Children of Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747 – 1805) and Wife Margaret: Robert Brooks (1780 – 1847)

Wythe County, Virginia, Years

As the posting I have just linked indicates, when Robert Brooks first appears on the tax list in Wythe County, Virginia, in 1803, he does so along with his brother Jesse, and both are taxed in the same district in which their father Thomas Brooks is taxed. Robert, Jesse, and their father Thomas appear again on the 1804 tax list in Wythe County, all taxed on 31 March in the same district, with Thomas taxed for four horses, Jesse for three, and Robert for two.[5]

Wythe County, Virginia, marriage records show Robert Brooks marrying Rachel Adkins in that county on or about 4 April 1804, with Methodist minister Daniel Lockett returning the marriage to the county court on 6 April or so it seems — as Mary B. Kegley notes, Lockett was “not too particular in recording the exact dates of the marriages he performed and on many occasions when he submitted his list to the Clerk of the Court the only date given was the date the last was submitted.”[6] Note that Robert’s brothers James and Thomas were also Methodists in their adult life, with Thomas being a Methodist minister from March 1826 forward, the point at which he filed his credentials as a minister in Wayne County, Kentucky.[7]

As a previous posting notes, the will of Robert Brooks’s father Thomas Brooks, which he made on 4 November 1804 in Wythe County, names Robert as an executor, along with his brother Jesse and their mother Margaret.[8] It appears that Robert and Jesse were the only sons of age still living in Wythe County when their father died. 

On 12 February 1805, Margaret, Robert, and Jesse proved Thomas Brooks’s will in Wythe court and gave bond in the amount of $1,000 for execution of the will with John Jenkins and John Folks Jr.[9] On 8 October 1805, Margaret, Jesse, and Robert returned an estate inventory to Wythe County court.[10] Court minutes for the same court session state that the three executors (executrix, in Margaret’s case) were summoned by court on that date to shew cause why they should not give counter security to John Jenkins for faithful execution of Thomas Brooks’s will.[11] As the posting I’ve just linked indicates, this question about the bond of the executrix and executors with Jenkins may account for the double recording of the inventory of the estate of Thomas Brooks found in Wythe County records.

On 5 May 1805, Margaret Brooks and son Jesse are enumerated on the Wythe County tax list, with Margaret taxed for no tithables and for three horses, and Jesse taxed for one tithable and two horses. On 24 May, Robert Brooks was taxed in the same district for one tithable and two horses.[12]

Wayne County, Kentucky, Sojourn

By 1806, Robert Brooks drops from the Wythe County tax list, and it’s clear to me that he had left Wythe County for Kentucky by that year. Jesse Brooks is taxed in Wythe County on 28 April, but both Robert and their mother Margaret disappear from the Wythe tax list in 1806 and do not reappear on it after that date. As a previous posting states, I last find mention of Margaret Brooks in Wythe records in the 8 October 1805 estate inventory mentioned above, and think that she either moved from Wythe County to Kentucky after that date with some of her children, or died, evidently before September 1808 (see below on that date). Robert Brooks’s sister Margaret and husband Joseph Day had left Botetourt County, Virginia, for Kentucky in 1804. Another sister, Sarah and husband John Lahue, moved from Wythe County to Ohio (later Grayson) County, Kentucky, in 1806By 1810, not only were Margaret and husband Joseph Day and Sarah and husband John Lahue living in Grayson County, but an Ezekiel Harlan/Harlin who was son of the Ezekiel Harlan who married their sister Susanna was also in Grayson County

Wayne County, Kentucky, personal property tax list, 1806, p. 6, digital copy online at FamilySearch

Proof that Robert Brooks left Wythe County, Virginia, by 1806 is found on the 1806 tax list in Wayne County, Kentucky. In 1806, Robert and his brother James Brooks were taxed along with their brother Thomas in Wayne County on 4 July, all in the same district. Both James and Robert were landless, while Thomas owned 200 acres of land.[13] Robert Brooks had joined his brothers Thomas and James, who had moved from Wythe County to Wayne County, Kentucky, Thomas in 1798 and James in 1803. James first appears on the Wayne County tax list in 1804 (see the posting about Thomas Brooks I’ve just linked), then drops from Wayne tax lists after 1807. Robert is on Wayne tax lists only in 1806 and apparently moved away after that year.

