6. Johnson H. Brooks was born 14 August 1815 in Warren County, Tennessee. He died between 16 March 1874, the date on which he made his will in Lawrence County, Alabama, and 2 October 1875, the date on which his widow and second wife, Olive Jane Gibson Brooks, probated the will.
Marriage to Elizabeth Hunter Gailey, 1834
On 21 December 1834 in Lawrence County, Alabama, Johnson H. Brooks married Elizabeth Hunter Gailey, the widow of Godfrey Isbell Gailey. The marriage license on file in the loose-papers marriage files in Lawrence County shows Johnson receiving license for the marriage on 13 December (it also gives Elizabeth’s married surname as Galey, though the commonly used spelling was Gailey). The marriage file has a note by Methodist minister Reverend Elliott Jones stating that he married the couple on the 21st. On Elliott Jones, whose granddaughter Mary Minerva Tuttle was the second wife of Johnson’s brother James Irwin Brooks, and whose grandson Elliott Jones Tuttle married Johnson’s sister Mary Ann Brooks, see the previous posting, which notes the multiple connections of Elliott Jones to the Brooks and Lindsey families in Wayne County, Kentucky, and Lawrence County, Alabama.
Note, too, that Elizabeth Hunter was a daughter of Evan Todhunter, whose daughter Cassandra was the first wife of Johnson H. Brooks’s brother Thomas R. Brooks. Previous postings discuss the many ties between this Todhunter family, which began using the surname Hunter in the generation after Evan Todhunter, and the Brooks and Lindsey families. Those ties include the marriage of Mary Hunter, a sister of Cassandra and Elizabeth, to Jacob Garner, whose mother Sarah Hollingsworth Garner was a first cousin of James Brooks; Sarah’s mother was Mary Brooks Hollingsworth, a sister of James’s father Thomas Brooks. In addition, a niece and nephew of Cassandra, Elizabeth, and Mary Hunter, children of their brother John T. Hunter, married children of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks: William Hunter married Margaret Tranquilla Lindsey, and Mary Jane Hunter married Margaret’s brother Samuel Asbury Lindsey.
Finally, note that Elizabeth Hunter’s first husband Godfrey Isbell Gailey was a first cousin of Johnson H. Brooks. Godfrey Gailey and Elizabeth Hunter married 21 December 1830 in Lawrence County, and Godfrey died two years later in 1832. Godfrey’s mother Martha Isbell, who married Andrew Gailey, was a sister of Johnson’s mother Nancy Isbell Brooks. In May 2020, Hunter research Darrell Hunter sent me the following notes about this family:
Godfrey Galey’s parents were Andrew and Martha (Isbell) Gailey. Martha Isbell Gailey is the sister of Nancy Isbell Brooks, wife of James Brooks. They moved the family from Warren County, Tenn. to Madison County, Mississippi Territory (later Alabama) in 1813, and on to Lawrence County, Alabama before 1820. In the 1830 Lawrence County, AL census, John T. Hunter has a woman living in his home who is not his child or wife. This is most probably Elizabeth Hunter. The census was done in Sept. 1830, and Elizabeth Hunter got married in Dec. 1830. Godfrey Gailey and Thomas R. Brooks are first cousins, and married Hunter sisters.
Several months after his marriage to Elizabeth Hunter Gailey, Johnson H. Brooks was charged by Lawrence County’s circuit court with having assaulted Asa Looney on 14 March 1835, beating Looney with a fist on the side of Looney’s head. The grand jury charge against Brooks on the 3rd Monday in March was that on 14 March, he “did make an assault” on Asa Looney, and “did there beat, abuse, wound and ill-treat” Looney “against the peace and dignity of the state of Alabama.”
Johnson Brooks gave bond on the 16th of March with Anthony Farris. Among those subpoenaed on that day and the next to testify in the case were William Simpson, Meshack Simmons, and Green Thomas. Johnson Brooks was found guilty of assault on Asa Looney on 20 April 1836 and fined for the offense.
