Children of James Brooks (1772 – 1835) and Wife Nancy Isbell: Godfrey Isbell Brooks (1804-1826) and Thomas R. Brooks (1807-1880)

As I share information about the family of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell, I also want to recommend to you once again the great book tracing this family published by George A. O’Reilly in 2019, The History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama. George is a descendant of James and Nancy and has done exhaustive and careful research on their family. I don’t know if George is still selling copies of this book, but in case he is and any readers are interested in contacting him, contact information is in the footnote below.[1] My account of James and Nancy’s children will be relying on George’s book and the research it publishes. 

James Brooks and Nancy Isbell had the following children — once again, note that my source for their names and dates of birth is the family bible discussed above:

Godfrey Isbell Brooks (1804-1826)

1. Godfrey Isbell Brooks was born 24 December 1804 in Wayne County, Kentucky, and died between 5 April and 12 September 1826 in Lawrence County, Alabama. On 18 October 1822 in Lawrence County, he married Jane White, daughter of Robert Macklin White. Godfrey’s date of death can be determined by two dates, a terminus a quo and terminus ad quem: on 5 April 1826, he gave bond with his brother Thomas R. Brooks for Thomas’s marriage to Cassandra, daughter of Evan Todhunter/Hunter; and on 12 September 1826, Godfrey’s widow Jane relinquished administration of his estate to her father Robert M. White.[2]

Lawrence County, Alabama, loose court files, box 154, folders 42-43, Lawrence County Circuit Court cases 100, 108, and 555

Two loose-papers Lawrence County circuit court files provide information about Godfrey in the final years of his life.[3] On 3 August 1824, he was involved in an affray, a public fight, with Joseph H. Walker in Lawrence County, and was charged by the court for this on 24 September 1824. A warrant for Godfrey’s arrest was issued on that date.

On 4 January 1825, Godfrey gave bail bond with his father-in-law Robert M. White, and on 16 March 1825, the court found Godfrey and John Gragg guilty of assaulting Walker and fined the two men. John Gragg was, I think, a relative of Jane White Brooks’s step-mother Jane Gregg/Gragg.

George A. O’Reilly summarizes Godfrey Isbell Brooks’s estate records,[4] and indicates that following Godfrey’s death, his widow Jane and their children lived with Jane’s father Robert M. White, moving to Lafayette (later Johnson) County, Missouri, in the late 1830s to join Robert White after he moved there, and then moving to Hill County, Texas, between 1850 and 1860. Jane’s father Robert M. White also ended up in Texas and is buried in Shiloh cemetery at Ovilla in Ellis County along with Jane White Brooks.[5]

Tombstone of Jane White Brooks, Find a Grave memorial page of Jane Brooks, Shiloh cemetery, Ovilla, Ellis County, Texas, created by Geno-seeker, tombstone photo by Ray Gatewood

I don’t have information about where Godfrey is buried and have not found tombstone information. As I’ve just stated, his widow Jane White Brooks is buried in Shiloh cemetery at Ovilla in Ellis County, Texas. Her tombstone states that she was born 26 April 1806 and died 28 July 1876.[6] According to George A. O’Reilly, Jane was born in Lincoln County, Tennessee.[7]

The children of Godfrey Isbell Brooks and Jane White were (all with surname Brooks — and note that George A. O’Reilly, whose book is footnoted here, has much more information about these children and their families):[8]

a. Eleanor Angelina (born 1824, Lawrence County, Alabama; died November 1859, Travis County, Texas; married William Thornbrough Horne, 22 January 1845 at Lone Jack, Jackson County, Missouri).

b. Elizabeth Jane (born 1825, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 7 January 1854, Travis County, Texas; married John Angus McLaurin, 2 March 1853, Travis County, Texas).

c. Hannah Catherine (born 19 December 1826, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 15 November 1874, at Woodbury, Hill County, Texas; married Malcolm Gilchrist Horne, 25 April 1847, Van Buren County, Missouri).

