John Brooks, (who died as a soldier of the War of 1812), and his first wife Hannah Grosbroek had two children together before she died. The eldest, a daughter, died as an infant, but Peter, their youngest, lived long enough to be raised by his step-mother Dinah.
Poor Peter had it a bit tougher than his half-siblings because both of his biological parents had died by the time he was 12, while they still had their mother Dinah. To top it off by the time he was about 13 or 14 he was being raised by two step-parents, as Dinah had married her second husband Robert Little.
Until this last week have not been able to find anything on Peter Brooks beyond his father’s guardianship papers in 1815. Then I saw this intriguing record at ancestry.com.
(if no image is seen be sure to download the file from the link)
This document, that you see reference to above, is a prison discharge record for Auburn Prison, and in this discharge record is listed a Peter Brooks, born about 1803, in Albany, New York. All of that data matches the Peter Brooks I have been looking for these past few years. But is it him?
According to this record Peter was in prison for 7 years for breaking gaol [jail]. Which also means that he had been in jail longer than those 7 years, because he had to have been in jail to have broken out. He was released in 1829 at the age of 25. If he served the whole sentence, that means he was in prison when he was 18, and possibly earlier. If this is indeed the same Peter who is a grand half-uncle of mine, then it is no wonder I have been unable to find him. And him being so elusive to me before makes a good case to this being the Peter I have been looking for.
What I have to do next is see if the Albany Archives have any court records that might inform me as to the reason for Peter’s incarceration in the first place. Hopefully, I will also be able to confirm that he is the right Peter.
Auburn Prison where Peter was incarcerated, is in Auburn, NY, and opened in 1817. It was built with the intention of using a congregate system. The inmates worked and ate together during the day, but went into isolation at night. The work they were expected to do consisted of hard labor working on bridges, ditches, quarries, and other difficult and tedious tasks. They also had to make items like barrels, buckets, clothes, shoes, boots, tools and saddles. These were sold at a profit making the Auburn system the first to wade into the prison manufacturing industry a trend that continues to this day.
Floggings, though outlawed as a sentence, became the primary means of discipline. This soon became known as the Auburn Prison System, which owes many of it’s attributes, such as better food and health care and an increased emphasis on rehabilitation, to the Pennsylvania system. [Yes, because everyone knows a good flogging fixes everything.]
Silence was the over-riding theme of the Auburn system. John D. Cray, a deputy warden at the Auburn Prison, said silence took away the prisoner’s ‘sense of self’, which made them more obedient, and prevented them from corrupting each other. Thus the prisoners did everything without talking. They also wore a uniform of white with broad horizontal stripes. When they moved anywhere as a group, they had to walk in lockstep with their hands grabbing the side of the prisoner in front, and their elbows at their sides covering the hands of the prisoner behind. If one stumbled, many would fall and, of course, later be flogged.
This was Peter’s life for 7 years.
Unfortunately, after this ‘released from prison’ record, I have again been unable to find Peter Brooks in any records. Maybe he was a repeat offender. I guess it is off to the court records in Albany, New York.
Almyra (Myra) Brooks was born the 9th of June in 18491. Her family was most likely living in Albany, New York at the time, although we do not know that for sure as they do not show up in directories, or the census, in 1850. But they are listed in the directory in 1849 and 1852, at 162 and 152 Patroon St. respectively. She was the 6th child and the fourth girl born to her parents, so she was pretty much one of several middle children. Her mother’s ancestry is pretty much a mystery, as we know only the names of her mother’s parents, and that they were both born in New York, that is it. Her father’s ancestry is a lot of Dutch, with some English thrown in, on both his father’s and mother’s side.
Now, while Myra might have been born in Albany, she did most of her growing up in Burlington, Chittenden County, Vermont. Which is where her parents moved sometime about 1854-’55, when the family last appeared in directory in Albany. She was about 7 years old.
Her father supported the family as a cigar manufacturer / tobacconist in Albany, and when they moved to Burlington, Vermont he continued at this occupation. I wonder if the children learned how to roll cigars to help out with the business. It is unclear if they had a shop in the bottom of the house and sold wares there, or if he just manufactured the cigars and then sold them to local grocers, cigar shops, or dry goods stores.
