Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Will of John J. Brower of New York City, May 14, 1822

The Last Will and Testament of John J. Brower, dated May 14, 1822, is found in New York County, Surrogate's Court, Wills Vol. 58, page 92 (old liber, page 82 new). Images are available online through the Family Search website beginning at the very bottom of this image.

John J. Brower is found variously in records and published accounts as Johannes Brouwer, John Brouwer, John Brower and John Brewer. In his will he signs his name as John J. Brower. He was a son of Jacob Brouwer and Jannetje Hartje, a grandson of Abraham Brouwer and Lea Demarest, great-grandson of Pieter Brouwer and Petronella Kleyn, and great-great-grandson of Adam Brouwer and Magdalena Verdon. John J. Brower was an upholsterer who lived on Broad Street in New York City. He died 12 April 1823, age 73 years, according to the New York Evening Post. No record of baptism has been located for John J. Brower. He is placed in the family of Jacob Brouwer and Jannetje Hartje based upon relationships stated in his will.

John J. Brower was married to Catharine Duryea, a daughter of Johannes Duryea and Antje Voorhees. They were married on 23 March 1769 in the New York City Reformed Dutch Church. Catharine died in Oct 1812. The couple had nine children, all baptized in the New York Reformed Dutch Church between 1770 and 1796. It appears that John J. Brower outlived them all.

William J. Hoffman discusses John J. Brower (Johannes Brouwer) and Catharine Duryea in "Brouwer Notes No. II," published in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, volume 72, no. 4 (October 1941), pages 332-337. In this article Hoffman presents evidence that corrects earlier published account which claimed that John J. Brower was a son of the couple Johannes Brouwer and Susanna Deroilhet (Droilhet). The incorrect ancestry of John J. Brower had previously been published in Cuyler Reynolds, Genealogical and Family History of Southern New York (p. 951 ff) and in the St. Nicholas Society Genealogical Record (1923, p. 6). The incorrect lineage is also on record with the Holland Society of New York. Hoffman reads John's name in his will as John I. Brower. The copy available at Family Search with the image link above is not the original, but is instead a clerk's copy done around 1900 or so. Here the initial looks more like the letter J. Hoffman does not specify that he reviewed the original will, and it is true that the letters I and J were sometimes used interchangeably (we occasionally find Jsaac for Isaac for example), but in the case of John Brower, I suspect that the initial J is more correct and it most certainly represented his father's name, Jacob.

The first person John J. Brower names in his will is his sister Leah. Her surname is not stated. She was baptized in 1732 at Schraalenburgh, New Jersey and so was about 18 years older than John. Leah was married to Johannes Van der Heyde by 15 August 1756 when the two appeared, as husband and wife, as sponsors for a child of her sister Maria and her husband Jan Loosje.
Next named is John's sister Jane Vredenburgh. Jane (Jannetje) Brower was married to Jacob Vredenburgh in the New York Reformed Dutch Church with banns published there on 23 October 1769. She was executrix of her husband's will dated 9 November 1799. Jacob's will did not name any children and he left much of his estate to his wife. His brothers-in-law John Brower and Teunis Jeralman are also named.
The third person left a legacy in John Brower's will is his niece "Jane V. Jorelmin," who can be identified as Jannetje Loosje, baptized in 1766 at New York, the daughter of Jan Loosje and Maria Brower (John's sister). Jane V. (Jannetje) was married to Teunis Joraleman, who was named in Jacob Vredenburgh's will.
Fourth named is Ann Eliza Pettit, "niece of my late wife." I have not researched the family of John's wife, Catharine Duryea, sufficiently enough to place Ann Eliza Pettit at this time.
John J. Brower then names his executors as James Forrester, of New York City, teacher, William Leveridge, of New Town in Kings County, Esquire, and Samuel Ward, of New York City, grocer, and appoints the three as trustees of the estates of his grandchildren. Here John mentions children of his deceased son John Brower, deceased daughter Jane, former wife of George Forman, and deceased daughter Catharine, former wife of William Galatian. As mentioned above, John Brower and Catharine Duryea had nine children baptized in the New York Reformed Dutch Church. There were two named Hannah, and two named Abraham, and it is assumed that the first born of each name had died early in childhood. This leaves four children, Hannah, Maria, Abraham and Jacob Vredenburgh Brower (the youngest, baptized in 1796), who are neither named, nor have heirs that were named in John J. Brower's will. While it is probable that all four died previously to their father, and without heirs, this cannot be considered certain. It is possible that John Brower provided for one or more of the unnamed four prior to writing his will. Land records in New York City (County) should be checked for deeds relating to the family of John J. Brower

John J. Brower's will was proved 14 April 1823.

A Family Group Sheet for John Brouwer and Catherine Duryea is online.

(Update September 4, 2014: A second copy of John J. Brower's will is found in NY Co. Wills, vol. 65, p. 504. The will is proved again under the date of 30 November 1835, and there is a notation in the margin directing one to see Lib. 3, Proceedings to Probate Wills of Real Estate. Here in the index we find John J. Brower at page 229. The document found here names as the heirs of John J. Brower - John J. Brower, John B. Galatain, James Quackinbush and Effie his wife and Catharine Forman).