Thomas R. Brooks (1807-1880)

2. Thomas R. Brooks was born 25 February 1807 in Warren County, Tennessee, and died in July 1880 between the 18th and 24th days of that month at Oakville in Lawrence County, Alabama.[9] As the previous posting states, the 1850 federal census places Thomas’s birth in Kentucky, but the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses all report him born in Tennessee.[10] I suspect that Tennessee is the correct birthplace for Thomas R. Brooks, and that his parents had moved to Warren County, Tennessee, by the time he was born to join Nancy’s father Godfrey Isbell there. In the following account I’m going to give you of Thomas’s life up to his death, I’ll be providing only a bare outline. Again, I’d like to note George A. O’Reilly’s outstanding research on the James Brooks-Nancy Isbell family; George provides a wealth of information about their son Thomas and his descendants.[11]

Marriage bond for Thomas R. Brooks’s marriage to Cassandra Hunter, from loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County

As noted above, on 5 April 1826 in Lawrence County, Thomas R. Brooks gave bond with his brother Godfrey I. Brooks to marry married Cassandra Hunter, daughter of Evan Todhunter/Hunter.[12] The couple married the following day.[13] The Todhunter/Hunter family and its multiple ties to the interconnected Lindsey and Brooks families of Lawrence and Morgan Counties, Alabama, has been discussed in previous postings. I’ve just linked the initial discussion of the family; you’ll find more Todhunter/Hunter postings discussing this family if you click the tags below that have this surname.

As we’ll see later, Thomas R. Brooks’s brother Johnson H. Brooks married Cassandra’s sister Elizabeth Hunter, and an older sister of Cassandra and Elizabeth, their sister Mary, married Jacob Garner, whose mother Sarah Hollingsworth Garner was a first cousin of James Brooks. In addition, John T. Hunter, another sibling of Mary, Cassandra, and Elizabeth Hunter, had a daughter, Mary Jane who married Samuel Asbury Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, and a son William, who married Samuel’s sister Margaret Tranquilla Lindsey. Jane Brooks Lindsey was a niece of James Brooks. A letter Samuel A. Lindsey sent to Margaret Elizabeth Brooks, a daughter of Thomas R. Brooks and Cassandra Hunter, on 24 October 1847 from the Mexican-American war, has been discussed in a previous posting.

Cassandra Hunter died prior to 17 October 1835, when Thomas applied in Lawrence County for a license to marry his next wife Sirena Shannon. Cassandra was still living in 1832 when she gave birth to a daughter Mary, who was born in that year and whose year of birth we know from the 1850 federal census, when she’s enumerated in Thomas and Sirena Brooks’s household as a daughter.[14]

Note: I’m pretty sure now that the Mary Brooks enumerated in Thomas R. Brooks’s household on the 1850 federal census was not Thomas’s daughter but his sister Mary Ann, who was born in 1832, according to the Brooks family bible. On this, see this subsequent posting.

Thomas R. Brooks’s license to marry Sirena Shannon, from loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County

As I’ve just noted, on 17 October in Lawrence County, Thomas R. Brooks received license to marry Sirena Shannon, and the couple married the following day on the 18th, according to the Lawrence County marriage record.[15] The couple were married by Reverend Moses Stroude Morris, a Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of Thomas J. Brooks’s brother James Irwin Brooks to Mary Jane Lindsey, daughter of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, on 25 February 1840, and also at the marriages of Mary Jane’s siblings John Wesley Lindsey (to Margaret S. Gibson), Sarah Brooks Lindsey (to James B. Speake), and Mark Jefferson Lindsey (to Mary Ann Harrison).

The bible of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell that passed to their son James Irwin Brooks (or, as noted previously, perhaps it belonged originally to the son, who might have copied the register from his parents’ bible into his own family bible) records the marriage of Thomas R. Brooks to Sirena Shannon, stating that the couple married on 20 October 1835. This is the only one of Thomas’s three marriages recorded in this bible register, and the only marriage of a sibling of James Irwin Brooks found in the register.

As the last posting indicates, on 21 October 1835, Thomas R. Brooks was appointed administrator of the estate of his father James Brooks in Lawrence County.[16] The posting I’ve just linked documents Thomas’s administration of his father’s estate up to the final settlement in 1838.  

In addition to the information provided by the 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 federal censuses about Thomas and his family (these have been previously cited),[17] the following data points from my research notes about his life augmented by information from George A. O’Reilly’s book are worth listing:

• 8 December 1848: was appointed by Lawrence County court to be guardian of William W. Callaway, son of Jabez Callaway.[18]

• 1850 (spring): Thomas was a petit juror in Lawrence County’s circuit court in its spring term. The jury list states that Thomas R. Brooks was a planter at Oakville.[19]

• 22 April 1850: Thomas and wife Sirena (her name is spelled Serrona in this document) sold Thomas Simms 240 acres in Lawrence County, the southeast ¼ of section 18, township 7, range 6 west.[20] In noting this deed, George A. O’Reilly says he has found no information about how Thomas obtained this land, since the deed notes that she freely renounced any claim to the land she had as it was sold.[21]

