In 2004, Brooks Eason received a life-changing phone call from his dad.
Eason, who was adopted at two and a half years old, was potentially an heir to a major oil trust left behind by his biological great-grandfather.
Turned out, Eason didn’t get the money for legal reasons, but he got a new family and a great story – one that he’s sharing in his second book, “Fortunate Son: The Story of Baby Boy Francis.”
“The lawyer who was appointed to represent my interest before they knew who I was found a decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that was damaging to the position that I should inherit it,” he said, referring to the fortune. “So, we decided I shouldn’t pursue the claim.”
The book was published recently. It chronicles the Northsider’s journey as he learns the story of his birth mother, her identity and why she gave him up for adoption.
Through it all, the 62-year-old attorney said he’s not bitter. In fact, he has sympathy for Julie Francis, the woman who was forced to give him up.
“I had the most wonderful parents who adopted and raised me,” he said. “I regret that I did not make an effort to find my birth mother while she was still alive.
“It would have been more for her sake than mine. I wish she could have known what wonderful parents I had and what a wonderful life they gave me.”
Eason was adopted by Paul and Margaret Eason of Tupelo. Eason has one sister, Margaret Corrigan, who also was adopted.
Paul, a manufacturing plant manager and human resources officer, was a Boy Scout leader for 60 years. After retiring, he served on the Tupelo City Council for three terms. Margaret was a lab technician, real estate agent and an artist.
“We were certainly not poor, but we were far from rich,” he said. “There was a vacant lot beside our house and a creek beside the vacant lot, so that made me the richest boy in town.”
As a teen, Eason became an Eagle Scout. “It would have been scandalous had I not been,” he said. He went on to graduate from Tupelo High School, the University of Mississippi and Duke University School of Law.
“My daddy and I are frat brothers,” he said, adding that he is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
After college, Eason clerked for a federal judge in Jackson and eventually landed a position with a local law firm. Today, he is a shareholder with the Baker Donelson firm in Jackson.
“I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor,” he said. “I majored in political science. That left me with (little) choice but to go to law school.”
Eason, married with three children of his own, never had a desire to learn about his birth family or his birth mother.
“I assumed my birth mother had a good reason for not wanting to keep me,” he said.
However, a phone call in June 2004 changed everything. “My daddy got a call from a lawyer in Tupelo, who said that a court in New Orleans had ordered a nationwide search to find Paul Eason, age 46.
“I called the lawyer back and was planning to say I’m Brooks Eason, and not tell her that I was the Paul Eason she was looking for. But the first thing she said was, ‘I can’t believe I found you,’” he recalled.
In the days and weeks that followed, Eason learned that he was a potential heir to a major oil fortune. His great-grandfather, Sidney Davis, had owned oil fields across Texas, as well as the only facility in the western hemisphere that produced fluoride for toothpaste.
Davis had set aside a large portion of those funds in a trust.
He also learned more about his mother, who was forced to give him up after getting pregnant out of wedlock.
“She was a rich socialite from Tulsa. She got pregnant the fall of her freshman year of college,” he said.
Eight days after Eason was born, Julie signed papers allowing her newborn to be put up for adoption.
“In 1957 … a young woman from a prominent family … it would have been inconceivable for her to keep and raise me as a single mother,” he said.
Interestingly, Eason learned the circumstances of his birth shortly before his oldest granddaughter was born in similar circumstances.
“One thing I wrote in the book is just how different things were in 1957 when I was born, than they were in 2004 when my granddaughter was born,” he said. “My daughter got to keep her child.”
He’s glad times have changed, in part, because of the psychological toll that signing away her baby took on Julie.
“She was married twice, divorced twice, a severe alcoholic … she died of cirrhosis of the liver when she was 47,” he said.
Brooks was able to learn about his mother from his surviving biological family members. Julie has one sister, Sandy, and one brother, Sid, and several nieces and nephews.
“He lives in Tulsa and is only eight years older than I am,” Eason said. “He did not know I existed until after Julie died.”
Eason’s biological cousins, Pearson and Lisa, gave Eason a photo of his late mother. The portrait hangs in his home, next to two pictures painted by Margaret.
Eason decided to write about his experiences a few years ago. He is currently working on two more books, including one about his biological grandfather. “I really enjoy this writing,” he said. “And this story was something too good not to write.”