Artist, overland traveller, and Civil War veteran. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1840, Brooks moved with his family to Platteville, Wisc., in 1856. He taught school briefly in Elk Grove before joining a neighbor's prairie schooner for the trip to California. Brooks left his party at the Truckee River and travelled by stage to California, where he prospected and painted in Eureka, Orleans Flat, Nevada, and Grass Valley. Returning to Ohio to enlist in the 105th Ohio Volunteers, Brooks spent much of the Civil War as a lieutenant and topographical engineer on the staffs of Gens. J.J. Reynolds and G.H. Thomas. Studying art in New York, Brooks set up his studio in Chicago and remained there until his death in 1932.
A.F. Brooks' overland diary, kept during his journey from the Missiouri River, May 19, 1859, to the head of the Humboldt River, Aug. 23, 1859. The diary concludes with an essay, "Reason for the trip," written at a later date. Brooks travelled via the Platte and Sweetwater Rivers, over the Rockies to Salt Lake City, and then to the Humboldt. He describes scenery and landmarks, his own swimming and sketching, wildlife, Indians, campsites, etc. Noted are Pike's Peak, Mormon, and government trains; Fort Kearny; Courthouse, Chimney, and Independence Rocks; the Black Hills; Salt Lake City (including a meeting with Brigham Young); and the Shepard train massacre. Daily mileage records are kept. Numerous sketches mentioned in the text are lacking. Brief essay describes the continuation of Brooks' trip to California and his activities there.