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Part 5 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937

FIRST OHIO STEAMBOAT MAN

“In 1816, John Brooks constructed the first steamboat ever built in Cincinnati–the first to operate on the Ohio river.  He became a wealthy man and invested most of his money in Cincinnati real estate.  Later Nicholas Longworth, grandfather of the late Congressman Nicholas Longworth, who married Alice Roosevelt, laid claim to this real estate.  There followed a series of law suits which extended over a period of years.  Finally Longworth won and John Brooks became a ruined man.  He died in 1822.

“James Brooks, a son of John Brooks, a native of Orrington, migrated to New Albany in Indiana, established a grocery store, and later was the organizer and president of the first railroad from the Ohio river to the Great Lakes.  This transportation line was known as the New Albany and Salem railroad, and to accomplish its construction it was necessary to build a road 228 miles long through a country which had not yet entirely emerged from the conditions of pioneer life.  But this indomitable man succeeded beyond the wildest expectations of his more sanguine backers.

“When the Civil War broke out, James Brooks was appointed by Secretary of War Stanton, as quartermaster general of the western federal army and the gunboats on the Mississippi river.  He purchased the old Mississippi river flat floats and supervised their conversion into the Yankee gunboats which were a big factor in demolishing the Confederate forts on the Mississippi.  Under the direction of James Brooks supplies were accumulated at Louisville for the use of General Sherman in his historic march to the sea.  At one time during the war, James Brooks loaned the Federal government $240,000 from his private fortune.  He was later reimbursed.”

In tomorrow’s column Mr. Brooks will tell the story of the ancient pottery in the Bangor district.  This is a story which should appeal to many of the old timers who can remember when tinware was practically non-existent and the utensils such as milk pans, jugs and pitchers were made from Penobscot river clay.

 

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Part 1 of 5: Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

Transcribed by Anne (Bowden) Allen from Henry Buxton’s column for the Bangor Daily News.

Feb. 22, 1937 

Henry Buxton says…BROOKS FAMILY OF ORRINGTON NOTABLE CLAN

George Brooks Built First Grist Mill in the Town

SON HELPED MAKE HISTORY IN WEST

H.N. Brooks of Brewer Upholds Tradition of Craftsmanship

A strong, dominating strain of expert craftsmanship and artisanry which prevailed among forebears in Bradford, England, centuries ago, and persisted down through the generations until it found expression in America in the genius of shipbuilding, railroad construction and pottery making, are conspicuous in the background of the Brooks family of Orrington.

Seldom may one family boast of such varied and distinctive achievement as this family whose ancestors were among the first settlers of that beautiful Maine village on the west bank of the Penobscot river a few miles south of Bangor.

One of these Orrington Brookses built himself a covered wagon from Penobscot spruce, journeyed westward with his family, settled in Cincinnati and built the first brig and the first steamboat to run on the Ohio River.

Still another of these gifted Orrington Brookses constructed the first railroad to connect the Ohio river with the Great Lakes, during the Civil War served as quartermaster general of the western Union army under Secretary of War Stanton, and at Louisville, Ky., accumulated millions of dollars worth of supplies which enabled General Sherman to make his epochal march from Atlanta to the sea and break the backbone of the rebellion.

And not less distinctive than these Brookses who helped to make history for the United States is Harrison Nash Brooks of the Brooks brickyard, Brewer, who inherits in a large measure the artistry and craftsmanship which has run like a golden thread for centuries in the Brooks family fabric.
Mr. Brooks is a potter of exceptional genius as well as an expert manufacturer of brick, and his excavations in clay deposits in the Penobscot River region have furnished valuable contributions to the anthropological and historical lore of the Maine district.  His house in Brewer is a veritable museum of relics, which have to do not only with the early history of his family in Maine, but with the stirring events of the Revolution and War of 1812.

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