Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Family of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia

To produce accurate pedigrees for those who have taken Y-Chromosome DNA tests with the Brewer DNA Project, and who believe they are descendants of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia, we must first establish an accurate reconstruction of George Brewer's immediate family. To date, this has never been done. I have yet to encounter a concise portrayal of George Brewer's family that was based upon sound genealogical research, and sound reasoning. None can be found in published genealogical research, and online "family trees," and websites, including the Brewer DNA Project's current page of Brewer-Lanier pedigrees, are full of errors and inconsistencies.

Back on December 16th, 2014, we presented the 1741 will of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia, provided a transcript of the important aspects of the will, and placed a PDF and digital images of the original will pages online. This will is the principal document we have that can be relied upon for a reconstruction of the family of George Brewer.

Earlier attempts at transcribing and interpreting George Brewer's will by Marvin T. Broyhill in Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, Supporting Documentation Part I (1994), pp. 5-6, and Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia (1992), pp. 89-90, and by Ben R. Brewer, The Long Brewer Line (1993), pp. 39-41, are inadequate. Neither provided the reader with copies of the original documents. (See the posts of December 18, 2014, and December 21, 2014). Broyhill's transcription has errors, and his interpretation of the will for the purpose of reconstructing the family of George Brewer is seriously flawed. Brewer's transcription was an improvement over Broyhill, but he did not offer an interpretation of his own. Broyhill has two errors in his interpretation. His first was in assuming that George Brewer's children were mentioned in the will in the same order in which they were born. His second was in concluding that not all of George Brewer's children were mentioned in the will by name. Ben R. Brewer's failing was in not recognizing and correcting these errors.*

To be clear: The children named by George Brewer in his will, were not named in the same order in which they were born. All of George Brewer's living children were named in his will.

A testator (any testator) writes a will for a reason. The will has a purpose. This was especially true during the colonial period when death often came earlier in life than today, and when a death might mean leaving a widow and young children. In the case of George Brewer, the purpose of his will was to provide for his wife, Alice, and for his younger children who had not yet established themselves with property or a household of their own.

George Brewer named his wife, and all of his children, living at the time he wrote his will, in his will, and in the following order: son William, son Oliver, son Henry, son Nathaniel, daughter Sarah Vick, wife Alice, son Lanier, son George, son Nicholas, son John, son Howl (Howell in other records). The sons, Henry, Oliver and Nathaniel are then mentioned for a second time. There is no evidence that suggests this order was the order in which his children were born. This order does, however, reflect the purpose of George Brewer's will. George Brewer addressed the important issues first, that being providing for his wife and for his children who were not yet established. From his bequests we can learn the status, or condition, of each of George's children at the time he wrote his will. You are referred back to the post of December 16, 2014 for the transcripts of what is summarized below (which, for reasons of clarity, does not follow the same order as it appears in the will).

George's son William received land on which he was already dwelling. Unfortunately, an accurate description of the location of this property was not given. It may, or may not have been adjacent to George's own property, but at the time of the will George was the owner of the property and William was living on it. From this it can be established that William was old enough to be living on his own (certainly in his 20s) and probably married as he had his own house.

His daughter Sarah Vick, clearly married at the time the will was written, received 150 acres of land. This could be considered a relatively generous bequest to an already married daughter. She may have only recently been married (no marriage record survives), and this legacy may have been intended as a marriage gift, perhaps belated.

George Brewer's wife Alice, received the estate where they presently were dwelling, with all household goods and stock, for the purpose of maintaining his younger children born to him by Alice. (Alice was a second wife. George Brewer's first wife was Sarah Lanier, who will be addressed later).

George's sons Oliver, Henry and Nathaniel received similar bequests. Each of them received land and (later in the will) a gun. Oliver received the "rest of this tract of land where on I now dwell." These three sons were clearly not yet established with households and property of their own at the time George Brewer wrote his will. By setting the three up with both land, and a gun, George was exercising the purpose of his will. Oliver, by virtue of the fact that he received land where is father, and Alice, "now dwell," would have been (although not specifically stated) expected to care for Alice as she aged. Oliver, Henry and Nathaniel were the younger children George referred to. All though it is not completely certain, at least two, and probably all three, were sons of George's second wife, Alice. It is near certain that Oliver was a son of Alice. By the fact that the three sons, Oliver, Henry and Nathaniel received property of considerable value compared with the five sons mentioned in the following paragraph, tells us that they were younger, and not older, than the five sons mentioned below.

The sons Lanier, George, Nicholas, John and Howell, all received what could be described as insignificant legacies. Lanier and George received steers (a castrated bull). Nicholas and John, a cow and her calf. Howell, a horse and "feathers to make him a bed." None received land. None received guns, tools or farm implements of any value. The five were certainly already established with land (and guns) of their own. Perhaps George had taken care of each at the time each came of age. What we can conclude from George's will, that these five (as well as William) were the older sons. All were certainly older then Oliver, Henry and Nathaniel, although Broyhill in Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia (1992), p. 90, would have you think otherwise.**

From his will it can be established that George Brewer's wife was Alice, and that his ten children were William, Sarah (married), Oliver, Henry and Nathaniel (younger children without property), Lanier, George, Nicholas, John, and Howell (older sons, already with property). We have no evidence to include any others as children of George Brewer.

George Brewer's first wife was Sarah Lanier. This is established from the will of Sarah's father, John Lanier, written 5 January 1718, and proved 14 April 1719 (Atwood Violet, "Lanier Family," Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, vol. 3 (1922), pp.130-131). John Lanier left his daughter "Sarah Brewer" a cow or heifer of 3 years. That George named a son "Lanier Brewer" in his will, leads us to conclude that Sarah Lanier was married to this George Brewer, and not some other George Brewer (or some other man named Brewer).*** We know that Sarah was alive on 5 January 1718. We do not know when she died. We do not know when she married, and we do not know when she was born. Louise Ingersoll, Lanier, A Genealogy of the Family who came to Virginia... (1970), p. 378, suggested that Sarah was born ca. 1686, that she and George Brewer were married ca. 1705, and that she died between 1724 and 1729. No evidence, reason, or explanation are given by Ingersoll for these dates, although many have accepted them, we will not.

George Brewer's eldest son was most likely his namesake, George Brewer, who in his father's will received a steer. On 28 September 1728, George Brewer, Jr. received a patent for 530 acres on the south side of the Meherrin River (Broyhill, Supplement, Part II [1996], p. 47, and Varner, Brewer Families of Southeast America [2003], p. 342). It can be assumed that George, Jr. was at least aged 21 years when he received the patent, and was in fact probably older. Most males during the colonial period did not become established with their own property and families until at least age 25 or older. In addition, patents were often recorded after the fact, sometimes by a few years. Assuming that as his father's namesake, George Brewer, Jr. was the eldest son, it can also be stated that he was probably born close to 1700, and perhaps in the later 1690s. George Brewer, Jr. died between 16 August 1760 (will) and 27 October 1760 (proved). George Brewer, Jr. was certainly a son of George Brewer's first wife, Sarah Lanier. He was born much earlier than the "ca. 1715" guess made by Broyhill.

