Sunset at Gowanus Bay

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Early Browers of Lee, Oneida County, New York

Oneida County, New York is in the middle of New York State, west of Albany and east of Syracuse. It was created in 1798 out of Herkimer County which in turn had been created in 1791 out of Montgomery County. The Town of Lee, which we're specifically interested in here, was formed in 1811 out of the Town of Western, which in turn had been formed in 1797 out of the Town of Steuben (not to be confused with the county of the same name), when these towns were still under Herkimer County. Steuben had been formed in 1792 out of the Town of Whitestown, known as the "Mother of Towns," which was first settled about 1784.

Our interest in the Browers found in Lee stems from the Y-DNA test results of a newer member of the Brewer DNA Project. His basic Y-DNA results place him as a match with descendants of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I. His earliest known direct male ancestor is Richard Brower who was born about 1804 (age 46 in 1850), somewhere in New York. In 1830 he can be found in the Town of Lee, and is found there through at least 1860. My virtue of the Y-DNA test of a known descendant, we know that Richard Brower must be a descendant of Jan Brouwer of Flatlands, L. I. However, we do not know Richard Brower's paternal line back to Jan Brouwer. And so our interest in the Browers of the Town of Lee. This post is intended as a general survey of the Brower names found in Oneida County, and the Town of Lee in particular during the first have of the 1800s, with the hope that it might provide some initial leads into the ancestry of Richard Brower.

As mentioned, Oneida County was created in 1798, and so the first record that is available is the 1800 U. S. census. Using the search tools at both and, I find NO persons named BROWER on the 1800 census in Oneida County. There is a David BREWER, enumerated at Augusta, Onedia County with a household of five males under age 10, one male age 26-44 (b. 1756-1774), one female 10-15 and one female 26-44. But, no head who can be identified as a BROWER.

The 1810 U. S. census for Oneida County, is unfortunately limited in the info it provides. The towns are not separated out and only first initials are recorded for given names. A search comes up with an A. BROWER, with a household of three males under age 10, one male 26-44 (1766-1784), one female under age 10 and one female 26-44. There is an L. BROWER, with a household of one male under 10, one male 10-15, one male 26-44 (1766-1784), three females under 10, one female 16-25, one female 26-44). The search tools provided also bring up a J. Brower, and a W. Brower, but upon inspection of the actual census record, it is apparent in these two cases that the surname is BROWN, and not BROWER.

There is an 1814 "census," more accurately a list of land owners, for Oneida County. A typescript can be found on in the New York Land Records collection under Oneida County. It is arranged by town. For the Town of Lee (which formed in 1811) I find no listing of the name BROWER.

Land Owners, Lee, NY, 1814 (
I also checked the Town of Western, from which Lee was created, and again, no BROWERs.

The 1820 U. S. census has an Abraham BROWER at Westmoreland, with a household of one male under 10, one male 26-44 (1776-1794), one female under 10, 1 female 26-44. There are also a number of BREWERs, including David (over 45), Erastus (26-44) and John (26-44) at Augusta; an Artemus (26-44) at Verona, a Henry (over 45) at Western, and a William (26-44) at Rome.

We find our first BROWER heads in the Town of Lee with the 1830 U. S. census. Here we have David BROWER with a household of one male 15-20 (1810-1815), three males 20-30 (1800-1810), one male 50-60 (1770-1780), two females 5-9, one female 10-15, one female 15-20, one female 40-50 (1780-1790). We also find Richard BROWER (indexed as BROWN, but the image looks more like BROWER) with a household of one male 20-30 (1800-1810), one female under 5, one female 20-30). There are a number of other Browers and Brewers in other towns. Our focus is on the Town of Lee.

There is a typescript of an 1835 "census" for the Town of Lee (found in the same file as the 1814 record above). Only names are given and here are David Brower, Edward Brower, William Brower and John Brower, but no Richard Brower. Some of the other towns, including Western, were searched as well, but the name Richard Brower is absent.

