Maternal Great Grandparents

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016 —

Wedding Photograph from 1898

William & Eliza Brooks – Their Wedding Photo

William Henry Brooks – Born Willie Brooke in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England – In the Huddersfield District – on February 27th, 1875 — His father was Henry Brooke, (1840 – 1908). His mother was Eunice Hemingway Brooke (1838 – 1923 ). { I was told he was six years old when the family came to the U.S.A. & that the officials at Ellis Island recorded his name as William Brooks – I wondered why a family would just accept that. } He worked in a factory by day and taught stringed instruments in the evenings. My grandmother, Dorothy Mae Brooks Borden, played the Mandolin in an all woman orchestra { I saw photos, and I think, posters announcing that orchestra’s appearance somewhere. I do not remember the date. My grandmother was his oldest child and he altered documents to claim she was older than she was so she could play with the orchestra before she was legally old enough to do so. Near the end of her life, my grandmother was confused about just how old she actually was because of those conflicting documents. } He died on April 11th, 1959.

Eliza May Morgan Brooks – Born October 27th, 1878 in Bethel, Connecticut, USA – Her father was Charles Oscar Morgan (1844 – 1888).  Her mother was Josephine Osborne Morgan (1843 – 1930). { She told me stories about walking to school after snow storms left drifts higher than fences that she had to climb over. She also remembered that memories of the US Civil War were still sharp among her family and friends of the family and everyone was intensely concerned that everything they bought had to be made in states that had remained “in the Union”. She had an opal ring that she gave to my mother after hearing that opals were only good luck for someone born in October – my mother was born on October 20, 1923. } She died on June 12th, 1964.

Back as early as I can remember they lived in a huge old house at the end of  a road in Shelton, Connecticut. Their youngest child, my aunt Marjory lived on the second floor with her husband, Albert Armstrong and their two young blonde daughters, Cheryl and Lorraine. My great grandfather would not allow cigarette smoking in his home, and believed [ and preached ] that women should never smoke at all. But the smell of cigarettes being smoked by my aunt and uncle upstairs was undeniably present.

I remember their house being dark not as gloomy as my grandparents’ home in Stratford, but just as dark, maybe darker. On at least one occasion when we went to visit them there, we had to sit in their living room, near their upright piano, and watch the Lawrence Welk Show with them.

One time, before I was eight years old my Great Grandmother came to visit us for an afternoon, possibly after having been to a doctor’s appointment or something. I gave her a hug, and tried to prove how strong I was. Everybody told me to stop that, people her age were brittle and could break too easily.

At one point my parents wondered if it would be a good idea to ask my great grandfather to teach me to play the guitar. My grandmother said that probably would not be that great an idea. My great grandfather had a lot of patience with his paying pupils, but demanded and expected perfection from anyone he was related to.

— Regarding this photo. I thought it was strange that they would be posing with a guitar and a banjo for their wedding portrait. My cousin Lori told me that this was, indeed, their wedding portrait and the bride was not impressed with the fact that her groom expected her to pose with the guitar. — My great grandmother also told me she hated her name, “Eliza”.

— My great grandmother also told me that she saw a flying saucer hovering just beyond the end of their street in Shelton, Connecticut – one evening, shortly after or during the construction of what is now called ‘Old Route 8’.

~~~~~ Jim





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