Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Unplaced: Henry Brewer of Berkeley Co., Virginia and Adams Co., Ohio

Henry Brewer of Berkeley Co., Virginia and Adams Co., Ohio was born in March 1765 (location unknown) and died 20 February 1829 at Adams Co., Ohio. A descendant has participated in the Brewer DNA Project, and the results of his Y-DNA test have confirmed that he, and his earliest confirmed direct ancestor, Henry Brewer, are descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island.

Original records or documents pertaining to Henry Brewer are few. The one to begin with is his Revolutionary War Pension Application which he filed while living in Adams County, Ohio in 1818. This application is the source for his month and year of birth (March 1765), but unfortunately, it does not name the place of birth, nor does it name his parents. The date of his death (and that of his wife) comes from a claim for bounty lands filed by his heirs in 1830. In his application Henry Brewer states that enlisted for service during the Revolutionary War in December 1779 at Martinsburg, Berkeley Co., Virginia (this location is today in the state of West Virginia). He served for two years in Capt. John Melon, or Malon's Company of Col. Joseph Crockett's Virginia Regiment. He enlisted again in April 1782 and served as a private in Capt. Shaffner's Company, Col. Armand's Legion, and was discharged in the fall of 1782. His pension was executed on 13 June 1818, when Henry was a resident of Adams Co., Ohio. It appears that Henry dictated the information on his pension and signed it with his mark. In November of 1820 he submitted an inventory of his property which totaled $151.37 1/2, and again signed with his mark. On 15 April 1830, Elijah Brewer, one of the heirs at law of Henry Brewer, now deceased, applied to the United States Government to receive bounty lands that were due Henry. This application lists the heirs of Henry Brewer as Mrs. Polly Davis of Romney, Virginia; Mrs. Peggy Hansberry or Handsberry, of Fairfield Co., Ohio; Mrs. Sally Williams, Anna Boldman wife of James Boldman, Elijah Brewer, Susan Brewer and Charles Brewer, all of Adams Co., Ohio.

The other record found regarding Henry Brewer is his marriage to Sarah Hawke on 14 February 1786 in Berkeley Co., Virginia (now West Virginia). He is recorded here as Henry BRUER, and his wife as Sarah HAWKE (see West Virginia Vital Research Marriage record results).

Federal census records for the years 1790 and 1800 for the State of Virginia, do not exist. On the 1810 census, as Henry "Bower," he is found in Berkeley Co., Virginia, with a household of 4 males under 10, 2 males 10-15, 2 males 16-25, 1 male over 45, 2 females 10-15, 1 female 16-25, 1 female over 45. In 1820 he is found, as Henry Brower, at Jefferson, Adams Co., Ohio, with a household of 2 males 16-26, 1 male over 45, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 16-26, 1 female 26-45, 1 female over 45, 3 persons engaged in agriculture.

The above is all we have of the hard records regarding the life of Henry Brewer, who is referred to as Bruer or Brower in three of the four. Below is an image of Henry Bruer's marriage record as recorded in the Berkeley Co. register. Henry is seventh up from the bottom, above the marriage of Tunis Quick (another surname that would be familiar to anyone who has spent much time researching colonial New York and New Jersey families).

Henry Bruer - Sarah Hawke Marriage (courtesy Robyn Brewer-Ritz)
Back on January 15, 2012, I posted "Discovery of an Abraham Brewer in Berkeley County, Virginia." I now believe that this Abraham Brewer is most likely the Abraham Brouwer, probably born about 1745, son of Daniel Brouwer and Marietje Koning. He would be a great-grandson of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. Abraham was married twice and his first known wife was Sara Van Orden. No record of marriage has been found, but the couple had their first known child, Daniel, baptized on 24 Aug 1770 at Schraalenburgh, Bergen Co., New Jersey. Abraham and his family were among a number of Dutch families that left New Jersey for a new settlement at Conewago (then in York Co.), Pennsylvania. Abraham and Sara's son, David, was baptized there in 1775. In 1774, an Abraham Brewer is found on a list of tithables at Berkeley Co., Virginia (see the January 15, 2012 post).

