Although James was born in Bathurst, N.B., he grew up in the Chatham area. When only two, his mother Mary died suddenly and the widowed father moved back to Bathurst with only the family he could support. James stayed and was adopted into the Thomas Brooks household in Newcastle, across the reiver from Chatham. James and Mary Jane Kirkpatrick were united in 1870 at Newcastle. Their marriage bond had been co-signed by her brother, Hugh Kirkpatrick. The family must have prospered, as James and Mary had a formal portrait done with the twin daughters, Edith May and Anna Myrtle. James has the striking composure of a successful businessman, in suit and stylish tie. Years later, James and Mary would need to sell their land property during difficult times.