Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unplaced: Jacob Brewer of Chatham, Quebec

Jacob Brewer was probably born during the decade of 1785 to 1795, the location unknown, but probably either New York, New Jersey, or northern Vermont or perhaps, Lower Canada (today's Quebec). A descendant of Jacob Brewer has participated in the Brewer DNA Project (kit #75657), and the Y-DNA test results demonstrate that, without a doubt, the participant, and therefore his ancestor, Jacob Brewer, are descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. Furthermore, the participant has a value of 14 at marker no. 9 (allele 439) which is a mutation shared (thus far) only by descendants of Adam's son Nicholas Brouwer. It is probable that the participant, and Jacob Brewer, are descendants of Nicholas Brouwer. However, the link from Jacob Brewer to Nicholas Brouwer, is presently unknown.

The only known record of Jacob Brewer is of his marriage to Lavinia Smith on 14 March 1815 at Chatham in Lower Canada, by Rev. Richard Bradford. The source for this record, as provided to me by the participant and descendant, was Grace D. McGibbon, Glimpses of the Life and Work of the Reverend Richard Bradford (Calgary: MacLeod, Letter & Printing Services, 1971) at page 167. Jacob apparently died in or about 1824, as his wife was remarried to Samuel Dodge either in that year or in 1825 (they had a child born in 1826). In between Jacob's marriage and Lavinia's second marriage, the couple had four known children: Chancy, born 1816; Jacob, born 1820; John A., born 1822 (ancestor of participant); and Thusia, born 1823. All presumably born at Chatham. (Lavinia was married a third time to John S. Donaldson in 1869).

Chatham, which today is the city of Brownsburg-Chatham in the Argenteuil provincial election district of the Province of Quebec, was first established in 1799. It was originally settled by Loyalists who left the American colonies after the Revolutionary War. It's location is a bit north and west of Montreal. It has been stated that the Smith family, to which Lavinia belongs, received land grants at Buckingham, Lower Canada in 1824, and Lavinia relocated there with her children and second husband. Buckingham is west of Chatham and north of the Ottawa River. Today it is part of the city of Gatineau. The fact that the first settlers at Chatham were former Loyalists from the American Revolution would support the idea that Jacob was (if born early enough) a Loyalist himself, or if born later, a descendant of a Loyalist who came to Lower Canada (or northern Vermont or New York) soon after the Revolutionary War.

We do not have an exact date of death for Jacob Brewer. We also do not have a date for his birth or an age at his death that would give us a clue as to when he was born. He was married in 1815, and if he was in his 20s when married, it would imply that he was born during the decade of 1785 to 1795. Thus far, no record has been found that would indicate exactly where he was born. Jacob's wife, Lavinia Smith (apparently also known as "Nina") died 18 September 1886 at Buckingham, Quebec. She is stated to have been born "ca. 1795" at Topsham in Orange County, Vermont (she was age 77 in 1871 on the Canadian census at Buckingham, Ottawa Centre, Quebec, as Elvina Donaldson). If about the same age as Lavinia when married, then we might suspect that Jacob was born around 1795 himself. Of course, he may have been older then his wife.

The Y-DNA test results (as mentioned above) of a descendant, match on 37 of 37 markers with two known descendants of Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont (kit #s 77803 and 188348). He matches on 36 of 37 markers with a third descendant. (A table is online at the Adam Brouwer DNA page). Many of the original settlers of the area at and around Highgate, Vermont, and their immediate descendants, did receive land grants and did settle in what was then Lower Canada (now the Province of Quebec). It might be suspected that Jacob Brewer of Chatham is then a son of Jeremiah Brower. Jeremiah did have a son named Jacob (born in 1782 in Albany Co., New York), however, we believe that he was married to Elizabeth Stickney, at Highgate, in 1802. Jacob and Elizabeth's whereabouts, after 1810, has not been found, and while it is conceivable that Elizabeth died, Jacob relocated to Chatham, and then married as a second wife, Lavinia Smith, no records or documents that support this scenario have been located. Since there is secondary, or circumstantial evidence, that other members of Jeremiah Brower existed, it is probable that (given the close genetic connection) Jacob Brewer of Chatham is a member of one of these families. To review, the possibilities for Jacob would be (1) Nicholas Brewer of Newtown, New York, who Jeremiah Brower cites as a witness in his Loyalist claim of 1786; (2) Isaac Brower/Brewer who was an adult in 1795 and was living at Missisquoi Bay where he took the oath of allegiance and is found in 1800 at Isle of Mott, Vermont, as Isaac Brauer, with a household that includes three males under age 10; (3) Jacob Brewer who was the husband of Hannah Brandigo/Brandige in 1808 as per her father's will. Jacob Brewer could well be a son of either nos. 1, 2 or 3, or he may be no. 3, in which case Lavinia Smith would be a second wife and Jacob would be somewhat older than her. As all three may well be closely related to Jeremiah Brower, the Y-DNA test results would fit well with one of these possibilities.

At this time, what we can conclude is that the ancestry of Jacob Brewer of Chatham is not known. We can conclude that he is likely a close relation of Jeremiah Brower of Highgate, Vermont, but he does not necessarily have to be a son, and is more likely a nephew or a close cousin. What is needed, is more documentation pertaining to Jacob Brewer. When did he arrive at Chatham? Are there land grants or deeds that pertain to him, or to another person named Brewer or Brower? Can a record of death or burial be located for Jacob? Any new information or insight is welcomed.


  1. Thank you so much for the information on Jacob Brewer's wife, Lavinia Smith. I am a descendent of her parents, James Smith Sr. and Elizabeth "Betsey" Mills. The information on Chatham is interesting. Thanks for the history lesson.

  2. Please note that the marriage date of 1869 given above for Lavinia and her third husband John S. Donaldson is incorrect. They were married by 1837.


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