Old Brook is getting its due recognition

Brookhaven’s original settlement now has its own historic marker.

This morning, the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Society and city officials unveiled a sign at the intersection of First Street South (Old Highway 51 South) and Dale Trail officially proclaiming the site as the location of “Old Brook,” our town’s first settlement.

The new marker is only a short distance from the Old Brook voting precinct at the former Brookhaven Equipment Co. building. When I voted there in the past county election, I thought it was called “Old Brook” simply because the precinct encompassed a large section of the old town neighborhood. Now I know the rest of the story, as they say.

Nowadays, no vestiges remain of the Old Brook settlement founded by Samuel Jayne in the 1830s south of the current city.

In Sunday morning’s paper, I quoted Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan in a story as saying the original post office from Jayne’s settlement still stood on property now owned by Velma Taylor; however, Sullivan called me Sunday afternoon to tell me Taylor had gotten in touch with her to explain that was incorrect.

I updated the online version of the story and called Mrs. Taylor to apologize for the incorrect citation. She graciously explained the history to me. “We moved here in 1943, and the post office was gone,” Taylor said. She noted that a woodshed was later built on the same site and still stands, which might have led to the confusion about the building.

Brookhaven’s original post office is not totally lost to history, however. “Someone with an eye to the future saved the beautiful heart pine” from the old post office, Taylor said. The antique wood was stored in an outbuilding on the property and later used to build the home’s kitchen cabinets.

“It is still really a joy to see it and know it is being used,” she said.

The Old Brook site was on land first owned by James A. Bull in 1828, Rita Rich, past president of the Historical Society, told me. Jayne later purchased the land, which was in Lawrence County at that time, and built the first post office for the town of Brookhaven there.

Jayne is believed to have named our town for his original home of Brookhaven, N.Y., according to local historian Sue Dorman, who with Mary Frances Sasser Phillips, did much of the research to prove the site on Old Highway 51 was the original settlement and secure designation of the historic site from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

“We had to look up the deeds to prove Samuel Jayne owned the land,” Dorman said, noting that she found that Jayne was in Monticello up until 1835 or 1837, at which time he purchased the property from Bull.

The marker dedicated today is the second of three signs going up at historic sites around the city. Previously, a sign was dedicated Oct. 10 at the former B’nai Shalom Temple, now the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Museum.

A third marker will be positioned at Rosehill Cemetery, probably in the spring, according to Sullivan, who presented a funding request to the city for the three markers two years ago.

Sullivan said plans also call for a new brick-and-iron gate to be erected at the driveway from Monticello Street to the cemetery, and the Master Gardeners will provide new landscaping for the entrance.

“I’m proud to get it marked,” Sullivan said. “I would like to get some more markers sometime when the budget allows.”

Old Brook’s prominence as the town center began to pass away in 1856 when the railroad was built through the city’s current location and the settlement moved north because the railroad came through the new site,” said Rich.

Taylor told me she was looking forward to attending the dedication of the Old Brook marker Wednesday morning.

“I’m glad to see we’re getting this done,” she said. “It’s taken well over a hundred years, but it shows people are moving in the right direction.”

That they are.

Rachel Eide is editor/general manager of The Daily Leader. Contact her at rachel.eide@dailyleader.com.