Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nathaniel Brewer of Chatham County, North Carolina, Part II

Part II of Nathaniel Brewer, of Chatham County, North Carolina, will focus on Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1), his probable son of the same name, sometimes referred to as Nathaniel Brewer, Jr., and possibly also, referred to as Nathaniel Brewer, Sr., and his probable son of the same name, possibly at times referred to as Nathaniel Brewer, Jr. As noted in the post of January 20, 2015, Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1) is covered by Marvin T. Broyhill in his 1992 "working draft," at page 101 as is assigned the number G4. Broyhill covers Nathaniel3 Brewer (Nathaniel2, George1) on page 102 and assigns him the number G42. Nathaniel4 Brewer (Nathaniel3, Nathaniel2, George1) is not mentioned by Broyhill and he appears to be unaware of his existence. It should be emphasized that the relationship suggested here between the three Nathaniel Brewers is tentative, and has not been proved. No record of probate or estate settlement has been found for the older two Nathaniel Brewers, and so far no other document which explicitly states a relationship has been found.

Evidence of three men named Nathaniel Brewer living simultaneously in Chatham County, North Carolina is found on the 1800 U.S. census returns in the Hillsborough District. The oldest of the three is found on page 156 and has a household of 3 males 10-15, 1 male over 45, 1 female 10-15, 1 female over 45.

Nathaniel Brewer 1800 Chatham Co., fourth from bottom (NARA via
The second Nathaniel Brewer is found in Chatham County on page 181, with a household of 2 free white males under 10, 1 f.w. male 26-44, 3 f.w. females under 10, 1 f.w. female 26-44.

Nathaniel Brewer 1800 Chatham Co., eighth from top (NARA via
The third, and youngest Nathaniel Brewer is found in Chatham County on page 173, with a household of 1 free white male age 16-25, 1 f.w. female under age 10, 1 f.w. female 16-25.

Nathaniel Brewer 1800 Chatham Co., second from bottom (NARA via
 From the above, it appears to me that there are three men, of different generations, named Nathaniel Brewer, in Chatham County, North Carolina in the year 1800.

Starting with the third, the youngest, Nathaniel Brewer and working backwards, he is found on the 1850 census in Chatham County, age 73, born in North Carolina, a farmer. In the household is a woman named Jenny St. John. Family relationship descriptions (wife, son, etc.) were not recorded on the census prior to 1880, so we do not know with certainty the relationship between the two. Nathaniel's age places him as born about 1777. In 1860, he is again found in Chatham County, age recorded as 85, born in North Carolina, with Jenne Brewer, age 84, "houseke(eper)". No doubt the same Jenny as 1850, but this time with the surname, Brewer. Nathaniel's age in 1860, places his birth at about 1775. The 1800 census above, records the youngest Nathaniel as age 16-25, which is in line with the 1850 and 1860 records. This Nathaniel Brewer can be found on the census in Chatham County in the years 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840. The ages in each year are consistent with the Nathaniel of 1800. It is apparent that he had a family, but names of children have not yet been searched for, and a probate record or other settlement of his estate has not been searched for.

Assuming that the youngest Nathaniel Brewer is a son of the middle Nathaniel Brewer, and this Nathaniel was age 26-44 in 1800, therefore born between 1756 and 1774. Taking into account is supposed son's birth date we have to assume he was born towards the very earlier end of that range, so this Nathaniel Brewer was probably born about 1756.

Following the progression, and the assumption that the three Nathaniel's are father-son-grandson, the oldest Nathaniel, over age 45 in 1800, so born prior to 1755, was probably born about 1730, perhaps a bit earlier, perhaps a bit later, but certainly in line for the estimated birth date suggested for Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1).

Moving back to the 1790 census, we find only one man named Nathaniel Brewer as head of household in Chatham County. We would have expected to find two, but a search has only found one. The household consists of 2 free white males including head of household above 16, and 6 free white males under age 16. The column for females has a dash, which I interpret to mean none. Perhaps this is a combined household of the two older Nathaniel Brewers, with the youngest being one of the six males under age 16. Or, perhaps there are sheets missing from the 1790 returns in Chatham County. We can't say for sure.

