Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Older Sons of Oliver Brewer of Chatham County, North Carolina

This post will cover the sons of Oliver2 Brewer (George1). Oliver Brewer, of Chatham County, North Carolina was a son of George Brewer, of Brunswick County, Virginia, and most probably George's second wife, Alice (___). As a reminder, and to those who are new to this series of posts, the objective is to identify provable pedigrees for participants in the Brewer DNA Project who believe they are descendants of George Brewer, of Brunswick County, Virginia. Participation in the Project is open to all direct male descendants who are interested and willing to take a Y-Chromosome DNA test. We encourage those who have researched their Brewer ancestry to join, and we also suggest that current members review, and if needed, update their current pedigrees which are currently posted online at

The sons of Oliver Brewer will be considered in the order of how I believe they were born, oldest to youngest. This order will differ from that presented by Marvin T. Broyhill in his 1992 "working draft," Brewer Families of Colonial Virginia, 1626-1776. It is strongly suggested that researchers also consult Foy E. Varner, Jr.'s, Brewer Families of Southeast America (2003).

Edward3 Brewer (Oliver2, George1) is covered by Broyhill at page 98 (No. G26), and by Varner at page 287. Edward Brewer served out of Chatham Co., North Carolina during the Revolutionary War, and applied for a pension in 1834 while living in Randolph Co., North Carolina. He gave his date of birth as 19 October 1762, and he is the only son of Oliver Brewer, and I believe, the only grandson of George Brewer, for whom we have a specific date of birth. In his application file is an inquiry from a Mrs. C. J. McCombe of Gastonia, North Carolina, dated 1919, in which she states that she has spoken with a granddaughter of Edward Brewer, who stated that Edward was an aid to Gen. George Washington, and that he married a daughter of George Washington's sister, who she thinks was named Mary Strickland. Needless to say, the George Washington connection is fiction (Edward, who signed deeds with his mark X, could not be an aid to any officer, and George Washington's only sister Elizabeth (known as Betty) was married to Col. Fielding Lewis, and not to a Strickland). A search of the surname, STRICKLAND, on the 1790 census in North Carolina finds a Jacob Strickland in Guilford Co., a few of the surname in Sampson Co., but none in either Chatham or Randolph Counties. The identity of Edward's wife as Mary Strickland, should be questioned and not accepted without more conclusive evidence.

Edward Brewer witnessed a deed in Chatham Co. in February 1786 in which George Brewer and Mary Brewer sold to William Thetford. On 2 January 1787, Edward bought 36 acres of land on the Haw River in Chatham Co., from his cousin Hubbard Brewer. On 1 January 1795, Edward sold this land to William Edwards. Edward is found on the 1790 U.S. census in Chatham Co. with a household of 2 males under 16, 1 male over 16, 2 females. In 1800 he is found in Randolph Co., North Carolina with a household of 2 males 10-15, 1 male 26-44, 3 females under 10, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 26-44. He is not found on the 1810 census in Randolph Co., but is on the tax roll there in 1812 and 1813 with 200 acres and 1 poll. In 1816, Edward bought 100 acres of Josiah Reaves, a tract on the "waters of Glady Fork of Bever Dam Creek." He is on the tax roll in 1818, again with 200 acres and 1 poll. The 1820 U.S. census for Randolph County does not survive, but Edward is found in 1830, in Regiment 1, Randolph Co., as Edward Brewer, Sr., with a household of 1 male age 60-69, and 1 female age 60-69. Edward Brewer, Jr. is enumerated one household away with William Russell in between. In 1840, Edward Brewer is found in the Southern Division, Randolph County, with a household of 3 males under 5, 1 male 5-9, 1 male 15-19, 1 male 30-39, 1 male 50-59, 1 male 70-79, 1 female 5-9, 1 female 10-14, 1 female 15-19, 3 females 20-29, 1 female 50-59, 6 persons employed in agriculture. As the younger Edward Brewer is not enumerated separately, it is assumed that the 1840 profile is that of a combined household, or put more simply, the elder Edward living with his son and his family. Numerous "Family Trees" found online give Edward's death as 24 March 1845, but, in true internet form, none provide a source. Edward does not appear on the 1850 U.S. census.

