JOHN REECE BREWER AND HENRIETTA CELESTE FORBES

 

(a picture of life in Banks County Georgia in the 1870's)

 

abstracted from the family file contributed by James Brewer

 

Henrietta Celeste Forbes, daughter of Alanson Forbes and Susan Catherine McDonald, was born 26 November 1855 in Homer, Banks County, Georgia and died 13 Feb. 1891 in Homer, Banks County, Georgia.

 

John Reece Brewer, son of Levi Brewer and Manima Moore, was born 19 April 1851 in Pickens, Pickens County, South Carolina.  He died 4 June 1930 in Homer, Banks County, Georgia.

 

They married on 23 December 1873 in Homer, Georgia.

 

John Brewer and Henrietta Forbes Brewer are buried in the McDonald Family Cemetery near Homer, Georgia.

 

"  John Reese Brewer went to Homer, Banks County, Georgia, where his uncle, Joseph Brewer and aunt, Flora Brewer, lived.  There he met a millright, Col. Mason.  He hired John by the year and taught him how to build and repair water wheels.  He worked for Col. Mason the years 1870, 1872 and 1873.

 

The year of 1871, John had one year of schooling under the teaching of Prof. Calvin Wells, who came with his family from the north to teach the grown boys and girls who had no opportunity for school during the four Civil War years.  He studied geography, sixth reader, arithmetic, dictionary, slate and pencil.  He said, 'I learned the multiplication table as I kept my finger to that page, as I worked my sums.'    When he entered school he could read and write a little.

 

John was always alert to learn.  He studied nature, knew the names of trees, birds and animals, and their natures.

 

The year 1872, his mother, Manima Brewer, and part of her family decided to leave the old home in South Carolina and go to Gordon County, Georgia, Adairsville being close to Homer.  She wrote her son, John, of her plans.  They would go by wagon train and she hoped he could meet her a few miles from Homer.  So, he walked several miles to an old camp-ground and waited for his mother and family.  When they arrived, she got out of the wagon, mother and son walked behind the wagon for miles to talk.  I imagine she had a lot to talk about with her oldest son whom she hadn't seen in two years.  I don't think they saw each other again until Christmas, 1879.

 

I assume the twins, Jasper and Newton (Brewer), remained in South Carolina.  They married the Petty sisters; both raised big families and moved to Marietta, Ga. in 1895.

 

Col. Mason lived a short distance north of Homer; I have no idea where of when John met Henrietta Forbes.  She lived four miles south of Homer.  She was four years younger.  She was small of stature, had dark culry fair, dark brown eyes and olive complexion.  She was very modest and retiring, but full of energy and determination.

 

One Sunday afternoon, Henrietta was in the home of her Aunt Flora and (Uncle) Joseph Brewer when John came to visit.  I don't know whether John knew Henrietta was there or not.  There was no way to take a ride, and no place to walk except the cemetery, so they walked to the spring under the great oaks and I imagine sat on Flora's battling bench.  Flora said, 'They stayed so long talking that John Brewer whittled my battling stick to pieces.'

 

Every home was built near a spring, and every owner and father set aside a level spot and equipped it with necessary vessels near the spring so the "women folks" could do the family wash.  First, there was a big iron pot that sat on three legs, where the clothes were boiled.  Second, there was a block of convenient height to which the boiled clothes were transferred by the battling stick and battled, turned, battled some more, and transferred then to tubs of clean water for rubbing and rinsing on a bench of convenient height.  The clothes were then hung out to dry on the garden fence or suitable poles were put up for the purpose.  The soap used was made of kitchen fats boiled with lye made from water drained through wood ashes that had been placed in a hopper.  When the soap had boiled to the right consistency, it was placed in stone jars, gourds or molded into bars.  This was women's work, and all the fairer sex in the home, regardless of age, participated.

 

I dare say, Flora enjoyed the courtship (of Henrietta and John). It hadn't been long since Joe 'came a courting'.  She was a good matchmaker.  The wedding was set for December 23, 1873, in her mother's home.   Everyone worked getting ready for the oldest daughter's wedding.  There was a holly grove on the farm, the only one in the county, and some cedar trees.  There were holly wreaths and some cedar, with red holly berries nestled in among the cedar boughs, and then across the top of the windows above the plain, snowy white curtains was cedar, with every bunch having been dipped in flour for a contrast.  Some of the boys were sent down to the spring branch to a little pit of white mud.  That was thinned to the right consostency with water, and all the jams and hearth around the fireplace were made snowy white.  There was no lime, for this was just after the Civil War.  The floors were scrubbed to perfection, and the kitchen chairs were scrubbed white.  Everything was clean, though crude. 

 

Henrietta and John were married in the early evening by Rev. Groves G. Cartledge in the presence of a few friends and relatives.   They soon left for Abbeville, S. C., and later for Elbert County, Ga., near Ruckersville, their future home.

 

In 1876 John Brewer bought a small tract of land on the public road between Harmony Grove and Homer which joined the Forbes farm.  The foundation of the house was laid the day after their first son, Lambert, was born September 7, 1876.  As soon as it was livable at all, John moved his little family to their own home.  The well had not been dug, but John carried water from a nearby creek until he could get the well dug, that was in 1877.  The well has furnished pure, cold water to the present.

 

Later, John bought the old McDonald homeplace from William McDonald."

 

Children of John Reese Brewer and Henrietta Celeste Forbes:

 

1. Lillian Tallulah "Lula" Brewer was born 7 December 1874, Banks County, Ga., and died 23 July 1960

 

2. Dr. Lambert Cleveland Brewer was born 7 September 1876 in Banks County, Ga. and died 10 May 1936 in Los Angeles, Ca. and was buried in Forest Lawn, Masonic Section, Los Angeles, Ca.

 

3. Floyce Una Brewer was born 22 August 1878

 

4. Ruby Howard Brewer was born on 9 March 1881 in Homer, Banks County, Georgia, and died 8 June 1867 in Hall County, Georgia.

 

5. Cleo Brewer was born after 1883 in Banks County, Ga.

 

6. Laura Irene Brewer was born 31 July 1886 in Banks County, Ga.

She was named for Henrietta's sister, Laura Forbes, who had died a short time before, and Irene for a character in a story Henrietta had read to her husband, John.  Laura Irene Brewer died 28  April 1888 at the age of 21 months and is buried in the McDonald Family Cemetery in Banks County.

 

7. Helen Celeste Brewer was born 19 September 1888 and died on 17 June 1917 of typhoid fever. She is buried in Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

Copyright 2004 by James Brewer

copyright 2004 Vicky Chambers & Jacqueline King