Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

D.A.R. Genealogical Research System

The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Library has created an online searchable database, The DAR Genealogical Research System.
To access the system, go to the link above, then select "Click Image to Open GRS." This takes you to a Welcome page and you will then select "Enter Site." You will then see the "Ancestor Database Overview" where you will, once again, select "Enter" (I agree, there are a few too many steps here, they could have done a better job of streamlining this). Now you will arrive at the Ancestor Search page. The Tabs at the top will take you to other Search pages, such as, Descendants Database Search.

The DAR chapters were formed as early as 1890, and the National Society became incorporated in 1896. Membership is open to all women who can prove a lineal bloodline descent from an ancestor who participated in the movement for United States Independence. Since inception, the DAR has been collecting thousands of applications, and genealogical researchers have sought them out as aids in conducting their research. With the DAR GRS, anyone can now have quick access to thousands of lineages, information that previously was only available (with less detail) in numerous volumes of books published by the DAR.

An example: Starting from the Ancestor Search page (as accessed above) type in for Ancestor Last Name, "Brewer", and then for Ancestor First Name, "John" (no quotes). Hitting the Search button brings us to a page with nine different men named John Brewer, who claimed as ancestors by various descendants seeking admission to the DAR. The "See Ancestor Record" button will take you to a new page with the ancestor's service, a tab with their spouse or spouses, and then a tab with Associated Applications and Supplements. In this section, under "Docs" there are small boxes with the letter "D". Clicking on each will take you to the lineage as submitted by each applicant.

This is a nice tool to have. It certainly makes a tremendous amount of information available to all, conveniently, and at no cost (complete records, if needed, have to be purchased). But now that I have brought this up, I do have to add a caveat, which is, DAR lineage applications contain a terrific number of errors. They should not be considered as proof of a lineage in and of themselves. Additional evidence for the stated lineages should be located.
There may also be errors in the crediting of service to a specific ancestor. Take for example, the case of John Brewer of Scioto Co., Ohio, who would be the seventh John Brewer down on the page opened up by following the above instructions. The service shown for him is with the Frontier Rangers, under Capt. John Leech. That a man named John Brewer served under Capt. Leech is certain (see Pennsylvania Archives, 3rd Series, Vol. 23, pages 284 and 316, as cited on this page). However, there likely were a number of men named John Brewer who were living in the area of south central and western Pennsylvania at the time of the Revolution. Any one of them could have been the John Brewer who served under Capt. Leech, and no information or records survive from that time that will tell us, with certainty, just exactly who the John Brewer who served, was. The claim that John Brewer of Scioto Co., Ohio was the John Brewer who served under Capt. Leech, cannot be proved, despite the apparent acceptance of this service which allowed some descendants to gain admission to the DAR.

I use the DAR lineages as a starting point. I note the lineage, and then I see if I can find supporting documents for each generation. If the lineage is correct, then you should be able to find the evidence needed to support the claims. If you can't, well then you might want to question the applicant's claim. It is important to take this step, do not simply accept the lineages at face value.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unplaced: Aaron W. Brewer

Aaron W. Brewer was born 5 March 1828 in Greene Co., Ohio (obituary). He died on 21 May 1908 at Tuscola, Douglas Co., Illinois. A descendant of Aaron W. Brewer has participated in the Brewer DNA Project and the results of his Y-DNA testing demonstrate that the participant, and therefore his Brewer ancestors, are descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, Long Island (participant's pedigree).

Aaron W. Brewer was married to Eliza Jane Nelson on 13 March 1851 in Madison Co., Indiana. They had four children born between 1851 and 1861, and moved to Tuscola, Douglas Co., Illinois before the 1870 U. S. Federal census was taken. A chart of some descendants has been made available online.

It is probable that Aaron W. Brewer is a son of the couple, Aaron Brewer (c.1787-bef Jul 1860) and Polly McFarland (b. c. 1787) who were married in Harrison County, Kentucky in 1812 and are found at Xenia in Greene Co., Ohio at about the time that Aaron W. Brewer was born. This parent to child relationship is currently lacking proof, and we would be very interested in hearing from anyone who can supply additional information and/or proof.

