Robert A. Brooks was born in Louisiana to Jordan Clinton Brooks and Elizabeth Mims Brooks of Georgia. His father was a teacher living with his family in Talbot County Georgia in 1850, but at the time of Robert's birth in November of 1854, they were farming in Claiborne Parish Louisiana. They lived in Texas during the Civil War where his father was a Captain, drilling and recruiting men for the war effort. The family was found living in Bell county Texas, near other Brooks family members in the 1860 census when Robert was seven years old.
The family moved back to Louisiana where his mother Elizabeth died in 1869, followed shortly by the death of his father, Jordan in 1870. Robert, approximately aged fifteen, and his siblings were left orphaned.
Robert and his brothers and sisters moved into the home of their father's sister, their Aunt Mary, and Uncle Alexander Sanderson. Robert, along with his orphan siblings, was found living with them in both the 1870 and 1880 census at the age of fifteen and twenty-six respectively.
In approximately 1881, Robert married Nancy Jane Pipes, who was also born in Louisiana on March 1, 1857 to parents Charles Wesley and Nancy C. Hearn Pipes.
The passed-down story is that Nancy Jane was a jolly soul and that she and Robert seemed to be happy, farming for a living. Nancy was known to often burn dinner as she always had her nose stuck in a book.
Robert was described as a red-headed man of Irish descent who was very outspoken. He was a strict Presbyterian and would not even allow the word darn to be spoken in his presence. He wanted syrup on the table for all three meals which he smothered everything with. The stories that were passed down about him mentioned that his grandfather came from Ireland.
Later in life, he moved out of the family home...the story told was that it was due to his illness, which made him volatile and difficult. It wasn't until newspaper accounts were discovered did descendants learn the real truth...
In 1905, a family dispute led to Robert's arrest for shooting his son, Robert Lee. One can assume his illness, was the cause which was alluded to in the newspaper account:
In the Colfax Chronicle October 28, 1905: constable Wm. Bratton, of ward two, was in Colfax last Monday, having in charge Robt. A. Brooks whom he lodged in jail on a charge of shooting with intent to kill his son, Robt. Brooks. The accused has always borne a good reputation and was a peaceable and quiet citizen, and it is thought that he is losing his mind.
In the Colfax Chronicle Dec 22, 1906: Jane Brooks vs. R.A. Brooks, final judgment of absolute divorce.
Although Robert & Nancy were divorced in 1906, they banded together against AJ Buckner, the brother of their deceased son-in-law, Thomas Buckner. It began in 1909 after the closely timed deaths of their daughter Carrie Brooks Buckner in 1907, then her husband Thomas Buckner in 1908, then both their orphaned children Reginald and then Violet, five months apart in 1909. There are newspaper accounts of the proceedings through 1915.