Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Mathew Brower of Greene County, Pennsylvania (Part I)

Mathew Brower can be found in Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1810 and 1820. Very little direct info or data has been found with regards to him. His exact ancestry is not known What is known is that he is a genetic descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. In addition, two pieces of secondary information, one published and the other not, both with some incorrect statements, have provided a basis for reconstructing Mathew's family and for identifying some descendants.

Within just the past few months, a descendant of Mathew Brower has participated in the Brewer DNA Project. The participant's direct ancestry back to Mathew Brower has been confirmed and is not doubted. Results from Family Tree DNA's 67 marker Y-DNA test match the other descendants of Adam Brouwer whose results were previously known. In addition, the participant shows the same mutation at marker no. 9 (allele DYS439) as do other participants who are descendants of Adam Brouwer's youngest son, Nicholas Brouwer. A full table of Y-DNA results is found online at the Brewer DNA Project page. The descendant of Mathew Brower is represented by kit #293571. A results table is also found at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website, and there is a simple chart showing the participant's ancestry. The comparison of results show us that the descendant of Mathew Brower matches the other participants who are descendants of Nicholas Brouwer on either 36 of 37, or 37 of 37 markers (only one other descendant of Nicholas Brouwer has been tested at the 67 marker level. It can be stated with a high degree of confidence that the participant, and therefore his direct ancestor Mathew Brower, are descendants of Adam Brouwer through his son Nicholas Brouwer.

The secondary information used as a basis for reconstructing the family of Mathew Brower begins with a brief published account of one of his great-grandsons Jacob Harrison Brewer, and is found in H. W. Beckwith, History of Vigo and Parke Counties (Chicago: H.H. Hill and N. Iddings, 1880) at page 456. Jacob Harrison Brewer (1841-1927) lived his adult life in both Parke County and Vigo County, Indiana. He was a son of John Harford Brewer (1813-1885), a grandson of Jacob Brewer (1790-1866) and  is stated to be a great-grandson of Mathew Brower. What needs to be emphasized regarding the account published in History of Vigo and Parke Counties, is that the statements regarding Mathew Brower's ancestry are terribly incorrect. Mathew Brower is not a son of "Sybrant Brewer, or Brower" and his wife, Sarah Webber. The claim that Sybrant and Sarah returned "again to Holland where they made their wills and died," is completely unfounded and incorrect. Sybrant is most likely the Sybrant Brouwer who died on 3 December 1727 at New York, and if not, then he is the Sybrant Brouwer who died on 28 April 1735, in New York. Sybrant Brouwer never "returned to Holland," and there is no evidence that he ever once visited the place. Also in error is the statement that Sybrant was "one of the first settlers of New Amsterdam." Sybrant was, in fact, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1683, roughly twenty years after New Amsterdam was captured by the English and no longer existed. Sybrant's father, Jacob Brouwer, was likely born at Gowanus, Long Island, and his grandfather, Adam Brouwer, was the immigrant, coming to New Amsterdam around 1642 from service as a soldier with the West India Company in Brazil. The remainder of the profile of Jacob Harrison Brewer found in History of Vigo and Parke Counties appears to be accurate when compared with other records that we can find.

Of greater interest, and what turned out to be very useful, is an account of Mathew Brower's family as written down by his grandson James A. Brewer in 1898. A transcription of the original pages was provided by Charles Brewer, a descendant of a brother of James A. Brewer, and he has granted permission for me to place his transcription online. As with the published account in History of Vigo and Parke Counties, there are problems with James A. Brewer's account regarding the family ancestry. But first some background on the diarist.

James A. Brewer was born in July 1837 in Greene County, Pennsylvania. He was, by his own statement, the son of Conrad Brewer and Rachel Anderson, and a grandson of Mathew (who he refers to as Mattavis) Brower and his wife, whose name he "believes" was Elizabeth Emery. In 1898, when James A. Brewer wrote his account, he was age 61 (assuming his birth date as stated on the 1900 U.S. census is correct). During his adult life James A. Brewer lived in Missouri and in Iowa. He is found on the 1910 census, age 72, in Des Moines, Polk Co., Iowa. He died 31 January 1918 in Polk Co., Iowa.