Moving forward to 1810, there again is only one man named Nathaniel Brewer found as a head of household in Chatham County. His household consists of 1 free white male under age 10, 2 f.w. males 10-15, 1 f.w. male 26-44, 1 f.w. female under 10, 1 f.w. female 26-44, 1 f.w. female over 45. The male age 26-44, obviously the head named Nathaniel Brewer, can only be the third, or youngest of our three. A search of the entire United States in 1810 finds that there is only this one Nathaniel Brewer in the southern states (there are three in Massachusetts where the name is more common). Remember that the returns for Georgia and Tennessee in 1810 do not survive. Still, it appears that it is likely that both of the older two Nathaniel Brewers were deceased by 1810.

There are numerous records regarding men named Nathaniel Brewer found in Chatham County, North Carolina cited by Broyhill (1992 and 1996). Since the two older Nathaniels lived there as adults, at the same time, it is probably impossible to sort them all out and accurately assign them to each of the two men. Some records include the description, "Sr." or "Jr." but others do not. Since there were three men of this name, the middle Nathaniel could be described as "Jr." with respect to the older Nathaniel, and also may have been described as "Sr." with respect to the youngest Nathaniel. Sorting out the various land records (deeds) between the two older men is beyond the scope of this post, and there is little, if any, genealogical data in any of them anyway. However, there are three records that need to be mentioned.

Beginning with the earliest, Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1) inherited 250 acres in Brunswick County, Virginia, as per his father's will. What became of this property? The first record to focus on is one that has not yet been found. Diane Daniel has provided me with an index of deeds involving persons named Brewer found in Brunswick County, but the name Nathaniel Brewer is absent. Still, it would be helpful to find out what became of Nathaniel's inheritance. When, and to whom did he sell his land in Brunswick County? As noted in Part I, we first see the older Nathaniel in Chatham County in 1773, when he was obligated to sell land and other assets to cover a debt. The land was located in Chatham County, and so Nathaniel was established there by 1773.

The second record is a deed in Chatham County dated 12 April 1799. In earlier deeds, the Nathaniel Brewer (one of the first two) signed with his mark. In the earliest, the 1773 deed, the mark was the letter N. In later deeds, the mark was an X. In this deed we have Nathaniel Brewer selling 13 acres on the Haw River to Isaac Petty, and in this case Nathaniel signs (as indicated in Broyhill's abstract, Part II, p. 91) with his name. The deed is witnessed by Thos. Snipes and Nathaniel Brewer, who also (as indicated by Broyhill) signed his name. The original deed should be examined here, but it appears to me that the two younger Nathaniel Brewers were each able to sign their names, while the oldest signed with his mark, at first "N" and later "X". Perhaps all of the deeds in which the Nathaniel involved signed with a mark, belong to Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1).

The third record is the most important and an original has to be located. This record has genealogical value. Broyhill does not mention it in his 1992 "working draft," nor in his Part II supplement which includes the abstracts of records from North Carolina. Foy E. Varner, Jr., in Brewer Families of Southeast America (2003), brings our attention to this at page 331. He points to Ben R. Brewer's Long Brewer Line (1993), page 47. Here, Ben Brewer cites a court record from "Chatham Co. Pleas & Quarter, 1804," (and apparently later, "Chatham Co. Bk A, pp 356-365") in which William Littlejohn and George Allston, surviving partners of the Ralph McNair Co., recovered a judgement against Nathaniel Brewer, Sr., who before his death had fraudulently conveyed 126 acres on Drummond Branch in the County of Chatham, NC, to his son Francis Brewer, as sworn by them. Ben Brewer then adds, "Nathaniel Brewer died intestate, leaving the identified children listed here." Ben Brewer assigns this record to Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1) and lists as his children as, David (a mistake for Daniel) who is not recorded in this 1804 court record; Nathaniel Brewer, Jr.; Francis Brewer; Daniel Brewer; William Brewer; George Brewer; James Brewer; Patience Brewer (m. Charles Vickers); Lucy Brewer (m. John Mebane); Milly Brewer (m. William Morgan); Susannah Brewer (m. Charles Powell); and Nancy Brewer (m. Levi Powell). The original of this court record needs to be examined before we can determine to which of the two older Nathaniel Brewers it belongs. The names of the heirs must also be confirmed as it is clear from Ben Brewers list of children that he made errors (David for Daniel, followed by a second Daniel). The curious thing about this record is that Marvin Broyhill, in his Part II supplement, informs us that Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Chatham County from 1800 to 1805 are missing. The online catalog of the Family History Library seems to confirm this (see Minutes, 1774-1861). Note that film #590299 covers the years 1774-1800, while film #590300 covers the years 1805-1822. And, Sue Ashby's online transcription of the Minutes from 1797 to 1800, ends (at the bottom) with "The next film C.022.30002, begins with the May term of 1805. Do not know what happened to the records for the, 5 years between." So, it is a mystery as to where Ben Brewer found this record that he claims names the heirs of Nathaniel Brewer. We would like to hear from anyone who is aware of the location of this original record cited by Ben Brewer, which I believe had the date 6 April 1804.

