Portrait & Biographical Album of Whitside Co. 1885
15 Apr 2005
Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of Whiteside County, IL
Originally published 1885 Chapman Bros., Chicago, IL
Transcribed by: Becky Jones
Pardon Allen Brooks, farmer, section 30, Lyndon Township, was born May 20, 1806, in Sturbridge, Worcester Co., Mass., and he is the second son of Benjamin and Esther (Fisk) Brooks, the former a native of Worcester Co., Mass., and the latter of Stafford, Conn. His paternal grandfather was born in Nova Scotia and came thence to Worcester County soon after the close of the Revolutionary War.
When Benjamin Brooks was married he bought a homestead in Sturbridge and lived thereon until his death, at a greatly advanced age. The mother also died there.
Mr. Brooks was reared in the manner common in New England, working on the farm summers and attending school winters. At 19, he began to acquire a knowledge of the trade of a brick, stone and plaster mason, going to West Springfield for the purpose. After a short time he took a leading position in his business, and operated as a builder and contractor, and was the architect on several factories in North Adams and other parts of Berkshire County, besides building residences, business structures and churches.
Five years later, in 1832, he went to Boston, where he embarked in a mercantile enterprise, in which he was interested until 1838. In that year he came to Illinois, traveling from Boston to Albany by stage, from there to Buffalo by canal and thence on the lakes to Chicago. He then hired a man to bring himself, his wife, children and household goods to Whiteside county, paying $50 for the service. He arrived in Lyndon in September of the same year. He bought a claim on section 30, town 20, range 5, for which he paid $1,300. The improvements consisted of a log house and a few acres broken. The family took possession of the dwelling, in which they lived until June following, when Mr. Brooks left his family in care of his brother-in-law, and returned to Boston. He obtained a position as clerk, which he held two years, and earned the money to secure his claim.
In 1841 Mr. Brooks and Washington Libby bought nine threshing-machines, which they shipped from Winthrop, Maine, to Alton, Ill., paying $100 freight on each. These were the first machines for the purpose which were brought into the State, and were a great advantage to the farmers, as they would thresh 200 bushels of grain a day. They were run by horse-power.
In 1842 Mr. Brooks went again to Boston and resumed his position as a clerk in the Faneuil Hall clothing store. He remained two years, and on his return to Lyndon Township he operated in the management and sale of threshing-machines, also selling county rights to manufacture. He devoted about three years to the business, after which he gave his attention to the improvement of his farm. Meanwhile he had placed his family in a substantial frame house.
His first crops consisted of grain, which he drew to Chicago, 130 miles distant, a journey there consuming a full week as a rule. He frequently brought back a load of freight. He subscribed $2,000 to the building of a railroad, which proved a total loss. He raised his first paying crop in 1861, when he sold 500 bushels of wheat at two dollars, a bushel, and his crops of oats and corn at proportionately good figures. In 1872 he invested $10,000 in a mill, and when the financial crash came the next year, he lost his investment with several thousands of dollars besides, but his business was too well fortified to be seriously crippled by a somewhat extensive loss. Mr. Brooks improved about 300 acres of land and erected commodious farm buildings, including the brick house he occupies. He built one of the first barns in the county.
He was married Sept. 12, 1833, to Olive M. Dean. She was born Aug. 10, 1815, in North Adams, Mass. Following is the record of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks: Hiram P. lives at Black Hawk, Gilpin Co., Col., and is engaged in mining; William H. lives on the homestead; Isabella died in infancy; Susan L. is the widow of Frank J. Cole, and lives in East Saginaw, Mich.; Lucian died in infancy; Samuel lives at La Conner, Whatcom Co., W. T., and is an attorney; Rufus resides in Butte City, Montana, where he has been engaged as a contractor and shipping clerk for a mining company.
The mother died Aug. 4, 1857. Mr. Brooks was again married, Sept 5, 1859, to Julia M. Reynolds. She was born Oct. 20, 1829, in Rutland Township, Tioga Co., Pa. They had three children: Horace M. is a clerk in the postoffice at Toston, M. T.; George E. died in infancy; Esther married C. P. Sturtevant, of Fenton Township, where he is a farmer and dealer in stock. Mr. Brooks is a man who is justified in his claims of builder and maker of his own fortunes. When he was 12 years old he was earning $6 per month, and during the winter seasons when attending school he earned his board by doing chores. He received sufficient education to teach, and pursued that business several seasons. He has led a busy, useful, active life, and is in the enjoyment of the reward of his toil. He has a beautiful home, and the broad prairie acres which he owns in his homestead give ample testimony of the quality of the judgment and skill of their owner.