Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

George J. Brower of Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York

George J. Brower was born ca. 1809 in New York County, New York (1855 NY State census). He is found on the U. S. census records of 1850 and 1860 in Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, but appears to have died prior to the taking of the 1870 U. S. census when his wife, Laura, is enumerated as the head of household. Although George J. Brower's direct Brower/Brouwer ancestry is not certain, we do know through Y-DNA testing of a direct descendant, that George J. Brower must be a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. The Y-DNA test results of the descendant, along with a consideration of the names a few of George J. Brower's children, leads us to a probable placement in the large family of Adam Brouwer's descendants.

The descendant of George J. Brower tested through the Brewer DNA Project, is represented by kit #360871. Results from a 67 marker Y-DNA test, and their comparison to other descendants of Adam Brouwer can be seen on the Y-DNA results page at the Brewer DNA Project website. The Adam Brouwer Group DNA Results page at the Brouwer Genealogy Database will be updated with the participant's results sometime in the next few months. At the 67 marker level of testing* the descendant of George J. Brower most closely matches (66 of 67 markers) two descendants of Adam Brouwer's eldest son, Pieter Brouwer. A third match at 66/67 is with a participant whose complete Brouwer lineage has not been determined through traditional research but who is believed to also be a descendant of Pieter Brouwer. Also of interest, is that at the 37 marker level, George J. Brower's descendant has just a one-step genetic difference (36 of 37) with kit #207810. This participant is a descendant of Pieter Brouwer through Pieter's great-great grandson Nicholas Brouwer of New York City (b. 6 Aug 1775) and his wife Christina Weyman. (See the Pieter Brouwer Y-DNA Chart). Based upon given names found among George J. Brower's children, it is highly likely that George J. Brower is a previously unknown son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman.

It should first be noted that no record of birth or baptism for George J. Brower has yet been found. His date of death or place of burial is not known, but he was alive for the taking of the 1860 census, but was deceased before the taking of the 1870 census. Probate records for Nicholas Brouwer have also not been found. His date of death is not known but it is suspected that he died sometime during the 1830s. Christina (Weyman) Brower died on 16 June 1869 and is buried in Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, but a record of the the settlement of her estate has also not been located. It is possible that there are deeds among the land records in either or both New York County and Kings County involving the transfer of property involving heirs of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman that might have genealogical evidence. Such records have to still be searched for.

What is known of George J. Brower is currently limited to the U.S. Federal Census records of 1850 and 1860, and the New York State census of 1855. From the census records it appears that George J. Brower was probably married twice, although this cannot be claimed with certainty, as the 1850 and 1860 Federal census records do not include stated relationships between persons found in any given household. In 1850, George J. Brower is found at Castleton, Richmond Co. (Staten Island), New York.

George J. Brower household 1850 U.S. census (NARA via
 The household includes "Laura Brower," whose age is given as 39, born in Pennsylvania; Cordelia Brower, age 18; Albertus Brower, age 17; Horace Brower, age 6; Nichol Brower, age 5; Christina Brower, age 2; and Louis Brower; age 1 month (written as 1/12). It appears that the recording of Laura's age as 39, in this census, which would imply that she was born ca. 1811, is in error. All subsequent records involving Laura indicate that she was born seven or more years later, ca. 1818 to ca. 1825. In 1855 she is age 29. In 1860, she is age 39, born in Pennsylvania. In 1870 she is age 45, born in New York. In 1880, age 62, born in New York. Finally, the record of Laura Brower's death on 11 April 1900, gives her age as 79. I suspect that Laura's age given in 1850 is the most out of line, and that she was probably born in the early 1820s. If correct, and assuming that Cordelia (age 18) and Albertus (age 17) found in George J. Brower's household in 1850 are his children (and their ages are correct), then it would appear that Laura could not be their mother, and that George J. Brower could have had a previous wife who is not yet identified. It also should be noted that the next child in 1850 is Horace, age 6. The eleven year gap between the ages of Albertus and Horace could be explained by the death of a first wife followed by a period when George was a widower, followed by a second marriage to Laura. The given names of two of the younger children, Nichol (Nicholas in 1855 and 1860) and Christina is what leads us to the belief that George J. Brower was a son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman. In 1860, 1870 and 1880, we also have the presence of a son Solomon (a.k.a. Solomon D. Brower) in the household, and this name is also a clue that George J. Brower belongs to the family of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman.

