Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Family of Jeremiah Brower and Hannah Thomas (Jeremiah Brower, Part IV)

It has to be stated from the beginning, and clearly, that the ancestry of Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont is not, and probably never will be, known with certainty. The belief that he is a son of Jurge Brouwer and Elizabeth Holmes is only a best guess, and will have to remain that way unless some yet unknown and undiscovered piece of evidence emerges that tells us precisely who Jeremiah's parents were.

The same can be said about the family, or families of Jeremiah Brower. There is a lot of missing information, incomplete evidence and gaps when it comes to reconstructing the wife, or wives, and children of Jeremiah Brower. Therefore, from the beginning, it must be stated that the proposed reconstruction of the family of Jeremiah Brower is tentative, and that further evidence for many statements is needed and desired.

Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont was probably married at least twice. That he had a wife named Hannah Thomas is certain, as evidenced from the baptism records of three children in Albany County, New York, and the fact that they appear in Highgate, Vermont. This post will address the children of Jeremiah Brower and his wife Hannah Thomas.

Hannah Thomas is identified as the wife of Jeremiah Brower from the baptism records of three of her children, Polly, Peter and Jacob. Hannah's parentage and ancestry has not been discovered. In his Loyalist claim, Jeremiah gives as a witness to the events that took place in 1777, a Peter Thomas, now of Cataraqui. Jeremiah and Hannah's eldest son was named Peter, and it may be that this Peter Thomas is a brother to Hannah. This Peter Thomas is found on the provisioning lists at Township 2 in Cataraqui (later called Ernestown) on 7 October 1784 with a family of one man, one woman, one boy under 10 and one girl under 10. The 1786 provisioning list at Township 2 adds a second girl under age 10 to the family of Peter Thomas. In 1796 he is living at Ernestown, Lennox & Addington Counties, Upper Canada, a United Empire Loyalist. Peter's wife has not been identified, but William D. Reid, The Loyalists in Ontario (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1973), page 317, gives Peter the following children (THOMAS): William of Ernestown; Mary, married Jacob Hartman; Elizabeth, married Israel Amey; Dorothy, married Archibald Carscallen; Robert, of York, Ontario in 1820 (present day Toronto); Peter, married Ann Bernard, of Ernestown; and Hannah, married David Daly. Checking Upstate New York in the 1760s, by Florence Christoph (Camden, Me: Picton Press, 1992), finds no persons named Peter Thomas. There are other men with the surname Thomas: Abrie Thomas at Schenectady in 1766; Ezekiel Thomas at Kinderhook in 1766; James Thomas at Kinderhook in 1766 and 1767; John Thomas at East Camp in 1766; John Thomas on the Albany Co. militia roll in 1760, age 25, from Kinderhook; William Thomas, on 1760 militia roll, age 23, born in England, living at Livingston. In April 1777, a Peter Thomas was a deserter from the Massachusetts 13th Regt. However, he was from Pownalborough, Massachusetts, which is now Wiscasset in Lincoln County, Maine, and it is very doubtful that this could be our Peter Thomas.
Oral tradition that has circulated among some descendants of Jeremiah Brower has suggested that Hannah was a Native American. That is certainly possible in that Jeremiah settled, apparently in the 1760s, in an area of New York that had few settlers of European ancestry, but was in the heart of Mohawk territory. There is no doubt that many colonial period settlers in this area had Native American wives, however, proving that any one specific wife was in fact a Native American is difficult at best. One argument against the possibility that Hannah was a Native American (likely Mohawk or Oneida) would be the fact that her presumed brother, Peter Thomas, was settled as a United Empire Loyalist at Cataraqui, and was provided for by the British (Canadian) government. This might imply that Peter Thomas was more likely of European ancestry, rather than a Native American (or possibly that he was of mixed ethnicity). The surest way to determine whether or not Hannah Thomas was a Native American, would be for a direct female descendant (or the son of a direct female descendant) to have an mtDNA test. Results from such a test could tell us whether Hannah was of Native American ancestry (at least on her maternal side).

The first known child of Jeremiah Brower and Hannah Thomas was a daughter, Polly. She was baptized at the Schaghticoke Dutch Reformed Church (then in Albany County, New York) in 1776. The baptism record gives her date of birth as 13 August 1776. The parents are recorded as "Jeremia Brower and Hanna Thomas." No sponsors or witnesses are recorded. The Schaghticoke records were published by William Burt Cook in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volumes 59 to 64 (1928-1933). Cook, on occasion, included notes in the margins, and for Polly's entry he writes, "see nos. 666 & 869. Had by his wife Petrus, b. May 27, 1779, bap. Brunswick." Polly's record is found at volume 61, page 182, and the two earlier numbers referenced by Cook refer to the baptisms of Willem and Abraham Brower, sons of Jeremia Brower an Margarita Hedicke. (This family will be handled separately in a following post). Unverified sources, meaning genealogies compiled by others in the 20th century, have stated that Polly was married to an Abraham Brower, and that she died in 1862. I have never seen an independent record that supports this claim, nor do I know the original source for it. We would like to find further evidence that supports the statement that Polly Brower married an Abraham Brower, and we would like to find out just who this Abraham Brower was.

