There is not a kinder, gentler man than my grandfather, Henry Otis Brewer. My siblings, cousins and I called him Granddad, his friends and wife called him Otis or Pops. He was known for his humility and quiet demeanor.
Born in Rothville, MO January 12, 1887, he was the first son of Charles W. Brewer and Lucinda/Lucy J. (Gee)(Baise) Brewer. In 1900 the family, consisting of Charles, Lucy, Lucy’s son William Baise, Otis, Lillian, and little Fred was in Marceline, MO about 10 miles NE of Rothville.
Being from Colorado, I had no idea where these towns were; turns out they are in north central Missouri. I would love to know what prompted them to move to Colorado in the early part of the century. What a trip it would have been! Did they travel by wagon or rail, in a group or alone? More research!! Good thing winter is coming, it will keep me busy! Today, the drive of 709 miles, is 11-12 hours, straight through.
By 1902, the family lived in Colorado Springs. At some point, as the story goes, William Baise, who was 19 in 1902, left to seek his fortune in Alaska and was never heard from again. Otis, on the other hand, stayed with his family and worked as a clerk at JW Musick and as a millman at Gold Cycle Mill alongside his carpenter Dad. His father died in 1915 from blood poisoning from a splinter that he had received. That story makes more sense to me now that I know he was a carpenter at a mill. His mother moved back to MO with his younger brother Fred and remarried in 1916. His sister Lillian married sometime between 1911 and 1912 and remained in Colorado Springs.
In 1918, Otis enlisted in the US Army and deployed to France for the final battles of WWI, he served in Company F, 314 Engineers, 89th Division and earned the rank of Corporal. Before being discharged in June of 1919, he served with the occupying army in Pelm, Germany.
When Otis was in France, his younger brother Charles F (Fred) Brewer, enlisted in the Army. While at training camp, he contracted the Spanish flu that was epidemic at the time and passed away on November 4, 1918, he was 19 years old.
Otis returned to Colorado Springs after the war, he married Sarah/Sadie (Murphy) (Deeter) on July 6, 1920. A son born in February 1923 lived for 5 days, they named him Charles F. Brewer, burying him at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs. My mother told me my grandparents suffered the loss of 4 other babies. A son born July 6, 1927 did survive, my Dad, John Joseph Brewer. And in 1931 they adopted an infant girl, my Aunt, Mary Katherine (Brewer) (Canfield) Meyer.
Shortly before the birth of John, Otis and Sadie bought the home they lived in for the rest of their lives at 1928 E Monument Drive in Colorado Springs, CO. They struggled through the depression years, as did most Americans. Otis worked as driver for various employers: El Paso County Highway/Roads, Mowry Creamery, Dern-Brady Company and as a chauffeur for Rainbow Contr. before retiring in about 1956. Despite the struggles and hardships, Sadie and Otis were happy and raised a happy family.
By the time my siblings and cousins came along, Otis spent his days working in the yard, maintaining a large vegetable garden, tinkering in his garage that had a pot belly stove and stacks and stacks of ‘treasures’ i.e., junk. Buried in the junk was a midget racer of my Dad’s. We loved to climb the stack to the racer, throw off the junk and sit in it. He and his best friend, Bill Perkins, spent hours together, hanging out in that garage – an original ‘Man-Cave’. The grandkids tried to hang out in there too; occasionally, we found the hidden stash of “girly magazines” when he was not around. He kept Prince Albert tobacco cans full of nails, screws and other ‘guy’ things on his work bench. The tobacco in those cans, he thoroughly enjoyed.
Otis was an avid fisherman, passing that love and skill to his son and grandsons. My cousins can out fish the best, and do! Prospect Lake was his closest and most frequented spot, he walked to it from his house. His passion for fishing was so great, he even braved going there alone with 3 or more grandchildren at a time. He also fished 11 Mile Reservoir when he could get there, which, as I recall was often; ’11 Mile’ is part of our family vocabulary!
Our family was fortunate to have many years with Otis before he died in 1976 at the age of 89. We spent many many hours at his house as we were growing up. We played cards and BIG checkers, watched Gunsmoke and Bonanza with him, wore his T-shirts as PJ’s, raided his garden and garage, climbed his trees and loved on him as much as we could. He taught us unconditional acceptance and love, how to fish, play cards, checkers and garden. His patience was remarkable, I can’t recall even once that he lost his temper or was short with us.
And so, my friends and family, your call to action is to cherish the memories of your granddad(s) and share their stories to keep them alive. This blog is for that purpose….add your stories…..share the link with your kids and grandkids and count yourself blessed if H.O Brewer was your Granddad!