Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jeremiah L. Brewster 1809 - 1842 A Smithland Tragedy


Jeremiah Brewster did not live in Smithland very long.  He never appeared on a tax list or census record; he did not buy or sell land; he left no marriage record, but an account of his death does survive.

A tombstone in Smithland Cemetery attests to Brewster's life and death in  Smithland.

to the Memory
Jeremiah Brewster
formerly of Strafford
N.H. born March 6th
Died Decr. 30th
Safe in the bosom of thy
God  beloved Brother
art thou gone now
with thou then  [illegible]

Jeremiah L. Brewster  is mentioned in a news item in the  14 January 1843 issue of the Alexandria Gazette , reprinted from the Louisville, Kentucky Journal and  accessed through GenealogyBank. Under the headline of Smithland Tragedy, it is stated that in the process of attaching the steamboat Princeton, the local sheriff went on board and  cut the wheel-rope to render the boat unmanageable. An exchange of words and fists took place between the sheriff and captain, with the sheriff attempting to strike the captain's throat with a Bowie knife. Being unsuccessful, the deputy handed the sheriff a pistol, which was fired at the captain, wounding him in the arm. The captain got his rifle, aimed at the sheriff, but, by mistake shot the  Smithland ferryman,  Jeremiah L. Brewster, who then died.

On the 17th of January 1843, Daniel Brewster of Stafford County, New Hampshire appointed a son, Ira A. Brewster of Salem, Massachusetts, tanner, his attorney to settle the estate of his son, Jeremiah Brewster. The document, which appears in Livingston County Deed Book GG, page 482-483, states  the following:  "Whereas my son Jeremiah L. Brewster late of Smithland ... has recently deceased leaving estate and property in sd. state  ... and whereas I am the father and sole heir at law ... but being advanced in years and unable personally to go to ... Kentucky ..." This tells us that Jeremiah left no widow or issue as well as the name of his father and brother.

Wesley B. King was appointed administrator of Jeremiah's estate on 6 February 1843, according to County Court Order Book I, pages 417-418, with Wm. Smedley and Jesse Pell as his sureties on the administrator's bond.  When D.A.  Given, John E. Wilson and George Hagey appraised Brewster's estate, the only assets were his interest in Smedley, Brewster and Company and the amount of an open account against Jesse Pell.

Wesley B. King died before completing the administration of Jeremiah Brewster's estate and William Gordon was appointed the new administrator. The estate would not be settled, though, until 1852, ten years after Jeremiah's death.

My hunch is that Jeremiah L. Brewster was in Smithland less than a year, but even in that brief time, there is enough information to tell us he was there and how he died. A sad ending to a short life.


Alanna said...

I've awarded you the ancestor approved award. Go to to receive the award.

Brenda Joyce Jerome, CG said...

Thank you, Alanna.