History Of The Brewer Family Of Crawford County, Arkansas

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By Bob Brewer
2458 Shelbourne Way, Antioch, CA 94531 (2003)

The exact origin of our branch of the Brewer family is unknown, however, based on current information it is most likely that the roots of our family began in Great Britain. Family researchers have published a variety of family trees suggesting England or Wales as possible beginnings.

One of the earliest and best researched histories of our family was published in the late 1930's by Dr. Waren H. Brewer.  Dr. Brewer's book, "History of Brewer Family of North Carolina, Tennesse, Indiana and Illinois," has become a standard reference for researchers.  His chronicle of the family's history begins with Thomas Brewer in the 1700's before the American Revolution.  Dr. Brewer provides the following narrative on Thomas's early life.

"Thomas Brewer was born 1760-1770 in perhaps N.C. or S.C., Md. or Va.  He was of Scotch-Irish descent.  He is supposed to have been married about 1769 in S.C. to [Lucritia].  He is said to have served in the Revolutionary War.  At the time of the birth of his eldest son, William, about 1790, he lived in N.C. and still resided there in 1808-9 in the Yadkin River Valley, near Salisbury where his son Nathan was born.  It was this valley of Yadkin River that was the home of Daniel Boone.  It seems very probable that he was the Thomas Brewer with whom William Brewer served in the War of 1812 in the First Regiment East Tenn. Militia, enlisting in the same company and for the same length of service.  It may be that Thomas and James, who may have been his brother, enlisted and William accompanied them.  Thomas spent some time in Ky. where his youngest son, Andrew Jackson, was born about 1815 and where tradition tells us that Thomas was overseer of slaves for Henry Clay.

"Thomas came to Indiana probably about 1815-17 and settled on West River in Wayne Co. near the old Indian Trail about two miles west of Economy where he spent his life trapping and hunting.  Like his son William, Thomas settled beyond the treaty lines and so does not appear in the 1820 Census but he does in the 1830 Census of Perry Twp., page 60 to 70 and with him are listed one male, age 10 to 15, doubtless Andrew Jackson, and a female, age 40 to 50, doubtless his wife but with age incorrectly shown.  He seems never to have made a land entry but his son, Nathan, entered on Oct. 31, 1822 the land where evidently his father lived and deeded this land to his father on Jan. 27, 1831.  He may be buried in West River Cemetery, which is about a mile from his old home, but no stone evidences that.  He may be buried in Kosciusko Co. near where his son Jackson lived.

"The land where Thomas lived was then in Perry Twp. and later in Dalton Twp.  The earliest settlement in Perry Twp. was made in 1815 and was known as the 'Tennessee Settlement.'  Most of the settlers from Tenn. were Friends and a meeting house, called 'Springfield Meeting' was built one and one quarter miles northwest of Economy in 1816 on the old Indian Trail.  Many of the settlers in the north part of Wayne Co. came from Guilford and Randolph Counties, N.C. and resided a short time in Jefferson and Knowx Counties, Tenn. where some of their children were born.  These early settlers were mostly Friends (Quakers) and when asked from what part of N.C. they came, the common answer was Guilford Co., near Clemens Store, Beards Hat Shop, Deep River Settlement of Friends, or Dobsons Cross Roads.

"Thomas' inclination for hunting and trapping seems to be conclusive evidence that he was not an emigrant but reared in America and acquired in Yadkin River Valley, N.C. or elsewhere, the pioneer frontiersman's habits of living.  The fact that he was an overseer of slaves for Henry Clay bears out this supposition, for he would acquire the ability to handle slaves only by early training at home or in other slave surroundings.  This recalls to memory the statement that the family formerly held slaves but whether few or many was never stated.  The Quaker migration from N.C. through Tenn. and Ky. to Ind. was prompted by the Friends objection to slavery.

"The fact that Thomas' oldest son was named William may indicate that the father of Thomas was William Brewer.  By reference to the 1790 Census of the Salisbury District we find a Wm. Brewer as well as a Wm. McKnight and listed there among many names familiar in early Wayne Co., Ind. we also find the name Boone.  We have no record of the name of Thomas' wife, but the 1850 Census report for Andrew Jackson Brewer lists with him a Lucretia Brewer, age 84 (therefore born 1766) who was born in N.C. and this is probably Jackson's mother, the same name as the eldest of William Brewer's daughters.  Thomas may have had brothers (b) Stephen, both prior to 1775; (c) James, born prior to 1775; (d) Joseph; and (e) William, and we are assuming such were the facts.

