Places of Residences of Laura Brooks Wheeling

1857 – 1924


Laura Ann Brooks, The Later Years

Mother of Charles Henry Wheeling

Woodrow Wilson was elected President on November 5, 1912. Laura, at 55 years of age, would not have been allowed to vote in this Presidential election.[1]

However, just seven months later, on June 26, 1913, Governor Edward F. Dunne granted women in Illinois the right to vote in Presidential elections and “for all local offices not specifically named in the Illinois Constitution. However, they still could not cast a vote for state representative, congressman, or governor; and they still had to use separate ballots and ballot boxes.”[2]

The first time Laura could have voted in a Presidential election would have been on November 7, 1916. Woodrow Wilson defeated Charles E. Hughes.[3]

According to the 1920 United States Federal Census, the Wheeling family was living at 5932 Parnell Ave, Chicago, Illinios on January 10, 1920 (Cook County, Chicago Ward 31, District 1911). Lafayette and Laura are 63 years old. Lafayette is a janitor (for Harrison ??). The name of the company is illegible. Fred, age 26; Ernest, age 24; Mary, age 21; and Charles, age 16, are all single and live at home. Fred is working as a machinist for Kelley Spring Tench Company. Ernest is a clerk for Swift Meat Company. Mary worked for Goodrist Rabb?? Company. The name of her employer is illegible. Charles is not employed.

The 19th amendment was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920. [4]

Illinois became the first state to approve the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote in all elections in the United States, on June 10, 1919.[5]

It is possible that Laura voted in the 1921 Presidential Election. Laura Wheeling was 64 years old when every woman in the United States was legally permitted to cast a ballot for a U.S. President. Warren G. Harding was elected President.[6]

Laura Brooks Wheeling died on May 2, 1924, the day before her son, Charles Henry Wheeling’s 21st birthday.

Laura’s record of death states she was born in Geneva, Illinois. She was living at 535 W. 60th Street, Chicago, IL at the time of her death. She was 66 years old. She is buried at Holy Sepulcher in Chicago. Her father’s name was William J. Brooks. Her mother’s birthplace was Ireland. She was married to James L. Wheeling. Her occupation was housewife.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a 66 year old living in 1924 was alive during Lincoln’s Presidency and the Civil War. She bore twelve children from age 22 to age 45. When she started having children she probably lived in a house without electricity and had most of her children at home! I am fascinated by the people who lived during this period of history.

This summer I will visit her gravesite. Pictures to come.









Laura Ann Brooks, Marriage and Children

Mother of Charles Henry Wheeling

 Laura Ann Brooks married James Lafayette Wheeling at St. Mary’s Church in Pittsfield, Illinois on November 6, 1879. Laura was 22 years old and Lafayette had just celebrated his 23rd birthday four days earlier on November 2nd. Unfortunately, I don’t have a reference for this information and I don’t recall where I discovered it.

In 1880, Laura’s parents, William J. and Annie Brooks, were living in Griggsville, Illinois with Laura’s siblings, Emma, William, Mary E. and Frank.

According to the 1880 United States Federal Census, Laura, age 22, was married to James Lafayette Wheeling, age 23. They were living in Pittsfield, IL, Pike county on June 1, 1880. Lafayette was a butcher. He was born in Illinios. Lafayette ‘s parents were born in Ireland. Laura and Lafayette had a 3-month-old son, Leo, who was born in Missouri.

 Discrepancy: Interestingly, the 1880 United States Federal Census states that Laura’s father was born in Vermont, which conflicts with the 1870 Census information that states William J. Brooks was born in New York.

Family scandals are fun, aren’t they? On June 1, 1880, Leo Wheeling was three months old. According to the 1900 United States Federal Census, Leo was born in March 1880. His parents were married in November, 1879. If Laura carried Leo for nine months, she would have gotten pregnant in July 1879. That means when Laura and Lafayette married in November, she was four months pregnant. Did the newly weds go to Missouri in search of employment opportunities for Lafayette or to have their first born away from the prying eyes and harsh judgment of relatives and neighbors? I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Two months before Laura’s 34th birthday on June 19, 1891, women in Illinois were granted the right to vote in elections to elect school officials. Because these elections occurred while other elections were taking place, women had to vote using separate ballots and separate ballot boxes.[1]

The right to vote – a right I’ve enjoyed my entire life, my great grandmother began enjoying, and to a limited degree at that, when she was 34 years old! It would take another 9 years and a lot of work by suffragists for the 19th Amendment to be ratified and full voting rights to be granted to women in the United States.[1]

According to the 1900 United States Federal Census, Laura, born August 1856, and Lafayette Wheeling, born November 1856, were both 43 years old and married 21 years. They were living in Pittsfield, Illinois, on the 16th of June 1900.

Lafayette was employed as a day laborer. Laura was a housewife. Their son, Leo, age 20, born in March 1880, was a day laborer. There are seven more children living in the home. All of those children were born in Illinois. Frank, born August 1883, age 16, is a day laborer. James, born November 1885, age 14, is at school. Blanch, born October 1888, age 11, is at school. Alice (Aunt Allie), born December 1890, age 9, is at school. Fred, born September 1893, age 6, is at school. Ernest (Uncle Ernie), born February 1896, age 4 and Mary, born May 1898, age 2. Everyone in the household can read and write except Ernest and Mary.

According to the 1910 United States Federal Census, the Wheeling family was living at 868 N. Prairie St, Jacksonville, Illinois, on April 17, 1910. Laura and Lafayette Wheeling, were both 53 years old and married 32 years. Lafayette was a laborer for a private family. Alice, age 19, was working as a packer in a cigar factory. No employment is listed for Frederick L, age 16; Ernest J, age 14; Mary A, age 11; or Charles H, age 6 (our grandfather).

