Thursday, May 26, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Joseph Rooks in Grundy Co., Missouri

Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks
I have a lot of pioneer ancestors in my family tree, and I admire their spunk and adventurousness. Joseph Rooks, my 5th great grandfather, was one such hearty soul who forged his way through the American wilderness, likely in search of good land and a better life for himself and his family.

Joseph was born in Kentucky in 1772. By 1807, he was in Highland County, Ohio, where he married Elizabeth Jackson (1790-1880). While Joseph and Elizabeth were adding to their family of 14 kids, they migrated to Randolph, Indiana, where they can be found on the 1820 US census. According to the 1881 book, "The History of Grundy County, Missouri: An Encylopedia of Useful Information, And A Compendium of Actual Facts," Joseph and his brothers, Samuel and Uriah, had finally settled in Marion township by the Fall of 1838, and were some of the very first white settlers of Grundy County, Missouri. At around the same time, other names in my family tree, including two more of my 5th great grandfathers, Robert Ishmael and John Holloway, arrived in Marion township. The Brittain family started showing up in area by the 1850s, and my 3rd great grand uncle, Francis McGuire Brittain, is also featured in "The History of Grundy County, Missouri."

The Rooks, Ishmael and Holloway family ended up being somewhat intertwined as the generations progressed. Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks' grandson, Thomas J. Rooks, married Robert and Polly Ishmael's granddaughter, Serena Jane Ishmael -- they were my 3rd great grandparents.

Within a few years of settling in Missouri, Joseph Rooks was granted two land patents of just over 137 acres acres in Marion, Grundy County, Missouri. Below is one of two documents detailing the land granted to him on April 1, 1843. I found these with a very simple search on the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Office website. The document refers to Livingston County: Grundy County was organized from part of Livingston County in the 1840s.

Click on image for larger view

I was able to enter coordinates from the land patents onto a site called Earth Point which then helped me to translate the information into longitude/latitude. From there, and with just one click of a button, I was able to view the exact location of the Rooks land via the wonders of Google Earth.

Section 18, Township 60, Range 22. The Rooks land was in the
NW 1/4 section, where the arrow is pointing. Theirs were Lots 3 & 4, but I
haven't yet found a map that breaks down the lots. The town of Laredo is just to the west
of this land, and that's where Joseph passed away on May 25, 1868.
Here's a close-up of what may have been the land belonging to
Joseph and Elizabeth Rooks in 1843 Grundy County, MO. I wonder if
that's their farm house up near the top?
Isn't it just gorgeous? Being a farm girl, myself, I appreciate the beauty of this land where my ancestors settled. One day, I'm going to win the lottery and take a road trip to visit all of the homesteads that were settled by my folks.

Finally, here's a map that shows the general migration path of Joseph Rooks: from Kentucky to Ohio to Indiana and then to Marion township, Grundy County, Missouri.
That last stretch, from Randolph County, Indiana (C), to Marion, Missouri (D), is roughly 500 miles. According to Google Maps, that would take about nine hours to drive by today's standards. It makes me wonder how long the journey took for the intrepid Rooks family in their wagons, and it makes me admire them all the more for their adventurous spirit!

Here's how I'm descended from Joseph Rooks:
Joseph Rooks (1772-1868) m. Elizabeth Jackson (1790-1880) in 1807 >
Samuel E. Rooks (1816-1876) m. Elizabeth Holloway (1820-1846) in 1835 >
Thomas J. Rooks (1837-1919) m. Serena Jane Ishmael (1845-1914) in1860 >
Mary Jane Rooks (1862-1904) m. Frederick Harmon Brittain (1859-1921) in 1879 >
Andrew Lee Brittain (1888-1954) m. Jessie Luetta Halstead (1898-1974) in 1919 >
Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) m. Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) in 1938 >
William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) >


  1. Wendy,
    Dear, I LOVE the mapping you've done. That adds an entire other layer to genealogy. I've thought about the quests many of my 1800s (in particular) ancestors made west as well. My father, being from Grundy county, would likely appreciate it if I used google earth to map out the land once owned by his ancestors (we had an Isaac Smith who died with a lot of money and was listed as a farmer so I'm assuming there was a lot of land under his belt).
    Also, "The History of Grundy County, Missouri: An Encylopedia of Useful Information, And A Compendium of Actual Facts"... do you have this in your possession? I'm wondering if I can get it on loan.
    Finally, a few days ago I ran across the state of MO vital statistics. Did you know that they have scanned and uploaded their birth, death, marriage certificates and more? I didn't realize this as I had been relying on and irritated that ancestry didn't have much information for MO (at least in our neck of the woods).
    Cheers as always!

