Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Correction to the Family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans

The post of September 10, 2013 makes mention of a change to the descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands. A description of the family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans, the family that is directly effected, was originally posted on October 10, 2012. A careful review of some records used to construct this family leads me to believe that a change must be made to this family. There is no longer any evidence, either direct or circumstantial, that would allow us to conclude that Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans had a son named Pieter Brouwer (or Peter Brower, or Brewer).

Pieter Jansz Brouwer is a son of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands. A genealogical summery titled, "Jan Brouwer of Flatlands and Descendants," was published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, vol. 138, no. 4 (2007), beginning with page 250. The article is not authored, but footnote 2 explains that is was compiled by the editor using records identified by John Reynolds Totten and Teunis G. Bergen, and what I assume, was the input of five others mentioned in the footnote. The same footnote is also careful to make the statement that "Direct evidence does not exist for every placement presented here, but this construction is most consistent with the evidence." The first part of this statement is certainly true. One of the most frustrating aspects of researching the descendants of Jan Brouwer is a lack of the basic records, meaning baptisms, marriages and probate records, for the first few generations. This of course means that attempting to reconstruct the first few generations requires the interpretation of indirect or circumstantial evidence, which naturally can be interpreted differently by different researchers. The second half of the cautionary statement, "that the construction of the genealogy is most consistent with the evidence," of course requires that the evidence collected and considered has to be accurate. This is where the problem starts for the family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer. At least one piece of evidence was not related correctly, and a second piece was then misinterpreted, and assigned to the supposed son Pieter, in error.

The family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer (no. 2 in the genealogy) is covered on pages 252 to 255. A problem is found with the facts given under his son, Pieter Brouwer (no. vii on page 255, described as tentative in footnote 34 on page 253). In the second record attributed to Pieter Brouwer it is stated that he married "by 1731" Antie/Anne Berge. While this is correct (the couple was married by 1731, and may well have been married long before that year) what is left out is that Pieter Brouwer was in fact deceased by 1731. The record cited is the church membership of Antie Berge found in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey vol. 24, no. 1 (1949), page 22, which reads, "Antie Berge, widow of Pieter Brouwer." What is not mentioned, and apparently overlooked in the 2007 compiled genealogy, is the fact that Pieter Brouwer's wife was a widow in 1731, and therefore Pieter was deceased by this date. This overlooked (and important) fact directly impacts the first record that was attributed to Pieter Brouwer in this same account.

That first record mentioned (in the 2007 NYG&B Record genealogy) was the record of the administration of the estate of a Peter Brewer, of Shrewsbury, Monmouth Co., granted to his wife Anne on 22 September 1759. This record is found in Honeyman, A. Van Doren. Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State of New Jersey, First Series Vol. 32; Calender of New Jersey Wills, Administrations, Etc. Vol. 3 1751-1760. (Somerville, N.J.: The Unionist-Gazette Association, Printers, 1924), page 40 (which abstracts New Jersey Wills, Lib. G, p. 99). As per footnote 34, on page 253 of the compiled NYGB Record genealogy, it is stated that it is this 1759 administration, in which one of the bondsmen was Thunis Amack, is the evidence behind the "tentative" placement of Pieter Brouwer as a son of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans. This record, however, cannot pertain to the Pieter Brouwer who's wife, Antie Berge, was described as a widow in 1731. The administration of an estate takes place soon after a person's decease. Pieter Brouwer, who was deceased by 1731, would not have had administration granted on his estate 28 years later in 1759. This first mentioned record, the administration of the estate of Peter Brewer of Shrewsbury, belongs to a different Peter Brewer than the Pieter Brouwer who left a widow, Antie Berge, by 1731. Lacking this record, there is no other record, set of circumstantial records, or reason to suppose that Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annatje Jans had a son named Pieter. It is therefore necessary to remove Pieter Brouwer from the record of the family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer.

To expand upon what was last just stated a bit more: Absent the incorrectly reasoned analysis of the two records mentioned above, we are left with the fact there is no other record found that would indicate that Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans had a son named Pieter. There is no baptism record of such son. There is no record of marriage for a Pieter Brouwer and Antie Berge. There is no record, baptism or otherwise, for children of a couple named Pieter Brouwer and Antie Berge. There is no probate or estate file either for Pieter Jansz Brouwer, Annetje Jans or any potential siblings of the tentative son Pieter Brouwer that could be cited as proof of his existence. There are no records of sponsors or witnesses at baptisms of the other children of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans in which a sibling named Pieter Brouwer is named as a sponsor or witness. Thus far, no land records have been found that found that would identify a son named Pieter Brouwer. When we cannot find so much as one record that can confidently be identified as belonging to a person described as "tentative," we have to come to the conclusion that in fact, this "tentative" person probably did not exist to begin with.

