Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unplaced: Stephen Brewer of New Jersey, Kentucky and Indiana

Stephen Brewer was said to be born in 1772 in New Jersey, although the 1850 and 1860 U.S. census records his place of birth as Virginia. A descendant of Stephen Brewer has participated in the Brewer DNA Project and Y-DNA test results demonstrate that the participant and therefore all of his direct male BREWER ancestors are descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, Long Island. Although Stephen Brewer is a descendant of Jan Brouwer, we still do not know his correct ancestry back to Jan Brouwer. As he was born in 1772, it is most likely that Stephen Brewer is a great-great grandson of Jan Brouwer.

Stephen Brewer was married to Mary Melinda Whitsett on May 26, 1811 in Harrison County, Kentucky. A chart of some of their descendants, linked to individual profiles, can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website, at the Unplaced page. Much of the information and research concerning Stephen Brewer comes from Charles Wells, a descendant.

A published, early 20th century account found in Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Sedgwick County, Kansas (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Co., 1901), page 469, makes the statement that Stephen was born in a "suburb of New York City" (which of course could include parts of New Jersey) and that his father was also named Stephen, and both served during the Revolutionary War (the younger Stephen apparently as a boy who helped transport supplies, etc.). This volume can be found online at Internet Archive. Whether or not, and to what degree this is accurate is something that we would like to find out.

The 1793 tax rolls at Bernards Twp., Somerset Co., New Jersey includes a Stephen Brewer. If his stated birth date of 1772 is correct, our Stephen Brewer would have been aged 21 in 1793 and therefore certainly eligible to appear on a tax roll. From his above mentioned marriage, it is clear that Stephen was in Harrison County, Kentucky by 1811. In the years between 1811 and 1815 Stephen Brewer is found on tax rolls in Harrison County. Also appearing on these rolls is an Aaron Brewer. The relationship between Stephen and Aaron Brewer has not been determined. It is suspected that they are brothers. Aaron Brewer was married to Polly McFarland on September 10, 1812 in Harrison County. The 1850 U.S. census gives his age as 63 (so born ca. 1787) and place of birth as Virginia. Among Aaron Brewer and Polly McFarland's probable children is Aaron W. Brewer (1828-1908), who through Y-DNA testing of a descendant is also a genetic descendant of Jan Brouwer. Presently, all that links the three (Stephen, Aaron and Aaron W.) is fact that they are found in the same locations and have genetic links to a common ancestor. Conclusive proof, in the form of records, that would tie the three together in one way or another, have not been found.

Stephen Brewer and Mary Melinda Whitsett had seven known children. Harrison County, Kentucky is in the northeast portion of the state, just south of the Ohio River and a bit southeast of the state of Indiana. In 1820, Stephen is found at Jennings Twp., Fayette Co., Indiana on the U.S. Federal census. In 1830 and 1840 Stephen Brewer is found in Delaware Co., Indiana, and in 1841 he registered federal land in Madison Co., Indiana. The 1850 and 1860 U.S. census finds Stephen in Grant Co., Indiana and he last resided at Fairmount Twp., Grant Co. Stephen Brewer died sometime between the 1860 census and 1864. His place of burial or exact date of death has not been discovered.

As mentioned above, a direct descendant has participated in the Brewer DNA Project. From the results and from the known circumstantial evidence it is safe to say that it is very probable that Stephen Brewer and Aaron W. Brewer are closely related (the tested descendants match on 37 of 37 markers). They, and/or their immediate ancestors (meaning parents) likely began in New Jersey, then made their way to the Berkeley Co., Virginia (now West Virginia) area sometime soon after the American Revolution, and from there headed down the Ohio River into Kentucky. Numerous families of Dutch ancestry, with origins on Long Island and in New Jersey made this very move. For many of these families, linking the descendants found in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana during the early 1800s, back to their Long Island/New Jersey families of the 1700s has been extremely difficult. Vital records, estate records and land records for this period are just very limited. DNA testing and analysis of descendants of these pioneers offers a new opportunity for tying these families together. But we need more participants. Especially needed, are participants who can conclusively demonstrate their descent from Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L.I. Test results from these participants provide us with a base to which we can compare those who do not know their complete ancestry.

As always, additional details and source citations are found at the Brouwer Genealogy Database.
Descendants Chart: Stephen Brewer

Thanks to Charles Wells for providing a good deal of the information on the origins and descendants of Stephen Brewer.

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