Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, March 14, 2014

Abraham Brewer and Eunice Griswold of Chemung, New York

According to his gravestone which is found in Riverside Cemetery near Lowman, Chemung County, New York, Abraham Brewer died on 17 May 1814, aged 70 years, 1 month, and 2 days. From this, is date of birth is calculated as 15 April 1744. Abraham's wife was Eunice Griswold who was born on 2 February 1755 in Tyringham, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. She was a daughter of Elijah Griswold (b. 1719) and Abigail Thomas. Eunice Griswold's paternal ancestry is easily traced and documented back to Michael Griswold who died in Wethersfield, Connecticut on 26 September 1684, having left a will that was dated 10 September 1678. The ancestry of Eunice's mother, Abigail Thomas, has not been determined. Eunice died on 21 October 1815, and is buried in the same cemetery.

In the past, some descendants of Abraham Brewer and Eunice Griswold have suspected that Abraham was a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. A few years back a descendant of Abraham Brewer participated in the Brewer DNA Project, and results from his Y-DNA test indicate that the participant is NOT a descendant of Adam Brouwer. The participant was a direct descendant of Abraham Brewer's great-grandson Milton G. Brewer (1854-1936) who lived most of his life in Farmington, Fulton County, Illinois. The descendant is represented by kit #109921. Test results, for comparison with results from descendants of Adam Brouwer (and other groups) can be found on the Brewer DNA Project Y-DNA Results Page. The results are found in the group labeled "Ungrouped." Thus far, the participant's results do no match any other male with the surname Brewer, Brower, Bruer, or some variation thereof. At this point, we have to conclude that the participant's earliest known direct male ancestor, Abraham Brewer, is NOT a descendant of Adam Brouwer. However, we should have a second descendant of Abraham Brewer tested, preferably one who is a descendant through a different son and line than the one descendant already tested, to be confident with this conclusion. The testing of a second descendant, if he matches the results of the first descendant, will confirm for us that there was no non-parental event (NPE) somewhere in the lineage of the first tested descendant.

My own research on the family and descendants of Abraham Brewer and Eunice Griswold is most certainly incomplete. With that in mind, here is a family group sheet summarizing what is known of their family.

Abraham Brewer & Eunice Griswold Family Group Sheet 

Some descendants, and source citations can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. A convenient link for Abraham Brewer can be found on the Unplaced page.

It appears that Abraham Brewer and Eunice Griswold had three sons. Elijah, who appears to be the eldest, is the ancestor of the descendant who participated in the Brewer DNA Project by taking a Y-DNA test. Elijah was married to Margaret Kinyon, and they lived at Chemung, Tioga County, New York. Although an unconfirmed source states that he died, in 1821, in Ohio, Elijah is buried at Riverside Cemetery in Chemung County, New York. Abraham and Eunice's other two sons are Abraham Brewer, born in 1790, died in 1859 in Genesee County, Michigan. His wife was Hannah Stull. The other son, David Brewer, is considered a possible son at this time. He was born in 1797 and died in 1849. He was married to Betsey Baldwin and they lived in 1840 they were at Southport, Chemung County, New York. The effort to discover Abraham Brewer's ancestry could be helped greatly if direct male descendants of both sons, Abraham and David, would join the Brewer DNA Project by taking a Y-DNA test.

In attempting to determine Abraham Brewer's ancestry through traditional genealogical research techniques, it might be helpful to consider his wife's origins. Eunice Griswold was born in Tyringham, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Berkshire County is the western most county in Massachusetts and it borders the present day New York State counties of (north to south) Rensselaer, Columbia and Dutchess. During the colonial period, Rensselaer and Columbia Counties did not exist, and at that time were within the boundary of Albany County, New York. During the years just prior to the Revolutionary War there were numerous Brouwer/Brower/Brewer families found in this area of New York State and they represented descendants of all three original New Netherland families (Adam Brouwer, Jan Brouwer, and Willem Brouwer). In addition, living in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, were descendants of John Brewer who had lived at Cambridge and Sudbury, Massachusetts in the mid 1600s. We do have Y-DNA tests from two descendants of John Brewer of Massachusetts, both of who match each other very closely, but neither one matches the descendant of Abraham Brewer. It does not appear that Abraham is a descendant of John Brewer.

