Sunset at Gowanus Bay

Sunset at Gowanus Bay
Sunset at Gowanus Bay, Henry Gritten, 1851

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Monmouth County, New Jersey Estate and Proceedings Indexes

Locating wills, estate files, probate and guardianship records in Monmouth County, New Jersey is not easy. Only a genius could come up with the cumbersome, convoluted and time consuming method of indexing that is used for Monmouth County estate records. The procedure involves first finding the individual you are targeting in the Estate Index, which then tells you where to find that individual in the Proceedings Index. The individual's entry in the Proceedings Index, then tells you where to find specific documents in the various books and dockets (Wills, Inventories, Minutes, etc.). Of course the Estate Index is not arranged in strict alphabetical order, but instead by that old time system which uses "key letters." On a positive note, these indexes are now online at In the past, using them required either ordering multiple films from the Family History Library, or making a visit in person to Monmouth County. After about a half hour of maneuvering around the online images I was able to locate the pages for those named BROWER, BREWER, BRUER, BRUERE.

And so, in order to save all those interested some time, here is a link to the very first page in the Proceedings Index for those individuals with the surname BROWER, BREWER, BRUER, BRUERE. The pages are in Volume 2 and run from page 65 (image 471) to page 77 (image 483). Each "block" contains the name of an individual and a list of documents regarding that individual and where those documents are located. Note that not all of the books or dockets containing the original documents have been placed online. As of this posting, those that are online for Monmouth County include Wills, Letters of Administrations, Minutes of the Orphans Court, and a few others.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Educating Yourself About DNA Testing

I've been involved with using DNA testing as an additional tool and resource in solving genealogy problems, and co-administrator of the Brewer DNA Project for nine or so years now. Back in the mid 2000 this was a new area for all of us, and it still is new for many coming to it for the first time. There was (and still is) a lot to learn. One of my observations has been that many, probably most people who order DNA tests, do so without having acquired much knowledge or understanding about what their tests will tell them, and how their results can be used. I'm left with wondering why anyone would invest the money in purchasing tests (they're not cheap) but not invest the time in understanding the concepts and results of what it is they're purchasing. With that, here are some links and recommendations for online material that will help those who wish to get a better understanding of DNA testing and how it might help with your genealogy research. Many of these links (along with others) are also found on this website's Genetic Genealogy Page. My hope is that placing them in a post will increase their exposure to those who are looking to learn more.

The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Genetic Genealogy in Practice, both by Blaine Bettinger, both published in late 2016. If you are new to DNA testing start here. If you've been involved with some testing, read them as well. There is some duplication between the two, but I recommend both. Start with the first. Here are online reviews for The Family Tree Guide..., and Genetic Genealogy...

A bare bones synopsis of the absolute basics of Genetic Genealogy in a short blog post by Emma Young on the Family Search blog. An Introduction to Genetic Genealogy.

What is a STR (Short Tandem Repeat)? How are they used in Genetic Genealogy?

What is a SNP (Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism)? A bit more on SNPs from ISOGG. And more on Y-SNP Testing from ISOGG. And while you are there, don't be shy about exploring the entire ISOGG website. There are a lot of links, sources and material for you to investigate whatever aspect of Genetic Genealogy interests you.

Here is an older paper (PDF) from 2008 by Blaine Bettinger, "Interpreting The Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What?"

Thinking About a BigY Test at Family Tree DNA?, Blaine Bettinger, August 1, 2017. Some background and some basics on how to use your Big-Y test results. NEW and very relevant for our current Big-Y Test participants.

BigY at the Family Tree DNA Learning Center. Basics on the test with FAQs and a link to the BigY white paper, "Introduction to the BigY," from 2014. And a video on YouTube from FTDNA titled, "Getting to Know Your Big-Y Results."

How Y-DNA Can Help Your One Name Study Project, video by Maurice Gleason.

Some background on the YFull service from the Cruwys News website.

Family Tree DNA's Book and Video recommendations. This page may be a little dated and the two books by Blaine Bettinger mentioned above, and not on this list, is the place to start, but there may be specific topics of individual interest here to some. For those who want to take all of this even further here is FTDNA's Library of Scientific Papers.

This is just a start, and perhaps in time as new sites or sources appear I'll add them to this post. I also invite anyone who has recommendations (books, websites, videos) of their own to use the Comments option for the post as a vehicle to share them with others. And here is something I was told many years ago - Pick a subject, any subject, and spend one hour a day reading and learning about it. In one year you'll be an expert on that subject. I'll add to that something a bit more specific - what you get out of your investment in your DNA testing is going to correlate directly to just how much effort you put into learning about it.

Our Big Tree. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Brewer DNA Project Updates on YFull's YTree v5.05

YFull has released an updated YTree which is now v5.05. With this new tree our Brewer DNA Project's subgroups stand as follows:

Adam Brouwer Subgroup: Six members are on the tree. The terminal SNP (haplogroup) defined as E-Y19643 with two of the four members in a subclade defined by E-BY6245. The two are known first cousins. In addition there are two more members who have taken the Big-Y test with FTDNA whose analysis by YFull has not yet been completed. Of the eight total, only one can trace his ancestry back to Adam Brouwer with traditional research. The subgroup needs the participation of other known and provable descendants of Adam Brouwer in order to identify additional subclades.