Petrus, the son of Jeremias Brower and Hanna, was baptized at the Gilead Evangelical Lutheran Church at Center Brunswick (now in Rensselaer County), New York on 29 December 1781. His birth date is given as 27 May 1779, so he was two and a half years old when baptized. The sponsors were the parents. Peter was married to Hannah Sanborn and lived his entire adult life and died at Highgate, Vermont. His family will be described separately in a future post.

Jacob, the son of Jeremias Brower and Hanna, was baptized on 2 June 1780 at the same Gilead Evangelical Lutheran Church as his brother, Petrus. Jacob's date of birth is recorded as 20 May 1782, and the sponsors were again, "the parents." On 22 May 1802, Jacob Brewer and Elizabeth Stickney were married at Highgate, Vermont by Matthew Sax, J. P. The marriage is recorded in the Town Records of Highgate, but later transcribed index cards of vital records are conflicting in giving Elizabeth's name as either Stickney, or Putney. Assuming she is a Stickney, Elizabeth's parentage is not certain, however, she may be a daughter of Joseph Stickney and Mehitable Sawyer of Dorchester, Grafton Co., New Hampshire. This couple, according to The Stickney Family (Matthew Adams Stickney, 1869), page 185, this couple had a daughter named Betsey (deceased by 1867), and had a son Joseph Stickney who relocated to Highgate, Vermont. This placement needs further verification.
Jacob Brewer is found in the Town Records of Highgate in 1803 and in 1804 when in a deed with James Wilson, he is called, "of Alburgh." Jacob Brewer appears on the Grand List at Highgate in 1805, 1806, and 1807. In April 1809 he witnessed a deed of Hercules Lent to Levi Stone at Highgate. On 7 April 1809, Jacob Brewer of Highgate leased from Herman Allen of Colchester, Vermont, 100 arcres on lot no. 26. On 1 May 1809, at Swanton, Vermont, Jacob Brewer and Robert Kent, both of Highgate, sold to Andrew Bostwick, the whole of lot no. 3 in the first division of lands at Highgate. As Jacob Brower, he appears on the 1810 U. S. census at Highate with a household of 1 male under 10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-25, 2 females under 10, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 16-25. In 1810, Jacob would have been aged 27 or 28, so assuming we are talking about the same Jacob Brewer, his age was understated on the 1810 census. There is no record of Jacob Brewer (or Brower) in Highgate after 1810. If the children enumerated in the 1810 census are Jacob's, he then had five children all born between 1802 and 1810 that have not been accounted for. No probate record is found for Jacob at Highgate or in Franklin County, but such records are rare for this period and place. It is conceivable that the family moved north into the Eastern Townships area, or moved west into New York State. The Erie Canal, on which construction began in 1817 and was finished in 1825, is often said to have "emptied Vermont." Many Vermonters took advantage of the new canal to move to far more productive lands in western New York State, and many eventually moved on to become early settlers in Michigan and Wisconsin. Jacob Brewer, then in his thirties or early forties, could have taken this opportunity himself.
There are "Family Trees" posted online at that give Jacob a second wife, Lavinia Smith, having married on 14 March 1815 at Chatham, Argenteul, Lower Canada. Although a descendant of this couple has confirmed his ancestry from Adam Brouwer of Gowanus through Y-DNA testing, I have found nothing that would indicate that Jacob Brewer (son of Jeremiah Brower and Hannah Thomas) is the same man who married Lavinia Smith (this unplaced Jacob Brewer will be considered in a future post).
Adding some confusion is the will of William Brandigo/Brandige of Alburgh, Grand Isle County, dated 21 September 1808 (Grand Isle Probate Vol. 1, p. 200). In his will he gives to his "daughter Hannah Brewer, wife of Jacob Brewer," one dollar. William Brandigo/Brandige is found at Alburgh in 1790 and 1800, but the 1800 census only records one female aged 26-44, who is presumably his wife Mary who is also named in the will. It is not known where his daughter Hannah and her husband Jacob Brewer lived, as it is not stated in the will. But if they lived at Highgate, and if Jacob is a different man then the Jacob who married Elizabeth Stickney (we do not have a date of death for Elizabeth) then it is not certain which Jacob Brewer the above mentioned deeds and Grand List entries and census records belong to. On 5 July 1800, Jeremiah Brower and Jacob Brower were admitted as associates at Barnston Twp. (Missisquoi, Lower Canada). In July 1800, Jacob Brewer, the son of Jeremiah Brower would have just turned age 18. This Jacob Brewer who was admitted as an associate is more likely an older man. He could be the husband of William Brandigo/Brandige's daughter Hannah, or perhaps he is the Jacob Brewer who later married Lavinia Smith. At this time, not enough is known to state specific conclusions, but it could be that there were two or more men named Jacob Brewer living in the greater Missisquoi Bay area at the beginning of the 1800s.
Further information on, and what became of Jacob Brewer, and the names of his children, is desired.