Johnson H. Brooks appears again in Lawrence circuit court records in 1838 in a suit of debt he filed against John M. Cummings. The documents in the file indicate that Johnson filed suit in March 1838 after Cummings failed to satisfy a promissory note he had made on 4 March 1837 to Johnson Brooks, and that Brooks himself was indebted to John Gregg and filing suit against Cummings to satisfy his debt to Gregg. The court found in favor of Johnson Brooks. As noted in a previous posting, John Gregg was security for Johnson’s brother Godfrey I. Brooks in an 1825 circuit court case in which Godfrey Brooks was found guilty of assaulting Joseph H. Walker, and Gregg seems to have been a relative of Jane Gragg/Gregg, the step-mother of Godfrey’s second wife Jane White.
On 3 June 1839, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Johnson H. Brooks for assaulting Constable John Kitchens. The warrant states that Brooks had beaten, bitten, and gouged the eye of John Kitchens. On the same day, John Kitchens gave an affidavit to the circuit court that Johnson Brooks had beaten, bitten, and gouged him. On 9 June, Johnson Brooks gave bond with Allen Birdwell, who was then called to testify on 18 September 1839, with Christopher Gibson being called to testify on the 16th.
I do not find information about a verdict in the case file, but it appears likely Johnson Brooks was found guilty. As has been noted previously, John Kitchens was a highly respected member of the local community who was a business partner of Sylvanus Gibson’s son Sylvanus. Two of John Kitchens’s daughters married Lindsey men with Brooks mothers: Martha W. Kitchens married James Dennis Lindsey, son of Fielding Wesley Lindsey and Clarissa Brooks (Johnson H. Brooks’s sister); and Frances Tranquilla Lindsey married William Burke Lindsey, son of David Dinsmore Lindsey and Sarah Brooks, Johnson H. Brooks’s first cousin.
Christopher Gibson is apparently the person of that name who was another son of Reverend Sylvanus Gibson and Mary Orr of Lawrence County — a brother of the younger Sylvanus Gibson who was a business partner of John Kitchens. Christopher Gibson would have been only 14 years old at the time he gave testimony in this case. Margaret S. Gibson, a brother of Christopher, married John Wesley Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks. The link I’ve just provided discusses the Gibson family and includes an engraving of Sylvanus Gibson from Samuel Boykin’s History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia. Johnson Brooks’s second wife Olive Jane Gibson was a cousin of Christopher Gibson.
A Brief Birdwell Excursus
Allen Birdwell (1802-1893) was the son of John Birdwell (1770-1854) and Mary Allen, who had moved from Tennessee to Madison County, Mississippi Territory (later Alabama), by 1808. The couple married in Sullivan County, Tennessee, about 1794-5, then after living there a number of years, moved to Roane and Lincoln Counties, Tennessee, and from there to Madison County, Mississippi Territory, where John Birdwell was among the organizers and the first clerk of Enon Baptist church, which later became Huntsville’s First Baptist church.
By 1818, John Birdwell had moved his family to Lawrence County, where he settled on Flint River in the southeastern part of the county in which the Brooks and Lindsey families lived, and where, on 6 December 1820, an act of the Alabama legislature assigned him to review the course of the Flint in Cotaco (later Morgan) County from its junction with the Tennessee River to its main fork, to see if was navigable. As with the Lindseys and Brooks, the Birdwells lived near the Morgan County border in southeast Lawrence County, and John Birdwell was an elder and constituting member of Hopewell Baptist church near Danville in Morgan County when the church was constituted in December 1824. Sylvanus Gibson pastored Hopewell from 1834 to 1851. In 1842, John and his son Allen B. Birdwell moved from Alabama to Nacogdoches (later Rusk) County, Texas, where Allen represented Rusk County in the state legislature for seven terms.
As Kim Ricketts and Carolyn Murray Greer note in their excellent biography of John Birdwell at their Remembering the Shoals blog, the Isbell and Birdwell families were intermarried. John Birdwell’s daughter Sarah married Levi Isbell, son of William and Sarah Isbell, cousins of the Isbells from whom Johnson H. Brooks descends.