Robert’s obituary in Western Christian Advocate states that he moved to Tennessee before settling for good in Indiana. I have not found records of him in Tennessee, only his listing with his brothers Thomas and James in Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1806, before he begins showing up in Indiana records definitely after 1810 — though it should be noted that, as the next posting indicates, the reported birthplaces of Robert’s children from about 1807 to 1811 may well point to his family’s sojourn in that state in that time frame. He is mentioned several times in Wythe County, Virginia, records after 1806 as one of Thomas Brooks’s executors, but I do not read these records to indicate that he was living in the county at this point. On 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.[14]

On 11 September 1810, Wythe court minutes state that in the case of John Foster v. Jesse Brooks executor and others, Foster had requested that David Peirce 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.[15] The same court minutes state that Jesse had been removed as a road overseer. Jesse drops from the Wythe tax list after 1810. According to a biography of Jesse’s son James, Jesse moved his family from Wythe County, Virginia, to Wayne County, Kentucky, in 1809.[16] Jesse is listed on the 1810 federal census in Wythe County, but his household does not contain a man in Jesse’s age range, an indicator to me that he had gone to Kentucky in preparation to move his family there.[17]

Wythe County court minutes for 15 November 1810 again note 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.[18] Court minutes state that the court had 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. I have not found a chancery case file for this case.

Indiana Years

According to  History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington CountiesIndiana, Robert Brooks was among settlers who came to Pierce township in Washington County “soon after” John Moore squatted there as early as 1806, according to some accounts.[19] Before I discuss the Indiana records I have for Robert, I should note that I have not done exhaustive research on his life in Indiana, and am hampered in doing so now by the fact that digital copies of records for all the counties in which he lived in Indiana are under lock and key at the FamilySearch site. There is probably much more to be found about Robert from the time he arrived in Indiana — shortly after 1806, I suspect. 

On 2 September 1816, while living in Washington County, Indiana Territory, Robert purchased 160 acres of land in what would become Lawrence County, Indiana. This land was the northeast ¼ of section 10, township 5N, range 1E. My information about this land purchase is from notes sent to me in the 1990s by researcher Thelma Brooks Morgan of Stockwell, Indiana, which do not cite a source.[20] On 23 November 1820, Robert assigned this Lawrence County tract to Henry Brown.[21]

“Lawrence County—Her History,” The White River Standard [Bedford, Indiana] (7 June 1855), p. 2, col. 2.

Washington and Lawrence Counties are in southern Indiana not far from the Kentucky border. History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington CountiesIndiana, indicates that Robert was living in Leatherwood township of Orange County, the parent county of Lawrence County, by 1817, when he voted in that township in an election.[22] The same source states that Robert was on the first grand jury in Lawrence County in 1818 and settled by 1820 in Pleasant Run township in the northeast corner of Lawrence County.[23]

On 5 April 1821, Robert acquired more land in Lawrence County. On that date, Hannah Maxwell assigned him another 160 acres in that county, the southwest ¼ of section 24, township 6N, range 1E.[24]

According to a brief biographical statement about Robert in Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana, he settled in Clinton County, Indiana, about 1828, taking up land along the county line, with part of the land being in Lauramie township of Tippecanoe County (note that Clinton County was formed from Tippecanoe in 1830).[25] I’ll say a bit more about this biography (a digital copy of which is at the head of this posting) in a moment. 

