Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jeremiah Brower (Brewer) of Highgate, Vermont (Part I)

It was the search for the ancestors of Jeremiah Brower, of Highgate, Vermont, a great-great-great-grandfather of Ruth Catherine Brewer, that first directed my attention to the numerous Brouwer families of colonial New York and New Jersey.

According to an entry in a ledger kept by his son, Jeremiah Brewer (1802-1898), Jeremiah Brower was born on 26 February 1738, and died on 13 March 1822. The location of his birth is not stated, but it is presumed that Jeremiah Brower died at, or near, Petersburg in Rensselaer County, New York. Jeremiah appears in records with his surname recorded as both, BROWER and BREWER. Descendants have adopted the BREWER spelling. While it is certain that Jeremiah Brower is a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island (he would likely be a great-grandson), his precise descent from Adam Brouwer is less than certain. Based upon evidence gathered to date, Jeremiah Brower is tentatively placed as a son of Jurge Brouwer and Elizabeth Holmes. Jeremiah's placement as a descendant of Adam Brouwer is based upon genetic evidence, while his placement as a son of Jurge Brouwer is based upon an analysis of a few surviving records and simply the process of elimination.

Three descendants of Jeremiah Brower have participated in the Brewer DNA Project. Test results and a chart can be found at the Adam Brouwer Group DNA Results page of the Brouwer Genealogy Database. Y-DNA test results of the three participants leave no doubt that they, and therefore their direct male ancestors, the earliest known being Jeremiah, are descendants of Adam Brouwer. Furthermore, all three descendants carry the value 14 at marker no. 9 (allele 439), a mutation from the model value of 13, which is thus far only found among descendants of Adam Brouwer's son Nicholas Brouwer.

The first clue considered when determining Jeremiah's place among the descendants of Adam Brouwer, is his very name, Jeremiah. In the Adam Brouwer family the name Jeremiah is clearly an English variation on the name Jurge (Jurrie, Jurian and even Jorge). We know that this given name was introduced into the Adam Brouwer family through the marriages of two of Adam's sons, Abraham and Nicholas, to sisters Cornelia and Jannetje Caljer, daughters of Jurian Caljer. During the colonial period, this name (including the English derivation of Jeremiah) is only found in the Adam Brouwer family among those descended from either Abraham or Nicholas. The Y-DNA results mentioned above, in which participants descended from Jeremiah have the value 14 at marker no. 9, provides us with the likelihood that Jeremiah is a descendant of Nicholas Brouwer, rather than his brother Abraham.

Among the children of Nicholas Brouwer are four known sons. The eldest son, Adolphus, married his second cousin Jannetje Verdon, and their family of ten children born between 1714 and 1739 is fairly well documented. There is no son named Jurge, Jurian or Jeremiah among them. Nicholas' son Cornelis, was married twice, but died at the young age of 27, leaving what appears to be two children, a son Nicholas and a daughter Hannah. There is no evidence that Cornelis had a son named Jurge, Jurian or Jeremiah. Nicholas' son Nazareth, as mentioned in an earlier post, is a bit of an enigma. However, what of his presumed family that can be pieced together, does not appear to include a son named Jurge, Jurian or Jeremiah. Nicholas's youngest son, named Nicholas, born in 1707, has not been located in later records as an adult. Until one is found, he cannot be considered. This leaves Nicholas' son, Jurge, who with his wife Elizabeth Holmes, did have a son named Jurrie baptized on 7 January 1733 at Readington, New Jersey. Jeremiah Brower is said to have been born 26 February 1738, which obviously conflicts with the baptism date of the son Jurrie. For Jeremiah to have a place in the family of Jurge Brouwer, either he is the same as the son Jurrie baptized in 1733, and the birth date recorded eighty-nine years later, in 1822, by his son, is in error (certainly possible), or the son Jurrie died as a young child, and Jeremiah is the second of his name in the family and a baptism record has gone missing. Either way, the family of Jurge Brouwer and Elizabeth Holmes appears to be the best choice, and some additional evidence that retraces Jeremiah's life prior to his appearance at Highgate leads us there.

History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vermont (Syracuse: D. Mason, 1891) states that Jeremiah Brewer, Joseph Reycard, John Hilliker and Thomas Butterfield, were the first settlers of Highgate, Vermont, arriving there about 1786 or 1787. Jeremiah can be found on the 1790 U. S. Census (actually taken in 1791 in Vermont, after becoming a state) at Alburgh (then Chittenden Co.), Vermont. Alburgh and Highgate are neighboring towns located in the very northeast corner of Vermont at the international border with Canada, and on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. Jeremiah's name is found in the earliest records of the town of Highgate, and the majority of the earliest settlers there were from eastern New York State (Dutchess County and Albany County), were largely Loyalists during the Revolutionary War, and made the relatively simple trip by water, down Lake Champlain into what they probably believed was English governed Lower Canada.