The Birdwell family of Lawrence County has long been on my radar screen for the following reason: two of my great-grandparents are Alexander Cobb Lindsey (1858-1947) and Mary Ann Green (1862-1942) of Red River Parish, Louisiana. Alexander’s father Mark Jefferson Lindsey was a son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks of Lawrence County, Alabama. Mary Ann was the daughter of Ezekiel Samuel Green and Camilla Birdwell. Camilla’s grandfather Moses Birdwell (1769-1849) was a brother of John Birdwell discussed above. In my family tree on my paternal lines, the Lindsey-Brooks families of Lawrence County, Alabama, intersect with the Birdwell family of Lawrence County, after branches of both families had gone from Alabama to northwest Louisiana.
Now Back to Johnson H. Brooks
Johnson Brooks is enumerated as J.H. Brooks on the 1840 federal census in Lawrence County, Alabama, next to his brother Thomas R. Brooks and two houses away from his aunt Jane Brooks Lindsey and her son Mark Jefferson Lindsey. The census indicates that, in addition to the five family members in his household, there are five free persons of color. This is a mistake. For each family on the page, the census taker has listed a figure equal to the number of family members in the column headed “Free Colored Persons.” In each case, the figures of free colored persons match the numbers of household members, making it clear that the census taker has used this column to sum up the number of people in the household being enumerated. Johnson H. Brooks’s household in 1840 contains no enslaved persons. Note that documents discussed in previous postings about Thomas R. Brooks and Dennis and Jane Lindsey indicate that these families were all living in the vicinity of Oakville in southeast Lawrence County at this time.
Lawrence County’s 1848 tax assessment book shows Johnson H. Brooks owning 225 acres of land valued at $600 in district 4, section 28, township 7, range 6 west. This document states that his land was bordered north by Sparks, west by B. Miller, south by C. Gibson, and east by A.B. Crosthwait. Johnson is taxed the following year for the same 225 acres, now identified as the east ½ northwest ¼ of section 28, township 7, range 6 west and the north ½ northeast ¼ of the same coordinates. In this year, Johnson also paid tax on 60 acres in the northwest ¼ of section 27, township 7, range 6 west. Both properties were valued at $600. Johnson was also taxed for a horse valued at $438.
The 1849 tax list shows Johnson listed next to Mark Jefferson Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks (who was Johnson’s first cousin). Mark was farming with his mother Jane Lindsey and was taxed for only 1 poll. Jane Lindsey is on the preceding page of this tax list with 240 acres valued at $960.
Johnson’s family is enumerated on the 1850 federal census in Lawrence County, which lists him as a farmer aged 34, born in Tennessee, with real estate valued at $1,000. His wife Elizabeth, is 39, also born in Tennessee, and in the household are children, Jefferson, 18, Nancy, 14, James, 10, Christopher, 8, and Olley (i.e., Olive), 5, all born in Alabama. Johnson H. Brooks also appears on the 1850 federal agricultural schedule in Lawrence County with 70 acres of improved land and 155 unimproved. Note that though Jefferson is listed as a son of Johnson and Elizabeth Brooks, he’s actually Elizabeth’s son by Godfrey Isbell Gailey.
On 22 April 1850, Johnson H. Brooks and wife Elizabeth Brooks sold his brother Thomas R. Brooks for $500 160 acres of land, the southeast ¼ of section 18, township 7, range 6 west. In notes that he sent me in 2003, researcher George A. O’Reilly told me he had found no record of how Johnson acquired this land, and, since Elizabeth gave consent for the land sale, he thinks this land may have come to her as dower land and then to Johnson when he and Elizabeth married.
On 10 October 1856, Johnson bought from Jonathan and Sarah Orr for $300 80 acres, the east ½ southeast ¼ of section 34, township 6, range 6. Jonathan Orr was a brother to Mary Orr, who married Reverend Sylvanus Gibson, who was discussed above.
At some point between December 1850, when Elizabeth Hunter Brooks gave birth to a daughter whose name is very difficult to read on the 1860 federal census, and 29 July 1858, when Johnson Brooks married Olive Gibson, Elizabeth died. Dorothy Ratledge, a researcher of this family, thinks that the daughter was named Beulah. As George O’Reilly suggests, it’s possible Elizabeth died giving birth to this last daughter, though various researchers place her death in 1856, without citing a source for this information.
