Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Will of Abraham Wenger of Berks County, Pennsylvania, 1792

Abraham Wenger of Union Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania wrote his will on 2 September 1792. It was proved 7 May 1794 and can be found in Berks County Wills, Volume B, page 343. I have also placed a transcript online. The will is of importance to those researching the Brower families of Berks and Chester Counties, Pennsylvania, and Randolph County, North Carolina.

Abraham Wenger, whose name also appears as Wanger, Wagner, Wenghert and other variations, died 3 May 1794 and is buried in the East Coventry Mennonite Cemetery in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Abraham's age at death was 64 years, 1 month and 4 days, which gives him a calculated date of birth as 29 March 1730. He was married twice. His first wife was named Anna, who is said to have been Anna Brower, a daughter of Christian Brower (d. 1771) of Coventry, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Anna died 11 March 1792, age 59 years. Proof that she was in fact a daughter of Christian Brower is sought. Abraham Wenger's second wife was Barbara Brower, nee High (Hoch), the widow of Henry Brower (1720-1784) who is said to be a brother of the mentioned Christian Brower. Barbara (High) (Brower) Wenger died 17 January 1797, age 69 years, 9 months and 16 days, so born 1 April 1727 (her Find-A-Grave page then being in error). Barbara had written her own will 24 January 1791 (Berks Co. Wills, Vol. B, pp. 472-473). It was proved 2 February 1797. At the time he wrote is will, Abraham Wenger was a widower and had not yet married Barbara. A codicil to his will dated 3 May 1794 addresses his marriage to "Barbara Brower, the widow of Henry Brower."

Abraham Wenger does not mention any children or grandchildren of his own in his will and it is therefore assumed that he either never fathered children, or if he did, they died prior to 1792 and left no heirs of their own. As no burial records for children have been located, it may be that he never had children of his own.

Abraham Wenger leaves his house in Union Township and his plantation and tenements to Abraham Brower, who is described as "my beloved Friend," and as the son of "John Brower in Carolina." Abraham Brower is required to pay five hundred pounds to various named legacies, and so the transaction was not so much a bequeathment from Abraham Wenger to Abraham Brower as much as it was a sale. Five hundred pounds was a fair sum of money in 1792. However, Abraham Brower also received Wenger's riding horse, working sleigh, hogsheads, vessels, half of his smith tools, anvil and more.

The second legatee mentioned in the will is "John Brower Junr a son of John Brower Senr which Livith in Carolina." John Brower, Jr. received fifty pounds in silver or gold and Wenger's silver watch.

Also receiving legacies is Annah Brower, a daughter of the above named Abraham Brower, and Benjamin Bennit of Coventry Township, Chester County, who received the other half of Wenger's smith tools. And finally, Abraham Brower's young son Abraham, is to receive "my new hat."

It is important to note that all of the mentioned legatees of Abraham Wenger are not referred to by the testator with any familial qualifier. In other words, with the exception of the widow Barbara Brower, there is no stated relationship, either by blood or marriage, between Abraham Wenger and Abraham Brower, John Brower Jr., John Brower Sr., Annah Brower, Abraham Brower's son Abraham or Benjamin Bennit.

After leaving property to the above individuals, Abraham Wenger then goes on to list family members who are to receive money, including shares of the five hundred pounds that Abraham Brower is to pay for Wenger's real estate. He names brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews, and in that regard this will is a very valuable document for reconstructing the extended Wenger family. I would refer you to the online transcript for the complete list.

The Abraham Brower mentioned in this will was a son of John Brower and Hannah Echelbaur. According to the record of his baptism at the Trinity Reformed Church in York County, Pennsylvania, Abraham was born 10 June 1758 and was baptized 24 June 1762 as Abraham, son of Johannes Brauer and Hannah (nee Echelbauer)*. His brother's Christian (b. 17 May 1756) and David (b. 18 Oct 1760) were baptized the same day. Abraham Brower remained in Berks County, Pennsylvania, married Mary Bunn and had eight children whose descendants are well documented. Just recently a direct male descendant has taken a Y-DNA test with the Brewer DNA Project (Family Tree DNA).+ To date it has generally been believed that Abraham was a son of John Brower and his wife Susanna, who some refer to as Susanna Wanger/Wenger (we seek proof of this identification), and was a grandson of Hubert Brower who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1726. The descendants Y-DNA matches and the above mentioned baptism record, requires us to reconsider this generally believed account of Abraham Brower's parents and ancestry. This will be examined further in future posts.

