Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Henry Brewer of Western Pennsylvania

The discovery of another man named Henry Brewer, who lived in western Pennsylvania during the last few decades of the 1700s, begins with a profile of Benjamin Brewer found in History of La Porte County, Indiana (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1880), pages 699-700. A copy of the pages was found among the documents and copies collected by William B. Bogardus.

Benjamin Brewer, History of La Porte County, Indiana (1880), pp. 699-700

The portrait of Benjamin Brewer states that he was born 27 January 1796 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and names his parents as Henry and Jane Brewer, "the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Maryland." Benjamin Brewer was living in Galena, La Porte County, Indiana in 1880 (he died in 1885) and it is in all likelihood that he was the source for this information. So we search for this Henry Brewer.

The portrait further states that the family moved to Kentucky in 1799, resided there for four years, and then moved to Clarke (sic) County, Indiana, "where Mrs. Brewer died." It continues, "Mr. B. moved to Owen County, where he died."

Using the resources and databases at, we find an entry in "U.S. and International Marriage Records," for Henry Brewer, birth year stated as 1775, married Jane (no surname given) in 1793 in Pennsylvania (township and/or county not given). It has to be emphasized that the "U.S. and International Marriage Records" database is NOT a collection of actual records*, but is a collection of names and events gathered from numerous compiled sources. This database is not acceptable evidence for a claim, but can be used as a clue for a continued search for more reliable records. In this case, if we make the assumption that this entry is for the parents of Benjamin Brewer of La Porte County, Indiana, then it is apparent that the year of Henry's birth is incorrect.

Henry Brewer is not found as a Head of Household on the 1790 census in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. If he had not yet married, as inferred from the above entry in the "U.S. and International Marriage Records" database, he would have more likely been living in the household of his father, and so his name would be absent from the census record. The portrait of Benjamin Brewer states that Henry Brewer moved to Kentucky in 1799 and lived there for four years before moving to Clark County, Indiana. Unfortunately, U.S. census records for Kentucky in the year 1800, do not exist. However, in 1807, we find Henry Brewer on a voter list in Clark County, Indiana (, "Indiana, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1790-1890"). This is our first verification of Henry Brewer.

There are no U.S. census records for the year 1810 in Indiana, which did not become a state until 1816. (The Indiana Territory had been created in 1804 out of the former, Northwest Territory which had been created in 1787. See IHB: Northwest Ordinance of 1787). In 1820, Henry Brewer is enumerated on the U.S. census at Charlestown, Clark County, Indiana, with a household of 1 male under 10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-25, 1 male over 45, 2 females under 10, 1 female 16-25, 1 female over 45. In 1820, Benjamin Brewer is also found at Charlestown, Indiana, with a household of 1 male 16-25, 1 female under 10, and 1 female 16-25.

Henry Brewer, 1820 Charlestown, IN (NARA, image downloaded from
Benjamin Brewer, 1820 Charlestown, IN (NARA, image downloaded from

I have been unable to locate Henry Brewer in Indiana in 1830. Benjamin Brewer can be found in 1830 at Jeffersonville, Clark County, Indiana, with a household of 1 male under 5, 1 male 15-19, 1 male 30-40, 1 female under 5, 1 female 10-15, and 1 female 20-30.

In the portrait mentioned above it is stated that Henry Brewer's wife died in Clark County and Henry moved to Owen County. Henry Brewer can be found on the 1840 U.S. census at Clay, Owen County, Indiana, with a household of 2 males under 5, 2 males 5-9, 1 male 10-14, 1 male 80-89, 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10, 2 females 15-19, 1 female 40-49. It has to be assumed that Henry, the head of household, is the male aged 80-89, which then places his birth as between 1750 and 1760 (this does not agree with the "U.S. and International Marriage Records" entry mentioned above, and is probably the more accurate of the two). Henry Brewer is not found after 1840 and he likely died prior to 1850, in Owen County as stated in the portrait of Benjamin Brewer.

A search of the 1850 U.S. census for the surname BREWER, in Clay, Owen County, Indiana, finds as a head of household, and Elizabeth Brewer, age 54, born in South Carolina. Perhaps she is a second, younger wife of Henry Brewer, and is the female age 40-49 in the 1840 U.S. census record. Elizabeth's household includes George W. Brewer, age 14, Rachel Brewer, age 12, and Samuel M. Brewer, age 10. Additional research among the probate and also the land records of Owen County is needed. For now this record serves as a clue for locating additional descendants of Henry Brewer. Also in Clay, Owen County, Indiana in 1850, as a head of household, is a William Brewer, age 20, with Anna E. Brewer, age 21, and Margaret Brewer, age 6 months. They are enumerated just prior to Elizabeth Brewer and her household.

William Brewer, Elizabeth Brewer, 1850 Clay, Owen Co., IN (NARA, downloaded from

 Benjamin Brewer can be found in La Porte County, Indiana in 1840, and in Galena, La Porte Co., Indiana in 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. He died 6 April 1885 (there is a Find A Grave entry for Benjamin). As per the portrait in History of La Porte County, Indiana, Benjamin was married twice (Sarah Parke/Parks and Elizabeth Roney/Rooney?). Details on descendants have been worked out using the resources at and Benjamin's page can be found here. Benjamin had seven children, but only one of them was a son, James Brewer (1830-1856). James Brewer, in his short life, did have three sons, at least one of whom, Benjamin Arthur Brewer (1855-1918) probably has direct male descendants living today. If so, Y-DNA testing of one such direct male descendant, through the Brewer DNA Project, would supply the genetic data needed to narrow down the possible ancestry of Benjamin Brewer and his father, Henry Brewer.