It is apparent from James A. Brewer's "diary" that he did not personally or directly know is Brewer grandparents. James was born in 1837 and both Mathew Brower and his wife were very likely deceased by then. The brief account that James gives of his grandfather's origins most likely came from some sort of "family history," either verbal or written that was passed down to him. Based upon everything that is known regarding the first few generations of descendants of Adam Brouwer, James' "diary" is also incorrect, at least in part. James states that his grandfather, "called Mattavis Brower," was born in Holland and came to America with a brother prior to the American Revolutionary War. The "born in Holland" statement is certainly wrong. Since we now know that Mathew Brower was a descendent of Adam Brouwer, who came to New Amsterdam in about 1642, it is probable that Mathew Brower was a fourth or fifth generation American. James' account also starts off with a couple of sentences pertaining to "Great Grandmother Weber of the noted Weber family." James is no doubt referring to Sara Webber (b. 1685) the wife of Sybrant Brouwer (b. 1683) who is also mentioned in the History of Vigo and Parke Counties account. As stated above, Sybrant is a son of Jacob Brouwer, and he is a great-grandson of Anneke Jans. What I take from this is that James A. Brewer's account of his ancestor was no doubt influenced by knowledge of, and perhaps participation in, one of the infamous Anneke Jans lawsuits by some member of his immediate or extended family. There is no evidence that Sybrant had a son named Mathew Brower, and indeed other considerations would lead us to believe that Mathew was born roughly 70 to 75 years after Sara Webber was born, and therefore could not possibly be her son.

James A. Brewer states that Mathew, and a brother named William, served during the American Revolutionary War, "enlisting from the state of New Jersey." William is said to have been sent to "Stoney Point," which would likely be the Stony Point located in present day Rockland County, New York. This was an important location during the Revolutionary War and the site of a famous battle (July 16, 1779). At that time this location was within the Town of Haverstraw in Orange County, New York. According to "the understanding of my Grandfather," as related by James, "he (William) was there at the battle, but from that date to this there has never anything been heard of him or any of his lineage. He was not married at the time of the battle." As of this writing, evidence or records collaborating the Revolutionary War service of Mathew and his stated brother, William, have not been located. There is, however, the record of an application for 48 acres of land made by "Mathew Brewer of the Township of Buffalo, Union County, Pennsylvania, dated 7 July 1815. The application does not mention any military service (whether it be during the Revolutionary War or during the War of 1812), but one criteria that states did use when issuing land grants was prior military service. It is noted that this application is attested to by a John Brewer who signed with a mark. Mathew Brewer signed his name, and so we have an example of his signature.

Mathew Brewer, Application for land, (, Pennsylvania Land Warrant Applications)
It also must be pointed out that as of now we cannot say with certainty that the Mathew Brewer making this application is the same Mathew Brower who is the subject of this post.

