Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Will of Elias Brower of Aquackanonk, Passaic Co., New Jersey, 1852

The will of Elias Brower of Aquackanonk, Passaic Co., New Jersey, written 23 October 1852 and proved 22 March 1853, is found in Passaic Co. Will Book A, file 407P. Digital images, found online at the FamilySearch database, "New Jersey, Probate Records, 1678-1980," are provided below.

The given name, Elias, is very common among the descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands. The name's origins in the Jan Brouwer family can be attributed to Elias Daws, the father-in-law of Jan Brouwer's son, Derck Brouwer. In correspondence I have with researchers trying to place Browers found in New York and New Jersey, I usually emphasize that if they encounter the given name Elias in the family, then the family almost certainly descends from Jan Brouwer. There are, however, exceptions to every rule. This Elias Brower is the exception.

 Elias was born 22 August 1808, the son of Johannes Brouwer (John Brower) and Geesje White. He is a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. Elias' paternal grandparents were Jan Brouwer and Aeltje Smith, who had previously named a son Elias who was born 11 April 1773 and baptized at Aquackanonk on 16 May 1773. The name Elias likely came into this line of Brouwers via the Smith family. There was an Elias Smith in the Aquackanonk area in the 1700s and he is likely a relation of Aeltje's. There are a number of Smith-Brouwer marriages, but I have not had the opportunity to work out the details on the complete Smith family.

Elias Brower's will, dated 23 October 1852, mentions his wife Eliza, and states that she is a "relict" of John Fulton. It also names "our two children" Margaret and John, and Mary Ann Fulton, a daughter of Eliza by her first husband, John Fulton. The executors were Eliza and James Vanness. Elias died on 9 March 1853. His death is recorded in the New Jersey vital records. It states that he was a widower, so Eliza may have died between the time Elias wrote his will and Elias' own death. I have not been able to locate her on the 1860 census. The family is found on the 1850 census at Aquackanonk, with the household consisting of Elias, age 43, a wood farmer; Eliza, age 34, born in Ireland; and Margaret, age 4. The son, John, is not recorded so perhaps he was born after the taking of the 1850 census but before Elias wrote his will. I have not been able to identify him in later records with certainty.

We know from the will that Eliza had a daughter, Mary Ann Fulton, by her first husband, John Fulton. There is a marriage record for Mary Ann Fulton, daughter of John Fulton and Eliza, to Jackson Ripey in January 1864 at Paterson, Passaic Co., New Jersey. Mary Ann's age is given as 20 years, placing her birth at about 1844. We now know that Elias Brower and Eliza were married sometime between 1844 and 1850. Elias, however, is found on the 1840 census at Aquackanonk, and his household consists of one male age 5-10, one male 20-30 (Elias), one female under 5, and one female 20-30 (presumably his wife). This census record implies that Elias may have been married prior to his marriage to Eliza, and may have had two older children. If so, neither were named in the will (unless "our child" John, is actually a son from a first wife). Adding to the confusion is the marriage record of Margaret Fulton, daughter of John Fulton and Eliza, to John Daniel, on 1 September 1860. Margaret's age is given as 18, placing her birth at 1842. The family of John Daniel/Daniels and Margaret can be traced easily. Birth and death records are found for six children and the 1870 and 1880 census records show that the couple had a total of eight children and lived at Wayne, Passaic Co., New Jersey. When recorded, Margaret's maiden name is given as Fulton. It seems unusual that Eliza would name two daughters, born so close to each other (Margaret Fulton in 1842, Margaret Brower in 1846), and as only one Margaret is found on the 1850 census, it may be that Margaret Brower, called "our child" in his will, is actually Margaret Fulton, Eliza's daughter by her first marriage. The family of Elias Brower, despite finding his will, is still unsettled.

Elias Brower Will, 1853 (1)

Elias Brower Will, 1853 (2)

Elias Brower Will, 1853 (3)

Elias Brower Will, 1853 (4)

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