Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 656-57.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  William Brooke

William Brooke was born in Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, October 5, 1833, a son of William and Elizabeth (Geiger) Brooke, both natives of Pennsylvania, where they spent their entire lives, the father passing away when about seventy-two years of age, while the mother lived to be nearly ninety-two years old.  The latter was of German descent, while her husband, William Brooke, was of English origin, and the only two representatives of the Brooke family who came to America settled in the Keystone state.

When about nineteen years of age William Brooke of this review started out in life for himself and, being convinced that the new and growing west held opportunities that were not to be found in the old and more thickly settled east, he came to Ohio, where he was employed for a time as a farm hand and later worked on the railroad.  At the end of three years he removed to Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1855, there remaining for two years, while in 1857 he came to Buena Vista county, this state, securing some tracts of land about three miles south and west of Linn Grove, Iowa.  Here he has resided to the present time, with the exception of a few months spent at Peterson, Iowa.  As the years have passed and his financial resources have increased he has added to his holdings until he is now the owner of nine hundred and twenty-six acres of rich and productive land, being widely recognized as one of the most prosperous, influential and enterprising citizens of the county.

William Brooke is now the oldest living resident in the county.  He has passed through all the experiences of pioneer life, has witnessed the growth and development of this part of Iowa and in the early days was of great assistance to those who were less fortunate or were more easily discouraged, being ever ready to extend a helping hand to those who were struggling with the privations and hardships of a new country.  He has met with his own misfortunes but with undaunted courage he braved the trials of that lonely time.  After arriving in this county he and his brother erected a comfortable home, in which nearly all of their money was invested, but in the same year the place took fire one night and was burned to the ground, both the building and its contents being entirely destroyed.  This left them destitute, without even a lueifer match, and the nearest place where they could secure supplies of any kind was Fort Dodge, a distance of about seventy miles.  With no neighbors, no money and all their former possessions in ashes, it can readily be imagined that the prospect was a most discouraging one for the brothers and indeed, looking back to that time now, Mr. Brooke himself can scarcely realize that they were able to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that beset them on every hand.  After a few years' residence in this county[,] the brother of William Brooke became ill and returned to Pennsylvania, where he lived but a short time before passing to the home beyond.  Among the settlers who came here about the same time as did our subject were Luther Barnes, Joe Wheeler and William Crozier but William Brooke is now the only survivor.  Since age conferred upon him the right of franchise he has given his political allegiance to the democratic party and has always cooperated in those measures and movements instituted for the general welfare.  He has now passed the seventy-fifth milestone on life's journey and there is no more respected or worthy citizen in Buena Vista county than William Brooke.