Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

George J. Brower of Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York

George J. Brower was born ca. 1809 in New York County, New York (1855 NY State census). He is found on the U. S. census records of 1850 and 1860 in Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, but appears to have died prior to the taking of the 1870 U. S. census when his wife, Laura, is enumerated as the head of household. Although George J. Brower's direct Brower/Brouwer ancestry is not certain, we do know through Y-DNA testing of a direct descendant, that George J. Brower must be a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. The Y-DNA test results of the descendant, along with a consideration of the names a few of George J. Brower's children, leads us to a probable placement in the large family of Adam Brouwer's descendants.

The descendant of George J. Brower tested through the Brewer DNA Project, is represented by kit #360871. Results from a 67 marker Y-DNA test, and their comparison to other descendants of Adam Brouwer can be seen on the Y-DNA results page at the Brewer DNA Project website. The Adam Brouwer Group DNA Results page at the Brouwer Genealogy Database will be updated with the participant's results sometime in the next few months. At the 67 marker level of testing* the descendant of George J. Brower most closely matches (66 of 67 markers) two descendants of Adam Brouwer's eldest son, Pieter Brouwer. A third match at 66/67 is with a participant whose complete Brouwer lineage has not been determined through traditional research but who is believed to also be a descendant of Pieter Brouwer. Also of interest, is that at the 37 marker level, George J. Brower's descendant has just a one-step genetic difference (36 of 37) with kit #207810. This participant is a descendant of Pieter Brouwer through Pieter's great-great grandson Nicholas Brouwer of New York City (b. 6 Aug 1775) and his wife Christina Weyman. (See the Pieter Brouwer Y-DNA Chart). Based upon given names found among George J. Brower's children, it is highly likely that George J. Brower is a previously unknown son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman.

It should first be noted that no record of birth or baptism for George J. Brower has yet been found. His date of death or place of burial is not known, but he was alive for the taking of the 1860 census, but was deceased before the taking of the 1870 census. Probate records for Nicholas Brouwer have also not been found. His date of death is not known but it is suspected that he died sometime during the 1830s. Christina (Weyman) Brower died on 16 June 1869 and is buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, but a record of the the settlement of her estate has also not been located. It is possible that there are deeds among the land records in either or both New York County and Kings County involving the transfer of property involving heirs of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman that might have genealogical evidence. Such records have to still be searched for.

What is known of George J. Brower is currently limited to the U.S. Federal Census records of 1850 and 1860, and the New York State census of 1855. From the census records it appears that George J. Brower was probably married twice, although this cannot be claimed with certainty, as the 1850 and 1860 Federal census records do not include stated relationships between persons found in any given household. In 1850, George J. Brower is found at Castleton, Richmond Co. (Staten Island), New York.

George J. Brower household 1850 U.S. census (NARA via Ancestry.com)
 The household includes "Laura Brower," whose age is given as 39, born in Pennsylvania; Cordelia Brower, age 18; Albertus Brower, age 17; Horace Brower, age 6; Nichol Brower, age 5; Christina Brower, age 2; and Louis Brower; age 1 month (written as 1/12). It appears that the recording of Laura's age as 39, in this census, which would imply that she was born ca. 1811, is in error. All subsequent records involving Laura indicate that she was born seven or more years later, ca. 1818 to ca. 1825. In 1855 she is age 29. In 1860, she is age 39, born in Pennsylvania. In 1870 she is age 45, born in New York. In 1880, age 62, born in New York. Finally, the record of Laura Brower's death on 11 April 1900, gives her age as 79. I suspect that Laura's age given in 1850 is the most out of line, and that she was probably born in the early 1820s. If correct, and assuming that Cordelia (age 18) and Albertus (age 17) found in George J. Brower's household in 1850 are his children (and their ages are correct), then it would appear that Laura could not be their mother, and that George J. Brower could have had a previous wife who is not yet identified. It also should be noted that the next child in 1850 is Horace, age 6. The eleven year gap between the ages of Albertus and Horace could be explained by the death of a first wife followed by a period when George was a widower, followed by a second marriage to Laura. The given names of two of the younger children, Nichol (Nicholas in 1855 and 1860) and Christina is what leads us to the belief that George J. Brower was a son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman. In 1860, 1870 and 1880, we also have the presence of a son Solomon (a.k.a. Solomon D. Brower) in the household, and this name is also a clue that George J. Brower belongs to the family of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman.

George J. Brower 1860 US census (NARA via Ancestry.com)
Nicholas Brouwer was a son of Jacob Brouwer and Marie Catharine Jeander. One of Nicholas' sisters, Maria, was married to Solomon Davis. It does not appear that the couple had children, and Nicholas named one of his sons (probably the youngest) Solomon Davis Brower, no doubt in honor of his sister's husband. Has noted, George J. Brower named a son, Solomon D. Brower. In turn, Solomon D. Brower named a son, George Davis Brower (b. 1888). It is not known what George J. Brower's middle initial stands for, but it should be pointed out that the family name of Nicholas Brouwer's wife, Marie Catharine, was Jeander.

Laura has been identified by the participant in the Y-DNA project, as Laura Porter, and a couple of user submitted family trees at Ancestry.com state she was a daughter of Horace H. Porter. I have not had the opportunity to research or verify these statements, but have encountered no reason to question Laura's identification. George and Laura's eldest child was named Horace Holden Brower. He was a Civil War veteran who lost a leg in action in 1862, and lived most of his adult life in Washington D.C.

Nine children have been identified for George J. and Laura (Porter) Brower. In addition to the above mentioned Horace H., Nicholas, Christina and Solomon D., are George A. (1850-1915, for some reason recorded as Louis in 1850), Mary (b. ca. 1853), Theodore M. (b. 1857), William (b. ca. 1859) and Laura (b. ca. 1863). Descendants have been traced for Horace H., Solomon D. and George A. using resources at Ancestry.com (see George J. Brower and Laura Porter). The 1855 State census at Castleton, Richmond County, states that the children Horace and Nicholas were born in Brooklyn, while Christina, George and Mary were born in Richmond County. The 1840 U.S. census at Brooklyn has a George Brower as the head of a household of 1 male under 5, 1 male 20-30, and 1 female 20-30, and 1 female 60-70. This record could pertain to George J. Brower's family with a first (unknown) wife, and perhaps the female age 60-70 is the widowed Christina (Weyman) Brouwer.

While genetic evidence confirms that George J. Brower is certainly a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I., and while genetic evidence coupled with onomastic observations leads us to suspect that George J. Brower is a son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman, confirming evidence for this likelihood evades discovery. As time permits we will continue to search for birth, baptism or death records, probate files, and land records for additional evidence.

*Although Family Tree DNA offers Y-DNA testing for as few as 37 markers, it is now recommended that all new participants ordering Y-DNA tests, test at least at the 67 marker level. It is also suggested that all who have previously tested, but at less than the 67 marker level, upgrade to at least the 67 marker level. Data at the 67 marker level is more useful when trying to identify genetic signatures for all the numerous lines of descent from Adam Brouwer, and other Brouwer/Brower/Brewer progenitors.

November 12, 2014 Update: Edith Polhemus has brought to my attention the date of death, and age at death for George J. Brower. A notice was published in the New York Herald, March 10, 1863: "At Stapleton, S. I. on Saturday, March 7, GEORGE J. BROWER, aged 55 years, 10 months & 7 days..." Members of the D.D. Tompkins Fire Dept. were invited to attend the funeral and it was requested that the notice be copied in the "Roundout and Kingston papers." This date and age calculates George's date of birth to 28 April 1807. A thank you to Edith for the new information.

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