Friday, February 23, 2018

Benjamin Franklin Brooks (1897-1918)

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World War I Memorial

The Square in Yanceyville contains a memorial to the men who died in military service during World War I. On that memorial plaque is listed Benjamin Franklin Brooks (1897-1918). Who was he? Who were his parents? How did he die?

Benjamin Franklin Brooks, nicknamed Jack, was born April 22, 1897, in Person County, North Carolina, a son of Samuel Matthew Brooks (1856-1919) and Leah Long Brooks (1861-1950). A few years later, his family moved to the Hightowers community of Caswell County, where young Jack Brooks attended the local schools. He grew tall, was of medium build, with brown eyes and black hair.

By 1918, he had struck out on his own, farming land in the Caswell County Corbett community, having married Clara Hensley in 1915.

The couple had one known child, Frances Louise Brooks, born September 24, 1917, in Alamance County. She married Rufus Virgil Nelson (1906-1986) and for many years was the face of the Caswell County Tax Office in the old Caswell County Courthouse.

Were there other children that we have missed? Please help.

Called to World War I military service in August 1818, Jack Brooks received his Army infantry training at Camp Wadsworth near Spartanburg, South Carolina. In October of that year, he was assigned to overseas duty, and sailed to Europe from Newport News, Virginia, landing at the harbor town of Saint-Nazaire on the west coast of France.

Having become ill on the Atlantic voyage, Jack Brooks developed pneumonia and died only three days after reaching France. He was buried with full military honors and rests at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery. He is not alone, but with 6,012 American war dead. Their white headstones are aligned in long rows, divided into four sections by wide paths with a circular plaza at the center.

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Here is the only image we have of Benjamin Franklin (Jack) Brooks. He is second from the left, with a shotgun over his shoulder. To the far left is his sister Mary Fannie Brooks (1889-1978). The others are believed to be siblings, but not identified.

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