Charles Brewer

E-mail Print PDF

After The War
Charles and Maria Brewer

During the war Charles lost by death both parents, Catherine Musser Mediary in 1862 and Nicholas in 1864, a child, Bonnie in 1864, two brothers - 2nd lieutenant Issac Williams Brewer, CSA Aug 23 1862 at Rappannock, and Major Richard Henry CSA on June 25, 1864 Piedmont, Virginia. As well as his brother-in-law and friend Jeb Stuart 1864.

1865 Charles and Maria moved to Darnestown Montgomery Co. Maryland. Most of Charles' family were from Maryland - Maccubbin, Mediarys, Peales etc. - where, according to the 1896 Biographical Review, "he continued to practice medicine as a co-partner with his brother Dr. Nicholas Brewer." I believe this should have been Dr. John William Brewer - the only other brother to become a doctor. Nicholas was a lawyer.

1865 May 26 Birth Maria - pronounced Mariah - Cooke Brewer was born in Darnestown. She was known as "Aunt Ria". She worked at the State School for the intellectually handicapped in Vineland New Jersey either as the office manager or head of the payroll department. A friend of my aunt had worked there under her and said she was a "tough cookie". She never married. She died in Vineland at her home at 6th and Grape Streets in 1945, age 80.

1867 May 7 Birth of Flora Stuart Brewer was born in Darnestown. She married Henry Prince and they lived in Vineland, New Jersey. They had two boys, John and St. George. She died in Vineland June 1st 1936 age 69.

1869 June 6 Birth of Rachel Brewer born in Darnestown. She graduated from Vineland High School, one of three students in her graduating class. After that she taught in the Vineland public schools. On June 18, 1896 at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Vineland, she married Dr. John S. Halsey in a double ceremony with her sister Wirt and Henry S. Alvord. In 1914 she traveled to Europe with a group of women, and was there when the first World War broke out.
You can read her journal at "A Victorian Lady's Trip to Europe, 1914" at http://www.igrin.co.nz/penh/index.html
Rachel and her husband did not have children, and after his death she never remarried.
She died at her home at Seventh and Wood Streets in Vineland after a brief illness on Jan 6 1968 age 99.

1870 According to some written reminiscences of Maria Pendleton Cooke Brewer from the Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens of Cumberland Co. New Jersey 1896, the Brewer family moved to Vineland New Jersey in 1870. Vineland at that time was known for its progressive ideas. In 1868 170 suffragists went to the polls with their tax bills in hand and cast their ballots in their own separate ballot box. In 1870 184 women voted in the spring elections and 216 in the fall to make a point that women should be allowed to vote. Vineland was noted as a very healthy place to live with its abundant fruit & vegetables and its proximity to the seashore. Sea Isle City, where the family spent their summers, was less than 30 miles away. Vineland was also noted for being part of "the underground railroad" which offered a safe haven for slaves going North.

1868 - Welch's Grape Juice During this year, a dentist by the name of Cr. Thomas Bramwell Welch, experimented with grape juice as a non-alcoholic alternative to communion wine. It was the first commercially produced non-alcoholic fruit drink on the market. As both Maria and Charles were church goers, and Charles' father Nicholas was one of the first to encourage grape culture in the United States, there is a good chance the Brewers would have been acquainted with the Welch family.

Maria wrote that when they first moved to Vineland they lived over a drug store. She gave details of the places of worship they went to, and the fact that Charles participated in the services. At one point she wrote: "they (the Congregation) were so pleased with him (Dr. C. Brewer) many said 'Why get a minister when Dr. Brewer does so well and we don't have to pay him'." She also wrote: "While Father [Charles] was Lay reader, he [they] lived out on Main and Magnolia and we used to come in every Sunday for years and had to bring the 3 children every time --- and they cried sometimes because it was so cold --- but they survived it. "We moved into the town Vineland in 1876 and to Elmer and 6th in 1882."

The 1896 Biographical Review states that "Broken down in health by the over toil of a large and lucrative practice, he [Charles] was compelled for a time to lay aside all professional responsibilities, and sought rest and recreation at the pruning shears and plough handle (his first and early loves) in the grape-growing district of South Jersey, where he was rapidly restored so as to be able to resume his professional duties." My guess is that it was not the "lucrative practice" but rather delayed stress from the years on the frontier and administering to the wounded and dying during the Civil War that affected his health. They lived on the corner of 6th and Grape Streets. The top floor with its mansard roof, was built by Philip and Rachel as a place to stay when they came to visit. It was also used by my grandmother as an artist's studio. Charles became the resident physician and surgeon of the New Jersey State Prison at Trenton, was for many years an active member of the Board of Health of Vineland, and for several years was president of the YMCA. In 1882 he was elected as one of the Coroners of Cumberland County. In 1888-1898 he was Postmaster of Vineland.
In 1896 he was a member of the State Charities Aid Association and an authorized inspector of penal and charitable institutions. He was twice appointed by the governor of the state as its representative to the National Prison Congress (at Baltimore and Chicago) and was a member of the National Prison Association interested in all that appertained to criminology and prison reformation.

1874 Feb 25 Birth of Wirt Sutherland Brewer, my beloved grandmother to whom this whole project is dedicated. She graduated from Vineland High School and in 1894 attended the Virginia Female Institute in Stanton Virginia where she was taught by her Aunt Flora, Jeb Stuart's widow. She said Flora always wore black and was very stern. My grandmother had an almost "military" bearing, and I can remember her saying "Stand up straight!" which I did, and I do, to this day!
I'm convinced that these are the words of Philip St. George Cooke and great aunt Flora echoing down through the years. She married Henry Saul Alvord, a lawyer, on June 18, 1896 at the Trinity Episcopal Church, in Vineland in a double ceremony with her sister Rachel and Dr. John S. Halsey.

