When Thomas Jefferson successfully negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon in 1803 it became one of the most important events in the history of the nation. Missouri was a part of that historic event.
Missouri became a territory in 1812, but what was to become Linn County was still a part of the great unknown west and was still occupied by the Indians as a hunting ground. By the time Missouri became a state in 1821, white settlements were springing up to the south in Chariton and Howard Counties, and although Linn County was still a part of Chariton County at that time, this area was known to the early settlers as Locust Creek Country. It was a bountiful hunting ground for settlers to the south as well as for roving bands of Indians.
The first white settlers recorded in Linn County were James Pendleton and Joseph Newton who settled in Locust Creek Township where they built a cabin.
The first recorded census of Linn County was in 1840 and showed a population of 2,245. Many small settlements had sprung up in the county but what was to become Brookfield was referred to as “The Scatters” or “Duffy’s Pond”.
It was 1849 when the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad was first heard of and the County Court donated $200.00 toward the expenses for surveying the county, but it was in 1851 before news of the survey was released. It was estimated that Linn County gave 69,470 acres of land for the railroad but was this investment that gave birth to Brookfield.
The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad was completed February 13, 1859 and the first passenger train traveled from St. Joseph to Hannibal. The Division Headquarters was located to the east at Thayer, but it was decided to re-locate the headquarters and the site chosen became Brookfield.
The town was laid out under the direction of Major Josiah Hunt, and John Woods Brooks surveyed the town. The surveyor from Boston named the town for himself and his wife, May Fields. Brooks left another permanent reminder of himself by naming the first four streets crossing Main Street John, Wood, and Brooks Streets and Boston Street after his native city. Streets running parallel to Main Street were given the names of neighboring counties. The first street east of Main was called Linn Street, followed by Macon, Shelby, and Monroe Streets. Streets west of Main were named Livingston, Caldwell and Clinton for the counties to our west.
The first settlements in Brookfield Township were made by John and David Moore, Andrew Banning, Dr. Thomas Rooker and a Mr. Holsinger and Mr. Shiflett, but the only buildings in the village of Brookfield in 1859 were two boarding houses south of the tracks where the railroaders and tracklayers boarded. These were run by a Mr. Kerrigan and a Mr. Landrigan.
Soon after the town was laid out a hotel and dining room we built where trains stopped for meals. The hotel was managed by Capt. E. P. Dennis who also sold provisions to other settlers that began to come here. In August of 1859, Major Josiah Hunt built tow frame houses on Brooks Street near Livingston Street. Other early families were Bresnehan, Bracken, Hurd, Van Meter, Loring, Proctor, Gannon, Grale, Stevens, McCormick, Davis, Dennis, Tooey, Snow, Turner, Tillotson, Quinn, Houck and McGowan.
The town did not really sprint to life until the end of the Civil War when waves of immigrants arrived and a tide of prosperity set in, advancing the value of real estate for both business and residential lots and buildings.
Some earlier settlements began to die out as the residents moved to Brookfield where the railroad was bringing prosperity, others failed to grow as the flood of new settlers chose Brookfield for their home.
On October 10, 1865, the town was incorporated by the County court and T. Snow, E. J. Crandall, John Everson, James Tooey and Henry Shook were appointed the first board of trustees. These men began shaping the destiny of the town by establishing streets, alleys, parks; the enactment of codes and ordinances for the preservation and maintenance of peace and order; and the enlargement of the boundaries.
Brookfield had become the hub of business activity in the county and had begun the race for prosperity and success.