Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Saturday, August 13, 2016

John Brewer, Died April 18, 1821

The image below is of the grave marker of John Brewer buried in Riverside Cemetery, Chemung, New York. It was taken from Find-A-Grave memorial #99523161, created on October 24, 2012 by RobMinteer27. The photo is credited to "whitepaper." This is an important photograph in that it clears up a long standing mystery regarding just who the John Brewer buried in Riverside Cemetery was.

John Brewer, d.1821, Riverside Cemetery, Chemung, NY
Download the image, expand it on your computer, and you will see that the inscription states that John Brewer died April 18, 1821, age 21 yrs. Also inscribed on the stone is the name of Elijah Brewer who died "in the State of Ohio," June 20, 1821, age 44 yrs. The inscription on this stone contradicts previously published transcriptions of this stone which had given John Brewer's death as April 18, 1821, age 91 yrs. These previously published accounts were "Revolutionary Soldiers B-G, Chemung County, N. Y.," Gemini, vol. 8 (Apr 1979), p. 31, and typed index cards found at the Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira, New York, "Chemung County, New York Cemetery Records." The current edition of the Brouwer Genealogy Database (online 6 April 2016), at the profile of John Brewer, cites these two sources and suggests a date of birth as "1730." It is also stated that John Brewer was a Revolutionary War soldier. Based upon this new information he clearly was not.

The original incorrect transcription has suggested to some researchers of Abraham Brewer of Chemung, New York, that John Brewer (assuming he was born in 1730) was Abraham's father. Abraham Brewer was born in 1744 and died in 1814 and is buried in the same cemetery. This image of John's grave marker makes the suggestion that John was Abraham's father impossible. In fact, it appears that it most likely that John Brewer (d.1821) was a grandson of Abraham Brewer (1744-1814). Elijah Brewer (ca.1777-1821) was a son of Abraham Brewer, and since he does appear on the same grave marker as John Brewer, it is probably safe to conclude that Elijah was John Brewer's father.

There is a memorial at Riverside Cemetery that honors men buried there who served during the Revolutionary War. This image is also from the Find-A-Grave website and was attached to Abraham Brewer's page, memorial #65163747. Paul R. is credited with the photo.

Revolutionary War Memorial, Riverside Cemetery, Chemung, NY
The monument, which was erected in 1941, lists Pvt. Abraham Brewer and Pvt. John Brewer. It also includes Pvt. Elijah Griswold who was Abraham's father-in-law. The question now is whether this monument is accurate with regards to Pvt. John Brewer. We now know that the John Brewer who died in 1821, age 21, could not have served in the Revolutionary War. When this monument was created was it done so with the incorrect belief that John Brewer died in 1821 aged 91? Or, is there a second man named John Brewer, born early enough to have served during the Revolutionary War, buried there as well?

Thanks to Nancy Martin who first brought to my attention the fact that the earlier transcription of John Brewer's grave marker was incorrect.

I have recently created an Abraham Brewer, Chemung, New York "tree" at with the purpose of locating direct male descendants who would be interested in taking a Y-DNA test with the Brewer DNA Project. The tree is not complete, it is a work in progress, but it the information found here is more complete than that what is found on the Brouwer Genealogy Database website. We currently have two descendants of Abraham who have tested, but we would like one or two more descendants with verifiable lineages back to Abraham to test so that we may better verify the genetic signature for this group. Please note that a subscription to is needed to view the tree (sorry this is beyond my control). If you are a descendant of Abraham Brewer who would like to join the Brewer DNA Project, please contact us via the e-mail links on the Project's main page.