Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Will of John N. Brower of New York City, 1828

The will of John N. Brower, dated 21 February 1828, is found in New York County, Surrogate's Court, Wills, volume 62, pages 37-38. Digital images can be found online at FamilySearch, New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971, New York Wills 1828-1829 vol. 62 beginning with image 50.

A summery of the will: John N. Brower of the City of New York, Grocer. Devises and bequeaths to his wife, Susan, "so long as she remains my widow, all right title and interest in and to the following leases of lots of ground belonging to me and the buildings thereon erected, to wit the lease of a lot of ground in Stanton Street and the house thereon erected and lease of the lot adjoining thereto (together with the appurtenances) in Stanton Street, all in the City and County of New York..." also all wearing apparel, beds, bedding, the "said Susan had when I married her," and all household furniture purchased by his wife Susan after their marriage, "to be held and used or dispossed of by the said Susan for her own benefit in lieu of the said Susan's right and interest in my estate so long as the said Susan shall remain my widow." He next orders that his executors dispose of, either at public or private sale, the remainder of his estate both real and personal, with the proceeds to pay for funeral expenses and to pay off just debts with the remainder to be given to my "now brothers and sisters and not to my half brothers and sisters," but does not record their names. Should his wife die or remarry, the property devised to her is also to be given to "my now brothers and sisters." Appoints as executors "my true and faithful friends Benjamin Riggs, Matthew Curtis St. John and Hiram King, all of the City of New York." Witnesses: William S. Sears, William E. Sewall, Samuel H. Miller.

John N. Brower can be identified as the son of Nazareth Brouwer (1756-1817) and his first wife Ginny Brouwer, a.k.a. Jane Brouwer (1757-1795), who were first cousins. John N. Brower is a great-great-great grandson of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. John N. Brower was born 14 March 1779, probably at or very near to Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., New York, where his parents lived. The "middle initial" N is most certainly a reorganization of his father's name, and was likely used to differentiate him from others named John Brower. John N. Brower is found on the U.S. census in 1810 and 1820 at Poughkeepsie. His household in 1810 has a male age 26-44, one female age 10-15, and one female age 26-44. In 1820 the household consists of one male age 26-45 and one female age 26-45, and he is "engaged in manufactures." If the female aged 10-15 on the 1810 census is a daughter of John's, she may have died prior to the date he wrote his will which does not mention any children or grandchildren. He apparently went to New York City soon after 1820 where he was a grocer in partnership with his nephew Nazareth Brower Taylor. Their names, along with that of Bernard McCloskey are found in the minutes of the Common Council of New York City under the date of 2 August 1824. The Reciept Book, 1828-1834, of Nazareth B. Taylor, which begins with entries for "Brower and Taylor" is archived in the New York Historical Society Manuscript Collection (see this entry at WorldCat).

The will of John N. Brower was proved 25 February 1828, therefore he died sometime between the 21st and 25th of February 1828. An exact date of death has not yet been found. John N. Brower does not mention any children in his will, and no other evidence has been found, with the exception of the 1810 census mentioned above, that he had children. In the will he names his with Susan, and from the fact that she brought property of her own to their marriage, it is probable that she had been married previously. A marriage record for John N. Brower and Susan has not been located, and her family name is not yet known. The Poughkeepsie Reformed Church includes the record of the baptism of Sarah Warmer (baptized 4 April 1811, born 13 Oct 1775) the wife of Jno. Brower. "Jno." was a common abbreviation for John, and it may be possible, although far from certain, that John N. Brower was Jno. Brower. If this is the case than John N. Brower's marriage to Susan would have been a second marriage.

Also mentioned in the will, receiving the residue or remainder of the estate as well as the real and personal property left to Susan should she die or remarry, are "my now brothers and sisters," who are differentiated from "my half brothers and sisters." John's father, Nazareth Brouwer, was married three times and had seven children (including John) by his first wife, and eight children by his third wife, Deborah Wiltsie, who was twenty years his junior. His second wife was Catharina Dolson, and Nazareth had no children by her. The will does not state the names of John N. Brower's brothers and sisters.