alexander M. Brooks, Texas; Samuel K. Brooks, Lawrence Couty, Alabama; James Brooks, California; Jane Lindsey, wife of Dennis, Lawrence Couty; Ransom Vanwinkle, husband of Margaret, Illinois; Wesley Huffaker, husband of Hannah, Kentucky; and David D. Lindsey, husband of Sarah, Lawrence County.

The final settlement is recorded in Morgan County probate records.[33] On the same date, the court ordered publication of the estate settlement.[34] Dinsmore Lindsey’s final settlement account was approved by the court on 29 March 1851.[35]

Thomas Brooks and Sarah Whitlock’s Burial Place

No tombstones marking the graves of Thomas Brooks and wife Sarah have, to my knowledge, yet been found, and their burial place is not certain. As noted previously, Thomas’s estate file contains a 12 June 1850 by his son-in-law (and nephew) Dinsmore Lindsey paying Nathaniel G. Blackford for his work on Thomas’s grave. This receipt leads me to think that the burial site was at one time marked, and that both Thomas and wife Sarah likely had tombstones.

For reasons I can’t explain, various researchers have decided that Thomas and Sarah are buried, along with Thomas’s brother James and wife Nancy, in a Mathis-Davis-Whitlock cemetery near Tharptown in Franklin County, Alabama. This is about 35 miles west of where Thomas and Sarah lived, and some 30 miles west of where they died. Nathaniel G. Blackford, whom Dinsmore Lindsey paid in 1850 to work on Thomas Brooks’s grave, lived in Lawrence County at this point, as a number of records indicate.

I have seen no evidence that either James or Thomas Brooks is buried in this cemetery two counties west of where they spent their final days in Alabama. I think it’s highly unlikely that their family members in eastern Lawrence County and western Morgan County would have them buried in Franklin County. In my view, it’s far more likely that Thomas and Sarah Whitlock Brooks were buried close to where they lived in Morgan County.

In January 1999, Brooks researcher Denise Gilliand forwarded to me a message from researcher Scott Bounds, who told Denise that Thomas and Sarah are buried “in the Johnson cemetery” near where they had lived. I’m inclined to think that Scott Bounds is referring to the Johnson Chapel Methodist cemetery between Danville and Neel in Morgan County — right where Thomas and Sarah Brooks lived. The Johnson Chapel church dates from 1845, but since a chapel in its location evidently predated the church itself, in all likelihood people were being buried in what became the Johnson Chapel cemetery prior to 1845.

Noting that the Johnson Chapel cemetery is between Neel and Danville in southwestern Morgan County, John Knox states in his history of Morgan County that the cemetery is the largest rural cemetery in the county.[36] Knox notes that the cemetery was attached to a Methodist church older than the town of Neel, and that the names on its gravestones “provide what is almost a roster of early settlers in the region.” Among the names predominating in the cemetery is that of the “time-honored Puckett family.”

As has been noted, Thomas Brooks’s sons Alexander, Samuel, and Mackey all married Puckett wives. As has also been noted, there are many connections between Thomas Brooks’s family and the Johnson family for whom Johnson Chapel cemetery is named, including the marriage of two daughters of Charles Brooks to sons of Stephen Johnson, one of the appraisers of Thomas Brooks’s estate.

I think in all likelihood Thomas Brooks and Sarah Whitlock are buried in what is now known as Johnson Chapel cemetery in Morgan County, Alabama, and that their grave markers have been lost. They would have been buried there before the church founded in 1845 was named, and before the cemetery was officially “established” as Johnson Chapel Methodist cemetery — at a time in which the chapel out of which the church developed was holding services in their vicinity and, I suspect, already maintaining a burial ground for chapel members.


[1] Thomas Brooks’s loose-papers probate file is held by the Morgan County Archives in Decatur.

[2] It should be noted, however, that laudanum, a tincture of opium, was widely used by doctors at this period to treat almost any ailment — and that use may have been particularly common among doctors on what was the frontier in the 19th century. An 8 December 1830, commenting in his diary about about the ineffectiveness of his treatment of a son of a Mr. Camp of Greenville, Illinois, “a right backwoods character, fighting everything, tumbling from horses, etc.,” who was suffering stomach pains, Dr. Asa Fitch wrote, “Peragoric [sic], laudanum, Bleeding, and Purging, has been the treatment, none of which produce permanent relief.” The original diary is held by Yale University library; portions of the diary have been transcribed by Samuel Rezneck, “Diary of a New York Doctor in Illinois — 1830-1831,” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 54 (Spring 1961), p. 34. See also, on the wide use of laudanum in 19th-century America to treat many kinds of illnesses, William D. Lindsey, Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Doctor and Philosopher (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2013), pp. 44, 189, n. 39, on Wilson Bachelor’s self-prescription of laudanum to treat his bouts of cholera in Arkansas in the 1870s.

