Bill and Emily Brook Family Information

A History of Bill Brook and Emily Coleman Brook


HISTORY from Emily's writings


HISTORY from Michaelson's book


BIll Brook's travels to Alaska in 2005, as reported back to his children.

Departure From Ovid June 16 - ETA Fairbanks, Alaska June 26
On June 16 I will be starting a trip to Alaska to return about Labor Day +or -. Jose' Blanco , a 62 year old friend of Brian's and I will be pairing up in my van. Jose' will sleep in the front seat or in a tent of Lisa's. I will get Jose' at Shelbyville - go up thru the UP and west on Hwy 2 to Shelby MT - north to Calgary - then thru Banff and Jasper National Provincial Parks - get on the Alcan Hwy at Dawson Creek to Fairbanks, AK. Jose' wants to get a tour guide job there for the summer. If he does that I will join the other tourists sightseeing the state. Several of my friends have been up and I have been getting many suggestions on what to see. As of right now the only sure plan is to be in Fairbanks +or - June 26 . This trip just came up on May 21 so it has been a fast 3 1/2 weeks getting a lot of literature read, cloths and food ready, my flowers weeded, mulched and ready for the summer on their own. Lashers next door will be mowing the lawn and watering the house plants.

Dad/Grandpa in Grande Prairie, Alberta on Thursday night

I (Doug) heard from grandpa tonight, 7:30 pm Eastern Daylight time. They have stopped at a motel for the first time on this trip. Jose wanted to see the 7th game of the NBA finals, Detroit vs San Antonio. They both thought that a good shower's welcome.
They came out of Calgery and headed up 93 through Lake Louise, Banff National Park, and Gasper National Park. The Canadian Rockies are spectacular, beautiful, and almost with out words glorious. The parks are clean as they go through Canada. This morning they woke up with 4 inches of snow on the rig and temps in the lower 30's. The skies are a deep blue and wispy clouds decorate the horizon with the mountains. Today, dad went to explore Columbia Glacier. Jose choose to stay back and read and write and maybe email.

Lisa, your tent is keeping Jose dry and is a good shelter for the night.

Brian, if Jose is emailing his family, do you have an email address for Jose that we might use to communicate?

Noah, Great Grandpa is sorry he missed your birthday party and sends his love.

Between Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie is one of the Candian rockies tallest mountains, 12,700 feet. They traveled through mountains that were 7,000 to 10,000 feet as they went north from Calgery on 93.

Dad had to get outdoors, in sight of a tower before he could make the call this evening. His plan is to call once a week, rotating around between all the kids.

All in all, the van is running good and drinking high priced gas. Dad is still excited and enjoying the entire trip experience.


Watson Lake Sign Post Forest

June 23: In Watson Lake, Yukon. tomorrow Whitehorse, then Fairbanks. We will look up Mitch Roth in Fairbanks. It is warm here. We had 4" of snow in the Columbia Glacier ... and we had some rain to drive thru .... roads are really "good" we hear it is hot in Mich ..... Bill and Jose'
The World Famous Sign Post Forest is Watson Lake's best known attraction. So famous, it is known - and mimicked - around the world.

The forest was started in 1942 by a homesick U.S. Army G.I., Carl K. Lindley of Danville, Il., Company D, 341st Engineers. While working on the Alaska Highway, he erected a sign here pointing the way and stating the mileage to his hometown. Others followed his lead and are still doing so to this day. On July 20, 1990, Olen and Anita Walker of Bryan, Ohio placed the 10,000th sign. Carl K. Lindley and his wife visited the site in 1992, 50 years after his first post was erected.

Today, the Town of Watson Lake maintains the site, erecting more posts as they are needed through the Adopt-A-Post Program. Located near the forest is the Alaska Highway Interpretive Centre. This is often the first Yukon stop for northbound travellers. Besides providing information on the territory, the centre interprets the remarkable history of the highway through photo murals, realistic displays and dioramas, a three projector audio-visual presentation and a unique winter night scene illuminated by northern lights.