The image just below is the earliest image found for the property, (taken in 1933 when they were fixing the streets of Burlington). It appears from early maps that they lived earliest on the property on the right side of picture, then they moved to the left side by the 1870s or so.
Almyra probably attended school, but for how long I just don’t know. I will guess that at a minimum she went until the 8th grade. Although it is possible that she went through high school.
Almyra was another ancestress who was a city girl. In fact it appears that for at least a few generations back her family were all city folk, who ran businesses or worked in trades. Her parents had some money and were, if not well to do, then at least comfortable. They lived in a decent house and owned several properties.
After she would have been done with school Almyra most likely helped her mother around the house, and possibly even helped her father make the cigars he sold to support his family.
Then one day in about 1872 she met a man by the name of Dillon Franklin Hatch. Dillon was going places, he had a nicely established moneyed background, not rich, but well to do. He was a sober man with strong values and good work ethic. All-in-all a pretty good catch.
Shortly after their marriage Almyra’s new husband and her brother-in-law, David Walker, started their own business, the Walker & Hatch Lumber Company. A business which kept the Hatch family in silks for at least 10 years. Until the day everything went “tits up”.
This major set-back did not keep her husband down for long though, he found a job running a furniture factory in Ohio. So the family packed up their household and moved west to make a new beginning for themselves. And it was here they stayed.
D. F. Hatch and family left town last week for their new home in Cleveland, O. Mr. Hatch is to be mill superintendent of the Sturtevant Lumber Company there.
By this time, 1887, Almyra and Dillon had had three children together. However, they had lost their eldest child Harry in 1883, when he was 9, to croup, an “inflammation of the larynx and trachea in children, associated with infection and causing breathing difficulties.” There is about a 9 year gap between the birth of their first child, Harry, and the second, Florence, who had been born a few month before Harry died. It’s possible that Almyra had a few miscarriages during that time, or, they just couldn’t get pregnant. Census records confirm that she had 4 children, only 3 of whom survived to adulthood.
Details of 1900 federal census Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio: HATCH, Almira, wife, white, female, born Jun 1849, age 51, married 27 years, had 4 children, 3 living, born NY, parents born NY, can read write, speak english
page 11A [83 written], 3rd Ward; ED 42[?]; SD 12[3?]1; series T623 roll 1264 p25; 1 June; lines 45-50; 235 Deadend[?] Decker[?]; 243/258
Their last child, Charlotte, would be born in Ohio in 1888.
When they first moved to Cleveland the family lived at 101 Sibley, in downtown area (see map below).
The photograph, just above, of Almyra’s children, was taken probably at the Sibley St. property in Cleveland, and probably in the 1890s. We know the family was living at 101/74 Sibley St. using directories. However, these Cleveland directories skip 1893-1895, so we can’t confirm that they were here at that time, and they are not in the directories from 1896 to 1900. (By 1900 the family was living in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio.) My belief that the photograph was taken in Cleveland seems to matches the Sanborn map showing the property. The large bit of land to the left, the driveway to Sibley street in front of the house, the house is off to the right, out of view of the photo. (In other words, this photo appears to be taken looking down the property to Sibley Street.) This also is a lovely historical image of downtown residential areas in Cleveland at this time. Unfortunately the property is now part of a business and parking lot by the Freeway system.
Dillon and Almyra don’t appear to have ever purchased their own home, always renting instead. They moved around town a bit, but not excessively. Except for the short time they lived in Sandusky, Ohio, they were usually found around the Cleveland area.
Almyra raised her children and kept a home for her husband. She probably entertained socially due to her husbands position as a factory manager. They had money and were financially well off.
I know pretty much nothing else about my great grandmother. She hasn’t shown up in many newspaper articles. So far.
As Dillon was a follower of temperance, I would imagine that Almyra was probably of the same inclination, her sister having been a member of temperance groups in Vermont. Maybe they celebrated with a cold glass of lemonade when prohibition was passed in 1920. She most likely was a member of several ladies organizations or charities in town. The type of activities that occupied many a middle class ladies time. As of yet I do not know what those actives might have been.