*Henry James Young, Register of the First Reformed Church, York, Pennsylvania and of Trinity Reformed Church, Vol. 1. Typescript, 1935. Online at, "Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985" database), page 19.

+The Brewer DNA Project is presently seeking direct male descendants of Christian Brower (d. 1771) and of Henry Brower (1720-1784) both of Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Interested participants should contact the administrators of the Brewer DNA Project for additional info.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Brower Findings in the Orphan Court Records of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Digital images of the Orphan Court Records of Chester County, Pennsylvania can be viewed online at Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994, Chester County.

Format: Year, Volume, Page - Text or Transcription. Link

1786, Vol. 9, p. 47 - (566) Upon the petition of John Brower son of Henry Brower late of Coventry Township decd. who is a minor under twenty one though above fourteen years of age Daniel Brower is by this Court admitted and appointed his guardian. Image 473.

1798, Vol. 10, p. 89 - (159) Upon the petition of Susannah Brower a minor over the age of fourteen years the Court appoints Susannah Brower Guardian over said Minors person and Estate. Image 634.

1798, Vol. 10, p. 89 - (160) Upon the petition of Jacob and Elizabeth Brower Minors over the age of fourteen years for a guardian the Court appoints Susannah Brower Guardian for said Minors. Image 634.

1807, Vol. 11, p. 219 - Upon the petition of Abraham Brower and Mary Brower, Minors above the age of 14 years, children of Abraham Brower late of the Township of Coventry deceased Daniel Brower of Montgomery County is appointed guardian for the said minors. Image 890.

1809, Vol. 12, p. 5 - Upon the petition of Abraham Brower son of Abraham Brower late of the Township of Coventry deceased Abraham Brower was admitted and appointed guardian of the person and estate of said minor. Image 6.

1861, Vol. 23, p. 593 - Petition of Henry Brower and Lewis W. Brower. Oct. 30, 1861. Minors, children of Henry Brower late of West Fallowfield Township deceased, by their mother Elizabeth Brower said minors being under the age of fourteen years after mature deliberation W. B. Reynolds was appointed guardian of the said persons and estates of said minors. Image 308.

1862, Vol. 24, p. 56 - Petition of Sarah Brower. Sept. 8, 1862. Upon the petition of said minor under the age of fourteen years by her father Gilbert Brower after mature deliberation Henry Hunsberger was appointed guardian of the estate of said minor. Image 375.

1878, Vol. 29, p. 330 - Milton Brower's and Elizabeth Brower's Estate. Feb. 25, 1878. Upon the petition of Milton Brower and Eliza Brower by their mother Annie Brower minor children of Harrison Brower late of East Coventry Township, Chester Co., Pa, deceased, under the age of 14 years...Whereupon the Court appointed Isaac W. Brower as aforesaid he to enter into bond to the Commonwealth in the sum of $3200 with W. Brower, Gilbert Brower as sureties who are approved. Image 178.

Here is a digital image of the index page used to locate the above records.

Chester County Estate index 1717-1880 (
And a link to the same image online at FamilySearch.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Hubert Brauer/Brower "Pass"

Hubert Brauer (see the post of September 11, 2016) came to Philadelphia from Germany in 1726. The one and only record that survives to present times that tells us of Hubert Brauer (or Brower) is known as "The Pass," a document that granted Hubert Brauer and his family permission to emigrate to the American colonies. The original document is in possession of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) in Elgin, Illinois. "The Pass," along with two other documents were given to the BHLA by Dr. David H. Otto and his wife Elizabeth. The BHLA has made a low resolution image of the original available online. A translation and transcription, however, are not found at the BHLA website.

The short overview of Hubert Brauer's family found on the BHLA website has pretty much been the long accepted picture of Hubert's family. The family is generally assumed to be comprised of Hubert, his wife Anna, and there sons, John, Christian and Henry. Although Anna and the three sons can be found in a few records in Pennsylvania, there is no other record of Hubert. We have no record of when he was born or when he died, where exactly he lived in Pennsylvania, or if he even survived the voyage. The first question that came to my mind once I began to look at the family of Hubert Brauer was, is there information in the "Pass" that specifically tells us that Hubert in fact had a wife named Anna, and three sons named John, Christian and Henry? To answer this question I contacted the BHLA and for a small fee obtained from them digital copies of the original "Pass" and two translations.

