James Henry Clay Brewer is a pioneer of Marion County, was one of the first merchants at Peabody, is a veteran officer of the Union army and had played an active and influentlal part in civic affairs in this section of Kansas for over forty-five years.
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He was born at Clear Springs, Maryland, July 11, 1838. His grandfather, Peter Brewer, was a native of Virginia and of Huguenot stock. He is a son of Captain Daniel and Mary (Hellar) Brewer. Captain Daniel was born in the same part of Maryland May 14, 1791, and during the War of 1812 was a captain in the Eighth Maryland Regiment. Following the war he became a merchant and also did a large transportation business along the canals in Maryland. His death occurred at Clear Springs in 1855. At Clear Springs he built the first house and also the first hotel and deserves credit as practically the founder of the town. He was three times married. His third wife was Mary Hellar and they were married about 1831. She was born in Washington County, Maryland, in 1815 and died in 1862. Of this marriage there were two sons, Lewis M. and James Henry Clay. The older was born in 1833 and died in 1861.
Mr. Brewer received his early education in an academy at Clear Springs, Maryland. Following that he became salesman in a general store, but in 1862 he assisted in the organization of Company H of the Sixth Maryland Volunteer Infantry, a regiment with which he remained three years and played a gallant part in the war as a Union officer. He was elected second lientenant of his company, and the regiment was attached to the Sixth Army Corps. Later he was made adjutant of the regiment and finally quartermaster. Captain Brewer was through the Wilderness campaign, participating in the battles of Spottaylvania, Cold Harbor, North Anna River, Weldon Railroad, Monocacy, Slicker’s Gap, Winchester, Cedar Creek, City Point and around Petersburg. He was four times shot, but was never seriously wounded and never spent a day in a hospital nor in prison. With the rank of captain he was mustered out of service June 26, 1865, at Baltimore. Captain Brewer is now the ranking surviving officer of his regiment, and he also had the distinction of being the only Union officer who was present when General Lee delivered his farewell speech to his troops.
At the close of the war he returned to the old home at Clear Springs, Maryland, and was a merchant in that village until May, 1871, when he came to Peabody, Kansas. He traveled by railroad as far as Lawrence and from there took a wagon crossing the intervening country to Peabody. Eight miles north of the present Town of Peabody he located a soldier’s homestead, and he still owned that quarter section. In August, 1872, he opened one of the first general stores of Peabody, and successfully conducted that enterprise for twenty-three years. Since retiring from his mercantile career in 1895 he had conducted a real estate office.
Captain Brewer had filled numerous offices in this community, including membership in the city council and clerk of the school board. In 1889 he represented Marion County, in the State Legislature and while there was instrurnental in securing an appropriation for the continuance of the State Silk Commission at Peabody, he being a member of the commission. For years he had been active in state and county republican politics. He is a member of the Masonic Order and the Military Order of the Loyal Legion and was the first commander of Peabody Post No. 89, Grand Army of the Republic. For seven years he served as secretary of the Peabody Fair Association.
On December 20, 1866, Captain Brewer married Miss Mary C. Loose, who was born in Maryland July 20, 1844, daughter of Jonathan and Mary (McClain) Loose. Mrs. Brewer, who was a member of the Reformed Church, died at Peabody, Kansas, August 8, 1896, the mother of four children, two sons and two daughters. Carrie Virginia, the oldest, is the wife of George E. Morgan, a Swedenborgian minister of St. Louis, Missouri. William Edward is in the drug business at Peabody. Nellie Frances is the wife of John Siawley, a lumberman at Redondo, California. James, the youngest child, is deceased.