Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, October 19, 2012

Elias Brouwer and Helena Willemse

Elias Brouwer is considered to be the second son of Derck Brouwer and Hannah Daws. He would have been named for his maternal grandfather, Elias Daws. No record of baptism for Elias Brouwer has been located. He was probably born in 1698 or 1699 at Flushing, Queens County, Long Island were his father is found on the census of 1698.

Elias Brouwer was married to Helena (Lenah) Willemse, who is very likely a daughter of David Willemszen and Marritie Pieterse Van Nest. Her parents were among the many families who migrated from Kings County, Long Island to New Jersey during the first decade of the 1700s. They are found in Somerset County, New Jersey in 1710. Helena's paternal grandparents were Willem Davidszen and Helena Aards of Flatlands, Long Island. Her maternal grandparents were Pieter Pietersz Van Nest who came to New Netherland in 1647, and Judith Jorise Rapalje a daughter of Joris Rapalje and Catalyna Trico who came to the fledgling colony of New Netherland in 1624, as two of the few, very first settlers.

Very few records for Elias Brouwer exist. In 1725 he purchased ten acres of land in Freehold from John Johnston, Jr., of Freehold. In the deed, Elias is recorded as "Elias Brewer, weaver." By 1732, Elias probably moved a bit further west into New Jersey, settling in the area of the Raritan and Millstone Rivers where five children were baptized. For more on the life of Elias Brouwer I would suggest Richard Brewer's, "About Elias3 Brouwer."

There are five known children of Elias Brouwer and Helena Willemse. Son, Dirck (named for his paternal grandfather) was baptized in 1732 at the Reformed Dutch Church at Harlingen, New Jersey. The next four children were all baptized at the Readington Reformed Dutch Church in Hunterdon Co., New Jersey. Judick (Judith) was baptized in 1736, David in 1738, Elias in 1740, and Helena in 1744. The son David was no doubt named for his maternal grandfather, while the daughter Judick (Judith) would have been named for her great-grandmother, Judith Rapalje. The younger children, Elias and Helena, were certainly named for their parents. It is conceivable that other children were born to Elias and Helena for whom baptism records did not survive. There are four year gaps between the baptism dates of Dirck and Judick, and between the baptisms of children Elias and Helena. The baptism record of daughter Helena, in 1744, is the last known record found for both Elias and Helena (the parents). If we assume that the couple lived longer, and if Helena was only about 40 years old at that time, it is possible that one or two other children were born to the couple after 1744. If Elias and Helena had strictly followed the Dutch naming custom of the time, we would also expect to find daughters named Hannah (Anna) and Marritje (Mary) in their family. Since no baptism records have been located for two such daughters we cannot make the assumption that they existed. However, if unplaced women named Hannah Brouwer or Marritje Brouwer are found in later records, then the family of Elias Brouwer and Helena Willemse would have to be considered as a home for them.

No will or probate file for Elias Brouwer or Helena Willemse has been found. Their dates and places of death are not known, and as mentioned above, they are last seen in 1744.

Descendants of Elias Brouwer and Helena Willemse have participated in the Brewer DNA Project. Richard Brewer, who is the administrator of the Brewer DNA Project is among them. We are always looking for additional participants in the effort to further collect Y-DNA data with the hope of refining the numerous lines of descent and to help place those whose Brouwer ancestry is still not certain.

Family Group Sheet

Elias Brouwer is no. 28 in Descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I.

(Note: the current version of the Brouwer Genealogy Database does include supposed daughters Marritje and Hannah. As no evidence of their actual existence has been located they will be removed from the webiste with the next update).


  1. Thank you so much for all this information on this beautiful website! I just recently discovered it. Elias and Helena are my 7th great grandparents, through their son Elias and wife Phebe Lucas; their son Francis and wife Elizabeth Sharf; their daughter Phoebe Brewer and husband Simeon Mickle; their daughter Margaret Mickle and husband James French; their daughter, my 2G grandmother Rufina French and her husband Walter Wilson Lemon. Phoebe Brewer Mickle was as far back as I had gotten before this. Thanks again, wonderful insights!

    1. Hi Patti. I am from the family of Elias and Phebe Lucas Brewer, THru their daughter, Mary born 1766, who married ?? Davis c 1785 and then married 2nd to Jonathan Woolverton from Grimsby, Ontario Canada.
      I know Mary married first in Washington Co, NY.
      Please email me at and we can share family history. Thanks so much.


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