|Birth: ||Jan. 26, 1871|
|Death: ||Dec. 4, 1934|
[From "The History of Adam Frederick Prentice" by Jan Patrick Mongoven in 2011.]
Susan Deborah Prentice was born at Nepean in Carleton County, Ontario, Canada, on January 26, 1871. Known as "Debbie" by her family and close friends, she was Adam and Sarah (Birch) Prentice's third child. Dispelling any family "stories" that she was adopted by the Prentices after Indians had murdered her biological parents, Debbie's birth record is shown below.
Shortly after she was born, Debbie's Canadian parents returned to the United States and moved to Salem in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, where Adam worked in the oil business. Her early schooling likely would have been in schools near Salem. Around 1881, her parents developed the "Western Fever" and moved to Dakota Territory. They likely found a temporary home in Fargo but soon moved several miles west to Casselton, as Adam had entered into the hotel and saloon business there. Perhaps young Debbie attended one of the town's wooden schoolhouses – the second of which is pictured on page 33.
The Prentices moved again a few years later, this time onto the primitive plains of newly formed Sargent County. Debbie's parents had several properties there, and she finished her education in the rural schools of Sargent Township near Cogswell. A family from Wisconsin lived nearby – Gilbert and Frances (Adsit) Brooks moved onto a farm, called Brookland, in Forman Township. One of their sons was Samuel Brooks. Apparently, Debbie caught Sam's eye.
Debbie married Samuel Norton Brooks on December 16, 1891. The simple ceremony took place inside her parents' home, with Pastor William Gillespie of the Community Church of Forman officiating. Debbie's younger brother and sister, John Wesley (Wes) Prentice and Florence (Flora) Elizabeth (Prentice) Boner, were witnesses.
On July 31, 1892, seven and one-half months after their wedding, the couple's first baby arrived. Their daughter was christened Luella Maude. Maude was followed by her two brothers, Vernon DeLysle (who married Mabel (Peterson) Gabrielson) and Gilbert Lloyd.
The 1900 census tells us that Sam – with Debbie and the three children – owned his farm with a mortgage in Sargent Township. But farming did not suit Sam, so they moved north a bit to the village of Cogswell in 1902. Sam was always close to his younger brother-in-law, Fred Prentice. On November 9, 1903, they paid James Camp $100 for a small land parcel near the western edge of town. They started a butcher shop there, called the City Meat Market. While the men took care of business, Debbie raised her three youngsters, and Fred's wife, Mary Ann ("Mamie") Hackett, took care of the first three of their seven children at Cogswell. Soon, however, the two families decided to leave North Dakota and head east into Minnesota.
By 1904, the Sam Brooks and Fred Prentice families arrived at the small village of Richville in beautiful Otter Tail County, Minnesota. The area's gentle, wooded hills and many pristine lakes stood in stark contrast to the endless flat terrain of their former county. Fred and Sam were business partners in Richville, too, and operated a general store called Prentice & Brooks. Richville's first church, the Evangelical United Brethren Church, was built in 1904. The Minnesota Methodist Conference purchased the building in 1908 – on June 2nd Debbie Brooks ("Mrs. S.N. Brooks") was elected to its first, five-member board of trustees.
Although Debbie's and Sam's parents remained in North Dakota, family ties proved incredibly strong. Luckily, trains like the Soo Line allowed the Prentices and Brookses to travel nearly 140 miles from Richville to Cogswell whenever a need or desire arose. Such was the case in 1906, a heart-wrenching year when three Prentice family members died within an 8-month stretch. In April 1906, Debbie's two-year-old niece, Zola Haight (a daughter of her sister, Edith) died suddenly at Everdell, Minnesota. In October, Debbie's 31-year-old sister, Flora, passed away in Minneapolis. Finally, Debbie's father, Adam, succumbed that December to a long and painful battle with stomach cancer. Their funerals were held at Cogswell, requiring three sorrowful trips by train.
