The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Brooks, James Gordon Carter

The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
Brooks, James Gordon Carter
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BROOKS, James Gordon Carter, lumberman, b. in Salem, Mass., 25 Aug., 1837; d. in Chicago, Ill., 15 April, 1914, son of William Hawthorne and Sarah (Carter) Brooks. His father was for many years an instructor in preparatory schools in Boston and Cambridge. His earliest paternal American ancestor, Henry Brooks, came to this country from England in 1651, settling in Woburn, Mass. He was the first judge of the witchcraft cases at Salem. From him the line of descent is traced through John and Eustace (Monsall) Brooks; their son, John and Mary (Cranston) Brooks; their son, Timothy and Ruth (Wyman) Brooks, and their son, Leuke V. and Mary (Hawthorne) Brooks, who were the grandparents of James G. C. Brooks. The boy James was full of vigor and ambition, ready to work and eager in the enjoyment of all boys' sports. His education was limited to that afforded by the public and private schools of Cambridge and Boston, Mass., and was concluded when he was nineteen years old. He began his active business life in Chicago, Ill., in the employ of his uncle, Artemus Carter, at that time one of the leading lumbermen of the city. He took this first step from personal preference, guided by the firm belief that, if anything is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well, and that advancement and success are sure to follow consistent action in this line. In 1858 he entered the office of Charles Mears and Company, which was succeeded a year later by the firm of Mears, Bates and Company. Here he remained until 1879, when he withdrew to take a trip to Europe. Upon his return he became actively interested in the Oconto Company, organized by his former associates in Mears, Bates and Company, and in that of the Bay de Noquet Lumber Company, and Michigan manufacturing corporations operated by the same interests. In 1886 he succeeded George Farnsworth as president of both companies, acting in that capacity until 1907, when he was succeeded by his son-in-law, George J. Farnsworth, and retired from active business, but remained vice-president and a director of both of these companies. Upon the death of Eli Bates, Mr. Brooks was made executor of his estate and one of the bequests of his will was $40,000 to provide a monument of Abraham Lincoln for Lincoln Park, Chicago, Ill. The result of this bequest is the well-known Saint Gaudens statue of Lincoln which stands at the entrance to the park. Mr. Brooks took great pride in the way in which this bequest was carried out. Beginning like so many of our foremost American citizens, in a minor position, Mr. Brooks has made his way with rapid strides to places of recognized importance in the business world. He possessed very strong qualities of analysis, and it is undoubtedly through this and his thoroughness to get to the pith of subjects which enabled him to build up a successful business and organization. He carried these qualities into his dealings as applied to purchases and sales. When submitting a proposition, large or small, he would base his ideas on the very best knowledge of the existing conditions and prospects for the future, using as a basis the natural rules for the self-preservation and success of his company; but in addition to this he would then endeavor to analyze the situation as it would appear as to its fairness, in the event he was the purchaser instead of the seller. Mr. Brooks was definite in purpose and when dealings were consummated the efforts on his part would be to carry out to the fullest extent all of the real or implied intentions of the contract, for the benefit of the other party. His qualifications as a host were ideal. He loved to surround himself with his friends, at a house which had been built in the Northern woods, surrounded by a farm, where it would be his constant endeavor to afford pleasure and comfort to his guests. In 1867, he married Rose Ridgaway, daughter of Thomas Hambleton, of Cincinnati, Ohio, and they had four children: Alice Hawthorne, now Mrs. George J. Farnsworth; Edith Gordon, now Mrs. Henry B. Collins; James Hambleton (deceased); and Charles Richardson Brooks (deceased).