Jan Brouwer Subgroup: Five members on the the tree. The terminal SNP is defined as I-Y7214. Time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) is estimated at 350 years before present (ybp). The subgroup has a sixth member who has taken the Big-Y test for whom we await YFull analysis. This subgroup includes members with the surnames BREWER or BROWER and some with the surname ROSE. Additional ROSE and BREWER/BROWER descendants are needed to identify more recent subclades.

Brewer-Lanier Subgroup: This subgroup now has 19 members on the YTree. Three additional members are awaiting Big-Y results from FTDNA or are awaiting analysis by YFull. The terminal SNP defining the group is defined as I-Y15031. Subclades are defined by I-Y21524 (two members), I-Y23708 (four members) and I-Y29640 (five members). Brewer-Lanier is certainly the most successful group to date in terms of participation.

Ambrose Brewer Subgroup: Two members. The terminal SNP is R-Y18435. The two members include one BREWER and one SMITH. More members of this subgroup will need to be tested in order to get a better idea of when the BREWER-SMITH common ancestor lived.

Arthur Brewer Subgroup: Two members. The terminal SNP defined as J-Y18401.

John Brewer of Sudbury, MA: Our one member is defined by R-S1051. He is presently grouped with two others not known to be BREWERs with a time to most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) estimated at 3700ypb. The testing of more descendants of John Brewer will be needed to place this subgroup on its own branch.

Hubert Brower Subgroup: One member is defined by R-Y30608 which is a subclade under R-Z29713. This subgroup does have eight members in the project and Big-Y testing of others would better define the terminal SNP for the subgroup.

Under Consideration F Subgroup: R-Z1, which is a broad haplogroup with many subclades defined below it. Our one member traces his ancestry back to Essex, England. The subgroup has one other member and a Big-Y test for that member should help refine the placement of this subgroup on the YTree.

An Ungrouped Member: We have one member who is ungrouped within the Project (in other words no STR marker test matches within the Project). His ancestry is traced to Gloucestershire, England. YFull defines his terminal SNP as I-Y15575 a subclade of I-Y15902.

Thanks to all those Brewer DNA Project members who have participated. Participation in this endeavor requires taking a Big-Y test with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and a follow up of analysis of the test results by the independent company, YFull. Please contact the administrators of the Brewer DNA Project with any questions.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Corrections to the Brouwer Genealogy Database

This post will serve as an ongoing report of corrections to the current edition of the Brouwer Genealogy Database (BGD). The BGD has become too large to update on a regular basis, although I hope to update it again at the end of this year. Since there are errors in the database, and since they should be pointed out and corrected, the best I can offer to do is to keep a running list of them on this post. I would ask readers who do find errors to use the Comments option for this post to bring them my attention and to the attention of others. I will then add individual corrections to this post as they come in. For a log of previous corrections please see this page on the BGD. Also see the Brouwer Genealogy post and comments of November 1, 2014.

The corrections that follow are to errors found in the current edition of the BGD. The date for this edition is 6 April 2016.

  • July 24, 2017. Correction to the date of birth for Moses De Clark. The date given of 27 July 1750 is clearly in error as his father was born in 1745 and his mother in 1744. The error is brought to my attention by Mitch Faulk who also provided a link to his Find-A-Grave page for Moses De Clark. The correct date of birth should be 2 December 1780. This is confirmed in George O. Zabriskie's article on the De Clark Family that was published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 96, no. 4, October 1965 (see page 202). Moses De Clark was married to Nensje (Nancy) Brouwer (1783-1873) a daughter of Abraham Brouwer and Rebecca Stevens. Moses and Nancy had eight children born between 1803 and 1823. They lived in Rockland County, New York.
  • July 31, 2017. Annatje Van Gelder, daughter of Hendrick Van Gelder and Femetje Wynants did not marry John Bragier as stated by Arthur Pine Van Gelder in "Van Gelder Families in America," NYGBR 75 (1944), p. 172. John Bragier, a.k.a. John Brasher/Braasjer/Bresser (and other variations) married Annatje Van Gelder, daughter of Abraham Van Gelder and Catalina Post. This Annatje Van Gelder was baptized 8 July 1702, Reformed Dutch Church, New York City, and was deceased by 18 May 1737 when John Brasher married Susanna Baker. On 30 April 1735, Annatje Van Gelder, wife of John Brasjer, witnesses the baptism of Johannes, son of Johannes Boekenhoven and Elisabet Van Gelder. Elisabeth was also a daughter of Abraham Van Gelder and Catalina Post. Annatje Van Gelder and John Bragier had married on 2 December 1732. The will of Hendrick Van Gelder, dated 26 March 1739, names his daughter Hannah, a name often synonymous with Anna (Annatje). Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, Vol. 22, Marriage Records, 1665-1800, page 306 records the marriage of Samuel Pryer and Anne Van Gilder, both of Staten Island, on 3 March 1749. A. P. Van Gelder in "Van Gelder Families in America, assigns this marriage to Annatje Van Gelder, daughter of Hendrick, as well. Further research is need to confirm whether or not this is correct.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Some Pages From The Probate File of John Brewer of Scioto Co., Ohio

Sharon McClelland has provided images of a few pages of importance from the probate file of John Brewer of Scioto County, Ohio. She would like to make them available to others who are also researching John Brewer, his descendants, and his possible ancestry.

