Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Brower Family of Interest in the Early 17th Century Cologne Church Records

Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon had fourteen children born between the years of 1646 and 1673.* Their children were given the names Pieter, Matthys, Willem, Marretje, Jacob, Fytie, Helena, Adam, Aeltje, Anna, Abraham, Sara, Rachel and Nicholas. The names in bold face have been written in that manner for a reason that will soon be evident.

Onomastics is defined as the study of the origin, history and use of proper names. In the context of genealogical research the term is often used to describe the technique of using proper names as clues to, or even evidence of, a relationship between two families. Those with some experience in researching the families of 17th century New Amsterdam and colonial New York and New Jersey, know that a common naming custom was for a couple to name their first son for the child's paternal grandfather, and to name the second son for the child's maternal grandfather. Likewise, the first daughter was named for her maternal grandmother, and the second daughter for her paternal grandmother. As colonial period families were often large, proper names given to younger children often were taken from the parent's siblings, and from the parents themselves. This naming custom, however, does not always hold hard and fast. There are, as any prudent researcher would recognize, exceptions to every rule or custom. When naming children (using the just described custom) one common exception is that the occurrence of a deceased relation, whether they be a parent or sibling, is often a reason for altering the customary pattern. For example: if at the time of the birth of the first son, the maternal grandfather is deceased but the paternal grandfather is living, the child may be named for the deceased maternal grandfather. The same may happen if a sibling of one of the parents is deceased. The name of that sibling (aunt or uncle to the newborn child) may be used prior the use of the name of the child's grandparent. Often if a child dies at a young age, his or her name will be given to the next child born of the same sex. And occasionally we find cases where a couple simply chooses, for reasons probably known only to themselves, not to follow the custom at all, or only partially.** Even with exceptions, however, proper names found common to different families (who share the same surname) can point towards a relationship between those families, or at the least, provide a reason for additional research into the possibility of a relationship.

We know that Adam Brouwer's wife, Magdalena Verdon, was the daughter of Jacob Verdon and Maria Badie. Of the fourteen children of Adam and Magdalena, one is named Jacob and another Marritje (Maria/Mary). The two where certainly named for Magdalena's parents. It is reasonable to believe, or at least work with the assumption, that among the twelve remaining children there is a likelihood that we will find the names of Adam's parents. We may also find the names of some of his and Magdalena's siblings.***

With all this in mind we now turn back to the Cologne Church records as indexed at FamilySearch, with a focus on the Roman Catholic churches with records from the first half of the 1600s. Using the searchable database, Deutschland Geburten und Taufen 1558-1898 (Germany Births and Baptisms 1558-1898) and searching with BROUWER, BROWER, BREWER, BRUER in the "Last Name" field, results for one particular family stood out. This was the family of Mathias BROWER, whose surname was rendered variously as BROWER, BREWER, BREUWER, BROUNEER and BREMERS (the last two are likely errors in transcribing by Family Search indexers), and his wife Anna Schonckx, whose name was spelled variously as SCHOECKEN, SCHONCK, SCHOUCHS, SCHIMCK, SCHONCH, SCHUNCK, with her proper name sometimes given as Entgen. The couple had ten children baptized between 1606 and 1628, all in Sankt Peter Katholisch Kirche (St. Peter's Catholic Church). The microfilm from which the baptisms was taken was FHL film #187143. Filtering the search with this film number makes it easier to find each record. Their children were named (in chronological order) Joannes (Johannes), Guilhemus (Latin equivalent of Willem), Ayltgen (Aeltie), Henrich, Nicolaes, Margarietha, Johannes (second), Petrus (Pieter), Mathias, and Otto. Unfortunately no child named Adam (of course finding one would make this all too easy). However, the fact that six of the twelve names found in this Cologne family (Mathias, Anna, Guilhemus, Ayltgen, Nicolaes, Petrus) are also found among the fourteen names found in the family of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon (Matthys, Anna, Willem, Aeltie, Nicholas, Pieter) is reason enough to investigate this Cologne family further. (Here is a summary of the family in PDF format).+

Marriage records for this same church, Sankt Peter, in Cologne are found in FHL film #187144. They are indexed in the FamilySearch database Germany Marriages, 1558-1929. Searching here we find the marriage of Mathyss Brower and Anna Schonckx in the year 1606 (the exact date is not given).

Back to the Germany Birth and Baptism index, a second family now catches my attention. It is the family of Henrich Brower and Magdeleyn Von Bonn. The records of baptism for three children are found. The children are named Mathyss, Daniel and Agnes. As Henrich named a son Matthyss, and Mathias (above) named a son Henrich, both in the same church and within the same time frame, it can be strongly suspected that Henrich and Mathyss are brothers. A record of the marriage of Henrich and Magdeleyn in the Sankt Peter Katholisch Kirche is not found. However, Magdeleyn's surname, Von Bonn, leads to another family of interest in the baptism records for Sankt Peter's church (see below). What became of this relatively small family cannot be ascertained from the baptism records alone. Unfortunately death records for Sankt Peter Katholisch Kirche were not filmed (if they survived) by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Filmed death records (Tote) begin in 1738 (see FHL film #187147). Perhaps both Henrich and Magdalena died soon after the baptism of their last known child. Or perhaps they relocated. Perhaps there were other children, maybe baptized elsewhere, who names we do not yet know. Or, could other children be in the same records, but hidden under a different name?

