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Brooks family one of county’s earliest settlers

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Other Views by Sherry Lee, BC History Museum volunteer

  The Brooks family was a distinguished family in the history of Bullitt County.  The Brooks ancestors came from Ireland.  After 1690, some of the family immigrated to America.

Joseph Brooks was born in 1755 in Chester, Pennsylvania.  Joseph had a twin brother who was David Brooks.  Joseph Brooks married Nancy Boice in Pennsylvania.  Nancy was born in Ireland and came to America when she was 21 years old.

Around 1780, Joseph and his family left Pennsylvania and traveled along the Ohio River by boat and by land.  As they were traveling to their destination they encountered Indian attacks along the way.  Nancy Brooks could handle and shoot a rifle as well as her husband.  That’s how they survived back in the early settlement.  Joseph and Nancy ended up at the Falls of Ohio, at that time was known as Kentucky County, Virginia.

Joseph and his wife settled at Spring Station located around Bear grass creek in the eastern part of Kentucky County.  Today, this area is known as Louisville, Kentucky. 

In 1781, Joseph Brooks moved his family to the Bullitt Lick area known today as Brooks, Kentucky located in Bullitt County, Kentucky.  Kentucky didn’t become a state until 1792 and Bullitt County didn’t become a county until 1796.

This territory was still wild and dangerous.  The Indians and the settlers were still fighting each other over the same territory.  Five nations of Indians lived and hunt in this area. 

The Indians were defending their hunting grounds.  So, it was unsafe to live in this area.  Joseph Brooks bought land and built a cabin on his property.  Shortly after Joseph settled in this area, the first attorney general who was Walker Daniel was ambushed by Indians and was killed. 

The Brooks owned and operated the Brooks Station which was located along the Wilderness Trail.  When settlers were traveling west, the Brooks Station would provide food and lodging for the settlers.  They could continue their travel the next day.  In 1808, Bullitt County tax list had Joseph Brooks one of the biggest land owners in the county.   The location of the Brooks cabin, and later the Tavern/Wilderness Road Station, are marked by the present day Jewish Medical Center.  Today, the old cabin had set at the main entrance to the Hospital that has been built there.  I have contacted Mike Robison who is part of the Brook’s family. He has given me some information on the cabin and burial grounds.   Mike Robison told me that his late Uncle S.B. Williams JR showed him the foundation location which was  visible at the time of his youth.  Mike encountered the stone foundation when excavating the entrance to the facility. 

The Family cemetery was located just north of the Doctor’s building parking lot (north lot).  Brooks Spring (also known as Phillips spring) identified on the early Wilderness Road maps, is now under the new building being constructed on the east side of Hebron Lane across from the Hospital.     

In the early 1800’s, salt was a precious preservative.  The settlers used the salt to preserve their meats.  Joseph Brooks worked at the Salt Works at Blue Lick for 3 years.  His cabin was near the Salt Works.  He saw the possibilities for a Salt Works at a place called  Mann’s Licks. 

John Todd made a claim of 200 acres of land which included the Mann’s Lick around 1780.  After John Todd’s death, his  widow gave Joseph Brooks permission to build a Salt Works at Mann’s Work in 1787.  It gave jobs to a lot of workers producing salt.  By 1788 Joseph Brooks was honored for being the man who first opened the Salt Works.  By 1788 other people had also started Salt Works.

Joseph and Nancy had five children.  They were Margaret, Joseph, David, Nancy and Squire Brooks.    Margaret Brooks married Solomon Neill.  Joseph Brooks died in 1846 but no birth record was found.   He married twice.  His first wife was Cordeia Standiford and his second wife was Rebecca Miles.  

Nancy Brooks married Elisha Standiford.   I could not find any birth or death record on David Brooks.  David Brooks was buried in the old Brooks cemetery.  Squire Brooks was born in Bullitt County and I could not find any birth record.  He died in 1826 in Bullitt County, Kentucky.  All of the children of Joseph and Nancy were born in Kentucky.

Joseph A. Brooks was the first son of Joseph and Nancy Brooks.  Joseph Brooks married his second wife Rebecca Miles.  They had several children.  One of their sons that were born in 1818 was Solomon Neill Brooks.  Solomon N. Brooks married Elizabeth Ellen Field in 1843.  They had several children.  They were Abram Field, Mary Elizabeth, David Franklin, Richard, Joetta and Solomon Neill Brooks.  Their son Solomon Neill Brooks was born in 1860.  He married Kate J. Tyler.  They had three children.   

In 1894, the Brooks family created the Hebron Cemetery so families in this area could be buried there. 

It was the first neighborhood cemetery.  Solomon Brooks II great-great  grandson of Joseph and Nancy Brooks was the first to lay out the first section of Hebron Cemetery.  He served as a volunteer superintendent for the remainder of his life.  He died in 1933 and was buried in Hebron Cemetery.  

Joseph Brooks died in 1818 and was buried in the old burial grounds.  Engraved on his tombstone was (Departed this life the 26th day of September 1818 aged 63 years 7 months.  He was a kind parent and affectionate husband.  A sincere friend & obliging  neighbor.  Passengers as you pass by; like you are now, so once was I; as I am now, so must you be, Prepare for death and follow me.)  Nancy Brooks died in 1839 and there were no records found where she was buried.

In 1930’s, most of the graves were moved from the Brooks old burial grounds to Hebron Cemetery.  The remains and tombstone of Joseph Brooks was moved to Hebron Cemetery.  In 1986, Hebron Cemetery was filling up. 

The remainder of land that the Brooks owned was left for zoning for a new cemetery which became Brook land Cemetery.

It has been 232 years since Joseph and Nancy Brooks had settled in the area known today as Brooks, Kentucky. 

We watched during the years how each generation of the Brooks family and how they took care of their land and raised their families. 

Now as we look back in time could we have survived those days fighting the Indians and not having the modern convenience that we have today?  Today, we take things for granted.