Marriage to Olive Jane Gibson, 1858
Lawrence County’s loose-papers marriage files have preserved Johnson H. Brooks’s license to marry Olive Gibson on 29 July 1858, with the license indicating that on that day, Reverend Anson Putman married the couple. The Moulton Democrat published a wedding announcement on 6 August 1858, which stated,
Married – on the 29th of July ult., at the residence of William Gibson, Esq., the bride’s father, by Rev. Anson Putman. Mr. J.H. Brooks and Miss Olive Gibson, all of Lawrence County.
As noted previously, Anson Putman was a Methodist minister who officiated at the wedding of Johnson’s brother Thomas R. Brooks to Vinetta Jobe in October 1854. And as noted above, Olive Gibson was a cousin of the Christopher Gibson who was called to testify in September 1839 at the hearing regarding Johnson Brooks’s assault on Constable John Kitchens. Olive’s parents were William Gibson and Jane Reedy. William was a son of John Gibson and Nancy Jane Orr; John Gibson was a son of Sylvanus Gibson and Eleanor Taylor, parents of Reverend Sylvanus Gibson.
According to a March 2004 article in Old Lawrence Reminiscences, Johnson H. Brooks gave testimony in the fall of 1859 in the circuit court case State of Alabama vs. Marion Cooper. Cooper was indicted by the court’s grand jury at its fall term 1859 for having received a stolen turkey from an enslaved person named Dudley belonging to William B. Irvin. I find no record in the loose-court papers, however, of any witnesses who were called to testify in the trial.
As noted previously, the family of J.H. Brooks is enumerated on the 1860 federal census in Lawrence County’s southwest division at Moulton post office. Johnson’s age is 44, his occupation is farmer, and his birthplace is Tennessee. He has real estate valued at $1,400 and personal property valued at $1,800. Wife Olive is 32, born in Alabama. The household contains children Christopher, 17, Olive,14, the daughter whose name I cannot make out identified as Beulah by Dorothy Ratledge, 11, all born in Alabama, and John W. Brown, 19, born in Tennessee. Johnson is also on the federal agricultural schedule in Lawrence County in 1860 with no land listed, living in the southern district at Moulton post office.
As a previous posting notes, on 7 January 1865, Johnson H. Brooks bought from his brother Thomas and wife Vinetta 300 acres in Lawrence County for $1,500. The land was in section 33, township 6, range 6.
On 3 February 1866, Johnson and wife Olive sold to George Frazier and W.J. Spillman of Lowndes County, Mississippi, for $160 40 acres, the northeast ¼ northeast ¼ of section 33, township 6, range 6 west. The land was near the Shoal Creek ford on the road from Decatur to Moulton. George A. O’Reilly thinks this land may have been dowry land that Olive Jane Gibson brought to her marriage to Johnson H. Brooks, since Olive relinquished dower rights as the land was sold, and there’s no record of Johnson having previously bought this land.
At the fall term of Lawrence County circuit court in 1867, Johnson was again indicted on a charge of assault and battery — in this case, against Sarah Priest (see Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court case files, box 187, folder 65, circuit court case 2505). On 23 December 1867, Johnson gave bond with J.H. McDonald and Henry Clay Speake, son of James B. Speake and Sarah Brooks Lindsey. The case file has no further information except that the grand jury presented a true bill indicting Johnson H. Brooks and a meeting was held “in office” with Sarah Priest on 11 October 1867.
The family of Johnson Brooks is enumerated on the 1870 federal census in Lawrence County in the Dry Creek area of township 6, range 6 west. Johnson (whose name is given as Jno. Brooks) is listed as a farmer aged 55, born in Tennessee, with real estate valued at $1,000 and a personal estate valued at $4,000. His wife Olive is 42 and born in Alabama. In the household are their four children, Isabella J., 10, Robert J., 8, Walter, 6, and Lee V., 3, all born in Alabama.