Nicholas Brewer is believed to be a son of Jeremiah Brower and, presumably, Hannah Thomas. Nicholas was married to Caty Proper on 8 March 1804 at Highgate. The marriage is recorded in the town records. There were a number of families headed by men named Proper found in Highgate in the early town records and on the 1800 and 1810 census. Among them, a James Proper has a female in his household on the 1800 census who would be of Caty's likely age. The name of James Proper is recorded between those of Peter Brower and Jeremah Brower on the 1801 Grand List at Highgate. Nicholas Brewer, himself, first appears on the Grand List at Highgate in 1805, and is there in 1806 and 1807. Based upon the date of his marriage and his first appearance on the Grand List, I would estimate that Nicholas was born about 1784 (but see below). In December 1807, Herman Allen of Colchester sold to Nicholas Brewer of Highate, 50 acres in lot no. 81 in Highgate. The following day, Nicholas sold this same lot to Abraham Aseltine of Highgate. Nicholas signed the deed with his mark. On 17 February 1813, Nicholas Bewer of Highgate conveyed to Jacob Tysel of Highgate, land called lot no. 81, 50 acres, in Highgate (the fact that this is the same lot Nicholas sold in 1807, suggests that he perhaps bought it back from Aseltine at some later date. There was a good deal of this "flipping" in the early Highgate records). Nicholas Brewer is recorded as a Freeman at Huntsburgh, Franklin Co., Vermont in September 1815. He has not been found as a head of household on the 1810 census in Vermont.  In 1808, Nicholas had a daughter, Jane, baptized at the Anglican Church at St. Armond Ouest in the Eastern Townships (now in Brome Co., Quebec, just north of Highgate, Vermont). On 18 December 1815, Nicholas Brewer, Caty Brewer, Huldah Brewer, Jane Brewer and Jeremiah Brewer, now residing in Huntsburgh, were ordered to "depart the town," and were served a warrant to do so by the town constable. What became of the family is not known with certainty, however, a Nicholas Brewer appears on the 1820 census in Wayne County, Michigan, with a household of one male under 10, 1 male over 45, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 16-26, 1 female 26-45. The makeup of this family (one male and one female adult, one male child and two female children) matches that of the Nicholas Brewer family that was asked to leave Huntsburgh. The 1850 U. S. census finds a Jeremiah Brewer, age 37, born in Vermont, at Livonia, Wayne Co., Michigan. Jeremiah, with a wife named Elizabeth, and later with a son William J. Brewer (born about 1869 and likely adopted) are found in Onondaga, Ingham Co., Michigan in 1860 and 1870. In both cases, Jeremiah, a blacksmith, was born in Vermont. Jeremiah Brewer died on 17 February 1870 in Ingham County. The names of his parents are not recorded on his death record. This circumstantial evidence all points to the likelihood that the Nicholas Brewer family found it's way to Wayne County, Michigan by 1820. Searches of the 1830, 1840 and 1850 census have thus far come up empty with regards to Nicholas. In the past couple of years many vital records for Michigan have been made available online at FamilySearch and at These records need to be revisited for further clues to whatever happened to Nicholas Brewer and Caty Proper. It is also critical to emphasize that it is not proved that Nicholas is a son of Jeremiah Brower. No birth or baptism record has been found for Nicholas. He does appear in Highgate at the right time, and despite the fact that Highgate had a small population from 1790 to 1810, it is still possible that Nicholas was not a son of Jeremiah. What is needed, is a definitive account of his age. Stating that he was born "about 1784" is based upon the assumption that Nicholas is a son of Jeremiah and that he was married as a young man in 1804. It is within the realm of the possible that Nicholas was older when he married Caty Proper, and that he simply did not come to Highgate until about 1804, when he marries Caty and first appears on the Grand List. In this case, Nicholas may actually have been a brother, or a nephew of Jeremiah Brower. The placement of Nicholas Brewer as a son of Jeremiah Brower of Highgate is a best placement based upon what is known as of now.

The children of Jeremiah Brower and Hannah Thomas will be continued in Part V.

(Also see: GENO 2.0 results)

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