Monday, March 12, 2012

Historical Fragments #2: More Mr. Brook.

Historical Fragments #2:
More regarding Washington Brick & Lime’s Mr. Brook.


Wally Lee Parker
(Member: Clayton/Deer Park Historical Society)

            History is very much a mess.  When history is presented as one clean, seamless, unambiguous stream of high definition facts, images, and deductions, the writer of said history has either done an exceptionally detailed job of research, or the writer has swept all the messy, not quite fitting bits up into one tidy pile and nudged them neatly under the rug.  Look closely at the pattern lining the floor of most any beautifully concise historical set piece and you’re likely to see the lumps.  That’s just the way history works.
            On the other hand, it’s all those little unfitted bits that keep historians employed or, as in the case of us unpaid amateur volunteers, engaged.  Each of these ignored bits, once understood well enough to be fitted into the overall puzzle, has the potential of significantly revising things that most everyone had previously agreed upon. 
            As for coming to an agreement in the first place, a number of questions about our incoming data were left unresolved from the last “Fragments” — that particular article having been spent rummaging around the few known facts about the life of Washington Brick & Lime’s co-founder, Henry Brook.  Since that article was first posted, a few new questions have been added to the unresolved jumble.

Photo courtesy of Randy Holman
Descendant of Henry & Kezia Brook
            Regarding the names of Henry Brook’s daughters, some progress has been made.  A page from the Spokane Falls City Directory has surfaced listing Miss Annie M, Miss Helen, Miss Kate W. and Miss Lottie W. — all stated as living at 706 5th Ave.  The directory was printed sometime between 1890 and 1896.  The date of publication obviously needs to be pulled down tighter.
            My suspicion is that nicknames were often used when referring to these daughters – and nicknames for young debutants apparently tend to change as the girls’ age.  Such changes, along with typesetter’s errors, might help explain the several disparate first names found in the newspapers.  But there’s also the fact that simply living at the same residence doesn’t mean all the girls being referred to as “Miss Brook” in the city directory had to be siblings.  Some could be Henry’s nieces or even his unmarried sisters — if there were any such — though at this point I’m going to assume that’s not the case.  At this point we just don’t know for certain.  I’m casting some doubt because, as cautioned in the first “Fragments”, making assumptions to bridge these gaps in our knowledge has a way of coming back to haunt.
            What we do know is that Henry had five daughters, so at least one daughter is missing from the city directory’s list.  We also know one of his daughters drowned at a young or relatively young age.  But if we assumed the drowned daughter is the one missing from the city directory, we’d be wrong.
            An article — part of which is reproduced below — appeared in the July 19, 1899 issue of The Chronicle.
            It will be a sad party which will arrive here this evening on the Northern Pacific from Rathdrum bringing the bodies of Misses Charlotte W. Brook and Marion S. Porter, two popular young ladies of this city, who were drowned yesterday afternoon while boat riding on Spirit Lake.
            The two young ladies had been at Spirit Lake since the Fourth of July.  Yesterday afternoon they, in company with Miss Hattie McCallum and Messrs. Fred Chamberland and J. H. Moseley, all of this city, were out on the lake in a small row boat … 100 yards from the shore it capsized, throwing the occupants into the water
            “ … In a short time after the accident the bodies of the two young ladies were recovered by divers, and every effort was made to resuscitate them, but to no avail, life being extinct.
            Both of the young ladies were well known in this city, and had a wide circle of friends.  Miss Brook, who was familiarly known as Lottie by her friends, is a daughter of Henry Brook, president of the Washington Brick and Lime Company, and she has lived in this city for the past 18 years, having come here with her parents when she was but three years old.”
            So now we know that “Lottie” was actually “Charlotte W. Brook.”
            As for the other girls, looking in “The Illustrated History of Spokane County,” published in 1900, we find “Kate W. Brook” being married to W. S. McCrea — William Stone McCrea — in 1895.  We know from later articles that her first name was actually “Katharine.” 
            Two of the four directory names now seem accounted for.
            Another “Brook” son-in-law — Mark F. Mendenhall — was married to “Harriet Helen.”  That accounts for “Miss Helen.”