On 6 December 1736, George Brewer, Sr., Howell Brewer, William Brewer, John Brewer and Lanier Brewer were, among other men, assigned by the Court at Brunswick County, to William Acock, surveyor of the "Highway from William Wall's Road about half a mile from the River to the Beaver Pond Creek" (Broyhill, Supplement I [1994], p. 19). Their assignment was to clear the path for the highway. The four, Howell, William, John and Lanier, were certainly the sons of George, Sr., and deeds have confirmed that George Brewer and his family lived in this Beaver Pond Creek area. Varner (Brewer Families of Southeast America [2003], p. 208) states that those appearing on this list would have been at least sixteen years old. I would go further and say that in all likelihood the Brewer men recruited for this road work were older than sixteen, and were at least in their twenties and some perhaps in their thirties. They would have been men, with property in the area, and with a vested interest in clearing a road that would have been of use to them all. Although not on this road crew, George Brewer's son Nicholas Brewer could well be the Nicholas Brewer who on 2 February 1737/38, signing with his mark "X", witnessed a deed in Brunswick Co., Virginia between William Rainey (of Surrey Co.) and James Judkins (of Brunswick Co.) for land on the north side of Fontains Creek in Isle of Wight Co. ("Brunswick County, Virginia, Deeds, Wills, Etc., No. 1, 1732-1740," The Virginia Genealogist Vol.. 2 (1958), pp. 103-104). If it is correct that this Nicholas Brewer was George Brewer's son, then he was likely at least in his twenties or thirties when he witnessed the deed. Nicholas appears to have been living as late as July 1792, apparently much longer than his brothers George, Lanier, John, Howell and William, and so may have been the youngest of this group.

From the standpoint of onomastics, the given names Lanier, Nicholas, and John, are found in the immediate family of Sarah Lanier (her surname, her father was John, she had a brother Nicholas). I would not hesitate to place the three, Lanier, Nicholas and John as sons of George Brewer's first wife, Sarah Lanier. All of the men mentioned in this paragraph were certainly born by 1718, and it is very probable that as many as four or five of them were born by 1710. It is possible that all five, Howell, William, Lanier, John and Nicholas, were all born by 1710, which in turn would push the oldest son, George's birth back into the 1690s. This scenario is plausible.

George Brewer's daughter, Sarah Vick, was married when George wrote his will on 13 July 1741. Ben R. Brewer, Long Brewer Line (1993), p. 48, states (without providing a source) that Sarah's husband John Vick, of Meherrin Parish, Brunswick Co., Virginia, wrote his will in 1787 and it was probated in 1789. Eight children are mentioned in the will, three of whom are married daughters. One of the sons was named Howell Vick, but John Vick does not mention a wife and it is presumed that she was deceased. It has been assumed that this John Vick was Sarah Brewer's husband, and he may well have been, but more certain proof is required. By the fact that she was married in 1741, it is most likely that Sarah was born by 1720, most certainly by 1722, and very possibly much earlier in the decade of 1710 to 1720. It is probable that Sarah is a daughter of Sarah Lanier, and named for her mother as was typical of the time, but it is also possible that Sarah was a daughter of George Brewer's second wife, Alice, and was named in honor of his first, deceased wife, Sarah Lanier. Here I would lean toward the former placement, but we have too little information on Sarah to be certain.

George Brewer's second wife, the wife named in his will, was Alice. Her family name is not known. Broyhill (Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia [1992], p. 89, calls her Alice Burwell, but gives no source or reason for this claim (See Varner, Brewer Families of Southeast America [2003], p. 193). We have no indication, or hint as to when she was born, and so far no record of her death or settlement of her estate has been discovered. Alice is very likely the mother of George Brewer's sons Oliver and Nathaniel, and is likely the mother of his son Henry. Of these three, Oliver received, by his father's will, the property on which his father and Alice were living. It is common in colonial period wills for a younger son, not yet established with a household of his own, to be given the homestead and be expected to provide for their widowed mother during her life or widowhood. Nathaniel appears to be the youngest of all as he does not appear as a principal in records himself until the early 1770s. The first deed in which Oliver is a grantor or grantee is dated 5 May 1762. Oliver died in 1792, and Nathaniel appears to have been living in 1800 (U.S. census). It is certain that Oliver and Nathaniel were born no earlier than the decade of 1720 to 1730, and Nathaniel may well have been born in the early 1730s.

Henry is a bit more problematic. He was very likely older than both Oliver and Nathaniel. He is on a tax roll in Orange Co., North Carolina in 1752 (along with his brother Howell Brewer).**** A confirmed grandson of Henry Brewer, named Jones Brewer, died 15 March 1853, "age about 92," in Robertson Co., Tennessee (gravestone). The 1850 U.S. census at Robertson Co. gives Jones Brewer's age as 84. Jones Brewer was apparently born in the early 1760s. Jones Brewer's father was Henry Brewer's son, George Brewer (who deeded his son Jones land in Chatham Co., NC in 1807). It is safe to assume that Henry's son George was at least 20 years old when Jones was born. If Jones Brewer was born between 1761 and 1766, then it is likely that his father George Brewer was born between 1741 and 1746 (but perhaps earlier), which in turn would imply that Henry was likely born between 1721 and 1726 (but perhaps earlier). The lower end of the given dates could well be earlier if both George and Henry did not have children until their mid-twenties or later. Since we have no certainty as to the date of death of Sarah Lanier, or of the marriage of George Brewer and Alice, it is possible that Henry is a son of Sarah Lanier. However, in his will of 2 September 1778, Henry Brewer names his daughters including a daughter "Alison." This daughter may well have been named for George Brewer's second wife, Alice, implying that Henry Brewer was probably a son of Alice. But again, there is not enough information here to be certain.

From the above, a more accurate picture of George Brewer's family than has previously been assumed, may be constructed as follows:

George Brewer (b. ??, d. bef 2 Aug 1744), m. 1st (prob. bef 1700) Sarah Lanier (b. ??, living 2 Jan 1718). 
Children (order of 2-7 uncertain):
1. George Brewer (prob. b. ca. 1700, d. bef 27 Oct 1760)
2. John Brewer (prob. b. 1700-1715, living in 1767)
3. Lanier Brewer (prob. b. 1700-1715, living in 1752)
4. Howell Brewer (prob. b. 1700-1715, living in 1758 and perhaps as late as 1774)
5. William Brewer (prob. b. 1700-1715)
6. Nicholas Brewer (prob. b. 1705-1715, living July 1792)
7. Sarah Brewer (prob. b. bef 1720, d. bef 1787)

George Brewer m. 2nd, (perhaps in 1719 or 1720) Alice (___) (b. ??, living 1750)
Children:
8. Henry Brewer (prob. b. 1721-1726, d. 1778 or 1779)
9. Oliver Brewer (b. after 1721, d. 1792)
10. Nathaniel Brewer (b. after 1721, living in 1800) 

Of the above named children of George Brewer, it is provable that the sons George, Nicholas, Henry, Oliver and Nathaniel left children. They will be featured in future posts. William is awaiting the Y-DNA test of a male descendant and will be covered once the test results are in. The sons, Lanier, John and Howell require more research and presently lack identifiable children that can be proved, at least to the standard that we need for identifying pedigrees for Y-DNA participants from George Brewer. The last three may or may not be covered in future posts.

