By Connie Harris Farrington.
In the Shailerville Tylerville Cemetery, there is an impressive brownstone obelisk commemorating the small family of George and Abigail Brooks and their sons. Additional information on the artistic attributes of the monument can be found on https://chs.org/finding_aides/ransom/042.htm which credits Libby M. Kaye, Haddam Municipal Historian, letter, June 2, 1994 as the source.
George Brooks and Abigail Turner married in Haddam on May 26, 1841. In the 1850 Haddam census the family consisted of George 33 blacksmith, Abigail 31, William D. 8, and George S. 7. In the 1860 census only the older brother was living at home with family reported as George 42, Abigail 41 and William D. 18, joiner apprentice. The younger brother George S. at 16 was living with Danforth Turner 65 in the 1860 census, probably his maternal grandfather (hence the middle name of Abigail’s firstborn son.) That page of the census is very faded, but Danforth Turner appears to be a shoemaker and George’s occupation is illegible.
On August 12, 1862 William enlisted in the Civil War, being mustered in on the 24th of the month.
According to a website on Andersonville Prisoners of War, William was a corporal in F Co of Connecticut’s Regiment 16 Infantry. He was a Corporal at the time of his death August 9, 1864 and is reported to have died of dysentery. The location of his capture on April 20, 1864 is said to be Plymouth, NC, suggesting he had as long as 3 ½ months in the prison that was said to be the harshest of all Confederate prisons.
In US Burial Registers, William is said to have been buried at Andersonville National Cemetery. This site notes that William had been promoted to Full Corporal on February 23, 1863 and mustered out on August 9, 1864 at Andersonville, GA (his date of death).
Younger brother George S. enlisted August 12, 1862, the same date as his brother. George remained a Private during his service. A website on Civil War Prisoners of War reports that George was captured April 20, 1864 at Plymouth, NC (same date and place as his brother), incarcerated at Andersonville GA and released. He died March 8, 1865 at Sherman General Hospital, Wilmington, NC and is buried in Wilmington National Cemetery, New Hanover Co., NC.
The internet provides a history of Connecticut’s 16th Regiment, noting that during its three years, 76 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded by Confederate troops while 240 enlisted men died of disease or accident. The unit fought at Antietam, MD; Winchester, VA; Harper’s Ferry, WV; Fredericksburg, VA; Plymouth, NC; and Charlotte, NC; among other sites.
On December 29, 1879 Abigail applied for a pension based on William’s service. The pension card shows her in the “dependent mother” category and awarded pension 205744. William’s father applied for a pension on January 7, 1892, after his wife’s death. His pension number on the index card is 422899. A separate pension card reports an application by Abigail based on her son George’s service. Although the application was given a number, no pension number appears on the card. Possibly they were treated as a single request.
In both 1870 and 1880 census records, George is reported in Haddam as a blacksmith.
Abigail died on December 30, 1890, age 72, and her name is on the grave monument in Shailorville Tylerville Cemetery. An unsourced family tree on ancestry.com names Abigail’s mother as Drusilla Brainard, daughter of Simon Brainard (perhaps source of George’s middle name).
In the 1900 Haddam census, George, age 82, born June 1817, married 8 years, appears with wife Ellen 60, no children born to her, and a boarder Bessie M. Gates 15. George no longer has an occupation listed. He owned his home free of a mortgage and it was not a farm. Perhaps it is of interest that the head of household preceding George is Charles Bailey, 25, “granite stonecutter.” Purchaser and carver of the large Brooks monument are unknown.
George died April 7, 1905, age 88. He is identified as a Deacon. On the monument, both sons are said to have died of starvation while in service. His second wife died in 1907 according to her gravestone in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Chester. Her will, written in Haddam, left all her real and personal property to her siblings. It included her homestead in Shailerville on ¼ acre of land, bounded on north by highway, on south by land of Russell Shailer and on west by John Brainerd, valued at $700. Names of neighboring property owners match names of closest entries in the census to the household of George Brooks. Her personal property included cash at Middletown Savings Bank $153.88.
According to findagrave.com, middle names of the sons are William Danforth Brooks and George Simon Brooks, both accounted for by their mother’s family. Based on the above records, the family has no descendants.
Photos by Kathy Brown.