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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
SOUTHEASTERN INDIAN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEES: Colon Brooks
INTERVIEWER: Adolph Dial
DATE: September 2, 1969
D: This is September 2, 1969. I'm visiting here with Mr. Colon
Brooks, and his sister on what is known as the Brooks Settlement.
D: Seventy-four. Well, y'all been around a good while. Mr. Brooks,
will you tell me your father's name, and your grandfather and
CB: My father's name was Aaron Brooks, my grandfather's name was Jack
Brooks, and my great-grandfather was named John Brooks.
D: We have the family Bible here. I see where Mr. Aaron Brooks was
born in 1855. So Mr. Jack Brooks and Mr. John Brooks would go
back quite a number of years. Mr. Brooks, when you came along as
a boy, did you attend much school back in your day?
CB: Yes, we attended school every day we was fit to go. After we got
through school we'd always have to go to the farm.
D: Where did you attend school?
CB: I attended it down at Harpers Ferry. From there I attended over
at the college.
D: Where the building site is now,or at New Hope?
CB: Where the site is now.
D: Did your sister attend with you also?
CB: Yes, sir. We went to school together at that site that I went to
at that time.
RB: I went to New Hope.
CB: Wait, he'll get to you.
D: Where'd you attend Miss Rosetta?
RB: In Harpers Ferry school.
D: Was that Harpers Ferry where the school was that I remember down
here a little ways?
RB: Straight down in here.
CB: The corner down here.
RB: And I went some to New Hope.
D: Did you ever hear your father or your grandfather talk about the
Indian school anywhere?
CB: No sir, I didn't.
D: Did you?
RB: No, sir.
D: As far as formal training, your father and grandfather perhaps
didn't attend school.
CB: No, sir.
D: Back in that day. What kin are you, Mr. Colon Brooks, to Mr. Will
Brooks and Mr. Relaford Brooks who was known as Mr. Packy Brooks.
CB: I'm brother to Relaford Brooks and first cousin to Will Brooks.
D: Brother to Relaford Brooks who was Mr. Packy Brooks, as he was
called, and first cousin to Mr. Will Brooks.
CB: That's the two men.
D: I believe these men left here and went to Maryland, somewhere.
Was it before the war or after the war?
CB: After the war.
D: Perhaps somewhere not too far from around 1950?
D: Will you tell them of a story of why you think they left here.
Tell me why you think they....
CB: Maybe she can do that.
D: All right, Miss Rosetta, will you tell me why you think they left
and went to Maryland?
RB: No, I don't, honestly... before, it was real nice.
D: I suppose that some white people who came into the area have
painted a beautiful picture to them about land and living in
Maryland, and that's why they decided to go up that way and try
it and see what it was like.
CB: That's right.
D: These two men never did return to live here again, did they?
CB: No sir, they didn't.
D: Are both of them dead or one of them?
CB: They're both dead.
D: Both men are dead. Where is Mr. Relaford buried?
CB: He's buried at Harpers Ferry.
RB: He was buried in
D: At Harpers Ferry. Mr. Brooks, not very far from here is what
they call the Long House. I suppose it's torn down now. It was
standing a few years ago. It's not standing now, is it? Just
a few years ago it was standing, and I remember it as a boy.
How did this Long House come about? Why was it built?
CB: They come from strange people here to me and got some contact with
Will Brooks and my brother Relaford Brooks. Got them to come
together, get some folks together and cut poles and build that
house. That is all that I knew about it. I don't know for
what reason or nothing.
D: What did they use it for?
CB: They used it for social purposes: coming together, having what
they call the powwow. They finally got some cards printed and
had them out there for sale. People bought them for a dollar a
D: Membership cards?
CB: Membership cards, yeah.
D: I suppose this didn't last too long, this being a social meeting
place. It soon faded away I suppose.
D: Miss Rosetta, you remember anything about that?
RB: Oh, yes, we'd meet there and have a meeting.
D: After these strangers who had come in, who were, I suppose,
white people, did they feel that the white people had kindly
fooled them into something and then run off and left them?
How did they feel about it?
CB: Some of them felt like the folks were on the right track for a
while, but later on I heard a lot of gossip about it. Said that
they was just down here to get the money. That's all that I knew
D: I suppose that as many Indians as traveled all over the country
that they knew that the people had been beat out of their land
over the years. Strangers who came in with a fine-sounding story,
naturally they were willing to give it a try until they discovered
that there was nothing right with what they were trying to do.
Mr. Brooks, how do you feel about Henry Berry Lowrie. Would you
just tell me a little about your feelings, and whether you thought
that he did anything good for the Indian race?
