Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Friday, January 9, 2015

Henry Brewer of Orange and Chatham Counties, North Carolina

Henry2 Brewer (George1) of Orange and Chatham Counties, North Carolina, was mentioned in his father, George Brewer's will dated 13 July 1741. Henry Brewer wrote is own will on 2 September 1778, it was proved in Chatham County, North Carolina. From this will we have a list of Henry's children which includes five sons. Identifying the five sons should be helpful towards proving pedigrees for descendants of George Brewer who have taken Y-DNA tests with the Brewer DNA Project.

First some background. Henry Brewer is covered by Marvin T. Broyhill in his "working draft," Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776 (1992), beginning at the very bottom of page 103. Foy E. Varner, Jr., in Brewer Families of Southeast America (2003), begins his analysis of the records involving Henry, and Broyhill's interpretation of some of them, at page 291. As stated in earlier posts, researchers should not use Broyhill's work without also consulting Varner's work. Broyhill (1992) places Henry Brewer as George Brewer's third son, and assigns him an arbitrary birth date of "1710??" (meaning ca. 1710, but this is purely a guess). This placement and date of birth came out of Broyhill's misinterpretation of the intent of George Brewer's will (see the post of December 29, 2014). Henry Brewer was more likely one of George Brewer's younger three sons, the other two being Oliver and Nathaniel. He may have been born during the first half of the 1720s, but it is certainly possible that he was born a few years prior to 1720. At any rate, "b. ca. 1720" would be a better estimate than "b. 1710??" It is uncertain as to which of George Brewer's two wives, Sarah Lanier or Alice (___), is Henry's mother. Henry did name a daughter, "Alicen," which might lead us to suspect that Alice was his mother, but he also named a daughter Sarah. That he was one of the younger sons, and was treated in his father's will in the same way that Oliver and Nathaniel were, also gives us a lean towards Alice. That the three left Brunswick Co., Virginia to settle in Chatham Co., North Carolina, implies that the three had a close connection. However, from an examination of the patent and land records in Orange and Chatham Counties, it can be seen that Henry went there prior to Oliver and Nathaniel, and he did so at about the same time as his brother Howell Brewer, who was older than Henry and most certainly a son of Sarah Lanier. In short, based on what is known, the question of who is Henry Brewer's mother, cannot be answered with certainty.

Henry Brewer first appears in Orange County, North Carolina in 1752/1753 when he is found on the tax roll with 3 white persons. Howell Brewer is on this same tax roll with 1 white person. The three are found there again in 1755, and again Henry has 3 white, while Howell has 1 white. It is important to point out here that Orange County, North Carolina was created in 1752 from parts of Bladen, Granville and Johnston Counties. Howell had apparently acquired land in Bladen County, and received patents on these lands in 1754 (patents were often given and recorded some years after that land was acquired). It appears that it may have been Henry who followed Howell to this area of North Carolina. Henry Brewer can be found on numerous land records in Orange County through 1767. In 1771, Chatham County was formed out of Orange County, and in 1772, Henry Brewer begins appearing on land records in Chatham County. Henry did not move from Orange Co. to Chatham Co. A new county was created, and his land was located in the new county. Henry's property was on the Haw River, where he built a mill. A website of interest here is one titled, "The Old Mills of the Haw River Watershed," specifically the page regarding Paces Mill. On this page, the location of Henry Brewer's mill is at no. 9. Here, we can also see the locations of Dry Creek and Wilkinson's Creek, two creeks that are often mentioned in deeds involving Henry's brothers Oliver and Nathaniel, and some of their descendants. Henry Brewer maintained an interest in his original home of Brunswick Co., Virginia as evidenced by a patent that he and his brother-in-law John Vick received on land on Beaver Pond Creek in 1765. Henry sold his interest in this property to John Vick in 1767.

The most important document applicable to the reconstruction of Henry Brewer's family is his will which was dated 2 September 1778. It was proved at the February 1779 session of the Chatham County Court, and therefore Henry Brewer died sometime between those two dates. A digital copy of the original will can be found online at FamilySearch in the "North Carolina, Probate Records, 1735-1970" collection. It is in a book of Unrecorded Wills in Chatham County.

The will of Henry Brewer, 2 September 1778

In addition we have a transcript of the will which has been placed online.

In his will Henry names his wife, Mary, who we assume to be the mother of his children (although we cannot be completely certain of this since we lack birth or baptism records for the children). She received the plantation where Henry lived and half of the mill. Henry's son George received the other half of the mill and land. Sons, Henry and Hubbard received land. Sons Isaac and Oliver were to receive Mary's half of the mill upon her death. Isaac and Oliver each received a mare. Daughter, Ann Parker received one shilling. Apparently she was the only daughter of Henry who was married at the time he wrote his will. The other daughters, Mary, Sarah, Rebeccah, Francis and Alisen, are all referred to with the surname, Brewer. For our objective, which is to discover provable lines of descent for males from Henry's father, George Brewer, we are given from Henry's will, five provable grandsons of George Brewer, namely: George, Henry, Hubbard, Isaac, and Oliver. We now look for leads with these five sons.

