T Brewer path to Tommy

The Brewer (Brouwer) family path to Tommy

Click on any picture to enlarge it.

This chapter begins with the introduction of a Johannes (Jan) Brouwer, his wife Jannetje and their daughter Jannetje Jansz. Jan was born circa 1628 Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Netherlands, marrying Jannettje in the Netherlands circa 1653. Jan apprenticed under a Master Blacksmith, in Amsterdam the Netherlands, and finally becoming one in his own right. Having survived the Amsterdam plague of 1655, they began considering leaving the Netherlands and starting over. Another motivation was the push by the Dutch West Indies Company, which was recruiting immigrants to their New Netherlands trading colony. If you could prove your ability to earn a living in the colonies, you would get free passage for yourselves and families. The company also offered as much land as you were able to cultivate. In exchange, the immigrant had to agree to work for the company for three to six years. Johannes had a perfect trade that matched this package. It took them three years, after the birth of their daughter and after first hearing of the wonders and adventures of the New World, “Nieuw Amsterdam” in America to make the decision to sign on.

As a side note, Nieuw Amsterdam, part of the Nieuw Netherlands, is the southern tip of what today is Manhattan Island in New York. It served as the seat of the colonial government in Nieuw Netherland. The “factorij” (trading post) became a settlement outside of Fort Amsterdam. Situated on the strategic, fortifiable southern tip of the island of Manhattan, the fort was meant to defend the Dutch West India Company’s fur trade operations in the North River (Hudson River). In 1624, it became a provincial extension of the Dutch Republic and was designated as the capital of the province in 1625. It overlooked the “Great” or “North River.” In 1609 this river became known as the Hudson River after Henry Hudson discovered and sailed north in search of the Northwest Passage to the east. Nieuw Amsterdam was renamed New York on September 8, 1664, in honor of the then Duke of York (later James II of England), in whose name the English had captured it. After the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–1667, England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands agreed in the Treaty of Breda (1667) to the status quo. The English kept the island of Manhattan, the Dutch giving up their claim to the town and the rest of the colony. In return, the English formally abandoned the island of Run in the East Indies to the Dutch, confirming their control of the valuable Spice Islands.

Johannes and his family departed aboard the “Verguld Bever” (Guilded Beaver) on Monday, December 18, 1656. After a horrendous voyage, they arrived in New Amsterdam on March 18 of 1657. The family stayed in New Amsterdam until in 1664 when they moved to Nieu Amersfoort, Brooklyn, which would become Flatbush. While in New Amsterdam, they had three more children, Johannes Jansz (1658), Pieter Jansz (1660) and Hendricus (1663) and (Hendrick), who died in infancy. Note that, the names for children according to Dutch naming customs; if a child dies and another is born of the same sex, the name carries forward. Thus, their fifth child Hendrick, was baptized on 14 January 1665 in the Reformed Dutch Church (RFD) in, New York City, New York. Their last three children Derck (1666) being baptized at Flatlands Reformed Dutch Church in 1667 or 1670, Aris (1668) and Maghtel (1674) were born in Flatlands, Long Island, New York.

While there are many descendants of this family, the one of importance here is Pieter Jansz BROUWER born in 1660 and baptized on 20 Oct 1660 at the Reformed Dutch Church, New Amsterdam. He married with banns (* see below) published on 15 Feb 1687 Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, Flatbush, Kings Co., Long Island, New York, Annetje Jans. The town of Flatbush is now a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, founded in 1651 by Dutch colonists. Pieter probably died between 17 Nov 1702 and 20 Dec 1706 when deeds of maintenance were confirmed with his father, and when “Antye Browers,” (presumably Peter’s wife) was on the assessment list in Flatlands with 23 acres. He was also known as Peter Brewer and was a blacksmith in Flatlands and a member of Reformed Protestant Dutch Church taking the Oath of Allegiance in Sep 1687.

