Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Confusing Two Men Named Thomas Jefferson Brower

Jacob P. Brower was born May 26, 1799 and baptized May 31, 1799 at the Reformed Dutch Church in Clarkstown, Rockland County, New York. He was the son of Paul Brower (Paulus Brouwer) and Rachel DeBaun. Jacob P. Brower married Martha Mackie, and they were early settlers of Beaver Dam, Dodge County, Wisconsin.

The source for the birth dates of the children of Jacob P. Brower and Martha Mackie is a Family Bible Record that can be found in the journal Wisconsin Families, volume 1, number 4, pages 215-217. Among the couple's ten children are son George Washington Brower, born November 25, 1821 in New York City (the eldest child), and son Thomas Jefferson Brower, born October 21, 1830 in New York. To date this Thomas Jefferson Brower has been confused with another man of the same name who was married to Margaret Griffin. The current version of the Brouwer Genealogy Database includes this incorrect identification and it will be corrected with the next update.

A week or so ago I was contacted by Karen L. Ashworth, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson Brower and Margaret Griffin, who alerted me to the apparent confusion between the two men of the same name. She provided me with a transcript of the obituary of the above mentioned George Washington Brower, and verification of the death of Thomas Jefferson Brower (husband of Margaret Griffin) which together demonstrate that Thomas Jefferson Brower (husband of Margaret Griffin) cannot be a son of Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie.

Thomas Jefferson Brower married Margaret Griffin probably in 1858 and probably in California, perhaps at San Jose in Santa Clara County. Their daughter Hannah Brower appears to have been born June 10, 1859 (as calculated from her age at death) and in San Jose (according to her obituary in the Sacramento Union, July 20, 1912). Thomas Jefferson Brower is found as Jefferson Brower on the 1866 voter register at San Jose, age 39, born in New York, a teamster. He is also found as Jefferson Brower on the 1867 voter register at San Jose, age 39, born in New York, teamster, with the residence, "8th Street, south of Julian." Frustratingly, Thomas J., Margaret and their daughter Hannah, are yet to be found on the 1860 U. S. census. The 1870 U. S. census mortality schedule records that Thomas Jefferson Brower died in September of 1869, age given as 42, of typhoid fever. A notice of the death of Jefferson Brower was published in the San Jose Mercury, September 25, 1869, giving his date of death as September 23, 1869, age given as 38, residence as 8th Street between St. James and Julian. As per Karen L. Ashworth, his estate was probated in the Superior Court, Santa Clara County, California on October 2, 1869 and his wife Margaret, and children, are named (Probate #74-15961, No. 521 Register B, page 482, Estate of Jefferson Brower, can be found on FHL film #1479982). Margaret (Griffin) Brower then married, with California license dated April 15, 1871, Byron M. Vickory. She died as Margaret Vickory on September 28, 1921 at Lodi, San Joaquin County, California. A compiled account of some descendants of Thomas Jefferson Brower and Margaret Griffin, with a great deal of help from Karen, has been placed online (Thomas Jefferson Brower & Margaret Griffin of San Jose and San Joaquin Cos., California).

As stated above, the Thomas Jefferson Brower just covered in the previous paragraph was long thought by many (myself as well) to be the son, Thomas Jefferson Brower, born October 21, 1830 in New York, to Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie. He is not. The obituary of George Washington Brower of Fox Lake, Dodge County, Wisconsin was published in the Argus (Beaver Dam, Wisconsin), January 14, 1897. This obituary, as transcribed by R. D. Mittelstadt in 1999, can be found online at the message boards (Obituary of George Washington Brower). The obituary states that George has a brother, "T. J. Brower" living in Los Angeles, California at the time the obituary was written (January, 1897). It is clear from the information presented in the previous paragraph that Thomas Jefferson Brower (husband of Margaret Griffin) died in San Jose, California in September 1869. He cannot be the T. J. Brower living in Los Angeles in 1897. So we search for evidence of a T. J. (Thomas Jefferson) Brower in California after 1869 and we start around the time of George's death in 1897.