            Now we’re down to one in the Spokane Falls City Directory — Annie M. Brook.
            Backtracking for a moment, it appears we can also account for the one daughter unnamed in the city directory — the fifth daughter.  In “The Illustrated History of Spokane County” we find that son-in-law James E. Daniels’ wife was Mary E. — clearly stated as being the daughter of Henry and Kezia Brook.  The two, Mary and James, were married June 3, 1890 — and apparently (because of her absence from the city directory) the first of Henry’s daughters to marry.
            That leaves one daughter — listed in the directory as Annie M. — and one son-in-law, J. M. Moore.  And it seems reasonable to at least tentatively associate the two.
            So, this is the ‘tentative’ layout of Henry Brook’s family — not of necessity listed in order as far as the ages of the daughters are concerned:
            Henry Brook & wife Kezia Letch-Brook.
            Mary E. Brook & husband James E. Daniels.
            Katharine (Kate) W. Brook & husband, William Stone McCrea.
            Harriet Helen Brook & husband Mark F. Mendenhall.
            Annie M. Brook & husband Joseph. M. Moore?
            And finally, Miss Charlotte W. Brook.
            But when it comes to residents of the Clayton/Deer Park area, there’s likely to be a bit of confusion in all this — confusion regarding J. M. Moore and his (perhaps) wife Annie M. Brook.
             It seems J. M. Moore was a prominent name in pioneer Deer Park.  Page 571 of the Reverend Jonathan Edwards’ “An Illustrated History of Spokane County, State of Washington” — the 1900 edition — states that “J. M. Moore … born in Tazewell County, Virginia, in 1860 … came to Spokane County (in 1888), located at Deer Park and engaged in the lumber business.  He is now proprietor of the only hotel in Deer Park.”  Further on the article says, “He was married in 1886 to Alice Grimes, a native of Virginia …”
            Knowing something of the history of Joseph M. Moore when he resided in Spokane, it seems fairly apparent that we’re talking about two different men.
            And as one last puzzle regarding the family of Henry Brook, below is his biographical data as printed in “The History of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon & Washington, Volume II.” This tome was published in 1889.
            The record of this gentleman is not only a satisfactory commentary upon his own business capacity, but also upon the dimensions of the business of the city, and a scale of its enterprises, since his coming here in 1883.
            Mr. Brook was born in England in 1842, and came to America in 1870, locating at Minneapolis. He reached Spokane Falls in 1883, doing since that time a very successful business. In 1885 he was elected a member of the city council, and while in that office favored the measure to buy the waterworks and furnish the people water at cheap rates. He is no less enthusiastic than his neighbors in his confidence in that city. He is married and has a family of six children.”
            The last bit of data — assuming it’s not an error — says Henry has six children.  We have his five daughters listed above.  Assuming the article in the “History of the Pacific Northwest,” is not in error, where is this sixth child?
             Perhaps he’s at Spokane’s Fairmount Memorial Park.
            Going back to a 1954 Spokane Daily Chronicle article about one of Henry and Kezia’s daughters, Katharine McCrea, the newspaper reported that “Katharine Brook came west from Minnesota with her parents and brothers and sisters.”  Add that to an internet listing of graves found a Fairmount Memorial Park — graves that appear to be in close proximity to each other – and we may have just found that sixth child.
            The names of interest are Henry Brook, age 65; Kezia Brook, age 62; Lottie Brook, age 21; and Harry Brook, age 4.  The source for these names state that they were copied directly from the cemetery’s records.  To make certain this is a family grouping, it will be necessary to visit the park and look at the stones.  I’m adding that to my ‘to do’ list.
            The problem here is that we have no date for Harry Brook’s death.  Six children are mentioned in the 1889 “History of the Pacific Northwest” book.  Brothers” are mentioned as having arrived in Spokane Falls with the family in the 1954 article.  And Harry is listed as being 4 years old at the time of his death.  If Harry was the sixth child, and if he was with the arriving family in September of 1883, his death would need to have occurred no later than 1887 for all of these factors to mesh together.  Of course the biographical data in the 1889 book could have been several years or more old at the time of publication.  But still, it’s a puzzle.  That and the plural form of “brothers” used in the 1954 article.
