Thomas J. Brooke has the distinction of being the oldest living pioneer settler of San Joaquin county in the vicinity of Farmington. He still owns and resides on the ranch which he began to accumulate in 1852. For a number of years, however, his residence was in Santa Rosa, and he was also in business in San Francisco, but his connection with the material interests of San Joaquin county has never lapsed during a period of more than a half century. He has been a very successful man, both from the standpoint of business prosperity and because of his public-spirited identification with public and social matters. It would be difficult to find a man in San Joaquin county who more thoroughly merits and receives the esteem and recognition of his fellow citizens than does Mr. Brooke.
He was born in Cherokee county, Georgia, and is in the main a southerner both by birth and sentiments. His birthday was on April 23, 1831, and he was a son of John P. and Esther (Bennett) Brooke, his father being of Irish extraction and his mother of English ancestry. He was reared in his native county. During the days of his boyhood the only schools existing in the neighborhood were the subscription schools, public school systems being of only comparatively recent date in the history of the south.
He was just twenty years old when he broke loose from the ties of his native southland and set out for California. He came, in 1851, by way of the isthmus, and, as the principal incentive for his coming had been the gold discovery, he was engaged in mining for a time in Tuolumne county. In July, 1852, he located on the nucleus of his present beautiful ranch, a short distance east of Farmington. He bought three hundred and twenty acres of state school land, but by subsequent purchase he has increased this half section until he is now the owner and operator of a ranch of two thousand acres, all devoted to grain and stock raising. For some fifteen years he resided at Santa Rosa, this state, in which city he took a prominent part in public affairs. He served as mayor for two years, and for four years was a member of the city council. In the seventies he was for about two years manager of the Grangers' Business Association at Stockton, and for a time was manager of the Grangers' Business Association at San Francisco. He subsequently engaged in the produce commission business in San Francisco, and became an influential and successful member of mercantile circles in that city. In 1894 he left Santa Rosa as a place of residence and returned to his ranch in San Joaquin county, where he has continued his residence to the present time.
During the fifties Mr. Brooke served for a time as a justice of the peace in San Joaquin county. Throughout the many administrations of political rule that he has witnessed during his active career he has voted with and loyally adhered to the Democratic party. Fraternally he affiliates with the Valley Lodge No. 35, F. & A. M., at Linden.
May 27, 1863, Mr. Brooke was united in marriage with Miss Mary J. Worley, a native of Georgia, and a daughter of Silas J. Worley, who was also a pioneer citizen of San Joaquin county and is now deceased. By this marriage three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Brooke: Annie A., who is the wife of H. C. Petray, at Haywards, California; Melissa C., at home, who graduated from the Pacific Methodist College at Santa Rosa; and Thomas J., Jr., of San Francisco.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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