"Thomas Brewer's wife was an English woman, whose father probably came to S.C. from England prior to the Revolution and was well to do.  After marriage and while living in Tenn. she made a visit to her father in S.C. traveling alone on horseback, a distance of about four hundred miles and on her return led a horse with her, a gift from her father.  He grandson, John, in telling of her, as given above, stated that her father was rich, which indicates that her family was sufficiently well to do for that fact to have been well impressed on John's mind while a boy.  The trip she made of more than 400 miles shows that she was self reliant.  The possession of any amount of wealth in those days gave the only opportunity for education and culture and the fact thet her father apparently had large possessions lays the basis for the assumption that her husband must have been of good family and approach.  If he had been otherwise, she would never have married him and only for such reasons would she have ever had an opportunity to meet him socially, for in those days social lines were closely drawn.  The Brewer family must have possessed some standing in Tenn., otherwise Jane McKnight's family would never have consented to their daughter marrying William.  Thomas' children were: (1) William; (2) Nancy; (3) Stephen; (4) probably Levi of Madison Co.; (5) Briant or Bryant, of Fountain Co.; (6) Nathan; (7) Wilson; and (8) Andrew Jackson."

Our branch of the Brewer family descends from Thomas to his son Briant Brewer, Sr. of Fountain County, Indiana.  Dr. Brewer's book offers this brief record of Briant's life

"Bryant (or Briant) Brewer, Sr. appears in the 1830 Census of Fountain County, Indiana, age 30 to 40, that is, he was born 1790 to 1800.  He married Eliza Briggs, who was born 1799 in S. Carolina, for which marriage license was issued in Wayne County, Indiana on Aprirl 13, 1820.  He probably was married in Wayne County before going to Fountain Co., but no return was made of marriage for County record.  On Oct. 20, 1826 he entered the W1/2NE1/4 Sec. 21, T19NR8W in Fountain Co., Ind.  The fact that John Brewer moved to Fountain Co., where his second child was born, led to the conclusion that relatives of John must have been living there and search disclosed record of Bryant as well as of Robert.  Bryant, Sr. may be the person for whom Stephen named his eldest son Bryant.  We fell certain that Bryant, Sr. was the son of Thomas and brother of William.  His family appears in 1850 Census so he must have died prior.  The children of Bryant, Sr. and Eliza are: (a) Bryant, Jr. born 1831, married Jane Hibbs, Oct. 13, 1850 and moved to Kansas and had William, Sanford, Homer and Willard; (b) Caroline, married John Bodine and lived in Fountain County; (c) Eria (Lindsey); (d) Ellen (Garrison); and (c) Lorenzo Dowell, married Mary Bonebrake, March 27, 1845."

Research following the publication of Dr. Brewer's book indicates that in addition to the four children reported for Briant and Eliza Brewer, they had other children as well.  A family Bible, owned by descendants of Bryant Brewer, Jr. records the births, deaths and marriages of Briant and Eliza's children.  Among the births recorded is William Irvin Brewer, "Born February the 4... 1827."  Briant's son, William Irvin Brewer, is the next generation in our family line.

Research by William Willard Brewer, great-grandson of Bryant and Jane Brewer, also links William to Briant.  His research includes the 1848 sale of land in Fountain, Indiana by William's brother Lorenzo Dow Brewer.  This record reads as follows:

"On 21 Feb 1848, Lorenzo Dow Brewer and his wife, Mary, conveyed to William Brewer their 1/7th interest in '...the West half of the South half of the South East quarter of Section Sixteen (16)...'  On the same day, in a separate deed, William I. Brewer conveyed the same, along with his own 1/7th share of the same property to Samuel Paugh.  The shares came to Lorenzo Dow and William I. Brewer h\as heirs of their father, Bryant (or Briant) Brewer, deceased."

In his research, William Willard Brewer also notes that:

"William Irvin Brewer is believed to have served in the Mexican War.  Margaret Key (Brewer) Foy has an old muzzle loading rifle that has been handed down in the family, and is supposed to have belonged to a member of the family who carried it in the Mexican War.  William Irvin is the most likely family member to have been in the Mexican War.  An examination of the Fountain County, Indiana history shows that a William Brewer was one of the eighty soldiers enlisted from Fountain County during this war."

As further support of William I. Brewer's service in the Mexican War, William Willard Brewer provides this quote from Thomas A. Clifton's book, Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties, Indiana, published in 1918:

"The rank and file of the citizens in Fountain County have ever proven their loyalty to the flag of their country.  She has had her part in the war with Mexico, the Civil war and the Spanish-American War.  When the war came on with the sister republic, Mexico, in 1846, Fountain County furnished eighty soldiers, named as follows: ... John Bodine, William Brewer ..."