It should also be noted that the date and place of George Brewer's birth is not known. No dated document which includes George Brewer's age has been found. Broyhill in Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia (1992), p. 87, suggests he was born about 1685, but offers no explanation for that suggestion. Considering that George's son, George Brewer, Jr. was probably born around 1700, George, Sr. "possibly born ca. 1675," would be a better "guestimate." George appears to have been living in 1742 (sued for debt), which if he was born in 1675 would place him at age 67. He may well have been born earlier. It is not known if George was born in Virginia, if he was an immigrant himself, who his parents were, or if he is or is not related to any of the other Brewers found in the area of Virginia, south of the James River, prior to 1700. However, if we are able to get enough descendants with reliable pedigrees from George Brewer, and from some of the other early Virginia Brewer progenitors, to join the Brewer DNA Project and take Y-DNA tests, we may be able to answer some of these questions.

No birth, marriage or death records have been found for any descendant of George Brewer through the colonial period. Family relationships have to be established through the use if probate records (wills and estate settlements), land records (deeds involving identifiable property, or in which a family relationship is specifically stated), and other court records (which may state a family relationship). Additional source citations will be available online when the Brewer-Lanier Database website is launched.




*For a more expansive discussion of the errors made by Broyhill, see Foy E. Varner, Jr., Brewer Families of Southeast America (2003), pp. 206, 209-210. A digital copy is available from the author for the asking.

**Broyhill adds three additional sons, Burwell, Joseph and Boyce, which he claims are the sons of Alice. He very briefly follows up with the three on page 121. Although all three names appear in at least one record in the area of Brunswick County, there is no record, or evidence, that would allow us to place them in the family of George Brewer. None of the three are named in George Brewer's will.

***An copy of the complete, original will of John Lanier has not been examined. Lanier family researchers are advised to acquire a copy of the original and to examine and transcribe it themselves. They should not rely on earlier published transcriptions alone.

****Orange Co., North Carolina was created in 1752 from parts of Beldon, Granville and Johnston Counties. Chatham Co., North Carolina was set off from Orange County in 1771. All three brothers, Henry, Oliver and Nathaniel lived in close proximity in Chatham Co., on, or near, the Haw River. (See this map of Old Mills of the Haw River Watershed, which shows the location (no. 9) of Henry Brewer's mill, later Pace's Mill. Deeds involving Nathaniel Brewer included land on Dry Creek, a branch of the Haw R. at this same location. Oliver Brewer and his descendants were also involved in conveyances describing land on the Haw River).

PDF version of this post

Friday, December 26, 2014

Compiling a Pedigree for Submission to the Brewer DNA Project

The Brewer DNA Project is now in its ninth year and has 226 members. It is a surname project (BREWER, BROWER, BROUWER, BRUER and other variations) that invites males with the just mentioned surnames to join and take a Y-Chromosome DNA test. Females, of course, do not have the Y-Chromosome, but can join by recruiting a close male relative, such as a father, brother or close cousin, with the BREWER (etc.) surname to take the Y-Chromosome DNA test.

The Y-DNA test results collected since the Project's inception has allowed us to identify eleven unique groups of BREWERs who are closely related genetically within each group, but who are significantly different, or unrelated, to the other groups. In addition we have about 50 individuals, who despite having the surname BREWER (etc.) have yet to find a Y-DNA match with any other male currently in the Project. While the genetic data reported by each individual's Y-DNA test helps us to create these various groups, the only way we can give each group a name (Adam Brouwer, Adam Brown Brewer, Ambrose Brewer, and so on) is by collecting pedigrees of the direct paternal ancestry of the males who have taken the Y-DNA test. Without a associated pedigree, the Y-DNA results of any individual's Y-DNA test is of very limited value. Most of those who join the Project do so because they have run into a brick wall only a few generations back in their paternal ancestry. If we are to be in anyway helpful to you as someone who joins the Project for the purpose of solving a paternal ancestry problem, we will need a pedigree.

When we ask a new member for a pedigree, what we are asking for, is a direct paternal ancestry for the male being tested, back to the earliest paternal ancestor that can be reliably proved and supported by traditional genealogical research. We post the pedigrees online (we do not include data on living persons) so that comparisons in the actual ancestry between tested participants who have close genetic matches, can be easily viewed by all those who are interested. The pedigrees that have been posted online can be used as an example, or a template, for what we would like to receive from every new Project member. Pedigrees for ten of the identified groups (and some ungrouped participants) can be found at the Brewer DNA Project Pedigrees website. Each group has a separate page which is accessed by a link in the column on the left. To get an idea of what the pedigree you will be submitted should look like, select one of the groups and you will be taken to the group's page. For example, here is the Jan Brouwer Group Pedigrees.

When the time comes for you to compile your own pedigree, we ask that you include the following information for each generation:
  1. Name of the name of the direct paternal ancestor and the name of his wife.
  2. Date and place of birth and death. (It is advisable to also include this for the spouse).
  3. Date and place of marriage.
It is understandable that you may not be able to find all of what is requested above. But, please work to complete as much of it as you can.

When compiling the pedigree, please use the NGS "Standards for Sound Genealogical Research." If you are using a published compiled genealogy as a source (this includes accepted D.A.R. and S.A.R. lineages), it is advised that you check each and every claim in that source by locating original records. In other words, look for and find vital records and church records to confirm dates and places, and probate and estate records, and/or land and court records, to confirm relationships between generations. We do not need you to submit all of these records to us, but you should use them to ensure that your own pedigree is accurate. And, if a question of an error in your pedigree does come up, you should have the needed records or documents at your disposal to address the specific concern.

It is suggested that you submit as your Earliest Known Ancestor (EKA) only the paternal ancestor that can be proved using traditional genealogical research methods. For example, your Y-DNA test may indicate that you are certainly a genetic ancestor of Adam Brouwer, however, if your traditional research only proves your ancestry back a few generations, or not quite all the way back to Adam Brouwer (perhaps one or two generations shy), only show in your pedigree that EKA that can actually be proved. Take a look at the Adam Brouwer pedigree page for an example. We know, by Y-DNA testing, that everyone included on this page is a descendant of Adam Brouwer. Yet some, such as kit #182867, or #293571, can only prove their pedigree back to an EKA who lived sooner in time. In both cases, the submitter compiled a pedigree that only went as far back as the ancestor they could prove.

Please differentiate between what is proven and what is strongly suggested by circumstantial evidence. If you look at kit #s 65385, 77803, 188348, and 285309, you will see that the pedigrees can be proved back to no. 4, Jeremiah Brower/Brewer, and all though we cannot prove the pedigrees the rest of the way back to Adam Brouwer, strong circumstantial evidence suggests a very likely ancestry from no. 4 back to Adam Brouwer (no. 1). In these pedigrees we included the unproven but strongly believed generations, in italics. This is acceptable so long as that circumstantial evidence is strong.