From the 1790 and 1800 census records it does appear that Edward could have had two sons. Only one has been identified, and that is Edward Brewer, Jr. (above) who is later found in 1850, in the Southern Division of Randolph Co., age 60, in the household of O. C. Brewer (age 35). Here Edward is enumerated as "Canney" Brewer, and it appears that his full name was Edward Cannon Brewer. Perhaps the name Cannon is a clue to the correct identity of Edward Brewer, Sr.'s wife. In 1860, Edward Brewer, age 73, is in the Southern Division, Davidson Co., as the head of a household, a shoemaker, with Mary Brewer (age 37), Melinda G. Brewer (18), James M. Brewer (12), Joseph A. Brewer (9). All born in North Carolina. The 1840 census implies that Edward, Jr. had a large family and the others listed in 1860 may be grandchildren. Perhaps Mary is a widowed daughter-in-law and the others are her children. The 1860 census does not specify relationships and so those interested should pursue these names further. Two sons have been identified for Edward Jr. The O. C. Brewer of 1850 was Oliver C. Brewer, b. ca. 1815 who is found with a family in Randolph Co. in 1860, 1870 and 1880, the last on the town of New Hope. The other son is Edward Cannon Brewer, who according to his North Carolina Death Certificate was born 3 November 1820 in Randolph County, and died 21 December 1911 in Troy, Montgomery Co., North Carolina. His death certificate records his father as "Eddy" Brewer and his mother as "Connie Lassy." Others (undocumented) have claimed her surname to be Lacy or Lang. She would be the wife of Edward Brewer, Jr., and was apparently deceased before 1850.

 Oliver3 Brewer (Oliver2, George1) is covered by Broyhill (1992) at page 98 (no. G25) and by Varner (2003) at page 284. Broyhill guesses at Oliver's birth date as "1758??" which is too early. He does not name a wife nor does he suggest children. Oliver Brewer is found on the 1800 U.S. census in Hillsborough, Chatham Co., North Carolina with a household of of 2 males under 10, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 26-44, 1 female under 10, 2 slaves. This suggests that Oliver was age 26-44 in 1800 and so was born between 1756 and 1774. Assuming that Oliver is his father's second son (after Edward), then "born 1764 or 1765" might be a better guess. The 1800 census record also implies that Oliver had a family. However, that what became of that family has not yet been discovered. Oliver's descendants have not yet been identified in later records.

On 13 August 1792, Oliver Brewer, Jr., of Chatham County, sold to Oliver Brewer, Sr., of the same place, for £85, a tract of land on the north side of the Haw River, beginning at Edward Brewer's corner...containing 80 acres*. Oliver Brewer is found in a handful of records in Chatham County between the period of 1792 and 1796 regarding such things as road work, jury assignment, and being appointed a "patroller." It is noted that the 1800 census enumeration does not include a free white female of adult age. This may be an error on the census recorder's part, or it may be that whoever Oliver's wife was, had died prior to the taking of the 1800 census. The official enumeration day for this census was 4 August 1800. But then, on 23 September 1800, we have a deed in which "Oliver Brewer and Sarah his wife of Chatham County," sold to George Brewer of the same place, for £300, 152 acres of land on the north side of the Haw River. This record might imply that the 1800 census was in error. Either that or, Oliver and Sarah were married between 4 August 1800 and 23 September 1800, or, we have a situation of two men named Oliver Brewer. This last possibility is doubtful. On 16 August 1799, Oliver entered a land grant of 95 acres in Chatham County, and on 10 August 1801 that land was sold to George Brewer. Oliver's wife is not named in this last deed. In May 1807 there is recorded a bill of sale between Oliver Brewer and Bartholomew Lightfoot, to Elisha Stedman. This is the last entry for Oliver Brewer in Chatham County. He is not found there on the 1810 or 1820 census. There is no Oliver Brewer found in any southern state in 1810, though records for Georgia do not survive. The same is true for 1820, although the census for the eastern Districts in Tennessee do not survive. No will, record of probate, or record of estate settlement for Oliver Brewer has been found in Chatham County. What became of him, and any descendants, has not been discovered.

There is a record of a marriage bond in Knox Co., Tennessee, date 10 January 1804, for the marriage of an Oliver Brewer and Polly Henderson. An image of the record is online at Family Search. Oliver Brewer signs his name to this bond, and his fellow bondsman, Jeremiah Brooks, signs with his mark. Back in Chatham County, the Oliver Brewer of the 1792 deed signed with his mark, an X, while (as per Broyhill's abstract) the Oliver Brewer of the 10 August 1801 deed signed his name. A copy of this last deed should be obtained for a confirmation that Oliver did sign it, and for a possible comparison with the signature of the Oliver Brewer who was married in Knox Co., Tennessee in 1804.