Land Owners, Lee, NY, 1835 (

In the Town of Lee on the 1840 U. S. census we find Edward Brower with a household of one male age 30-40 (1800-1810), two females under 5, one female 20-30 (1810-1820). He is found second up from the bottom on this census sheet for Lee.

1840 US census Lee, NY (NARA via

Immediately above Edward is William Brower with a household of one male under age 5, one male 20-30 (1810-1820), one female under 5, one female 20-30. Immediately above William is John Brower with a household of one male under 5, one male 10-15, one male 40-50 (1790-1800), one female under 5, one female 5-10, one female 40-50. Five places up from John is David Brower with a household of one male under 5, one male 20-30 (1810-1820), one male 30-40 (1800-1810), one male 60-70 (1770-1780), one female 50-60 (1780-1790). Richard Brower is not found in Lee, however, he is enumerated in the Town of Western with a household of two males 5-10, one male 30-40 (1800-1810), one female under 5, one female 5-10, one female 10-15, one female 30-40. Remember, the Town of Lee was set off from Western back in 1811. The towns are adjacent to each other, they share a line that runs north to south, with Lee west of Western.

The 1850 U. S. census is of course the first in which entire households are enumerated by name. However, relationships between those within each household are not stated. Parent-child relationships are often inferred from this census, however, additional evidence is generally suggested before accepting the relationship as fact. Richard Brower is found in Lee, on page 272, age 46 (c.1804) born in New York, a farmer. In the household is Phebe Brower (presumably his wife) age 45, born in New York, followed by eight (presumed) children ranging in age from 21 down to 0 (see image).

1850 US census, Lee NY p.272 (NARA via
Three households above Richard on the same sheet is George Brower, age 26 (c.1824) born in New York, a farmer. In his household are Sarah Brower, age 16, Helen Brower, age 15 and Daniel Dougall, age 16.

In 1850, Edward Brower is found on page 273, age 52 (c.1808), born in New York, a farmer, with Harriet Brower, age 30, and Sally Brower, age 14, both born in New York. David Brower, John Brower and William Brower, all found in Lee in 1840, are not found in that town in 1850. A John Brower is found in Annsville, the town west of Lee sharing a north-south line. John is age 50 (c.1800) born in New York, farmer. In the household are Catharine Brower, age 26, Milton Brower age 24, James Brower, 13, Eunice Brower, 6 and Marshall Brower, 3. A Find-A-Grave memorial (#11916787) for John Brower, with a photo of the grave marker, confirms that Catharine was his wife, albeit considerably younger than John. John died in 1881 and is buried in Lee Center, a village in the Town of Lee. I would surmise that Catharine was a second wife. A William Brower, age 38 (c.1812), born in New York, is found in the Town of Western in 1850. Remember, Lee was created out of Western in 1811, and Western lies east of Lee. The household consists of Jemima Brower, age 33, born in Wales, Lovina Brower (14), Charles Brower (12), Asa Brower (9), John Brower (6) and Alma Brower (1) all born in New York.

In 1850 there are three additional households headed by men not found as heads in Lee in 1840. Abram Brower, age 37 (c.1813) born in New York, farmer, with a household of Eliza, age 24 born in New York, Charles (3, NY) and Elry (2, NY). There is David Brower, age 40 (c.1810) born in New York, farmer, with one other individual in the household, Chloe Brower, age 19, born in New York. A Find-A-Grave memorial (#11687861) gives David Brower's birth as 1806, he died in 1871, and Chloe (1831-1866) was his wife. There is a photo of the grave marker. They are buried in Belcher Road Cemetery in Lee Center (also see the transcript for this cemetery at USGENWEB Archives). And there is Thomas G. Brower, age 34 (c.1816) born in New York, farmer. His real estate is valued at $6000 which is more than any other Brower in Lee in 1850. In the household are Mary Brower, age 33, born in New York, Hellen Brower (11, NY), Edwin Brower (9, NY), John Brower (7, NY), Elizabeth Brower (5, NY), Amason Brower (3, NY). Also in the household are George Tarrance, age 36, New York, and Charlotte Fraxel, age 20, born in New York. No occupation is recorded for these two.