From Watson Lake town website:

In Alaska at Northway

June 26: Dad / Grandpa called Roger's friend (Mitch) in Fairbanks; they were in Northway, Alaska.
June 26: Dad / Grandpa called Roger's friend (Mitch) in Fairbanks, who relayed the information. They were in Northway, Alaska. The Northway community is made up of approximately 400 people, mainly Athabascans. Northway was named after the late chief Walter Northway, who passed away in 1993 at the age of 117.

Breakfast With a View

The Final Run-Up

June 28: Dad / Grandpa called me (Roger) from Delta Junction. They are planning on having dinner with Mitch in Faribanks this evening.
June 28: Dad / Grandpa called me (Roger) from Delta Junction. They are planning on having dinner with Mitch in Faribanks this evening.

The history of the Delta Junction area is tied closely to the development of different modes of transportation through this portion of the Tanana River Valley. Increased travel on the trail from Valdez to the gold fields near Fairbanks initiated commerce in this area.

Arrival in Fairbanks

One of the first sights seen to visitors of Fairbanks is the "sculpture" Solar Borealis, done as part of the "One percent for the Arts" project during the expansion of the Airport in the early '80's.

June 29, 2005 Dad/Grandpa having R and R on the Chino river in Alaska. When we (Doug and Marsha) got home from a free birthday steak dinner at Finleys, there was a birthday message from Dad on the answering machine.
Dad is thankful for the pop up camper that Roger's friend Mitch has loaned them. It is sunny, sitting on the banks of the Chino River, watching the paddle boats float by. Jose is out looking for a job and dad is taking some R & R by sitting on the veranda and reading and sorting the literature that he collected from the last two weeks on the road. Mitch is a FarmHouse alum, just as Doug is. That was a connection that Dad did not expect to have when in Alaska. He still plans on being back in September.

Message from Mitch: Your Dad and Jose arrived Tuesday and are staying in our camper while they plan their next moves. Sounds like Jose is going to spend the summer in Fairbanks while your Dad moves on to see some more of the sights. It's been great reminiscing about Michigan with them. I found my Farmhouse fraternity pledge paddle which your brother signed and your Dad was quite amazed that I knew both you and Doug. He also recognized some of the other names on the paddle as dairymen that he knew. I'll send you a picture later tonite when I have a chance to take it out of the camera.

Fairbanks at the Salmon Bake

Fairbanks (2)

Fairbanks (3)

Fairbanks (4)

Fairbanks (5)

Fairbanks (6)

Fairbanks (7)

Fairbanks (8)

Email from Mitch Roth to share with family

July 2, 2005 Some of the email may not make any sense, but some pertains to certain relatives and you may find it interesting
Hi Doug,

Yes, a "blast from the past" is right. I showed your Dad my Farmhouse pledge paddle with your signature and he was quite amazed that I knew both you and Roger.

He and Jose seem to be enjoying themselves after the long drive up here. I hope your Dad has A/C in his van because it's been hot and smoky here due to forest fires--nothing close to Fairbanks, but thick enough to smell it.

I'll let your Dad know that you got the message and pass along your greetings.

Am I completely on the wrong track or is Marsha related to Al Decker? Your Dad's appearance has brought out some memories that I haven't thought about for 30 years and I have trouble sorting out what I remember and what I'm imagining from those days at MSU. If you know anything about him, I'd love to know where Al is these days. Last I heard he shipped out to Hawaii with his Norton and that's when I lost track of him about 30 years ago.

I have stayed in touch with a couple of the FH brothers from my class. I seeDoug Canfield and Rich Lloyd every now and then and Kip McGilliard drove to Alaska last summer with his family and camped in our yard for a couple days, but it's been about 5 years since the last time I visited MSU (for Fred Bakker's retirement). I had trouble recognizing the campus, but I did see that Farmhouse was still there and looked familiar. Your Dad told me that you're still located in the area so you probably don't notice the changes the way I do when I only visit every 10 years or so.

I'm overdue to make a road trip back to Michigan to see some of my family and attend some family reunions, but I guess that will have to wait for next year. We just returned from a month in Scotland and England and I'm all travelled out for this summer. It's good to hear from you.

I think your Dad also said that you are a grandfather yourself? Amazing!