You, the participant, are spending a few hundred dollars on your Y-Chromosome DNA test. By also submitting a carefully researched and compiled pedigree you will help improve your chances of finding that brick wall paternal ancestor. In other words it will help improve the chances that you get your money's worth out of your purchase. It will also add to the body of knowledge that is being collected on the various BREWER (etc.) families. That in turn will help confirm and strengthen existing pedigrees and will help future participants locate their correct pedigrees.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Brewer-Lanier Research: Online Sources

Published sources for researching descendants of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia were covered in the posts of December 18, 2014, and December 21, 2014. As pointed out in the posts, most of these sources have limited value for those who need to assemble and accurate pedigree to accompany their genetic testing done through the Brewer DNA Project. Marvin T. Broyhill's two supplements to his Brewer Families of Colonial Virgina, 1626-1776, are the more useful works consulted, but they are still not a substitute for the original documents. Fortunately there are original records, as well as credible indexes and abstracts of original records, available online. This post will largely provide links to many online sources that I have become aware of in only a few weeks of looking at the family of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia.

We start with Family Search, the website of the Family History Library. This website is free. You do not necessarily have to register to use it, however, I have found that access to some, albeit a small number, of original images does require registering an account and logging in. But again, this is free. Beginning in the late 1800s as the Genealogical Society of Utah, the Family History Library has been microfilming all manner of records related to genealogical research, where ever possible, all over the world. Only a few years ago they began the task of digitizing and indexing the immense collection, and began placing images and indexes/databases online. Broyhill and the others did not have this convenient access to records, and their published works show it. That excuse does not exist today.  (See the post of December 15, 2014 for how I normally use Family Search).

Virginia Indexed Historical Records and Virginia Image Only Historical Records. The page is essentially split in two. At the top are indexes that can be searched with the search tool. The bottom section contains record collections that have not yet been indexed but can be "browsed." All of the state pages that follow use this format. When using the indexed records I generally search through one specific database at a time. Select "Show all 59 Collections" and the full list for Virginia will be visible. They are arranged alphabetically, and in the case of the Virginia collection you will have to scroll down through all the collections titled "United States..." Among the collections found here are:

Virginia Births and Christenings, 1853-1917

Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940

Virginia Deaths and Burials, 1853-1912

Others that I have not yet explored including a few of small indexes for Historical Society Papers, Orange Co. Marriages and Surrey Co. Marriages. The "Image Only Historical Records" collection includes a section of Probate and Court Records. Although there presently is no collection for Brunswick County, Virginia, there is one for Isle of Wight County. Hopefully, Brunswick County will be added in the future.

North Carolina Indexed Historical Records and North Carolina Image Only Historical Records. The indexed collections include:

North Carolina Birth Index

North Carolina Marriages, 1759-1979

North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979

The "Image Only Historical Records" include North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970. These records are broken down by county. The will of George Brewer's son, Henry Brewer, was found in the Chatham County collection and will be the subject of a future post.

The state of Tennessee was essentially created out of North Carolina, and apparently many descendants of George Brewer (and certainly other unrelated Brewer families of North Carolina) settled there beginning in the early 1800s. Tennessee Indexed Historical Records and Tennessee Image Only Historical Records, has a few Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes. In the "Image Only Historical Records" under Probate and Court, are

Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927

Tennessee, Probate Court Files, 1795-1955

In the above two collections I was able to locate the estate papers of Jones Brewer, in Robertson County, he being a grandson of the above mentioned Henry Brewer and a great-grandson of George Brewer. I have no doubt that anyone willing to take the time will find other records that were missed by some of the earlier Brewer researchers.

Georgia Indexed Historical Records and Georgia Image Only Historical Records include a large collection of probate images under Georgia, Probate Records, 1742-1990.

Regardless of which state you need to search for records in, start at the Search Historical Records page, scroll down to the Research by Location map and click on the United States and select your state from the drop down menu. My understanding is that many descendants of George Brewer found their way to Kentucky and Ohio. These two states are among the most difficult to research in, especially when the focus is a very common surname like BREWER. Beginning in the early 1800s, new settlers came to these states, not just from the south, but also from Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, and even New England. I have found numerous instances of BREWER families living in the same counties and even towns, who are completely unrelated, and have origins in very different locations. Research in Kentucky, Ohio, and I would add Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri, is difficult, and you will not be successful unless you are willing to spend the time needed to examine original records. My experience with compiled genealogies, and especially "Family Trees" found online, that cover families with common names (like BREWER) in the above mentioned states are full of errors, cannot be trusted, and need to be used only as a clue to where actual original records might be found.

The other large online source for genealogical and historical records is Ancestry.com. This is a pay site and a paid subscription is required to access most, but not all, of the databases. Some are free. The subscriptions, especially the annual subscription plans are expensive. The monthly subscription to the U. S. Collection is, as of this writing, $19.99. The way I approach it is to plan in advance a list of persons or problems I'm working on, then wait for a month when I will know I have the free time to spend on research, and purchase a one month subscription, and try to get all of that research done in that month. You do have to remember to manually cancel your subscription though, before your month ends. Ancestry.com will otherwise extend your subscription for another month and charge you another $19.99. Ancestry.com and Family Search apparently collaborate on many indexing projects and a lot of the databases at Ancestry.com are also on Family Search although with slightly different titles.

From the Ancestry.com main page, select Search to arrive at Search Historical Records. As with using Family Search, I prefer to narrow my search for an individual by location, and if you scroll down on the Search page you will see a map and list of all 50 United States. Selecting North Carolina, for example, will bring up all of the databases for North Carolina. You will see that the list is quite extensive. I don't doubt that any researcher of their Brewer ancestry, spending a month with these collections, will find more records than Marvin T. Broyhill or Ben R. Brewer ever looked at themselves. You can also download and save images (at both Ancestry.com and Family Search) to your own computer. The quality will be much better than and digital photo or scan that you might get of the same record at a local Court House or State Archive. I would also point out that Ancestry.com's collection titled, U.S. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900, includes the complete file for each applicant, some of which can run to over 100 pages. Images of each document within each file can be downloaded.

A word of caution when using Ancestry.com. Use, or consult, the user submitted "Family Trees" with care. One of the world's great collections of fiction is found in these "Family Trees." My experience has been that many who submit, or create a tree with Ancestry.com, are not even aware of the errors, or probable errors, within their trees. Some even seem oblivious when errors are pointed out to them. Information taken from an online "Family Tree" is not sufficient for proving a pedigree for use with the Brewer DNA Project.

Another website I have used is the Atlas of Historical Counties Boundaries interactive website. When researching the colonial descendants of George Brewer it is critical to understand how the various counties in Virginia and North Carolina were created out of each other and how their boundaries changed over time. This website allows you to see these changes as they occurred. From the main page select the state of interest, say Virginia, and go to the Virginia page. There are a few sub-categories with descriptions to chose from. Move your cursor over View Interactive Map to arrive at the Interactive Map page. The tools in the right hand margin allow you to manipulate the map. As an example, under select map date, enter Jan 1, 1720, then refresh map, and you will see that no such place as Brunswick County, Virginia existed at that time. Now enter Jan 1, 1721, and you will see how the original, large, county of Brunswick was created out of the older Prince George County. Enter Jan 1, 1732, and you will see how additional land was annexed to Brunswick Co., from neighboring Surry and Isle of Wight Counties. Jump ahead to Jan 1, 1747, and see that Brunswick Co. lost most of its land to the new Lunenberg County. Some of George Brewer's children moved into neighboring North Carolina, and the interactive map will be useful for visualizing how counties like Orange, Chatham, Moore and others were formed.