* Banns of Marriage as quoted from Wikipedia.org (an Internet site)

“The banns of marriage, commonly known simply as the “banns” or “bans” /bænz/ (from a Middle English word meaning “proclamation”, rooted in Frankish and from there to Old French), are the public announcement in a Christian parish church or in the town council of an impending marriage between two specified persons. It is commonly associated with the Church of England and with other denominations whose traditions are similar; in 1983, the Roman Catholic Church removed the requirement for banns and left it to individual national conferences of bishops to decide whether to continue this practice. The purpose of banns is to enable anyone to raise any canonical or civil legal impediment to the marriage, so as to prevent marriages that are invalid. Impediments vary between legal jurisdictions, but would normally include a pre-existing marriage that has been neither dissolved nor annulled, a vow of celibacy, lack of consent, or the couple’s being related within the prohibited degrees of kinship.”

While living in Flatlands (Amerfoort) Pieter and Annetje raised seven children. Lucretia born on 12 Aug 1688, Jannetje born circa 1690, Jan born circa 1692, Hans born 1695, Catherine born circa 1700 and Annatje born between 1700 and 1705 and finally Hendrick born circa 1702

Their son Jan (1692) leads the way towards Tommy. He married Helena Van Cleef, daughter of Isbrandt Van Cleef and Jannetje Arise Van der Bilt (Vanderbilt), before 1723. Jan (John) was a member of the Kings County Militia, in 1715, under Capt. Roulf Terhunen. The other members of this company appear to be men from the Flatlands area. Johannes Luyster and John Brower, brother-in-law’s, bought land together in Middletown, New Jersey in 1717. John Brower later transferred his interest to Johnannes Luyster. On 15 Sep 1719 Middletown, Monmouth Co., New Jersey, the earmark of John Brewer was recorded as follows: “A fork or swallo tayl cut out of the topp of the left ear and a half peny on the under file of the same ear and his brand mark is these letters J B on the right thigh.”

            Jan and Helena settled in New Jersey, just across the Lower Bay and raised ten children. The children were born across three counties, Somerset, Hunterdon and Monmouth. An unrecorded and unwitnessed child was born in 1724 and another in 1726, this one being witnessed by Isabrant Van Cleef and Janneke his wife. Then Aris was born circa 1725, Pieter in 1727, Hendrick in 1735, Pieter in 1737, Benjamin in 1738, Marytje in 1738, Catrina in 1741 and finally Leena in 1743.

We are getting closer following Hendrick (1735), being baptized in 1735 at the Reformed Dutch Congregations of Freehold and Middletown, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. In 1763 he married by license Abigeltie Hunt, both of the being from Middletown. Note, To dispense with banns required a marriage license. Both banns and licenses were valid for 3 months. He died in 1802; “aged 67 years.” He was buried at the Luyster Family Burying Ground, Holmdel Twp., Monmouth Co., New Jersey.

While in New Jersey Hendrick and Abigeltie raised nine children, all baptized at the Reformed Dutch Church, Freehold and Middletown, Monmouth Co., New Jersey. First born was John Brewer in 1763, Sylvanus Brewer in 1767, Petrus (Peter) Brower in 1770, Abigeltje Brower in 1772, Hendrick Brewer in 1775, Joseph Brewer (Brower) in 1778, Aarie (also known as Aaris or Aaron) Brewer in 1787, Helena Brewer in 1785 and finally William Brewer in 1788

At some point during his life, Aaron Brewer migrated to Kentucky, married Polly McFarland of Harrison Co. KY, and then moved onto Ross, Greene Co. in Ohio where they were in 1820. In 1830, they had moved to Xenia, Green Co. Ohio, in 1850 in Union, Madison Co., Ohio and then in about 1860, it looks like they had moved to Union, Madison Co. Indiana.

During their migration, Aaron and Polly raised four children. Amanda Brewer born in 1818 Ohio and died in 1897 buried at the Otterbein Cemetery, Union, Madison Co., Indiana, Newton Brewer was born circa 1827 Ohio, Frances Brewer born in Ohio and finally, Aaron W. Brewer born in Ohio as well in 1828.

