Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Hubert Brauer/Brower "Pass"

Hubert Brauer (see the post of September 11, 2016) came to Philadelphia from Germany in 1726. The one and only record that survives to present times that tells us of Hubert Brauer (or Brower) is known as "The Pass," a document that granted Hubert Brauer and his family permission to emigrate to the American colonies. The original document is in possession of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA) in Elgin, Illinois. "The Pass," along with two other documents were given to the BHLA by Dr. David H. Otto and his wife Elizabeth. The BHLA has made a low resolution image of the original available online. A translation and transcription, however, are not found at the BHLA website.

The short overview of Hubert Brauer's family found on the BHLA website has pretty much been the long accepted picture of Hubert's family. The family is generally assumed to be comprised of Hubert, his wife Anna, and there sons, John, Christian and Henry. Although Anna and the three sons can be found in a few records in Pennsylvania, there is no other record of Hubert. We have no record of when he was born or when he died, where exactly he lived in Pennsylvania, or if he even survived the voyage. The first question that came to my mind once I began to look at the family of Hubert Brauer was, is there information in the "Pass" that specifically tells us that Hubert in fact had a wife named Anna, and three sons named John, Christian and Henry? To answer this question I contacted the BHLA and for a small fee obtained from them digital copies of the original "Pass" and two translations.

The translations, which were said to have been made in the 19th century, but by whom was not known, do confirm Hubert Brauer's name (spelled as BRAUER as opposed to the more commonly seen BROWER) and that of his wife, Anna. However, with regards to Hubert's children, the two translations are different. I have placed the translations online as a PDF. You will have to download the document and use your Adobe Reader Rotate view to rotate the pages to the vertical. Common to both translations is the fact that neither gives the names of Hubert's sons. The "Pass" does not confirm the generally accepted belief that Hubert's sons were named John, Christian and Henry. The two translations differ in that the first states, "Hubert Brauer, a citizen of Fuss-Yonnheim*, and his lawful wife Anna, besides three children (a son and two daughters) have today made their appearance," while the second states, "Hubert Brauer, a citizen of Fuss-Yonnheim and his lawful wife Anna, besides three children [3 sons and two (written over with 1) daughters] have today made their appearance." This discrepancy of course leaves us with the ambiguity of whether or not Hubert even had three sons. Checking the two translations against the original does not settle which of the two is correct. It appears to me, that in the original says "3 sons and 2 daughters" with both numbers 3 and 2 either written over with a 1 or smudged. Unfortunately the file of the original is too large to be shared online. It is suggested to anyone interested in seeing the original that they contact the head librarian at the BHLA. They will send digital images for a fee. The end result of this inquiry is that we still do not have strong evidence that Hubert Brauer in fact had three sons named John, Christian and Henry.

The three assumed sons of Hubert Brower did have in common the fact that all lived in Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. We have a date of birth of 1720 for Henry Brower that is calculated from his age at death as engraved on his grave marker (an image is available at Find-A-Grave, memorial #38589109). Dates, or even years of birth for John Brower and Christian Brower are not known, but it appears that John was deceased by 30 May 1777 when administration was granted on his estate. Christian Brower died in 1771 while leaving a will dated 3 June 1771 that was probated in November 1771. More on the individual sons may follow in future posts. However, I have yet to find a record that specifically states that the three, John, Christian and Henry, are in fact brothers. Ideally we would like to have more certain evidence to that claim.

Hubert's wife Anna is said to have remarried Johannes Roth and died in 1780. This according to a Find-A-Grave memorial (#136204824) from 2014. However, specific sources for this are not provided and I'm afraid to say that the reliability of info provided on Find-A-Grave memorial pages, especially with regards to persons who lived during the colonial period, is often speculative, can be misleading and too often is false. While the statements made for Anna may well be correct, we do need further evidence for them.

Fortunately we do have the modern tool of Y-Chromosome DNA testing to help us determine whether or not John, Christian and Henry Brower are brothers. The Brewer DNA Project is seeking direct male descendants of John Brower, Christian Brower and Henry Brower, all of Coventry, Pennsylvania, to sign up with the Project and take a Y-DNA test. Ideally we would like to have at least two direct male descendants from each of the three supposed brothers, with each of the two descended from different sons of each brother. Any descendants interested in helping should contact the administrators at the Brewer DNA Project.

*"Fess-Yonnheim" in the document is generally accepted as Fess Gonnheim, in modern German Feßgönheim, a present day municipality in Rhein-Pfalz-Kreis, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.

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