Contents of this page:
Introduction. In the mid-18th century, there was a great exodus of Scots-Irish settlers from several counties of Ireland to America. When they arrived in Pennsylvania, they headed west into the middle of that colony, then continued south along the Appalachian mountains into the Shenandoah valley in the colony of Virginia. After several decades in Augusta county, on the Virginia frontier, many of these settlers continued west into Kentucky, then northward in the early 19th century into the southern part of the Northwest Territory, in an area that became the state of Indiana.
Among the common surnames in this group of pioneers were:
Our own forum. Thanks to the internet, I've made contact with several cousins who are researching the same Scots-Irish families as I am. Their research has added greatly to my own knowledge and also raised a lot of questions. Most of us are descendants of the three Brewster sisters who were recognized for their service to the American cause during the Revolution. See our researchers list for their names and e-mail addresses.
In May 2002, Deb circulated a gedcom file which identified a large number of Brewster and Alexander descendants. Some of this information was new to us and some of it duplicated or conflicted with what we had in our own files. A lot of questions were raised and discussion generated about the contents of Deb's gedcom file which are of enough general interest that we'll provide links to as much as possible of the discussion on this page. Instead of presenting all this correspondence, one message after another, within this page, I'll make it available separately in case you'd like to look through it. The following are the dates and originators. When you click on the date, a separate window will open, containing the appropriate message.
The opinions expressed in each e-mail are those of the writers. If you wish to question or comment on somebody's message, please contact that person directly. We'd like to hear from anybody who is interested in our common roots, but will only include e-mails or other documents on this site from persons who wish to include themselves in the researchers list.
That's where we stand as of today. A lot of information and a lot of questions. We'll add additional correspondence whenever it becomes available. Although I may include excerpts from the gedcom along among the correspondence, it wouldn't be appropriate to post Deb's original gedcom file, because of its size and because it contains information on living persons. If you haven't seen her gedcom and wish to examine it, you should contact Deb directly.
Keep the information coming, cousins. We'll all sift through it and maybe, or maybe not, arrive at some conclusions, which in due time will be posted here.
Forums at Genealogy.com. It may be worth your while to visit the following "family genealogy forums":
Other researchers' sites. We'll list here those web sites we know of which deal with "our" families:
Mayflower fraud. Around the beginning of the 20th century, genealogical fraud was very much in fashion. For a price, one could have a beautifully-printed and lavishly-illustrated book that would purport to trace one's ancestry to Charlemagne, Louis XIV, Henry VIII, and many other European rulers. One could also obtain documentation of one's descent from the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower, from other very early European settlers of the New World, or from all kinds of other illustrious personages. One particularly clever entrepeneur named Gustave Anjou sold hundreds of these bogus family histories.
My own family's archives contain at least one such case of fraud, although it doesn't look as impressive as one of Gustave Anjou's products. At least fifty years ago, I was handed a mimeographed Seward family history compiled about 1915 by Henry Seward McCollough (1850-1917), which traced our lineage back to Elder William Brewster, a leader of the settlers who arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, aboard the Mayflower in 1620. In an effort to flesh out some of the details of the early settlers' lives, I went to a public library and tracked down a family history which contained lists of Elder William's descendants. Much to my horror, I couldn't find any of the names mentioned after a certain point.
Since many of my cousins may still own, and believe in, the McCollough history, I'll debunk the Mayflower story right here and now. The part of the Brewster lineage which is well documented is as follows:
Among William and Hopestill's children McCollough's history listed one Edward Brewster, who was supposed to be the father of our ancestor, James Brewster. Supposedly, James was born in 1732, while Edward was born in 1712. Edward's wife was supposed to be named Agnes Martyn. But Edward is really the "missing link" in this story. Unfortunately for those who might be looking for membership in various Mayflower societies, Edward and Agnes can't be found in any of the available lists of Elder William's descendants, either among William and Hopestill's family or anywhere else. In common with the Anjou frauds, there is an improbable geographic discontinuity in McCollough's compilation, where a son of a fourth-generation New England Pilgrim family suddenly appears in the wilds of western Virginia among bands of Scots-Irish Presbyterian settlers recently arrived from Ulster.
Was there an Edward who was James' father? I don't know. None of my Brewster cousins with whom I've corresponded have any information as to who James Brewster's parents were1 and their best guess as to his birthdate is 1720. James seems to be one of the many Scots-Irish immigrants who came to America in the mid-18th century. Was Edward made up out of Henry S. McCollough's fertile imagination? I can't answer that question either. We would all welcome any information, from whatever source, as to the identities of James Brewster's parents. And of course, we'd like to hear from you if you think you can prove our descent from Elder William. :)
Our fellow researchers. These are the members of our own little "Dunn/Brewster/Alexander Ad Hoc Research Team", as one of our members christened us:
Their current e-mail addresses are listed on our researchers page. Please let me know if you'd like to have your name added to, or deleted from, that list. If we've posted your e-mail here and you'd rather not see it on this site, or wish to correct its contents, please let me know.