The family was musically inclined. The photo below of the piano in the parlor shows Almyra playing. Dillon participated in several local musical entertainments back in Vermont, and was part of the Glee Club before he married Almyra. He possibly continued these same activities in Ohio, and might have encouraged his children to study music. Although, I don’t believe that their daughter Charlotte continued any interest in music after she married and left home (I am sure that someone will let me know if I am wrong). Her sister Florence, however, taught piano to make money.2
Almyra did go back to Vermont for visits as seen in this 1922 article (they got her ‘of’ wrong).
LOCAL NEWS—CAMBRIDGE NEWS Mrs. Schweig, Mrs. Sinclair and Mrs. Humphrey of Underhill and Mrs. D. F. Hatch of Boston[?] were guests of Mrs. Mary Wallace and Mrs. James Watson Friday and Saturday
She was also back in Vermont for her sister Charlotte’s funeral in 1906.
No doubt there were other trips back east when needed. And there was even a trip out West to Washington State, where Dillon also bought property. Maybe they were investing in lumber. After all Dillon was part of the building trade back home in Ohio.
While I might not know much about Almyra’s life specifically, I can imagine what living in Cleveland might have been like. It was a bustling growing city, full of interesting possibilities.
For example–Almyra probably shopped downtown at the Arcade, which was built in 1888:
Cleveland made history in the year 1914 when they installed the first electric traffic lights to be put in anywhere in the world. Maybe Almyra went through these lights when she headed with family to the beach to enjoy a little relaxation.
By 1910 all the children had left the nest. Now is was just Dillon and her. Although, neither of her two eldest actually went too far, they both stayed in the Cleveland area. Charlotte, the youngest, is the one who moved farther away.
When Almyra died the 20th of June in 1927 (just over a year after Dillon’s death), the only surviving member of her family was her eldest brother John Brooks, jr. He died about three years later at 92 years of age. They had a total of 7 grandchildren to indulge while they were around, two more were born after they had both died.
Hatch-Almira Brooks, wife of the late Dillon, mother of Herbert Hatch, Mrs. Florence Hart and Mrs. Charlotte Shaw, 1632 Elberon Avenue, on Monday, June 20. Remains at Charles Melbourne & Son’s 12737 Euclid avenue, where services will be held on Wednesday, June 22, at 3 p. m.
Almira Brooks Hatch entry Id#: 0137853; database gathered by the staff of the Cleveland Public Library.
In the parlor picture above you can see a silver tea pot in the room beyond, that silver tea pot is now in my sister’s home. I love having this picture of items that have been passed down in our family, and seeing them being used by our ancestors.
Sources: 1. John Henry Brooks file, cert. no. SC955 486, pension file can no. 19689, bundle no. 20, (Washington: National Archives) ordered online so do not know what microfilm was searched. Dec 6, 2006. Pension file contained transcribed births from bible that had been given to Almira and John Brooks when they married, by John’s mother.
2. 1930 Federal Census; Census Place: East Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio; Page: 10A; Enumeration District: 0585; FHL microfilm: 2341518
Often when doing family history research one is presented with a few facts that you can add to the database: birth, death, where they lived. If your lucky maybe a nice obituary can be found to fill out a bit more of the person’s life. More often, not.
That is why I love doing newspaper research. Because sometimes you find out details about your ancestor’s life that you would never have known otherwise. In this case I was doing some Vermont research, because they have been adding more Vermont papers to some of the newspaper database I use. I found this fun gem regarding John Brooks, Sr. and his son, John H. Brooks, Jr, in Burlington. Looks like they enjoyed a little pool. The odds are, there was probably a little side betting going on too. At this time 1865, Junior was 28 years old.
Junior ran a billiard hall later in life, maybe he had a love of the game? I found this in the University of Vermont Collage Yearbook from 1900:
I believe this was a collage boy’s drinking line, and apparently Junior’s billiard room/hall was one of ‘the places to go’ for a bit of fun.
There might be a few more posts related to my Brooks or Hatch lines in Vermont in the next few weeks, as I have been going through updated newspaper databases recently, and found articles related to these families.
This particular recent find got me thinking about my great great grandparents:
Dillon F. Hatch was just installed as an officer in this Templars group. He was all for temperance, as was seen a few years earlier where he was in the same group as his mother in Grand Isle.