George J. Brower 1860 US census (NARA via
Nicholas Brouwer was a son of Jacob Brouwer and Marie Catharine Jeander. One of Nicholas' sisters, Maria, was married to Solomon Davis. It does not appear that the couple had children, and Nicholas named one of his sons (probably the youngest) Solomon Davis Brower, no doubt in honor of his sister's husband. Has noted, George J. Brower named a son, Solomon D. Brower. In turn, Solomon D. Brower named a son, George Davis Brower (b. 1888). It is not known what George J. Brower's middle initial stands for, but it should be pointed out that the family name of Nicholas Brouwer's wife, Marie Catharine, was Jeander.

Laura has been identified by the participant in the Y-DNA project, as Laura Porter, and a couple of user submitted family trees at state she was a daughter of Horace H. Porter. I have not had the opportunity to research or verify these statements, but have encountered no reason to question Laura's identification. George and Laura's eldest child was named Horace Holden Brower. He was a Civil War veteran who lost a leg in action in 1862, and lived most of his adult life in Washington D.C.

Nine children have been identified for George J. and Laura (Porter) Brower. In addition to the above mentioned Horace H., Nicholas, Christina and Solomon D., are George A. (1850-1915, for some reason recorded as Louis in 1850), Mary (b. ca. 1853), Theodore M. (b. 1857), William (b. ca. 1859) and Laura (b. ca. 1863). Descendants have been traced for Horace H., Solomon D. and George A. using resources at (see George J. Brower and Laura Porter). The 1855 State census at Castleton, Richmond County, states that the children Horace and Nicholas were born in Brooklyn, while Christina, George and Mary were born in Richmond County. The 1840 U.S. census at Brooklyn has a George Brower as the head of a household of 1 male under 5, 1 male 20-30, and 1 female 20-30, and 1 female 60-70. This record could pertain to George J. Brower's family with a first (unknown) wife, and perhaps the female age 60-70 is the widowed Christina (Weyman) Brouwer.

While genetic evidence confirms that George J. Brower is certainly a descendant of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, L. I., and while genetic evidence coupled with onomastic observations leads us to suspect that George J. Brower is a son of Nicholas Brouwer and Christina Weyman, confirming evidence for this likelihood evades discovery. As time permits we will continue to search for birth, baptism or death records, probate files, and land records for additional evidence.

*Although Family Tree DNA offers Y-DNA testing for as few as 37 markers, it is now recommended that all new participants ordering Y-DNA tests, test at least at the 67 marker level. It is also suggested that all who have previously tested, but at less than the 67 marker level, upgrade to at least the 67 marker level. Data at the 67 marker level is more useful when trying to identify genetic signatures for all the numerous lines of descent from Adam Brouwer, and other Brouwer/Brower/Brewer progenitors.

November 12, 2014 Update: Edith Polhemus has brought to my attention the date of death, and age at death for George J. Brower. A notice was published in the New York Herald, March 10, 1863: "At Stapleton, S. I. on Saturday, March 7, GEORGE J. BROWER, aged 55 years, 10 months & 7 days..." Members of the D.D. Tompkins Fire Dept. were invited to attend the funeral and it was requested that the notice be copied in the "Roundout and Kingston papers." This date and age calculates George's date of birth to 28 April 1807. A thank you to Edith for the new information.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Will of Joseph G. Brower of the City of New York, 1836

The will of Joseph G. Brower of the City of New York, Merchant Tailor, is found in New York County, Surrogate's Court, Will Book 75. Images are online at Family Search in New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971, New York, Wills 1836 vol. 75, new pages 364-366 (old pages 350-351) (images 226-227). Additional documents are found in New York, Probate Records, 1629-1971, New York, Proceedings 1834-1836 vol. 3, pages 384-387 (images 242 and 243).

