A native of Salem, Massachusetts, she married journalist and author Noah Brooks in 1856. They settled in Dixon, Lee County, Illinois. During that summer, her husband met Abraham Lincoln at a political rally. The two men would become close friends. In 1859, her husband traveled by ox team and by foot to California. This journey, typical of thousands during the gold rush, is described in her husband's book "The Boy Emigrants." No mention is made of Caroline, who may have traveled overland or by boat, crossing the isthmus of Panama and meeting her husband in California. They settled in Marysville, near Sacramento, where her husband established a daily newspaper. Tragically, Caroline and her infant child died just a few years later, in 1862.