J. F. BROOKS - The gentleman whose name introduces this review, familiarly called "Fred" by his numerous friends, is one of the wide-awake and progressive farmers of Springfield township, living on section 11. There he devotes his energies to the various pursuits which claim the attention of the agriculturist - the cultivation of grain, the production of fruit and the raising of stock. He operated a farm of one hundred and twenty acres and his property is the visible evidence of his life of earnest toil.
Mr. Brooks is a native of Sangamon county, born in Woodside, October 12, 1859. His father, James W. Brooks, was born in Massachusetts in 1822 and came of one of the old families of that state, tracing his ancestry back to the Pilgrim Fathers who landed on the coast of New England in the early part of the seventeenth century. In his native state J. W. Brooks was reared and was there married to Belinda G. Crosby. In 1856 he sought a home in the west, locating in Woodside township, Sangamon county, Illinois, where he afterward purchased land. While living there his wife died and subsequently he returned to Massachusetts, where he was united in marriage to Martha Ricker, a native of Maine. He then brought his bride to his home in Illinois and continued farming for some years, but eventually he sold his land here and returned to Massachusetts, where he remained for four years. The west, however, proved more attractive to him, but, having returned to his native state at the request of his mother, he there remained until her death and then again came to Sangamon county, at which time he purchased the farm upon which his son Fred now resides. This he improved, making it a very valuable property on which are two sets of farm buildings. Throughout his remaining days his energies were devoted to the care and improvement of his place, and here he died October 14, 1900, while his wife passed away January 28, 1888.
J. F. Brooks, the only son in a family of five children, of whom three are yet living, was reared on the old homestead from the age of eleven years. He was reared in the manner of farmer lads of the period, attending the common schools and also pursuing a course of study in the Springfield township. In the care of his property he shows keen discrimination and is methodical, practical and energetic.
On the 24th of October, 1883, in Springfield township, Mr. Brooks was united in marriage to Miss Kate W. Sanner, a native of Maryland, although she was reared in Sangamon county and is a daughter of John Sanner, a carpenter and joiner of this county. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Brooks have been born five daughters: Nellie, who is now a student in business college; Ruth, Grace, Martha and Esther, all yet under the parental roof.
Mr. Brooks was reared in the political faith of the Republican party and has never had occasion to change his views, for his investigation into political issues has led him to the belief that the party platform contains the best elements of good government. His first presidential vote was cast for James A. Garfield, and at local elections he votes independently regardless of party ties. He and his wife and two of their daughters are members of the Central Baptist church, of Springfield and he belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America. Having always lived in Sangamon county, Mr. Brooks is widely known to a large number of its citizens, who entertains for him warm regard because his life has been consistent with honorable principles. He is a man of incorruptible integrity, of strong purpose and marked energy, and in matters of citizenship he is found as the supporter of every movement that is calculated to promote the general good.