Probate records for Oneida County are available online at They can be searched from a home computer. There is a Will Index, 1798 to 1909, which was searched in the hope of finding a Brower, particularly one from the years prior to 1850, but none was found. Administration Accounts for the years 1830 to 1856 are online with an index at the front of each volume. There are no Browers in volume 1. And there are no Browers in volume 2. All other probate records for Oneida County post date the period we are interested in here. If any of the early Browers of Oneida County died within the county, their estates were not settled through the Surrogate's Court which was established when the county was formed.

David and Chloe Brower are buried in the Belcher Road Cemetery in Lee Center. As mentioned above there is a memorial on Find-A-Grave. Searching that same cemetery on Find-A-Grave for others named Brower, brings up only one other, Esther Brower Olcott (memorial #11688041). There is a photo of her grave marker stating that she was born in 1816 and died in 1903. Her husband was Edward Olcott (1814-1903). There is also a transcript of an obituary from the Utica Herald Dispatch, dated December 10, 1903 (the same date of her death). A copy of this newspaper page was found on the "Old Fulton New York Postcards" website. A PDF of the page is online here. The obituary of Mrs. Edward Olcott is found in the first column at the bottom (bottom left corner of the PDF). You'll want to download it so that you can enlarge it. The obit states that she was born in 1816 in Saratoga County, New York and calls her father Abram Brower and that they moved to Lee when she was six years old, so about 1822 or 1823. Esther was married in Lee in 1834, but when checking the 1830 U. S. census, I find no Abram (or Abraham) Brower in Lee, or anywhere in Oneida County. There is an Abraham BREWER in Greenfield, Saratoga Co., New York in 1830 with a household of one male 30-40 (1790-1800), one female under 5, and one female 20-30 (1800-1810). As she was born in 1816, you would expect that Esther's father was born, at the latest, in the early 1790s or before.

From the above we can see that the earliest Browers in Oneida County were Abraham and David. Abraham appears in Westmoreland in 1820 and if we assume that he is the "A. Brower" found in Oneida County in 1810, he was born, according to the age ranges on these two census records, between 1776 and 1784. He is not found on census records or in probate records after 1820. David is first seen on the 1830 census, is found on the 1835 list of land owners, and is on the 1840 census. Based on the two census records, he was born between 1770 and 1780. David is not found on the 1850 census, and no probate record has been found in Oneida County.

The next generation of Browers in Lee consists of Richard, born c.1804 (1850 census); Edward, born c.1808 (1850 census); John, born c.1800 (1850 census); William, born c.1812 (1850 census); Abram, born c. 1813 (1850 census), David, born 1806 (g.s., but age 40 on the 1850 census) and Thomas G., born c.1816 (1850 census). Go back to the 1830 census and note that David Brower of Lee has in his household one male age 15-20 and three males age 20-30. In 1830 Richard Brower is himself a head of household, but it is possible, perhaps probable that four of the six others (Edward, John, William, Abram, David and Thomas G.) are the males enumerated in David Brower's household in 1830. When we move up to 1840, David Brower's household includes one male age 20-30 and one age 30-40 (along with himself age 60-70). In 1840, Edward, William, John, and Richard all head households of their own. Perhaps two of the remaining three, Abram Brower, David Brower and Thomas G. Brower (all in Lee in 1850) are the two males in David's household in 1840.

The census records considered above are certainly not proof that David Brower (b. 1770-1780) is the father of any of the Browers found in the next generation who were born between 1800 and 1820, however, it does set David Brower up as the obvious person to give first consideration. He may be the father of all, or perhaps some, or perhaps none. He may or may not be the father of Richard Brower, born c.1804. We'll have to look for additional evidence.

BGB 656

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