  2. I love the mapping too! I've never heard of Earth Point before.

  3. Hi Jamie. You can find a digital copy of the book at -- just search "Grundy County Missouri History" and it'll come up in the results. It's searchable, too! I've been to the MO site, and it's awesome.

    Jen, I just learned about that site from a RootsMagic webinar I attended the other night (Lisa from Genealogy Gems was talking about Google Earth, and I'm obviously hooked).

  4. What a fantastic tool! I never even thought about trying to find the actual piece of land from the patents. I guess I have something else to put on my to-do list! Nice work!

  5. I just happened on to your post about Joseph and Elizabeth when doing my weekly search of the name Rooks. You are a cousin of ours. We follow the line of Temperance Mary Jackson/John Rooks, Willis Rooks/ Nancy E. McNeece (2nd wife) (1st was Nancy Ishmael, Charles Murphy Rooks/Gladys Juanita Dickerson, James Willis Rooks/Ruby Lee Crain (my parents), then me, Doug.

    I may have some additional images and information that you would be interested in. I have information on a John Rooks in 1675 in MA in the "Kings War" then another John Rooks in the early 1700s. I also have the information that follows Elizabeth's line back to her great-uncle President Andrew Jackson.

    Glad I saw your post.

  6. Hi Doug! I'm so glad you found me, and I just saw your email. Thanks so much for those photos and documents! I'd love to stay in touch with you regarding our Rooks line. I do have some good info beyond Elizabeth Jackson (particularly on the Beals line), but haven't definitively made the connection from her to Andrew Jackson. I don't have a lot past her husband, Joseph Rooks, though.

    I'll respond more in-depth via email this weekend. Have a great day!

  7. Hi Wendy, A Rooks cousin from South Dakota. I'm interested in John 1675 in MA. (Kings Wares and John Rooks in 1700. Suzanne

  8. Hi Wendy,

    A photo posted of an aunt who recently celebrated her 70th birthday spurred my quick Google search of Elizabeth Jackson and brought me to your site for the first time... I search now and again to sit and stare at the GGGGG Grandmother that my Grandma Clara resembles SO much and to share information w/family.
    I haven't done anything more than scan over the page here, but want to say thanks and I'll be back! Check out the photo and compare likenesses of the two *if you can log in and see it) I have a couple other photos that I will be posting as well... soon. I haven't decided which age Grandma looks more like her GGG yet. (Hope I got the ggggg CORRECT) It's late, and I will fix if I made a mistake, later.

    Thanks again,

    Penny Bradford

    Short take on our line:
    John Rooks m.Temperance Mary Jackson, son James Rooks m. Anna Wishon daughter Rachel Rosetta Rooks m. Owen Beecher Cotton, daughter Goldie Cotton m. Robert Erickson daughter Clara Erickson (my Grandma Clara)

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  10. Sorry, I didn't post a link to a photo to show a comparison... So far, I have a link to my cousin's photo with the two mentioned above; Clara and Goldie. But I'll have to post a couple more later, maybe in my blogspost or picasaweb.

  11. Hi, Wendy,
    I'm a cousin too; just found this article. I love finding stories and information about ancestors, rather than just names and dates, it makes them live for me. It also gives me a way to check my tree on I'm slowly building.
    Quick reference on our line:
    John Rooks m Temperance Mary Jackson; son Joseph O. Rooks m. Faun Tingaleska, then Katherine C. Robinson; daughter Noresta m. Louis Bruce, Sr.; son Louis Bruce Jr m. Anna Wikoff; son Charles Bruce m. Dorothy Bull; then me.
    I'm glad I found your articles! Thanks!