William3 Brewer (Oliver2, George1) is covered by Broyhill (1992) at page 96 (no. G22), while Varner (2003) begins a lengthy discussion at page 261. Researchers are cautioned that because William Brewer was such a common name in the region where the descendants of George Brewer are found, that assigning records to particular individuals can be difficult and inexact. Broyhill guesses William's birth date as "1770??" and names his wife as Nancy (___). At page 96, Broyhill cautions that this William is not the William who served during the Revolution, filed a pension application (S3085) and later is found in Blount Co., Tennessee. He is correct on that account. The William Brewer of the Revolutionary War file S3085 was an uncle of Isaac Brewer, who by his own statement was a son of a Howell Brewer, and filed an application for a pension (R1185) from Talladega Co., Alabama. Isaac will be covered in a future post. Varner acknowledges the difficulty in sorting out the various William Brewers, and includes a long list of records regarding men named William Brewer, in reference to varied locations, that need to be sorted out. If one focuses on the records pertaining to immediate area of the Haw River where Oliver Brewer raised a family, we can narrow them down to see who our William Brewer was. Sorting out the many William Brewers is a task that is ideal for applying the principle of Occam's razor. In other words, assume as little as possible. In the case of this William Brewer we need to make only one assumption, that is, he remained close to the place he was born.

There is a William Brewer recorded on the 1790 census in Chatham County, with a household of 1 free white male over age 16, and 6 free white females, however, he is not Oliver's son named William. Although the census is recorded alphabetically by first letter of last name, the William on the census is found with other Brewers who lived in the Bear Creek area of Chatham County.** William's father, Oliver, is found on the 1790 U.S. census in Chatham County on the sheet (also somewhat alphabetical) that covered the Haw River area of the county. Oliver's son, William, is not found as a head of household in 1790.
Brewers on the 1790 U.S. census in the area of Bear Creek, Chatham Co., NC (NARA, via

Brewers on the 1790 U.S. census in the area of Haw River, Chatham Co., NC (NARA, via
William is mentioned in his father's will of 14 October 1791, which gave "my sons namely William Brewer & Henry Brewer & Christopher Brewer all the land of the North side of Wards Branch to be equally divided between the three William part to joyn William Edwards line..." In August 1793, in Chatham Co., a William Brewer was remitted of one poll "he being under age." Although the location is not exact enough to ensure certainty, this is likely Oliver's son William. In November 1796, William Brewer and Oliver Brewer, with Elnathan Davis and Jesse Welt were appointed "patrollers" in Capt. Haile's and Capt. Lacy's Districts. On 4 February 1797, William Brewer, of Chatham Co., sold to William Kirksey, of the same place, 35 1/2 acres on both sides of Wilkerson's Creek on the north side of the Haw River. The land adjoined the land of William Edwards and was likely the land that William had inherited from his father (Henry Brewer had sold land in the same location to William Kirksey, in November 1796. On, or about, 18 May 1798, William Brewer bought (apparently) 36 acres from William Edwards on the north side of the Haw River. Ownership of this land had to be clarified in a long contract which demonstrated that this land had been bought by William Edwards from Edward Brewer, who had bought it from his cousin Hubbard Brewer, who had inherited it from his father, Henry Brewer. William Brewer is found on the 1800 U.S. census in Hillsborough, Chatham Co., North Carolina, with a household of 1 male under 10, 1 male 16-25, 2 females under 10, 1 female 16-25. Here, William is recorded as aged 16-25, and when the other records that pertain to him are considered, it is likely that William3 Brewer (Oliver2, George1) was born about 1775.

William Brewer's wife was Nancy (___). Here I am in agreement with Broyhill. Their children were a son Wesley, and daughters Candice, Rebecca and Nancy. The family is consistent with that found on the 1800 census mentioned above, save one daughter who was probably born between 1800 and the time William died, apparently late in 1806. During the November 1806 term of the Court in Chatham County, administration on the estate of William Brewer was granted to Nancy Brewer, his widow, and to John Sparrow.*** The bond was  £1000, and James Smith and Joseph Brantly were sureties. In November 1810, Nancy, widow of William Brewer, petitioned the Court of Chatham County for the distribution of her dower rights. This file can be found online in "North Carolina Estate Files." In the file, Nancy's children are named as Miley (later corrected to Wesley), Rebecca, Nancy (Nancy the widow being guardian for the three) and William Horton and his wife Candice. The court is asked to divide the remainder of the lands of William Brewer among them. The lands are described as lying on the north side of the Haw River, "one tract for thirty six acres, and one for sixty nine and a half more or less of all which lands the said Nancy is entitled to dower." The matter moves to the next session of the court, a jury is summoned to lay off the lands, and in May 1811, the lands are divided among Wesley Brewer, Rebecca Brewer, Nancy Brewer and William Horton and his wife, Candice.