On 13 March 1786, Jeremiah Brewer, of Hoosick, New York (then in Albany County) filed a memorial with the British Government seeking compensation for loses incurred as a result of remaining loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War. In his petition, which was signed by Jeremiah at Bennington, Vermont, he states that in August 1777, he was living with his family at "Newtown upon the Half Moon Patten." Today, this Newtown, is a hamlet in the Town of Halfmoon in Saratoga County, New York. In Jeremiah's time, it would have been a relatively sparsely populated settlement within Albany County. In his petition, Jeremiah lists as his witnesses, Nicholas Brewer and Charles Aylesworth, both of Newtown, and Peter Thomas and Stephen Buys, both of Cataraqui in the Province of Canada.

Jeremiah Brewer (Jeremy Brewer) is found on the tax lists of the Half Moon District in Albany Co., New York in March and October 1779. A Nicholas Brewer is found there as well. In 1776, Jeremiah's daughter Polly was baptized at the Reformed Dutch Church at Schaghticoke in Albany County. In 1781, his son Peter was baptized at the Gilead Evangelical Lutheran Church at Center Brunswick in Albany County. Son, Jacob, was baptized there in 1782. An undated list of members of the Gilead Lutheran Church from this period records the names of "Jere. Brower, Han, Brower, Davis Brower, and Annetgen Brower" (none of whom have been identified, but may be members of the family of Matthew Brouwer of Hoosick). Conklin Mann, writing in 1950 in "John Concklin of Flushing and Rye, New York" (The American Genealogist, vol. 26, pages 240-241, states, "In 1748, Newtown covered the section lying along the Hudson River north of Half Moon and south of Saratoga. Today, Newtown is a small farming section a mile or more west of Mechanicsville, Saratoga County. Most of the fifty or more families that comprosed Newtown were on leased land. Their meager records are scattered through the Hudson Valley Lutheran Churches, the Schaghticoke Dutch Church and the Albany and Schenectady Churches. A high percentage of the families were from the Hudson Valley manors (including those in Westchester County) and Orange County, and an equally high percentage were Loyalists in the Revolution." Jeremiah was probably in the Newtown area as early as 1766. In October 1766, Willem, son of Jeremiah Brouwer and Margaita Hedicke, was baptized at Schaghticoke.

So, what might have brought Jeremiah Brower to the area of Newtown in Half Moon in the years prior to the Revolution? In his 1950 article, Conklin Mann profiles Joseph Concklin on pages 242-243. Joseph was born in Westchester County in 1708, and in 1760 enlisted with the Westchester Militia, serving in Capt. Jonathan Haights Company. Joseph Concklin was later, in 1776, living at Newtown. Jeremiah Brower, Junr., age 22, joined this same company. As recorded on the muster rolls (New York Colonial Muster Rolls, 1664-1775, vol. 1, page 938) Jeremiah was a miller, born in New Jersey. He was one of two men (the other being Thomas Gray) who while serving in Capt. Philip Verplank's Company, was detached, and probably sent north to serve in the Albany County area. It is possible that a number of men, Jeremiah included, initially from Westchester County were introduced to the area in or around Half Moon through their military service around 1760.

It is the description of Jeremiah Brewer on the Westchester County Muster Roll, that helps to connect him as a likely son of Jurge Brouwer. First, he is called "Jeremiah Brewer, Junr.", implying that his father had the same name. Second, he was age 22, and with the roll having the date of 22 April 1759, would mean that he was born between 22 April 1736 and 22 April 1737. Third, he was born in New Jersey. While the age is off by a year when compared to the date provided by Jeremiah's son in 1822, these three descriptive elements taken together, better describe a son of Jurge Brouwer, who lived at Rocky Hill, New Jersey in the 1730s, rather than a son of one of the other sons of Jurge's father, Nicholas Brouwer.

A brief outline of Jeremiah Brower's life prior to his arrival in northern Vermont, might be written as something like this: Jeremiah is born in New Jersey (at Rocky Hill) in 1738 (or 1737). His father, Jurge Brouwer's family (that being the family of Nicholas Brouwer and Jannetje Caljer) had a presence in Westchester County (at Fordham Manor) and in New Jersey (both at Rocky Hill in Somerset Co., and in Bergen County). In 1759, while living in Westchester as a miller (a family occupation for this branch of the Brouwers) Jeremiah enlists with the Militia during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) which in North America was referred to as the French and Indian War. Jeremiah was likely detached from his Westchester company and sent north (to where the fighting was). Here, he was given the opportunity to become familiar with the larger Albany County area, and apparently settled (after his service) at Newtown in the Half Moon District. During the Revolutionary War, Jeremiah remained loyal to the British Crown and as a consequence lost his property. Immediately after the Revolution, Jeremiah, along with others from Albany County headed north, down Lake Champlain into the area known generally as Missisquoi Bay, and settled at what would become Highgate, Vermont.

(Part II will continue with Jeremiah's Loyalist Claim).

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