A summery of Joseph G. Brower's will dated 6 May 1836 (proved 8 August 1836), and what is recorded in the proceedings of 21 July 1836:
Joseph G. Brower, of the City of New York, Merchant Tailor. Directs that all just debts and funeral expenses be paid out of his estate. Executors of the estate are to have at their discretion the ability to sell real estate and to put the proceeds at interest or mortgage for benefit of the estate. Wife Charlotte to have income from said interest for her own benefit and for the education and support of "our children" (not named, nor number of children stated). Appoints as executrix his wife Charlotte and as executors his friends Henry Garner and Edgert Scudder of the City of New York. Witnesses: John M. McKinley, Chas. W. Sandford, both of New York City (addresses given). Proved 8 August 1836. Proceedings dated 21 July 1836 name as the heirs of Joseph G. Brower, his widow Charlotte, and heirs Joseph Henry DeWitt Brower and Charlotte Ann Brower. The widow Charlotte Brower is appointed guardian of the two children. The proceedings also state that Joseph G. Brower died in Brooklyn on 17 July 1836, and that he was a resident of New York County (Manhattan).

From the above it is found that Joseph G. Brower was a merchant tailor, lived in New York City, and died at Brooklyn. His wife's name was Charlotte and they had two children, a son Joseph Henry DeWitt Brower and a daughter Charlotte Ann Brower, both presumed to be minors as their mother was appointed their guardian. Additional searching has found that Joseph G. Brower's death was reported in the New York Herald, July 20, 1838. Unfortunately, the website Old Fulton NY Post Cards, probably the best free site online for New York newspaper images, only has PDFs of the New York Herald beginning in the year 1841.

Further research yields a bit more regarding Joseph G. and Charlotte Brower's family, but nothing on Joseph G. Brower's ancestry or Charlotte's family name. Joseph G. Brower was baptized, presumably as an adult, on 2 June 1826 at the Vandewater Street Presbyterian Church in New York City. Joseph Henry Dewitt Brower, son of Joseph G. and Charlotte Brower, was baptized in the same church on 12 December 1828. He was born on 21 June 1828.

The 1830 U. S. census finds two men named Joseph Brower  enumerated as heads of households in New York County (Manhattan). The first is found in the 7th Ward and the household is one male aged 5-9, and one male aged 50-59. There are no females in the household. The second Joseph Brower is found in the 3rd Ward with a household of one male 10-14, one male 30-39, one female 15-19, two females 20-29, and one female 30-39. There is not enough information here to tell us which one, if either, is Joseph G. Brower. I suspect that neither is Joseph G. Brower.

As noted above, Joseph G. Brower died in 1836, and in 1840, Charlotte Brower is found as a head of household on the U. S. census in New York City's 10th Ward with a household of one male 10-14, one female 5-9, one female 30-39, and one female 40-49. I suspect that this Charlotte Brower is likely Joseph's widow. Also in 1840, Charlotte Brower and Henry Garner, executors of the estate of Joseph G. Brower, deceased, and Joseph Henry DeWitt Brower and Charlotte Ann Brower, were listed as defendants when sued in the Chancery Court in New Jersey by Peter Mount. A notice of this action was posted in the New York Evening Post, apparently in May of 1840 (exact date uncertain, see column two, third up from bottom in this image found online at the website). Back in November of 1837, a Bill was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature titled, "An Act for the relief of the Executors and Trustees of Joseph G. Brower, deceased, with an amendment" (Votes and Proceedings of the Sixty-Second General Assembly of the State of New Jersey Legislature, Newark: M. S. Harrison, 1838, page 35).