The Y-DNA test results also show us that the participant is closely related to a descendant of Stephen Brewer (1772-1860/64) who married in Harrison County, Kentucky, in 1811, to Mary Melinda Whitsett. The two participants match on 37 of 37 markers and share the same mutation at marker no. 34. (Stephen Brewer pedigree). It is likely the two (Aaron W. Brewer and Stephen Brewer) are closely related, possibly, nephew and uncle. No doubt they both came to the Ohio River Valley region, from New Jersey, via the greater Frederick/Berkeley Cos., Virginia area.

Information on Aaron W. Brewer (and the others mentioned) can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website.  Additional information and any clues, or knowledge of Aaron W. Brewer's ancestry would be welcome. (Contact me or use the Comments section below).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rev. Thomas Brower, Will on file at Albany, 1721 (1727/28)

Digital images of the will of Rev. Thomas Brower can be found online.

The images were taken from Albany Wills AA-AB (1629-1802), FHL film #0481436.

Rev. Thomas Brower was minister of the Reformed Church at Schenectady, New York from 1715 to 1725 (Kelly, Schenectady Reformed Church Baptisms 1694-1811 (New York: 1987), page ii). The will was written in Dutch, however, Berthold Fernow, in his Calender of Wills on File...at Albany (New York: 1896), page 16, provided an English abstract:
"Thomas Brower of Schonhectadee, minister of the Reformed Church. His church, Symon Cornelis, Engeltie, Helena, children of Gerrit Symonsen Veeder, Elizabeth, wife of Capt. Evert Banker, Annatie, wife of William Banker, receive personal property, brothers Rev. Theodoris Brower of Dalphin, Overyssel, and Rev. Gerardus Brower of Swoll, remainder. Executors Evert Banker, Gerrit Symonsen Veeder and Rutger Bleecker. Witnesses Stevanus Groesbeek, Abraham Meebie, and Cornelius Van Dyck."
The will was dated 24 November 1721 and proved 20 March 1727/28.

It does not appear, and is very unlikely, that Rev. Thomas Brower had any relation whatsoever, to any of the other Brouwer families already established in New York prior to his ministry at Schenectady beginning in 1715. As is evident from the will, Rev. Brower was not married, nor did he have any children. His two brothers mentioned were ministers in the Netherlands. As Swoll (Zwolle) and Dalphin (Dalfsen) are both municipalities within the province of Overijssel, for those so inclined to look, Rev. Thomas Brower's origins may be in Overijssel as well.
A Thomas Brouwer Banker (Bancker) was married to Anna Mebie on 2 November 1754 at the Schenectady church. They had four or five children baptized there in the following years. I have not taken the time to research Thomas Brouwer Banker's origins, but no doubt, he was named in honor of the former minister of the Schenectady Reformed Church. As noted in the abstract, Evert Bancker was one of Rev. Brower's executors.

In addition, a Thomas Harmenen Brouwer arrived in New Amsterdam in March 1662 aboard the ship De Trouw (The Faith) (O'Callaghan, Bailey, Lists of Inhabitants of Colonial New York..., page 170). He was a farmer from Sevenbergen (Zevenbergen) which is a city in the province of Nood-Brabant, near Breda. I have not been able to locate any further mention of this Thomas Brouwer in New Netherland. As with the Rev. Thomas Brower, there is no reason to suspect any relationship between Thomas Harmensen Brouwer and the other Brouwer families of New Netherland.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

John Brower of New York City, Will, 1812

Digital images of the will of John Brower of New York City, have been placed online.

John Brower was baptized on September 9, 1733 at the New York Reformed Dutch Church, as Johannes, the son of Samuel Brouwer and Maria Hartje. He is a great-great-grandson of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon. John Brower was married on November 26, 1760 at the New York Reformed Dutch Church to Antje Lozier, a daughter of Benjamin Lozier and Dina de Groot. They had seven children baptized at the New York Reformed Dutch Church between 1760 and 1779. Of these, the first child, Maria, died very young, while four others, Benjamin, Beiltje, Tryntje and Samuel are not mentioned in the will. Only two daughters, Maria and Dina are named in the will.