[3] The original inventory of notes is filed in Jane Lindsey v. John W. Lindsey and James B. Speake as administrators of Dennis Lindsey (Lawrence County, Alabama, loose court case files, #247, box 171, folder 6). A transcript is in Lawrence County’s Orphans Court Inventory and Will Book 1835-1841, pp. 236-7.

[4] As just noted, the original handwritten will is in Thomas Brooks’s loose-papers estate file in Morgan County. A transcribed copy is in Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Final Record Bk. 7, pp. 134-5.

[5] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 343 and 354.

[6] Ibid., p. 354.

[7] Ibid.

[8] The inventory was recorded 18 May 1839 in Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Final Record Bk. 7, p. 152.

[9] The sale account is recorded in ibid., pp. 152-3. Charles Brooks’s return of the sale account is also recorded in Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 369.

[10] Morgan County, Alabama, Marriage Bk. 1, p. 351. If this is the Samuel Brooks who married Jane Matthews in Lawrence County on 3 August 1835 (see Lawrence County, Alabama, Marriage Bk. B, p. 146), then Samuel had been married prior to his marriage to Mary Ann Puckett. Lawrence County loose-papers marriage records show Samuel Brooks receiving license for this marriage on 31 July 1835, and on 3 August Rev. John R. Young performed the marriage. James Brooks, brother of Thomas Madison Brooks, had a son Samuel, but that Samuel was born in 1821 and would have been too young to marry in 1835. If Samuel K. Brooks, son of Thomas, married Jane Matthews in 1835, it seems to me likely that Jane died not long after the marriage.

[11] The license and marriage for Alexander’s marriage to Carolina are on file in Lawrence County’s loose-papers marriage files, showing that Alexander M. Brooks received license on 1 July to marry Carolina Puckett and the couple were married the following day by Methodist minister Moses Stroude Morris.

[12] 1850 federal census, El Dorado County, California, Dutch Creek, p. 431B (dwelling 6, household 7, 28 November).

[13] Lawrence County, Alabama, loose court case files, box 291, folder 85 (Probate Court, 1838).

[14] In addition to the documents in Thomas Brooks’s loose-papers estate file, see also Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 369.

[15] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 383.  

[16] Ibid., p. 397.

[17] U.S. Bureau of Land Management General Land Office, Alabama Tract Bk. 303, pp. 5-6; Patent Bk. 128, p. 209 and Bk. 135, p. 191.

[18] Morgan County, Alabama, Deed Bk. C, pp. 265, 130-1. James Patterson proved his deed the same day and it was recorded 5 September 1835. Houston and Cowan and their wives proved their deed on 20 January 1836 and it was recorded 9 February. The day before Patterson sold his piece of land to Matthew C. Houston, he sold an adjoining tract to Robert M. Johnson of Morgan County (ibid., pp. 154-5). This deed is one of many records showing Thomas Brooks living in the vicinity of and interacting with the Johnson family for whom Johnson Chapel Methodist church, in which cemetery I think Thomas Brooks and wife Sarah are buried, is named.

[19] Ibid., pp. 527-8. The Houstons proved the deed the same day and it was recorded on that day.

[20] See Lucile Gibson Pleasants, “Chappell and Malone Families,” William and Mary Quarterly 9,4 (October 1929), pp. 318-322.

[21] Morgan County, Alabama, Deed Bk. E, p. 373.

[22] Itawamba County, Mississippi, Abstract Bk. 18, p. 600, Bk. 20, p. 43.

[23] Alabama Civil Register of County Officials, vol. 2 (1832-1844), p. 253.

[24] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 384.

[25] Charles Brooks and his family appear on the 1841 Mississippi state census, Itawamba County, p. 13.

[26] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 5, p. 390.  

[27] Ibid., p. 391-2.

[28] See William Garrett, Reminiscences of Public Men in Alabama (Atlanta: Plantation Publ. Co., 1872), pp. 222-3.

[29] See Find a Grave memorial page for Col. John Milton McClanahan Sr., Prospect cemetery, Lee County, Texas, created by A. Pearson, who has uploaded a photo of him to this site.

[30] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 9, p. 350.

[31] Ibid., pp. 361-2.

[32] Ibid., p. 392).

[33] Morgan County, Alabama, Final Probate Record Bk. 11, pp. 226-9.

[34] Morgan County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. 10, p. 232.

[35] Ibid., p. 283.

[36] John Knox, A History of Morgan County, Alabama (Decatur: Decatur Printing Co., 1967), pp. 123-4.  

One thought on “Thomas Madison Brooks (1775-1838) and Wife Sarah Whitlock (1774-1837): Alabama Years, 1836-1838

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