CB: I didn't know anything about it at that time. I just know what my
foreparents talked about [him] and I'd listen. They said that Henry
Berry Lowrie was a great help to this generation of people today.
D: What did you understand, Miss Rosetta?
RB: I heard about him. I heard that they didn't do me nor none of my
people no good. He done hisself good by getting paid back from
the ones that destroyed his family.
D: In other words, he was getting revenge too.
D: Most of the people take the position that he did do the Indian people
a lot of good, too, didn't he?
CB: I think that myself.
D: Yes, I think so also. Miss Rosetta, lots of the Indian people
believe in signs of the time. My mother believes in signs of the
time: a good time to fish, a good time to plant, a good time to
do this, a good time to make soap, and a whole lot of things. I'm
not so sure that there's not some truth in this. Would you tell me
about some of the signs that you believe in, and you practiced and
followed over the years in planting or making soap or just anything
along this line that you can think of?
RB: Yes, they say it's a good time to make soap on the full of the
moon and go fishing on the crab days.
D: What about planting peas?
RB: Planting peas on twin days and crab days. The waterman day,
D: What was this last thing you said; about waterman day?
RB: Waterman day.
CB: You plant watermelons on that day.
D: Watermelons on waterman day?
D: And peas too?
RB: Uh huh.
D: When is a bad time to plant? What's the sign of the almanac on
a bad time? The goat?
RB: The goat and....
D: The goat and what else?
RB: The goat days is bad days to go fishing.
D: How about scorpions?
RB: Yes, on scorpion days.
D: Bad day? Uh huh. What about making soap? Did you mention making
RB: Yes, I did.
D: What do you think about the signs of the time Mr. Brooks?
CB: I haven't hardly got any signs of time on fishing; I haven't really
got that down yet. But I went on Sister Rotty's days and I had
good luck. So I feel like that the twin days is a good day to
plant peas, and also watermelons. I think them good days as far
as I know.
D: What about other signs. Do you have any other signs that you
watch as far as the star, the sky, or the star for anything?
CB: I go by the moon on rain. When it is dry times and the moon
be's on, we call it her tail. She's spilling her water.
D: Does that mean it was sowing rain?
CB: Yeah. That's about all I have on that.
RB: It's gonna rain, she gone....
D: All right Miss Rosetta, how's this?
RB: It's gonna rain, she's laying down on her back, kind of. We
call it her back.
D: Yeah, when the moon's on her back it's dry weather.
D: You're not too far from Lumber River, about 200 or 300 yards?
D: Have you caught many fish out of the Lumber River over the years?
If so, tell me about some of your fish stories.
CB: I haven't caught many fish out of the river the last years. This
year I've caught more than I've caught in some few years. Last
year I didn't catch but two, and I didn't count them at all.
D:. What about when you were a boy? Did you do much fishing in
CB: I did a lot of fishing in my young days, and when I was moving
around and I was able, I caught a lot of them up to the last
D: How about you, Miss Rosetta? Have you fished a lot over the years?
RB: I fished right smart. I read the horoscope late every evening,
and I'd get about five and six.
D: Did you get any as a child?
RB: Yes, I fished from a child on up. I caught my dad live bait to
D: You told me something about a story of an old log boat or
something awhile ago. What was that you were telling me?
CB: I was telling you about the first boat my father owned. My
grandfather dug it out of a cypress log. Big Arch Locklear
was his name.
RB: One of 'em.
CB: That's not....
D: He made this boat out of a cypress log and put something in the
end of it, I guess.
CB: No, he didn't have to put nothing in it. He didn't cut it all
out at the end.
D: He didn't cut it all out at the end. I've seen some troughs
made like that.
RB: With one cypress log.
D: I've seen troughs for stock...
D: ...made out of a cypress log, too.
CB: You can't flatten the bottom of it.
D: Yes. Did you hear any of your forefathers say anything about
any of the people who used to raft logs down to Georgetown?
CB: Yes, I have.
D: Would you tell us about that?
CB: My father told me that daddy-in-law used to raft timber down
the river many cold days. They had to do it to get their food,
to get on down the raft, to get the money out of their timber
and sell it. Get their rations, their food, put it on their backs,
and make it back home on foot.
D: They walked back from Georgetown, South Carolina?
CB: Uh huh.
CB: That's right.
D: What about your mother's people? What was her name?
CB: Adell Sealy Brooks was her name.
D: Were they some tall kin, perhaps? I mean, what was her maiden
CB: Oh, she was a Locklear before marrying.
D: Have these Locklears been here for a long time?
RB: Oh, my!
