Bruere Family

From the Allentown Messenger dated January 11, 1912:


Some of our older residents will recall the figure of John Hankins Bruere, a well-known farmer of in past years, who resided on Cream Ridge, near Davis Station. He was a member of one of the branches of a large family by that name which resided in the neighborhood, most of whom were farmers. It is said that at one period in the early part of the last century nearly all of the farms on Doctors creek between Allentown and Imlaystown were owned by Brueres and Horsefields.


In manners and appearance Mr. Bruere was a gentleman on the old school. He possessed a tall fine figure and always looked well on horseback, a style of traveling of which he was quite fond. When coming to town he usually rode in a gig, an old-fashioned two-wheeled vehicle with a top, drawn by one horse, and it was the last of that sort of conveyance which was seen hereabouts.


When our townsman Francis Messler was a boy, he lived for several years on this Bruere farm, and attended school at the old “brick schoolhouse,” where Mormon meetings used to be held. He tells of how fond Mr. Bruere was of convivial company, and of his entertaining intimate friends at dinner and evening parties, many of whom came from Allentown.


One of these was Prince Murat, of Bordentown, nephew of Joseph Bonaparte. On one occasion the Prince and Miller Howard, a prominent Cream Ridge farmer, who were old friends, met at Mr. Bruere’s. The two were noted sportsmen and sometimes went together to the Pines for deer hunting. Mr. Howard was the owner of a valuable deer hound which Murat took a fancy to and was very anxious to purchase, and he became quite indignant when Mr. Howard refused to part with the animal after the offer had been advanced until the sum got beyond all reason. The Prince said; “You Americans are a very queer people. I spend thousands of dollars among you and you won’t sell, give or lend me your dog.”


Mr. Messler says the Prince was a man of large size, about six feet two and stout in proportion. He could gun all day in a monstrous pair of boots, going through swamps that would appall almost any sportsmen but himself.


One of John Hankins Bruere’s sons, Joseph H., removed to a farm near Princeton, and afterward became a prominent citizen of Mercer county. He took an active interest in political matters and was elected for two terms to the State Legislature as Assemblyman. In the latter part of his life he became president of the Trenton Banking Company, a position which he held for several years.


A relative of John Hankins Bruere was Capt. James Bruere, one of Allentown’s Revolutionary patriots. During the war he commanded a company in the Second Regiment, Monmouth Militia. He was grandfather of the late John Bruere, of Allentown, and his farm was on Doctors creek a short distance east of the town. Another member of the Bruere family connected with the early history of Allentown was Richard Bruere, who, in 1835, became the owner of the Allentown mill property. It was during his ownership that the site of the present mill pond was a meadow on which crops of hay were raised. In 1845 he sold the property to Abel Cafferty, who converted the meadow into the pond as we now see it.


[The following is from “The Story of James Bruere” by Robert E. Burt of Kansas City, Missourri.]


James was a trustee of the Allentown Presbyterian Church in 1789 when it was chartered. He occupied pew no. 2 in the church and was one of the active leaders in the church up until his death. The History of Allentown Presbyterian Church, Allentown, N. J., 1970 by F. Dean Storms, p.54 says, “ Dr. George Swain in his Centennial Address delivered in our church on 20 June 1876, spoke thus: ‘Moreover, from among us it is said was the famous Molly Pitcher; she who, at the Battle of Monmouth, acted the role of cannonier in the place of her husband or some other brave soldier who had fallen. She is reputed to have been the daughter of John Hanna, of Allentown, was of North of Ireland extraction, and had been for some time a servant in the family of the father of Captain James Bruere. She was, perhaps, the wife of a soldier named John Mahan [or Cavanna?]” (The Bruere farm was located about two-and-one half miles from the church on the left-hand side of the Allentown-Davis Station Road or High Street.)


James appears as Bruere, James-Ensign on a list of officers from Upper Freehold, Monmouth Co. Militia, dated 29 August 1775. He was commissioned as a First Lieutenant, 21 February 1777; Captain, Colonel Samuel Forman’s Second Regiment, Monmouth County New Jersey Militia, 14 February 1778; Commissioned 17 February 1778; served as Captain, Major James H. Imlay’s Battalion, Colonel Elisha Lawrence’s Regiment, Three Month’s Men, called to guard the coast of Monmouth County, between 1778 and 1780; appointed President of Regimental Court-Martial (Second Regiment, Monmouth County Militia), 19 August 1780, served at Toms River, January 1782; received certificate 324, amounting to L4:10:0, for the depreciation of his Continental pay in the Monmouth County New Jersey Militia, during the Revolutionary War. The Second Regiment participated in the Battle of Monmouth, the last major encounter in the north between British and American forces. The sword used by Captain James Bruere was donated to the Museum of the Monmouth Historical Association in Freehold, New Jersey. He was discharged 20 November 1781.


James and Sarah both died in Allentown and are buried there in the “Colonial Section” of the Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Their graves are surmounted by long marble slabs. The inscription on the Captain’s gravestone reads: TIRED HE SLEEPS AND LIFE’S POOR PLAY IS O’ER IN MEMORY OF CAPTAIN JAMES BRUERE WHO DIED ON THE 7TH OF JULY 1807 AGED 57 YEARS HE FEARED GOD, DID JUSTICE, LOVED MERCY, AND LOVED HIS FRIENDS AND FORGAVE HIS ENEMIES AS SMALL TRIBUTE OF VENERATION AND RESPECT THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED BY HIS AFFECTIONATE WIFE AND HIS CHILDREN.”