In 1850, Charlotte Brower is found as the head of a household on the U. S. census in the 16th Ward, 3rd District, New York City, New York County. Her age is given as 47 years and her place of birth as New York. There are three others in the household, Samuel G. Vanusden (as transcribed by, age 22, a chairmaker; Charlotte A. Vanusden, age 18; and Hester A. Turner, age 12. I am assuming that Charlotte A. Vanusden is Joseph G. and  Charlotte Brower's daughter, and she is the wife of Samuel G. Vanusden. If so, it would have been her first marriage. Hester A. Turner's relationship to the others in the household is, as of now, unknown.

Charlotte Brower household, 1850 U.S. Census (NARA via
Charlotte Brower, the widow of Joseph G. Brower, died on 2 May 1887 at her daughter's house in Brooklyn, New York. Her death was reported in the Brooklyn Daily Union, May 4, 1887. Her daughter is described as "Mrs. T. W. Meighan." Her age at death, which may be overstated, is given as 89 years. A search of both the New York County and Kings County Surrogate's Court records did not find a will for the widow Charlotte Brower. It is possible that there are proceedings in the Administration records for Kings County, but that search has not yet been attempted. In 1860 and 1870, Charlotte Brower is found in the household of Thaddeus W. Meighan (recorded on the U. S. census records of those years respectively as "Mahan" and "Meighl"). In 1880, Charlotte Brower, widow, age 80, is found in the household of Charlotte "Minghan" also a widow.

Charlotte Ann Brower, the daughter of Joseph G. and Charlotte Brower, married Thaddeus W. Meighan on 29 March 1852 at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in New York City (as stated in a few "Public Family Trees" found on, none of which display a direct source for the statement). The couple had nine children born between 1852 and 1874. The birth record of one son, Thomas Seaquist Meighan, 2 October 1869 in Brooklyn, can be found online in a Family Search database (here the mother's surname is incorrectly transcribed as "Brown"). In 1860, Thaddeus W. and Charlotte "Mahan" with four children and Charlotte Brower, age 60, are found in Ward 20, District 6, New York City, New York County. In 1870, Thaddeus and Charlotte "Meighl" with seven children, and Charlotte Brower, age incorrectly stated as 60, are found in Ward 13, Brooklyn, Kings County. Thaddeus W. Meighan died 4 January 1874, and his death was reported in a number of New York City area newspapers including the Eastern State Journal (White Plains, New York), 9 January 1874. Thaddeus W. Meighan was apparently a journalist, editor, play-write, author and composer of note in the New York City area during his time. A web search of his name will bring up enough hits to keep anyone interested in perusing his life more, busy for a time. The Eastern State Journal death notice reads as follows:

      "Thaddeus W. Meighan, one of the oldest and most versatile writers of the metropolitan press, died on Sunday last, after a short illness. He had just accepted the position of managing editor of the Express when taken sick. There is not a paper in New York city with which Mr. M. had not at sometime or other been connected."

Charlotte Ann (Brower) Meighan died on 1 May 1922, in Brooklyn at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Frances C. Vander Waag. This as reported in the Brooklyn Standard Union, 3 May 1922. Her death was recorded and is found in the New York City Death Index, Charlotte A. Meighan, age 86, died 1 May 1922, Kings County (cert #9878). A copy would have to be purchased from the New York City Department of Records. It may contain her mother's maiden name.

Joseph G. and Charlotte Brower's son, Joseph Henry DeWitt Brower, is found on the 1850 U. S. census at the correctional facility at Ossning ("Sing Sing") in Westchester County, New York. His age is recorded as 22 years, born in New York City, a clerk, he was incarcerated in 1849, convicted of Grand Larceny.

