Brooks Family Was Among Earliest Settlers Of Sale Creek

Friday, April 6, 2018 - by John Wilson

Joseph Brooks was one of the earliest settlers at Sale Creek when it was part of Rhea County. Three of his nieces along with their husbands were Hamilton County pioneers.

Joseph Brooks and his brother, Moses Brooks, were sons of John Brooks, who was born in Ireland about 1730. He made his way to Philadelphia and lived a short time in Pennsylvania before going with the tide of emigration into the valley of Virginia. John Brooks was at Augusta County at the time of the Revolution. It was there he married Ann Irwin, and their children included John Jr., Moses, Ann who married William Kerr, and Joseph. John Brooks was a private in a Virginia regiment during the war and he saw action at Guilford Courthouse and King's Mountain. For his war service, he received a grant of land in Washington County, Va. He moved to the vicinity of Abingdon.

Researcher Penelope Allen said John Brooks "was a genuine pioneer and settlers crowded him much too closely in that locality, so he moved farther west and crossed the state line into the western part of North Carolina, which later became the state of Tennessee.'' Brooks was said to have been very just and fair in his dealings with the Indians who still held the future Tennessee. He "selected the piece of land he wanted and made his deal directly with the Cherokees for it. This tract was known for many years to the early settlers of that part of Knox County as the 'Brooks Black Horse Tract.' In his agreement with the Indians they were to have the privilege of hunting and fishing during the fall season on the land, and for many years they availed themselves of this privilege. So true and faithful was John Brooks in carrying out his terms of the bargain that the Indians never disturbed him and he never had to leave his home on account of Indian raids, as many of his neighbors were forced to do.''

Brooks in 1789 bought 300 acres on the north side of the Holston River from Stockley Donelson for 70 pounds. This was in the future Knox County. When John Brooks died in 1793, he was buried on his farm that was four miles northeast of Knoxville.

Moses Brooks was born in 1760 at Augusta County. He was old enough to fight for the colonists and was also at Guilford Courthouse and King's Mountain. At the former battle, he was seriously wounded and underwent a long period of recuperation near Greensboro, N.C. He lived with Tennessee's earliest pioneers on the Nolichucky River, then moved in 1787 to the Holston. At about that date he married Agnes Gamble Fowler, widow of Robert Fowler Jr., who died at Washington County, Tn., in 1784. She was the daughter of Robert and Mary McElroy Gamble. The marriage took place "in the old fort across the river that stood on the old Parsons' place at the time when the inhabitants of the country had fled there for protection against the Indians.''

Moses Brooks was present at the making of a treaty with the Indians at Knoxville about 1791. His wife "was greatly horrified at an Indian man taking up her little boy by the leg and carrying him around to show to the other Indians. However, the youngster himself did not seem to object.'' Moses Brooks was an elder in the Lebanon Presbyterian Church that was built at the "forks of the river'' in Knox County. He was also in the War of 1812.

Joseph Brooks, brother of Moses Brooks, came on down from Knox County to Rhea and was on its first county court. He was Rhea County's first trustee and was named to take the list of taxable properties for the south end of the county in 1808 and 1809. He died about the latter year. He had married Mary Gamble - sister of his brother's wife - about 1796 at Knox County. She stayed on at Sale Creek and was listed as owning 160 acres there the year Hamilton County was formed in 1819. Charles Gamble, brother of the Gamble sisters, also lived in North Hamilton County and was the county's first sheriff.

The widow of Joseph Brooks was joined in North Hamilton County by several nieces - daughters of Moses Brooks. One of these was the eldest daughter, Mary, who married Samuel Haney in 1815. The others were Nancy who married William Clift and Jane who married Robert McRee. Clift and McRee became prominent citizens and holders of extensive property in the Soddy area. At the time of the 1850 census, the Clifts and McRees were living side by side and Mary Haney was residing with the McRees. She died in 1854 and Jane Brooks McRee died in 1856. Nancy Brooks Clift had died in 1847.

Other children of Moses Brooks were John who married Mary Armstrong, Elizabeth who died at age 16, Margaret who married James Stephenson in 1823, Joseph A. who married Margaret Almeda McMillan in 1828, and Cynthia Kerr who married Benjamin Stephenson Boyd in 1826. Joseph A. Brooks stayed on the family farm in Knox County and died there in 1879 shortly after celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. Another son of Moses Brooks, Robert Brooks, lost his life in the Seminole War.


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