An important read for anyone researching families that settled in the areas of Kentucky and Ohio (which are separated by the Ohio River), is "The Low Dutch Company, A History of the Holland Dutch Settlements of the Kentucky Frontier," by Vincent Akers, published in de Halve Maen, in four parts beginning with volume 55 (1980) no. 2. In this article, Mr. Akers mentions that "Beginning about 1769 and continuing through the early 1770s, several Conewago families moved to Berkeley County, Virginia (now Berkeley and Jefferson Counties, West Virginia) about forty miles southwest of Conewago. They settled near present-day Shepherdstown." Although the name Brower (or Brewer) is missing from his short list of families who settled at Shepherdstown, this information does provide us with a reason and an opening for Abraham Brewer, who is known to have been at Conewago at this time, to have the opportunity to acquire some interest in and/or possibly settle at Berkeley County, Virginia. Therefore, this Abraham Brouwer, originally from Schraalenburgh, New Jersey, and then Conewago, Pennsylvania, is the best, and apparently only candidate, to be the Abraham Brewer who was assessed in Berkeley County, Virginia in 1774.

Our Abraham Brouwer, later seen as Abraham Brewer, eventually went on to settle at Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky, along with other Dutch families from Conewago, Pennsylvania and Berkeley Co., Virginia. In Mercer Co., Kentucky, Abraham married his second known wife, Mary Wells, on 6 June 1817. Abraham and Mary had three children. He wrote his will there on 16 September 1825 and mentioned a number of children, but does not mention a son named Henry. (See Daniel Brewer and Abraham Brewer Wills).

Although it may appear that Abraham Brouwer/Brewer, later of Mercer County, Kentucky, is the best known candidate for the father of Henry Brewer, we still lack the evidence to claim this relationship as factual. The fact that Henry is not named in Abraham's will is a strike against the idea, however, it has to be remembered that not every child of the testator is necessarily named in every will. Abraham Brouwer/Brewer is a descendant of Adam Brouwer through Adam's son Pieter Brouwer. We do have four confirmed descendants of Pieter Brouwer who have participated in the Brewer DNA Project and the descendant of Henry Brewer matches three of the four on 36 of 37 markers (the fourth only tested twelve markers). That is a very close match, and it may be that Henry, if not a son of Abraham Brouwer/Brewer may be a nephew, or some other close relation, and also descended from Pieter Brouwer. (See Adam Brouwer DNA results page at the BGD website).

Over the past few years more and more vital and other records have become available online, primarily through FamilySearch and Ancestry.com. Over the past couple of months I have revisited the problem of Henry Brewer, and although I have been unable to locate anything that would verify his origins, I have been able to locate a large number of descendants. These can be seen on a Family Tree created at Ancestry.com (Henry Brewer of Adams Co., Ohio). This same Family Tree includes some descendants of Margaret Brewer (married John Williams), Mary Brewer (married Patrick Timmonds) and Sophia Bruer (married Alexander Cameron), three woman who have been claimed as sisters of Henry Brewer, however, it must be emphasized that evidence for the claims has not been discovered.

Margaret Brewer
Mary Brewer
Sophia Bruer

Each of the three (Margaret, Mary and Sophia) has a "story" which provides a basis of information for each. It should also be mentioned that Margaret Brewer (whose son James Williams married Sarah Brewer, daughter of Henry Brewer) was not a wife of James Williams (1759-1842, Revolutionary War veteran) as shown in the current version of the Brouwer Genealogy Database. Further research on the early Williams families in Ohio have satisfied me that James Williams was married first to Nancy Piatt and second to Elizabeth (Murphy) Miller, and could not have married Margaret Brewer. John Williams has been stated to be the husband of Margaret Brewer and we will go with that claim with the caveat that no original records have been located to substantiate the claim, and any relationship between John Williams and James Williams (1759-1842) has not been determined.

The question of Henry Brewer's origins remains unanswered. Unfortunately he lived during a time (1760-1830) and at places (Berkeley Co., Virginia, and the Ohio River Valley area) where few records were made and few have survived. Most reliable data on families from this period is found in "Family Records," Bible records and memoirs that have been carefully handed down from generation to generation (the provenance of such records is important to document). However, second and third hand accounts of the early settlers can also be found. This second category is less reliable, and often the claims and statements, which may have well been believed to have been true by the original authors, do not hold up when compared with first hand information that can be located. I'm afraid that many present day descendants of Henry Brewer have been steered off course by such accounts. Perhaps the day will come when some long lost family record of Henry Brewer's will be discovered and made available for his descendants to consider. Until then, or until some other original discovery, Henry Brewer will just have to remain in limbo.

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