Aaron W. Brewer married Eliza Jane Nelson, while in Ohio and then migrated to Tuscola, Douglas Co., Illinois. While in Illinois he was a farmer. His farms value, being $1000 and having personal property valued about $400.

Aaron W. Brewer and Eliza Jane Nelson raised, during their migration from Ohio to Illinois, four children. Emery A. Brewer was born circa 1854 Indiana, Arminda Brewer was born in 1857 in Madison Co., Indiana, Rosetta Mary Brewer was born in 1861 in Madison Co., Indiana, Isaac Newton Brewerfather was born in 1851 in Indiana.

Isaac Newton Brewerfather (also known as Newt or Newton) married Madora Fifer in Illinois in 1874. Then in 1891 he was married a second time to Martha J. Lyons in 1891 again in Douglas Co., Illinois. Initially Isaac was a farmer, but later went to work in the coalmines.

This Brewer family line, Isaac Newton Brewerfather and Madora Fifer, stayed in Illinois and all their children were born and raised there. The children included, Emery born circa 1875, Edward J. born in 1882 (also a coal miner), Rosetta M. Brewer born in 1884, Compos A. born in 1885, and finally Isaac Newton Brewerson born in 1879 He was also a coal miner.

The children of Isaac’sfather second marriage to Martha J. Lyons are as follows, Frederick born in 1894, William M. born in 1897, and Olive born in 1900.

All the children of Isaac Newton Brewerson and Sarah Vina Lovell were born in Illinois. The couple married in 1903 in Illinois and raised six children, Fred born in 1913, Earl born in 1911, Lester born in 1915, Ernest born in 1906, Maudie born in 1908 and finally William Thomas Brewer Sr. born in 1904.

William Thomas Brewer Sr. married Gertrude E. Shaeffer and raised six children, again staying in Illinois. The children were, Harold, Erneal, Herman, Jack, Aurel born in 1943, and William Thomas Brewer Jr born in 1924. Again, this entire family was born and raised in the Chicago area of Illinois.

A Second Chance Meeting

William Thomas Brewer Jr. is his full name but we’ll call him Bill. Bill was raised in the south end of Chicago and became very street wise. His parents got to the point, when he was about 16 years old, that they simply could not deal with him any longer and decided that something needed to be done. He needed to get out of the house. For some time they spoke with everyone that they knew trying to figure out what to do. Finally, out of desperation and needing food, they decided to accept a neighbor’s offer. They would take Bill in and care for him in exchange for some bags of groceries. These were desperate times and his parents just did not have a lot of money to feed all of their children. While it sounded ok on the surface, little did they know that their son had just been sold into slavery for groceries. Bill became their servant doing anything they ordered, while forced to live in their locked basement. This included work within the house as well as working for neighbors and businesses of their friends. He dug ditches, cleaned toilets, washed dishes and just about any other dirty job no one else wanted to do. During the six months or so while trapped there, he was formulating a plan or escape. One evening he was able to put his plan into action when he noticed an unlocked window. Later that night he snuck out through it and ran down the street. His plan was to go and join the Marines. Two obstacles were in his path. One, he had to hunker down in the streets for the night. Being street wise, this was not a problem. The second and more difficult was the fact that he was only 17 and you needed to be 18 in order to join without his parents’ permission. Again, his streetwise background allowed him to snatch clothes from a clothesline and to make himself look older. In the morning, at the recruiting office, it was “touch and go” for a while, but finally he was in the Marines and very happy to be on his way.

Hazel Lucy Knight, we’ll call her Hazel, grew up in the small town of Acton in Massachusetts. Her mother Wynell Lucy Sparrow was from an old family that had migrated from England. The Sparrows were a gentle and caring family and Wynell, had 11 other siblings growing up in North Adams, Massachusetts.