The will dated November 10, 1812, was proved October 14, 1815 in the New York County Surrogate's Court. It is recorded in volume 52, page 422, and the images are from FHL film #0874536. He styles himself, "John Brower of the City of New York, gentleman," and mentions his wife, Anne Brower; Mary Anderson, "whom I have brought up, and who now lives with me"; daughter Mary, the wife of Benjamin Romaine of New York City, gentleman; and daughter Dinah, wife of Peter Walker of New York City, "taylor," and their heirs. His wife, Ann, was appointed as executrix, with "respected friends," Peter Talman of Tappan in Rockland County, merchant, and Peter H. Wendover, of New York City, sailmaker, as executors. Witnesses were Cornelius Van Valen, David Quackenbush, physician, and Adolph Brower.

Details and sources for the family of John Brower (Johannes Brouwer) can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. Additional info on some descendants of daughter Maria Brower and her husband Benjamin Romaine will be added the next time the website is updated.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Charity (Stillwell) Brower, Will dated May 9, 1787

Charity Stillwell was the second wife of Jeury (or Jeremiah) Brouwer (b. 1700-1705, d. bef 4 Feb 1787) a son of Abraham Brouwer and Cornelia Caljer, and a grandson of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon.

Her will was dated on 9 May 1787 proved 8 Mar 1790, "Charity Brouwer, now of Precinct of Goshen, Orange Co., widow of Jeremiah Brower late of Kings County on Nassau Island...First I give and bequeath unto Charity Tedemun and to her heirs my black velvet cloak as a testimony of my regard for her. Secondly I give and bequeath unto my sister Mary Sickles and Elizabeth Whitney wife of Abyjah Whitney of the said county of Orange all my wearing apparel to be equally divided between them each one half. Thirdly after all my funeral charges and expenses are paid I give and bequeath unto William Elsworth, Jeremiah Elsworth, the aforesaid Elizabeth Whitney and Charity Tedemun to be equally divided among them in four shares such sum and sums of money that shall at the time of my decease be due to me from my said late husband's grandson Theophilus Brower of New York City, merchant." She names as executor, "the aforesaid William Elsworth." Witnesses: John Hathorn, Eliz. Hathorn, Sibil Willing."

Charity Stillwell and Jeury Brower did not have any children. Her place within the Stillwell family, one of the first families found at Gravesend, Long Island in the mid 1600s, has not been determined. 

Digital images of the will have been placed onlne.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Manhattan in 1628

Manhattan in 1628 by Dingman Versteeg, was published in 1904 (New York: Dodd Mead & Co.) and is available in digital format, free, at Google Books. The focus of the book is a letter, written from Manhattan Island in 1628, by Jonas Michaelius. Versteeg provides a transcript, a translation, and then his own historical sketch of Manhattan in 1628. My purposes for pointing it out is to bring attention to pages 29 to 33, where Versteeg's subject is persons with the surname Brouwer. Pages 29-33 (as wells as 133-134) have been segregated out and are available as a PDF online here. It is my belief that Manhattan in 1628 is the original source of much of the misinformation regarding Adam Brouwer's ancestry that has circulated for probably 100 years now, and can still be found online. The fact is, Adam Brouwer's ancestry, and even the identity of his parents, remains unknown.

