Cook County Illinois Genealogy Trails

Rev. Edward L. Brooks, Brooks Farm and Beulah Home

Time Magazine, Monday, Feb. 4, 1935
Transcribed by K. Torp, 2006


January's last winds blew the fury of Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan around the leonine head of fat old Rev. Edward L. Brooks last week. He put on a leather "aviator's'' cap and a heavy ulster and uprighteously faced, besides the elements, the bitter accusations of his neighbors at small Beulah, Mich. Those neighbors never did approve the resort for unmarried mothers and baby bastards which this retired Congregational clergyman operated at Beulah. They suspected that Brooks let poor babies die or even had them killed, that he buried them in the dune sand among the second growth birches of his 80-acre place where brambles and goat tracks quickly erased all trace of the graves.

Last week their suspicions of scandal caused uproar in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin whence came Brooks's husbandless clients. Circuit Judge Frederick S. Lamb, sitting at Beulah as a one-man grand jury, summoned Brooks for questioning. Along went his adopted son Edward, a cripple who tended the herd of goats whose milk nourished the children. Along also went the wives of both men, and the orphan girl and two boys whom they were raising. Along, too, went Michigan welfare workers and State policemen who brought the accusations.

The inquisitor learned that the illegitimate son of Mary Evelyn Frechette, one of the late John Dillinger's mistresses, had died of syphilis at the Brooks farm.

The inquisitor heard that Chicago's Dr. Alice Lindsay Wynekoop, now serving a 25-year term for murdering her daughter-in-law, sent Brooks many a case from Illinois.

The inquisitor learned that Brooks once conducted the Beulah Home & Maternity Hospital in Chicago two doors from the garage where seven Chicago bootleggers were massacred on St. Valentine's Day, 1929. A search of the House last week disclosed a musty operating room and bundles of letters from girls promising to pay for upkeep of themselves and children.

The inquisitor learned that the Brooks farm contained three tarpaper-covered, board shacks for mothers and children; that 100 was an ordinary summer's turnover of mothers.

The inquisitor heard Police Sergeant William Watkins say that about 25 babies had died at the Brooks farm and that he had "good reason to believe that some of these little victims came to their deaths by means of poison or violence or consequences of some criminal act."

The inquisitor heard Brooks deny the accusations and retort: "Do you remember in Shakespeare's King Lear how the illegitimate son stood over the other one and said: 'The wheel has come full turn'? Well, I won't revenge myself. But I'll be proven right. I have been doing God's work for 65 years. All my life has been devoted to other people. Whenever I wanted to do something for myself I had to wait until others were asleep."

Grave among accusations against Baby Farmer Brooks last week was the charge that he buried dead babies on the farm without the help of legal undertakers.

Said he, concerning the burials: "You would do the same thing yourself if there wasn't any money to have it done. There are hundreds of these backyard graves on countryside places around here. I marked the graves with nice-colored stones."

To make sure that Brooks's activities did not exceed U. S. folk custom and include murder, the inquisitor last week ordered men with mattocks, picks and shovels to hack into the frozen sand among the Brooks's birches. Soon the chilled diggers pried out two infants wrapped in old newspapers. One of the infants seemed to have had a fractured skull.


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