D: On your mother's side, is the Locklear group from the
CB: Also at Mount Airy [North Carolina].
D: Do you feel most of the Indian blood among the Brookses today
is from the Brooks side or the Locklear side, or about the
CB: About the same.
D: How do you feel, Miss Rosetta? You show about one hundred per cent
RB: 'Bout the same, I reckon.
D: Mr. Brooks, you feel that most of the Locklears are kin?
CB: Do I...?
D: Do you feel most of the Locklears are kin.
CB: Yes, sir. I feel like all of the Locklears is kin.
D: In other words, you are kin to those around Prospect and Mount
CB: Yes sir.
D: You think they all go back to an original set of Locklears...
D: ...rather than many Locklears coming to this area originally.
CB: Yes, sir, that's so.
D: Mr. Brooks, did your parents ever say anything to you about
marrying; what, race you should marry or anything at all along
CB: Yes, sir. He always told all of his children to marry in some
way or another, that we wouldn't be ashamed of our marriage,
that we wouldn't be ashamed to associate with them nowhere, and
go with them anywhere that we please and not be ashamed of them.
D: They stressed upon keeping the blood free from mixed blood as
much as possible?
D: You have anything to tell along these lines, Miss Rosetta?
RB: No, sir, I don't.
D: Where do you attend church today, Mr. Brooks?
CB: White Hill.
D: Do you remember when White Hill was built?
CB: I don't remember exactly when they started it. They started it
from a brush arbor over there near Mr. Hardy Oxendine's place.
It sprang out then with a church.
D: What denomination is White Hill?
CB: Free Will Baptist.
D: How many Free Will Baptist churches do you have that you know about
today here among the Indian people?
CB: Just one. That's this one.
D: I believe you forgot Saint Anna's, too.
CB: Yeah, that's right.
D: Saint Anna's one also,
CB: And Hickory Hill.
D: Hickory Hill? Where's Hickory Hill?
CB: That's down below Aurora. That's not Indian, strictly.
D: Are those Indian churches?
CB: Yes. And Sycamore Hill.
D: Sycamore Hill.
CB: Little Zion, that's Free will. That's an Indian church, that's
back out this direction.
D: So there's several of Free Will.
D: How does your denomination differ basically from the Baptists
at Harpers Ferry?
CB: There's not much difference in it.
D: Do you all still wash feet?
CB: Yeah, we all wash feet, and they don't at Harpers Ferry, I knows of.
We baptize just like they do. That's the only difference.
D: When do you wash feet?
CB: Let me see here, every three months.
D: Every three months you have a feet washing.
CB: That's right.
D: And you wash each other's feet.
CB: Yes, sir.
D: What is this supposed to symbolize?
CB: Symbolize love toward one another.
D: Love toward one another.
CB: Yes sir.
D: Mr. Brooks, did your father attend public school?
CB: No sir.
D: Could he read the Bible?
CB: Yes sir.
D: How did he learn to read the Bible? Just learned it on his own?
CB: I reckon he did.
D: Did he ever read the Bible to you children?
CB: Yes sir.
D: What was it like? How would he do?
CB: We had to get around him at night. He'd get his Bible and read
it to all of us sitting together.
D: You'd get around at night. He'd read to you and you'd listen.
CB: Yes sir.
D: Was this about every night?
CB: Yeah, every night, especially in the winter time. In the summer
time we'd all be so tired, and he would too, that he'd spend might
little time at night. He'd check us down after he'd get through
reading. He'd take us down on our knees and lead us the Lord's
Prayer, then go to bed. Sunday morning came, why, he'd rush us
to get ready to go to Sunday school. If we didn't have a way to
ride, he'd get side of us or behind us and go with us to Sunday
school, him and my mother, and bring us back home.
D: Mr. Brooks, what do you believe about worship today? Do you in
the church having pretty much freedom, people doing as they like
to do in church during worship, or what is your feeling about
CB: No, sir, I don't feel like people ought to have their way in
service in the church. I feel like when they go to service,
they ought to go there with an interest in it and take it to heart.
Let them take it to mean something to them and not be sitting
whispering and talking and blabbering in the church service.
D: What about as far as testimonial meetings. Do you believe that
people should be free to testify when they want to or do you
believe they should be at a stated time?
CB: Brother, I feel like that's the very living life of the church.
They'll set a certain time, let everybody in the church testify
to what they know and what they're living, and who they're
serving, and tell how good it is to them to be a Christian. I
believe that in all phases of life.
D: Thank you Mr. Brooks and Miss Rosetta Brooks. Enjoyed being in
your home today.