• 17 May 1850: Thomas R. Brooks gave security for his brother-in-law Fielding Wesley Lindsey (who married Thomas’s sister Clarissa) when Wesley Lindsey was made a constable in Lawrence County.[22] The other bondsman was William McNutt, whose son George Washington McNutt married Thomas’s daughter Margaret Elizabeth Brooks in Lawrence County on 11 November 1847, and whose son James M. McNutt married Thomas’s daughter Hannah Jane Brooks on or shortly after 8 October 1851 in Lawrence County.[23]

• 1850: Thomas appears on the federal agricultural schedule in Lawrence County with 160 acres of improved land and 320 acres of unimproved land.[24] The 1850 federal slave schedule for Lawrence County shows Thomas with three enslaved people in the county’s 8th district.[25]

Thomas R. Brooks’s appointment as overseer of poor, Shoals Creek beat, Lawrence County, Alabama, Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 273, folder 61

• On 15 February 1853, Thomas was appointed by Lawrence County probate court as overseer of the poor in Shoals Creek beat.[26] The probate court issued an order of for the appointment at February term 1853, and the order was executed on 15 February. 

• March-October 1853: Thomas appears in the Lawrence County circuit court case file of State of Alabama vs. John Burks, Henry L. Crowley, T.R. Brooks.[27] The file contains a March 1853 indictment against Crowley stating that on 7 March 1853, Crowley had bitten Burks’s ear off in an affray. On 10 September 1853, a subpoena was issued to Darius Lynch, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Vaughan, Henry S. Cowan, and James Jackson to testify on behalf of Burks. A 6 October 1853 order to the sheriff in the file shows the court finding against Burks, with the sheriff ordered to appropriate property values at $43 from Burks, Brooks, and Cowan.

• 28 June 1853: a deed registered in Morgan County, Alabama, states that a judgment made in the county’s chancery court in June 1851 had divested the title of the heirs of Jabez Callaway (the name is spelled Calloway here) in certain land of Jabez’s estate, and the land belonged to Henry and Elizabeth Grizzard. This document notes that Thomas Brooks was the guardian of William and Martha Calloway (now wife of James O.J. Smith).[28]

• 16 February 1854: Thomas’s second wife Sirena Shannon Brooks died, according to the register of the James Brooks bible.

Thomas R. Brooks bond and license for marriage to Vinetta Jobe, from loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County

• 3 October 1854: Thomas married his third wife Vinetta Jobe in Lawrence County after having given bond with Henry W. Warren and received license the preceding day for the marriage.[29] Rev. Anson Putman solemnized the marriage. Putman was a Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of Thomas’s brother Johnson H. Brooks to Olive Gibson on 29 July 1858.[30] The marriage documents give Vinetta’s surname as Job, but the usual spelling in Lawrence County was Jobe. Her parents William and Elizabeth Jobe are buried in the Jobe cemetery in Lawrence County with his tombstone stating that he was born 12 November 1775 and died 16 June 1848, and hers stating that she was born 13 March 1796 and died 22 September 1859.[31]

Bond of Thomas R. Brooks in Lawrence County, Alabama, circuit court case 2244, loose-papers court files, box 56, folder 40

• March 1859: Thomas was indicted by Lawrence County’s circuit court on a charge of assault on battery against Wyatt Hawkins.[32] The case file shows the grand jury charging Thomas at its spring term 1859 with assaulting Hawkins with a stick on 20 December 1858. Thomas gave bond with James M. Warren on 29 June 1859. I don’t find any indication in the court case file of what kind of judgment was rendered or whether Thomas was found guilty.

• 1860: Thomas appears on the federal agricultural schedule in Lawrence County’s southern district, Moulton post office, with 100 acres of improved land and 220 unimproved.[33] This document shows him farming with livestock including cattle, sheep, hogs, working oxen, milk cows, and horses, and with crops including wheat, corn, cotton, peas and beans, and Irish and sweet potatoes. The 1860 federal slave schedule for Lawrence County shows Thomas holding six enslaved persons.[34]

• December 1863: T.R. Brooks was a member of the special Commissioners Court in Lawrence County formed by the state to assist families of Confederate soldiers.[35]

• 7 January 1865: Thomas and wife Vinetta sold 300 acres in Lawrence County to Thomas’s brother Johnson H. Brooks, for a price of $1,500. The land was in section 33, township 6, range 6. [36]

• 1 May 1877: in a letter to her sister Margaret Lindsey Hunter in Red River Parish, Louisiana, of Sarah Brooks Lindsey Speake of Lawrence County tells Margaret that Cousin Tom Brooks was living at Oakville, and had Nan Brooks’s children living with him. This letter has been previously discussed, and a digital image of a transcript of it provided. Nan Brooks was Thomas’s daughter Nancy Caroline Brooks, a daughter of Thomas by wife Sirena Shannon. She had married Edward Jones Bracken in Lawrence County on 4 January 1859, and had died prior to 1877. The 1880 federal census shows Thomas with their children Roman, Josey, Itasca, Edmond, and Maggie Bracken living in his household.[37] Again, it can be noted that Sarah Lindsey Speake and Margaret Lindsey Hunter were daughters of Thomas Brooks’s first cousin Jane Brooks Lindsey.

