Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Jacob Brewer of Unity, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania

Recent focus at this website has been on BREWERs found in western Pennsylvania, primarily in Westmoreland and Fayette Counties. Next to be mentioned is Jacob Brewer of Unity, Pennsylvania.

Jacob Brewer is found on the 1800 U. S. Federal census at Unity, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He is over the age of 45 and has a household of 1 male under 5, 1 male over 45 (assumed to be Jacob), 1 female under 10, 2 females 10-15, and 1 female aged 26-44. To date, this census record, along with the baptism record of his son John, are the only records, we have of Jacob Brewer. Additional research should be conducted in the land records for Westmoreland County.

Jacob Brewer, 1800 Unity, Westmoreland Co., Pa. (NARA, image downloaded from
Jacob is not found in Unity on the 1810 census (a visual search of the pages for Unity in 1810, available at, found no persons named BREWER). In 1820, a "Widow" Brewer is found on the U. S. census at Unity with a household of 1 male age 10-15, 1 male 16-18, 1 male 16-25, 2 females 16-25, and 1 female over 45.

Widow Brewer, 1820 Unity, Westmoreland Co., Pa. (NARA, image downloaded from
I am assuming that the two census records belong to the same family and that Jacob was deceased prior to 1820. This assumption may, in the end, turn out to be incorrect, but for now it is an assumption that I prefer to stick with. Jacob Brewer's wife's name was Rebecca (baptism record of son John). If the 1820 census record belongs to her, then she would have been born between the years of 1756 and 1774.

Two members of the Brewer DNA Project claim a direct ancestry from Jacob Brewer. They are kit #s 32612 and 58286, and are grouped on the Y-DNA Results page under Jacob Brewer (color code Red). Brief pedigree information submitted by the two project members can be found on the Results page. Neither pedigree names Jacob's wife, and one pedigree is less sure about their earliest known ancestor's connection to Jacob. What is known is that the two members match on 12 of 12 markers, and therefore most likely have a common direct male ancestor who lived within the relatively recent past. While one member has been tested at 37 markers, the other has only been tested at 12 marker. Ideally, the 12 marker test should be upgraded to 37 markers. This upgrade would add more certainty as to what degree these two members are related.

The two earliest known ancestors (EKA) for each tested member are John Brewer (1793-1871) for #32612 (tested at 37 markers), and James Brewer (1806-1879) for #58286 (tested at 12 markers). Traditional genealogical research for the ancestries of each of the two tested descendants, back to their claimed EKAs, confirms the pedigrees submitted by each descendant. Research was conducted using and a "Tree" with Jacob Brewer and Rebecca as the earliest ancestors can be found within the Tree titled, "Uplaced Brouwer Brower Brewer Bruer." (See Jacob Brewer).

The two tests results predict that those tested belong to haplogroup I2b1. Neither member matches any other person named BREWER in the project. Therefore, we know that Jacob Brewer (assuming that he is the correct ancestor for both) is most likely unrelated to any other BREWER family found in America prior to 1800, for whom descendants have taken a Y-DNA test.

Of the two EKAs, both believed to be sons of Jacob Brewer, John Brewer was the older of the two. John died on 6 March 1871, aged, according to his grave marker, 77 years, 4 months and 15 days. This gives him a calculated birth date of 19 October 1793. John Brewer was baptized on 6 April 1794 at St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. The baptism record gives his birth date as 17 October 1793, and states that his parents are Jacob and Rebecca Brewer. This is the source for Jacob Brewer's wife's name (it can be seen on John Brewer's wife was Jane Varner, and they lived their entire lives in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. They can be found in Salem Township on the U. S. census records in 1840, 1850, 1860 and 1870. In 1830, John is enumerated in Washington Township. Jane (Varner) Brewer died 14 June 1875, aged 79 years, 9 months, 14 days. Both John and Jane are buried in St. James Lutheran Church Cemetery in Perrysville, Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania. They had nine children and the descendant who took the Y-DNA test is descended from their son, Christopher Brewer (1825-1901) who also lived his entire life in Westmoreland County.

James Brewer (James W. Brewer on his gravestone) is the EKA for the other Brewer DNA Project member. He was born in 1806 and died 20 December 1879 in Clay County, Indiana. He is buried in the Center Point Cemetery in Clay County. James Brewer's wife was Elizabeth Arnold, and she was 12 or 13 years his junior, having been born in 1818 according to her grave marker. She died in 1909. Her surname is taken from Family Trees found on, and her descendants who created the pages have a large enough collection of photographs and other material for me not to doubt the assertion. James appears to have gotten a late start on family life. His twelve children are born between 1839 and 1863, when he was aged 33 to 57. His family can be found on the U. S. census records at Washington, Clay County, Indiana in 1850, 1860 and 1870. Elizabeth is enumerated as the head of the household there in 1880, and in 1900 she is in the household of her son, Andrew J. Brewer at Sugar Ridge, Clay Co., Indiana. In 1840, James Brewer was found at Sugar Creek, Tuscarawas County, Ohio. That this is the same James Brewer who appears at Washington, Indiana in 1850, is supported by the fact that his first four children were born in Ohio. His wife, Elizabeth, was also born in Ohio, so it appears that James ventured there, from Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania, on his own, prior to being married. In 1830, a James Brewer is enumerated on the U. S. census at Unity, Westmoreland Co., Pa. The household has 1 male 5-10, 2 males 20-30, 1 female 10-14, 1 female 20-30, and 1 female 60-70. Assuming that this is our James Brewer, then he would account for one of the males aged 20-30, and his mother could be the female age 60-70 (meaning she was born between 1760 and 1770). Who the others are is impossible to say. Perhaps a married sister with her husband and two children? Here is another reason why the land records of Westmoreland County should be checked.
     Of the twelve children of James Brewer, the youngest, Israel Brewer (1862-1951), is the ancestor of the descendant who is a member of the Brewer DNA Project. It is apparent that James Brewer had a lot of descendants. Although it appears likely that he is a brother of John Brewer, that assumption can be strengthened by the Y-DNA testing of additional male descendants using at least a 37 marker test. It should be emphasized that the placement of James Brewer as a son of Jacob Brewer, at this time, is not entirely certain.

Descendants of Jacob Brewer (again assuming that both John and James are his sons) are numerous. In addition to his son John and his assumed son, James, it appears that Jacob and Rebecca had at least two daughters who have not yet been identified. Many of Jacob's descendants were easy enough to trace using the databases and resources at, and anyone living today who is a descendant of Jacob Brewer, should have no trouble finding their place in his family. What is very much unknown is Jacob Brewer's origins. His son John was baptized in Maryland in 1793. No man named Jacob Brewer (or variant of the name) has been located in Maryland in a search of the 1790 census. History of Indiana County, Pennsylvania (Newark, Ohio: J. A. Caldwell, 1880) at page 774, includes a brief biography of David Brewer (b. 1828), son of John Brewer and therefore, grandson of Jacob Brewer. The biography does not mention Jacob Brewer, but does state that David's father, John Brewer, "was a son of John (sic) Brewer, a native of England, and was an early settler of Derry Township." Perhaps Jacob Brewer was from England, and came first to the area of Baltimore, Maryland, just prior to the birth of his son, and then settled at Unity Township (which is adjacent to Derry Twp.) in Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania, just prior to 1800.

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