In this same group just under his name is listed a young lady by the name of Miss Kate Brooks. Kate was Almyra’s older sister, by about 7 years. Hmmm.
In 1870 Dillon was in Louisiana working as a clerk:
Hatch H. F. 55, male, white, Banker, value of estate 10,000 born in Vermont [probablyan uncle/cousin of Dillon’s although I don’t know who; b1815ish] Hatch, Frank D. 21, male, white, Bank clerk, born in Vermont Hatch, Joseph R. 16, male, white, attending school, born in Vermont
Details of 1870 federal census Louisiana, Jefferson Parish, 4th ward: page 4, enumerated 10th June 1870, lines 1-3, house 16, family 31
A year later he is living in Burlington, and working as a pharmacist (his occupation as it appeared on his marriage record and in city directories). So sometime between June 10th of 1870, and August 8 of 1871, he moved back to Vermont.
He joins the Templars group because of his interest in temperance, meets Miss Kate Brooks, who introduces him to her family, and then he meets Almyra, who is the same age as himself. BAM! They fall in love, marry just over a year later, and live happily ever after. Well, that wasn’t in the paper, so I am definitely making that part up.
She married him in spite of that hairdo too!
I don’t actually know how these two met, but it does seem a very likely scenario. Although, Dillon’s job as a clerk in a pharmacy/apothecary could also have been their origin story. If only I had a time machine.
While I can’t really go back much further up the family tree with our Brooks of Albany, New York, I have been able to learn interesting things about John Brooks’ probable mother’s line, the Wendells.
It is believed, at this time, that John Brooks, Senior, who died during the War of 1812 was the son of Frances Wendell and Peter Brooks who married in Albany, New York, probably in November 1771. (They applied for their license November 7 of that year, according to Dutch Church records1)
Frances was the great great granddaughter of the emigrant ancestor Evert Jansen Wendell. It is thanks to Evert and his progeny that people interested in such things, can learn much not otherwise known about early trading in Albany as regards the local Indigenous people.
Evert was born about 1615 in Emden, Germany, a town located at the mouth of the River Ems in Hanover. He came to New Amsterdam about 1641/2 in the service of the Dutch West Indies Company, and made a living as an import merchant, fur trader, tailor and cooper. He stayed in New Amsterdam until about 1651, at which time he moved his family of wife, Susanna du Trieux, and 3-4 children to Beverwyck/Albany.
Evert was active in Albany’s community as an elder in the Dutch Church, an orphan-master, and a magistrate. He and his first wife, Susanna, eventually had 8 children together*. Our Brooks descend from their son Jeronimous.
Evert and his sons were heavily involved in the fur trade, which would not be unusual, as it was a major industry in this time period. The family also made its fortune trading, and when the pelts started becoming rare, due to the indiscriminate slaughter of the animals who were wearing them, they moved on to other types of trade. Much of which was tracked by Jeronimous’ son Evert, who kept an account book that has survived to this day, and is used to help those who study these things, learn more about the anthropological details of early trading in the Albany area. This account book has been translated from Dutch and studied in great detail.
According to the introduction to this volume the Wendells also made money (and acquired land) by acting as interpreters, and were called in by both Indians and Europeans to assist in negotiations of all kinds. Including making trips to Canada to act as interpreters on military expeditions against the French.
This account book contains information on commercial trade on the Hudson with the Indigenous populous. Giving researchers details that were completely unknown previous to its publication. Things like the use of native agents, how credit was used, the type and quantities of goods traded, the origins of the native customers, and the level of native women’s trade participation, among many other bits of interest. Details specific to the Indigenous people themselves like types of tattoos they had and their naming practices are of particular interest also.
This account book’s greatest value is in the fact that it is the earliest known surviving fur trade record of colonial Albany, New York. I highly recommend this gem of a book, although the introduction is the most interesting part. The tables that finish the book off are mostly of interest to real researchers who love the nitty-gritty of this kind of stuff. I am afraid that’s too much detail for me.