• 16 April 1880: Thomas deeded land in section 33, township 6, range 6 west of Lawrence County to the Methodist Episcopal Church.[38] According to George O’Reilly, the church located on this land was Antioch Methodist church, and is now defunct.[39] As noted in a previous posting, Sarah Lindsey Speake’s 1 May 1877 letter to her sister Margaret Lindsey Hunter also states that Cousin Jim Brooks, Thomas’s brother James Irwin Brooks, was living near Antioch church in 1977.

• 29 July 1880: the Moulton Advertiser published a death notice for Thomas, stating that he had died near Oakville during the preceding week, was one of the county’s oldest citizens, and had been a good man.[40] The 29th was Thursday in 1880, so this places Thomas’s death between the 18th and 24th of July 1880. I have not found burial information for him. 

Thomas R. Brooks’s children by wives Cassandra Hunter, Sirena Shannon, and Vinetta Jobe are as follows (all surname Brooks) — and, once again, if you want more information than the skeleton outline I’m providing here, George A. O’Reilly’s book on the James Brooks family has scads more information about these folks:[41]

Thomas R. Brooks’s children by wife Cassandra Hunter:

Tombstone of Margaret Elizabeth Brooks McNutt, at her Find a Grave memorial page, Bald Knob cemetery, Five Points, Lawrence County, Alabama, created by Kelly Lee-McNutt, with photo by Kelly Lee-McNutt

a. Margaret Elizabeth (born about 1827, Lawrence County, Alabama; died about 1853, Lawrence County; married George Washington McNutt, son of William McNutt, 11 November 1847, Lawrence County; buried in Bald Knob cemetery, Lawrence County, with George and his second wife Nancy Beaty with a tombstone for all three placed following Nancy’s death in 1916).

James M. McNutt bond for marriage to Hannah Jane Brooks, from loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County

b. Hannah Jane (born about 1828, Lawrence County, Alabama; died after 1860, probably in Arkansas County, Arkansas; married James M., son of William McNutt, on or shortly after 8 October 1851, Lawrence County, when James gave bond for the marriage).

c. James (born about 1829, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 1850-1860, probably in Lawrence County). 

d. Mary (born about 1832, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 1850-1860, probably in Lawrence County). 

Note: I’m now pretty certain that the Mary Brooks enumerated in Thomas’s household on the 1850 federal census was his sister Mary Ann and not his daughter. On this, see supra.

Thomas R. Brooks’s children by wife Sirena Shannon:

e. Alexander Johnson (born 20 December 1836, Lawrence County, Alabama; married Ann Elizabeth, daughter of John Marshall and Susan Moody, 28 January 1862, Lawrence County; according to George A. O’Reilly, died as a Civil War soldier, 1862-5).[42]

f. Nancy Caroline (born about 1837, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 1872-1877, Lawrence County; married Edward Jones Bracken, son of Edward Bracken and Sarah Rhodes, 4 January 1859, Lawrence County).

g. Richard (born about 1839, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 1850-1860, Lawrence County).

h. John D. (born 3 September 1842, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 16 April 1873, Lawrence County; married Emeline Elizabeth, daughter of Charner A. Grant and Emily Elizabeth Rhea, 23 December 1869, Lawrence County).

Thomas R. Brooks’s children by wife Vinetta Jobe:

i. Robert P. (born about 1858, Lawrence County, Alabama; died 1860-1870, Lawrence County).

In my next posting, I’ll continue discussing the children of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell, starting with their third child, a daughter Hannah Isbell Brooks.


[1] George A. O’Reilly, The History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama (1500 Trinity Road, Huntsville, Alabama 35802-2779; Oreilly0103@gmail.com). I’m sharing contact information here that George has made public in his book, by the way, and am not disclosing private information — wouldn’t do that.

[2] See O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 37, who states that Godfrey gave security for his brother Thomas’s marriage to Cassandra Hunter in Lawrence County on 5 April 1826. The original marriage bond with Godfrey’s signature and Thomas’s mark is on file in Lawrence County. Jane White Brooks’s relinquishment of administration of Godfrey’s estate on 12 September 1826 is noted in Pauline Jones Gandrud, Alabama Records, vol. 22: Lawrence County (priv. publ., Huntsville, Alabama, ca. 1959), p. 4, which provides no source, but is evidently citing Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. C, p. 100.