Henry Alvord's first wife Hattie Maud Tinker had died at an early age leaving him with a daughter by the name of Ruby Margaret b. 17 August 1890 in Vineland, d. Jan 1965.

Thanks to the fact that they could afford hired help, in 1900, at age 26, Wirt became a lawyer. She told me that when she passed the bar, people were surprised during the ceremony when she stood up as due to her name they expected it would be a man receiving the degree. It must have been a great moment in her life. She was the first woman in Cumberland county to practice law, and the sixth woman in New Jersey to become a lawyer. She told me she wanted to be a lawyer so she would be able to understand what her husband was talking about, but my cousin said she did searches in Grandpa's office. As well she was a noted portrait and landscape painter who taught me to see the color purple in the snow. She was also a member of the South Jersey Artist's Guild. Her paintings were exhibited in Greenwich and at the Vineland Public Library. In the 50's she painted a portrait of Philip St. George Cooke and when I, as a witty teenager, referred to him as "General Cookie" she got mad at me for perhaps the only time in my life. She also was known to wear pants and was able to take their early Ford apart and put it back together again. Her favorite book was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. Their children all of whom were born in Vineland were:

Dorothy Buell Alvord b. 9 May 1901 d. 11 Nov 1995 m. Joseph Lirio 1924
Henry Brewer Alvord b.16 July 1904 d. 30 October 1942 m. Regina Sue Nickel 1933
Rosalie Alvord b. 9 March 1909 d. 19 March 1962 m. Howard Doust 1931

1942 Dec 22 Death of Henry Alvord at the age of 81

1958, Jan 31 Death of Wirt Sutherland Brewer Alvord at home at the age of 84.
They are buried with many other family members in Siloam Cemetery in Vineland, New Jersey.

1876 Birth of Rosalie Brewer in Vineland. She was baptized in a room in the old high school. She graduated from Vineland High School and in 1896 attended the Virginia Female Institute in Staunton Virginia. Later she graduated from The Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia as a professional nurse. She married John Walter Prince (No relation to Flora Brewer's husband) on April 20 1904, who was the superintendent of the Great Northern Portland Cement Company of Marlboro, Michigan. The groom was described as a young man of "more than ordinary ability." ... "After the marriage ceremony a reception was held at the Alvords on South Sixth Street and hundreds of friends called to pay their respects"..."With the refreshments and social greetings, the hours flew fast until time for the departure of the happy couple on the 10.11 train from Vineland for their new home in Michigan." Several months later she was sent home in her coffin wearing her wedding dress. I remember hearing about this great tragedy as a child. She was only 28 and beautiful and, from the family photos it is plain to see that she was her father's favorite as she is always right next to him. Along with the family grief was the sorrow Charles felt knowing there was a chance, had she not been living so far away, that he, as a surgeon, could have prevented her from dying from the fallopian pregnancy that claimed her life. This is a strong possibility as Charles had had vast experience as a surgeon and the first successful ovarian tumor operation had been performed by Dr. Ephriam McDowell of Danville, Kentucky in 1809.

1882 Birth of Charles Philip Brewer in Vineland. He married Alice Muriel Fisher on the 6th of July 1921. They had three children:

Rachel Halsey Brewer b. 27 June 1922 d. 2004 m. Albert A. Hetzell
Charles Philip Brewer Jr. b. 17 May 1925
Richard Townsend Brewer b. 2 Dec 1927 d. 10 June, 1997 m. Thelma Campbell

1893 The Brewer's old home at 206 W. Grace Street in Richmond, was torn down and I believe a parking garage now occupies the space. A sign put there by the Virginia Historical Society is apparently the only indication that this was the place of Jeb's death.

1909 Death of Charles Brewer in Vineland age 77. He was known for not being good at managing money as if patients couldn't pay their bills, he didn't pursue the matter.

1925 By this time, according to my cousin, Maria was so old and ill that she couldn't get to the church for his parent's wedding so it was held at Wirt's house in Vineland where Maria was living at the time

1926 Oct 13 Death - Maria Pendleton (Cooke) Brewer died age 86 in Vineland. She had lived in Richmond during most of the Civil War. Family legend has it that when asked about the war, she said it was so horrible that she refused to talk about it. One of my grandmother's maxims was "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." so perhaps she was following a family rule. Maria was also described by the family as "the sweetest person on Earth".

1958 July 6 Death of Charles Philip Brewer age 76 in Vineland, N.J.

Much to my sorrow, my stepfather had both my Aunt Ray's and my grandmother's houses torn down after their deaths. The houses were both architectural Victorian works of art, and I angrily resented the fact that he would do such a thing. My first indication that my grandmother's house was being torn down was when I went there only to find cheerful demolition men removing windows and surrounds from the fireplaces. I grieved. Soon after that I had a dream, and in the dream there was a circle of folding chairs. Three men with plans on my left were discussing what they were going to do with the vacant lot. I edged closer to hear what they were saying. As I did so, I looked up and on the other side of the circle I saw my Grandmother. I was so happy to see her and went over and sat beside her. "Penny", she said, "It doesn't matter what happens to the house. What is important was what happened in the house when our family lived there". She took my hand and held it, and when I woke up I could still feel the touch of her hand. Was it a dream or a message? Whatever it was, I got over my grief and moved on. Later a cheap motel was built on the spot...

And I guess it's the same with the old Brewer house in Richmond - it wasn't the house but the people and experiences that happened there that were important and can continue through the written word.


Penelope Barrott
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
New Zealand 2009

Last Updated ( Saturday, 05 January 2013 20:47 )