She married Joseph Knight and they had two children, Hazel and her older brother Harold. Wynell and Joseph fought a lot and ultimately separated, not by divorce but just by agreement. Joseph moved to a cabin in the woods and became the tree warden for the town of Acton, living alone with his own nightmares. I never knew my grandfather Joseph Knight. The only remembrances I have of him is what my mother has told me and I believe those are much-whitewashed tales. I’ve also seen a small picture of myself crouched down in front of his cabin, in which I look about two. I feel that he must have been a very angry person though, for he committed suicide by gunshot to the head.

Harold was the type of person that excelled in everything and generally considered the favorite. No matter what she did, she was never able to live up to the image that the world had created for her brother. She’d always be his sister, somehow losing her own individual identity. She always felt driven to live up to his image, real or perceived. Oh, they were normal kids, playing, and laughing just like everyone else, but there was always this feeling of not being good enough. The relationship with her mother was at best, strained. They fought constantly. Hazel became severely depressed and angry, which resulted in her slipping into a sort of dream world. Within this world, everything was perfect. No one argued and she was equal to or better than anyone around her was. She was comfortable and safe there. She could act silly there, just like a little girl. So on her life’s journey, she ended up becoming a nurse and joining the Army to care for the sick and wounded during World War II.

One night Bill was sitting in a bar on the Marine base when in walked this women, Hazel, and right then he knew he wanted to marry her. He romanced her and they fell in love. Was it love though? Or, was it their need to become normal people and part of a normal family? For they each had been searching for someone to love them unconditionally, for who they were as individuals. Well, for whatever the real reason, they were married on December 2, 1944 at St. Paul’s church in Boston, Massachusetts, right in the middle of World War II. I just cannot imagine what this marriage could have been like during those times. During times of war, he would have been ordered to go here and there, and she likewise, being ordered to go there and here. Of course, not the same place. Under such circumstances, how can you develop a true relationship between two people? I can only believe that, although they were married, they continued to live their individual lives being members of the Army and Marines. Perhaps this worked for them, as they didn’t need to deal with the reality of the relationship. They were just never able to set up housekeeping together anywhere and actually get to know each other, for any extended length of time.

The War is Over

Then on the morning of September 2, 1945, all that changed on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, when Japanese representatives signed the official Instrument of Surrender, thus ending the war and changing their lives forever.

They now had the chance to live as one, together. They moved to Acton, a sleepy country suburb of Boston, Massachusetts to set up a home and raise a family. I’m not sure, though, if they fully understood what that meant. Coming from their individual backgrounds how could they possibly know how to do that? I guess this is where their thoughts of me came in. If we have a baby, we will become a normal family and live happily forever and ever, amen. Ya, right!

It’s snowing today in Acton and has been most of the night. Surprisingly, not much snow has collected during the night so it seems like just another day to almost everyone in town. Joe, the local barber is just opening his shop. After sweeping the floor, the first haircut of the day can begin. Helmut Schmidt, an elderly gentleman with nothing but time on his hands, has been sitting on the barbershop’s outside bench for about an hour now, just to make sure that he’s the first in line. No one quite knows for sure why this is so important to Helmut, but for the last 20 years or so, this has been his routine every two weeks. Some people say that you could most likely set your clock and calendar according to Helmut’s visit to the shop. Anyway, he’s inside now; nice and warm and ready for his haircut.

Down the street a bit, George is already half way through his day at the market. George usually gets there about 4:00 in the morning so that everything will be fresh when the doors open at 7:00. George has been gathering meats and food products for this town for as long as anyone can remember. We all wonder what we’d do without George’s Market in town. Where would you go for those fresh fruits and vegetables? George travels daily to the Boston farmer’s stands to get them early in the morning and then prepares them for our enjoyment. The meats are the best for miles around, being fresh enough even for those that like to have their meat “tare-tare”. Anyone buying groceries from George’s can trust that his or her purchases will be perfect and that they will be very satisfied.