Please give my regards to your family and other Michigan friends,


Dad/Grandpa in Fairbanks for the 4th

July 2, 2005 Fairbanks on the 4th and more of Alaska to come.
Doug and Marsha had an answering machine message from dad this afternoon. He left it at 3:52 pm and wished us a happy anniversary, belated. After we got back from Saugatuck this evening, we listened to the message. Dad is sitting in Mitch's yard, watching the paddle boats float by. He is enjoying the blue skies and relaxing afternoons. He is looking forward to spending the 4th in Fairbanks to see how they celebrate the holiday. Dad is taking Jose to the airport on Tuesday so that he can go to Nome. From there, dad took Mitch's suggestions on where to go and what to see. Mitch's directions will cut off quite a few miles compared to the routes that he had choosen.

Lost & Found

July 15: Natalie heard from Dad late Wednesday night (July 13). Dad said, "Pinch me, am I really doing this?" He said that this has been a super adventure so far.


Riverboat Ride on the Chena River in Fairbanks

Attached is a picture of the riverboat ride your Dad took on the Chena River while in Fairbanks. The picture was taken from my front yard. Your Dad is waving, but a little too far away to see. Mitch
I (Natalie) heard from Dad late Wednesday night.

When dad called, he said it had been a while since he could get a signal out on his phone. He said to give his love to everyone! He is not hurrying in his travels. He is relaxing, getting plenty of rest, and feels very good. Dad said, "Pinch me, am I really doing this?" He said that this has been a super adventure so far.

Last Sunday (7-10) he took a plane ride around the Mt. McKinley foothills. It was too cloudy to see Mt. KcKinley, but the plane ride was fantastic.

When Dad called, he was in Sterling, south of Fairbanks, on the road to Kenai. He had just spent two nights in Palmer, north of Anchorage. Roger: dad said that he met a man in Palmer named Joe Kool (a young guy from MSU), who does research for USDA on potatoes and vegetables.

Dad went to a 180 head reindeer farm. They sell off some of the reindeer before winter to use for christmas TV shows, christmas tree farms to pull sleighs, or reindeer sausage. He has been to a musk ox farm near Palmer. On thing they do on this farm is harvest Qiviut (he thought all scrabble
players should pay attention to this word!). Qiviut is the underlying hair of a musk ox. They comb it out or pick up the hair that has naturally shed from the animal. The local indians have exclusive rights to the hair from the animals on this farm. They create yarn for knitting hats and mittens and other outer-wear items. It is seven times warmer than sheep wool.

When dad was in Anchorage, he tried to look up John Michaelson's daughter, Patti. He was not able to connect with her because she was visiting her daughter in China.

As dad traveled by Cook Inlet toward Sterling, he crossed a beautiful river and went through some beautiful wooded areas. He was very impressed with the lovely scenery that he saw. He spent Wednesday night at a beautiful state recreation campground in Sterling. On Thursday, he was headed for Soldotna and Kenai. From there he was headed to Homer to look up a friend of a neighbor of Mitch Roth (the guy Roger knows in Fairbanks). At some time (I didn't catch what day) he went to a Festival in Talkeetna. While there, he participated in the Moose Droppings Toss. He put his money down, then tossed the moose dropping into a grid and hoped to win a prize. I think he said that he did not win.

After Homer, he is headed to Seward and Valdez.

Dad sounded very upbeat and happy in his journey. He sent some pictures, with commentary, to Roger for posting on the website.

Wandering Southern Alaska

July 19: I (Lisa) heard from Dad tonight (July 19). He has a pair of black eye covers to help him sleep with the long days and short nights.

