City of Brookfield

A Little History

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Section seven was first owned by Edward D. Talcott, to whom it was patented by the general government October 6, 1855. Talcott sold the east half to R.S. Forbes and R. S. Watson, June 11, 1857. Forbes and Watson sold to John L. Lathrop, trustee December 19, 1857. Talcott conveyed the west half to John Duff on the eleventh of March, 1858; Duff sold to John L. Lathrop, trustee Sept. 13, 1859. Lathrop conveyed the entire section to J. D. Helms, December 22, 1859.  The work of surveying the town was done by an engineer named John Wood Brooks from Boston, who took precautions that his name should be remembered while the town existed. The town was named for him, and four of the principal streets were named John, Wood, Brooks, and Boston. On the twenty third of July, 1859, the Plat Of this town was recorded.

Mr. Pat Kerigan kept one of these boarding houses and a Mr. Landrigan the other. Prior to the building of these houses, if houses they may be called, the residence of Mr. Holsinger, south of town, was the only human habitant in sight. Esquire Samuel Sumner had lived east of town from about 1855.

Capt. E. P. Dennis took charge of this hotel when it was ready for occupancy, and, assisted by his excellent wife, the first female resident of Brookfield, kept a very creditable hotel for some years.

In August, 1859, Major Josiah Hunt built two frame single story houses on Brooks Street, near Livingston, and in the neighborhood of the present site of the Central Hotel. In the latter house Thomas Dresnehan lived. Northwest of the depot, in the neighborhood of Caldwell Street, lived a Mrs. Bracken and her two sons,  Joseph and William, in a log cabin. In October the family of Mr. Hurd occupied one of Major Hunt;s houses which stood in the middle of Main St. and the family of Cornelius Slaughter lived in the other.

It is impossible to state with accuracy who were all of the first settlers of Brookfield, and the order in which they came, but among them were Captain Dennis, Mr. Hurd, Patrick Kerrigan, Mr. Landrigan, Thomas Dresnehan, Cornelius Slaughter, before mentioned, Jacob Van Meter, who built a hotel, which, after many additions and improvements, is now the Central Hotel, Frederick C. Loring, a butcher, who built on Livingston Street, between John and Woods, Henry Steinhelver, James Proctor, Michael Gannon, Michael McGrale, Ed Stevens, John McCormick, Charles Davis, the first train dispatcher. Rad Dennis, James Tooey, W. T. Snow, Augustus Turner, who came in 1860 and brought a sawing machine; J. Tillotson, Michael Quinn, John L. Houck, who came in on the first train, as did John McGowan, then a young Ind.

In July 1860, Mr. James Tooey came up from St. Catharine and built the first store in the place. In August, 1860, the first post-office -was established. James Tooey received the appointment of postmaster from President Buchanan.

The first white child born in Brookfield was a son of Cornelius and Alice Slaughter. It was born January 7, 1860.

In November or December, 1859, James McKinney, an Irish man and a railroad man, died at the residence of Mrs. Bracken, in the little old log cabin on the hill. This was the first death in town. Soon after, in January, 1860, a lady named Bosha, a cousin of Captain Dennis, died at the Railroad Hotel. The body was taken east for burial. In August, 1861, Mrs. Myers died. She was the wife of the proprietor of the Myers House.

The first marriage in Brookfield was a notable occasion, and a merry one. The couple were Frank Bernard and Nellie Mathews, both employed by Captain Dennis in his hotel.  They had a child born to them in November, 1861, and not long after they left for St. Joseph. In the neighborhood of Brookfield probably the next marriage was that of Wilder Rickerd and Ellen Hall, the latter a daughter of Andrew Hall, which was performed at the residence of the officiating magistrate, Esquire Carter, in the winter of 1862.

In January, 1861, Jim Gallagher went down to St. Louis and there married Ellen Shea. Another early marriage of a Brookfielder was that of Mike McKinney who went down to Carrolton and there married Mollie Hanovan.

Soon after the first settlement of Brookfield, or in 1861, Miss Lizzie Clark taught school in her father's residence,  The first physician to locate in Brookfield was Dr. Banning. He came into the place in January, 1861  Probably the next after him was Dr. Shook, although Dr. Rider, of the Railroad Brigade, attended on some of the citizens during the war. Before Banning came, people were forced to send two miles into the country, south of town, for Dr. Rooker, who ministered to their ills, in connection with Dr. Harris, from Laclede.

Source: History of Linn County, Missouri 1882