A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BROOKS COMMUNITY
by Daniel C. Langford, Jr.
Brooks, the southernmost community in Fayette County, lies near the former site of a Creek Nation village and trading post. Although nothing specific is known of the community's Creek history, numerous Indian artifacts can still be found in our freshly tilled soil. McIntosh Road, a principal town thoroughfare, follows the path used by the Creeks to travel from Coweta Town (now Columbus, Georgia) and Whitesburg (on the Chattahoochee River at the present Carroll and Coweta County line) to Indian Springs, south of present-day Jackson, in Butts County.
The Haisten family were the first white settlers to arrive in the area, probably around 1820. They apparently got along well with their Creek neighbors. Other whites soon arrived, and the area became part of the territory ceded by the Creek Nation to the State of Georgia in 1821, when Fayette County was created. It is said that a blockhouse was built on Carlton Hill, near the present intersection of Morgan Mill and Bankstown Roads, for protection against Indian attack. How long this structure stood, or whether it was ever put to its intended use, is not known.
Perhaps the first organized church in Fayette County, White Water Baptist, was constituted here in 1823. Five years later, County Line Christian Church was founded south of the present town center. These congregations offered organized worship to our area's pioneers, and both remain active today.
The community was first called Haistentown, but was known as Sharon Grove by the 1840s. Early settlers included the Banks, Beers, Boykin, Brooks, Carson, Cavender, Chappell, Cobb, Coppedge, Drewry, Gable, Grant, Hardy, Henderson, Jones, Lynch, Mask, Moody, Pollard, Posey, Price, Robinson, Westmoreland, Whitaker, and Woods families. Descendants of most of these pioneers remain in the area today.
Sharon Grove sent a number of young men into Confederate service during the War Between the States, and a number were lost during that conflict. Fortunately, southern Fayette County was mostly bypassed by General W. T. Sherman during his infamous March to the Sea.
The War interrupted work on a rail line linking northern Alabama and Tennessee to the ports of Savannah, Georgia. Grading for the line had been completed to neighboring Senoia by 1861, but work was halted during the War, and did not resume until after Appomattox. A local planter, Hillery Brooks (1806-1881), gave a lot to the railroad in 1871 for construction of a depot, with the stipulation that the station would bear his name. Thus did the name “Brooks Station” come into use. The village name was shortened simply to “Brooks” in 1905.
Rail access brought growth to the tiny farming community in the late 1800s, and a vibrant downtown section was in place by the turn of the twentieth century. Several stores, a bank, a drugstore, cotton gins, gristmills, blacksmith shops, and other businesses were located here by 1910; however, the economy was based on cotton production. King Cotton remained lucrative during the 1910s, but the boll weevil appeared in 1921 and quickly plunged the village into Depression. Numerous businesses had closed by the middle 1920s, and the town charter had gone inactive for want of funds. By the time the great Depression struck the rest of the country in October 1929, the rural South had been in dire economic straits for eight long years. To add insult to injury, Brooks suffered a catastrophic hailstorm in May 1933, which broke practically every window pane and ruined practically every roof in town. Another storm at about the same time took down most of the town's telephone lines, so that the only telephones in town until the early 1950s were in the depot and in a downtown store.
Brooks began its emergence in 1939 from the technological Dark Ages to which it had involuntarily receded, when electricity was installed in the village by the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). The face of the community changed further after World War II, when the tenant method of cotton farming sputtered to its end, and was supplanted to a large degree around Brooks with cattle production, which required conversion of former cotton fields to pasture. Another postwar factor that significantly affected the town was the booming growth of the aviation industry in nearby Atlanta. Airline employees began buying large tracts of local farmland in the late 1950s, and the area's population grew slowly but steadily over the next several decades. The town charter was reactivated in 1964 for the purpose of providing some basic services for residents of the community, and a mayor and council were elected. Mayors who have served since the reactivation are as follows: James B. Woods (1887-1966) (the last mayor to serve before the charter went inactive in the 1920s, Woods served during 1963 and 1964 for purposes of the reactivation, but declined to run thereafter), Hubert R. Langford (1901-1987) [served 1965-1981], Robert P. Butler [served 1981-1985, and 1997-present], Allen G. Putman [served 1985-1989], and Virgil Brownlee [served 1989-1997].
Today, the Town of Brooks has a population of approximately 600, though the Brooks post office serves a much larger area, and is primarily a residential area known for its friendly people, its active churches, its wholesome and casual outdoor lifestyle, and its pastoral wide open spaces.
Daniel C. Langford, Jr.
P. O. Box 127
Brooks, GA 30205