Robert F. Brooks was born in Ohio to Kennedy Brooks and Elizabeth (Butler) Brooks in 1839. His father had immigrated to America from Ireland and settled in Ohio. Robert was one of 10 children and after he finished school he attended Miami University at Oxford, Ohio and graduated at the top of his class. He studied with Dr. Goodrich of Oxford then attended Michigan University at Ann Arbor for more medical schooling and received his medical degree from there. His post-graduate work was done at Columbia College and Bellevue Hospital in New York.
He was a surgeon on the battleship Florida during the Civil War and came to Carthage in 1869. With his superior training he became the doctor most often called in critical cases.
He spent a lot of his time reading and amassed a large library as well as a wealth of knowledge. For many years he was the surgeon for many of the railroads that serviced Jasper County.
His relaxation was music, singing, listening to it and playing the guitar and tending to his flower gardens.
Unmarried, Dr. Brooks’ sister, Miss Lizzie Brooks lived with him and kept his house. When his brother Peter, also a physician became ill, he moved in with Robert and Lizzie until his death in 1898. Lizzie died just 6 months after Peter and Dr. Robert F. Brooks died within 5 months after that.
The terms of his will provided three remaining sisters with an annual income of $500 and upon their deaths put the remaining money in trust to the City of Carthage to erect or equip and maintain a hospital. His large library was also given to the city to be placed in the hospital and used to treat patients.