Biography of Jonas H. Brooks
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JONAS H. BROOKS
A LEADING, representative young man of Albany – a banker by profession – who is identified with the commercial interests of the city, is Jonas H. Brooks. He was born at Rutland, Worcester County, Mass., on the 5th of January, 1848. He comes from a long line of New England ancestry, which dates back to the formation of the Massachusetts colony in 1630-1. He is of the eighth generation of this strong and sterling old race in this country. The parents of Jonas H. Brooks are Moses Brooks and Sophronia Greenwood. His grandfather was Jonas Brooks of Princeton, Mass., who lived to the great age of ninety-five. When Jones H. Brooks was three years old his parents moved from Rutland to Princeton, their former home, where they remained five years. After this, in the spring of 1856, they removed to the town of Oxford, Chenango county, N. Y., locating, at first, for two years on a farm, and then taking up their residence in the village of Oxford. Young Brooks attended the country district school, and the village academy, leaving it temporarily, when he had reached his fourteenth year. In 1862, his parents chose as their permanent home the attractive town of Unadilla, Otsego county, N. Y., where they still reside. Two years later, in order to carry on his academical studies under the most favorable circumstances, Mr. Brooks was sent back by his parents to the Oxford academy, then under the principalship of Prof D. G. Barber, a teacher of high repute and of varied learning, who is still living at Oxford. While at this academy Mr. Brooks was a diligent student in all the branches of study taught there, but at the same time he paid special attention to medicine, intending to prepare himself for a course of lectures on that, subject. What turned his attention to this field of labor was not only an early love for it but also the fact that his eldest brother was then a surgeon in the regular army; and the young student hoped that he might some day be associated with him in so honorable and responsible a profession. The death of this brother in 1866 changed all his plans, though his early love of medical science has never been forgotten by him. He next turned his attention to teaching, for which he was already well qualified, and in the winter of 1866-7, at the early age of eighteen, he successfully taught school in Guilford, Chenango County. He resumed his academical studies in the fall of 1867, at the academy in Norwich, N. Y., where he was in the teacher’s class, and where he obtained a teacher’s certificate as he also had done the preceding year at Oxford. In the winter of 1867-8, he taught school at Rockwell’s Mills, in the town of Guilford. He now left teaching, to enter upon a calling which he has ever since followed with remarkable energy and success. In the spring of 1868 a clerk was wanted in the First National bank of New Berlin, N. Y., and as Mr. Brooks’ superior scholarship, especially his excellence in mathematics, and his strict integrity as a young man were widely known in the neighbor-hood, he was given a position in that bank. Giving unusual satisfaction, he was chosen teller of the same institution in the following January, a position which he held till the close of 1873. He was also a director of the bank during the last year he was connected with it.
In December, 1873, he accepted the appointment of teller of the National Albany Exchange bank, having resigned his former position to do so. This office he ably filled till the death of the cashier of the bank, Mr. Theodore L. Scott, on February 22, 1881. In the following March Mr. Brooks was appointed his successor, in which capacity he continued till the bank was closed on the expiration of its charter in January, 1885. On the formation of the new National Exchange bank of Albany, in which he in connection with Mr. C. P. Williams took the active part, he was chosen cashier, where he continued to discharge with fidelity the responsible duties devolving upon him until November 6, 1889, when he was elected a director and cashier of the Albany City National bank, which position he accepted and occupies at the present time.
Mr. Brooks is a close observer of human nature in all its manifestations, and has made this subject a special study, the knowledge of which is of inestimable advantage, particularly to a bank official. He is moreover a great lover of natural scenery – of all that is beautiful and sublime in the material creation. This taste was cultivated by him during his boyhood days when upon his father’s farm.
” ‘Tis born with all; the love of Nature’s works Is an ingredient in the compound of man, Infused at the creation of his kind.”
His reading in the line of historical and scientific books has been quite extensive, while he is perfectly familiar with the best treatises on political economy, banking, etc. He has also devoted considerable of his spare time to genealogical work, particularly that relating to his own family name.
A republican all his life, he has taken a deep interest in political events, but has never allowed his name to be used as a candidate for any political office. He has been a member of some of the republican committees in Albany, and in 1886 was sent as a delegate to the state convention at Saratoga. He is identified with some of the political organizations and clubs of the city. He is one of the foundation members of the Fort Orange club. He is exceedingly fond of athletic sports and out-of-door exercise, and his experience at the Rensselaerwyck rifle range where he has carried off several prizes has shown him to be a good marksman. As a relaxation from the more confining duties of a banker’s life, he finds such sports to be not only agreeable and stimulating, but healthful.
In religion, Mr. Brooks is an Episcopalian – a member of St. Peter’s church, in whose welfare he has taken active interest, and was for two years treasurer of the church. In January, 1890, he was elected a trustee and treasurer of the Corning Foundation for Christian Work in the diocese of Albany.
On the 22d of January, 1889, Mr. Brooks married Miss Frances S. Patten, daughter of the late Samuel Patten of this city. An interesting feature of this wedding was the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Moses Brooks of Rockdale, N. Y., father and mother of the subject of this sketch, who, a few days previous had celebrated the fifty-seventh anniversary of their own marriage.
Mr. Brooks is possessed of high social qualities, and may be called, in the higher sense of the term, a society man, in which are embraced the principles of a true manhood.
His tall, commanding presence graces the social gatherings of Albany, where his ready conversational powers, his cultivated and polished manners, his sunny disposition, and his high-toned moral and intellectual characteristics are highly and justly appreciated.
” Man in society is like a flower Blown in its native bed: ’tis there alone His faculties, expanded in full bloom, Shine out; there only reach their proper use.”