Children of Thomas Brooks (1775 – 1838) and Wife Sarah Whitlock: Alexander Mackey Brooks (1808-1899) —Wayne County, Kentucky, and Lawrence County, Alabama, Years

Question of Alexander M. Brooks’s Birthdate

This transcription of Alexander’s family bible record is found in a case file of the 1895-7 Brazos County, Texas, case of Mary J. Harriman et al. vs. D.C. Giddings et al.[1] On 1 November 1895, Alexander M. Brooks provided a deposition in this lawsuit, which involved a dispute regarding 6,000 acres of land on the west bank of the Brazos near the mouth of Yagua Creek in Burleson County that had belonged to James Hope, the first husband of Alexander’s second wife, Aletha Sorrells. In his deposition, Alexander states that a family bible in which he himself had recorded entries following his marriage to Aletha Sorrells (Pierce) had a record of his date of birth. Aletha was the widow Pierce when Alexander married her. A portion of the bible transcript was copied and entered into the trial records. It states that Alexander M. Brooks was born in Wayne County, Kentucky, on 8 November 1808.

The deposition of Alexander M. Brooks and other documents from the Harriman vs. Giddings case appear in a manuscripts and documents gathered in a collection by George W. Glass entitled “Hope Family Notes [and] Notes on Aletha Sorrels Hope.” The collection consists of handwritten and typewritten notes of Glass about the Brazos County case, and notes about the family history of Aletha Sorrells, including her five marriages. The manuscript also sketches the history of the Hope family. George William Glass (1924-1976), a genealogist in Houston, was a great-grandson of Mary Jane Moffatt Harriman, one of the plaintiffs in Harriman vs. Giddings. The original typescript and collection of documents that comprise “Hope Family Notes [and] Notes on Aletha Sorrels Hope” are held by Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research in Houston. The collection has been filmed and digitized by the Family History Library of Salt Lake City and is available digitally through the FamilySearch site

Tombstone of Alexander M. Brooks, photo by Grace patterson, at Find a Grave memorial page of Maj. Alexander Mackey Brooks, Magnolia cemetery, Woodville, Tyler County, Texas, created by Debra O’Neill

Though the bible record transcribed in the Harriman vs. Giddings case file states that Alexander M. Brooks was born 8 November 1808, his tombstone in Magnolia cemetery at Woodville, Tyler County, Texas, has a birthdate of 8 September 1808.[2] To my eye, judging from the photo of this tombstone available at Find a Grave, the monument may have been put up some years following Alexander’s death. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to determine which of these two birthdates is correct by consulting the bible register of Alexander’s parents Thomas and Sarah Whitlock Brooks since, if the transcript of that bible register published in 1988 is accurate, the bible register fails to record the birthdate of this child of Thomas and Sarah.[3]

As a previous posting notes, the family bible of Thomas and Sarah Whitlock Brooks passed down to their oldest son Charles, who bought the bible at his parents’ estate sale and took it with him to Itawamba County, Mississippi, when he moved there in 1840. A transcript of the bible register was published by Itawamba Settlers in September 1988, with no information about who owned the bible at that date and with only a partial photocopy of select pieces from the original register. The link at the start of this paragraph has a digital image of the Itawamba Settlers transcription, as published in 1988.

It’s possible that Alexander’s birthdate is recorded in his parents’ bible register, and was missed by whoever transcribed the bible in 1988. Otherwise, the birthdate was not recorded in the bible register. It’s impossible to ascertain which explanation is correct without a copy of the original bible register. We do know definitely that Alexander M. Brooks was a son of Thomas and Sarah Whitlock Brooks because his father’s 2 October 1838 will in Morgan County, Alabama, states this.[4]

Marriage to Carolina Puckett and Start of Business Partnership with William Burke Lindsey

In a number of previous postings, I’ve discussed records of Alexander M. Brooks in Lawrence County, Alabama, prior to his removal to Texas in 1838. Lawrence County records suggest that Alexander preceded his parents in moving to Alabama; they moved from Wayne County, Kentucky, to Morgan County, Alabama, in 1836, settling on the border of that county and Lawrence County, where their children Jane with husband Dennis Lindsey and Charles had settled by 1818. Lawrence County records suggest that their younger brother Alexander had joined Jane and Charles in Lawrence County by the early 1830s. He would have come of age by 1826 or thereabouts. As a previous posting notes, on 1 June 1833, Alexander gave bond with James B. Speake as James married Sarah Brooks Lindsey, the oldest daughter of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks.[5]

On 29 July 1833, an election was held in Lawrence County to elect commissioners to sell land in section 16, township 7, range 6. Commissioners elected were John Bentley, Samuel White, and Alexander M. Brooks.[6]

As a previous posting indicates, the 1838 Lawrence County case of Samuel White vs. James B. Speake and Samuel Irwin, administrators of Dennis Lindsey, deals with a promissory note Dennis Lindsey had made on 29 May 1835 to Samuel White for $550. The case file has the original promissory note showing that Alexander M. Brooks signed as Dennis’s security.[7] A digital copy is at the posting I’ve just linked.