In simpler times, local newspapers often published accounts of personal visits, encounters, and deeds (both bad and good!). The following appeared in the newspaper – The Bulletin (later The Enterprise-Bulletin) – from nearby Perham, Minnesota, on July 18, 1907: "Mrs. A.F. Prentice of Cogswell, N.D., visits her son Fred and daughter Mrs. S.N. Brooks at this place (Richville). She returned with Mr. Brooks who was out to Cogswell looking after business." Mrs. A.F. Prentice referred to the widow, Sarah Prentice; Mrs. S.N. Brooks was Debbie Brooks; and Mr. Brooks was Samuel N., Debbie's husband. As can be seen, both families truly were close-knit. Another article from the same newspaper, published October 3, 1907, stated: "Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Brooks went to Cogswell, N.D. on account of the illness of Mr. Brooks' mother." The news was somewhat late, however, as Sam's 76-year-old mother, Frances (Adsit) Brooks, had died at Cogswell on the 30th of September.
The Brooks family was no longer in Richville by the time the 1910 census was enumerated. Instead, Sam and Debbie rented a home at 608 E. Channing Street in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, some 40 miles southwest of Richville. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to 532 E. Channing Street. Sam was a driver for J.C. Meyer Groceries and then worked in the Glass Block Grocery in Fergus Falls. Debbie must have relished being in the company of her older sister, Jennie, with whom she was always very close – the wonderful photo above shows the sisters during the 1880s at a Fergus Falls studio. James and Jennie (Prentice) Bowman owned a home at 520 E. Channing Street, a few doors away from the Brooks family. However, the Brooks' stay in Fergus Falls was short-lived.
Around 1913, Sam and Debbie returned to Richville. Daughter Maude had fallen in love with Elmer C. Christenson, a local butter maker, and the couple married at Richville on June 16, 1915. Debbie's heart must have ached when the Elmer and Maude moved south nearly 300 miles to Stewartsville, Minnesota. But there was more to worry about.
War raged in Europe. A German U-boat sank the British ship Lusitania in 1915, and 128 Americans perished in the attack. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed, "America is too proud to fight," and futilely tried to bring an end to German submarine attacks on our vessels. The Germans obliged for a while. Then, in January 1917, they resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. Germany tried to convince Mexico that the United States would soon enter the war. Their attempt was made in a secret Western Union Telegram from Arthur Zimmerman (Foreign Secretary of the German Empire). However, the coded message was intercepted and decoded by British cryptographers before it could reach Mexico. The German government had offered money to Mexico as well as assistance in helping to recover its lost territories of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, if Mexico would join Germany in waging war against the U.S. When Wilson released the "Zimmerman Telegram" to the public, Americans saw it as a cause for war. Congress formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. Debbie's son, Vern [photo] registered for the draft on May 31, 1917, and became a corporal in the 125th Ordnance Depot Company at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. In April 1918, son Gilbert joined the Army and served in the supply office at Fort Bliss – mercifully for Sam and Debbie Brooks, neither of their boys fought overseas and the war formally ended in 1919.
Sam and Debbie never allowed distance to separate them from their adult children. They sometimes took long vacations at Maude's home in Stewartville, south of Minneapolis. By 1924, Debbie was the grandmother of three Christensons: Lois, Donna, and Claire – a one-month-old baby, Duane, died at Richville in 1918. The following is from the Perham Enterprise-Bulletin of January 18, 1917: "Mrs. Elmer Christiansen and babe and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Brooks, left for Stewartville Monday. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks intend to spend the winter at the home of their daughter of that place." Another article from the same newspaper, dated March 28, 1918 read: "Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Brooks returned from a three-month visit with their daughter, Mrs. Elmer Christiansen and family at Stewartville." And twelve years later, on June 26, 1930, the following appeared: "Gilbert Brooks and wife of Stewartville spent the weekend at the S.N. Brooks home." Another, dated November 24, 1932, stated: "Mrs. S.N. Brooks has been confined to her bed with influenza since her arrival at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Elmer Christianson at Kenyon."
