Simon's Family History
Erroneous Genealogy of Susannah BRASIER / BRASHER, wife of John
For the past decade I had thought that my ancestor Susannah Brasier, wife of John Stites, was the daughter of Luke Brasher and Judith Gasherie who was baptised on the 31 Jan 1731. This has been the accepted genealogy for many years and replicated by researchers and placed into their tree (myself included). This pedigree appeared very early on in the 1896 issue, V.27 pg40, of the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society Record and has been widely copied since.
However I am sorry to say that this branch of our
tree has broken off, that Susannah, the wife of John Stites, is not the
daughter of Luke Brasher & Judith Gasherie. And the evidence is
Recently I obtained copies of some papers from the
Colgate family collection held by the Yale University Library, Manuscripts
and Archives section [ref - MS#144] which show our thinking to be in
The two relevant folders that interested me and which
I subsequently obtained copies of were :-
Judith (Gasherie) Brasher: diary, 1766,
"Brasher Family Records," containing: Genealogical
information, 1663-1775 (part in Dutch), no date,
See copy below.
See copy below.
The first document was the “diary” of 1766. This turned out to be a short narrative of her life. A lot of the narrative was taken up with her religious feelings and beliefs. However it did contain some important information, some of which had me doubting my decadency from the Brasher / Gasherie lines through Susannah Brasier / Stites. An abridgement of the diary follows :-
Translation from Dutch of a Narrative of Judith Brasher / Brasier, nee Gasherie
Widow of Luck Brasher / Brasier
Born April 25th, 1700
Written in the 66th Year of her Age
[Abridged version of the original, as a large part of the text from 1724 onwards was taken up by Judith’s religious life and convictions and I have removed that which is irrelevant to this paper.]
This is a short narrative of God's
forbearance over me a poor sinner born in the year 1700, on the 25th of
April, named Judith, and baptised in the Reformed Church.
My Father's name was Stephanus
Gashrie [Gasherie], a Resident
My Father left me wholly in her
hands she being a widow of over seventy years of age who had abandoned her
lands and authority at the time of the great persecution in France in the
days of King Louis XIV, on account of her faith in the Lord Jesus.
Hence she with many people left her
fatherland, travelling from one kingdom to another arriving alone to the shores of
this part of the world where my grandmother took up her residence with
another family located there, where these two families alone could
converse together, the people of the locality speaking the Dutch language.
My father learned the Dutch language and being qualified took the
position of precenter, chorister and schoolmaster in the Reformed Church,
and served the Dutch congregation in that place. The above mentioned
man, his wife and children with whom my grandmother, my father and his
family resided, were taught by him prayers and singing in the French
In the year 1707 my father married a second wife, which
made my beloved grandmother very sorry and caused her to leave us after
giving me her blessing. She removed to
In the year 1717
I left my father and he gave me his blessing. I started on my travels and
came here to
In the year 1723, after I had resided six years in
I am now in the 66th year of my
life, and in the evening of my days: my natural strength is departing
The 8th day of May is my birthday.
Married with my husband
of Judith’s religious life and beliefs]
In the year 1724 I began to attend
the customary catechising with the congregation of the Reformed Church,
and scripture texts to answer which I failed to do. In the year 1741 I
became a scholar of the United Brethren. In the year 1750 I was received
as a member of the community of United Brethren, and in the same year
the Saviour gave me the grace to become a member of the Brotherhood by the
will of God under the ministry of Brother Rice.
Some pertinent points
from the diary are :-
Re. Judith's grandmother, also Judith Gasherie, the mother of
Stephen (Etienne / Estienne) and John (Jan). No-one previously knew what
happened to her. The three took out letters of denization in
above it also revealed when Judith’s
mother Engletje (Schoonmaker) died. From the children's ages she would
have died in early 1703. It also turns out that Stephen re-married, a fact I haven’t seen mentioned
anywhere before. Judith wrote :-
“In the year 1707 my
father married a second wife”.
N.B. There is no record of a
2nd marriage in the records of The Dutch Reformed Church, or
elsewhere that anyone has found previously.
And most importantly for those who are not descended from
either of Judith & Luke’s children Elizabeth
& Abraham, but think they descend from one of the other children is
the following. In
1736 Luke died, Judith describing this event as :-
“He departed on the 26th
day of April aged 39 years, after our living together thirteen and a half
years in the marriage state and after providing for me and his two minor
children, they being minors, the one a daughter seven years of age, and
the youngest a son sixteen months old”
Given the ages of her two
surviving minor children they must have been Elizabeth born 1729, and
Abraham born 1734. Thus I was left with the question of what happened to
the other children, including my supposed ancestor Susannah. Did they in fact die as
This was revealed in the 2nd item from Yale, the folder of Brasher genealogical information. It was these documents that conclusively show that all Luke & Judith’s other children died in infancy. The relevant document appears to have been written at the time by either Luke or Judith or by someone at their behest as the entries say “my son / my daughter”.
The list of their children reads as per the following table where the children’s deaths can be quite clearly seen, together with the children’s baptisms from The Dutch Reformed Church of New York which I have included for comparison of the names :-
Thus the only two surviving children were Elisabeth & Abraham, but not
This means that anyone who has used any
of the deceased children in their trees must now remove that branch from
their tree and look for an alternative parentage for their ancestor. In my
case I had thought that I was descended from the above Susannah born in
1731 as per NYG&BS Record. Obviously not
the case. However on reflection and knowing this new evidence there are
some other questions marks over the previous genealogy :-
· If she was born in 1731 then she was getting rather old to have the children attributed to the marriage of John Stites & Susannah Brasier / Brasher. She would have been 51 when the last child was born which would be very unusual especially in those times.
· See also the bible of Johannes Stites.
In this Susannah's birth date is given as 8 July 1739, which makes much more sense considering the last comment. It is almost certainly the true date of birth of Susannah.
Thus it can now be seen quite conclusively that Susannah BRASIER / STITES was not the Susannah born in 1731, the daughter of Luke. So who was she? My recent research has turned up the answer. See my paper.
© Simon Parker-Galbreath
Copyright © Simon Parker-Galbreath