The translations, which were said to have been made in the 19th century, but by whom was not known, do confirm Hubert Brauer's name (spelled as BRAUER as opposed to the more commonly seen BROWER) and that of his wife, Anna. However, with regards to Hubert's children, the two translations are different. I have placed the translations online as a PDF. You will have to download the document and use your Adobe Reader Rotate view to rotate the pages to the vertical. Common to both translations is the fact that neither gives the names of Hubert's sons. The "Pass" does not confirm the generally accepted belief that Hubert's sons were named John, Christian and Henry. The two translations differ in that the first states, "Hubert Brauer, a citizen of Fuss-Yonnheim*, and his lawful wife Anna, besides three children (a son and two daughters) have today made their appearance," while the second states, "Hubert Brauer, a citizen of Fuss-Yonnheim and his lawful wife Anna, besides three children [3 sons and two (written over with 1) daughters] have today made their appearance." This discrepancy of course leaves us with the ambiguity of whether or not Hubert even had three sons. Checking the two translations against the original does not settle which of the two is correct. It appears to me, that in the original says "3 sons and 2 daughters" with both numbers 3 and 2 either written over with a 1 or smudged. Unfortunately the file of the original is too large to be shared online. It is suggested to anyone interested in seeing the original that they contact the head librarian at the BHLA. They will send digital images for a fee. The end result of this inquiry is that we still do not have strong evidence that Hubert Brauer in fact had three sons named John, Christian and Henry.

The three assumed sons of Hubert Brower did have in common the fact that all lived in Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. We have a date of birth of 1720 for Henry Brower that is calculated from his age at death as engraved on his grave marker (an image is available at Find-A-Grave, memorial #38589109). Dates, or even years of birth for John Brower and Christian Brower are not known, but it appears that John was deceased by 30 May 1777 when administration was granted on his estate. Christian Brower died in 1771 while leaving a will dated 3 June 1771 that was probated in November 1771. More on the individual sons may follow in future posts. However, I have yet to find a record that specifically states that the three, John, Christian and Henry, are in fact brothers. Ideally we would like to have more certain evidence to that claim.

Hubert's wife Anna is said to have remarried Johannes Roth and died in 1780. This according to a Find-A-Grave memorial (#136204824) from 2014. However, specific sources for this are not provided and I'm afraid to say that the reliability of info provided on Find-A-Grave memorial pages, especially with regards to persons who lived during the colonial period, is often speculative, can be misleading and too often is false. While the statements made for Anna may well be correct, we do need further evidence for them.

Fortunately we do have the modern tool of Y-Chromosome DNA testing to help us determine whether or not John, Christian and Henry Brower are brothers. The Brewer DNA Project is seeking direct male descendants of John Brower, Christian Brower and Henry Brower, all of Coventry, Pennsylvania, to sign up with the Project and take a Y-DNA test. Ideally we would like to have at least two direct male descendants from each of the three supposed brothers, with each of the two descended from different sons of each brother. Any descendants interested in helping should contact the administrators at the Brewer DNA Project.

*"Fess-Yonnheim" in the document is generally accepted as Fess Gonnheim, in modern German Feßgönheim, a present day municipality in Rhein-Pfalz-Kreis, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Will of John Brower of Randolph County, North Carolina, 1814

The will of John Brower, who is also referred to as Col. John Brower, of Randolph County, North Carolina, is found in Randolph County Wills, vol. 4, pp. 79-80. Digital images of the will can be found online at in "North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970", under Randolph County. Here is a direct link to page 79.

The will is dated 15 April 1814 and begins, "I John Brower of the County of Randolph and State of North Carolina being of sound and perfect mind and memory..." He leaves to his wife Catharine, one third of his land including his dwelling and out houses. Also "one waggon, two horses, four milch cows four caves (calves), all the kitchen furniture with the kitchen, all the household furniture, also my negro fellow Jep (during her widowhood in my name)." To his daughter Sarah he leaves one negro girl named Hannah, one horse saddle and bridle. His son Daniel receives his negro boy Lewis, one horse saddle and bridle. Daughter Elizabeth receives a negro girl named Willy, and a horse saddle and bridle. The children are to receive the residue of his land to be equally divided among them. He also leaves to Lucy Onlly(?) one hundred dollars and a bed and furniture. He appoints his "worthy friends," Danl. Albright, Danl. C. Clap and John Long, Jun. as executors. The witnesses are Nicholas Brower and Eli Brower.