[3] Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Court Files, box 154, folders 42-43. The files contain documents from Lawrence County Circuit Court cases 100, 108, and 555, which are summarized in Circuit Court Minute Bk. L, p. 19.

[4] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. C, pp. 100, 113, 168, 164, 188-9.

[5] O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 38-41.

[6] See Find a Grave memorial page of Jane Brooks, Shiloh cemetery, Ovilla, Ellis County, Texas, created by Geno-seeker, with a tombstone photo by Ray Gatewood.

[7] O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 37.

[8] Ibid., pp. 42-96.

[9] See infra, n. 40, on the source for Thomas’s date of death.

[10] 1850 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, district 8, p. 379B (dwelling/family 219; 4 November); 1860 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, southern division, p. 927 (dwelling/family 288; 11 July); 1870 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, Danville post office, p. 45B (dwelling 96/family 96, 24 August); 1880 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 396C (ED 17; dwelling 106/family 105; 8 June).

[11] See O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 97-140.

[12] See supra, n. 2, citing the original marriage bond found in the loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County.

[13] Lawrence County Orphans Court (Marriage) Bk. A, p. 211.

[14] Mary appears in Thomas and Sirena’s (the spelling here is Cyrona) household in Lawrence County in 1850, aged 18: see supra, n. 9. 

[15] A photocopy of the marriage license is in O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 98. The marriage record is in Lawrence County Orphans Court (Marriage) Bk. B, p. 156.

[16] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. E, p. 288.

[17] See supra, n. 9.

[18] See the transcription of the bond given by Thomas on that date with Joel W. Hickey and William Milam in O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 99-100, with no source noted.

[19] The spring 1850 circuit court jury list is transcribed in “Petit Jury for 1850 Term of Circuit Court Given Below,” Moulton Advertiser(14 March 1940), p. 4, col. 4. This Moulton Advertiser article is reproduced “in Old Lawrence Reminiscences 17,4 (December 2003), p. 11.

[20] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. M, pp. 444-5. 

[21] See O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 100-1.

[22] Lawrence County, Alabama, Bond Bk. 1850, unpaginated.

[23] The marriage of George W. McNutt to Margaret Elizabeth Brooks is recorded in Lawrence County Orphans Court (Marriage) Bk. C, p. 228. The original bond given by James W. McNutt on 8 October 1851 to marry Hannah Jane Brooks is in the loose-paper marriage records of Lawrence County.

[24] See Myra Borden, “Agricultural Schedules, 1840-1910,” Old Lawrence Reminiscences 11,3 (September 1997), p. 68, citing the original federal document.

[25] 1850 federal slave schedule, Lawrence County, Alabama, unpaginated (26 October).

[26] Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 273, folder 61.

[27] Ibid., box 182, folder 9, circuit court case 1852.

[28] Morgan County, Alabama, Deed Bk. G, p. 392.

[29] The bond and minister’s return are in the loose-papers marriage records of Lawrence County. See also Lawrence County, Alabama, Probate Court Record Bk. G, p. 6.

[30] See the wedding announcement in Moulton Democrat (6 August 1858), p. 2, col. 4. On Anson Putman, see Bill Putman, “The Putmans of Navarro County, Texas,” at Bill Putman’s genealogy site.

[31] See Find a Grave memorial pages of William Jobe and Elizabeth Jobe, Jobe cemetery, Lawrence County, Alabama, both maintained by Larry Jordan with tombstone photos by him, both originally created by Warren Glenn.

[32] Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 56, folder 40, circuit court case 2224.

[33] 1860 federal agricultural schedule, Lawrence County, Alabama, southern district, Moulton post office, p. 9.

[34] 1850 federal slave schedule, Lawrence County, Alabama, unpaginated (8 July).

[35] See Spencer A. Waters, Confederate Soldiers of Lawrence County Alabama (Carrollton, Georgia: Thomaston, 1992), p. 15.

[36] Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. D, pp. 396-7.

[37] See supra, n. 9.

[38] Lawrence County, Alabama, Deed Bk. S, p. 371.

[39] O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 107.

[40] Moulton Advertiser (29 July 1880), p. 3, col. 1.

[41] O’Reilly, History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 109-140.

[42] Ibid., p. 125.

5 thoughts on “Children of James Brooks (1772 – 1835) and Wife Nancy Isbell: Godfrey Isbell Brooks (1804-1826) and Thomas R. Brooks (1807-1880)

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