Marriage of Alexander M. Brooks to Caroline Puckett, license and return, Lawrence County, Alabama, Marriage Records, box 3 (? — the film appears to skip from box 2 to box 4), folder B, 1830s; held by the Lawrence County courthouse; these records may now be in the holdings of the county archives. The file is available digitally at FamilySearch.

On 2 July 1835 in Lawrence County, Alexander M. Brooks married Caroline Puckett.[8] The marriage file shows Alexander receiving license for the marriage on 1 July and Rev. Moses Stroude Morris marrying the couple the following day. There is no bond in the file. On Moses Stroude Morris, a Methodist minister who officiated at the marriages of Alexander’s nephews and nieces John Wesley Lindsey, Mark Jefferson Lindsey, Sarah Brooks Lindsey, and Mary Jane Lindsey, see this previous posting.

As another previous posting indicates, Carolina (this spelling is found in many other records) was a daughter of Jared Puckett and Anne Collins.[9] As this posting also states, Jared Puckett was a brother of Richard Puckett, the leading merchant of the community of Oakville in Lawrence County, which Alexander’s brother-in-law Dennis Lindsey was commissioned (with others) by the Alabama legislature to lay out after the legislature incorporated the town on 9 December 1833.[10]

As the posting linked at the head of the previous paragraph also states, there are indicators that by the time Alexander Brooks married Carolina Puckett, he had already begun his business partnership at Oakville with Dennis Lindsey’s brother William Burke Lindsey, who would marry Carolina after Alexander abandoned her to go to Texas in 1838, with the Alabama legislature granting Carolina a divorce. The same linked posting also indicates that by 1837, it’s clear that Alexander M. Brooks was involved as well in joint business ventures with his nephew John Wesley Lindsey, son of Dennis Lindsey and Jane Brooks, and with Carolina’s uncle Richard Puckett.  As another previous posting states, I have not located a record showing precisely when Burke Lindsey and Alexander M. Brooks began their mercantile firm, whose name appears in records by 1838 as A.M. Brooks & Co., but various indicators suggest that their business arrangement began by 1835.

A note in my file for Alexander M. Brooks states that on 23 September 1835 in Lawrence County, he was granted a license along with Edward Jones and M. Seuris (?) to operate a tavern in the county. Unfortunately, my note about this does not contain a record of where I discovered this piece of information. I have no citation for it.

As a previous posting shows, on 29 January 1836 in Lawrence County, Alexander M. Brooks was a buyer at the estate sale of his uncle James Brooks.[11] As the linked posting also notes, Alexander’s business partner Burke Lindsey was a bondsman with James Brooks’s son Thomas R. Brooks when Thomas was granted administration of James’s estate in Lawrence County on 21 October 1835.

Lawrence County circuit court records indicate that in 1836 David Johnson’s administrators Robert W. Johnson, Edward Wise, and Drury Stovall sued A.M. Brooks, Thomas R. Brooks, and Thomas Sparks for a debt owed to David Johnson’s estate.[12] The case involved a promissory note the two Brooks first cousins along with Sparks had made to David Johnson for $87, which was due 16 December 1836. On Thomas R. Brooks, who was a son of James Brooks and Nancy Isbell, and was a year older than Alexander, see this previous posting.

As another previous posting states, an inventory of notes owed to the estate of Dennis Lindsey that was presented to Lawrence County court on 9 December 1836 by Dennis’s administrators John Wesley Lindsey and James B. Speake shows A.M. Brooks owing $60.00 to the estate.

For a discussion of an 1837 circuit court in Lawrence County involving a promissory note that A.M. Brooks, John Wesley Lindsey, and Richard Puckett made on 30 January 1837 to the estate of David Johnson, see this previous posting.[13] The posting I’ve just linked has a digital image of the promissory note.

As another previous posting indicates, By 25 February 1837, Burke Lindsey and Alexander M. Brooks were definitely in business together, since another loose-papers circuit court case file in Lawrence County shows the two as partners in the firm of A.M. Brooks & Co., filing suit against A.O. Williams for a debt he had incurred with the firm on 25 February 1837. The case file has a bond William B. Lindsey made on 18 January 1838 to Williams for $250 in damages, with James Hogan and D.D. Lindsey, Burke’s brother Dinsmore, as securities. Also in the set of court documents is a promissory note dated 7 February 1838 by Thomas Simpson and R.L. Watkins to A.M. Brooks & Co. for $250, to be paid as 4500 pounds of good seed cotton from Simpson’s gin, levied on as property of A.O. Williams in an attachment for debt. Judgment went to Brooks and Lindsey on 17 April 1839.” 