On 12 January 1872, Johnson and wife Olive Jane sold to S.A. Love for $1,000 some 200 acres in Lawrence County, the east ½ southwest ¼ and west ½ southeast ¼ of section 33, township 6, range 6. The tract included 80 acres Johnson had bought from his brother Thomas in February 1866.
On 16 March 1874, Johnson Brooks wrote his will in Lawrence County. The will bequeathed all his real and personal property to wife Olive Jane, and names his minor children by her as Iberiah J., Robert J., William W., Lee Vallandingham, and Rome Kansas Brooks. The will does not mention the son Walter found in Johnson’s household on the 1870 federal census, though Walter was still living in 1874 and he appears on the 1880 federal census in Lawrence working on the farm of Joseph T. Hunter at Oakville. Joseph Hunter was a grandson of Dickerson Hunter, brother to Johnson H. Brooks’s first wife Elizabeth Hunter.
Johnson H. Brooks’s will appoints Olive Jane executrix, specifying that he also wants his friend F.J. (Franklin Johnson) Troup to assist her in the execution. The will is witnessed by M.W. (Matthew W.) Troup, W.E. Baker, and S.B. Livingston. Franklin Johnson Troup was the son of Matthew W. Troup. The Troup family lived at Danville in Morgan County. S.B. Livingston is Samuel Butler Livingston (1829-1888), son of Samuel and Frances Livingston.
As has been noted above, on 2 October 1875, Olive Brooks presented the will of her deceased husband to Lawrence County’s probate court. The court ordered that the widow’s filing for probate should be advertised publicly, noting that one of Johnson’s sons, James Wesley Brooks, was living in Marshall County, Tennessee, and should be notified. Beginning with 8 October 1875, the Moulton Democrat ran an advertisement for several weeks noting that the will was being probated. The will was then admitted to probate with Darius Lynch being appointed guardian of the minor heirs.
Olive Brooks appears on the 1880 federal census in Lawrence County with children Robert, William, Lee V., and Rome C., and daughter-in-law Rebecca, Robert’s wife. This is the last record of her that researchers have found. Since she is not enumerated on the 1900 federal census, it appears she died between 1880 and 1900. I have not discovered information about where Johnson H. Brooks and his two wives are buried.
In a 5 January 1909 reminiscence in the Moulton Advertiser, Simeon W. Barbee offers his memories of Johnson H. Brooks. Barbee describes Brooks as about 6 feet in height, with a muscular build. According to Barbee, as a young man and into mid-life, Johnson Brooks “exercised a spirit of belligerent activity, but as age advanced, he gave himself up more to the seclusion and spirit of home life upon his little farm near Oakville, ready, however, should he think that occasion justified it, for a ‘spat’ at any time.” Barbee notes that Brooks engaged in so many fights as a young man and had such a “bellicose disposition” that he lost an eye in a fight. He took pride in the fact that others feared him so much they would not challenge him, Barbee says. Barbee also states that Johnson H. Brooks was twice married, first to Mrs. Gailey and second to Ollie Gibson, daughter of William Gibson, a brother to Charles Gibson.
I’m grateful to George A. O’Reilly for transcribing Barbee’s remembrance of Johnson H. Brooks, which appears in two long columns in Moulton Advertiser that are hard to reproduce digitally in a legible form because they are long and narrow. I’ve included a digital image of George O’Reilly’s transcription of the to Moulton Advertiser columns at the head of this posting.
In my next posting, I will provide brief notes about Johnson H. Brooks’s children by wives Elizabeth Hunter (Gailey) and Olive Jane Gibson.
 As with the dates of birth for James Brooks and Nancy Isbell’s other children, my source for Johnson’s date of birth is the Brooks family bible, discussed in this previous posting with digital images of two transcriptions of the bible register.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventories and Wills Bk. C, p. 455; Lawrence County, Alabama, Probate Minute Bk. I, pp. 370-1;
 See the original license and return in loose-papers marriage files of Lawrence County, Alabama.
