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Below is a family biography included in Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1903.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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William A. Brewster, who is serving his second term as sheriff of Oakland County, was born in Oakland township, Oakland County, Michigan, in 1853, and is a son of Peter and Amelia W. (Swayze) Brewster, the former of whom was born in New York and the latter, in New Jersey.

The late Peter Brewster was a lineal descendant of one of two brothers who came to America in the “Mayflower” and landed on Plymouth Rock. His grandfather was Eliphas Brewster, and his father was Ezra Brewster. The latter was born in Vermont, was a soldier in the War of 1812, and followed farming as a vocation. He later settled near Rochester, Monroe County, New York, having previously married Hannah Shetler, a native of the Green Mountain State, who was left an orphan at an early age. In the spring of 1825, Ezra Brewster visited the West and spent some time in looking over the country in what was then the Territory of Michigan. In the following spring he returned, accompanied by his son Peter, and they made a considerable sojourn in Oakland County, but returned east a second time and shortly after removed to Mahopac, Putnam County, New York. Ezra Brewster remained there three years, engaged in the manufacture of shingles. At that time there were 50 per cent more Indians in that locality than white people, but the red men were peaceable and caused no disturbances. Mr. Brewster accumulated enough in the timber region where he had his home to enable him to pay for 80 acres of government land and he removed to Oakland township, Oakland County, Michigan. He purchased an ox team to assist in carrying on his work, his first efforts being directed to the building of a log house and barn. He made a good farm out of his wild land and lived to enjoy a good home many years, dying on his homestead in 1878, aged 78 years. In political convictions he was a Democrat. He was one of the well known and honored pioneers and his wife was equally well thought of. Her cheerful endurance and earnest effort to assist her husband and care for her family under hard conditions enlisted esteem and admiration. She died in 1870, in her 74th year. They were the parents of six children, namely: Caroline, Peter, Owen, Deborah, Stephen G., and Allen.

Peter Brewster, father of our subject, was born in Rutland County, Vermont, October 27, 1809, but his early school days were passed in Monroe County, New York. He was 15 years old when he accompanied his father to Michigan, and his strong frame and robust strength made it possible for him to wield the ax to good effect on the heavy timber which then covered the farm. He was always his father’s willing helper, in the meantime taking advantage of such school privileges as were offered, although they were limited in number. He remained with his father until his majority and then began working by the month, and for a year and a half was employed by a man who paid him at the rate of $12 a month. He saved all he could from his stipend and was finally able to buy 80 acres of land upon which to establish a home. He as rapidly as possible removed the forest growth, brought the land under subjection, established agricultural conditions, put up good buildings and started on a very successful career. The attention he gave to stock raising was well rewarded, and he lived on his property until 1877, when he moved into Pontiac. Here he remained until 1882 when he went to Dakota, took up a claim and later added to it, making the estate 120 acres. This he sold to a railroad company for $3,000 and then bought another tract of 160 acres which was situated in what is now South Dakota. It became Mr. Brewster’s habit to spend the winters in Michigan and the summers in Dakota, which he continued until the last few years of his life, which he passed in Pontiac, where he died in 1898. He had ample provision made for his declining years, provided by former industry and good management.

Mr. Brewster passed through every phase of pioneer life. He lived to see the once wild country changed into a highly cultivated region, peopled by a happy and contented people. One of his chief delights during the time of his early residence here was deer stalking, and more than 300 of these animals fell before his trusty rifle. He became the most noted deer hunter in his neighborhood and the first barn he built was known to the early settlers as “Hunters’ Deposit.” When past four-score years, he enjoyed taking his shot-gun and going for a hunt, and nearly every year he took a trip into the Northern woods for that purpose. Bears were numerous when he first came to this country and exciting sport was found in the bear hunts of that period.

On March 18, 1833, Peter Brewster was united in marriage with Amelia W. Swayze, who shared his fortunes for about 60 years. She was born in Warren County, New Jersey, April 20, 1812, and was the youngest of 12 children comprising the family of Christopher and Sarah (Davis) Swayze. On the maternal line she was descended from a passenger on the “Mayflower” and her Grandfather Davis was a Revolutionary soldier. Her mother was born in Orange County, New Jersey and died in Oakland County, at the age of 93 years. The family came West in 1832 and the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Brewster was solemnized in Oakland County. They reared six children, namely: De Witt A., who died in June, 1891; Martin S. who is a farmer in Troy township, Oakland County; Sarah, who is a widow living at Pontiac; Clark A., a member of the 22nd Reg., Michigan Vol. Cav., during the Civil War, later a farmer in the State of Washington, who died February 27, 1900, at Grand Rapids, Michigan; William A., who is the present sheriff of Oakland County; and Mary E., who is the wife of Silas Hillman of Pontiac.

Peter Brewster bore his part in carrying on the affairs of the community in which he lived, having been township collector, assessor and constable, holding office for a number of years. Politically he was a Democrat, and his first vote was cast for Andrew Jackson. Both he and his wife were identified with the Methodist Church for over six decades, and for a number of years he was a class leader. Temperate to an extreme degree, never using either intoxicants or tobacco, Mr. Brewster retained his health and activity to old age. He enjoyed his reputation of being the best thresher in this portion of Michigan and he was one of the first to make use of the steam thresher, following the business for 40 years without a vacation. His upright life won many friends, not only in Oakland County, but in many districts, where he was as well known.

William A. Brewster was educated in the schools of Oakland County and attended the Pontiac High School. He started into business in a clerical position with P. A. Hitchcock, and was associated with the clothing business at Pontiac for 24 years. From early manhood Mr. Brewster has been prominent in civic affairs, serving in official positions for 10 years prior to being elected the first time to his present responsible position in the fall of 1900. He served four terms as alderman, and two consecutive terms as mayor of Pontiac, his personal qualifications and his display of administrative ability proving his eminent fitness for his present office. He is acknowledged to be the most efficient sheriff that Oakland County has had in a long period.

Mr. Brewster was united in marriage with Kittie E. Windiate, who was born in Pontiac township, Oakland County, and is a daughter of Walter Windiate. A family of four children have been born to this marriage, viz: Jay W., born in Oakland township in 1881, who is a graduate of the Pontiac High School: Ethel Grace, who graduated in the class of 1903 from the Pontiac High School; and Jennie Ione and Demarus, who are attending school. The pleasant family home is located at No. 279 Perry street, Pontiac, and is known to many family friends as a center of hospitality and good feeling. In religious views the family are Congregationalists.

Mr. Brewster has been connected with Masonry since 1875 and belongs to Pontiac Lodge, No. 21, F. & A. M.; Pontiac Chapter, R. A. M.; and Pontiac Commandery, K. T., and has served in the various offices of the same. He holds membership also in the Knights of Pythias, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Modern Woodmen of America, Knights of the Maccabees and Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, while both he and Mrs. Brewster belong to the order of Eastern Star.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Record of Oakland County, Michigan published in 1903. 

View additional Oakland County, Michigan family biographies here: Oakland County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Oakland County, Michigan here: Oakland County Michigan Map

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