Joseph H. Brower, 1850 U.S. census (NARA via

 The Eastern States Journal (1849, exact date uncertain but likely in October) reports under the Grand Jury proceedings, the case of The People vs. Joseph H. Brower alias Joseph H. Dewitt, indicted for grand larceny, pleading not guilty (second column). On the same page, further down the same column, under September 20, we find that Joseph H. Brower alias Joseph H. Dewitt was found guilty of horse stealing. He was sentenced to two years "apprenticeship under Mr. Porter, warden at Sing Sing." (Image from, search using "Joseph H. Brower").

On 11 March 1864,  Joseph H. Brower of New York City, age 36 (b. ca. 1828), enlisted at New York City in Company U, New York 25th Cavalry Regiment. The New York City Death Index has an entry for a Joseph H. Brower, age 76, died 20 January 1905, Kings Co., New York (cert #1434). A copy would have to be ordered from the New York City Department of Records to view other information, such as the names of his parents (if recorded).

Joseph G. Brower wrote his will and died in 1836. His age at death, and where or when he was born is not presently known, nor are the names of his parents or his ancestry. He was a "merchant tailor," and had also been described as a "tailor and draper." His wife, Charlotte's family name is unknown, but the death certificate, filed in Kings County, of her daughter Charlotte Ann (Brower) Meighan, may provide an answer to her identity. Charlotte (___) Brower was born about 1800 (probably between 1798 and 1803). Daughter Charlotte Ann (ca. 1834-1922) has been traced and she left descendants. The life of son Joseph Henry DeWitt Brower (1828-poss. 1905) is known only incompletely. Whether or not he married and has descendants has not been determined. Although it appears that he served during the Civil War (enlisting in 1864) Joseph H. Brower has not been located on the census records of 1860, 1870, 1880, or 1900.

Please feel free to use the comments section to add any additional information.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Will of William Brower of Monroe Co., New York and Linn Co., Missouri

Family Search just announced the addition of Missouri Probate Records to their growing collection of free online records. This is a browseable collection, no search index has been created, and the probate records are organized by county.

The will of William Brower, of the Town of Parma, Monroe County, New York, dated 21 August 1860, was probated in Linn County, Missouri and is recorded in Will Book A, pages 84-90. It can be viewed online beginning with image 52 of "Missouri, Probate Records, 1750-1998 > Linn > Wills, 1869-1891, Vol A."

William Brower's will is summarized as follows:
William Brower of the Town of Parma, County of Monroe, and State of New York. After payment of all debts and funeral charges, I bequeath the use of all my real and personal property and estate to my beloved wife Loretta Brower for and during her natural life. If the interest or income of said property is not sufficient for her comfortable support and maintanence I give her enough of the principal for that purpose.
After the decease of my wife Loretta, I give and bequeath three eighths parts of all my property there remaining to my son Jonathan L. Brower.
After decease of my wife, I give and bequeath the balance of my said property, that is five eighths parts to my daughter Cynthia L. Wilder, and my granddaughter Rose A. Hall to be divided equally between them share and share alike. Should my said granddaughter die without heirs of her body, I give and bequeath her share to my said son Jonathan L. Brower and daughter Cynthia L., to be divided equally between them.
I give and bequeath to my granddaughter Loretta A. Blanchard two hundred dollars to be paid to her after the death of my said wife, and previous to any division of the said property between my other legaties.
I direct my executrix to procure suitable gravestones for me, and bequeath a sufficient sum for gravestones for my said wife, the gravestones to be paid from my property before any division is made. Appoints his wife, Loretta Brower, as executrix. Signed Wm Brower. Witnesses: J. E. Paterson, N. C. Paterson, both of Parma, New York.

