Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, March 8, 2013

Peter Brewer and Hannah Sanborn of Highgate, Vermont

Peter Brewer was the eldest confirmed son of Jeremiah Brouwer and Hannah Thomas. He is a direct ancestor, the great-great-grandfather, of Ruth Catherine Brewer.

Peter was baptized on 29 December 1781. The records of the Gilead Evangelical Lutheran Church at Center Brunswick, New York, record him as Petrus, the son of Jeremias Brower and his wife Hanna. The same record records his date of birth as 27 May 1779. Peter was baptized at the age of two and a half years, which was a bit out of the norm for the that time. Most children were baptized within a few weeks, at most a few months, after their birth in pre-1800 America. Another unusual aspect of Peter's baptism is that his parents were also recorded as the sponsors. Whether or not that baptism actually took place at the physical location of the church, or whether the minister traveled to the location where the Browers lived, is not known from the record. The fact that Jeremiah and Hannah were themselves the sponsors for their own child's baptism leads me to believe that the Browers may have been living in some relatively remote location of Albany County, and there was just no one else available to stand as sponsors. The same scenario occurred with the baptism of Peter's brother, Jacob, only six months later in June 1782. The sponsors were the child's parents. Few other baptism records from the Gilead Evangelical Lutheran Church from this time, follow this pattern.

Jeremiah Brower is believed to have taken his family to the Missisquoi Bay area in 1786. Peter would have been aged seven at this time. He would remain in Highgate, Vermont for his entire life, dying there are on 2 December 1844.

Peter first appears in the Highgate Town Records in 1800, when he is listed on the Grand List (an assessment or tax roll) in succession with his father, Jeremiah Brower. He is recorded as Peter BROWER. Peter, however, is not found as a head of household on the 1800 U. S. census at Highgate. I would assume form this, that he was likely living, as an adult son, probably with his wife, in the household of his father. On 12 February 1800, Peter BREWER, had his mark for cattle, sheep and swine, recorded in the Highgate records, "a cross off the right ear." In April of 1800, Peter BROWER, together with Matthew Saxe, witnessed the will of Lawrence Croy at Highgate. Peter BREWER appears on the Grand List at Highgate in 1801, and on the U. S. census records there in the years 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840. He served in the Vermont Militia as a private during the War of 1812.

Peter Brewer is found in a number of deeds recorded in the Town Records of Highgate. In 1809, for $315, he purchased of John Wilson, a parcel of land in that part of Highgate that was formerly in Alburgh. The property was bounded by William Hefflon and James Wilson. In 1813, Peter Brewer, for $100 received from George Brewer of Westford, Chittenden Co., Vermont, "conveyed and forever quitclaim unto him, the said George, his heirs and assigns all my right in the interest estate property...parcell of land lying and being in the town of Highgate in that part formerly called Alburgh." Peter Brewer signed the deed. In 1813, Peter Brewer also bought land of John Barr, while in 1814 he bought land of Edward Raskin and sold land to Sarah Ann Wilson. In 1826, Peter Brewer bought land in Highgate from Alfred Keith of Sheldon, Vermont. In 1827, Peter made the first sale of land to one of his sons. In a deed of 12 March 1827, Peter Brewer, sold to Jacob Brewer, both of Highgate, 100 acres in Highgate, with the stipulation that should Jacob Brewer die without heirs, the land would be returned to Peter Brewer, or his heirs, with an allowance for the support of Jacob's widow. While no family relationship is actually stated clearly in the deed, it is hard to imagine a purchaser accepting such a contingency unless the seller was an immediate family member. In 1834, Peter bought land at Highgate from Abel Drury, and in April 1843 sold this property to his youngest son, Rensselaer Brewer.  A month later, Peter sold the property bought in 1826 to his son Schuyler Brewer. A year and a half later Peter Brewer died. There is no estate or probate record known for Peter Brewer, and it appears that he distributed his estate to his two youngest sons while anticipating that the end of his life was near.