            And lastly, there’s this bit of unique data scoured from the internet.  It appears as part of a family history file regarding one George Theodore Belden, born in Rome, Ohio, in 1840 — and apparently an acquaintance of our Henry Brook.  The history file was posted on one the larger genealogy sites.  The material itself is stated as having been extracted from handwritten materials, possibly journals, letters and the like.  Since copyright may be involve, and since my attempts to contact the players responsible for posting the material have so far proven fruitless, I’ll paraphrase as much as possible when using the material in question.
            During the winter of 1882-’83, Mr. Belden — at that time residing in Hutchinson, Minnesota — came into possession of two publications, an unnamed “west coast magazine” and “a chronicle” (the Spokane Falls Chronicle was published between 1881 and 1890, and is therefore likely the “chronicle” meant).  Those publications contained “write-ups” about “Spokane Falls” and the “Inland Empire.”  In March of 1883 Mr. Belden, “in company with the late Henry Brook and a few others,” struck out for the Washington Territory.  According to the family file, the journey began on a stagecoach pushing through “huge snow drifts.”  The record as presented on the website seems disjointed and incomplete — as is likely the source material.  It indicates the second night was spent “snow bound in Iowa.”  If the time scale is correct, and considering the distances involved, our assumption would be that somewhere between Hutchinson, Minnesota and the boundary into Iowa, the group boarded a railroad train, and that it was the train that was snowbound in Iowa.
            Regardless, the narrative goes on to say from Iowa the group followed “the southern route to San Francisco.”  Other sources indicate that a portion of the northern transcontinental railroad route through Montana’s Rocky Mountains to Spokane wasn’t completed until early 1883.  Those sources also noted that said transcontinental route wasn’t open for regular travel until September of that year — 1883.  The Belden material indicates the Belden/Brook party continued on from San Francisco to Portland — apparently arriving in Portland on “March 28.”
            As an indicator of the time on the road, the material says “the three weeks travelers rolled into Spokane,” — leaving the impression that it was likely at the very tail end of March when Belden and Brook stepped off the train in Spokane.
            As for what Brooks did in Spokane, this quote.  Mr. Belden bought half a block where the first gas works was afterwards located.  (-----), there Mr. Brook & himself built their first houses.”
            It seems evident that the families weren’t with the men on their early spring arrival in Spokane because the material goes on to indicate that “Mr. Belden” then returned “over the Rockies by four horse stage” to Minnesota, to retrieve “the two families” — assumedly those families being his and Henry Brook’s.
            As a final note relevant to Henry Brook, the above material states, “The families came in September on one of the first trains, meeting Gen. Grant and other notables who had attended the driving of the last spike.”
            The Saturday, September 8, 1883 issue of the Spokane Falls Review detailed the preparations that had been made for that day’s celebration of the completion of the transcontinental route through Spokane Falls.  The next Saturday’s Spokane Falls Review — the one published on September 15 —detailed everything that had gone wrong.  But it also mentioned that General Grant — and all indications make it clear that they meant General Ulysses S. Grant, former President of the United States — was with the prior Saturday’s visiting party of dignitaries.  The Spokane Falls Review finished its article — headlined “Somewhat Short / The Intentions Were Good, But the Execution Prevented” — by saying, “The spike was not driven until a late hour Saturday, and the trains were behind hand at every point on the route.  We wish it had been otherwise, but as it was not, do no not propose to kick and find fault,” — this last quote’s wording — apparent typos and all — is exactly as seen in the paper.
            The above would suggest that it was indeed September 8th when the “two families” arrived in Spokane.
            As noted, I would hope that someday we could provide details as to the circumstance of how the quoted Belden family file was collected — details as to the authors, and perhaps even photo-reproduction of the original handwritten pages from which the above notations were extracted.  That at least would be my hope. 

1 comment:

Lina said...

Historical detective work can be very rewarding when it finally pans out! It requires a different sort of approach than the usual detective work, I have a book on the subject that's quite interesting...Anyhow, good job on fitting some more of the puzzle pieces/messy bits together!