BROOKS, OLIVER KINGSLEY (21 May 1845 - 14 Sept. 1914) was a prominent Cleveland businessman who had served in the Union Army during the CIVIL WAR. His father, Oliver Allen Brooks, was a grandson of Joshua Brooks, who was a Minute Man—one of those who "fired the shot heard round the world"—at Concord Bridge on 19 Apr. 1775. Oliver Allen, at the age of 20, traveled with his widowed mother from Burlington, VT, in 1834 by stage coach and canal to Buffalo and from there by lake to Cleveland. Here his mother opened a boardinghouse, and he started a hardware and crockery business, Huntington and Brooks, which was the first to import Staffordshire pottery direct from Liverpool to Cleveland. The successor firm, Rorimer Brooks Co., became nationally known for interior design and furniture making.
Oliver Kingsley had artistic ambitions. In his boyhood he entered the studio of Thomas Hicks in New York, but the Civil War brought his studies to an end. At the age of 18 he enlisted in the 150th OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY as one of the "Hundred Days Men," participating in the defense of Washington, D.C. Returning home with a near-fatal case of malaria, he decided to enter his father's business. In 1880, he joined the newly organized Cleveland Malleable Iron Company, later merged into the National Malleable and Steel Castings Company. There he served as Secretary-Treasurer until his death.
Oliver Kingsley Brooks married Harriet Ellen Gill of Meadville, PA in 1884. They had two daughters, Katherine Gill Brooks (1888-1981) and Elizabeth Kingsley Brooks (1896-1990) who married DAVID K. FORD in 1920. Oliver's brother, William Keith Brooks, became the first Professor of Zoology at Johns Hopkins University and was noted for his studies of the Chesapeake Bay oyster. William Keith returned to Cleveland to dedicate the Biology Building at Western Reserve University in 1899.
Oliver K. Brooks was a lifelong member of TRINITY CATHEDRAL, where he served as Vestryman and Warden of Trinity Parish for 25 years. He was a friend of the Cleveland artist OTTO BACHER and encouraged the development of sketching and painting here, serving as vice president of the CLEVELAND ART CLUB in 1881. He later became a serious collector of autographs and first editions and was an early and active member of the ROWFANT CLUB.