June 16, 1900: Naturalist Maurice Brooks Born in Upshur County
West Virginia’s greatest naturalist, Maurice Brooks, was born at French Creek in Upshur County on June 16, 1900. The Brooks family name is synonymous with natural history in West Virginia. His father Fred was an entomologist, uncle A. B. was a legendary naturalist at Wheeling’s Oglebay Park, and uncle Earle wrote numerous articles on birds and folklore.
After graduating from West Virginia University, Maurice taught biology and English at Upshur County High School in Buckhannon. In 1932, he started teaching at WVU, first as a biology professor and then as a professor of wildlife management for more than three decades. He retired in 1969.
His legacy includes numerous scholarly publications, newspaper and magazine articles, and two books, The Appalachians and The Life of the Mountains. Brooks was the first alumnus to receive an honorary doctorate from WVU and was an elected fellow of the American Ornithologists Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1970, he received WVU’s highest honor, the Order of Vandalia, and in 1979, was named Charleston Gazette’s Man of the Year.
Maurice Brooks died in 1993 at age 92.