Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia: Two More Sources

In the previous post of December 18th, three published sources for researching lineages back to George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia were reviewed. This post will cover two more. The two covered here should be used together and when used in such a way are more valuable than the previously mentioned three. Still, the two discussed in this post are not adequate in themselves for proof of a descent from George Brewer. At least not for our purposes. To reiterate what has been stated earlier, the purpose of this series of posts is not to compile a genealogy of the descendants of George Brewer. The purpose is to identify provable lineages for a few of our participants in the Brewer Y-DNA Project who currently believe that they are descendants of George Brewer. To date, none of the current participants have proved their lineage, and some of the pedigrees that have been submitted, have errors.

The first work includes two supplements. Marvin T. Broyhill III,  The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776: with notes of migrations of their descendants into North Carolina and other states (Tullahoma, Tennessee: Brewer Researcher. 1992). Digital copies of this work along with the two supplements are available online, for free, through the Family History Library's online catalog. It is important to recognize that this first work, published in 1992, was a Working Draft. The two supplements are: The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1676, Supporting Documentation Part I, Virginia County Records, Virginia Marriage Records, Virginia Church Parish Records (Estill Springs, TN: Brewer Researcher. 1994), and The Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1676, Supporting Documentation Part II, English Records, More Virginia Records, Military Records, Related Families, NC Census, Land, Marriage and Estate Records, NC County Records (Estill Springs, TN. 1996).

The second work, which should be used in conjunction with Marvin T. Broyhill's work, is Foy E. Varner, Jr., Brewer Families of Southeast America, A Discussion and Correlation of the Literature (Kaneohe, HI: the Author. 2003). This work is available as an e-book (PDF) by contacting the author, Foy E. Varner, Jr. In using this work it is my suggestion that you first read the introduction at page 5. In particular, I would ask you to read, re-read, and then re-read again, the second paragraph. I have corresponded with a lot of people over the past fifteen years of working on genealogy relating to the Brouwer families of New Netherland, and this second paragraph sums up, very succinctly, the mind set that too many people have when they first begin searching for their ancestors. I would add to it that finding your correct genealogy takes a lot more than taking a DNA test or clicking on a fluttering leaf, or accepting what has been previously published. It takes a lot of work, and it is best, and most rewarding, to do it yourself.

With regards to Marvin T. Broyhill's work, the two supplements are more valuable than the volume they are supplementing. The supplements contain abstracts of records that the author had collected. This collection is valuable in that it brings together, in one place, abstracts of records that would otherwise take a terrific amount of time and expense to collect. Having said that, what is presented in the two supplements are still abstracts, they are not records in and of themselves. Abstracts, and transcriptions, can of course contain errors. And, each and every time an abstract or transcription is recopied, there is an opportunity for new errors to creep in. What is valuable in Broyhill's supplements is that a source, to varying degrees, is provided for each abstract. This is very helpful in shortening the time it might take to locate the original when needed. The abstracts in the supplements are arranged by county, which I found to be very efficient. It makes it easier to focus on, and find records for, one location at a time. In putting together a Database for the Brewer DNA Project's "Lanier - Brewer" group, I have relied heavily on Broyhill's two supplements. But, again I will emphasize, the abstracts in Broyhill's supplements are not substitutes for original records. If an issue regarding the interpretation of a record from the abstract arises, it will be necessary to locate and examine the original. If you are preparing your own pedigree to accompany your Y-DNA test results, my suggestion is to locate and obtain a copy of each original record abstracted by Broyhill, that you have used in compiling your own pedigree.