The three records that I believe we can be very likely certain of as pertaining to Mathew Brower are the U. S. census records of 1800, 1810 and 1820. (This Family Group Sheet should be helpful in understanding what follows). In 1820 we have "Matthew Brewer" as a head of household in Richhill, Greene Co., Pennsylvania (Mathew's son Conrad Brewer, who was James A. Brewer's father, is found here as a head in 1830). The household consists of 1 male 16-25 (likely son Conrad), 1 male over 45 (likely Mathew), 1 female 16-25 (likely daughter Mary), and 1 female over 45 (likely Mathew's wife).
In 1810, we find "Mathew Brewer" at Morris, Greene Co., Pennsylvania, with a household of 1 male 10-15 (likely Conrad), 2 males 16-25 (likely son John and possible son Jacob), 1 male over 45 (likely Mathew), 1 female under 10 (likely Mary), and 1 female over 45 (likely Mathew's wife).
James A. Brewer states that Mathew Brower moved from New Jersey and settled at "Siding Hill" in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Somerset County was created in 1795 from Bedford County, and in 1800 we find "Mathew Brewer" enumerated at Bethel and Belfast, Bedford Co., Pennsylvania, with a household of 3 males under 10 (likely Conrad, John and the possible Jacob), 2 males 10-15 (likely sons Mathew and William), 1 male 26-44 (likely Mathew), 2 females 16-25 (likely daughters Charity and Elizabeth), and 1 female 26-44 (likely Mathew's wife). [The above mentioned children will be described further in a separate post].
The locations mentioned above need some clarification. Belfast in Bedford Co., is now in Fulton Co., which was created in 1850 from Bedford Co. (Mathew's daughter Charity is found there in later records). The location that James calls, "Siding Hill," is not found and he probably was referring to Sideling Hill, which is in present day Washington Co., Maryland, which boarders present day Fulton Co., and the Township of Bethel where Mathew was in 1800 (later census records for Mathew's daughter Mary, state that she was born in Maryland). Somerset Co., which was created out of Bedford Co. in 1795, and lies directly west of Bedford Co., was probably an error on James' account. Sons Conrad and John, and later descendants, are found at Richhill in Greene Co. where Mathew was in 1810 and 1820. [The deed books and land records for these locations should be researched for additional evidence and information regarding the properties and how they may have passed between Mathew and his descendants].

Now moving back in time, in June 1793, a Mathias Brewer is found on the tax list at Lebanon, New Jersey*. This is likely the Mathew Brower being considered in this post, and his presence at Lebanon, New Jersey in 1793 dove-tails with the family who is wife likely is a member of. We will take a look at Mathew's wife and their children, and how they may tie Mathew back to New Jersey, in Part II.

*This list was found on a search at in the database titled, "New Jersey, Compiled Census and Census Substitute Index, 1643-1890." Mathew is listed as Mathias Brewer, and the place is described as Lebanon, Essex County, New Jersey. This appears to be an error, either on the part of the original source from which the data was taken, or on the part of the transcribers for Lebanon is a township in Hunterdon Co., New Jersey. There is no place called Lebanon in Essex Co., New Jersey.

(Part II was posted on September 18, 2013).


  1. I am a descendant of Matthew Brewer of Greene County. My great grandfather was James A. Brewer, a blacksmith. Using, I traced the Brewer line back to Matthew but didn't know of the change in spelling. Do you know if his parents were Cornelius Brouwer and Molly Richards? If that is true, than I can trace back to Adolphus Brower, Jacob Brower, and to Adam Brouwer. We did not know we were Dutch and always thought the name was always Brewer.

  2. Barbara, I have not seen evidence that demonstrates that Matthew Brewer's parents were Cornelius Brouwer and Molly Richards. In fact, I doubt such a couple existed.
    While Y-DNA testing of a descendant of Matthew Brewer proves beyond a doubt that he is a descendant of Adam Brouwer, the identity of Matthew's parents, and of his line back to Adam is still unknown. I've seen the claims regarding the couple "Cornelius Brouwer and Molly Richards," but I have yet to find any actual evidence of such a couple, and lacking that, I suspect that they are fictitious.
    There are a number of problems with the lineage found in (too many) trees that you mention. Adolphus Brouwer and his wife Jannetje Verdon, did have a son named Cornelius, however, he married Alida Aersse, and there is no evidence that the couple had a son named Matthew. And there is no evidence that this Cornelius later married a woman named Molly Richards.
    This Adolphus Brouwer (the husband of Jannetje Verdon) in turn was not a son of Jacob Brouwer and Annetje Bogardus. Instead he as a son of Nicholas Brouwer and Jannetje Caljer. This error was corrected back in the 1930s. It is unfortunate that it is still repeated today.
    Jacob Brouwer and Annetje Bogardus did have a son named Adam (not Adolphus)but he settled in Monmouth Co., NJ, became a Quaker, was usually recorded as Adam Brewer, and did not have a son named Cornelius.
    I'd love to see evidence, even circumstantial, for the identity of Matthew's parents, but so far that has not happened. Many of those who made their way to western PA just after the Revolutionary War (like Matthew) came from the western half of New Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania. I suspect Matthew's origins are somewhere in that area, and not in Dutchess Co., New York where Cornelius Brouwer and Alida Aersse lived.