Little more is known about William's early life.  Marriage records from Covington, Indiana show that William I. Brewer married Mary [Brewer] on 21 March 1848, about a month after William sold the property described above.  Information from the census records indicates that William and Mary continued to live in Indiana for at least a year after their marriage.  Sometime between 1849 and 1850 they moved to Iowa.  The 1856 Iowa State Census for Boone Township, Webster County, records William, Mary and their first three sons, John W., Briant, and Daniel.  John W. Brewer's birthplace is recorded as Indiana and his approximate age as eight (placing his birth year in 1848).  Briant and Daniel's birth place is recorded as Iowa.  Briant's age is shown as five and Daniel's as three.  This would indicate that Briant was born in Iowa around 1850, or two years after the marriage.

This same Iowa Census reports William's occupation as "Merchant."  Although William's occupation on later census reports record his occupation as "Farmer," there is some support for the idea that he may have been a merchant for a time.  The ad at the right appeared in the August 20, 1857 edition of the Webster City newspaper.  Although there is no evidence that the Brewer in this ad is William, the date, the location and the reference to "Merchant" in the previous year's census are all very suggestive.

From Iowa, William and Mary moved to Nebraska where their fourth son, William A. Brewer was born on 13 July 1861, around the start of the Civil War.  By 1880 William and Mary had left Nebraska and moved to Crawford County Arkansas.  William and Mary appear on the 1880 Federal Census in Crawford County with sons Daniel, William and Isaac Nelson Brewer.  Son John W. Brewer reported on the 1856 Iowa Census does not appear in any of the later records and his history is unknown at present.  In the period between 1856 and 1880, William's son  Bryant Brewer married and moved first to Illinois, and then later to Kansas.  Bryant, his wife Srah Elizabeth (Walker) Brewer, and four of their sons appear on the 1880 Federal Census in Butler County, Kansas.  William's son Bryant is the next generation in our family line.

Bryant Brewer, was born 14 November 1850 in Iowa.  Bryant married Sarah Elizabeth Walker in Coles County, Illinois on 7 April 1868.  Sarah was born in Kentucky, around 1842.  All records indicate that Bryant, like his father before him, was a farmer.  Bryant and Sarah lived in Illinois until at least 1877.  During this time they had three sons, John W. Brewer (who may have been named after Bryant's younger brother mentioned above), Charles Allen Brewer, and Richard Franklin Brewer.  By 1880 Bryant and Sarah had moved to Butler County, Kansas where their fourth son, George Harrison Brewer, was born.

The records show that by 1883, Bryant and his family had joined his parents and three of his brothers in Crawford County Arkansas.  This date is established by the fact that their fifth son, James Thomas Brewer, was born in Crawford County on 31 May 1883.  Sarah passed away on 9 April 1891.  She is buried in Gill Cemetery, Crawford County, Arkansas [near Van Buren].

According to the Crawford County marriage records, Bryant married four more times after Sarah's death. 

His second marriage was to Annie L. McWilliams on 31 December 1891.  Family tradition says that Annie, who was 17 when she married 40 year old Bryant, stayed up all night on their honeymoon with a crying baby and left the next morning never to be heard of again!

Bryant's third marriage was to 37 year old Matilda W. Morogroves on 13 September 1892.  Little is known about this marriage, except that it was also short.  There is no record of any children, and just over a year later Bryant married again for the fourth time.

He married his fourth wife, Margaret Adams on 9 November 1893.  Bryant and Margaret, who was called Maggie (and sometimes Mary), had two children: Florence Elnore Brewer and Henry Brewer.

Florence was born on 24 September 1894.  At the age of 19, she married John Allen (age 20) on 1 May 1914 in Crawford County.  John and Florence had seven children.  Their daughter-in-law, Corrine (McGee) Allen, still resides in Van Buren, Arkansas.  Bryant and Margaret's son, Henry Doyle Brewer, was born in 1896 and died approximately one year later.  He is buried in Bushmiaer Cemetery, Crawford County, Arkansas.

On 16 April 1899 at age 49, Bryant married his fifth wife, Louisa A. Sheridan.  There is no record of children from this marriage.  Bryant and Louisa are believed to have been married until Bryant's death on 1 April 1917.  Bryant is buried near his first wife Sarah in Gill Cemetery, Crawford County, Arkansas.

As mentioned earlier, Bryant and his first wife, Sarah, had five sons: John W., Charles Allen, Richard Franklin, George Harrison, and James Thomas.  Although it is beyond the scope of this brief history to detail the lives of each of them here, the reader is encouraged to refer to the family tree (pedigree) charts and other materials that follow.  Much of this album is dedicated to tracing their marriages and children.

Ronald N. Wall & Bob Brewer
Modified: 31 July 2020