Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Finding Rebekah Maglaney Brower (1822-1852)

Susan Stessin-Cohn, New Paltz, New York Town Historian (see this article from a few years back), has contacted me with some previously unknown information and a link to a very interesting webpage. "Finding Rebekah" tells the story of Rebekah Maglaney Brower. This webpage is hosted by the Ulster County Government website and is nested under the "Poorhouse Project," which is headed by Susan. In her words, "Rebekah Brower is an incredibly important person to our County. Out of the more than 2000 burials at the Ulster County Poorhouse, Rebekah's is the only person that has a tombstone." The webpage describes the finding of the Poorhouse's lost cemetery and of Rebekah's tombstone with a transcription of the engraving which included a poem.

Susan and others are currently working at raising funds for the erection of a memorial to those who lived in the Poorhouse. Should that happen she would very much like to have a descendant of Rebekah Brower's family attend the unveiling. The effort was just highlighted on the local Time Warner Cable News site.

Rebekah is a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I. Her parents were Cornelius C. Brower (b. 1792, d. by 1870) and Phebe Simpson (1797-1872). I first became aware of the family of Cornelius C. Brower and his wife Phebe Simpson, through copies of the work of Chester A. Brower (1922-2005) that I received from William B. Bogardus in 2008. The post of July 10, 2012, describes this and provides links to PDFs of the files I received from Bill. There are eighteen PDFs and the first (Part I) opens with digital images of a Bible record of Cornelius and Phebe Brower's family. Rebekah Maglangney Brower, born 26 of January 1822 is found in the right hand column. The image is difficult to read. It is a scanned copy of a photocopy of (I assume) the original Bible record page. Rebekah's middle name is difficult to discern. "Maglangney" is my best guess. Perhaps it was a family name from Rebecca's maternal side ancestry, of which little is known. Also, nothing is yet known of the ancestry of her paternal grandmother, whose name appears variously in records as Cathalyntje McManny, McManus, and Jemima and Ghemini McMannis, and Jacomyntje Meck. Perhaps the name relates to Rebekah's paternal grandmother's ancestry. Or, her middle name might be a phonetic rendering or variation of Magdalena, a name common among the descendants of Adam Brouwer. Although the pages recording deaths include large sections that are unreadable, Chester A. Brower, in his own notes on the Bible record, writes Rebekah's date of death as 3 May 1852, age 30 years 3 months 5 days (see page 9 of the same PDF). [Note that the webpage presently has her year of death incorrectly transcribed as 1862]. Rebekah's grave marker confirms the date while her middle name is engraved as "Maclanc" (or Maclang) perhaps lending a bit more evidence to the idea that her middle name was the family name of an ancestor.

According to admission records researched by Susan, Rebekah was admitted to the Poorhouse in 1849. And she can be found enumerated there on the 1850 U. S. census at New Paltz, but under the name of Rebecca M. Brown. Those who have spent some time researching Browers in the census records are familiar with the fact that the name Brower, is sometimes mistakenly written in the original census as Brown. And in some cases, while Brower was written as such in the original, a later day indexer or transcriber saw, and then wrote the name as Brown. Whenever I have trouble finding a Brower when conducting an index search of a census record, I try again using the name Brown. More often than not I will then find who I am looking for. A search of the 1850 U.S. census (conducted on Ancestry.com) using "Rebecca M. Brown" finds our Rebeckah, in the Poorhouse at New Paltz. Her age is given as 25. She is found on the second page of those enumerated in the Poorhouse.

1850 U.S. census, New Paltz, NY (NARA, via Ancestry.com)
Rebekah is on line 26. The previous census page gives us the name of the "Keeper of the Poorhouse" in 1850, Hiram Dakin, age 48, followed by the members of his family, and then those living at the Poorhouse, all described under occupation as "paupers."

1850 U.S. census, New Paltz, NY (NARA, via Ancestry.com)
A search of the 1860 census found the poorhouse under the keeper, Moses Constable, age 58. As was expected, Rebekah is not found among those living there, thus confirming her earlier date of death.

Rebekah M. Brower's grave marker can be seen on the site of the former Ulster County Poorhouse cemetery grounds. The site is adjacent to the Ulster County Pool and Fairgrounds. Thanks to Susan Stessin-Cohn for all her work in this cause and for bringing it to my attention. Hopefully the effort to raise funds for the memorial will be successful.

Some links: A post by Susan from 2012 at "The Diaries of Julia Lawrence Hasbrouck". The Poorhouse Project's main page with links. Ulster County Poorhouse page at Poorhousestory.com. The Poorhouse Story main page.

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