Getting back to the Griswold family, according to Glen E. Griswold, The Griswold Family, England - America (Rutland, Vermont: The Griswold Family Association of America Inc. The Tuttle Publishing Co. Inc., 1935), Eunice Griswold's father, Elijah Griswold, was born in Farmington, Connecticut and was an early settler of Tyringham, Massachusetts. It is stated that Elijah moved his family to Nobletown, Albany County, New York where he is first mentioned in 1766. If correct, Elijah Griswold was living in Albany County at the time that his daughter's future husband would have been about twenty-two years of age. Noblestown no longer exists and is today the hamlet of North Hillsdale in the Town of Hillsdale in Columbia County, New York. Hillsdale was created in 1788 from the Town of Claverack, and this would have been the name of the location in 1766 when Elijah Griswold first came to the area. It is possible that Abraham Brewer lived at, or near Claverack, New York at the time he met Eunice Griswold. We do know that families descended from Adam Brouwer lived in the Claverack area at the time of the American Revolutionary War, however, as mentioned above, the genetic evidence thus far indicates that Abraham Brewer can not be a descendant of Adam Brouwer. This contradiction is the reason for the emphasis on the need to locate another male descendant of Abraham Brewer who is interested in taking a Y-DNA test.

The Griswold Family genealogy mentioned above states that Elijah Griswold "is doubtless the Elijah who served in the Revolution as a private in the Levies and New York Line, Capt. Pearcy, Col. Willet, New York Troops." The genealogy also suggests that he is the "Elijah Grisel" who served with Capt. Hogeboom's Co., out of Claverack, New York in 1767. By 1790, Elijah Griswold had moved to Chemung, then in Montgomery County, New York, where is is found on the first U. S. census. In 1800, Elijah Griswold is found at Chemung, then Tioga County, New York. Listed here in succession with Elijah are his sons Gideon Griswold, Elisha Griswold, and then Abraham Brewer. It appears that Abraham Brewer likely married Eunice Griswold in the area of Claverack, New York, and then relocated with his father-in-law to Chemung, New York.

It has been claimed that Abraham Brewer served during the Revolutionary War with the 7th Regiment of Albany County Militia, under Capt. Abraham J. Van Alstine. It has also been stated that he served with Col. Hay's Regiment of Orange County Militia. The source here is "Revolutionary Soldiers B-G, Chemung Co., N.Y.," Gemini Vol. 8 (Apr. 1979). The second claim is most certainly incorrect. This service more likely belongs to Abraham Brouwer (1759-1806) who lived at Clarkstown which was then in Orange County, New York. The first service claimed, that in the 7th Regt., Albany Co. Militia, could well be correct. However, there is no record of Abraham Brewer filing for a Revolutionary War service pension, and so this cannot be confirmed with certainty.

In 1790, Abraham Brewer is found on the U. S. census at Chemung, Montgomery Co., New York, with a household of one male over 16, one male under 16, and four females. In 1800, he is at Chemung, Tioga County, New York with a household of one male under 10, one male age 10-15, one male over age 45, one female age 16-25 and one female over 45. As mentioned above, he is listed in succession with his Griswold in-laws. In 1810 he is at Chemung, Tioga County, New York with one male over age 45 and one female over age 45. Enumerated on the same census sheet are Elijah Brewer and Abraham Brewer, Jr.

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is a helpful tool for understanding the formation of the counties in which the town of Chemung is found. Today, the Town of Chemung (pronounced shuh-MUNG) is found in Chemung County, which was created out of Tioga County in 1836. Tioga County had been created out of Montgomery County in 1798. The town is located in New York's "Southern Tier" and to the south is Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Historically, economically and culturally, Chemung County has more in common, and is more closely associated with the counties of northern Pennsylvania to its south, then with the New York State counties to the north. The town of Chemung was first settled in 1786, and was established in Montgomery County in 1788. Joyce M. Tice's "Tri-County Genealogy" website should be of help to researchers of Chemung area families.

The current assumption is that Abraham Brewer's origins were in the area of Claverack, New York where his wife's family is found, and that he moved to Chemung, New York with his in-laws. This assumption could be wrong, and it is possible (but less likely) that Abraham Brewer came to Chemung, New York independently of the Griswolds, met and married Eunice Griswold there and settled in next to his in-laws. The problem with this second scenario is that it is clear that Abraham and Eunice's older children were born prior to the first known settlement at Chemung.

It is hoped that other direct male descendants of Abraham Brewer, especially through his son Abraham, Jr., and through the possible son, David, will be encouraged to join the Brewer DNA Project with a Y-DNA test.

NOTE: Corrections to this post were made and can be found in the post of April 4, 2016.

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