As another posting states, the 1 June 1837 sale bill documenting items sold at the estate sale of Alexander’s brother-in-law Dennis Lindsey in Lawrence County shows Alexander as a buyer at the sale.[14] He bought a bureau and plow gears from Dennis’s estate.

Alexander appears as well in the estate documents of his father Thomas Brooks, in which two promissory notes that Alexander made to his father’s estate on 9 February 1838 are archived. Digital images of the notes are found at the posting I’ve just linked. An inventory of notes owed to the estate compiled by Charles Brooks as he resigned his executorship and handed administration to Milton McClanahan, who filed the inventory on 10 March 1840, shows Alexander M. Brooks and Co. owing the estate $1,400 out of a total of $2390.45 owed to the estate.[15] After Alexander left for Texas in 1838, it appears that the estate could not recover this debt: the estate file has a 27 October 1846 account by Milton McClanahan which states that the notes of Alexander M. Brooks were considered insolvent.[16]

Financial Difficulties and Removal to Texas in 1838

As a previous posting notes, it’s clear from a 6 August 1838 deed in Morgan County that the firm of A.M. Brooks & Co. was in serious financial distress by that date.[17] The deed shows property owned by A.M. Brooks and Burke Lindsey in Morgan County sold to satisfy a judgment in several suits of debt against them as business partners. At September court in Morgan County, Robert Patterson, William C. Patterson, and John E. Negres had sued Brooks & Co. for a debt of $328.80, and at the same court session Charles Harkness had sued for a debt of $120.63. The land sold (to John Orr), with the deed giving a description of its coordinates, was owned jointly by Brooks and Lindsey.

As has been previously noted, At March court term 1838, the firm of A.M. Brooks & Co., filed suit for a promissory note A.O. Williams owed the firm dated 25 February 1837.[18] Judgment was in favor of Brooks and Lindsey, 17 April 1839.  The case file has a bond William Burke Lindsey made on 18 January 1838 to Williams for $250 in damages, with James Hogan and D.D. [David Dinsmore] Lindsey as securities. The case documents also contain a promissory note dated 7 February 1838 by Thomas Simpson and R.L. Watkins to A.M. Brooks & Co. for $250, to be paid as 4,500 pounds of good seed cotton from Simpson’s gin, levied on as property of A.O. Williams in an attachment for debt.

First page of deposition of Alexander M. Brooks, 1 November 1895, Brazos County, Texas, District Court case #2809, 15 March 1895-15 October 1897, Mary J. Harriman et al. vs. D.C. Giddings et al.

According to of the deposition Alexander M. Brooks made on 1 November 1895 in the case of Mary J. Harriman et al. vs. D.C. Giddings et al., which was cited above, Alexander left Alabama for Texas in the fall of 1838 and had remained in Texas since he arrived there in that year.[19] If that’s the case, then legal actions involving the firm of A.M. Brooks & Co. in Lawrence County after the fall of 1838 would have involved Burke Lindsey as the business partner remaining in Alabama, and not Alexander M. Brooks, even when they mention him and the firm bearing his name. 

As a previous posting notes, what evidently prompted Alexander’s relocation to Texas was that his firm went bankrupt — and he left his and his firm’s debts behind for Burke Lindsey to deal with. As he also left his wife Carolina and their three-year-old son behind…. Also noted in a previous posting: according to James Edmond Saunders, the economic crash of 1836 heavily affected merchants in Oakville, Lawrence County, Alabama, where Alexander and Burke’s business was located, and ruined many leading businessmen of the community, notably Richard Puckett, uncle of Alexander’s wife Carolina, who left Alabama for Tennessee after he went bankrupt.[20]

As another posting explains, after Alexander left for Texas, Burke Lindsey filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the firm. The diary of Rev. Samuel A. Agnew, a Presbyterian minister who partook of the hospitality of Burke Lindsey and wife Carolina in Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi, after the couple had married, states on 3 August 1854, “He [i.e., Alexander M. Brooks] left [Burke] Lindsay [sic] to clear up the debts of the firm, which brought him [i.e., Burke Lindsey] to the ground.” Agnew prefaces this observation by sharing scurrilous gossip he had heard that Alexander M. Brooks left for Alabama having “discovered that his wife was too thick with Lindsay,” and that he “[l]eft secretly, taking a good deal of the property and went to Texas.” This appears to be the period alluded to in Samuel Agnew’s diary as he says that Brooks left Alabama and his wife Carolina behind, leaving his former business partner to satisfy his debts in Alabama.” This diary and its testimony about Alexander M. Brooks and William Burke Lindsey were discussed in this previous posting, which notes that the diary is held by the Wilson Special Collections Library at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.[21] The posting I’ve just linked has digital images of the portion of Agnew’s diary speaking of Burke Lindsey and Alexander M. Brooks.