At Fergus Falls, on September 22, 1920, Debbie's son, Vern, married a young widow named Mabel Augusta (Peterson) Gabrielson. Her dentist husband, Leonard C. Gabrielson, died of influenza at St. Cloud, Minnesota, during the 1918 epidemic. Mabel, pregnant at the time, had returned to her parent's home in Richville. She gave birth there to a baby girl – Leona Mae Gabrielson. Vern came back to Richville when the war ended. He fell in love with Mabel, married her, and gained a beautiful baby step-daughter in the process. Vern and Mabel Brooks then produced two more grandchildren for Sam and Debbie. Dale Lorimer Brooks was born June 18, 1921, at Perham, Minnesota, and Carol Elizabeth Brooks arrived July 24, 1928, when the family lived in Plentywood, Montana.
Sam and Debbie's youngest son, Gilbert, married Ruth A. Moen, at Underwood, North Dakota, on June 16, 1923. The couple next lived near the Christensons in Stewartville, Minnesota. Sadly, their two baby boys died at or shortly after birth. One of these was born June 24, 1926, and died the same day, while the other arrived April 23, 1929, and passed away the next day. Afterward, Gilbert and Ruth adopted their beautiful baby girl, named Ardeth.
In 1930, Sam and Debbie remained at Richville in what was considered one of the finest houses in the tiny village. They had purchased the home from a doctor who had used it as a hospital of sorts. He utilized its many rooms to house patients as they recovered from various ailments. The house was perfect for visits from the grandchildren, who loved to be driven out to Lake Marion on the outskirts of town during the warm summer months. The census indicates the house was worth $6,000 – the most expensive in this very small community – which was significant money at the start of the Great Depression. Sam was retired but still active, as he represented the Rose Hill Nursery, a Minneapolis-based company with a branch in Otter Tail County. Debbie busied herself in the home and spent a great deal of time baking, cooking, cleaning, and sewing. She was an active member of the town's Methodist Episcopal Church.
Carol Elizabeth (Brooks) Mongoven was a young child when her paternal grandmother was alive, but she recalled Grandma Brooks as an intelligent and well-heeled woman who seemed somewhat aloof as compared to her maternal grandparents. Carol's Grandma and Grandpa Peterson were part of a large Swedish family, with a farm in nearby Amor and later a home in Richville. "I don't remember her as being very big...Grandpa Brooks was so large...and she wore little glasses and had her hair pulled up and in a 'pug.'" She recalled that her grandmother spent a lot of time in the kitchen. "She made me dresses with bloomers that had a pocket for my handkerchief, so that if I had to blow my nose, I'd have to lift up my dress to reach the pocket. The dresses were short so you could see the bloomers! She used very pretty fabrics."
During the winter of 1934, Sam brought Debbie south to Kenyon, Minnesota, to spend time with Maude. Debbie had lost two beloved brothers that year – Fred Prentice died October 20th at Richville, and Will Prentice passed away March 12th at Minneapolis. Debbie, too, had been gravely ill with cancer for several months, when her heart finally gave out. She died at age 63, on Tuesday, December 4, 1934. Her death certificate listed the cause as "cancer of the gall bladder with complications of terminal hypostatic pneumonia, auricular fibrillation and decongestion of the heart." Debbie's body was returned to Richville, where her funeral was held at the Methodist Episcopal Church. Susan Deborah (Prentice) Brooks was buried in the Richville Cemetery.
Sam and Debbie were married nearly forty-three years. After her death, Sam's health declined. He spent his final months in Minneapolis at the Vocational Hospital. Sam suffered a heart attack and died in the evening on Monday, January 24, 1938. He was 70 years old. Sam Brooks' funeral was held at Richville, and he was laid to rest next to his wife, Debbie, in Richville Cemetery.
