Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chester A. Brower and some Descendants of Cornelius C. Brower and Phebe Simpson of Coeymans and Kingston, N. Y.

In 2008 I received about 250 pounds of research material pertaining to the surnames Brouwer, Brower and Brewer from William B. Bogardus. Readers of this blog have seen mention of the "William B. Bogardus Collection" in numerous posts. Much of the material consisted of correspondence between Bill and his numerous "Cousins," as he always called them. From time to time I will dedicate a post to a specific set of correspondence between Bill and one of his "Cousins." The post will be used to expand upon the research presented in the correspondence and to hopefully resolve any unanswered questions that initially prompted the correspondent to contact Bill Bogardus.

The correspondence of Chester A. Brower recently caught my attention because of the volume of material he sent to Bill Bogardus. It also interests me because, although he was close to it, there is no indication in the correspondence that Chester A. Brower actually discovered his correct ancestry.

Chester Arthur Brower (1922-2005) was a son of Arthur Chester Brower (1886-1946) and Eleanor Garrelman (b. 1887). He is a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I. , something Chester was certain of and correct about, although he did not have the correct line of ancestry (as shown in the link just provided). Chester's work started with a Bible record in his possession which consisted of the family record of descendants of Cornelius C. Brower and Phebe Simpson who lived at Coeymans and later (unknown to Chester) Kingston, New York. The Bible record was is terrible condition and extremely difficult to read. The photocopy given to Bill Bogardus is in many areas essentially impossible to decipher. Only entries for more recent generations are readable. The rest of Chester's research material consists of his own correspondence with various historians at libraries and historical societies in the Albany, New York area, and some correspondence with others researching their own BROWER ancestry. The pages also contain Chester's notes, sometimes repeated, but never coalesced or organized into any easy to use format. The notes can be quite confusing, but with some care and caution some useful items were discovered within them.

Chester A. Brower knew his grandfather to be Nicholas C. (or M. C.) Brower, born at Coeymans, New York on 18 October 1835 and died at Ridgefield Park, New Jersey on 2 December 1917. Nicholas' wife was Elizabeth Zetter who died 10 September 1897 at Ridgefield Park, and is believed to have been born in Massachusetts (either at Fall River or Boston), but whose parents are unknown and for whom little else has been discovered. The two, along with other family members, are buried at the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York. Chester hit his first road block with the belief that Nicholas was a son of a Martin Brower. This belief is taken from the 1917 death certificate of Nicholas M. C. Brower in which is written at the bottom: "Father - Martin C. Brower." Chester assumes that first, this statement is correct, and second, that Martin C. Brower must be a son of Cornelius C. Brower and Phebe Simpson (whose Bible record he has, but which makes no mention of a son named Martin, as far as can be determined). Chester did his research in 1969 and 1970, and today there is much better and easier access (thanks to the internet) to records that were not readily available to Chester forty years ago. Searches for Martin C. Brower, or any hint of him, turned up nothing. There is not one mention of a possible Martin Brower who could fit the role of father to Nicholas C. Brower. On top of this, the 1850 census record for the family of Cornelius E. (sic) Brower and Phebe Brower, at Kingston, New York, includes a Nicholas Brower aged 15 years, the exact age Nicholas C. Brower would be in 1850 since he was born in 1835. The other members of the family on the census record match the names and ages of those found in the Bible record that was in Chester A. Brower's possession. Chester was apparently unaware that the family lived for some time at Kingston (in his notes he states that he does not know where the family of Cornelius and Phebe Brower went after living at Coeymans) but if he had seen the 1850 census record mentioned, he likely would have recognized the family. Nicholas C. Brower was not a son of a Martin C. Brower. He was a son of Cornelius C. Brower and Phebe Simpson (who Chester believed were Nicholas's grandparents).

