Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

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.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a well-researched and clearly-sourced post. Joseph G Brower is my great-great-great-grandfather; his daughter Charlotte married my great-great-grandfather, Thaddeus W Meighan. The 1852 marriage date for Thaddeus and Charlotte is from their church-issued wedding certificate, which is in Thaddeus's civil war pension file. I'll add a photo of it to my ancestry tree.


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