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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

W. P. BROOKS. - W. P. Brooks is a self made man whose life record is creditable and whose success is enviable. He started out empty handed but he realized that success is not a matter of genius but the outcome of clear judgment, experience and unfaltering industry, and by the cultivation of these characteristics he has won prosperity and also gained for himself an honorable name as a business man. He has now passed the Psalmist's span of three years and then and is enjoying a well earned rest, making his home in Auburn.

Mr. Brooks was born in Cecil county, Maryland, April 20, 1829, a son of William C. and Sarah (Roberts) Brooks, the former a native of Cecil county, while the latter was born in New Castle county, Delaware. The parents were married in the year 1825 in Cecil county, Maryland, but about 1835 removed from that place to her native county. In early life the father learned the blacksmith's trade, but did not follow it. Instead he turned his attention to the purchase and sale of cattle and also engaged in prospecting, locating Magnesia fields in Maryland. He purchased a large trace of land, which he developed, but afterward found that his title was not good through a technicality in law and a Baltimore capitalist wrested it from him, thus causing him heavy loss. Both in Maryland and Delaware he engaged in teaching school, being a man of broad general information who had the ability to impart clearly and concisely to others the knowledge that he had acquired. In his political views he was an earnest Democrat and twice served as township collector. In early life he held membership in the Methodist Episcopal church, afterward united with the Universalist church and on the 1st of January, 1869, he was baptized into the Adventist church. The ice was broken in order to perform the ceremony in the river and on that occasion he caught cold and died about three weeks later, passing away on the 20th of January, 1869. His widow survived him for about two years. In the family of this worthy couple were ten children: John R., who was married in 1851 to Annie Wilcox, a native of England, but both are now deceased; Christopher, who lived only eleven days; W. P., the eldest living member of the family; Thomas T., who married Anna Goodwin, a native of Maine, and is now deceased, as is his wife; Nathan C., who married Elmira Edwards and both are now deceased; Charles H., who was born May 3, 1836 and now resides in Philadelphia, but his wife has passed away; Mary M., the wife of Charles Rauch, of Sangamon county, who is now living in Coffeyville, Kansas; Martha A., who was born in October, 1840, and was married in 1857 to A. C. Hatcher, but he is now deceased, and she makes her home in Auburn; Anna V., born in May, 1842, and now the wife of George Mason, of Auburn; and Sarah E., who was born January 28, 1844, and is the widow of Francis Brownell. She makes her home in Auburn.

The educational privileges which W. P. Brooks enjoyed were limited, for at an early age he had to assist in the operation of the home farm. On the 1st of January, 1844, when fifteen years of age he was bound out to Arthur Morrison, of Cecil county, Maryland, and learned the blacksmith's trade. His master was very hard on him, and on a Friday in November, 1847, when he was eighteen years of age he ran away. He had but one dollar and twenty-four cents in his pocket and with this limited capital he started out in life for himself. He walked to Newcastle, Delaware, a distance of about thirty miles and then went upon a boat, on which he remained in hiding until they reached Philadelphia for he had no money to pay his fare. On reaching that city he landed, and on Monday morning he secured a position in a blacksmith's shop at a salary of three dollars per week. Of this he had to pay two dollars and a quarter for board. For five years he occupied that position and then in 1852 went upon the road selling Dr. Wright's Indian Vegetable Pills. For four years he remained in that business and it was during that time that Mr. Brooks met and married the lady who has been a most faithful companion and helpmate to him. The wedding took place January 10, 185. She bore the maiden name of Anna McWatters and was born in Belfast, Ireland. During her early girlhood she lost her parents and in 1847 she crossed the Atlantic to America, being upon the sailing vessel for thirty days, at the end of which time she landed at New York, and thence made her way direct to Philadelphia.

On the 14th of May, 1857, Mr. Brooks arrived in Auburn and for a year thereafter engaged in farming. He then opened a blacksmith's shop in the village and followed that business continuously for thirty-four years or until 1892, when he retired to private life. He was an excellent workman and because of this he secured a good patronage and constantly added to his income until now in possession of a comfortable competence he fully deserves, is able to put aside business cares and live in the enjoyment of the fruits of his former toil.

As the years passed the home of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks was blessed with three children: Cora B., born August 30, 1857, became the wife of E. M. Stockman, who is engaged in the insurance business in Des Moines, Iowa, and they have one child. Myrtle Irene, who was born in Virden, Illinois, May 11, 1881. Marcia, born March 25, 1860, is at home with her parents. Johanna, born August 3, 1862, was married in 1891 to Joseph M. Lanham. He is now deceased and she is engaged in teaching in the public schools of Auburn and makes her home with her parents.

Mr. Brooks has served as postmaster of Auburn, filling the position during President Cleveland's second administration. His life has been one of untiring industry and now he occupies a fine residence in Auburn, and also owns other property here, but he certainly deserves much credit for what he has accomplished, and not only has he gained prosperity, but has also won an honored name, which is rather to be chosen than great riches.

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