The will was proven by Nicholas Brower and Eli Brower at the August 1814 term of the Randolph County Superior Court.

John Brower is most likely a son of John Brower, who with his wife Hannah Echelbaur had five sons baptized at the Trinity Reformed Church in York County, Pennsylvania between 1762 and 1765. The five sons of John Brower and Hannah Echelbaur were Christian (b. 17 May 1756), Abraham (b. 10 June 1758) and David (b. 18 Oct 1760) who were baptized together on 24 June 1762, followed by Adam (b. 4 Feb 1763) baptized as Johan Adam on 20 March 1763, and Jacob (b. 14 October 1765) baptized on 3 November 1765*. A baptism record for the younger John Brower, testator of this will, has not been found, but he is likely the son of John Brower, Snr. named in the will of Abraham Wanger of Union Twp., Berks County, Pennsylvania, dated 2 September 1792 (Berks Co., PA Wills vol. B2, p. 373). In his will, Abraham Wanger (also spelled Wenger) devises property to his "friends" Abraham Brower of Berks Co., Pennsylvania and John Brower, Jnr., living in Carolina, both described as sons of "John Brower, Snr. in Carolina." The elder John Brower's sons Christian, Adam, David and Jacob also settled in Randolph County, North Carolina which saw a migration of English Quaker and German Baptist families from eastern Pennsylvania in the early 1770s. Randolph County was created out of Guilford County in 1779. The elder John Brower's son, Abraham Brower, remained in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

The estate file for Col. John Brower can also be located online at in their searchable North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979 collection. See the post of October 29, 2016 for a page by page synopsis of this file. In the file we find instructions regarding the widow Catharine's legacy, and petitions from John Brower's three children, Sarah (Sally), Daniel and Elizabeth signed by their guardian Jacob Brower. Although a family relationship between the children and Jacob Brower is not stated, there is no reason not to believe that Jacob was John's brother and an uncle of the children. In 1816 the children were all under the age of 21.

*Lineages, Inc., comp.. York County, Pennsylvania, 1745-1800: First Reformed (Trinity) Church [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.
Original data: Records transcribed from Family History Library microfilm copies of church records for this locality. For more information, see the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) for FHL #20356. Online at (subscription required). The elder John Brower is recorded as Johannes Brauer in the records. His wife Hannah is recorded as Hanna (nee Echelbaur) in the 1762 record (three baptisms), as Hanna (nee Eychelpeyer) in the record of son Johan Adam, and as Hanna in the record of son Jacob.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brower in the Index to Randolph County, North Carolina Wills

Digital images of the will books for Randolph County, North Carolina can be found online at They are found under the database titled "North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970," which is then arranged by county. There is no search tool for this database and so individuals of interest must be searched for by browsing through each page. The links below lead to the page in the volume titled "Wills Cross Index, 1793-1902, vol. 1." The entries in the index are arranged alphabetically by only the first letter if the surname and then (for the most part) chronologically by year. The left side of each image is arranged by the name of the "Devisor" (testator) and the right side by the "Devisees".

Mary Brewer (Devisee), (John Coble, Devisor) 1801 vol.2, p.86 (image 10)

John Brower (Devisor) 1814 vol.4, p.79 (image 14)

Christian Brower (Devisor) 1819 vol.4, p.693 (image 15)

Margaret Brower (Devisor) 1857 vol.11, p.141 (image 19)

Eli Brower (Devisor) 1863 vol.12, p.414 (image 20)

Alfred Brower (Devisor) 1887 vol.16, p.46 (image 20 right side)

Sallie Brower (Devisee), (Thomas Golston, Devisor) 1840 vol.7, p.336 (image 21)

Elizabeth Brower (Devisee), (Andrew McMaster, Devisor) 1833 vol.6, p.307 (image 22)

Robert Brower, Olympia Brower (Devisees), (Wiley Staley, Devisor) 1885 vol.15, p.529 (image 22)

Alfred Brower (Devisor) 1887 vol.16, p.46 (image 24) same as above

Alfred M. Brower (Devisor) 1902 vol.17, p.225 (image 25) with Devisors Jno. F., Jas. S., and W. A. on the right side of the page

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Estate of Col. John Brower, Randolph County, North Carolina, 1815

The estate file of Col. John Brower of Randolph County, North Carolina can be viewed online at It is found in their North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979 database. The file is 34 pages and an image by image overview follows.