Finally, back to the Family Search website. Although a terrific amount has been placed online by the Family History Library, the majority of their microfilmed records are still only accessed by either visiting the main library in Salt Lake City, or by utilizing one of their numerous Family History Centers around the country (in fact around the world). Finding what films are available is done by utilizing the FHL Catalog. To see what is available for Brunswick Co., Virginia, enter into the "Places" filed under "Search by", United States, Virginia, Brunswick, hit search, and you'll be taken to this page. Since much of the proving of relationships in the families descended from George Brewer, at least during the colonial period, involves the examination and interpretation of land records, researchers will want to consider the nine categories that are found under the "Land and Property Category." Of course, consulting the original probate records is also important, and so the six categories under "Probate Records," are indispensable. Marvin T. Broyhill, in his Supplements to Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, does provide some information on where many of the land and probate records that he had abstracted are located. Use Broyhill's supplements to help you narrow down which films to order.

The above is only a start. No doubt there are other sources that can be found that will be of help to you when compiling your pedigree for the Brewer DNA Project. The next post will cover just what we are looking for, and expect, from a submitted pedigree.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia: Two More Sources

In the previous post of December 18th, three published sources for researching lineages back to George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia were reviewed. This post will cover two more. The two covered here should be used together and when used in such a way are more valuable than the previously mentioned three. Still, the two discussed in this post are not adequate in themselves for proof of a descent from George Brewer. At least not for our purposes. To reiterate what has been stated earlier, the purpose of this series of posts is not to compile a genealogy of the descendants of George Brewer. The purpose is to identify provable lineages for a few of our participants in the Brewer Y-DNA Project who currently believe that they are descendants of George Brewer. To date, none of the current participants have proved their lineage, and some of the pedigrees that have been submitted, have errors.

The first work includes two supplements. Marvin T. Broyhill III,  The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776: with notes of migrations of their descendants into North Carolina and other states (Tullahoma, Tennessee: Brewer Researcher. 1992). Digital copies of this work along with the two supplements are available online, for free, through the Family History Library's online catalog. It is important to recognize that this first work, published in 1992, was a Working Draft. The two supplements are: The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1676, Supporting Documentation Part I, Virginia County Records, Virginia Marriage Records, Virginia Church Parish Records (Estill Springs, TN: Brewer Researcher. 1994), and The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1676, Supporting Documentation Part II, English Records, More Virginia Records, Military Records, Related Families, NC Census, Land, Marriage and Estate Records, NC County Records (Estill Springs, TN. 1996).

The second work, which should be used in conjunction with Marvin T. Broyhill's work, is Foy E. Varner, Jr., Brewer Families of Southeast America, A Discussion and Correlation of the Literature (Kaneohe, HI: the Author. 2003). This work is available as an e-book (PDF) by contacting the author, Foy E. Varner, Jr. In using this work it is my suggestion that you first read the introduction at page 5. In particular, I would ask you to read, re-read, and then re-read again, the second paragraph. I have corresponded with a lot of people over the past fifteen years of working on genealogy relating to the Brouwer families of New Netherland, and this second paragraph sums up, very succinctly, the mind set that too many people have when they first begin searching for their ancestors. I would add to it that finding your correct genealogy takes a lot more than taking a DNA test or clicking on a fluttering leaf, or accepting what has been previously published. It takes a lot of work, and it is best, and most rewarding, to do it yourself.

With regards to Marvin T. Broyhill's work, the two supplements are more valuable than the volume they are supplementing. The supplements contain abstracts of records that the author had collected. This collection is valuable in that it brings together, in one place, abstracts of records that would otherwise take a terrific amount of time and expense to collect. Having said that, what is presented in the two supplements are still abstracts, they are not records in and of themselves. Abstracts, and transcriptions, can of course contain errors. And, each and every time an abstract or transcription is recopied, there is an opportunity for new errors to creep in. What is valuable in Broyhill's supplements is that a source, to varying degrees, is provided for each abstract. This is very helpful in shortening the time it might take to locate the original when needed. The abstracts in the supplements are arranged by county, which I found to be very efficient. It makes it easier to focus on, and find records for, one location at a time. In putting together a Database for the Brewer DNA Project's "Lanier - Brewer" group, I have relied heavily on Broyhill's two supplements. But, again I will emphasize, the abstracts in Broyhill's supplements are not substitutes for original records. If an issue regarding the interpretation of a record from the abstract arises, it will be necessary to locate and examine the original. If you are preparing your own pedigree to accompany your Y-DNA test results, my suggestion is to locate and obtain a copy of each original record abstracted by Broyhill, that you have used in compiling your own pedigree.

Broyhill's initial volume, as published in 1992 as a working draft, is much less useful than the supplements. I do not believe that Broyhill intended his work as a final genealogy. Each and every page is labeled at the bottom with either "working draft" or "1st draft." Unfortunately, some have apparently accepted Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, as a final genealogy and have used it verbatim to compile their own lineages. Ben R. Brewer, for one, in his The Long Brewer Road (see the December 18, 2014 post), acknowledges the work of Marvin T. Broyhill, and then essentially copies it, with few alterations, for his own work. In fact, the more I consider Ben R. Brewer's work, the less respect I have for it. I can not see how Broyhill intended his 1st draft to be used that way. My impression in regards to Broyhill's, Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, is that it was never intended as a final genealogy and should not be used as such. Anyone who has submitted a pedigree to the Brewer DNA Project, and used Broyhill's work as their only source, needs to go back and re-evaluate each placement that was taken directly from Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia. Many of the placements of individuals within families found in the work are conjecture. The compiler describes it as a working or 1st draft, and in light of that, this work should be thought of as a compilation of the author's thoughts as he is trying to work out some very difficult genealogies of multiple unrelated families. Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, is in itself not acceptable for compiling a pedigree for inclusion in the Brewer DNA Project.

What can be, and should be taken from Marvin T. Broyhill's initial work is an appreciation for the fact that there were numerous, and certainly unrelated, Brewer immigrants who came to colonial Virginia during the 17th century. It is also certain that there were many more, whose immigration records are lost, that came to the colony during the 18th century. Broyhill lists 17th century Brewer immigrants on pages 16 to 19. The opening words to the Brewer DNA Project's main page, "Not all BREWERs descend from the same lineage," is applicable even to just this small sub-set of Brewers found in colonial Virginia and North Carolina. Of the eleven groups we have identified at the Brewer DNA Project's Y-DNA Results page, eight represent groups who have origins in the region of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and other places in the American south. I have no doubt that in the twelfth, "Un-grouped" category, that many of the results found there also have their earliest known ancestors found in the southern states.
Not all BREWERs whose origins are in the mid-Atlantic and southern states are related. Many do not share a common ancestor with others. George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia, and his claimed descendants are just one family among many. They may or may not be the largest, but the fact that they are only one family of many must be accepted by anyone who is researching their Brewer ancestry in the mid-Atlantic and southern states. Please keep an open mind to this when researching your own individual ancestry.

Foy E. Varner, Jr.'s Brewer Families of Southeast America, as stated in the subtitle, is a Discussion and Correlation of the Literature, that literature being the work previously published by other authors. As mentioned above, this is an e-book that is available from the author. If you would like a copy, please send him an e-mail and ask for one. The e-book is 645 pages and about 522 are devoted to Marvin T. Broyhill's work. Also covered are the Ben R. Brewer's Long Brewer Road, and Edward Denton Brewer's House of Brewer. There are five other books as well, including James F. Bowman, The Ambrose Brewer Family, 1753-1855 which I anticipate will get mentioned before this series of posts dedicated to the "Lanier - Brewer" group ends.