 See Dorothy Gentry, Life and Legend of Lawrence County, Alabama (Tuscaloosa: Nottingham, 1962), p. 121, citing the original Lawrence County marriage record.
 See Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 98, folder 68; circuit court cases 827 and 764. The case is also documented in Circuit Court Final Record Bk. R, pp. 270, 380-1.
 See Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 103, folder 52; circuit court cases 2623.
 See Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-papers court files, box 102, folder 35, circuit court case 1092.
 Samuel Boykin, History of the Baptist Denomination in Georgia, vol. 2 (Atlanta: Jas. P. Harrison & Co., 1881), p. 225.
 Enon church minutes for 1 June 1811 state that the church authorized Brethrens Watkins, Pruett, Brock, Birdwell, and Powell to view a place for a meeting house: see Mildred B. Bobo and Catherine Ryan Johnson, First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama: First 175 Years (Huntsville: First Baptist Church, 1985).
 See John Knox, History of Morgan County, Alabama (Decatur: Morgan County Board of Revenue and Control, 1967), p. 54.
 Ibid., p. 160; and Josephus Shackelford, History of the Muscle Shoals Baptist Association from 1820 to 1890, a Period of 70 Years with a History of the Churches of the Same and a Biographical Sketch of Its Ministers (Trinity, Alabama; 1891), pp. 169-170.
 See Gwenneth Aeone Marshall Mitchell, The Mitchells of Linn Flat (Austin, Texas; 1981), pp. 184-7, transcribing a 1912 article by Allen’s son George Preston Birdwell entitled “Birdwell Family.”
 1840 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 209.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Tax Assessment Bk. 1848, p. 260.
 Ibid., Bk. 1849, p. 480.
 1850 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, district 8, p. 402 (dwelling/family 528, 21 November).
 See Myra Borden, “Agricultural Schedules, 1840-1910,” Old Lawrence Reminiscences 11,3 September 1997), p. 68.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Deed Bk. M, p. 445. The original deed is preserved in Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-court case files, box 182, folder 85.
 Ibid., Bk. D, p. 395.
 See 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), p. 206, citing Dorothy Ratledge. The J.H. Brooks family appears on the 1860 federal census in Lawrence Countly, Alabama, southwest division, Moulton post office, p. 932 (dwelling/family 320; 13 July). The daughter whose name I cannot make out is listed as 11 years old, though Dorothy Ratledge’s information places her birth in December 1850.
 O’Reilly, The History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 206.
 See the original license and return on file in loose-papers marriage files of Lawrence County, Alabama.
 Moulton Democrat (6 August 1858), p. 2, col. 4.
 See “State vs. Marion Cooper,” Old Lawrence Reminiscences 18,1 (March 2004), p. 13.
 See Lawrence County, Alabama, loose-court case files, box 190, folder 80, circuit court case 2242. The case is also recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, Circuit Court Final Record Bk. N, p. 500.
 See supra, n. 21.
 See Myra Borden, “Agricultural Schedules, 1840-1910,” Old Lawrence Reminiscences 12,4 (December 1998), p. 143, citing p. 11 of the original federal agricultural schedule.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Deed Bk. D, pp. 396-7.
 Ibid., page 577.
 O’Reilly, The History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 209.
 1870 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, Dry Creek post office, township 6, range 6w west, p. 29 (dwelling/family 89; 10 August).
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Deed Bk. K, pp. 263-4.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Probate Court Minute Bk. I, pp. 370-371.
 1880 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, p. 394C (ED 171; dwelling/family 61; 5 June).
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Probate Minute Bk. I, 370-371.
 See Moulton Advertiser (8 October 1875), p. 2, col. 4.
 Lawrence County, Alabama, Inventory and Wills Bk. C, pp. 455-6.
 1880 federal census, Lawrence County, Alabama, Dry Creek post office, p. 394 (dwelling/family 53; 4 June 1880.
 S.W. Barbee, “Old Lawrence Reminiscent,” Moulton Advertiser (5 January 1909), p. 1, col. 3-4.
 O’Reilly, The History of E. James Brooks Family of Lawrence County, Alabama, pp. 203-4.