Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jeremiah Brower (Brewer) of Highgate, Vermont (Part III)

It was at the time that Jeremiah Brower filed his claim for loses suffered as a result of his loyalty during the Revolutionary War, that he apparently moved his family to the area of Highgate, Vermont. The present day town of Highgate is in Franklin County, Vermont, in the northwest corner of the state, bordering Quebec, Canada. The Canadian towns directly across the border are St. Armand East (which includes Frelighsburg), St. Armand West (which includes Philipsburg), Stanbridge and Dunham. Researching any family from Highgate involves research in these bordering Canadian towns. In 1786, when Jeremiah Brower, with Joseph Reycard, John Hilliker and Thomas Butterfield, first settled there, the area was simply known as the Missisquoi Bay, and the political boundaries between Vermont, New York State, and Canada, had not yet been officially established. (Here is a simple map of the present day Missisquoi Bay area. Highgate is just north of Swanton. The Rock River is near Highgate Center). The Missisquoi Bay area, historically the home of native Abenaki people had caught the interest of some from the American colonies prior to the Revolution, but the influx of permanent settlers began with Loyalists immediately after the war. The area in Canada just north of Vermont became known as the Eastern Townships.

Jeremiah is found, as "Jeremiah Brewer," on the 1790 U. S. Census at Alburgh, Vermont, with a household of 3 males over the age of 16, 2 males under 16, and 3 females. At the time, Alburgh was in Chittenden County, on the "tongue" of land that protrudes into Lake Champlain from the north.  (Highgate is the town directly east of Alburgh). That Jeremiah was living on the "Vermont side of Alburgh" (nearest to Highgate) can be reckoned from a little known quirk of the 1790 census that was explained in an article by David Kendall Martin, "A 1790 Census Anomaly," published in the New England Historic and Genealogical Register, volume 152 (1998), pp. 69-81. In 1790, when the first U. S. Federal census was conducted, Vermont was not a state. It was still an independent Republic. The borders between the Republic of Vermont, the Eastern Townships of Canada, and New York State, were still in dispute in 1790 at the time the U. S. census was conducted. At this time, New York claimed the land on both sides of Lake Champlain, and part of what was to become Alburgh, Vermont, was considered by New York to be the town of Champlain in Clinton County, New York. In 1790, New York conducted it's recording of the households, including those living at Alburgh. The official boundaries were settled and Vermont became a state on 4 March 1791. Land east of Lake Champlain, previously claimed by New York, was now under the jurisdiction of the State of Vermont, which conducted it's "1790" census in 1791. The result of this is that some heads of households were recorded twice on the 1790 census, once by New York, and again by Vermont. Those heads who are found twice can be deduced to have been living on land west of what New York considered to be its eastern boundary. Since Jeremiah is only found once, in the 1790 census as taken by Vermont (actually taken in 1791), we know that the location at which Jeremiah originally settled, was east of New York's claimed boundary of 1790. In 1791, both towns were small. Only seventeen households were at Highgate, and while Alburgh was a bit larger, there were still only about 88 households.

Alburgh, Vt., 1790 U.S. Census (NARA, image from

Highgate, Vt, 1790 U.S. Census (NARA, image from
In July of 1795, Jeremiah Brower of Missisquoi Bay petitioned the British government in Lower Canada for 1200 acres of land in the Township of "Clapham or Farnham." (Farnham is in present day Brome-Missisquoi Regional County Municipality, PQ).

Jeremiah Brower, petition for land at Clapham or Farnham, July 1795

In October of the same year, Jeremiah Brower, and Isaac Brower, both of Vermont, signed the oath of allegiance (to the British Crown) at Missisquoi Bay. Who this Isaac Brower was has not been discovered, but he is listed immediately before Jeremiah, and they are followed by Peter Stinehour and George Stinehour. George and Peter Stinehour were father and son. Peter married Jeremiah Brower's daughter Sarah. The Stinehours came to Highgate from Dutchess County, New York and George is found on the 1790 (91) census at Highgate. (More on Isaac to follow in Part IV).

Oath at Missisquoi Bay, 1795 (p.1)

Oath at Missisquoi Bay, 1795 (p.2)

On 22 March 1796, Jeremiah Brower sold land in Alburgh to Oliver Barker of St. Armand, Lower Canada. The property is described as Lot no. 1 and contained 110 acres. It was bounded on the north by the province line, west by the Lake or Missisquoi Bay, south by the property of younger Wilson, and east by Lodwick Stiles. The deed was recorded in the Town Records of Highgate on 19 December 1801.

On the 1800 U. S. census, Jeremiah "Bruer" is enumerated at Highgate, Franklin Co., Vermont, with a household of 1 male under 10, 2 males 16-25, 1 male over 45, 1 female under 10, 2 females 10-15, 1 female 16-25, and 1 female over 45. It may be that this count describes a double family in that one of the males aged 16-25, and the female aged 16-25, may be Jeremiah's son Peter and his wife, who do not appear separately on the census. Both Jeremiah Brower, and Peter Brower, are recorded (in succession) on the General List at Highgate of 1800.

On 5 July 1800, both Jeremiah Brower and Jacob Brower, were admitted as associates at Barnston Twp., Lower Canada. Also admitted were George and Peter "Steinhower." (If this is correct, Barnston is within the present day town of Coaticook, Quebec, in the Coaticook RCM, far east of Highgate and north of present day Norton, Essex Co., Vermont. The original source was, but no longer is online. It cited Canada Archives Reel #C-2493).

The 1801 Grand List of Highgate records, in succession, the names of William Proper, Peter Brower, James Proper and Jeremiah Brower.

In 1803, Jeremiah Brower was granted land at Potten, Lower Canada. Potten is located on the Canada-Vermont border, a bit east of Highgate and directly north of the town of North Troy, Orleans Co., Vermont. On 4 September 1806, Jeremiah sold this land to Philip Ruiter of St. Armand, Lower Canada. This 1806 deed is the last record located for Jeremiah Brower. If his stated death in 1822 is correct, then he lived for another 16 years, yet he is not found on the 1810 or 1820 census records in Vermont or New York. It may be that he was living in Lower Canada (perhaps on the Clapham/Farnham land) during this period. His sons Peter and Jacob are both found in 1810 at Highgate, and Peter is there in 1820. None of the counts in any of these census records indicates that another adult male (other then the listed head) is living in the households.

(Additional source citations can be found on the BGD website. Part IV will focus on the family of Jeremiah Brower).

(To Part IV)


  1. This is interesting.. John Hilliker is my ancestor.. The first white settler born in Swanton.. I enjoy genealogy, but it can be like following a rabbit trial.. I have yet to uncover the history book that listen John Burton Hilliker as the man who jumped the split rock.. He was being chased by the Indians, for courting.. after the Abenaki witnessed the jump, they allowed him to marry the woman he loved..

  2. Yes Im a descendant of his as well, first census in Vermont finds him with 3 indian women 13 children no male over the age of 10

  3. Carol, if you download and look at the 1790, a.k.a. "First census," at Alburgh (available in the above post) you'll see that Jeremiah Brewer's household consisted of 3 white males over the age of 16, 2 white males under the age of 16, 3 white females and no other free persons. "Indians" were not counted in the census. There is no evidence that there were any in Jeremiah Brewer's household.


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