Son, George Brewer, who we could identify as George3 Brewer (Henry2, George1) to distinguish him from the other George Brewers in the extended family, was left half the mill and some land that is vaguely described in Henry's will. Broyhill (1992) covers George at page 99 and assigns him the number G31, while Varner picks up on George at page 296. George's wife may have been named Mary, but this is not certain. On 1 February 1786, George Brewer and Mary Brewer, of Chatham Co., sold a "tract of land his father Henry Brewer left him," which included the "Mill seat," to William Thetford. I have not examined the original deed (which should be done) but the abstract of the deed as written by Broyhill does not contain any description of a relationship between George Brewer and Mary Brewer. Therefore, Mary, may be George Brewer's wife, but also may have been Henry Brewer's widow, Mary, who had been left the other half of the mill. Note that the deed (as abstracted) in addition to not using the term "wife," also does not use the term "mother." This leaves open the possibility that Henry's wife, Mary, as named in his will, was a second wife, and was not the mother of (at least) George.

Henry Brewer's son George appears to have remained in Chatham County, North Carolina his entire life. He can be found there on the U.S. census records of 1790, 1810, and 1820 (though absent as a head of household in 1800). He is found on numerous deeds in Chatham Co. from 1786 through 1807. A deed of 14 January 1807 identifies a son, Jones Brewer. The land conveyed was on the North side of the Haw River, mentions the line of William Brewer, and was signed only by George Brewer. George's wife, if living, did not have a hand in this deed. On 10 November 1823, administration on the estate of George Brewer was granted to Jones Brewer in Chatham County. As of this writing, Jones Brewer, is the only provable son of  George3 Brewer (Henry2, George1). But there may have been others.

Jones Brewer can be found on the 1810 U.S. census in Chatham Co., North Carolina. Then, in 1812, he is found on the tax roll in District 2, Robertson County, Tennessee. Also on this roll are an Edmund Brewer, an Addison Brewer, and a John Brewer.

Robertson Co. TN 1812 Tax Roll (Tenn. State Library & Archives, via
Jones Brewer is found on the U.S. census in District 2, Robertson County, Tennessee in 1830, 1840 and, most importantly, in 1850. The 1850 census is, of course, the first in which the names of all members of a household were recorded. On 28 December 1829, in a deed recorded in Chatham Co., North Carolina, Jones Brewer, of Robertson Co., Tennessee, by his attorney Isaac Kirby, with Henry Brewer as attorney for Kirby, sold a tract of land in Chatham Co., North Carolina. Jones Brewer's wife was Sarah Norwood, as proved by a deed from 1805 involving heirs of Sarah's father. In 1853, Jones Brewer's estate was administered in Robertson County by Addison Brewer. In 1858, Addison Brewer was administrator for the estate of Sarah Brewer. This Addison Brewer was Jones Brewer's son, and it can be shown that Jones also had sons named Edmund (b. 1796) and John N. (b. 1813). Addison was born in 1810 and all are buried in a small family cemetery in Orlinda, Robertson Co., Tennessee. As mentioned above, Jones Brewer first appeared in Robertson County in 1812 with Edmund Brewer, Addison Brewer and John Brewer. Edmund Brewer had been there as early as 1805, when he witnessed the will of William Payne.

William Payne Will, 1805 (Robertson Co., TN Wills 1796-1825, via Family Search)

It is clear that the three, Edmund, Addison, and John, found with Jones Brewer on the 1812 tax roll, were not the sons of Jones by the same names. However, since Jones gave three sons these very names, there is reason to suspect that the three were brothers of Jones Brewer, and therefore sons of George3 Brewer (Henry2, George1). Further research, starting with land records for Robertson County, which unfortunately are not available online, is needed. Others found in Robertson Co., Tennessee, during the years that Jones lived there, and who may be related to Jones Brewer, are an Edward Brewer, a Henry Brewer (b. ca. 1803) and another John Brewer.

As a reminder, the purpose of this project is to identify provable pedigrees from George1 Brewer to some of the numerous participants in the Brewer DNA Project who claim George1 as their ancestor. Y-DNA Kit #58365, found on the current Brewer-Lanier Pedigrees page* claims an ancestry from Jones Brewer, through a son named William Brewer, "b. 1794, d. between 1850 and 1851 in Van Buren Co., Arkansas." In the short time I have looked at the family of Jones Brewer, I have not been able to prove that he had a son named William. If proof does exist, we would like to see it, for we would then have a provable pedigree from George1 to a Y-DNA tested descendant.

The remaining four sons of  Henry2 Brewer (George1), Henry, Hubbard, Oliver and Isaac, will be covered in the next post. Additional details and source citations will be found on the, soon to be launched, Brewer-Lanier Database.

Thanks to Terry White, Diane Daniel and Sharon Dodge to helped with the transcription of Henry Brewer's will.

*Use caution with the pedigrees found on this page. Many are in error or are incomplete. It is hoped that by undergoing this project on George Brewer and his descendants, we can prove some of the pedigrees and correct those that are in error.

Map of Chatham County, North Carolina, 1777

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