To review, John Brewer died by May 1808, probably in Scioto County, Ohio where his estate was administered. A brief introduction to John Brewer was posted here on August 8, 2011. Included in that post is a link to a document on the descendants of John Brewer that was originally created back in 2011, and then updated and republished online this past February.

I'll make an attempt at a concise summery of John Brewer here. As stated John died by May 1808 when administration on his estate began. The date of his birth is not known. A reasonable guess would be that he was born between 1745 and 1755. John Brewer was married twice. His first wife was Elsie Lewis, daughter of an Edward Lewis and brother of Barnet Lewis of Bernards Twp., Somerset Co., New Jersey. Barent Lewis' will of 12 February 1807 (Somerset Co., NJ) ties them together. John Brewer's second wife was named Sarah and has been stated by earlier researchers to be Sarah Howell whose ancestry is not known. It should be mentioned here that much of what is known about John Brewer was passed on by earlier researchers and much of what was claimed was not documented. Subsequently some documentation has been found and what you'll find online in the document mentioned above is a current best effort account of John Brewer. The location of John Brewer's birth is not known but the fact that Elsie Lewis was from Somerset County, New Jersey would lead us to believe that John was born in that area as well. John and Elsie had two children (Sarah and Edward) while John and Sarah likely had nine children (Charles, Alice, Jacob, Nancy, Richard, John, James, Sarah and William). 

John Brewer's ancestry is not known. What is known is that he is somehow a direct male descendant of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, Long Island. See Brewer, Richard D., Scott Kraus and William B. Bogardus. "DNA Analysis: Adam Brouwer Berckhoven, Elias Brouwer of New Jersey, and John Brewer of Ohio," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record Vol.138, page 245 (2007).

The pages that Sharon provides are found in Scioto County Probate file #4704, dated 11 February 1809. She acquired them by directly contacting the Scioto County Genealogy Society. Here are links to the images (PDFs) now online:

The Matter of Guardianship of John Brewer and James Brewer and the Guardianship of Polly Brewer.

Receipt of James Black for his wife Mary Black for her share of the estate of John Brewer; receipt for John and James Brewer's share of the estate of John Brewer; receipt for the shares of Sarah and William Brewer of the estate of John Brewer. Note that these receipts dated in April and May of 1813, mention the estate of Samuel Lucas. It appears that Samuel Lucas was the initial administrator of John Brewer's estate, and he (Samuel Lucas) then died himself. What, if any, family relationship exists between Samuel Lucas and John Brewer's family has not been determined.

Receipt of Jacob Brewer (paid to Samuel Lucas) for his portion of the estate of John Brewer (1809); Receipt signed by Jacob Brewer and Charles Brewer for the shares of Sarah and William Brewer (1811).

Thanks again to Sharon McClelland for acquiring and making available the above documents to others interested in the family of John Brewer of Scioto County, Ohio.

PDF version of this post

Saturday, June 10, 2017

New York State Death Index at Internet Archive

Digital images of the New York State Death Index can now be found online at Internet Archive. The images are be made available by a group called "Reclaim the Records." Needless to say, the addition of these indexes online will make the task of searching out New York State death records much easier.

The images are arranged by year. To locate them simply access the Internet Archives' main page, and type "New York State Death Index" into the search box. The search will bring up a page with the individual years now available for viewing.

Here, as an example, is a link to the images for the year 1882.

Prior to the age of the internet, the process of looking up a death record in New York State was tedious and probably beyond the reach of many family researchers, especially those who lived far from New York State. The index was made public on microfiche and was available at just a few large libraries within New York State. Finding a record required a trip to one of the libraries, and involved the time consuming procedure of examining each fiche under a microfiche reader. I've done this, and it was not a fun way to spend the day. Ten or more years ago I started a project of extracting all entries regarding those named BREWER, BROWER, BROUWER, from the microfiche copies. You can see for yourself just how far I got with this. With the death records I was only up to 1897.

The New York State Death Indexes do not cover all localities within New York State. Records of deaths in New York City is noticeably absent. The requirement of recording a death with New York State did not begin until 1880, and in the earlier years compliance with the law was limited. For more background and info on New York State's Vital Records please consult this New York State Archives page. The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library also has published some useful information on searching out vital records in New York State.

Obtaining the actual record of death from New York State involves submitting a form to the State's Department of Health in Albany, and paying a fee. For more information on this also see this page at the New York State Department of Health website, and follow the links of interest to you. Here is an online copy of a mail-in form from 2004. And the same form available directly from the NYS DOH.

Thanks to Reclaim the Records, the first steps in searching out a death record in New York State is now a whole lot easier.