W. A. BROOKS, devoting his time and energies to agricultural pursuits in Montague county, was born in Kaufman county, Texas, April 4, 1854, his parents being Benjamin F. and Susan (Jones) Brooks, who were born, reared and married in Mississippi. Soon afterward they came to Texas, settling in Kaufman county in 1853. There the father bought land and improved a farm, which he cultivated until 1861, when he joined the Confederate army and served throughout the war, largely with the army of the Tennessee. While he was at the front his house and all its contents were destroyed by fire. His wife then sold everything available and went to Dallas county, where she and her children made every effort to obtain a living. Following the close of the war Mr. Brooks returned to Kaufman county to find his family gone, nor could he obtain any trace of them. Later he went to Wood county, and both he and his wife thought the other dead and both married again. Fifteen years later they learned of each other’s whereabouts, he being in Wood and she in Dallas counties. Mr. Brooks was a farmer and great horse fancier, and owned a couple of fine race horses. He lived at various points in Texas, his death occurring in Palo Pinto county. His first wife was married four times, her first union being with Patrick Matthews, by whom she had a son, David Matthews. Following the death of her first husband she became the wife of Jack Bell. Her fourth marriage was with a Mr. Garrett. She managed her business interests and kept the children of her first marriage together, rearing them to lives of respectability and responsibility. She was a daughter of Sinclair Jones, an honored pioneer settler of Montague county, who assisted in the early raids against the Indians, driving them out of the country. He belonged to that class of representative pioneers to whom the country owes a debt of gratitude for opening up this region to civilization. After taking part in many skirmishes with he red men he was at last killed by them within a few miles of the present home of W. A. Brooks. He owned large tracts of land, and was one of the most prominent and influential farmers and stock raisers of his community. He had but three children; Susan; Polly, who became Mrs. Hill and afterward Mrs. Grove, and George, who died unmarried.
W. A. Brooks was born and reared in Texas. He had little education, because of the disorganized condition of the schools, owing to the Civil war. His father was in the army, and, as he was the eldest child, he was compelled to assist his mother and aid in the support of the other children. His life had indeed been one of untiring activity, and industry is one of his most salient characteristics. He remained with his mother and stepfather until he attained his majority and then married and began farming on his own account in Palo Pinto county, where he lived for eight years. He then sold his property there and removed to Knox county, where he spent one year. He then returned to Palo Pinto county, where he lived until 1882, when he came to Montague county, where he purchased one hundred acres of land, to which he has since added, until he now owns three hundred and eighty-six acres. All of the improvements upon this property were made by him, and are indicative of his practical and progressive spirit. The entire place is fenced and two hundred and forty acres are highly cultivated. He raises the various crops best adapted to soil and climate, also raises and handles some stock and has an orchard. On the place is a commodious farm residence, barns, cribs and other outbuildings, and in addition to this property he owns land in Jack county.
Mr. Brooks was married to Miss Pheba Anderson, a native of Arkansas, and an estimable lady, who held membership in the Missionary Baptist church. They became the parents of five children: Lee, the wife of S. C. Tice, a prominent farmer; Willie, who died at the age of one year; Mrs. Pearl Watson; Lottie, who died at the age of two years, and Carrie, at the age of eleven months. The wife and mother died March 11, 1899, and in 1902 Mr. Brooks wedded Mrs. Harriet E. Trice, who had a daughter, Josie Trice, now the wife of J. Parr. Mrs. Brooks was born in North Carolina, and in 1857 came to Texas with her father. Her parents, Alexander and Rachel (Roberts) Williamson, were also natives of North Carolina, where the mother died, in 1876. The father had served with the Twenty-ninth North Carolina Regiment in the Confederate Army and came to Texas in 1881, settling in Cooke county, where he remained until 1887, when he came to Montague county and retired form active life, his death occurring in April, 1900. When in North Carolina he served as justice of the peace. He never aspired to public office, but was content to devote his energies to his business affairs. Both he and his wife were loyal in their devotion to the Methodist church. Their children were: George W., a school teacher and later a farmer and business man; Stephen A., who died in North Carolina; Mrs. Brooks; Violet J., the wife of C. Roberts; Sarah, the wife of W. T. Anderson; Martha, who died in childhood, and William and John, farmers, of Montague county.
Mr. Brooks is indeed a self-made man and deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, for he started out in life empty-handed and has worked his way steadily upward through determined and earnest purpose. He belongs to the Missionary Baptist church, and his wife to the Methodist church. When he came to this county it was a sparsely settled region, in which the work of progress and improvement had scarcely been begun. He has watched its many changes and has borne his full share in the work of public progress and improvement.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas, Vol. I (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), pp. 680-682.