Cornelius C. Brower was born 15 June 1792 (from the Bible record) and was baptized at the First Lutheran Church at Albany on 1 July 1792, the son of Cornelius Brower and his wife, Ghemini (Vosburgh, Records of the First Lutheran Church in the City of Albany, N. Y. New York: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 1917; vol. 1, p. 40). In turn, his father (Cornelius Brower) was the Cornelis, baptized 9 October 1757, son of Nicholas Brouwer and Mareytje Boom (HSNY, Reecords of the Reformed Dutch Church of Albany, New York 1683-1809, Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1978, part 4, page 56). "Ghemini" (the wife of Cornelius C.) was Cathalyntje McManny who not only is seen as Cathalyntje McManus, but also as Jacomyntje Meck and Jemima McMannis (her correct name was likely Jemima or Jacomyntje [Dutch equivalent] which was possibly misread at some early date perhaps by Jonathan Pearson during his research on Albany families. Her correct surname was likely McManus). So, with the exception of including an extra generation represented by "Martin C. Brower," Chester has his ancestry correct back to Nicholas Brouwer and Mareytje (Maria) Boom of Albany, New York. From this point, however, Chester has the ancestry back to Adam Brouwer all wrong.

It is here that Chester makes the all too common mistake of taking what has previously been published as settled fact, when, especially in the field of genealogy, it frequently isn't. In his correspondence with the Historian for Montgomery County, New York, Chester is given an incorrect ancestry that is claimed in Cuyler Reynolds, Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1911) which inexplicably gives Nicholas Brouwer's (husband of Maria Boom) lineage from Adam Brouwer as follows: Adam Brouwer > Jacob Brouwer (m. Annatje Bogardus) > Adam Brower (m. Deborah Allen) of Monmouth Co., New Jersey > Nicholas Brouwer (m. Maria Boom) and "had sons William H., Aaron and John, all of whom settled in Montgomery County." (In this account Cuyler Reynolds not only gives an incorrect ancestry for Nicholas Brouwer, but he assigns him sons who are actually descendants of William Brower of Schenectady and Stone Arabia). Chester then, with the addition of the baptism record from the Albany Reformed Dutch Church for Cornelius (1757) completes his presumed ancestry, and then (to his credit) undertakes further research and correspondence in an effort to find better evidence to it's validity. Something he apparently does not find.

Nicholas Brouwer is not a son of Adam Brewer (or Brower as Cuyler Reynolds calls him) and Deborah Allen. Adam Brewer's family is very well documented and he does not have a son named Nicholas. (I will also note that I did not have copies of Bill Bogardus' replies to Chester A. Brower, but I would strongly suspect that he warned Chester that Nicholas was certainly not a son of Adam Brewer and Deborah Allen.) The truth is, verifying the correct parents of Nicholas Brouwer is very likely impossible. No record of baptism for Nicholas has been identified. All we know of Nicholas is that he married Maria Boom on 31 July 1757 at the Albany Reformed Dutch Church (only three months before son Cornelius is baptized). The couple had six children (including Cornelius) baptized at Albany between 1757 and 1769. No estate or probate records for Nicholas as known to exist. His wife, Maria Boom, was baptized 16 May 1731 at Kinderhook, a daughter of Johannes Boom and Anna Burger. My belief is that it is most likely, but not provable, that Nicholas is a son of Cornelis Nicholasz Brouwer and his first wife, Hannah Hilton. This will be expanded upon in a future posting, but if correct it would mean that Chester A. Brower actually had two lines of ancestry back to Adam Brouwer, as Hannah Hilton was herself a daughter of Anna Brouwer and a granddaughter of Adam Brouwer (Cornelis and Hannah were first cousins).

Beginning with clues from Chester A. Brower's notes, and then using available records found online, including census, burial and vital records at and Family Search, it has been possible to discover some additional descendants of Cornelius C. Brower and Phebe Simpson, cousins that Chester A. Brower may not have known he had.

Further details and source citations will be provided online with the next update of the Brouwer Genealogy Database.

Thank you to Karen Brewer Sims for scanning the notes and correspondence of Chester A. Brower. They consist of eighteen PDFs and are now available online for anyone interested in looking through them. I do this with some hesitation as there is a good deal of incorrect Brouwer claims and information found within the pages. Much of the material received by Chester A. Brower from various Historians and others has nothing to do with his own ancestors. With the caveat that all who use this info are instructed to do so with caution, here are links to the eighteen files:
Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Part 11; Part 12; Part 13
Part 14; Part 15; Part 16; Part 17; Part 18

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