I have online abstracts of the deeds involving the members of Peter Brewer's family:
Peter Brewer to Jacob Brewer, 1827
Peter Brewer to Rensselaer Brewer, 1843
Peter Brewer to Schuyler Brewer, 1843
Rensselaer Brewer to Jacob Brewer, 1847
Rensselaer Brewer to Schuyler Brewer, 1844
Schuyler Brewer to Rensselaer Brewer, 1844

Peter Brewer's wife was Hannah Sanborn. They were probably married in 1799 or 1800. No record of their marriage is found, and as there is no record of the births of any of their children, she is only identified as Hannah Sanborn (Sandborne) by the certificate of death of her son Rensselaer Brewer which occurred in 1897 in Richland County, Wisconsin. Hannah is found on the 1850 census at Highgate, Vermont, age given as 71 (thus born ca. 1778 or 1779), birth place stated as Vermont. She is enumerated in the household of her son Schuyler Brewer (family relationships were not specifically recorded in 1850). She is said to have died 25 February 1852. There is no record of her death and this date (as with Peter's date of death) were apparently taken from readings of their gravestones some decades ago, with the dates being perpetuated over the years by descendants. They were buried on the family property, the location today is off of Rollo Rd. in Highgate, on the property often referred to as Fortin Farm. The gravestones have since been obliterated and I have a photo taken in the early 2000s by Ross Shoemaker (a descendant) and passed to me by Karen B. Sims (another descendant).

What is left of the gravemarker of Peter Brewer (photo Ross Shoemaker)
The identity of Hannah's parents and her ancestry, has not been determined. Assuming that the identification of her surname as Sanborn is correct (remember the death certificate of Rensselaer was recorded in 1897, forty-five years after Hannah's death, and possibly reported by someone who never knew her personally) it is probable that she is a member of the large Sanborn family whose progenitors were among the first settlers in New Hampshire. The family of Josiah (1769-1831) and Sarah (Shepard) Sanborn were among the first settlers in the area of Sutton and St. Armond, Canada, towns directly over the border from Highgate, Vermont. While Hannah, cannot be a child of Josiah and Sarah, she could possibly be a yet unknown sister. Josiah Sanborn, who found his way to the Eastern Townships, was a son of Josiah Sanborn (1747-1817) and Lucy Swain of Sanbornton, New Hampshire. This Josiah Sanborn is a descendant of William Samborne who was at Hampton, New Hampshire in 1639, and his wife, Mary Moulton. I would note, however, that the very comprehensive Genealogy of the Samborne or Sanborn Family in England and America, by V. C. Sanborn (1899) makes no mention of our Hannah Sanborn, and it's account of the family of Josiah Sanborn and Lucy Swain, assuming it is correct, leaves little room (if any) for an additional child named Hannah born in 1778 or 1779. William Samborne came to New England (in or by 1639) with his two brothers John and Stephen, and their widowed mother, Anne (Bachiler) Samborne. William and John both left large families and by the late 1700s there were dozens of Sanborn families in existence in northern New England. Perhaps Hannah's place is somewhere else among the large Sanborn family. Or perhaps, the claim that her surname was Sanborn was incorrect, and has distracted descendants from discovering her true identity for many years.

Peter Brewer and Hannah Sanborn had ten children born between 1801 and 1820. They will be covered in a separate post.

Added  March 25, 2013: Jacob Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn

Added April 10, 2013: Schuyler Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn 

Added April 20, 2013: Sylvester Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn 

Added May 15, 2013: Peter Earl Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn 

Added May 20, 2013: Thomas Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn 

Added June 8, 2013: Daughters Samantha Brewer, Martha Brewer and Rozilla V. Brewer

Added July 5, 2013: George G. Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn 

Added July 12, 2013: Rensselaer Brewer, son of Peter Brewer & Hannah Sanborn

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