Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN

W. K. Brooks

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

W. K. Brooks, 75, Undaunted by Political Failure

DECATURVILLE, Tenn. — W. K. Brooks of Bath Springs, a veteran of past political wars, is going to ride out this year's battles.

Brooks, who is 75, takes pride in the fact that he is the only man in Decatur County to ever run for United States Congress. He has made the race three times — in 1933, 1941 and 1964 — nd has been unsuccessful in each.

But he doesn't regret his campaigns at all. He styles himself a professional public speaker and, well, he just enjoys politics.

He was making speeches in behalf of Democratic candidates in Decatur County before there was such a thing as a Democratic executive committee.

Of his race for Congress in 1933, Brooks says: "I spent only $5.25 during my entire race. I hitched rides and sat up in taxicab stations at night. I ran a good race, and lost only two votes in my home precinct."

Brooks thereupon was appointed junior supervisor of a CCC camp and worked with nine different camps. He made frequent trips to Washington.

He was next appointed as an attendant at a state mental institution. "My friend, Tip Taylor, of Jackson gave me the appointment," he recalls.

In 1941, with politics still in his blood, he qualified again as a congressional candidate. Through a mix-up his qualifying papers "got lost in three counties" and he was stymied again for office.

After this setback he followed the trail of the harvest workers, gathering peaches, cherries, oranges, corn and cotton in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Floriet.

In 1948 he worked with the Methodist Hospital in Memphis and followed this employment with seven years selling picture coupons which took him "all over the United States."

In 1964, he launched a third campaign for U.S. Congress, opposing Rep. Tom Murray. Brooks faced an uphill battle against long-time officeholder Rep. Murray, and his defeat was not surprising.

But Brooks has no regrets shout the campaign. "I am satisfied with the results of this campaign even though I was defeated. I am the only man in Decatur County who has ever made the race for United States Congress and I have made three unsuccessful races."

What of the future?

"I am still very active in politics and it wouldn't be very hard to find out who I am going to vote for," he said with a chuckle.

For someone who doesn't drive — he hasn't since 1939 — Brooks has compiled quite a record of travel. He claims to have been in more homes in Tennessee than any other man.

 "I have driven a million miles in my lifetime, but decided to hang up the fiddle and the bow in 1939 when I quit driving."

How does he get to so many places then?

"I can travel just as fast by hitching a ride, because there are so many nice persons who give me a lift," he remarks. "It also eliminates the parking problem."

True to the traditional political background, Brooks was born in a log cabin-on the banks of Beech Creek in Wayne County Feb. 12, 1891. His parents were Dr. B. M. and Cora E. Bruce Brooks.

A year later, Dr. Brooks moved his family to Decaturville where he set up a medical practice. In 1900 Dr. Brooks built a two-story weatherboarded house in Bath Springs, which has been maintained by W. K. Brooks as home since.

Brooks did farm work while growing up. Chief crops of the day were cotton, corn, hay and sorghum. "We had to drop the cotton and corn by hand and plowed it with a bull-tongue plow," he notes.

"There were two sorghum mills on my father's place. One was leased out for operation and I operated the other one. We worked the cane up for one third of the molasses. During the depression molasses sold for 10 cents a gallon."

Brooks attended his first school at Nebo in TieWhop. After two years, he transferred to school at Freezeout where he completed the eighth grade.

"There were 80 enrolled in our graduating class; in 1965 we had a reunion and discovered only seven of this number are still living."

Brooks attended Frank Hughs College in Clifton Tenn., where he fired the boiler with wood to pay the tuition. "I walked a mile to school before daylight in the winter to start the fire," he recalls. "W. E. Johnson was the principal and he taught me more about the Bible by reading the Scripture at chapel exercises than any other one person."

A turning point in his life came two years later when he met the Rev. S. K. Hurst, Baptist minister at Freezeout. "This man had more to do with my foundation as far as faith in God and honesty is concerned than any other person. He arranged for me to study to become a minister at Union University in Jackson and drove me from Bath Springs to Jackson in a horse-drawn buggy which took two days. I was able to secure work to pay my for tuition. I fired the furnace in Lovelace Hall in the winter and washed dishes and helped serve meals during the summer. Here I spent three years studying to become a foreign missionary."

Misfortune befell Brooks when on May 10, 1916, just before his examinations he became ill and was hospitalized from May until October.

"The illness destroyed my energy and it took five years to establish myself as an ad____. It deprived me of fulfilling the goal of becoming a foreign missionary."

He then began his colorful career of public speaking and politics.

Brooks is on the road every day working for some worthy cause. His philosophy of life is "help somebody today."

"The past 10 years of my life have been the happiest," he says. "I haven't accumulated any wealth, but I am happy."

"I am proud of my generation and heritage and would rather have the right to dream, build and try to make my own choices than to be pinned to the job for the sake of the dollar."

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