Friday, November 14, 2014

Harshbarger line: Christian Brower abt 1714 to 1771

Christian Brower and his parents, Hubert Brower and Catherine Eve Brenneman, came to the New World in 1726.  The family is very fortunate that the original "pass" for the Brower family, which was similar to a passport and was issued by local (German) authorities, is still in existence and is one of the treasures of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.  It was issued on May 1, 1726. We know that the pass states that the family was from the town of Fuss Gonheim, on the Rhine River just across from Mannheim  but we don't know how long the family had lived there.  It may have been only a matter of months, or it could have been years.

The Browers were a Mennonite family, which indicates that their origin was probably Switzerland. However, several websites name Hubert's father as Adam, and give him a Dutch wife and nationality.  More research needs to be done on this family, to prove that Adam is Hubert's father,  and to find out if the Dutch connection is correct. It is possible that Adam or his parents had settled briefly in the Netherlands, during the Thirty Years War which caused so much disruption to the various states that eventually became Germany.

At any rate, Christian was about 8 years old when he and his family crossed the ocean on what was apparently a lengthy voyage. We don't know exactly when they arrived because the oath of allegiance was not required until 1727, so apparently it would have been late in 1726.  The first record I find of Christian is that he took the naturalization oath in 1743, when he would have been about 29.  He was a young married man at this time, and the oath was required before he could own land, so this may have been the motivation for the timing of the oath. Since his brothers bought land in 1743, it may be that Hubert had died shortly before that time.

We don't know the name of Christian's wife.  He had apparently married Eve Brenneman Bowman at some point after their separate families were complete.  However, he had at least 8 children with hi unknown wife. They had 8 children together, and settled on the banks of the Schuylkill River in what is now East Coventry Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Christian had obtained his 200 acres of land through a grant from the Proprietors, meaning this was wilderness that had not been owned before.  At least two of his brothers, Henry and John, settled near him.

We are fortunate to find tax records for him in Coventry, Chester, Pennsylvania in 1753, and later we can even find note of what he was taxed on.  In 1766, he was taxed for 200 acres, 3 horses and cattle, 8 sheep, and one servant.  This may have been an indentured servant about to serve his term, because the servant is not shown on later tax lists.  The last record, in 1771, shows him with 200 acres, 3 horses, and 5 cattle.  He died in 1771 and apparently there is a will in existence, but I haven't yet located it.  I've not found any indication of an occupation other than farming, but it is always possible that he had a trade also.

I'd like to find the will, and also I'd like to know whether or how Christian participated in the French and Indian war, or other skirmishes. As a Mennonite, my inclination is to think that he would not have been active in the military, but I could be wrong and I'd like to know for sure.  Of course, I'd also like to find documentation of his father's parents and their story.  And the brick wall is: who was the mother of his children?  I'd love to know!

The line of descent is:

Christian Brower-Catherine Eve Brenneman
Barbara Brower -Tobias Miller
Mary Miller-Johan George Harter
George Harter-Elizabeth Geiger
John Harter-Mary Bennett
Clara Ellen Harter-Emanuel Harshbarger
Grover Harshbarger-Goldie Withers
Cleveland Harshbarger-Mary Margaret Beeks
Their descendents

Fun fact:  The trip from Germany to the New World was apparently a lengthy one, even for the times.  Can you imagine spending as long as six months on ship, watching your food stores dwindle, probably being sea sick (or at least, having children who were sea sick) much of the time?  I shudder just to think about it, but these people lived it.