There is a second Von Bonn family that may be of interest. Here is the baptism record of Adam, son of Henrich Von Bonn and Magdalena Von Bonn with the date 25 May 1615.This couple had eight children baptized in the Sankt Peter Katholisch Kirche between 1608 and 1622. Here is a summary of the family. A marriage record for Henrich and Magdalena is not found in the Germany Marriages (Deutschland Heiraten), 1558-1929 database when filtering for the Sankt Peter records (FHL film #187144). In a couple of the baptism records one or both of the parents is recorded with the surname as Bonnensis. This is the Latin equivalent for "of Bonn," or "Von Bonn" in German. It could be that Von Bonn is Magdalena's maiden name, and the couple may have been cousins. It could have also been a place name. Perhaps both were from, or born in Bonn, and they had different surnames.
Now the names of the children in this family, with the exception of Adam, do not match the names of the children in the family of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon. I bring attention to this family because the wife of Henrich Brower (above) was also named Magdalena Von Bonn, and here is contemporaneous Von Bonn family with a mother named Magdalena Von Bonn, and a child named Adam. I wonder if there were two women named Magdalena Von Bonn in this congregation, or if the two are one in the same (meaning there was only one Magdalena Von Bonn). Could Magdalena have first married Henrich Von Bonn and then married Henrich Brower? Or, could Henrich Von Bonn and Henrich Brower be one and the same, appearing in the same set of records with different surnames (Von Bonn being a place name, and Brower a surname)? Was Henrich Brower simply from Bonn? For now, it is something to keep in mind, and perhaps something to look into further.

A couple of caveats: The indexes that have been created and placed online by FamilySearch are just that - only indexes. The next step is to examine the complete records. There is likely more information within the full record, including the names of godparents which would be helpful in reconstructing extended families. For example, they might be able to tell us whether Mathias Brower and Henrich Brower were in fact brothers. Perhaps there is more to the marriage record of Mathias Brower and Anna Schonckx, like names of parents, witnesses, their ages. In addition there are other families with parents whose surname is BROWER found in the Sankt Peter Katholische Kirche records. They are not included here because in each case only one record of baptism for a child was found. Finally, baptism records alone often do not have all the answers. Probate and estate, notarial records, even land records in Cologne pertaining to the families mentioned above should be sought out and examined. There may be more answers there.

Adam Brouwer's ancestry and the identity of his parents remains unknown. In the past, some researchers (and I use the term loosely) have ventured guesses at identifying Adam's parents. These were based on nothing but a common surname (see "New Insight Into the Origins of Adam Brouwer" for an expansion on this). Above, and I believe for the first time, we at least have a family found in the city in which Adam Brouwer said he was born, from the time period in which he was born, that includes proper names also found in Adam Brouwer's own family (names HE gave to his children). It is not the final answer, but it is a viable start.

 * Confirmed by baptism records of the Reformed Dutch Churches at New Amsterdam and Breuckelen, by Adam Brouwer's will, and by property conveyances between siblings. The 27 year span between the birth of Magdalena Verdon's first child (Pieter) and her last (Nicholas) is unusually long. It would support the argument that Magdalena was a teenager when she married Adam Brouwer, probably no older than sixteen and perhaps as young as thirteen as suggested by Harry Macy, Jr. in "Some New Light on Aeltje Braconie and Maria Badie," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record Vol. 142, pp. 21-36 (2011).

** Of Adam Brouwer's children, his sons Pieter, Matthys, Adam and Abraham, did NOT give the name Adam to any of their sons. Sons Pieter and Matthys each had for sons, and so had multiple opportunities to give a son the name Adam. Both Pieter and Matthys named their first sons for their wives' fathers, Uldrick and Pieter respectively. Adam Brouwer (Jr.) named is only known son for his wife's father, Hendrick. Abraham named his first son Jeury, for his father-in-law, and named his only other son for himself (Abraham). Of Adam Brouwer's seven daughters, five did not give a son the name Adam. A sixth, Adam's daughter Rachel, had only one known child, a daughter named Engeltje, notably not named for her mother Magdalena.

***Magdalena Verdon had one full sibling, a brother Thomas. That name is not found among the children of Adam and Magdalena. Her mother, Maria Badie, was married three times, and had children by all three husbands. The names of Magdalena's half-siblings are Arien, Willem, Christian (twice), Marritje, who were children of her mother and Willem Adriaensen (Bennet), and Catherine, Coenradt, Aeltje, Paulus, Hester and Isaac, children of her mother and Paulus Van der Beeck. Only the three in bold face are also found in Adam and Magdalena's family. The half-sibling Aeltje, was no doubt named for Maria Badie's mother, Aeltje Braconie (Magdalena Verdon's grandmother).

+Here is an interesting item on the Nationaal Archief, VOC Sea-voyagers website. It is the record of a Pieter Brouwer, from Ceulen (Cologne), employed as a mid-shipman beginning 16 September 1641, with the VOC (Dutch East India Company). He sailed on the Nassau from Amsterdam. The ship arrived in Batavia (now Indonesia) on 3 April 1642. However, Pieter Brouwer's date of termination was 31 March 1642, three days prior to arrival. A mid-shipman, according to the website, was a naval officer under training. Such a person was therefore likely in his late teens or early twenties. Could he have been the Pieter, son of Mathias Brower and Anna Schonckx, baptized on 9 February 1621 at Sankt Peter Katholische Kirche?


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