The marriage of Laura and Lafayette had produced twelve children. Eight children had survived. Laura was 45 years old when Charles Henry Wheeling was born.




The Fox River and Geneva, Illinois

Laura Ann Brooks was born in Geneva, Illinois (Kane County) on August 2, 1857. To watch a video, The History of the Fox River in Geneva, Illinois, click here.

Towns of Residence of Brooks Family, 1857-1880


Moving appears to be in the family genes. Did William Brooks move his family in search of a better life through better employment opportunities? Did they move in search of more space? Were they finding their current town had become too crowded and left to get away from the masses? In any case, those of us who have migrated from our home towns might surmise we got our wanderlust from our great, great grandfather.

Laura Ann Brooks Wheeling, Early Life

Mother of Charles Henry Wheeling

Laura Ann Brooks was born in Geneva, Illinois (Kane County) on August 2, 1857. She was the eldest child of William J. and Annie Brooks.

In 1857, Geneva, Illinois was a small town on the Chicago & North Western Railroad. In the early days, Yankees and New Yorkers populated Geneva. [1] Laura’s father, William, was born in New York. A carpenter would have had very good employment opportunities in a growing town. Perhaps he moved to Geneva on the recommendation of relatives or friends. Did he move with his parents and siblings? Did he move there alone as a young adult? Did he meet and marry Annie back East, then move with his wife to Geneva? These questions are yet unanswered.

On March 4, 1861, when Laura was 3 ½ years old, Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States.[2]

On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter beginning the Civil War. Laura’s father, William, was 28 years old. It seems he did not enlist in the military and fight in the Civil War. Laura’s sister Emma was born in 1863 and her brother William J. was born in 1864. This leads me to believe that Laura’s father was at home during the Civil War. Enlistment in the Civil War was voluntary. Due to the high numbers of Illinoisians serving in the Union Army, it wasn’t necessary to draft recruits into the military in the early years of the war.[3]

To see a Civil War Volunteer Enlistment form, click here:

On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Laura was 5 years old.[4]

Laura’s brother, William, was born in 1864.

On June 2, 1865, the Civil War ended with General Edmund Kirby Smith’s acceptance of the terms of surrender in Galveston, Texas.

“With Smith’s surrender, the last Confederate army ceased to exist, bringing a formal end to the bloodiest four years in U.S. history.”[5]

The Civil War ended two months before Laura’s 8th birthday. For as long as Laura could remember, there had been war. It would have been in the newspapers. Every adult would have been talking about it. There would have been constant worry for the welfare of neighbors and relatives who were fighting. There would have been funerals to attend for the fallen soldiers. I wonder how these early childhood impressions and experiences shaped who Laura grew up to be?

On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Washington, D.C. President Lincoln died the next day.[6]

Laura’s sister, Mary E., was born in 1866.

According to the 1870 United States Federal Census, by the time Laura was 14 years old on June 15, 1870, she was living with her family in Jacksonville, Illinois (Morgan county). She resided with her father, William Brooks, age 37, her mother, Ann, and her siblings. Her father was at least a second generation American citizen. Her father was born in New York. Laura’s paternal grandparents were born in Massachusetts. Her mother had immigrated to the United States from Ireland. Laura’s father was a carpenter and her mother was a housewife. Laura and her sisters, Alice and Emma, were attending school. William and Mary E., her youngest siblings, were not yet in school.

Laura’s brother, Frank. was born in 1877. In the summer of 1877, Laura would have been 20 years old.

Come back in the coming days for another chapter in Laura’s life.








History of Pike County, Illinois

Our forefather, William J. Brooks, moved his family to Griggsville, IL before the 1880 Census.

To find out more about the history of Griggsville before our ancestors arrived, click here.

William J. Brooks, born about 1833

Grandfather of Charles Henry Wheeling

According to the 1870 United States Federal Census, William Brooks was 37 years old and living with his wife, Ann, and five children in Jacksonville, Illinois (Morgan county) on June 15, 1870. William was a carpenter. Ann kept house, presumably, her home. All wives on the page had “keep house” listed as their “Profession, Occupation or Trade”.

William was born in the State of New York. His parents were also born in the United States. Ann was born in Ireland to parents of Irish birth. All of William and Ann’s children were born in Illinois. The children listed in the 1870 Census were Laura, age 14, Alice, age 12, Emma, age 8, William, age 6 and Mary, age 3. Laura, Alice and Emma had attended school within the last year. The value of real estate owned appears to be “1200”; however, the handwriting is difficult to read.

According to the 1880 United States Federal Census, on June 23, 1880, William and his wife Annie, lived in Griggsville, Illinois (Pike County) with four children. William was a carpenter. He was 49 years old. Both of his parents were born in Massachusetts. Annie’s occupation was “keeping house”. She was 43 years old. The children living in the home were Emma, William, Mary E. and Frank. Emma was 17 years old. No occupation is listed for her. William was 16 years old. He was an apprentice to a harness maker. Mary E. is 13 years old and Frank is 3 years old. Mary E. was the only Brooks child to have attended school within the census year.

Discrepancy: William was 37 years old on June 15, 1870. This would place his birthday in 1833. On June 23, 1880, it’s written that he is 49 years old. This would put his birthday in 1831. William’s birthday could have fallen between June 15th and June 23rd. For example, he could have turned 38 years old on June 20, 1870. In that case, he would have been 48 years old on June 23, 1880. Perhaps whoever gave the data to the census taker made a mistake by one year?

If you have information on William J. Brooks, I would love to hear from you.