Broyhill's initial volume, as published in 1992 as a working draft, is much less useful than the supplements. I do not believe that Broyhill intended his work as a final genealogy. Each and every page is labeled at the bottom with either "working draft" or "1st draft." Unfortunately, some have apparently accepted Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, as a final genealogy and have used it verbatim to compile their own lineages. Ben R. Brewer, for one, in his The Long Brewer Road (see the December 18, 2014 post), acknowledges the work of Marvin T. Broyhill, and then essentially copies it, with few alterations, for his own work. In fact, the more I consider Ben R. Brewer's work, the less respect I have for it. I can not see how Broyhill intended his 1st draft to be used that way. My impression in regards to Broyhill's, Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, is that it was never intended as a final genealogy and should not be used as such. Anyone who has submitted a pedigree to the Brewer DNA Project, and used Broyhill's work as their only source, needs to go back and re-evaluate each placement that was taken directly from Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia. Many of the placements of individuals within families found in the work are conjecture. The compiler describes it as a working or 1st draft, and in light of that, this work should be thought of as a compilation of the author's thoughts as he is trying to work out some very difficult genealogies of multiple unrelated families. Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776, is in itself not acceptable for compiling a pedigree for inclusion in the Brewer DNA Project.

What can be, and should be taken from Marvin T. Broyhill's initial work is an appreciation for the fact that there were numerous, and certainly unrelated, Brewer immigrants who came to colonial Virginia during the 17th century. It is also certain that there were many more, whose immigration records are lost, that came to the colony during the 18th century. Broyhill lists 17th century Brewer immigrants on pages 16 to 19. The opening words to the Brewer DNA Project's main page, "Not all BREWERs descend from the same lineage," is applicable even to just this small sub-set of Brewers found in colonial Virginia and North Carolina. Of the eleven groups we have identified at the Brewer DNA Project's Y-DNA Results page, eight represent groups who have origins in the region of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and other places in the American south. I have no doubt that in the twelfth, "Un-grouped" category, that many of the results found there also have their earliest known ancestors found in the southern states.
Not all BREWERs whose origins are in the mid-Atlantic and southern states are related. Many do not share a common ancestor with others. George Brewer of Brunswick Co., Virginia, and his claimed descendants are just one family among many. They may or may not be the largest, but the fact that they are only one family of many must be accepted by anyone who is researching their Brewer ancestry in the mid-Atlantic and southern states. Please keep an open mind to this when researching your own individual ancestry.

Foy E. Varner, Jr.'s Brewer Families of Southeast America, as stated in the subtitle, is a Discussion and Correlation of the Literature, that literature being the work previously published by other authors. As mentioned above, this is an e-book that is available from the author. If you would like a copy, please send him an e-mail and ask for one. The e-book is 645 pages and about 522 are devoted to Marvin T. Broyhill's work. Also covered are the Ben R. Brewer's Long Brewer Road, and Edward Denton Brewer's House of Brewer. There are five other books as well, including James F. Bowman, The Ambrose Brewer Family, 1753-1855 which I anticipate will get mentioned before this series of posts dedicated to the "Lanier - Brewer" group ends.

Once again, please read the introduction. Here is where Foy E. Varner explains the purpose of his book. It is not a genealogy. Do not copy it for your own pedigree. Foy Varner's work is an excellent companion for help in making sense of previously published material, and Marvin T. Broyhill's work in particular. Broyhill's Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia is largely conjecture. However, when Broyhill's work is viewed as a finished genealogy, as I am afraid many have viewed it, it has to be acknowledged that it is filled with numerous errors. It contains serious misinterpretations, too many assumptions, and incorrect insertions of individuals into families that are not supported by evidence. All of Broyhill's statements found in his 1st draft, need to be questioned. They cannot be accepted at face value. Varner's Brewer Families of Southeast America will help you recognize some of the questions you should be asking about Broyhill's work. His book also offers a great deal more in explanations and reasons, and it includes conjecture of his own, which of course anyone who is serious about researching their own genealogy should question as well.

For those who are preparing a pedigree for the Brewer DNA Project: Use Broyhill's supplements as an initial source of records, but then make the effort to locate the original record you are using. Use Broyhill's 1st draft, along with Foy Varner's Brewer Families of Southeast America, as a guide, and to get clarification on any records found in Broyhill's supplements that you may have questions on. Do not use them as a stand alone source for constructing your pedigree.

In the next post I will point out some readily available sources found online.

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