The Wendell’s were a prominent family for quite a while in Albany and their success was largely due to the fact that they learned from their progenitor, Evert, that the best way to stay well-heeled, was to diversify. Which is why when the fur trade started to decline as a feasible way to make lots of money they stayed well to do. The sons and grandsons traded in many items (not just fur), lawyered, made shoes, interpreted, and tailored. One of the grandsons also began selling the first products from a chocolate mill! Mmmm…chocolate.
I find it fascinating that there are ancestors on both sides of our family that have so much history with Albany/Beverwyck and New York/New Amsterdam. And the more I read about these cities’ very early beginnings, the more fascinating I find them.
*Interesting side note regarding Evert and Susanna Wendell’s children — Elsje and Johannes: Elsie married Abraham Staats; Johannes married Elizabeth Staats. Both of these Staats were the children of Abraham Staats and Catrina Jochemse Wessels. Catrina is the daughter of the same Joachim Wessels, who married our ancestress Geertruy Hieronimous, of the ‘Warmongering Wessels of Albany’[see post], and is in fact their daughter. This gives a connection between both my mother’s and father’s side of the family in America, although only a cousin connection, as neither side descends directly from Elsje or Johannes Wendell.
Charles Brooks, a former resident of Cherry Valley, was killed by the cars at Hudson, Sunday [February 26th]. Particulars of his death have not been received. He was in the employ of the Western Union Telegraph company and was one of the most valued of its employees. Mr. Brooks was born in Cherry Valley about fifty years ago, and his boyhood and early manhood were passed there. He was a pleasant, companionable man and had many warm friends here, who will feel deep sorrow at his loss. He leaves a widow and one child, as well as one sister, Mrs. Samuel Millson [Eliza Jane or Jennie], of North Adams, Mass. and two brothers, Andrew of this village, and Benjamin of Hawthorne.1
Charles Brooks was the youngest known child of David Brooks (brother of my ggg-grandfather John Brooks). His sister Sarah, who married a Woodward, was actually still alive but not mentioned in the obituary. She was living in Rochester, New York with one of her daughters.
According to his wife’s obituary from 1953:
Her husband, who was an employee of the New York Central railroad, was killed in a rail accident on February 26, 1911. An only son of the couple met with accidental death while with the Armed Forces in [Delhamps, Mobile County] Alabama on January 5, 1917.2
Unfortunately, I have been unable to find out anymore on their only child’s death. I can only assume it was a military training accident. A sad end to this Brooks line.
1. The Otsego Farmer, Vol. XXV, No. 13, (Cooperstown, New York), March 3, 1911, page 1; http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html.
2. The Freeman’s Journal (Cooperstown, New York), January 14, 1953, page 6; http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html.
Source for image: https://ssl.bing.com/images/search?q=New+York+Central+Railroad&form=RESTAB&first=1&cw=2007&ch=1219
In my recent search of newspapers regarding the Brooks family of Cherry Valley, I found an article about David’s son Andrew*, (the only son to follow in his father’s tinsmithing footsteps). He had apparently won a patent on a new kind of fastener for milk can tops.
Otsego Farmer, June 10, 1910, page 1.
It took a while but I finally found the patent using the Google Patent search engine. Trying to search the patent office for records before 1975 is very difficult if you don’t know exact dates, patent numbers, etc. The Google Patent search worked great.
So below is the sketch of what the device looked like, along with detailed instructions on how it was suppose to work.
It is very likely that Andrew’s tin-smithing skills, and his experience working at the local dairy influenced this innovative design. There is no information on how successful this fastener was, so I don’t know if he got rich off of it.
This is the second relative of mine to have a patent. Dillon Hatch (husband of Almyra Brooks), together with two other men, applied for, and received, a patent on a door design in 1891 (which I wrote about in an earlier post).
Andrew and his wife Elizabeth had one child, a daughter Mary L. Brooks, who appears to have died in her early 20s, leaving no heirs. Which means there were no descendants around to brag about Andrew’s clever invention. Maybe this post will make up for that loss.
*Andrew is my mother’s 1st cousin 3 times removed.
