Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747-1805): Wythe County, Virginia Years, 1793-1805 — Brief Addendum

Not too long after Thomas Brooks bought this piece of land, he made his will on 4 November 1804, and it was proven at court on 12 February 1805.[2] The first stipulation of Thomas’s will states, I devise that the land I live on may be sold after my decease.” Thomas leaves to his wife Margaret the estate’s movable property but not his land. His will states that “the plantation tools [are] to be equally divided between Robt. and Jesse Brooks,” and it makes Margaret, Robert, and Jesse his executrix and executors.

The will makes no provision for where Margaret is to live following Thomas’s death — presumably with Jesse or Robert, who were the only sons of age still living in Wythe County when their father died. Their older brothers Thomas and James had moved to Kentucky, and the youngest son, John, was not of age when his father died. As my previous posting indicates, the last record I’ve found of Margaret is the 8 October 1805 court record in Wythe County showing her and sons Jesse and Robert returning an inventory of Thomas Brooks’s estate to Wythe Court on that date.[3] Her sons Jesse and Robert are enumerated on the 1805 tax list as heads of separate households. Robert (born 8 November 1780) had married Rachel, daughter of George Adkins/Atkins, in Wythe County on 4 April 1804. I have not found a marriage record for Jesse (born 23 September 1784), but think it’s likely he, too, had married by 1805. 

Though Thomas Brooks’s will stipulates that his land — and I think the 300 acres he bought from the Herberts in 1804 were the sum total of his Wythe County landholdings — was to be sold, I have found no deed record showing how that piece of land was disposed of. Since posting my previous piece about Thomas and his Wythe County records, I’ve done more digging in Wythe County court minutes in the period following Thomas’s death, to see if I could hunt up information about what became of this land. The following is what I have found:

13 September 1808: read carefully the deed for Thomas Brooks’s 13 February 1804 land purchase (a digital image is at the previous posting), and you’ll see at the end of the document that it states two of the witnesses, James Newell and John Evans, proved the deed at February court, and then the court “ordered to be continued for further proof at September court 1808,” at which point the other witness, Robert Sanders Jr., gave his oath and the deed was fully proven and recorded. 

This was three years after Thomas died and after Margaret had last shown up in Wythe County records. Had she died by this date? And why was the deed not fully proven and recorded for three years?

On 13 September 1808, Wythe County court minutes say that an “indenture of Bargain and Sale from Thomas Herbert to Thomas Brooks was Exhibited in Court and having Been heretofore Proved by two witneſses was fully proved by the Oath of Robert Sanders Junr. a subscribing witneſs thereto and ordered to be Recorded.”[4] A digital image of this court entry is at the head of this posting.

Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1805-1808, 14 September 1808, p. 336

14 September 1808: Wythe court minutes state that John Foster through his attorney Andrew McHenry had requested an injunction against Jesse and Robert Brooks as executors of Thomas Brooks from putting the estate of Ezekiel Harland “out of their hands” without explicit court order. The court granted Foster’s request for the injunction and David Peirce gave bond with Foster in this legal action.[5]

In a moment, I’ll share a subsequent court entry that casts light on this one and on Foster’s reason for an injunction, and which also identifies Ezekiel Harland/Harlan. For now, note that Margaret is not named as executrix in this 1808 court record. In my view, she likely had died between the filing of Thomas Brooks’s inventory in October 1805 and this September 1808 court document.

Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1809-1812, 11 September 1810, p. 153

11 September 1810: after stating that Archibald Hasling had been appointed to view the road from Evans’s ferry to Poplar Camp furnace in room of Jesse Brooks, court minutes say that in the case of John Foster v. Jesse Brooks executor and others, Foster had requested that David Peirce now be made a defendant in this case and that the court restrain him from paying any money in his hands to defendants Ezekiel Harland and Robert Brooks without a court order.[6]

If David Peirce had been made a defendant in this suit — evidently in place of Jesse Brooks, who was moving from Wythe County to Wayne County, Kentucky, hence his removal from his position as road viewer — then this is obviously an injunction against permitting Peirce as representative of Jesse Brooks in his execution of Thomas Brooks’s estate to pay Ezekiel Harland/Harlan and Robert Brooks out of Thomas Brooks’s estate.

The biography of Jesse’s son James Brooks in a history of Mount Tabor Baptist church in Barren County, Kentucky, states that James’s parents moved from Wythe County, Virginia, to Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1809 and lived in Wayne ten years before moving to Barren, near Cave Springs.[7] Jesse Brooks is enumerated in Wythe County on the 1810 federal census, but no male of his age is listed in the household, which must indicate, I think, that his wife and children had remained for a short time in Wythe County as he made preparations to move them with him to Kentucky.[8] I find Jesse on Wayne County tax lists starting in 1811 and for some years after that before he moved to Barren County. Note that the biography of his son James in the history of Mount Tabor Baptist church indicates that Jesse had married prior to moving to Kentucky in 1809.