  3. My father's family has very deep roots in Greene County, PA so it is likely that Matthew Brewer traveled there with either his wife's family or others he met in New Jersey through the Quakers. I can't find any information on his wife Mary Emery but some of my other ancestors were Quakers from New Jersey. I thought I had this figured out but now have to start over. Maybe a trip to PA this summer is in order.

  4. Genealogy is messy but I want to know the truth. Sybrant Brouwer and Sarah Webber are mentioned in my great grandfather's diary but we know they are not the parents of Matthew. Could they be the grandparents and a son of theirs is his father? Also,I found the Bayard family in my grandmother's tree. They are also Dutch and descended from Anna Stuyvesant. Could these families have known each other before moving? Most of the families I have found in Greene County did come from NJ, MD, or Bucks County, PA. Many of the sons fought in the Revolution and could have formed friendships. Also the family of Roger Kirk were Quakers from Cecil MD. Peter Bayard was also from Cecil, MD but not a Quaker. Somewhere there is a early connection but not sure where to look. There are still Brewers living in Greene County.

    Have not found any record of Matthew Brewer in Greene County, PA. However, this is a search for Matthew Brewer through the DAR. So it is possible that he was born in Albany, NY. I will be traveling to a family reunion and will see what can be found.

  6. Barbara, the Matthew Brewer, better known as Matheus Brouwer, of Albany (actually he lived at Hoosick, NY) is not the same man as your Matthew Brewer who lived in western PA. Matheus Brouwer of Hoosick, NY was married twice, had fourteen children and lived his entire life in the Albany, NY area. He died there in the spring of 1811, leaving a will. He did serve during the Revolutionary War and is well documented. More on him can be found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website (use the index to locate Brouwer, Matheus b. 7 Aug 1743, d. bt 27 Mar 1811 - 11 Jun 1811.

  7. If we eliminate Sybrant Brouwer as a parent or grandparent of my Matthew Brewer, then we must look at the sons of Nicholas Brouwer. Is there any one of the 5 identified sons that we can positively eliminate as a direct ancestor?

  8. Barbara, I have no doubt that Sybrant is NOT an ancestor of Matthew Brewer. As mentioned in the post, the DNA test results point towards Nicholas as a likely ancestor. As Nicholas was born in 1672, and Matthew about 1755-60, or roughly 80 years later, it appears that Matthew would probably be a great-grandson of Nicholas. Of Nicholas' sons, probably only Cornelis (1705-1732) can be eliminated. Having said all of this, the other sons of Adam Brouwer, especially William, Adam, Pieter and Matheus should not be ruled out as potential ancestors of Matthew Brewer. The key to finding Matthew Brewer's parents is to locate his whereabouts in New Jersey prior to moving to Greene Co., PA. Confidently identifying Matthew's wife, and her family, and where they lived, could help you locate Matthew prior to his move to Greene County, PA. Many of the families who relocated to western PA in the years just after the Revolution, came from the eastern counties of PA and also from New Jersey. I think that the Mathias Brewer found in Lebanon, Hunterdon Co., NJ is very likely Matthew Brewer of Greene Co., PA. For what it's worth, I'd suggest focusing on that location.

  9. I am leaving soon to travel to PA, NY, and NJ in search of my ancestors. Have identified others who came from NJ to western PA about the same time as Matthew so hoping to find a connection. Will let you know if I find anything.

  10. I have reviewed records in Greene County, PA and in 3 genealogy sites in New Jersey including Hunterdon County. The records are sparse for this time period. However, I did find evidence to support that his wife was Mary Emery, a descendant of Conrad Emery. Also I now believe his parents were Mathias and Elizabeth Brewer. Such a couple are found in the Dutch Reform Church baptism records in New Jersey in 1751 with a child named Elizabeth. This also fits the naming pattern that I learned from the genealogist in NJ. It is circumstantial but fits that this daughter could be an older sister to Matthew. It was suggested that we search also in Monmouth County for other family who moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey in the early 1700's. It is still a mystery but we have a few more clues.