On pages 29 through 33, you will find the names of various persons named Brouwer. They are (in order of appearance) Jan Jansz Brouwer; Jan Albertsz Brouwer, and his sons, Dirck Jansz Brouwer and Cornelis Jansz Brouwer; Jan, a son of the just mentioned Dirck Jansz Brouwer; Adam Brouwer Berkhoven (Versteeg associates Berkhoven with Berkhout); Jan Gerritsen Brouwer; Jan Brouwer, with a son, Jan, baptized at New Amsterdam; and then on page 134, Pieter Clementssen Brouwer. It is from this cast of completely unrelated individuals, who simply share a common surname, that many 20th century "researchers" (and I use the term loosely) found "evidence" to cobble together various ancestries for Adam Brouwer. Versteeg does caution, "It would be vain, however, unless additional evidence should come to light, to try to connect the descendants of Adam Brouwer with the Captain-Councillor of New Netherland..." (bottom page 32 to top of page 33). And although Versteeg does end with, "...though the two may have been distantly related," anyone reading this volume would be well advised to take Versteeg's cautionary words seriously.

Those interested in more, see "New Insight into the Origins of Adam Brouwer" (2008).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Some New Jersey Birth, Marriage and Death Sources Available Online

Locating Birth, Marriage and Death records in New Jersey for the colonial period can be time consuming and even frustrating. There were many congregations of various denominations throughout the state, many of them small, some of them fleeting. Often a family that is the focus of one's research is found to have different children baptized in different churches. This can leave you with the impression that you can never feel confident that you've found the records for every member of a family until you've identified and searched every possible location. Then comes the problem of locating the published records of the churches that you wish to search. Many were published years ago in Genealogical or Historical Journals with limited circulation. Not every library carries the issues of the Somerset County Historical Quarterly, for example.

Fortunately we now have the internet. And we're even more fortunate in that we have many people who have taken the time to place online records and transcriptions of records from many of the smaller churches in New Jersey. Here then are a few links to websites that are nice to have at hand. None of them are mine. All are the efforts of others, so a thank you to all who took the time to create these sites.

Bergen County Marriage Index

BMD of Sussex County and Surrounding Areas

Piscataway, N. J. Register of Births

History of the First Baptist Church of Piscataway, Pioneer Biographies (no VRs, but useful and works hand in hand with the link above)

Stone House Plains Dutch Reformed Church, Bloomfield, N. J.

Second River Reformed Dutch Baptisms

New Brunswick Reformed Dutch Church Marriages, 1794-1799

First Reformed Church, Raritan (Somerville) Baptisms, 1699-1745

Nancy Pascal's Genealogy Page: Sussex County and Surrounding Area

In addition, as many of you know, Family Search is in the process of placing online many records previously available only on microfilm. As luck would have it, New Jersey appears to be one area that received early attention. This link, Searchable databases for New Jersey at Family Search, will get you started. Included in New Jersey Births and Christenings, 1660-1980, are the records from the Freehold-Middletown Dutch Reformed Congregation in Monmouth County.

I'll end with one important caveat. All of the above, including the Family Search databases, are transcriptions of transcriptions. They are at least two, and perhaps more, "generations" removed from the originals. With every new transcription comes the increased chance of error. It is advisable (mandatory if you are considering publishing your work) to seek out the earliest and/or most reliable source for each record. The links above, however, are valuable in providing quick answers and a start on where, or if, to search for a more "reliable" copy.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An Animated Look at DNA

Richard Brewer, administrator for the Brewer DNA Project, sent this link in an e-mail out to all members of the Brewer DNA Project last week, and I'd like to pass it on to others who visit this site. Richard's words:
"Because each of you has submitted samples of your DNA for testing of the Y-Chromosome to find genetic matches with other participants, I thought you might be interested in seeing just exactly what your DNA and chromosomes look like in action on a molecular level when the cells in your body divide, copying each DNA strand with near perfect precision. Of course every now and then a random error occurs, generating a mutation, which is what we have been using to identify related persons.  When you look at the process occurring every day in your cells, it is a wonder that any continuity persists. But it does.  The FTDNA lab analyses the Y-chromosome that exists in the cells of a male. In this TED talk you will see illustrated a generic chromosome having its genetic information copied as the cell is divided."

The video, Drew Berry: Animations of unseeable biology, is found on the TED Talks website, which itself is one website that you may want to spend some time exploring. It features videos and talks on a wide range of subjects. Hope you find it as fascinating as I did.