David Franklin Brooker was my grandfather on my mothers' side of the family... grandpa as I knew him. He had also been a member of Teddy Roosevelt's  Cavalry Regiment the "ROUGH RIDERS" during the SPANISH AMERICAN WAR. His regiment consisted of 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the 1st U.S. Regular Cavalry, and The 10th U.S. Regular Cavalry. For a total of 964 "Rough Riders.




(July 1, 1898)



This double-photo is of the Rough Riders arriving

by train in Tampa prior to being shipped to Cuba.


I was amazed to find there was actual film

of the Rough Riders from 1898 






I remember my grandpa talking about the Rough Riders experiences in Cuba including the taking of San Juan Hill.


I always smile when I remember him talking about the interruption of supplies which led to them not having any meat at chow time for many days. Then one night he checked to see what was for supper, and there was meat stewing! After eating the meat which had a taste he didn't recognize, he remarked to the cook, "So, supplies are getting through again?" The cook said "No!" "This is alligator...which is in plentiful supply!"





OCTOBER 26 1881


Shoot-out with Doc Holliday, the brothers Morgan, Virgil, and Wyatt Earp on one side. Versus the two Mclaury brothers, two Clanton brothers, Billy Claiborne, and Wes Fuller on the other side. 


When I was growing up and being an insatiable reader of the "Old West" I was always fascinated that this greatest shoot-out of the "Old West" actually occurred in the same year my grandpa was born. A gunfight which was fought in a very small space with thirty shots being fired in about thirty seconds. Very exciting!

But, only if you were not there!



So who was David Franklin Brooker? He was my grandpa who I had the pleasure of growing up with during the first half of my childhood. In fact my older brother "David" and myself William "Franklin" were named after him. I've always felt very honored to help carry-on his name.


 I would give anything to have the opportunity to sit down with him and ask at least a hundred questions concerning the things I would have loved to know about him. In regard to the facts I know about him... I will tell you what I know.


The little I know about his growing up I heard from my mom, and she didn't know a lot...he never talked about those years. She said he grew up on a large, prosperous farm in Ohio. But, at the age of fourteen ran away from home. It seemed to be more of a "seeking adventure" and "off to see the world" type of event.  The next thing we know is that when the Spanish American War broke out, he joined Teddy Roosevelts "Rough Riders." To me this definitely shows that there was a sense of adventure with him.


Many times I have tried to imagine what he was doing during those missing three years. You would think a fourteen-year-old boy after probably reading "Dime Novels" about the Wild West and particularly since he was "seeking adventure" would have more than likely headed west to become a cowboy.  Maybe he did!


One of my favorites, the classic western "Shane" came out in the early 50's. The nine-year-old boy character in the movie would have been the same age as my grandpa at that time. This movie was supposed to be set around 1890 during the range wars between cattlemen and homesteaders. Which also involved gunslingers or hired guns. So, it is amazing to know that I actually grew up with someone who lived during those times.


All I know is that a few years ago, the first time I looked up "Rough Riders" on a computer, it pulled up a Rough Rider roster from Arizona, and a large percentage of them listed their occupation as cowboy or lawman. Seeing this Arizona roster, I then remembered that growing up anytime you went into my grandparents' trailer there were always "Arizona Highways" magazines laying around, because he always subscribed. Was that because he once lived in Arizona and joined the Rough Riders there and listed his occupation as cowboy. And did the beautiful pictures in those magazines remind him of those days? I like to think so!



I include this photo just for interest! This photo is of a group of guys doing "business" at the time my grandpa joined the Rough Riders.  No!  This was not the Board of Directors of a very successful bank or Stock Exchange. This was the band of bank and train robbers known as the "Wild Bunch" (Harvey Longbaugh alias "Sundance Kid") ( Ben Kilpatrick alias "Tall Texan") (Robert LeRoy Parker alias "Butch Cassady") (Will Carver alias "News" Carver) (Harvey Logan alias "Kid Curry") The gang had just robbed a train outside of Fort Worth, Texas...and for kicks went into town, bought new suits, then went to the local Photography Studio to have their group photo made.


When the Spanish American War broke out Butch Cassady and Sundance wanted to join and fight but of course couldn't because of their "careers." When Uncle Sam points his finger and says "I Want You" it was especially true in their case.


You probably remember the 1969 movie "Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid" with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. This movie was a very true and accurate account of this gang in practically every detail.



When he came home from the war he met this lovely girl from Savannah, Georgia...and the rest is history. They had three daughters Johnnie, Edna, and Dolores...my mom.


He had his service revolver from the war, which was always kept un-loaded and locked away safely.


Grandpa was a very quiet and gentle, un-assuming individual. Very loving, generous and full of good deeds. He worked for the railroad as a ticket-agent most of his life. With retirement he and my grandmother or "Mama Brooker" as her grandchildren loved to call her, bought one of the "silver" Gulf-Stream trailers, which were very popular at that time.


When we lived in Camden, S.C. in the early 50's, at one time we lived in a small house in a trailer park and my grandparents' trailer was right beside us. They had a large, very nice platform porch which was covered with a roof to keep out the rain and also create shade from a hot sun. My grandmother loved a plant called "Elephant Ears" with very large green leaves. The trailer and porch would always be surrounded with these beautiful plants. Which gave a real lush "tropical" feel to everything.


They also had the first TV in that trailer park. Very often in the late afternoon grandpa would move the TV out onto the porch and have lots of chairs so the neighbors could come over that night and watch all of the popular shows. He loved to share! I remember many warm summer nights on that porch with everybody enjoying refreshments and also a refreshing breeze while watching one of the old classic TV shows.


Also, all of the mail for the about a dozen trailers in that park were loaded by the mailman into one large mailbox by the highway. Everyone was expected to go pick up their own mail. Every day my grandpa would walk to the box, pickup all the mail and deliver it to each trailer. That was rain or shine, winter or summer. He thought nothing of it.


In the mid 50's he became ill and was sent to the Woodmen Of the World Hospital in San Antonio,



During the time he was there he had a very sweet Mexican male nurse who was always taking great care of all his needs...even writing letters for him. Always making sure he was comfortable.


During this time the family made a couple of trips by car to visit. The first time it was my dad and grandmother, the second time the whole family. I remember meeting this nurse when we visited.


My grandpa was there until his passing...



This site is dedicated to his memory 






is published by




    William F. Carawan

     "Poetry Guy"


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