Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Willis Brewer of North Carolina and Ohio

Willis Brewer first came to my attention while examining the correspondence of William B. Bogardus regarding Brouwer, Brower and Brewer families. A number of his correspondents were of the belief that Willis Brewer, who was said to have been born in North Carolina, was a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. Specifically, the claim was that Willis Brewer was a son of Jacob Brouwer (bpt. 1707) a son of Sybrant Brouwer of New York City, a great-grandson of Adam Brouwer, and a great-great grandson of the fabled Anneke Jans. This notion is undoubtedly incorrect. It was likely spawned sometime during the late 1800s or early 1900s during one of the great drives to recruit all manner of persons named Brewer or Brower with the hope of cashing in on the imaginary fortune due the heirs (and supposed heirs) of Anneke Jans. These efforts created numerous false lines of ancestry. The claim that Willis Brewer of North Carolina was a son of Jacob Brouwer of New York City, is only one of the more fantastic assertions.

I have placed online, Some Descendants of Willis Brewer of North Carolina and Ohio. The document comes with the caveat that the first generation descended from Willis Brewer, his children, is speculative. No documentation has been found that supports this group as a family other than the claims of some descendants and the fact that they are located in close proximity to each other in Ohio during the early part of the 1800s. The genealogy from the children's generation on down, however, appears to be reliable. I would certainly be interested in hearing from anyone who has verifiable evidence of Willis Brewer's ancestry and an account of his family, as well as the name of his wife. His wife, by the way, is not mentioned by any of the descendants who corresponded with Bill Bogardus.

Spending time on the descendants of Willis Brewer was necessary in that the families lived in Ohio at some of the same locations as other Brewer and Brower families. Some of these other families are descended from Adam Brouwer, others form Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, and others still from other unrelated Brewer families. A result of this effort yielded two more corrections to the descendants of John Brewer of Scioto County, Ohio. Both involve John Brewer's son Charles Brewer (wife Elizabeth Keating). It had originally been stated that Charles was found on the 1830 census at Jackson, Pike Co., Ohio. He was not. This record belongs to another man, a Charles Anderson Brewer, who appears to have had sons Charles and William D. Brewer, both found in Pike County up until 1870. This family may have had it's origins in Virginia. If they are related to any of the other above mentioned Brewer families, that relationship is as yet unknown. The second correction involves the claimed son of Charles Brewer and Elizabeth Keating named James Brewer. Early compiled (and unreliable) accounts of the John Brewer of Scioto Co., Ohio family gave Charles a son named James who in turn married a woman named Margareth (her surname not stated). There are records for a couple named James Brewer and Margaret Clark who were married in 1837 in Pike Co., Ohio. This couple was undoubtedly confused for the couple called "James Brewer and Margareth." The James Brewer who married Margaret Clark, and for whom records do exist, is apparently a son of Enoch Brewer of Jackson, Ross and Pike Counties, Ohio, a believed son of Willis Brewer.

The above mentioned corrections, and info regarding the Willis Brewer descendants will be added to the Brouwer Genealogy Database website with the next update.

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