In 1856, Acton became official when it incorporated as a township within Massachusetts. The original founders and all those that followed have worked hard to make sure that the town will not change in any way that would harm its citizens. For example, there was that company that had come to town, several years ago, promising that their manufacture of cider was going to put the town on the map. In their deal, they were offering to buy all the farms that had apple orchards for top dollar. The jobs created would put everyone to work and make a lot of money. All this sounded fine until the day when Bessie-May, down at the town hall, realized that all those farms had one thing in common. The Assabett River weaved its way through each one of those farms. She discovered that the real plan was to have the land cleared and new houses built and marketed as river front property. Fortunately, as intended by its founders the town was saved, the developer was stopped before any contracts were signed.

A Baby in Waiting

It’s December 11th 1945 and Hazel is traveling around town, doing this and that, just enjoying the freshness of the new fallen snow and stopping in various shops simply to say good morning. She was very pregnant and any day now, expecting to give birth. Keeping to her own thoughts, she had no idea what else was taking place on this eventful day in other parts of the country and world. For example, she had no idea what Eleanor Roosevelt, the country’s prior first lady, at the time, was writing in her, “My Day” column. Here it is as obtained from the Internet.

My Day

December 11, 1945

NEW YORK, Monday — I was greeted at the breakfast table the other morning with “The Experiment in Autobiography” by H.G. Wells. The book looks as if it would be fascinating reading. If I have the opportunity of spending a few consecutive days in the country at Christmas time, I will take it along for my literary diet

I also received a copy of the November issue of “Commentary,” a magazine published by the American Jewish Committee. While this is frankly a Jewish magazine which plans to discuss the interests and varied points of view of the Jewish people themselves, it also plans to relate their particular problems to their larger interests in the nation and in the world.

As in every other group, there are great varieties of opinion among the Jewish people on various questions. In this country especially, I think that the great majority of people of the Jewish faith, even those who have come from other lands, consider themselves only as Americans. They have fulfilled their duties as American citizens ever since the earliest days, with a patriotism and devotion to this country equal to that of the members of any other group. Back in Revolutionary days, our financial existence was assured by the contributions of two men, one of them a Jew.

I have always felt, therefore, that it would be far better if, like every other group, those who wished to be primarily American citizens could be so considered, with no discrimination practised against them any more than it should be practised against any other American citizen.

Until we have complete equality of opportunity in every field, equal rights socially and economically, we cannot consider ourselves a real democracy.

Equal rights mean that we live our personal lives as we choose. Our friends and our activities are our own choice, but we conform to the national pattern in all public contacts.

There cannot be, of course, complete equality for every human being because, even though we have equal opportunity, our native gifts and the circumstances in which we are born condition our development. But our race and our religion should not place any special handicaps upon us. That is the concept on which these United States came into being, and the sooner we bring it to fulfillment, the sooner will the dreams of many of our people come true.

The American Council on Race Relations has just published a pamphlet called “Hemmed In”, which deals with the housing problem of Negroes and other minority groups in the North and West over the period of the last twenty-five years. It is a sad record, and I think that no one who reads it can fail to recognize the fact that such conditions are a blot on our great democracy. They affect not only the minorities concerned, but the well-being of all of our citizens.

Eleanor Roosevelt”

Additionally, on this day, Sir Alexander Fleming was giving a Nobel Lecture on the subject of Penicillin. Below is the abstract from that lecture.


“The objective of this biographical sketch is to give a brief overview of the life of Alexander Fleming and his contributions to modern medicine and physiology. Throughout Fleming’s life, he changed occupations numerous times from a shipping clerk to a surgeon and finally to a bacteriologist. He performed clinical trials with the drug salvarsan, determined that phenol was ineffective in treating wounds, discovered lysozyme, and by chance discovered penicillin, which he would do extensive research upon for the remainder of his career. He was knighted in 1944 for his accomplishments, and then in 1945, he and Howard Florey and Ernest Chain won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He was also awarded other countless awards for his research and became an honorary member of almost every medical or scientific society in the world.”

As well, on December 11, 1945, William Frederick Halsey, Jr., took the oath as Fleet Admiral becoming the fourth and last officer to hold the rank.

Of course, there were ships at sea, as it was a time of war. The following is an abbreviated log of selected events that occurred and ports of call visited by the USS Doyle C. Barnes – DE 353 between October 8, 1945 and June 1, 1946.

