It began in Baltimore, Maryland during the Revolutionary War with an indentured servant named Elizabeth Brooks from unknown parts of Ireland. Around 1787 Elizabeth gave birth out of wedlock to a mulatto baby girl named Sarah or “Sall”. When Sarah was about four years old, she was bonded or “adopted” by a white couple moving to Rutherford County, North Carolina.

  Sarah grew up as a “bond servant” while being passed from one white family to another. In 1808, she learned that she was a free woman, not a slave as she had always believed. Around that same time, she fell in love with a slave living on a nearby farm in Rutherfod County according to family folklore of two different descendant branches.   

  Sarah remained faithful to that slave until her death, bearing five children along the way. All of her free-born children were raised under the unusual circumstance of having a slave father on a nearby plantation that they apparently had frequent access to.

   While it remains a mystery on which plantations Sarah lived as a free person and which plantation her partner some call Robert lived as a slave, the best candidates are slaveowners John Oliver Lattimore and John Elliott who maintained  bonds with the Brooks over generations


   Two different branches of Brooks tell of the purchase of their ancestor, Sarah’s slave partner/husband. Folklore of Jerry’s descendants tells of his walking from his Crowder Mountain homeplace near Kings Mountain  to Rutherfordton to purchase his father’s freedom. Folklore of Winnie’s descendants tell the story from a different perspective that is in no way contradictory. In fact, both stories are perfectly compatible. Mother Sarah made the initial time payments for her husband’s freedom but died owing a balance. Winnie’s son, Daniel Brooks, recalled men coming to get the balance from his grandfather around 1843. Surely, when son Jerry learned of this, he walked to the county seat of Rutherfordton to join with sister Winnie to pay the balance owed, thereby permitting their father to die a free man.

 Somewhere in the bowels of the Baltimore city or county archives is the record of the fine paid by a colored man to release Elizabeth Brooks from prison for the crime of bastardy after Sarah’s birth. Surely the man named is Sarah’s father.

  Likewise, there may be an extant record of the purchase of  Sarah’s slave partner in Rutherford County in the late 1830’s or early 1840’s. Surely that would reveal the name of this Brooks patriarch as wll as the name of the slaveowner who supported  his life-long relationship with Sarah.

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The Lattimores

1808 Court Document 1808 Court Document Census 1840 Brooks,Jerry.JPG 03 Brooks,Jerry & Clark,Eliza.JPG Census 1830 Brooks,Winnie 1-2.JPG Census 1830 Brooks,Winnie 2-2.JPG 03 Brooks,Winnie & Dunaho,John.JPG Marriage Brooks,John 1822-1867.JPG 03 Brooks,John & Bass,Safronia.JPG 20131022 Census 1850 Brooks,Daniel.JPG 03 Brooks,Daniel & Boyce,Mary.JPG Whitworth,Lily BROOKS - Slave Father of Jerry Brooks 1.JPG Davis,Sara BROOKS - Slave Husband of Sarah Brooks 1.JPG 03 Brooks,Nathaniel & Howell,Louisa.JPG 20131022 Deed 1854 Brooks,Nathaniel.jpg 1869 Deed 1.JPG

In Search of the Holy Grail

Generations 1,2 & 3: Elizabeth and Sarah Brooks 

Holy Grail