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February 25, 2008


Gary Ashwill

Wow, this is great news. I'd love to see the military records & pictures.

In case you haven't seen it, I've also got the census information (from 1840 through 1900) I sent to your cousin.

I'm still wondering where the name "Chester" came from, and what kind of West Indian connection there may have been (aside from the Brooks family living among lots of immigrants from the Bahamas).

Mike Nealy

Hello Gary,

This is incredible! You've done some great work here. I just spoke with my cousin Liz who you've been corresponding with. I've been doing research for years on our grandmother's family and couldn't find anything on Irvin Brooks on the Web...until now. Thanks! I have a couple of pictures of Uncle Irvin if you're interested as well as his military file from 1909-1917 (which I obtained from the National Personnel Records Center) and a couple of articles about him. As you know, Irvin was born around June of 1891 in Key West, FL to Irvin and Betty Brooks. His father died in November of 1895. It appears his father's mother/grandmother (??) was Hannah Forrester Brooks and she was from St. Augustine, FL. I found a record of her living in St. Augustine as a free black in 1838. As to who her family and one-time owner were is unknown to me. Irvin Brooks (jr)'s mother Betty appears to have been from FL, however we know her father (Irvin's grandfather) was one Joseph Thomas and apparently he was from South Carolina. How/when he came down there to KW is also unknown.
My paternal grandmother (Camille Brooks Nealy) was very close to her Uncle Irvin and his wife Bessie. In fact, my dad's middle name was "Irvin" after his great-uncle. Based on one of the articles I have, it seems Irvin was such a great baseball player that the commandant of the Naval Station in KW (where Irvin served), taking great pride in a strong baseball team saw to it he did his Naval duty there.

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