Once again, please read the introduction. Here is where Foy E. Varner explains the purpose of his book. It is not a genealogy. Do not copy it for your own pedigree. Foy Varner's work is an excellent companion for help in making sense of previously published material, and Marvin T. Broyhill's work in particular. Broyhill's Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia is largely conjecture. However, when Broyhill's work is viewed as a finished genealogy, as I am afraid many have viewed it, it has to be acknowledged that it is filled with numerous errors. It contains serious misinterpretations, too many assumptions, and incorrect insertions of individuals into families that are not supported by evidence. All of Broyhill's statements found in his 1st draft, need to be questioned. They cannot be accepted at face value. Varner's Brewer Families of Southeast America will help you recognize some of the questions you should be asking about Broyhill's work. His book also offers a great deal more in explanations and reasons, and it includes conjecture of his own, which of course anyone who is serious about researching their own genealogy should question as well.

For those who are preparing a pedigree for the Brewer DNA Project: Use Broyhill's supplements as an initial source of records, but then make the effort to locate the original record you are using. Use Broyhill's 1st draft, along with Foy Varner's Brewer Families of Southeast America, as a guide, and to get clarification on any records found in Broyhill's supplements that you may have questions on. Do not use them as a stand alone source for constructing your pedigree.

In the next post I will point out some readily available sources found online.








Thursday, December 18, 2014

George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia: Some Published Sources

To my knowledge there are no published accounts of the descendants of George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia that are complete. By that I mean, the sole purpose of the book or journal article, is to present a complete genealogy of George Brewer's descendants. There certainly are no such published accounts that would meet today's standards for genealogical research. To remind any readers of this post, the purpose of this series of posts at Brouwer Genealogy into this Brewer family of colonial Virginia (and North Carolina) is not to compile a complete genealogy of George Brewer's descendants. The purpose is only to find at least one, and hopefully a few, verifiable pedigrees for those who are believed to be descendants of George Brewer and have taken a Y-DNA test with the Brewer DNA Project. Without a basis of a verifiable pedigree, Y-DNA testing of any individual for the purpose of determining their direct paternal ancestry to a shared ancestor is useless.

This post will address some of the published sources that include at least a partial account of George Brewer's descendants and have, apparently, been relied upon in the past by those seeking to prove their own ancestry back to George Brewer.


Edward Denton Brewer, The House of Brewer (Tulsa, Oklahoma: E.D. Brewer. 1947). This work is still under copyright and a free digital copy is not available online. The Family History Library (Family Search) has a digital copy that can be accessed through one of their Family History Centers, but cannot not be accessed by anyone from their own home. A digital copy can be accessed through Heritage Quest Online, but you must go through the account of a subscribing institution (generally a library or genealogical society). For those interested I have cobbled together a few sections of the book into a PDF and this is available online. This will be brief. Edward Denton Brewer can trace his ancestry back to Henry Brewer of Bedford Co., Pennsylvania. To those who are descendants of Henry Brewer, a.k.a. Henrich Brauer, The House of Brewer may be of some use. E. D. Brewer, however, made the claim, and he seemed pretty certain of it (see pages 5-7) that Henry was the son of George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia. He is not. While many recent researchers of their Brewer-Lanier ancestry have realized this, apparently some earlier researchers did not. We now have the Y-DNA test results of another confirmed descendant of Henry Brewer of Bedford, Pa., that demonstrate that the tested descendant, and therefore Henry, are not related to those who claim descent from George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia. The House of Brewer is of no use to anyone researching their possible line back to George Brewer.

Louise Ingersoll, Lanier; A Geneology of the family who came to Virginia and their French ancestors in London (Washington, D.C.: L. Ingersoll. 1965). A free digital copy can be accessed through the Family History Library's online catalog. The primary subject of this work is the Lanier family. George Brewer's first wife was Sarah Lanier, a daughter of John Lanier as proved by his will dated 5 January 1718. I have not seen a copy of the complete original will. To my knowledge the earliest abstract, or mention of it, is found in "Lanier Family," Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Vol. 3 (1922), pp. 130-31. Ingersoll follows the earlier Tyler's Quarterly piece and links John Lanier and his family to a Lanier family of London, England. Apparently there is some debate among Lanier researchers as to the accurate ancestry of John Lanier, and whether or not there were one or two John Laniers (a father and son) in Virginia. Although the account presented may be correct, I'll only say that I see no suitable proof that would allow the claim to be stated as fact, and will leave it at that. This is a problem for interested Lanier researchers to work on, and really does not effect the problem of finding a verifiable Brewer pedigree.
Louise Ingersoll's account on the Brewers begins on page 378 with Sarah Lanier. Her estimate of Sarah's birth date, and her claim that Sarah died between 1724 and 1729, are not explained. These dates have apparently been relied upon by later researchers despite the fact that they are not verifiable or supportable. Ingersoll's method for presenting the genealogy is awkward and anyone using this book needs to be careful. It is easy to confuse generations. She counts the ten children named in George Brewer's will, but claims all ten as children of Sarah Lanier, which is not certain and is likely incorrect. Her claim that George Brewer had a son Burwell, by his second wife Alice, is unproved and most likely incorrect. Her listing of the descendants of George and Sarah's children is not supported by references or sources. After a few weeks of working on the children of George and Sarah myself, I would conclude that Ingersoll's account has serious problems. In particular are the accounts of the descendants of George and Sarah's sons Lanier and Howell, which evidently have been relied upon by those who may be descendants of either of these two sons, as proof that they in fact are descendants. Unfortunately, finding proof for any children of either Lanier or Howell has been unsuccessful. More on that in a future post. Louise Ingersoll's, Lanier..., may be of some use as a beginning point for those looking for better proof of the Lanier ancestry, however, those researching the descendants of George Brewer and Sarah Lanier should avoid this work.