It appears that Ben Brewer was also unaware of the presence of the third, and youngest Nathaniel Brewer. Ben Brewer assigns this 1804 court record to Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1). Broyhill (1996), p. 91, abstracts a deed from Chatham County Deeds, L-11, dated 1 February 1800, as "Nathaniel Brewer (Beaver?) Senr. of Chatham Co. to Thomas Brewer of same for £80, a tract of land, 126 acres in Chatham Co., beginning at Isaac Pettys corner on Drummans branch...Pettys corner...Lutterloks line. Signed Nathaniel (X) Brewer (or Beaver?). Wit.: Thos. Snipes, Martha Snipes. Proved Feb 1800 by Martha Snipes." Since the Nathaniel Brewer of this deed signed with his mark, it may be that the assignment of the mysterious 1804 record to the older Nathaniel is the better choice. A discrepancy exits though in that in Broyhill's abstract of the deed, the grantee is a Thomas Brewer (and two of that name can be found in Chatham Co. in 1800), while Ben Brewer's account calls the grantee, Francis (no man named Francis Brewer is found in 1800). This mystery can only be solved by locating both the February 1800 deed and the April 1804 court record. I would add that the 1804 record may just as well have belonged to Nathaniel3 Brewer (Nathaniel2, George1) in which case some of the children listed on pages 47-48 of Long Brewer Line may well belong to the second Nathaniel Brewer. Both of the older Nathaniel Brewers appear to have been dead by 1810, both were living in 1800, and either one could have died by 1804.

The family of Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1) is not settled. We do not know the name of his wife, or wives. It appears that he had a son Daniel Brewer. He probably is the father of a son Nathaniel Brewer, as that name does not seem to appear in any other family of Brewers in Chatham County during the 1700s. He may be the father of Zion Brewer, who left North Carolina for Tennessee by 1805, is reputed to have been in Kentucky, and finally settled in Greene Co., Indiana. We know that Zion was in Chatham Co. between 1797 and 1802, and the land he sold in 1802 was in close proximity to the lands mentioned in other deeds involving Nathaniel Brewer. In fact he witnesses a deed for Nathaniel Brewer in 1801. He cannot be a son of Henry2 Brewer (George1) or Oliver2 Brewer (George1), both of whom settled in Chatham County. Until more convincing evidence is located, Zion Brewer is best placed, as Broyhill suggested, as a possible son of Nathaniel2 Brewer (George1).


  1. Hi Chris, I am descended from Nathaniel Brewer. Back in 1997, I received a note from a Phyllis Magelky who had copied a probate for Nathaniel Brewer of Chatham Co., NC on a microfilm at the FHL of the LDS microfilm #1906925, item 2, Chatham Co., NC Estate Records 1772 - 1806 filed under Thomas Brewer. I have scanned copies of the original document if you would like to see them. Your Brewer blog is really interesting. Thanks...Patty Smith

  2. Patty, if you'd like to e-mail the digital images to me, I would be happy to place them online so that others might access them. If so, send to Although I am not actively researching this group I'm sure there are many others who are, and perhaps they would like to see them. Thanks.


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