Earlier this year I wrote about David Brooks of Cherry Valley, New York regarding the fire that destroyed the family’s home and belongings in July of 1866. I ended with the hope that this was the extent of the family’s trials. Unfortunately that hope was squashed when I found this newspaper article:
David Brooks, aged 70, a tinner of Cherry Valley, committed suicide a while ago by hanging himself to his bedpost during a temporary fit of insanity.1
I tried to find more about this sad event, and a couple more articles showed up, each with a slightly different account in them 2, 3:
David Brooks was John Brooks’ brother. I do not know if they kept in touch when they both left Albany, with John moving to Vermont, and David heading to Cherry Valley, NY. There was no family history passed down in our family regarding either of the brothers.
David was survived by his wife Margaret, who died about 1891 and five children Sarah, Jennie, Andrew, Benjamin, and Charles.
Source: 1. 1882-10-1 Utica Weekly Herald, Utica, New York, page 5, column 2 [http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html].
2. 1882-10-12 The Radii, Canajoharie, New York, page unknown [http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html].
3. 1882-10-10 The Canajoarie Courier, Tuesday, page unknown [http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html].
In my ever vigilant search for information on Almira Johnson Brooks’ parents, I have come across an interesting puzzle.
Almira’s death certificate/registration indicates that her parents were Catherine and Samuel with no last name (we do not know who gave the information). Almira and John Brooks’ son John, jr. has his mother listed as Almira Johnson on his death registration, with no indication of who gave the information. Another child of theirs has Almira’s surname as Johnston. So it has always been assumed by me that Almira’s mother was Catherine _____ Johnson/Johnston.
Something interesting popped up when I was looking into this matter recently. In the 1840 and 1841 city directories for Albany, New York, Diana/Dinah (Smith) (Brooks) Little is living at the same address as a Cornelia Johnson. Cornelia is also found in the 1840 census and, as would be expected as they are living in the same household, she is listed right after Diana Little in the entries.
Then Cornelia disappears. Meaning I can find no further record of Cornelia in Albany. At all.
When I first created my ‘directory’ database for all the relevant surnames of my Albany ancestors, I was looking for patterns, and I did this by sorting the information on different parameters. That’s when I found the entries for a Cornelia Johnson at the same address as Diana Little (along with her son John and his wife Almira). My first thoughts were that Almira Johnson Brooks, had a sister Cornelia who was also living with the Little/Brooks family. And these thoughts stayed pretty much the same until recently, when I decided to check the 1840 census for Cornelia.
When I found her entry, I was a little taken aback, because both Diana, and Cornelia are listed as 50-60 years of age, a little old to be a sibling to Almira. Could this mean that Cornelia is actually Almira’s mother? Why else would an elderlyish women with the surname of Johnson be living with Almira’s mother-in-law?
If Cornelia is Almira’s mother, then her father Samuel probably had died before 1839 and it is possible that Cornelia died by 1842, as no further record can be found for her after 1841 (yet).
Fire in some way or another has made its appearance often in my ancestor’s lives. The most devastating one being the Peshtigo Fire of 1871, a much nastier event than that little dust up they had in Chicago the same day. Most of the other fires seem to have been house or chimney fires of which I can count at least 6 having occurred to various ancestral families, so far. For the David Brooks family we have the following account.
David Brooks was John Brooks’ elder brother. He was born about 1812 in Albany, Albany County, New York. Both John and David lived with their mother until sometime after 1841 when we can find John at his own address in the city, as well as David.
David most likely trained or apprenticed as a tin smith in his early years, an occupation he continued throughout his life.
Sometime between 1855 and 1860 David and his wife Margaret packed up the tin smith business and the family jewels and headed to Otsego County, New York. Cherry Valley to be exact.
The family wasn’t in the area long before we find this newspaper article in their county paper:
It doesn’t appear that any lives were lost in the fire, but the family most likely did lose a goodly amount of their possessions and possibly even their tin business for a short time.
David and Margaret continued to stay and raise their family in Cherry Valley. Together they had at least 5 children. Their son Andrew is the only one to take on the tin smith trade.
I can find information on only three of their children. Andrew who married and had one daughter who died without any heirs. Sarah who married and had 9 children, all Woodwards. Benjamin married and had one daughter and has descendants from her. There appears to be no sons that carried on the Brooks surname in his line.
David died in 1882 at the age of about 70. Hopefully this was the only nasty event to occur to the family.