Henry Brewer's wife was named Jane (History of La Porte County, Indiana). A few user submitter Family Trees at, discovered while conducting this search, claim that her name was Jane Hurdley, but none supply evidence for this claim and so we proceed from here with that surname followed by a question mark, Hurdley(?). A few Trees also place Henry as a son of Benjamin Brewer (1755-1834) and Catharine Mellinger, but this does not seem possible. Benjamin and Catharine were married in 1781, which is too late to have a son named Henry who in turn was married in 1793, only 12 years later. However, a link between Henry Brewer and Benjamin Brewer (1755-1834) does appear to exist. Henry's son, Benjamin Brewer (1796-1885) was married (second wife) to Elizabeth Roney (1804-1872). She is claimed to be a daughter of James Roney and Margaret Brewer (b.1780), who in turn is a daughter of Benjamin Brewer (1755-1834) and Catharine Mellinger. (This last claim should be confirmed by additional research).

It is conceivable that Henry Brewer and Benjamin Brewer (1755-1834) are brothers. This possibility would also fit with the belief that Henry Brewer was born between 1750 and 1760, rather than in 1775 as claimed in the "U.S. and International Marriage Records" entry. A web wide search using "Henry Brewer" and "Jane Hurdley" provided a few hits of interest. A Tree posted at RootsWeb's World Connect, titled "Hardin Clay Roots," places Henry Brewer and Benjamin Brewer (1755-1834) as sons of a Benjamin Brewer (b.1729) and his wife Mary. The post mentions a probate record for the older Benjamin Brewer (b.1729) in 1778 in Yohogania County, Virginia.** This probate record, or file, needs to be located.*** A 2005 post to the message board, Brewer Family Genealogy Forum at, offers some clues to evidence stating that Elizabeth Roney was a daughter of James Roney and Margaret Brewer, and refers to "Uncle Henry Brewer," in the context of his relationship to Margaret Brewer (it is stated that Henry signed Margaret's marriage bond).****

We are left here with some interesting leads to pursue with the goal of finding the actual record evidence needed to piece together the puzzle of Henry Brewer. I would encourage and ask anyone who does pursue Henry Brewer and his family further to please supply us with whatever evidence and conclusions you find (use the Comments feature below or e-mail me directly). If there are male descendants of Henry Brewer, through either his son Benjamin Brewer (1796-1885) or some other, yet unknown son, out there, we would ask you to consider joining the Brewer DNA Project by taking a Y-DNA test. The results of which should help us narrow down the possible ancestors of this Henry Brewer.

*The name of this database (U.S. and International Marriage Records) is deceiving in that the entries are not actual records. This is a problem with a number of databases created at, and is a warning that all that is found at that site is not necessarily reliable or acceptable as evidence.

**Yohogania County, Virginia is a defunct county which existed from 1776 to roughly 1779. After boundary disputes with Pennsylvania were settled, portions of the former Yohogania were then within Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania. Fayette Co., Pennsylvania was created in 1783 from portions of Westmoreland County.

***An e-mail sent to the submitter of the RootsWeb World Connect tree was replied to with the explanation that this was research from some years ago and the source of the probate record, and other claims, could not be recalled.

Yohogania Co., VA (in turquoise at top), Image downloaded from Wikipedia, 2013

****In addition, here is a list of BREWERs found in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania between 1783 and 1840 (extracted from databases at Of note is a Mary Brewer who appears on the 1783 tax list at Huntingdon, Westmoreland Co. A woman would only be listed on a tax list if she were a widow. Perhaps this Mary Brewer, is the widow of Benjamin Brewer (b.1729) whose estate was probated in 1778 as per the un-sourced online World Connect tree mentioned.


  1. Thank you so much for this very informative post. Not sure how its going to clear up the mystery of the Benjamin Brouwer/Brewer I'm looking for.

    I am on the hunt for Benjamin Brewer/Brouwer who married Sarah Parks/Parke in Clark, Indiana on 5 Dec 1817.

    Their son Newton Brewer is the father of Lou Emma Brewer.

    Lou Emma married Thomas Curney McInvale

    Your help will be most appreciated in helping to clear the air on Benjamin's parents.

    Best to All in this New Year 2014,

    p.s. this line is not mine it is my friends.

  2. According the The History of LaPorte Co., IN (see link above) Benjamin Brewer's parents were the Henry Brewer who is the subject of this post, and Jane. Benjamin was married twice, first to the Sarah Parke who you mention (in Clarke Co. IN, in 1817) and second to Elizabeth Rony. Benjamin and Sarah had two children, but I do not know their names. Both were said to be deceased by the time The History of LaPorte County was published (1880).
    I think that your first task is to make sure you have the correct parents for Newton Brewer.

  3. Thank You for your information. I am a direct descendant of Benjamin (Brouwer ) Brewer (1729) and am working on the connection to Adam Brouwer (1621), Netherlands.


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