Division of land to the heirs of William Brewer, 1811 (FamilySearch, NC Estate Files, Chatham Co.)
A Nancy Brewer is found as a head of household on the 1820 U.S. census in Chatham County, with a household of 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-25, 3 females 16-25, 1 female over 45. 2 persons engaged in agriculture. This record, however, more likely refers to Nancy, the widow of Sampson Brewer, who died in 1806 or early 1807, and found among the Bear Creek group of Brewers (a Jeremiah Brewer is enumerated on the same sheet). William and Nancy's daughter Candice was married to William Horton and they are found in 1850 in Lower Regiment, Chatham Co., North Carolina. Candice is age 59 which places her birth as about 1791. Her husband was considerably older, age 83 in 1850. He wrote his will in 1839, names his wife Candice, his brother Benjamin Horton, and a number of children. There can be no doubt that Candice was not William Horton's first or only wife. The placement of his children with regard to who their mother was will require further research. William Horton's will was proved 2 February 1852 in Chatham County.

William Brewer's only son was Wesley Brewer. In the short amount of time put into the effort, I have not been able to identify him on later records. Land records in Chatham County for later dates than those abstracted by Broyhill will have to be searched. His complete name may have been John Wesley Brewer (it became popular to name children for this founder of Methodism), and there is a memorial at Find A Grave for a John Wesley Brewer which may be a possible starting point for further research.****

The remaining three sons of Oliver Brewer will be covered in a separate post.

*It has to be remembered that at third Oliver Brewer, Oliver3 Brewer (Henry2, George1), was living in 1778 and may have been present in Chatham County during the period in which records and deeds naming an Oliver Brewer are found. Accurate identification of just which Oliver Brewer is found in each record can be tricky, and may never be certain.

**The Brewers of the Bear Creek area in Chatham County are believed to be descendants of Nicholas2 Brewer (George1) and will be covered in a future post.

***The original Letters of Administration have not been located. This information comes from Broyhill (1996) Brewers of Colonial Virginia, Supporting Documentation Part II, p. 118, who gives as his source, Chatham Co., NC, Court Orders, vol. not specified (either 4 or 5), p. 115.

****This memorial is of interest because John Wesley Brewer is stated to have been born in North Carolina in 1790. His wife is Lois Smith, and we know that a Smith family did live in very close proximity to the Brewer families on the Haw River. Three children are listed and one is named Nancy, and another Rebecca, two names found in the family of William and Nancy Brewer. John Wesley Brewer died in 1850 and is buried in Bond County, Illinois, where he came by way of Kentucky.


  1. I am a desendant of John Wesley Brewer and Lois smith. I Live very close to where they are buried in bond county. I would love to have any info on this.

  2. John Wesley Brewers Childrens names were, Mary "Nancy" Brewer, William Brewer, John Brewer, James C. Brewer, Rebecca Jane Brewer, Isaac Brewer, Elsa Brewer. John is mentioned in 1830 and 1840 census of Bond County.

  3. Edward3 Brewer's Revolutionary pension file is available online at In his initial application on page 3, he mentions his Uncle Henry Brewer's house in Chatham Co., NC and also a cousin named William Smith of Chatham Co. He further states that after his service at the end of the Revolution he went to Sampson Co., NC, where he was married and lived there abt 13 years, then back to Chatham Co. to live abt 5 years and then to Randolph Co., NC where he had lived abt 39 years. Hope this helps someone.

    1. Tim, Thanks for the info. It may well be of help to someone. By chance, do you know just how Edward Brewer and William Smith are cousins?
      Were they first cousins? Second cousins? Were their mothers sisters? Was Edward's mother a sister to William's father? Or perhaps some other possibility.

      Thank you again.

  4. I am looking for info. on my Greatgreat grandfather Oliver Cromwell Brewer and his wife barsheba Hill Brewer . last info. I have is an obit.from wake county in 1892 of his death, I have not found anything else about him. Any info would be greatly appricated

  5. I have info on him as I am also a decendant. you can email me at


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