Acts Passed at the Annual Session of the General Assembly of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama; Begun and Held in the City of Tuscaloosa, on the First Monday of December 1842 (Tuscaloosa: Phelan and Harris, 1843), p. 147, act 175, 13 Feb. 1843

As the posting I just linked above states, on 13 February 1843, the Alabama legislature granted Carolina a divorce, evidently on grounds of abandonment.[22] Also noted in the posting linked in the preceding paragraph is that a marriage record in Limestone County, Alabama, shows Burke Lindsey and Carolina Puckett Brooks marrying there on 13 December 1840. And this marriage record and the 1843 divorce decree prove Rev. Agnew wrong when he claims in his August 1854 diary entry that Burke and Carolina were living together without benefit of marriage. My guess about the 1840 marriage is that it was assumed that Carolina was a widow after her husband abandoned her and disappeared — though the reason for the abandonment could well be more complicated than the debts he and Burke Lindsey shared and could not cover.


[1] Brazos County, Texas, District Court case #2809, 15 March 1895-15 October 1897, Mary J. Harriman et al. vs. D.C. Giddings et al.

[2] See Find a Grave memorial page of Maj. Alexander Mackey Brooks, Magnolia cemetery, Woodville, Tyler County, Texas, created by Debra O’Neill with a tombstone photo by Grace Patterson. The information on this memorial page that Alexander lived in Savannah, Georgia, at some point is not correct.

[3] “Brooks Bible,” Itawamba [Mississippi] Settlers 8,3 (September 1988), pp. 151-2.

[4] 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] The bond is in the original marriage file of James and Sarah Lindsey Speake — Lawrence County, Alabama, Marriage Records, Box 4, folder S, 1830s — held by the Lawrence County courthouse; these records may now be in the holdings of the county archives. The file is available digitally at FamilySearch.

[6] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. D, p. 330.

[7] Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Papers Court Files, case 2293, box 171, folder 2.

[8] See the original marriage file in Lawrence County, Alabama, Marriage Records, Box 3 (? — the film appears to skip from box 2 to box 4), folder B, 1830s, held by the Lawrence County courthouse; these records may now be in the holdings of the county archives. The file is available digitally at FamilySearch. The marriage is also recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. B, p. 158.

[9] On Jared Puckett and Anne Collins as Carolina’s parents see Christine South Gee, The Roots and Some of the Branches of the Puckett Family Tree (Columbia, South Carolina: State Commercial, 1958), p. 10; and Irene Dabney Gallaway, Puckett Points: Some Facts Concerning the Family of Richard Puckett of Lunenburg County, Virginia, Together with Data Relating to the Allied Families of McConnico and Daugherty, Compiled from Personal Accounts, Old Letters, Histories, County Records, etc. (priv. publ., 1931), p. 12. For Carolina Puckett as the name of Alexander’s wife, see e.g. Dorothy Gentry, Life and Legend of Lawrence County, Alabama (Tuscaloosa: Nottingham, 1968), p. 128.

[10] Alabama Legislative Acts 1833, p. 57.

[11] The original sale account is in James Brooks’s loose-papers estate file, Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Court Papers, box 165, folder 66; it’s also recorded in Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. D, pp. 164-5.

[12] Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Papers Court Files, circuit court case 2459, box 124, folder 55.

[13] Ibid., circuit court case 2470, box 125, folder 54.

[14] Lawrence County, Alabama, Orphans Court Minute Bk. E, pp. 304-8.

[15] The inventory is in the loose-papers estate file of Thomas Brooks held by Morgan County, Alabama, archives.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Morgan County, Alabama, Deed Bk. D, pp. 82-3.

[18] Lawrence County, Alabama, Loose Papers Court Files, circuit court case 2464, box 42, folder 82-83; see also case 2941, box 173, folder 61; and Lawrence County, Alabama, Circuit Court Minute Bk. T, p. 492.

[19] See supra, n. 1. 

[20] James Edmond Saunders, Early Settlers of Alabama (New Orleans, 1899), p. 123.

[21] Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, “Samuel A. Agnew Diary, 1851-1902,” collection #00923.

[22] Acts Passed at the Annual Session of the General Assembly of the General Assembly of the State of Alabama; Begun and Held in the City of Tuscaloosa, on the First Monday of December 1842 (Tuscaloosa: Phelan and Harris, 1843), p. 147, act 175, 13 Feb. 1843.

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