Following the preceding 11 September 1810 court entry about David Peirce being made defendant in John Foster’s case against Thomas Brooks’s executors, court minutes state that in the case of Thomas and John Foster v. Ezekiel Harland and others, an order of publication had been issued to Harland to appear in court in December — but as I’ll note in a moment, it appears that by 1810, Harland had moved with his family to Grayson County, Kentucky. This was evidently a case of debt against Ezekiel Harland/Harlan in which John Foster was seeking to garnish Harlan’s share of the estate of Thomas Brooks as Harlan made plans to move out of state. 

Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1809-1812, 15 November 1810, p. 164

15 November 1810: court minutes have an entry noting the case of John Foster v. James Brooks, Ezekiel Harland, Robert Brooks, and Jesse Brooks, executors of Thomas Brooks, stating that the case was in chancery court. Court minutes state that the court hard ordered that Robert and Jesse Brooks, executors of Thomas Brooks, pay Foster the money in their hands as executors due to Ezekiel Harland as a legatee of Thomas Brooks.[9]

This court entry tells us two things: 1) Ezekiel Harland/Harlan was husband of Thomas Brooks’s daughter Susanna, who is named in his will as Susanna Harland; 2) and John Foster was, it appears, suing Ezekiel Harland/Harlan for debt and seeking to claim Harlan’s portion of his wife’s inheritance from Thomas Brooks to satisfy the debt he claimed Harlan owed him. Meanwhile, the 1810 tax lists in Grayson County, Kentucky, as well as the 1810 federal census for that county tell us that Ezekiel Harlan had moved to Kentucky by 1810. Robert Brooks had apparently also left Wythe County by this time for Kentucky, then Tennessee, and finally Indiana — and this may be why John Foster was seeking to have the court declare David Peirce the defendant in this case. Perhaps Jesse and Robert Brooks had left the management of the business affairs of their father’s estate in his hands when they left Wythe County.

John Foster was son of Thomas Foster who was mentioned several times in the previous posting, who bought land on 10 May 1799 from Thomas and Sarah Herbert adjoining Thomas Brooks’s land. The previous posting also mentions David Peirce several times, noting he was one of those appointed by Wythe County court to appraise Thomas Brooks’s estate, though it appears that he was not in the group who ended up doing the appraisal. In her Early Adventurers on the Western Waters, Mary B. Kegley states that Thomas Herbert began selling his land in Wythe County in 1794, with Jesse Evans purchasing their Poplar Camp tract of 500 acres in 1797 and in 1811, another 1,000 acres on the river and 200 acres of the forget tract. Kegley notes that other buyers of pieces of the Herberts’ land were Thomas Foster, Thomas Brooks, John Thomas, and Abner Sayers (vol. 3, pt. 1, p. 285).

She also states that in 1807, the Herberts deeded 590 acres at Poplar Camp furnace to David Peirce, with Peirce receiving a half interest in the land and a third interest in the Poplar Camp furnace (ibid. — see also p. 326, discussing in detail Peirce’s land holdings along Poplar Camp Creek, 1807-1817). I wonder if the ultimate objective of Foster’s lawsuit against Thomas Brooks’s heirs was to stop the settlement of Thomas Brooks’s estate, which would have paid Ezekiel Harlan, until Harlan had satisfied his debt to Foster, and if Thomas Brooks’s landholdings somehow ended up in David Peirce’s hands — hence my inability to find a deed in Wythe County showing Thomas’s executors, sons Jesse and Robert, selling the land.

As well as I can determine, the first order book for Wythe County chancery court starts with 1812 cases, and in the index to this order book, I find no mention of John Foster’s case against the executors of Thomas Brooks. 

[1] Wythe County, Virginia, Deed Bk. 5, pp. 67-9.

[2] Wythe County, Virginia, Will Bk. 1, pp. 308-9; and Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1801-5, p. 439.

[3] Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1801-5, p. 540.

[4] Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1805-1808, 13 September 1808, p. 330.

[5] Ibid., 14 September 1808, p. 336.

[6] Ibid., Bk. 1809-1812, 11 September 1810, p. 153.

[7] South Central Kentucky Historical and Genealogical Society, The History of Mount Tabor Baptist Church: Oldest Church in Barren County (Glasgow: South Central Kentucky Hist. and Geneal. Soc., 1988), p. 28.

[8] 1810 federal census, Wythe County, Kentucky, p. 273.

[9] Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1809-1812, 15 November 1810, p. 164.

2 thoughts on “Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747-1805): Wythe County, Virginia Years, 1793-1805 — Brief Addendum

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