Old Brewster Farmhouse

The Old Brewster Farmhouse

Some fifty years ago, my grandmother wanted to tour the places where she grew up. She and Grandpa grew up in rural Muskingum and Perry counties in Southeastern Ohio. This grandpa is one of the links in our family’s connection to William and Mary Brewster of Mayflower notoriety. My husband and I drove her around the places significant to her, stopping at the farmhouse pictured here. Grandma told us this house was where her mother-in-law’s family grew up.

Decades later, with grandma and grandpa long since in their graves, I set out to fill in the blanks in her stories. A few years ago, I met the Deal family that lives next door and now owns the former Brewster farm and this home. The Deal family has farmed in the area for nine generations, so their ancestors were likely well acquainted with the Brewsters next door.

Deborah Deal told me her family bought the property from an Ozem Brewster around the turn of the twentieth century. For years I thought this Ozem was the Ozem in our family’s lineage to the Mayflower, but the data wasn’t adding up. The Ozem in our family died in Vermont a century earlier, in 1809. I had the Ohio Ozem, pictured here,  mixed up with his grandfather. My research led me to an article about the Ohio Ozem in Past and present of the city of Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ohio by J. Hope Sutor. From what I read in that article, the Ozem pictured here must be the younger brother of our Brewster link, a Stephen Brewster. Stephen and Ozem were sons of a Jonathan (also recorded as Johnson and Johnston). Whatever his actual name, he’s the man who built the farmhouse.

The article describes Ozem as one of the oldest and best-known residents born in Salt Creek Township, located in Muskingum County. This Ozem was born January 30, 1825, among the ninth generation of descendants from the Mayflower Brewsters. He was still living when Sutor published the book in 1905.

According to my mother’s application for membership in the Society of Mayflower Descendants, our family line comes through the Vermont Ozem, his son Jonathan, Jonathan’s son, Stephen, to Emma Jeanette, a twin. Emma was my grandfather’s mother. I always thought she grew up in this house, but now I’m wondering if that is accurate.

According to the Sutor article Jonathan Brewster and his wife Catherine Reise (also found as Reese) had eight children between 1813 to 1838. Their children were: my ancestor Stephen (1813), Mary (1815) Susan (1819), John (1822), Nancy (1825), Ozem (1825), W.S. (1832) and Sarah Jane (1838). Were Nancy and Ozem twins? Or did Catherine have two babies in the same year? Catherine was forty-five when Sarah Jane was born. My mother’s notes don’t include a death date for her, but whenever it was, I suspect exhaustion was part of the cause.

The article about the house matched my grandmother’s story that Jonathan built the home for his new bride in 1812. It’s not a huge house, leading me to speculate that Stephen must have grown up there but moved into his own place when he married Eliza Brown and they raised their six children. Given Ozem was ten or eleven years younger, Ozem probably lived there after Stephen moved out. The article stated Ozem farmed all of his life and cared for his aging parents, Jonathan and Catherine. He was thirty-nine when his father died.

Apparently, Ozem’s father Jonathan moved to the Salt Creek area in 1802. Here my mother’s records and the article conflict. According to the article Jonathan worked as a young boy doing various chores for a local sawmill. But according to my mother’s records, he would have been twenty-two when he moved to the Ohio Valley from Vermont, where he was born in 1780.

Jonathan settled at Chandlersville, Ohio where he worked at the salt works and a local sawmill. On November 19, 1812 he married Catherine Reise, and built the farmhouse where they raised their family. Deborah Deal who lives just up a hill from the house, told me it was built with stone quarried up a lane named Brewster Grove. She reported the creek nearby the grove was once a popular place for church picnics.

The Sutor article recounts that Jonathan had no money left after clearing a place for the house and gathering the equipment necessary to begin farming. The young  couple worked diligently to develop the farm, which eventually prospered. He and Catherine lived primarily off various kinds of wild game in the area until they harvested their first crops. Eventually the farm included  264 acres.

Ozem’s father belonged to a Baptist church in the area and was ordained one of its deacons in 1842, a position he held until his death. Sutor wrote, “He was a man of kindly, beneficent spirit, generous to those who needed assistance and always extending a helping hand to those less fortunate than himself. He was an invalid in his last few years but never faltered in the religious faith, which was his stay and attitude throughout his life. His broad humanitarian spirit was indicated by his active and helpful interest in the anti-slavery movement, and he did much to assist the down-trodden negro (sic). His life was characterized by unremitting diligence in his business affairs and yet he always found time to do good, to perform an act of kindness or a deed of charity.”

At the time Sutor’s book was published, Ozem Brewster was one of the oldest native-born citizens in Salt Creek Township. The article stated he had been interested in farming from early boyhood days, assisting his father in the cultivation of the fields, beginning to work almost as soon as he could reach the plow handles. He saw many improvements in farm machinery, the old-fashioned sickle and flail giving place to the reaper, binder, and mower. He kept pace with them all. Sutor wrote that Ozem spent his entire life at the farm homestead. In politics he has always voted the republican ticket but never had any aspiration for office. He was known for his frugality and sterling qualities that made him an honored and respected citizen of Muskingum County.

I guess my great-grandmother Emma Brewster Ross would have known him as Uncle Ozem. She would have been eight when Ozem’s father, her grandfather died. I suppose my grandfather grew up hearing stories about farm life from his great uncle, Ozem. I’ve not found any information about a wife or children for Ozem, so I wonder if he was a bachelor farmer, with the farm and  his church getting the devotion he might have shared with a wife and children.

If any of my readers know more about the Muskingum County Brewsters I’d love to hear from you. Here are the grave markers for Stephen and Eliza,  I presume Ozem’s brother and sister-in-law, and their daughter and son-in-law.

Emma J. Brewster and husband Hugh S. Ross.

Eliza Brewster

Stephen Brewster –








Thank you for reading along. If you’ve enjoyed this bit of Mayflower descendants history, this you might enjoy some of my posts on Substack.

I write about a variety of topics, but focus on Mayflower history and stories about good people going great things.

Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold. Bookshop.org/Mayflower; Mary BrewsterAmazon.com/Mary Brewster’s Love Life
Autographed copies are available on my website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *