Brookins of the South
The Brookins Family in the Southern States was well established by the time of the Civil War. More than a dozen Brookins from Georgia and Alabama fought for the Southern cause. The Southern branch of this family does not, however, begin in these states. The first Southern Brookins was named Bridgman Brookins and he lived in Dobbs County, North Carolina, where he paid local taxes in 1769. By 1786, Bridgman, along with Abraham and Thomas Brookins are listed as taxpayers in Wayne County. Wayne County was formed from Dobbs County in 1779, and named for a famous Revolutionary War adventurer, “Mad Anthony” Wayne.
The 1790 North Carolina census gives us the first clear picture of this family. Hanna Brookins, possibly the widow of Abraham, is listed with one male child, under the age of 16. Absolum Brookins is shown with his wife. Thomas Brookins and his wife also have a male child. Bridgman Brookins lives with two other grown males, one male under 16 and five females. All the Southern Brookins descend from these families, in three separate branches.
It is probable Bridgman is the senior member of this family. Perhaps he came to North Carolina by himself, perhaps with other family. Possibly Abraham, Absolum and Thomas are his sons; all of them seem young enough. But the records are not clear and, unfortunately, leave these matters to speculation.
Some researchers have suggested this family begins with a Thomas A. Brookins, who came from a Dutch family but was born in Ireland, and who had a wife named Jane. This may reflect confusion with a Thomas Brookens who was born in 1781 in Ireland of a Dutch family, married Jane Jarvis, and settled in Westmorland County, Pennsylvania. This family is very well documented, but it is not the Brookins family of the Southern states.
One hint of a possible origin for the Southern Brookins is found in the 1880 census showing a Bridgman Brookins living in New York with a father born in Maine. Perhaps Bridgman is a family name of New England origin, and perhaps an earlier Bridgman moved from Maine to North Carolina. Again, however, this is just speculation.
Between 1790 and 1800 the entire family moved from North Carolina to Georgia. There are no Brookins in the 1800 North Carolina census. The first Georgia census is 1820, and by then the family is found in three counties with distinct branches.
One thing for certain, though, this Brookins family is not part of the Brooking family of Virginia (Branches X and Y). The name is always spelled Brookins and the sequence of first names shows no relationship to the Virginia families.
There is some confusion because four of the sons of Col. Vivion Brooking of Amelia, Virginia, also settled in Georgia after 1800. As their name was pronounced “Brookins” it was sometimes spelled that way in census records. As an example, the 1820 census shows a “Charles Brookins” in Washington Co., Georgia. This is actually Charles Vivion Brooking, grandson of Col. Vivion Brooking and a veteran of the War of 1812 who later received a soldier’s pension of land in Hancock Co, Georgia. Most of Col. Vivion progeny settled in Hancock County. One branch went on to Tallapoosa County, Alabama, in the 1840s.
Benjamin and Haywood Brookins of Washington County, Georgia
Washington County is located in east-central Georgia. The 1820 census finds a Benjamin Brookins living there along with Nancy Brookins, who is later identified as a widow. Here also is the good fortune of a Bible record. The Elizabeth Brookins Franklin Family Bible shows that “Haywood Brookins, son of Thomas and Nancy Brookins was born the 18th day of December 1801” in Washington County.
A portion of the Elizabeth Brookins Franklin Family Bible showing the entry for Haywood Brookins. Used by permission of David Little (genealogy.macgruffus.com)
This means that Thomas Brookins of Wayne County, North Carolina, came to Washington County, Georgia. He died before 1820 but his widow, Nancy, was still alive. It is likely he had four children: Elizabeth Brookins, Thomas Brookins, later shown in land records as an orphan, Benjamin born 1790 in North Carolina, and Haywood, born 1801 in Georgia.
Haywood Brookins, also known as Major Brookins, became quite well known. He served as clerk of Washington County for many years and was credited with saving many of the county’s records in 1864 when Gen. Sherman’s Union forces raided the county on their March to the Sea.
Benjamin Brookins had several sons, including Thomas, born 1814: Solomon, born 1815; Zachariah, born 1819; and Haywood, born 1825. In the 1850s, Benjamin Brookins and sons Zachariah and Haywood moved to Baldwin County, the neighboring county to Washington County.
The older Haywood Brookins remained in Washington County until his death in 1875. He had two wives, and by his second wife, Sarah Rogers, had three sons who died in infancy and one son, Benjamin W. Brookins, who grew to maturity and had 11 children. There is a large descendancy of Brookins, including some Society members, from the Washington and Baldwin County families.
When he died in 1864, the senior Benjamin’s obituary noted: “Mr. Benjamin Brookins, aged 74 years, a native of Wayne County, N.C. In boyhood he came with his father to Georgia and resided in Washington County from 1797 until 1858, when he removed to Baldwin County.”
Samuel Brookins of Burke County, Georgia
Two counties east of Washington County is Burke County, bordering on South Carolina. Another branch of the North Carolina Brookins family, headed by Samuel Brookins, settled here. Samuel is aged 75 in the 1850 census and shows North Carolina as his birthplace. As he was born about 1775, he would be one of the “under 16” children in the 1790 census.
It is impossible to tell which Brookins is the father of Samuel, although some researchers think it is also Thomas Brookins. He is first found in the 1820 Georgia census for Burke County, but only with female children. In 1840, a William Brookins is also found in Burke County. In 1860, William lists his age as 60, meaning he was born around 1800 and in Georgia. Most likely he is a son of Samuel, who would have been 25 in 1800. William had a son named Absolum born in 1831. However, most of the births in this family seem to have been females, and there do not appear to have been any later male Brookins in the Burke County branch.
Edwin and Isaac Brookins of Laurens County, Georgia
This is the most complicated of the Southern Brookins. Laurens County, also in central Georgia, is two counties south of Washington County. The 1820 census shows Theophilus Brookins living in Laurens County, and in 1827 he receives a grant of land as an orphan. By 1830 Theophilus is gone but Edwin Brookins shows up, along with Nancy Brookins, who may be a widow.
By the 1840 census this family had moved to Randolph County, Georgia, where both Edwin and Isaac, probably a brother, are found. In the 1850s, Edwin’s family moved to two counties in southeastern Alabama, Dale and Henry Counties. The 1860 census shows a large family headed by Edwin and Arvilla Brookins. The 1850 census shows Edwin’s birthplace as Georgia in 1796, and the 1860 census shows South Carolina in 1799. He was not born in South Carolina, probably North Carolina or Georgia.
There is some confusion as to Edwin’s name. At one point it is Willis Edwin; other times it is Edwin Jefferson, or possibly Edwin G. The 1850 census shows Edwin’s sons as James and Edwin. In 1860, he is living in Henry County, Alabama, with sons Ira Hilliard and Edwin Brookins.
Edwin does seem to have had at least six children. Seaborn H. Brookins was born about 1817 and is probably a son by a first marriage. He moved to Dale County, Alabama, in 1860 and owned a gristmill. He and his wife Jane had eight children. Julia Ann Brookins was born in 1825, married William Mann, and had three children. Ira Hilliard Brookins was born in 1828 and married Mary Ann Hamilton. He settled with his father, Edwin, in Henry County, Alabama, in 1856. He and Mary Ann had 13 children. James Brookins was born in 1830 and probably died before 1860. Ivey Hollis Brookins was born in 1832 and joined his father in Henry County in 1857.
Ivey Brookins was wounded twice in the Civil War, once shot through the right leg and permanently disabled, and second shot through the jaw. In 1899, he was awarded a Civil War pension. He married Sarah Smith, a full-blooded Indian, in 1858 and they had at least eight children. The youngest of Edwin’s son, Edwin G. Brookins, was born about 1835 and died in Tennessee during the Civil War. He left a wife and two young children.
Isaac Brookins does not appear in the 1860 census. In 1856, the sheriff of Randolph County sold his land at public auction to pay off a debt. Isaac may have had as many as seven children, but there is no sign of this family in later censuses. An Isaac Brookins, possibly a son, did serve in the Civil War.
Most Alabama Brookins descend from this family. At the time of his death, it was noted that Edwin, Sr., left his wife three bushels of corn, one cow and three pigs.
(Special thanks to Dewey L. Glass of Montgomery, AL, whose two volume history of the Brookins in Georgia and Alabama was very helpful in tracing this family.)
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