Land purchase records show Robert still living in Lawrence County, however, into 1830. On 6 October 1829, he bought 103.2 acres, the west ½ northwest ¼ of section 19, township 21N, range 2W, at the Crawfordsville land office, with his receipt for this purchase stating that he lived in Lawrence County, though the land was in what soon became Clinton County.[26] Robert obtained the certificate for this piece of land on 5 January 1831.[27]

On 4 January 1830, Robert received a certificate for another 160 acres in Lawrence County as assignee of Matthew Dale. The land was the northwest ¼ of section 24, township 6N, range 1E.[28]

Robert was definitely in Clinton County on 4 October 1830 when he purchased 80 acres of land in Tippecanoe County at Crawfordsville land office, since the purchase receipt for the land states that he was living in Clinton County when he bought it.[29] The tract was the west ½ northeast ¼ of section 24, township 21, range 3W. Robert obtained the certificate for this land on 3 January 1831.[30]

On 5 January 1831, the same day that Robert received a certificate for 103.2 acres in Clinton County, as we’ve just seen, he had a certificate for another 102.8 acres, the west ½ northwest ¼ of section 19, township 21N, range 2W.[31] This land, too, was in Clinton County. Robert had bought this land on 6 October 1829 while living in Lawrence County.[32]

According to notes sent to me by researchers Thelma Brooks Morgan and Marilyn Merritt (the latter of Lawrence, Kansas, who sent me her notes in October 1998), Robert laid out the town of Prairieville in Perry township in Clinton County on some of the land for which he had certificates in January 1831. Thelma’s notes state that Prairieville is just south and west of Fickle where Robert and his wife Rachel are buried in Abbott cemetery.

On 26 September 1831, Robert had a certificate from Crawfordsville land office for 80 acres in Tippecanoe County, the west ½ southwest ¼ of section 13, township 21N, range 3W.[33] According to Thelma Brooks Morgan, this land was just east of Clarks Hill in Lauramie township in Tippecanoe County near the Tippecanoe-Clinton county line. 

On 11 July 1836, while living in Tippecanoe County, Robert purchased from Crawfordsville land office 40 acres in Tippecanoe County, the southeast ¼ southeast ¼ of section 14, township 21N, range 3W.[34] The certificate for this land was issued on 10 September 1838.[35]

The research notes Thelma Morgan sent me about Robert Brooks and his family state, 

Robert did not leave a will when he died June 14, 1847. The settlement of his estate in Tippecanoe County was contested because of a debt owed by his son William ‘Doc’ Brooks. The petition stated William had already on several occasions received advancements of land and money, and his father had to pay some of his debts; William had absconded about 1839 to Missouri or elsewhere without returning to see his father.

In the estate settlement of Robert Brooks, on 16 March 1849, John E. Loveless, was named the guardian of Margaret, James, Hiram, and Thomas Brooks, minor heirs of Robert, the children of his son John, who had preceded his father in death. John E. Loveless was their uncle. John Brooks and John Loveless married sisters, who were daughters of one James Anderson and Priscilla House. The Anderson Family were living at Prairieville.

June-August 1848 petition by Robert Brooks’s heirs for probate of his estate, apparently from a probate file held by Tippecanoe County (see the text below on this)

The research notes about Robert Brooks that Marilyn Merritt sent me in 1998 included a 14 June 1848 petition for division of Robert’s estate presented by his heirs to Tippecanoe County court in August 1848 (see the digital images above this paragraph). The research notes do not identify the source of this petition; it appears to be from a probate file held by Tippecanoe County. The petition names the children of Robert Brooks and Rachel Adkins.

The previously cited brief biography of Robert Brooks in Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana is set within a biography of Samuel K. Funk (1843-1903), who married Annie, daughter of William Bell (1814-1875) and Sarah Ann Brooks (1823-1905).[36] The biography notes that William Bell was a pioneer farmer of Lauramie township in Tippecanoe County, and that the parents of his wife Sarah A. Brooks were Robert and Rachel Brooks. The biography states:

William Bell was about twenty-two years of age when he accompanied the family to this locality, in 1836, and four or five years later he was united in marriage to Sarah A., daughter of Robert and Rachel Brooks, the ceremony being performed December 16, 1840. She was a native of Lauramie township, while both of her parents were born in southern states, Virginia or Tennessee, and her paternal grandfather was a native of Ireland. Robert Brooks settled in Clinton county, Indiana, about 1828 or 1830, and took up land along the county line, part of it in Lauramie township, Tippecanoe county, and there his descendants are yet living. Robert Brooks and wife were respected citizens, and were consistent members of the Methodist church. He died at his homestead when about sixty years of age. His children were Margaret, Thomas, William, Millie, Nancy, John, Betsy, Charlotte, Mary, Daniel, Sarah A. and James.