A Typical Campsite

I heard from Dad tonight (July 19). On July 14 he was in Soldotna and visited the historical museum. Went on to Kenai national wildlife refuge, hiked around, similar to hiking on Upton Road woods, but the trees are bigger, and mostly pine trees. Went to Homer and attended service at Russian Orthodox Church. At Captain Cook campground, he met a young man (age 42) who invited Dad to stay at his house. Dad had the whole basement to himself with bed and private bath. They fed him dinner and breakfast, and did his laundry. He went to Homer and camped on the beach, Homer Spit, for one night then 2 nights in the town campground. Homer has many artists in residence. Dad visited museums and art galleries. He saw a play by civic players, Old Songs and Lipstick. He also went to a street fair and had a hearty meal. On Sunday, July 17, he attended Homer Church of Christ. Attendance was about 30. July 18, he went to Alaskan Islands visitor center. He visited Norman Lowell Gallery, a building slightly bigger than Duplain church, filled with artists paintings. He didn't find any paintings in his price range. He went to Sterling Sunday night, July 17, to the house of a man he met in Homer. It was back off the highway quite a ways. He camped in his yard and shared dinner. Today, July 19, he is at campground in Steward, on an inlet. Tomorrow, he is going on a glacier and fjord tour including a salmon bake dinner. He will stay in Steward most of the week. On Friday he plans to travel back through Anchorage (to visit John Michelson's daughter) and Palmer to Dawson City, then Whitehouse and Skagway. He is working on figuring out schedule to catch ferry from Skagway to Juneau then Prince Rupert then driving to Washington and visiting friends and relatives, Susan Schroeder, Amy (Helen's granddaughter), Tom Kurtchner and Peter Carlson, then Idaho to visit Carlene Nathaway (from Duplain church) then back toward home, probably thru Wisconsin and UP to visit Helen, Wilma and Judy. He continues to enjoy his travels. The weather has been good. 65-70 during the day and not too cold at night. Only a few light showers. He has a pair of black eye covers to help him sleep with the long days and short nights.

Exploring Anchorage

July 29: Dad / Grandpa left a message with Brian on Wednesday of this week. He is staying with John Michelson's daughter in Anchorage, exploring the city by day while she is working.
Brian had a message from Dad / Grandpa in their answering machine on Wed. evening. They called me (Roger) Friday because they are vacationing somewhere in the cell phone wasteland of northern Wisconsin.

Dad is staying with John Michelson's daughter in Anchorage, exploring the city by day while she is working. The Ford garage had to order the part needed for repair, which was expected in on Thursday or Friday. We are not sure when he is leaving Anchorage. He has talked about taking the boat ferry to Prince Rupert (about halfway to Vancouver) sometime, visiting Susan and Rainer in Washington, and working his way back to Helen's in northern Wisconsin.

Alaskan Adventures

July 31: Dad / Grandpa called me (Roger) tonight (Sunday) from Valdez. He reports that he is well, eating well and getting an hour nap most days. He chose to stay in a motel tonight because the weather was raining and foggy.
Dad / Grandpa called me tonight (Sunday) from Valdez. Yes, that means the car is fixed and he is back on the road. All he needed was a transmission oil pan; there was no other damage. He reports that he is well, eating well and getting an hour nap most days. He chose to stay in a motel tonight because the monsoon season has started, and the weather was raining and foggy.

Working backwards, he is currently in Valdez. He has been museum visiting. He went to a Baptist church this morning. He is planning on touring the oil tanker loading facility on Monday.

The repair part arrived in Anchorage in Thursday, and he had the car back Thursday afternoon. He left Anchorage on Friday morning, traveling through Palmer (again). He met a couple of people I know from my potato days. He spent Friday night in Glen Allen.

While in Anchorage, he stayed with Patti (John Michelson's daughter), riding with her into town each day and touring the sites in Anchorage while she was at work. He thinks he has seen everything there is to see in Anchorage.

When he hit the post last weekend, he was in Girdwood. He has just "bought a shower" and was looking for a campsite. A family from Anchorage saw it happen (Jim Schaefer and his brother Frank) and they helped him move the car and eventually drive him to Anchorage and helped arrange for the towing and repair.

Prior to Girdwood, he had been in Seward where he took an all day boat trip, seeing eagles, sea lions and sea otters; he did not say anything about seeing whales.

While he was in Seward, he camped next to a lady and her kids who suggested that he stop at the Wittier Tunnel and get an inside tour from her husband, which he did. The tunnel is shared by the railroad and automobiles, with trains getting priority. At Wittier, he visited museums, learning much about the Japanese attacks on the Aluetian Islands duirng WW II.

To the future: after he finishes touring Valdis, he is planning on heading to Dawson City, by way of Glen Allen and Tok. It may be the end of the week before he get there. Dawson City apparently has some sort of theatre that people are telling him not to miss.