Following the William Brower's will in the Linn County will book is a lengthy proof beginning on 18 September 1873, involving the witness, Mrs. N. C. Paterson who appears before Judge H. R. Brill in Ramsey County, Minnesota. Mrs. Paterson's answers to a set of questions tells us that she is Nancy C. Paterson, age 51, now a resident of St. Paul, Minnesota. On 21 August 1860 she lived in Parma Centre (sic), Monroe County, New York, and her husband was John E. Paterson, an attorney at law who practiced at Parma Center. Her husband, John E. Paterson, died on 17 March 1870 at Parma Centre (sic). Mrs. Paterson testifies that she did witness William Brower sign the will which was drawn up by her husband in his office, and that William Brower appeared to be of sound mind at the time.
On 11 December 1873, Jefferson Wilder appears before the Probate Judge in Linn County, Missouri and testifies that he is familiar with J. E. Paterson's signature, and that he had died some three years earlier in Parma Center, New York, and that William Brower died in Linn County, Missouri in January 1873. Jefferson Wilder states that the will was found among William Brower's papers. Based upon the testimony of Mrs. Paterson and Jefferson Wilder, the Linn County Probate Judge proved the will on 11 December 1873.

William Brower was a son of Matheus Brouwer (a.k.a. Matthew Brewer) and his second wife Sarah West. His birth date of 23 November 1792, and baptism date of 14 April 1793 are recorded at the Dutch Reformed Church at Schaghticoke, in Rensselaer County, New York. William is a great-great grandson of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. William's wife, Loretta, has not been identified further. Perhaps her family name was Lyon (or Lyons) as her son Jonathan has been stated to have been named "Jonathan Lyon Olonzo Brower." Two children are identified in the will.

Son, Jonathan L. Brower was born in New York, according to his gravestone, on 6 September 1817. He died on 23 May 1876 at Wellsville, Montgomery County, Missouri. He was married twice, first to Ascenath Wilder, and second, in Michigan on 11 December 1847, to Sarah Mariah Vansise. Jonathan had eleven children between his two wives, the eldest being Loretta Ascenath, born in 1841, who married James Blanchard and is mentioned in William Brower's will. Jonathan and his family apparently lived in Michigan and in Illinois before settling in Missouri. Further, and more accurate research is needed on Jonathan and his descendants.

Daughter, Cynthia L. Brower was born 17 December 1827 in New York, and died 7 June 1880 in Missouri. She was married to Jefferson Wilder in New York. The dates here are from an internet search and require further confirmation. This family has not been researched further. William Brower's will also mentions a granddaughter, Rose A. Hall, who may be a daughter of Cynthia L. (Brower) Wilder. She is not a daughter of Jonathan L. Brower.

The ten year gap in birth dates between Jonathan and Cynthia would lead us to believe that there were additional children of William Brower and his wife Loretta who may have died in childhood. William's household is found on the 1850 U.S. census at Parma, Monroe County, New York, and in the household is one Amy A. Brower, age 32, born in New York. She could be another daughter of William and Loretta. Rose A. Hall, could be a daughter of Amy A. Brower.

William Brower household, 1850 U.S. Census (NARA via
 William Brower was in Parma in 1840 with a household of 1 male 10-15, 1 male 20-30, 1 male 40-50, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 20-30, 1 female 40-50. In 1860 he is also found at Parma, New York, age 67, with his wife Loretta, age 64, and Rosah Hale (no doubt Rose A. Hall) age 5. Family relationship descriptions were not specified on the U.S. census records prior to 1880. In 1870, William Brower, age 77, born in New York, can be found at Parson Creek, Linn County, Missouri, with Loretta, and Rosa Hall, age 15.

No direct male descendants of William Brower have yet participated in the Brewer DNA Project by taking a Y-DNA test. Direct male descendants of two of William Brower's brothers have participated, and their Y-DNA test results match others who are descendants of Adam Brouwer of Gowanus, Long Island. They can be found on the Pieter Brouwer Y-DNA Chart at the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. Y-DNA testing of a direct male descendant would help to confirm William's placement as a descendant of Adam Brouwer, and would be of help in the effort to establish genetic relationships between Adam Brouwer's descendants.