As I noted when I discussed this biography in a previous posting, Sarah Ann Brooks’s paternal grandfather who is said in this source to have been a native of Ireland is Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747-1805). As the posting just linked also notes, a biography of Charles Wesley Brooks (1829-1896), son of Robert Brooks’s brother James, states that Charles was “of English descent.”[37] The posting linked in the first sentence of this paragraph tells you that I have not been able to find information about the roots of this Brooks family prior to its appearance in Frederick County, Virginia, in the latter half of the 1700s, and have not been able to find even the name of Thomas Brooks’s father. I know from the will of Thomas’s mother Mary only that this was her given name, and have not found her maiden surname or information about where this Brooks family was prior to the latter half of the 1700s, when I find the family in Frederick County records.

If the biographical information found in the biographical source transcribed above is correct, it’s possible this Brooks family was in Ireland in the 1740s, and then came to the American colonies, either arriving directly in Virginia or moving there after arriving in another of the colonies. I have found no information that corroborates (or disproves) this, however. And it’s certainly possible for a family of English descent to have emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the colonial period: the Hollingsworth family to which this Brooks family is connected in various ways descends from a Yorkshire, England, Quaker family that had gone to Ireland before leaving for Delaware. As Albert Cook Myers notes in his classic study Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania, 1682-1750 (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Albert Myers Cook, 1902), the majority of “Irish” Quakers arriving in Pennsylvania during the colonial period were in fact English families that had gone to Ireland to escape persecution in England, and who had then moved to the American colonies after a generation or two.

See Find a Grave memorial page of Rachel Adkins Brooks, Abbott cemetery, Fickle, Clinton County, Indiana, created by Thelma Brooks Morgan, maintained by TCHA Research Library, with tombstone photo by SunCacher

Robert Brooks’s wife Rachel Adkins Brooks is buried with him in Abbott cemetery at Fickle in Clinton County, Indiana, with her tombstone stating that she died 21 June 1847, aged 66 years and 8 months.[38] The obituary of Robert Brooks in Western Christian Advocate, cited above, states that the couple joined the Methodist church together.[39]

Note that various online and published family trees give Robert the middle initial H., and I myself have in the past trusted the information of researchers who add that middle initial to his name. But I have found no document giving him this initial, and am going to expunge it from all my records of him, including previous postings here.

Some of those who think Robert had a middle initial H. go further and give him a middle name Hiram. You know what I think of the baffling, maddening habit of many people who post family trees online to add fictional, unproven (because you cannot prove what it not there) middle names to names of people at a point in history when middle names were very uncommon among those of Anglo descent. The name Hiram as Robert’s middle name is a retrojection, I think, of a name given to some of his male descendants. But it’s easy to see that name came to them down another ancestral line than the Brooks line. With online trees, caveat emptor, always.

Finally, one tree after another for this family states that Robert married a second wife (!) a year after he married Rachel Adkins, with that second marriage occurring in Caroline County, Virginia — where Robert never lived. How could a man whose wife was known to be Rachel (see the preceding biography and tombstones) all the way from the time he married her, with a clear record proving the marriage, right up to the point of their burial next to each other in the same cemetery, have possibly married another wife a year after that known wife? I truly don’t get why people do this.

In the next posting, I’ll share information about the children of Robert Brooks and his one and only wife, Rachel Adkins.


[1] Western Christian Advocate 14 (6 August 1847), p. 68. My notes indicate I have read the original, but if so, I did not make a copy of it. Given the discrepancy between the 1780 birthdate the obituary is said to give, and the 1786 birthdate implied on his tombstone, I think it would be worthwhile checking the original — and am doing all I can to obtain a copy. If the original contradicts what I’ve posted here, please look for a correction down the road.

