George W. Brooks
Featured Character – Divided Allegiances
George W. Brooks was born in 1821 and attended Gates and Perquimans County schools. As he was unable to afford to go to college, Brooks stayed in Elizabeth City, where he read law. He received his license in 1844 and through ardent work, began to build his career, serving in the General Assembly in 1852 and voicing his opinion in the following years as a keen anti-secessionist. During the Civil War, Brooks was "noncombatant" but involved in the Union side, even asking Union General Edward Wild to help “rid this country of Partisan Rangers” due to the constant destruction, panic, and stress they caused.
After the war, President Andrew Johnson made Brooks the federal district court judge for the District of North Carolina. During the dangerous aftermath of the Civil War, North Carolina governor William Woods Holden and commander of the state militia Colonel George W. Kirk arrested numerous prominent men in Alamance and Caswell counties in an attempt to suppress Ku Klux Klan activities in the area. There were no hearings for the arrested men and the governor denied writs of habeas corpus. When Brooks was petitioned for the release of the prisoners, he ordered Kirk to present the prisoners and evidence against them. When there was no evidence, Brooks released the men, thus ending the "Kirk-Holden War." Brooks continued in this position until his death on January 6, 1882. He is buried in the Old Hollywood Cemetery in Elizabeth City.