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Former County Legislator Philo J. Brooks received another honor here recently, and this time he didn't see it coming.

Last year, the Porter resident had plenty of time to prepare for having a county office building named after him.

But earlier this month, Brooks was blindsided by a national citizenship award from the Sons of the American Revolution.

"I wasn't aware of it," Brooks said after receiving his honor at a luncheon of the group's Buffalo chapter in the banquet hall of Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises.

Brooks is secretary of the chapter and had suggested that site for the June 2 meeting, unaware of what acting chapter President Milford W. Angevine Jr. had up his sleeve.

Angevine and others in the chapter nominated Brooks for the Sons of American Revolution Good Citizenship Award on the basis of last year's dedication of the Philo J. Brooks County Office Building on Hawley Street.

"We wanted to catch him barefooted, and we did," chortled Angevine, a Lockport resident. "He wasn't dressed up at all."

Brooks served 28 years in the County Legislature and its predecessor, the Board of Supervisors, from 1966 through 1993.

Brooks' nomination for the award had to be approved by regional and national officials of the Sons. The group is a counterpart to the Daughters of the American Revolution, and comprises men who can prove that an ancestor of theirs fought in the Revolution.

"There are no other qualifications," said Angevine, who spent years documenting that nine of his forebears were in the Revolution.

Brooks has four such ancestors, one of whom was killed in battle.

He joined the group in 1994, the year after his County Legislature service ended. "I had more time when I got off the Legislature," Brooks said. "My wife's very involved in the (Daughters of the American Revolution), so it was a natural thing."

However, he had long known of one of his Revolutionary ancestors, John Boutwell, who moved to Western New York after the war.

Boutwell is buried in North Otto Cemetery in Cattaraugus County. "I was aware of him and where his grave was," Brooks said.

Angevine said the Buffalo chapter of the Sons has 58 members. "When I joined they were all at least 55 (years old), but in the last year we got three new men, all in their early 30s," Angevine said.

He said one of the new members is a policeman, another is a telephone repairman, and the third is a farmer.

Dues are about $50 a year, but some members have to spend thousands on genealogical research to prove they're eligible. Brooks said: "I joined on John Boutwell. The work was pretty well done on that by a professor in the university system in California."

Angevine said those interested in joining should call Douglas Metz, registrar of the Buffalo chapter, at 773-7398.

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