The California voter register (known as the Great Register) of 1896 records a Thomas Jefferson Brower, age 65, born in New York, merchant, residing at 454 N. Bonnie Brae in Los Angeles, California. The 1900 U. S. census records Thomas J. Brower, age 69, born October 1830 in New York, widower, owns a general store, at 110 Pasadena Ave., Pasadena, Los Angeles Co., California. On the 1904 voter register, we find Thomas Jefferson Brower, age 73, living at the Alameda County Infirmary. This man is the Thomas Jefferson Brower who was named in the obituary of George W. Brower as living in Los Angeles in 1897. He is the son of Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie who was born on October 21, 1930, in New York. Working backwards, using the voter registers, census records, a couple of vital records for a son (Jeff Patterson Brower) and some common sense, we can reconstruct the life and whereabouts of this Thomas Jefferson Brower. To keep it short, Thomas Jefferson Brower (also seen as Jefferson Brower and T. J. Brower) left Wisconsin for Chicago, Illinois where he was a merchant living in the household of James Patterson (a grain dealer) in 1870. About this time he married James Patterson's daughter Martha Ella Patterson (sometimes recorded as Martha E., sometimes as Ella). They had two known children, Blanche S. Brower (born about 1870 or 1871) and Jeff Patterson Brower (born between 1876 and 1878, died in Chicago on February 1, 1909). By 1879 the family of Thomas Jefferson Brower and Martha E. Patterson had moved to California. They are found in Downieville, Sierra County in 1879 and 1880; in Fresno County in 1888; in Alameda County in 1890, 1892 and 1894; and then in Los Angeles County in 1896. Throughout his career, Thomas Jefferson Brower is described as a merchant, born in New York, and with an age that indicates a birth date of 1830 or 1831 (and specifically born October 1930 on the 1900 census). His wife, Martha E. Patterson, died before the taking of the U. S. census in June 1900. A record of her death has yet to be found. Thomas Jefferson Brower, as stated above, was living in 1904, back in Alameda County. A record of his death is yet to be found (but one, or a notice of one, and a settlement of his estate is likely out there, yet to be found). The daughter, Blanche S. Brower, is yet to be located after the 1880 census. The son, Jeff Patterson Brower, returned to Chicago where he married Anna H. Davis on November 4, 1907. He died fourteen months later, and it is not yet known if he had any children.

As mentioned it had long been assumed that Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie's son, Thomas Jefferson Brower, had married Margaret Griffin and that they were descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. The information supplied by Karen L. Ashworth clearly demonstrates that Thomas Jefferson Brower (husband of Margaret Griffin) is not a son of Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie. Whether or not Thoams and Margaret's descendants are also descendants of Adam Brouwer is uncertain. They may well be. Or they may descend from one of the other early Brouwer families. The search is on to find the correct parents and ancestry of Thomas Jefferson Brower. We know he died on September 23, 1869 in San Jose, California. His age, given at various times, places his birth as 1827, 1828 or 1831. The voter registers, taken when he was living, state he was born in New York. Later census records of his children record their father's place of birth variously as New York, Pennsylvania or Indiana. In beginning a search I would assume that the location of New York to be more likely. Perhaps he lived in Pennsylvania and/or Indiana before making his way to California. DNA testing with the Brewer DNA Project, of a direct male descendant named BROWER, would certainly help narrow down the list of possible ancestors for Thomas. The test results could help eliminate any false lines being considered, and would confirm whether or not descendants are also descended from Adam Brouwer, or from one of the other Brouwer families of New Netherland and early New York. We know that Thomas Jefferson Brower and Margaret Griffin had two sons. The elder son, George W. Brower (the W. stands for William) married but had only daughters. The younger son, Thomas Jefferson Brower, Jr., married Sarah Isabel Solkmore and had seven children, but only two of them sons. The younger of the two, Donald Francis Brower (1915-1981), appears to have died without children (at least his death notice does not mention any, although it does name his siblings). The older son, Thomas J. Brower was single as of the 1940 census (Tulare, San Joaquin Co., California). He died in October 1981 in Costa Rica (in Central America). Karen tells me that it is believed (and there may be evidence that it is so) that this Thomas J. Brower did have children. Hopefully, a male descendant can be found who would be interested in participating in the discovery of his ancestor's correct lineage. If a descendant of Thomas J. Brower of Costa Rica happens to read this, please contact us at the Brewer DNA Project.

Thanks again to Karen L. Ashworth for contacting me and for providing verifiable sources. Citations for all above statements, and the correction to the family of Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie will appear online with the next update of the Brouwer Genealogy Database. In the meantime I have placed online a brief chart of their (revised) known descendants (Jacob P. Brower and Margaret Mackie of New York and Beaver Dam, Wisconsin).

1 comment:

  1. Martha E. Brower died November 24, 1897 in Los Angeles. Was published in Chicago Papers.


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