The seed of Brookfield, Missouri’s beginning was planted long before Missouri was a state.
In the Louisiana Purchase, the historical land deal successfully negotiated with the French First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte by Thomas Jefferson in 1803, the United States bought the land west of Mississippi and east of the Rocky Mountains from France. The state of Missouri was soon born out of that monumental historical event.
Missouri became a territory in 1812. The area that would become Linn County was still a part of the great unknown West occupied by Indians who hunted the abundant wildlife.
White settlements were springing up by the time Missouri became a state in 1821. Chariton County governed this area at the time. It was known a Locust Creek Country and was a bountiful hunting ground for both settlers and 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 existed in Linn County. The area that is now Brookfield was referred to as “The Scatters” or “Duffy’s Pond.”
Brookfield was born out of the provision $200.00 in 1849 for the surveying of the county, then later the provision of 69, 470 acres of land for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad.
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 first passenger train traveled from St. Joseph to Hannibal when the railroad was completed on February 13, 1859. The division headquarters of the railroad were relocated from Thayer to the east to what is now Brookfield.
Major Josiah Hunt oversaw the laying out of the town. John Woods Brooks of Boston led the surveying.
Brooks left permanent reminders of himself and his wife May Fields by naming the first four streets crossing Main Street John Street, Wood Street, Brooks Street, and Boston Street.
Streets running parallel and east of Main Street were named for the neighboring counties: Linn Street, Macon Street, Shelby Street, and Monroe Street. The streets running parallel and west of Main Street were named Livingston Street, Caldwell Street, and Clinton Street.
The first settlements in Brookfield Township were made by John and David Morre, Andrew Banning, Dr. Thomas Rooker, and Misters Holsinger and Shiflett.
The only buildings in the village of Brookfield in 1859 were two boarding houses south of the tracks where the railroaders and tracklayers stayed. These were run by Misters Kerrigan and 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 two 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.
Brookfield truly sprang to life at the end of the Civil War. Waves of immigrants brought a tide of prosperity increasing both business and residential real estate values.
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, Brookfield 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 and parks. They enacted ordinances to preserve peace and order and enlarged the town’s boundaries.
Brookfield became the hub of business activity in Linn County enjoying prosperity and success.