Late in 2008, William B. Bogardus of Wilmington, Ohio, who for 50 years has researched and studied the descendants of Anneke Jans, and for nearly as long the various Brouwer families of New Netherland and their descendants, transferred to me, the majority of his correspondence and records regarding Brouwer research.
The material consisted of eight banker boxes, about twenty-five linear feet, of material. I spent three months during the winter of 2008-9 going through all of the material and scanning about half of it for future use. The material was returned to Bill in the spring of 2009 and he currently has it in storage with the hope of finding a library or genealogical society who would be interested in accepting it for their archives.
The material that comprised the collection could be separated into three "classes" or types of documents. One consisted of records and accounts of numerous persons named Brouwer, Brower and Brewer that can be found in a wide array of published sources such as genealogical journals, town and county histories, and published vital and probate records. Much of this class of information can be located by anyone willing to do the leg work it takes to do so. And much of it can even be found now, online. Bill has to be commended for the amount of time, travel and expense he put into accumulating this aspect of his collection. Gathering it all into one location, before the era of the internet, was an heroic feat.
A second class of documents consisted of unpublished works such as manuscript notes, compiled genealogies, and collections of material gathered by others. This class of documents also was acquired at the expense of a great deal of time, effort and cost.
The third class would be the personal correspondence that Bill had with numerous "Cousins" as he preferred to call them, most of whom contacted Bill seeking help in discovering their correct line of Brouwer ancestry. Here, Bill has to be commended for the amount of time he spent reading and answering, in a time before e-mail, all of these numerous correspondents. Often, back and forth correspondence took place over a number of years. Many, in fact a very large number of the correspondents, had incorrectly assumed that they were descended from Anneke Jans. While the first two types of documents mentioned have been helpful (sometimes by simply directing me where to find the original source for myself), the third type, the personal correspondence, was largely (to me) disappointing. Here I was hoping to find a good deal of original family documents covering Brouwer families of the past. I was looking for hings like unpublished Bible records, personal and family memoirs, perhaps unrecorded wills and deeds, items that might have been passed down from generations past. While I did find one or two such documents, the vast majority of the correspondence material consisted of family group sheets and lineages compiled by the various correspondents. There were some, but it was a rare exception when one with appropriate source citations was found. While these accounts are useful for filling in current, largely twentieth century generations, they are mostly useless as material for connecting to the generations of the 18th and 17th centuries. There are just too many errors in the sheets compiled by the correspondents, and anything that is prior to the generations in which the correspondent lived, as to be checked against appropriate vital, estate and other records that are found elsewhere and would be a part of any complete and responsible genealogical research. While I read through all of it, I only ended up scanning about twenty-five percent of the correspondence. In total, I probably scanned and saved about half of the material Bill had lent to me.
In the nearly three years since I had the collection I have been gradually adding bits of it online in an effort to make it available to others. As I do so I have, and will continue to, highlight each with a posting on this blog page. Each of these posts have, and will be flagged with the label, "Wm. B. Bogardus Collection." (Labels are found in the column of links to the right). In addition a page has been created at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website titled, William B. Bogardus Collection. The links provided there will take anyone interested to the document that was found in the collection and has since been placed online. These documents are available through my Google Docs account or my Free Pages account at RootsWeb. They will remain online so long as these two services remain free. Should these services ever discontinue or begin to charge for their use, then the documents will likely be taken down. So take advantage of them while they are here and available. The internet is a terrific vehicle for sharing, but one never knows how long any single aspect of it may last.
When he turned his collection over to me, Bill decided that he would no longer be researching and pursuing the Brouwer families of New Netherland and their descendants. He had once hoped to publish compiled genealogies of the descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus and of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands. Instead he has chosen to focus his attention on completing a compiled genealogy of the descendants of Anneke Jans, which will be titled, Dear Cousin II. It is expected to cover seven generations of descendants of Anneke Jans and her two husbands, with some coverage of the eighth generation. Bill hopes to have this published and available in sometime in the next few years. Back in 1996 he published, Dear Cousin, A Charted Genealogy of the Descendants of Anneke Jans Bogardus (1605-1663) to the 5th Generation.
My own intention is to have the remainder of the documents that were scanned, reviewed and those deemed of value, placed online by the end of this calendar year. I will make a concerted effort to do this as, quite frankly, I'd like to move on to other things. Primarily, I'd like to complete research on the first five generations of descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Jan Brouwer of Flatlands and Willem Brouwer of Beverwijck, and to make available all material and data I have accumulated on persons named Brouwer, Brouwer and Brewer, found in colonial New York, New Jersey, New England and Pennsylvania, and those with colonial roots in these locations who are found in the United States up to the period of 1850 to 1900. This I hope to accomplish in the next two years, at which time I hope to conclude my own research on these families, and on Brouwers (etc.) in general.
I think I speak for many when I say, Thank you Bill for all you have done in continuing and contributing towards a better understanding of the Brouwer families of New Netherland and their descendants.