 Ben R. Brewer, The Long Brewer Line, Colonial Family Genealogy, with Ancestors, Descendants and Connecting Families - Research and General Information- (Knoxville, Tennessee: Tennesee Valley Publishing. 1993). Free access to a digital edition of this book can be found through the Family History Library catalog. This same page has a link to the 2008 supplement, Across Generations, Supplement to The Long Brewer Line. It should first be noted that Ben R. Brewer has participated in the Brewer DNA Project. He has taken a Y-DNA test. Ben's pedigree, as he submitted it, is found online at the FTDNA Project Page for George Brewer/Sarah Lanier Descendants. This page hosts pedigrees for the "Lanier - Brewer" group and was originally set up a few years ago. Many of the pedigrees on this page are incomplete in that they do not extend back to George Brewer. Some pedigrees are in error, and one such pedigree is Ben's (see below)*. Ben's claim that his ancestor is George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia may well be correct, but that will only be confirmed through Y-DNA matches, and only after we have established complete and proved pedigrees for at least a few of those claiming George Brewer as their ancestor. Ben's "paper trail," arrived at by traditional genealogical research methods, has been broken, and is not complete back to George Brewer.
 The Long Brewer Line is useful for those researching an ancestry back to George Brewer, but it needs to be used with caution. Ben R. Brewer's book is well written, it is clear, and the author uses a slightly modified Register style for presenting the genealogy (see the section titled Register System here). He sites his sources using footnotes that appear at the bottom of the same page, which is much appreciated. There is no need to flip back and forth between the current page and an appendix. The citations are correctly styled, however, they lack any elaboration or comment. There are times when a cited source needs to be explained or questioned, and that is missing here. Ben does a nice job of linking the immigrant to Virginia, who he refers to as John Brewer I, to his family in England, that being the family of William Brewer of Chard (see pp. 7-15). Most importantly, the notion that George Brewer of Brunswick Co. is a son of John Brewer III (grandson of John Brewer I), is shown to be unsupportable (pp. 26-27). The parents and ancestry of George Brewer are unknown, and that is clearly stated on page 27, although a suggestion to his ancestry is made at page 38. Coverage of George Brewer begins with Chapter IV at page 37, where Ben acknowledges the earlier work of Marvin T. Broyhill, whose work I will discuss in the next post in this series. Unfortunately Ben R. Brewer begins his genealogy of George Brewer's descendants with the first generation as taken straight from Broyhill. It will be shown that this account of the family of George Brewer is flawed and needs to be revised. Ben provides a transcription of George Brewer's will at pp. 39-40**. The core of the genealogy, the second and third generations, contains numerous errors. There appear to be insertions of many names that cannot be supported by records. The source citations for specific statements, that appeared in the earlier chapters, disappear, although vague mention to numerous Deed and Court Order books is incorporated into the text. These references appear to come directly from Broyhill but are not properly cited (I doubt Ben looked at each and everyone of these records in their original himself). Chapter IV, which covers the children and grandchildren of George Brewer, cannot be relied upon as evidence or proof of a descent from George Brewer for any pedigree that accompanies a Y-DNA test result with the Brewer DNA Project. I have not had the chance, nor do I intend to take the time, to look at Ben's work for the later generations (fourth generation and on). My advise here, to those looking to compile a provable pedigree, would be to use this work as a guide and seek to verify, independently, with original records, any claims and relationships.
The 2008 supplement, Across Generations repackages the descendants of George Brewer into a more compact and concise presentation. More descendants are added, but sources are few and it does not appear that the errors of the earlier edition are corrected. As mentioned above, the connection of Lewis Brewer (generation 4) with James Brewer (generation 3), at page 19, is in error. There is a section claiming a lineage to Charlemagne and then to Clovis I, which may be entertaining to some. The section, Descendants of Lewis Brewer, Sr., begins at page 45. Here we find better verification of claims and other descendants of Lewis Brewer should find this section useful. As with The Long Brewer Road, the supplement, Across Generations should be used as a guide and with caution. It is not a substitute for a provable pedigree.

More useful sources will be considered in the next post in this series.

*The problem with Ben R. Brewer's pedigree was pointed out to me by Diane Daniel. And after about only a half hour of research using online resources, it is clear that Diane is correct. In Ben R. Brewer's defense, easy access to these records and indexes online was not at all available in 1993, and only to a limited degree in 2008. Ben's pedigree is under kit 29505. The problem is with the link between generations 3 and 4. Ben's ancestor Lewis Brewer (4) is not a son of James Brewer (3). James Brewer did have a son named Lewis as mentioned in his 1815 will, but he remained in Brunswick Co., Virginia, married his cousin Dorothy/Dolly Brewer there in 1821, and died there in 1853. He did not move to Tennessee as Ben's ancestor, Lewis Brewer, did. Hopefully, Ben R. Brewer's ancestor, Lewis Brewer, will eventually get correctly placed.

** the name of the witness that I had trouble with in George Brewer's will is shown to be Middleton Shaw. See the post of Dec. 16, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hilton Family of Albany, New York, by Lewis Parker Abell

"The Hilton Family of New York," is a typescript by Lewis Parker Abell, on file at the New York State Library in Albany, New York. Steve Hahn has placed a transcript of Abell's work online.


A second page has links to some correspondence of Lewis Parker Abell, and some images of the original typescript. 

The genealogy follows one line of descendants from William Hilton and Anna Brouwer who were married in the Albany Reformed Dutch Church on 6 April 1693. William and Anna's seventh child, Jacobus, was baptized at Albany on 19 August 1705. Lewis Parker Abell's work follows some descendants of Jacobus Hilton and his wife Judith Martin, many of whom are not found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. Some lines are continued to the early 20th century. Abell's work adds more descendants to the already large number who claim Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon as their earliest New Netherland ancestors. To my knowledge, the only copy of the typescript is found in the New York State Library.

Lewis Parker Abell was born in 1873, a son of Chandler M. Abell and Rachel Josephine Hilton. He is a 5th-Great Grandson of Adam Brouwer. 

A sword, once once use by Robert Hilton (Revolutionary War) and by his son John Burgess Hilton (War of 1812), ancestors of Lewis Parker Abell, is currently on exhibit (until June 2015) at the Buffalo History Museum, formerly the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, in Buffalo, New York.

Thanks to Steve Hahn for the transcription and making it available online.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Will of George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia, 1741

From the start it should be made clear that George Brewer of Brunswick County, Virginia is not related to any of the original Brouwer families of New Netherland and colonial New York and New Jersey. He lived in Brunswick Co., Virginia where he died between 1742 and 1744, and his ancestry is not known. Since the Brewer DNA Project's inception in 2006, participation in the Project has grown considerably. Today, the single largest group of Y-DNA tested participants in the Project belong to the group that has been labeled (on the Y-DNA results page) as "Lanier - Brewer" (although among us, we more often refer to it as Brewer-Lanier).

By my count, as of today, we have 58 participants assigned to the Lanier - Brewer group. Of these 58, we have received pedigrees from 39 of the participants (we would very much like to see pedigrees from the 19 who have not yet submitted one). It has also come to our attention, that of the 39 pedigrees received, none, NOT ONE, can prove an ancestry back to George Brewer, the earliest known, or I should say believed, ancestor (EBA?) for this group. For this reason Brouwer Genealogy will be devoting a handful of posts to problem of finding a verifiable pedigree for at least one of the believed genetic descendants of George Brewer. This process will start with identifying the family of George Brewer. To do that we will use the one and only known verifiable instrument suitable for that purpose - his will.

George Brewer's will is found in Brunswick County, Virginia, Will Book 2, pages 19-20. To my knowledge no copy of the original can be found online. While Family Search has been adding millions of digital images to their collection, they have not yet added probate records from Brunswick County, Virginia (just recently they did add images for Isle of Wight County Records, 1634-1951, so hopefully Brunswick Co. will be coming soon). My copy of the will comes from Diane Daniel who obtained her copy at the Brunswick County Clerk of the Courts Office in Lawrenceville, Virginia. The copy has been scanned to a PDF and is now available online - The Will of George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia. Below you will find JPEG scans of the same.

George Brewer's will has been transcribed or abstracted in a few published accounts of his family and descendants. The published works, all of which contain serious errors but have been relied upon by present day descendants, will be covered in a follow up post. Here, and for now, we will simply provide a transcription of the important points in the will.