An obituary for Susan Deborah (Prentice) Brooks appeared in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal on December 5th:
MRS. S.N. BROOKS DIES OF CANCER
Former Resident of This City and Richville Called to Rest
Mrs. Brooks' Death Is Third In Family Within the Past Nine Months
"Mrs. J.F. Bowman received a message Tuesday evening telling of the death of her sister, Mrs. Sam N. Brooks, which occurred at 9 p.m. from heart trouble and other complications. She has been ill for some time, and death was not unexpected.
"Mrs. Brooks was born in Pennsylvania [sic] in 1871, and was nearly 64 years of age at the time of her death. Her maiden name was Deborah Prentice. The family located in Richville a great many years ago, and her husband was engaged in the general store there, as a member of the firm of Prentice & Brooks. They later spent a few years in Fergus Falls, where Mr. Brooks was in the Glass Block Grocery.
"They have been spending the winter at Kenyon, Minn., where their daughter resides, and her death took place there.
"She is survived by her husband, and a family of three children. They are: Mrs. Elmer Christianson, Kenyon; Vern D. Brooks, Richville and Gilbert T. [sic] Brooks, Stewartville, Minn. She also leaves two sisters, Mrs. J.F. Bowman, of this city, and Mrs. C.H. Allen, of Spokane, Wash.
"The family has had more than its share of afflictions lately, two brothers, Wm. D. Prentice and Fred Prentice having died within the past eight months.
"Mrs. Brooks was a woman of fine character and will be deeply mourned by her family and friends.
"The time of the funeral is not yet announced, but the remains are to be brought back to Richville for burial."
The following appeared in the Perham Enterprise-Bulletin on December 6th:
MRS. S. BROOKS DIED THURSDAY
WELL KNOWN RICHVILLE WOMAN PASSED AWAY AT KENYON – FUNERAL TO BE AT RICHVILLE FRIDAY
"Mrs. S.N. Brooks of Richville died at Kenyon, Minn., Thursday where she and Mr. Brooks went some time ago to spend the winter with their son. Mrs. Brooks had not been well for several months.
"Funeral services will be held at Richville Friday at 1 o'clock."
One week later, on December 13th, a formal obituary appeared in the same newspaper:
"The funeral of Mrs. S.N. Brooks was held from the M.E. church Friday at one o'clock, Rev. F.H. Stephens of Perham officiating. Those from out of town who attended the funeral were Mr. and Mrs. Merle Prentice and family and Mrs. Ross Vail of Minneapolis, Mrs. Janet Faucey of St. Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Odin Melby and Mr. Emil Moen of Underwood, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Robertson and family and J.S. Bowman and family from Fergus Falls, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Brooks of Cogswell, N.D., Mrs. Elmer Christenson of Kenyon, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Brooks of Stewartville. The remains were laid to rest in the Richville cemetery. She leaves to mourn her loss her husband, two sons, Verne of Richville and Gilbert of Stewartville, and one daughter, Mrs. Elmer Christianson of Kenyon, one sister Mrs. Jennie Bowman of Fergus Falls and several grandchildren besides a host of friends."
Adam Frederick Prentice (1838 - 1906)
Sarah Jane Birch Prentice (1843 - 1915)
Samuel Norton Brooks (1867 - 1938)
Luella Maude Brooks Christenson (1892 - 1974)*
Vernon DeLysle Brooks (1894 - 1970)*
Gilbert Lloyd Brooks (1898 - 1959)*
Jane Ann Prentice Bowman (1867 - 1952)*
John Wesley Prentice (1869 - 1921)*
Susan Deborah Prentice Brooks (1871 - 1934)
Adam Frederick Prentice (1873 - 1934)*
Florence Elizabeth Prentice Boner (1874 - 1906)*
William Daniel Prentice (1877 - 1934)*
Edith Ellen Prentice Allen (1883 - 1964)*
Otter Tail County
Plot: Block O/18, Lot 68
Created by: janealogy50
Record added: Mar 13, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 66867824