[2] See Find a Grave memorial page of Robert Brooks, Abbot cemetery, Fickle, Clinton County, Indiana, created by Thelma Brooks Morgan, maintained by TCHA Research Library, with a tombstone photo by Thelma Brooks Morgan.

[3] 1830 federal census, Clinton County, Indiana, p. 53; 1840 federal census, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, p. 232.

[4] Wythe County, Virginia, personal property tax list, 1803, unpaginated, digital copy online at FamilySearch.

[5] Ibid., 1804, unpaginated, digital copy online at FamilySearch.

[6] Wythe County, Virginia, Marriage Register 1, p. 24, available digitally at FamilySearch. See Mary B. Kegley Early Adventurers on the Western Waters, vol 3 (Marcelline, Missouri: Walsworth, 1995), p. 306. On Daniel Lockett as a Methodist minister, see R.N. Price, Holston Methodism: From Its Origin to the Present Time, vol. 3 (Nashville: Publishing House of the M.E. Church, South, 1904), p. 157, citing minutes of Holston Methodist conference of east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and northwest North Carolina, 1792. 

[7] Thomas Brooks filed credentials as a Methodist minister in Wayne County, Kentucky, at March court 1826: Wayne County, Kentucky, Court Order Bk. B, p. 68.

[8] Wythe County, Virginia, Will Bk. 1, pp. 308-9.

[9] Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1801-5, p. 439.

[10] Ibid., p. 540.

[11] Ibid., p. 542.

[12] Wythe County, Virginia, personal property tax list, 1805, unpaginated, digital copy online at FamilySearch. 

[13] Wayne County, Kentucky, personal property tax list, 1806, p. 6, digital copy online at FamilySearch

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

[15] Ibid., 1809-1812, p. 153.

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

[17] 1810 federal census, Wythe County, Virginia, p. 273.

[18] Wythe County, Virginia, Court Order Bk. 1809-1812, p. 164.

[19] History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington CountiesIndiana (Chicago: Goodspeed, 1884), p. 695.

[20] See “Thelma Brooks Morgan Family Homepage” at Genealogy.com; and “Thelma Brooks Morgan” member profile at Find a Grave.

[21] Indiana Credit Volume Patent Bk. 53, p. 283.

[22] History of Lawrence, Orange and Washington CountiesIndiana, p. 66.

[23] Ibid., pp. 104, 56. See also History of Lawrence and Monroe Counties, Indiana: Their People, Industries, and Institutions(Indianapolis: Bowen, 1914), p. 59; and “Lawrence County—Her History,” The White River Standard [Bedford, Indiana] (7 June 1855), p. 2, col. 2.

[24] Indiana Credit Volume Patent Bk. 54, p. 34.

[25] Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana, vol. 2 (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), p. 1049.

[26] Indiana Land Office certificate #9199.

[27] Indiana Credit Volume Patent Bk. 50, p. 427.

[28] Ibid., Bk. 86, p. 480.

[29] Indiana Land Office certificate #12088.

[30] Indiana State Volume Patent Bk. 1110, p. 305.

[31] Ibid., Bk. 50, p. 428.

[32] Indiana Land Office certificate #9200.

[33] Indiana State Volume Patent Bk. 1140, p. 263, and Indiana Land Office certificate #13558. 

[34] Indiana Land Office certificate #29590.

[35] Indiana State Volume Patent Bk. 3210, p. 251.

[36] Biographical History of Tippecanoe, White, Jasper, Newton, Benton, Warren and Pulaski Counties, Indiana, vol. 2, p. 1049.

[37] Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans, vol. 3 (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1916), p. 1468.

[38] See Find a Grave memorial page of Rachel Adkins Brooks, Abbott cemetery, Fickle, Clinton County, Indiana, created by Thelma Brooks Morgan, maintained by TCHA Research Library, with tombstone photos by Thelma Brooks Morgan and SunCacher.

[39] See supra, n. 1.

2 thoughts on “Children of Thomas Brooks (abt. 1747 – 1805) and Wife Margaret: Robert Brooks (1780 – 1847)

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