To re-cap the above in two sentences: The misreading of the 1731 church membership record, in which Antie Berge is called a widow, resulted in the incorrect assignment of the record of the administration of the estate of Peter Brewer to his wife Anne in 1759, to a "tentative" son named Pieter of Pieter Jansz Brouwer. Since no other record that could point to this "tentative" Pieter as being a son of Pieter Jansz Brouwer exists, it is necessary to remove the "tentative" son Pieter from the family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans.

We can add to this that there is a known Peter Brewer (Pieter Brouwer) with a wife named Anne, to whom this 1759 administration more likely applies. The Records of the Reformed Dutch Congregations at Freehold and Middletown (serialized in the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, include the baptism record of "Joannes; parents: Pieter Brouwer, Antje Van Dyk; witness: Antje Brouwer" on 21 March 1756 (GMNJ 25:91), and of "Petrus; parents: Pieter Brower, Antye Van Dyk; witness: Hendrick Brower" on 23 September 1759 (GMNJ 26:22). This second baptism took place the day after administration on the estate of Peter Brewer, of Shrewsbury, was granted to his widow, Anne. No records of baptisms for this couple have been found post 1759. The Pieter Brouwer/Brower who married Antje Van Dyk was likely the "Peetres" baptized on 26 Dec 1737 at the Reformed Church at Harlingen, a son of Johannes Brouwer and Helena Van Cleef (GMNJ 17:80). He would be a grandson of the above mentioned Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans, and named for his grandfather. The witnesses mentioned above were most likely his brother Hendrick who was baptized in 1735, and his aunt Annatje Brouwer (sister of his father) who married Abraham Lane and had her own children baptized at the Harlingen church. While it is difficult to assign this 1759 estate administration record to any one person with absolute certainty (the complete file should be located and examined), it is much more likely that the record belongs to the Pieter Brouwer who's sons Joannes and Petrus baptized in 1756 and 1759, and that "Anne" is Antje Van Dyk*, and is certainly not, Antje Berge.

Removing the "tentative" son Pieter from the family of Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annatje Jans leaves us with new questions: Who is the Pieter Brower whose widow, Antje Berge, was a member of the Reformed Dutch Congregation at Middletown in 1731? Who is Antje Berge? And who is Annetje Jans? I am presently working on the theory that it is possible, maybe even probable that Antje Berge's husband Pieter Brower is actually Pieter Jansz Brouwer, that Antje Berge is in fact Annetje Jans and that she is a (until now) unidentified granddaughter of Hans Hansen (Bergen). I will present the known facts that form the basis of this theory in a future post.

See the current edition of the Brouwer Genealogy Database for additional info and sources regarding those mentioned above.

The journal report and chart of the descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I., and the Family Group sheet for Pieter Jansz Brouwer and Annetje Jans have also been updated. The family structure now shown in each of these accounts still includes a son, Hendrick Brouwer. It does have to be emphasized that this placement is also very tentative. Hendrick was not included in the 2007 NYGB Record summery, but rather was my own placement that I am now having serious doubts about and am reconsidering.

*There are baptism records post 1759 at Freehold-Middletown for a couple named Antje Van Dyk and Jacobus Jansen. The will of James Johnson, Sr., of Howell, Monmouth Co., dated 1 June 1803, names his wife Anna and children. An executor is "friend" Benjamin Brewer, while John A. Brewer took the inventory. (Calendar of New Jersey Wills, 10 (1780-1782) in New Jersey Archives First Series, 39:245). The English name, James Johnson, would be a reasonable equivalent of the Dutch, Jacobus Jansen. Further research into the possibility that the two Antje Van Dyks are one, is required.

(Additional details relating to Pieter Brouwer, Antje Van Dyk and James Johnson/Jacobus Janson, are published in the post of September 17, 2013.)

(For a follow up on Annetje Jans/Antje Berge, see the post of October 8, 2013).

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