“December 11, 1945: At sea steaming southward, when at 1300 a lookout spots another floating mine. Remembering the earlier encounter, the O. O. D orders the ship to heave to, alongside and not upwind. The gun crew blows up the mine with short bursts from the 20mm AA guns. After a short delay, the Barnes is underway again.”

In addition, who can forget the invention of Henrietta Mahim Bradberry (Chicago, Illinois) of May 25, 1943, which was changed on December 11, 1945. It reads as follows.

“Patented a bed rack which was an attachment to the bed that permitted air to pass through and refreshen worn clothes. Device operated pneumatically and was adapted to discharge torpedoes under the water surface.”

At the same time as these eventful moments in history were occurring, there is an unborn child inside Hazel’s womb waiting for its time. That would be me and I’m going to be called Tommy!

So, now let us see what’s going on with me. First, I’ve been laying here in my warm bath of darkness, since the beginning of time or at least for time as I know it. I’ve been totally comfortable, tranquil and quite content with not a care in the world. It’s interesting to think about that, because without sight or hearing the only sensation available to a baby in the womb is tactile in nature. To feel warmth, is the sensation of touch. Movement, as well, is the feeling or sensation of touch. The sense of hearing can be disputed, as there’s really no way of proving this one way or another. Most people, I think, want to believe that a baby can hear when there is music or the sound of the mother’s voice, but how would you really know that to be true. The only way of knowing for sure would be to ask the baby. But, as we know, using today’s technology, this is impossible. Who knows though, what will or will not be possible in the future.

It’s interesting to think about a feeling. I mean how do you describe, touch? I looked it up in a dictionary and it defines touch as “To put the hand, finger, or other part of the body on, so as to feel; perceive by the sense of feeling.” That’s the first of 29 definitions of this word. I think that this might be one of those words that are indescribable, to touch or feel. Are they the same or different?

I float around in my warm, safe environment at peace with my existence. By the way, if you’ve never experienced the comfort of a womb, I really recommend that you give it a try. It’s well worth the effort. Anyway, there is something different about this moment in time. I can’t quite put my finger (gee, I wonder what a finger is) on it but there’s a sense of urgency right now. It’s like today is the day, the day of an emergence of something that I cannot imagine. I just know that it’s going to happen soon.

I have no way of knowing the events of time and space that have led to my being in this place at this moment in time. Additionally, I have no real idea what other events drove two people to be as one, joining in my creation. Those times in the past are foreign to me. In future years I’ll learn some of it. Not that I’ll ever understand it all, but at least I hope to have an idea of the truth.

Wait a second, something just happened! I’ve been lying in this nice warm place all this time. But, somehow it’s different now, very different! It seems like part of my warm surrounding that I’ve been able to freely swim in has gone away, almost like a dam just burst. I also feel this pressure on me to move. I’m not sure to where, just somewhere. Now I’m feeling extreme pressure and it’s getting very uncomfortable. I’ve also managed to turn around so that I’m headed downward. Kind of like standing on your hands (again, whatever they are). And now a new feeling is emerging. The top of my head is cold or hot or whatever. It’s kind of hard to tell the difference sometimes. All of a sudden, there is a blinding light that makes my eyes burn. I just want to go back to my comfortable, warm, dark place. I guess that’s not going to happen, because some really big hands (again, with the hands) grab hold of me in my armpits and start pulling. It feels like my arms are about to be torn off, an ugly thought for both adult and child alike. Those giant hands managed to pull me out into this new cold place. Ouch! That hurt! That felt like someone just cut into my belly. Now it’s tightening like my belly is being tied in a knot. What is happening to me? To make matters even worse, someone is smacking me on the butt. Well, that’s it for me! I opened my mouth and started screaming as loud as I could to let them know that I am not a happy camper. If this is any indication of this new place to live, I want no part of it. However, as we all know this is only the beginning and the pain just keeps getting greater and greater from here on.


And so begins my journey.


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