  11. Thanks Barbara, you do have some promising leads here. Can you tell us exactly which church Mathias and Elizabeth Brewer had their daughter Elizabeth baptized in, in 1751? How exactly were their names written? And were there any sponsors or witnesses for the baptism?

  12. Summerset Historical Quarterly in Readington, NJ. V. 4, P.306 Baptisms May 1750. Child Elizabeth, Parents Matthias Brewer and Elizabeth, Witnesses John Egbert and Metje. Dutch Reformed Church in Readington. These are just our notes but the document can be found in Ancestry on microfilm.

  13. We also found additional information in The Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey V.48, 1973 for Lebanon Township. Hunterdon County. Mathias Brewer is listed under those who were exempt from the Hunterdon militia 1792. No other information is given.

  14. Hunterdon County Lebanon Township May 1778 and February 1780. New Jersey Ratables. P.135.
    Mathias Brewer 1 h, 1 c: ex (Brewar)
    (Mathias Brewar Junr 1 c)

    This was how it was typed in the index to the microfilm. We interpret this to mean there were 2 people with the the same or similar names in the Lebanon tax rolls for livestock, horse and cow. Although the term junior does not mean they were father and son, just that one was older than the other. Still, it appears that they could be father and son with the younger having only 1 cow.
    Also we did not see the name of Mathew Brewer spelled Brower in any records in Greene County, PA or in New Jersey. The name was always Brewer or Brewar. This leads us to believe the family name change occurred in an earlier generation, perhaps the families that moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey. There is no Matthew Brower of Greene County, PA.

  15. A correction to an earlier post. My family had never seen the diary of James A. Brewer. I now realize the he was the uncle of my great grandfather James A. Brewer (1863-1901) of Greene County. Therefore two different people with the same name.

  16. New information. I have a DNA match to a distant cousin who is descended from Jacobus Brower 1656-1707 and Annetji Borgardus 1663-1747. Searching their family tree, I don't find any other connection. They also have Anna Brouwer 1694-1794 as a daughter of this couple. Therefore it is likely that my Matthew Brewer of Greene County is a descendant also of this couple. I suspect that Matthew Brewer's parents were Mathis and Elizabeth Brewer of New Jersey. Likely parents of Mathias could be a son of Jacobus and Annetji. We may be closer to the connection.

  17. Barbara, autosomal DNA testing (which is the type of testing I assume you took) is extremely unreliable for identifying ancestors beyond three or four generations back (in other words beyond great-grandparents). Y-Chromosome testing of direct male descendants is the only reliable DNA testing method available for identifying ancestors in the paternal line. Fortunately we have had a direct male descendant of Matthew Brewer who has taken a Y-DNA test with the Brewer DNA Project. As explained in the second paragraph of the post, the descendant's test results most closely match those of others who are descendants of Adam Brouwer's son Nicholas Brouwer (and not Jacob Brouwer). In addition there is no evidence to suggest that Jacob Brouwer and Annatje Bogardus had a son named Mathis.
    I am fairly confident that Matthew Brewer's connection to Adam Brouwer is through Adam's son Nicholas Brouwer and his wife Jannetje Caljer, and not through Jacob Brouwer and Annatje Bogardus.

  18. Another clue to the possible family of Matthew Brewer of Greene County, PA. A descendant of Conrad Emery recently went on a cemetery tour in Hunterdon County, NJ. There was an old document at the Bethlehem Presbyterian Church listing "persons that subscribed towards the Presbyterian Church grave yard at the frame meeting house in Bethlehem township" in 1795. This document places many of her ancestors in the area of Bethlehem at that time frame (1795.) She noticed a Mathias Brewer on the list. This could be the parent of Matthew Brewer since this church is near Lebanon, NJ. Also shows a possible connection to the Emery family.


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