Image 1 - File cover. Brower, Col. John 1815

Image 2- John Long, executor of the estate of Col. John Brower dec'd made oath that Rubin Wood, dec'd is charged in the books of John Brower dec'd... Dated 3 May 1815.

Image 3 - Cover page. Brower Bond

Image 4 - Bond of David Brower, Adam Brower and Jacob Brower. Dated 10 April 1817.

Image 5 - John Long, executor of John Brower, v. David Brower and Adam Brower. May 1817.

Image 6 - Order to the sheriff of Randolph County to deliver David Brower and Adam Brower to the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions on 1 May next to answer to John Long. Dated 8 July 1817.

Image 7 - Cover page. David Brower.

Image 8 - Promissory Note dated 18 Apr 1814. Signed by David Brower and Adam Brower, promising to pay John Brower six hundred fifty nine dollars and twenty two cents.

Image 9 - Cover page. Writ to lay off one third of the land of John Brower to his widow.

Image 10 -  Order to the sheriff of Randolph County to lay off and allot to Catharine Brower, widow of Col. John Brower, dec'd, one third of all land, etc. that John Brower was possessed of at his decease. August 1816.

Image 11 - Cover page. Jacob Brower.

Image 12 - By order of the August 1816 term, an account of the land of John Brower, dec'd. By the guardian of minors Sarah, Daniel and Betsey Brower - Jacob Brower gdn.

Image 13 - Inventory of the estate of Col. John Brower. Arranged by the name of the buyer of items from the estate. Includes "John Brower of Cris(tian)", "David Brower of Jacob," and others.

Image 14 - Second page of the inventory of the estate of Col. John Brower. Eli Brower and Adam Brower are listed.

Image 15 - Same as image 14. Another copy of the second page of the inventory of the estate of Col. John Brower.

Image 16 - Third page of the inventory of the estate of Col. John Brower. Sarah Brower, Nicholas Brower, and "John Brower of Nicholas," are listed.

Image 17 - Fourth page of the inventory.

Image 18 - Same as image 17, fourth page of inventory.

Image 19 - Fifth page of the inventory. "David Brower of Adam," Abraham Brower, Catharine Brower and Jacob Brower are listed.

Image 20 - Inventory totals.

Image 21 - List of notes and accounts due the estate of John Brower at time of his death. Includes notes upon Nicholas Brower (3), David and Adam Brower, Jacob Brower, and John Brower.

Image 22 - Continuation of list of notes. X'd out.

Image 23 - Blank page

Image 24 - Petition of Sally Brower, Daniel Brower and Betsey Brower, infant children of Col. John Brower dec'd. Jacob Brower, guardian of the petitioners, ordered to offer at public sale the remaining two thirds of the lands of John Brower, and the petitioner's interest in the remaining one third after the death of John Brower's widow.

Image 25 - Cover page of petition with date August 1816.

Image 26 - August term 1816. Petition of Sally Brower, Daniel Brower and Betsey Brower, children of John Brower late of Randolph County deceased, infants under the age of twenty one years...Jacob Brower, guardian. Mentions that John Brower died in 1814. Mentions a last will and testament naming John Long as executor.

Image 27 - Continuation of petition. Mentions that John Brower's lands adjoined those of Thomas Jones, Isaiah Pickett and Christian Kime. Signed by Jacob Brower, guardian.

Image 28 - Last page of the petition.

Image 29 - Cover page. Cathrine Brower's Dower.

Image 30 - Dated 31 October 1816. Order for the laying off of one third of the land of John Brower dec'd to his widow Catharine Brower. The land is described as 627 acres more or less on Sandy Creek in Randolph County.

Image 31 - Second page of order. Property bounds are described.

Image 32 - Third page of order. Signed by those instructed to lay out the land.

Image 33 - Account of John Long, administrator of John Brower, dec'd.

Image 34 - Order for the sheriff of Randolph County to collect from the estate of John Brower, twenty dollars for a debt from 2 January 1802. Issued 5 September 1816.

The property of Col. John Brower is mentioned on this web page, "Abram Brower House, Liberty."

Items from the sale of Col. John Brower's estate are mentioned in this post at Notes on the History of Randolph County, N. C. (tenth paragraph down).

More on Col. John Brower and the Browers of Randolph County, North Carolina to come in future posts.

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