Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Unplaced: William Brewer (1826-1886) of Louisiana and Texas

William Brewer was born September 4, 1826 in Louisiana. He married Caroline Hillebrandt, a daughter of Christian Hillebrandt and Eurasie Blanchett, on January 3, 1850 in Jefferson Co., Texas. They had six children. William Brewer died May 30, 1886 and is buried in Little Saline Cemetery in Menard Co., Texas.

Two descendants of William Brewer, descendants of different sons, have participated in the Brewer DNA Project. The results of their Y-DNA tests clearly demonstrate that they, and therefore all of their direct male Brewer ancestors including William Brewer, are descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, Long Island. As of this writing traditional genealogical research as failed to discover William's ancestral line back to Jan Brouwer.

Thus far, the only specific clue to the identity of William's father is that he was born in New York, as stated on the 1880 census for William Brewer at Precinct 3, Kimble Co., Texas. There are, however, a few possible leads.

The first known record of William Brewer is his marriage record in 1850, at Jefferson County, Texas. In the early to mid 1830s there was a heavy migration of families from southwest Louisiana into eastern Texas (largely at the invitation of the Mexican Government). Among those immigrating were, at least two, different William Brewers. On 23 May 1835, the character of William G. Brewer, petitioning for land in Nacogdoches, was attested to by Radford Berry. On 9 Oct. 1835, the character of William T. Brewer, petitioning for land in Nacogdoches, was attested to by Radford Berry. On 20 Sep 1834, the character of William T. Brewer was attested to by Luis Procela Alc., who also states that William T. Brewer has a wife and two children. Texas gained its Independence in 1836. In 1835 a William Brewer appears on the tax rolls at Williams Settlement, Texas Territory. In 1836 a William F. Brewer is on the tax roll at Nacogdoches, Texas Territory. Nacogdoches County was created on 17 March 1836. In 1840 there are both a William Brewer, and a William T. Brewer on the tax lists of Nacogdoches County. In 1845 one William Brewer is taxed in Nacogdoches County. In April 1846 Nacogdoches County was divided into what would eventually become twenty different counties, among them Rusk County, Henderson County and Cherokee County. In 1846 there are both a William Brewer and a William G. Brewer taxed in Cherokee County, and William T. Brewer in Henderson County (as well as a William Brewer in Washington County). In 1846, there is also an Erasmus Brewer, taxed in Rusk County. It must be noted that this William Brewer named a son Erasmus, a name that is otherwise rare among Brewers anywhere. Texas became a State in the United States in 1845. The first U.S. Census covering Texas is in 1850. In 1850 there is a William Brewer, age 60 (b.1790) at Rusk, Rusk Co., Texas. He is the only person named Brewer in the household of William Elliott. His place of birth is recorded as "unknown" (all others on the sheet do have a specific place of birth recorded). No Erasmus Brewer is found in Rusk County, or in the entire State of Texas in 1850 (in fact there are only two adult men named Erasmus Brewer found in the entire U.S. in 1850. One in Virginia, the other in North Carolina).
Our William Brewer was born in 1826 and therefore a search was made of the 1830 and 1840 census records in Louisiana with the hope of finding a Brewer head of household with a son in the appropriate age brackett for the particular census year (0-5 in 1830; 10-15 in 1840). Of the few Brewers in Louisiana in 1830 and 1840, none had a son in this age brackett. Perhaps William's father was in (Mexican) Texas prior to 1830 (a small population of "squatters" from Louisiana were prior to formal land petiton records).
The search for William Brewer's parents has to begin with the above mentioned men. The question is, how or why, would a Brewer man, born in New York, find his way to the Louisiana Bayou region and eventually to east Texas? One Willam Brewer mentioned was born in 1790. If born that early he certainly would have been old enough to participate in the War of 1812. Could a Brewer man have been recruited for military service during the War of 1812, in the New York area, then find himself, because of his service, in Louisiana? An investigation into War of 1812 enlistments in New York and subsequent deployments has to be conducted. It is also possible that William Brewer's father found his way to Louisiana via the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It is possible to travel from Pittsburgh, Pa. to New Orleans by water, without ever stepping foot on land. A number of families descended from Jan Brouwer of Flatlands were in the Ohio River Valley area circa 1800. Among them are Samuel Brewer, b. 14 Feb 1790, a riverman who worked on flatboats on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers and "was often away from home for long periods," according to descendants. There may have been other Brewers who made their living on the rivers and perhaps Samuel, or one other, while in Louisiana. As no male Brewer age 0-5 is found in Louisiana in 1830, perhaps William was born to a Louisiana woman by a Brewer man from elsewhere who did not remain in Louisiana.
(For source citations for the above statements please see William Brewer's profile at the Brouwer Genealogy Database Website. Clicking on William Brewer at the top of the chart will take you to his profile).

A PDF with a genealogical summery of some descendants of William Brewer is online, along with an update.

We would welcome any information or records regarding William Brewer's possible ancestry.

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