The Chicken - St. Johns Connection

Aug 7: Dad called (Lisa) this afternoon, August 7 about 5:20, from Wal-mart at White Horse. He was there for an oil change. He camped in their parking lot last night with many other campers. He is planning to do so again tonight.
Dad called (Lisa) this afternoon, August 7 about 5:20, from Wal-mart at White Horse. He was there for an oil change. He camped in their parking lot last night with many other campers. He is planning to do so again tonight.

Went from Anchorage to Tok to Chicken to Dawson City.

He visited Dawson City, an old mining town with old store fronts with hard packed dirt streets. Inside, the stores are very modern. Also, Jack London museum, Robert Service home, "Cremation of Sam McGee", well known local poet, and Northwest Territories visitor center.

He met Andreas Kieling on the Dome Road, up about 2300 feet, overlooks Dawson City, a freelance photographer that has worked for National Geographic, Discovery, and others.

This morning, attended Whitehorse United Church. It is a combination of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational.

Chicken is known because of a book titled "Tisha". While there he saw 2 tour buses pull in and watched 4 couples he knows from St. Johns and Elsie step off. What a surprise!!

He is going to be on the standby list for the ferry for Wednesday. If he doesn't get on, he will have to wait until next Sunday. Then he will be visiting in Washington, Idaho, Wisconsin and UP before heading home.

Dad Reported in to Gary Aug 13

Aug 13: I (Gary) was tucking the kids in so I missed the call. On the right is the message he left on voicemail.
Dad called Saturday (8/13) about 10:05 pm. He was in Skagway, Alaska. It was to be his 4th night there. He had a very relaxing 4 days. Up in White Horse, he had spent 4 nights in the Wal-mart parking lot.

While in Skagway, he took the White Horse-Yukon train up to White Pass, which is 3592 ft elevation. It was a beautiful 3.5 hour narrated tour. Saturday afternoon he went to see a play called DAYS OF 98, a vaudeville show about the 1898 Gold Rush. The town and museums are all based on the Gold Rush and he found it all to be quite interesting. It is a cruise ship port and much of the town makes its living from the tourist traffic. Sunday Afternoon he plans to take the ferry to Prince Rupert.

He also wished Gary and Bayli a happy birthday for the following week.

He sounds quite happy and like he is having a great time.

Headed for Washington - as of Aug 17

The journey from Alaska to the continental US has begun. August 17 - from the middle of British Columbia
Dad called tonight, August 17, at 6pm from the middle of British Columbia to wish Gary and Bayli a Happy Birthday. He was just getting up from his after lunch nap. His regular schedule is: lunch from 1:30-2:00 and nap from 2:00-3:00.

On Sunday, he left Skagway on the ferry bound for Prince Rupert. It was a two day, two night journey. He got a twin bunk room with a shower for the journey. While sailing, he just roamed around the boat and talked to people from all over the world, places like Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Ohio. (We laughed). After arriving in Prince Rupert early Tuesday morning, he went to get his tires checked because he noticed a "dent" in one of them. The tire guy told him that all his tires had that and assured him his "rig was in good shape". He drove around and explored the town while he waited for the tire place to open. He also visited a local museum - it had a wonderful "sunken flower garden".

At the time of his call, he was about half way between Prince Rupert and Prince George on Highway 16. During this leg of the journey, he camped in Kitwanga (the name of the town) at the Cassia Highway campground. (Interesting name for a town.) Yesterday there was a little rain. Driving through the mountains was beautiful. The drive is starting to get into farm country and the little towns are starting to become bigger towns. Once he reaches Prince George, its south toward Washington, which should be only a few days travel. In Washington, he will be looking for Becky (Stadnyk), Tom Kirchner (cousin), and Peter Carlson.

He is still planning to be back in Michigan "sometime in September".