George Brewer's will is dated 13 July 1741. The document opens with "I George Brewer in the County of Brunswick Virginia being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind..." the preamble continues and at line 15 begins the all important legacies.

"I give Devise and bequeath unto my Son William Brewer that parcel of Land whereon he now Dwelleth beginning at the branch on this side of his house and w on the South side thereof to him & his heirs forever."

"I Devise and bequeath unto my son Oliver Brewer all the rest of this Tract of Land where on I now Dwell to him and his heirs forever."

"I give Devise and bequeath unto my son Henry Brewer all that Tract of Land between Fountain Creek and Rattle Snake Creek to him and his heirs forever."

"I give Devise and bequeath unto my son Nathaniel Brewer two hundred and fifty acres of Land lying on both sides of the old Roanoak Road to him and his heirs forever."

"I give Devise and bequeath unto my Daughter Sarah Vick one hundred and fifty acres of Land lying on both sides of the old Roanoak Road aforesaid to her and the heirs of her body forever."

"I give and bequeath unto Alice* my Dearly beloved wife this Estate whereon we now Dwell together with all my household goods and Stock both within Doors and without Doors for the maintainance of all my Younger Children that it hath pleased God to give me by her during her Life or until she marry again."

"I give unto my son Lanier Brewer a young steer." **

"I give unto my son George Brewer a young steer."

"I give unto my son Nicholas Brewer a cow and calf."

"I give unto my son John Brewer a cow and calf."

"I give unto my son Howl Brewer a young horse that we call Snip and Feathers to make him a bed."

"I give unto my son Henry Brewer a young horse that we call Patrick and a gunn."

"I give unto my son Oliver Brewer a gunn."

"I give unto my son Nathaniel Brewer a gunn."

"It is my true will intent and pleasure that when my wife die or marry again that my personal estate together with all my household goods and stock both within Doors and without Doors maybe equally divided among my younger children that hath pleased God to give me by her."

"And Lastly I do hereby Constitute make and ordain my Dearly beloved wife Alice my Exctx and my son Hoel Brewer my Excor of this my Last will and Testament..."

After revoking any and all previous wills, George Brewer signs with his mark, a G. The witnesses are recorded as Duglas Powell, ?? (possibly Wm or Mr) Shaw, John Norwood.

The will was presented to the Court held at Brunswick County on "2d day of Augt 1744," by Alice Brewer and Howell Brewer the Executors.

*It should be noted that the handwriting in the original the letters l and d, when in small case are stunted (for lack of a better word). The letter, l, in particular can be mistaken for the letter, r (ex: Alice has been transcribed as "Arice" by others).

**the last word "steer" is not at all clear but it is what has been transcribed in earlier accounts, so we will continue with until it is demonstrated to have been something else.

A description of George Brewer's family and an analysis of his Will, will be undertaken in a forthcoming post.

George Brewer's Will (image 1)

George Brewer's Will (image 2)

George Brewer's Will (image 3)

George Brewer's Will (image 4)
A great deal of thanks goes out to Diane Daniel for providing the photocopies of the original will. The original pages are large, seventeen inches long and about ten inches wide. There were two original pages. To accommodate scanning such large pages on a scanner with a "normal" bed (11" x 8 1/2") each page was divided into two. From two original pages we have four scanned images and there is a slight overlap between the first and second images and between the third and fourth images.

Correction: Dec. 17, 2014, Third paragraph, sixth line, "Lawrenceville, North Carolina" in original post corrected to Lawrenceville, Virginia.

Monday, December 15, 2014

How I Use Family Search to Find a Specific Record

Family Search, which can trace it's origins back to the creation of the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894, is a website dedicated to preserving and sharing the worlds largest collection of genealogical and historical records. Over the course of just the past through years the Family Search online collection of records and indexes has grown to include tens of millions of records, images and index entries. This has been a terrific boon to genealogy researchers that is made even more valuable because access is free.

The large number of records, and the fact that many of them are not indexed or included in search results, can make using the website a bit daunting. I have heard from more than a few who have become discouraged when using the site. Although the method I use to navigate and locate a possible record of interest might seem to some to be a bit too much work, my high rate of success with it (i.e. finding what I was looking for) makes it worth while.

Generally, the way someone might approach using the Family Search website is to begin at the main page and then choose one of the categories they find under the Search button, say for example, "Records" which when selected opens up the Search Historical Records page. For an example, say I'm looking for John Brewer in Hancock County, Georgia. On that Search Historical Records page, I'd enter his name in the appropriate spaces and I'd add in the "Restrict records by location" section, "United States" and then "Georgia." Note that this does not let me narrow down to the county level. What I end up with is a display of a little less than 3000 entries. For those who are just starting a search for John Brewer in Hancock County, Georgia, this may be a fine place to start. You can play around with the various filters on the side bar and hopefully narrow down and find some entries for the specific John Brewer you are looking for. But, say you had a specific record in mind that you wished to locate. In my case, I wanted to locate the images for the 1802 will of John Brewer of Hancock County, Georgia. There is a direct way to locate this record. Here is how I went about doing it.

I start at the main page
Select "Search" then "Records" which takes me to Search Historical Records.
Scroll down to the map "Research by Location" and click on the area of the U.S. This brings up a pop-up window from which you select the state to research. Chose Georgia, which changes the window, then select "Start Searching in Georgia" which takes you to the main page for Georgia records and indexes.
If you scroll down you will see a list of database collections related to Georgia. Under the heading "Georgia Image Only Historical Records" there are a number of collections that have not been indexed and cannot be searched. But you can browse through them.
Scroll down and under the sub-heading "Probate & Court" click on Georgia Probate Records, 1742-1990 which opens up the Georgia Probate Records page.
Now click on "Browse Through 2,280,204 Images" which leads to a list of the counties in Georgia.

Chose the County you wish to browse in. Choosing Hancock opens up the page for Hancock County.
Scroll through the list of Record Types to find "Wills and Administration Records 1794-1807 vol A-4A", click on that and arrive at the first image of a digital version of the original microfilm made by, or submitted to, the Genealogical Society of Utah some years back. [Recall, I went into this search with a specific type of record (a will) and a known year (1802) in mind].
Now it was just a matter of scrolling through this page by page by page to you find the record you want. In this case I got lucky. I figured since the books start in the year 1794 and John's file was in 1798, I would be wasting a lot of time just flipping through pages one at a time getting through the years 1794 to 1798. So, instead, I took a guess and first went to image 200 of the 580 images in this one film (by entering the number 200 in the little image no. box and hitting enter). What I  saw was that the record at image 200 was dated 1798, telling me I was close to what I was looking for, and so I then started browsing page by page until I found John Brewer at image 223.

In many cases the bound will books, and similar court records and deed books have indexes either at the beginning or end of each bound volume. Some single films will contain multiple volumes so the indexes themselves will have to be searched for in much the same way I searched for John Brewer's will above. Some locations may even have indexes bound separately and found on a separate digitized film. In the case of Hancock County, Georgia, however, there were no indexes at all. In addition the images in the Georgia Probate Records collection have not been indexed by Family Search volunteers. Therefore, this record would have never been found using the broad search engine the website has created.

Family Search does have a Help page dedicated to questions regarding their Search feature. It is recommended as a source to help you locate the records you are looking for.