Message Left with Brian and Judi on August 23rd

August 23: Dad called and left us a message at 7:00pm local time on Tuesday. He said that he was working his way south through British Columbia. He had gone through Vanderhoof, Clinton, Cache Creek (noted as the Arizona of British Columbia, ie, arid
He went to Hat Creek Ranch (now a tourist destination). He said he'd gone through Lillooet, which looks like it's about 130 miles or so north of the border. He said he'd had a car problem, but figured out the problem was with a battery terminal, so he cleaned it up, and contined on his merry way. As it is now Wednesday evening, he is most likely in the lower 48, most of the way, if not all of the way to the Puget Sound area and staying with...a relative/someone he knows/someone he's met along the way/a new friend...

Return to the 48

August 25: I (Lisa) talked with Dad this evening. He called from a campground in Port Townsend on the Olympic Pennisula.
I talked with Dad this evening. He called from a campground in Port Townsend on the Olympic Pennisula. When he was visiting Susan, he found out the Walter and Nancy would be visiting next week. He will be touring Olympic National Park for about a week, then meeting Walter and Nancy at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Then he will be visiting Tom Kerchner, who is currently on a backpack trip. He spent a few days with Becky and Brian Halsey (Aunt Helen's granddaughter).

Touring the Olympic Penninsula

August 30: Dad called the house tonight (Roger and Pat). He is currently touring the Olympic Park, mentioning Hurricane Ridge, Rialto Beach and Ho Rain Forest.
When Dad called, he has just finished having supper at Safeway. Apparently they were opening a new store, and he supped on the free samples (salad, subs, other munchies).

He was headed for a campground outside of Aberdeen that was marked on the map. He complained about paying $2.79 for gas. He had been out of the loop and had not heard about hurrican Katrina.

He will be visiting with Walter Shroeder and Nancy on Thursday at the Lewis and Clark interpretive center. Dad says he is getting "parked out" and is ready to come home.

He is planning on heading south for Portland, and then east. He will not be visiting Tom Kirchner (he is on a one-month backpacking trip), or Peter Carlson (can not make contact). He will try again to contact a classmate of Lisa's who currently lives in Idaho. He is planning and visiting Stadnyck's in norther Wisconsin, and Allan and Judy in the UP on the way home.

Headed Home

Sept 5: I (Roger) talked with Dad / Grandpa this afternoon. He was at a rest stop outside of Idaho Falls. He is headed for Helen's, via Butte, MT and Duluth, MN.
Last Thursday, he spend the day at the Lewis and Clark interpretive center with Walter and Nancy Schroeder. They headed north to Susan's; he headed east for home. He crossed Oregon and I-84 and is headed for Butte, MT to get I-94 east through North Dakota.

He said that even though he would be within 100 miles of Yellowstone National Park, he will not visit because he is ready to be home. In one our earlier conversations he said he was "parked out".

On the way he spent a night at the Motel 6 in Ontario (only $10 more than a capground and had a private shower). He also spent two days with Catherine ... (I was driving so could not take notes; she was a class mate of Lisa and a former member of Duplain Church).

He is planning on being at Helen's next weekend, and will then visit Wilma and Keith, and Judy and Allan before returning the the "land of the trolls".

North Dakota Buffalo

Sept. 7: I (Natalie) talked to Dad Sept. 7 in the evening. He was in Dickinson, North Dakota.
I (Natalie) talked to Dad Sept. 7 in the evening.

He was in Dickinson, North Dakota. He went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and got to observe, up close, some buffalo near the parking center. He had recently spent a couple days with Charlene Clark Nethaway, a woman who graduated with Lisa and attended Dad's church. He left there on Monday. He plans to drive 350-400 miles a day and arrive in Ashland to visit Helen on Friday.

Lake Ann to Reed City Soccer

Sept. 18: I (Natalie) talked to Dad on the phone tonight. He will be in Reed City on Monday and Tuesday. He's able to catch two soccer games, two days in a row.
I talked to Dad on the phone tonight. He was at Helen's last week-end. Then he spent two days with Wilma and three days with Judi. He got to Lake Ann on Friday, and has been there for the week-end.

He will be in Reed City on Monday and Tuesday. He's able to catch two soccer games, two days in a row.

He'll head out on Wednesday, hoping to see more family before finally getting home to Ovid.

Home Again after 13,088 Miles

Dad / Grandpa Bill Brook arrived home in Ovid, Michigan.


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