Alabama Auditors

Willis Brewer

photo of Alabama Auditor Willis Brewer


State Auditor: 1876-1880


Brewer, Willis, lawyer and author, representative in Congress, was born March 15, 1844, in Sumter County and died in Montgomery; son of Robert Willis and Jane (Hadden) Brewer, natives of Perry County, and Abbeville District, S.C., respectively, the former a farmer and merchant who served in the artillery branch of the C.S. Army; grandson of William Brewer, a native of South Carolina, who came from Wilkes County, Georgia, to Alabama in 1818, and died in Macon County, and of William Hadden, a soldier of the Revolution who married a Miss DeFoe; great grandson of William Brewer, born in America, but of Welsh parentage.


Mr. Brewer was reared on a farm and received academic training. When he was fourteen years old he entered a printing office, and three years later, he and an old schoolmate, Judge Deloach, edited a paper at Milton, Fla. During the War of Secession he volunteered to serve in the C. S. Army three times, but due to ill health was not able to perform active service. He was engaged in post duty at various places, was a deputy provost marshall and enrolling officer. For a short time he was on the staff of General Wirt Adams, in Mississippi, and in 1865, was appointed aide-de-camp on the staff of the governor. The same year he was admitted to practice law.


After the war, Mr. Brewer edited a semi-weekly paper, the Wilcox Times, for nearly three years, and in 1868 moved to Hayneville and established the Hayneville Examiner, which he edited until 1880. After that time, he devoted himself to planting and practicing law. In 1871, he was appointed treasurer of Lowndes County by Governor Robert B. Lindsey, and served in that office for a few months. In 1876 he was elected state auditor on the Democratic ticket; was re-elected in 1878; was elected to the lower house of the legislature in 1880, and served on the Ways and Means Committee; was elected to the senate from Lowndes and Autauga Counties, 1882, and served as chairman of the committee on Internal Improvements; was re-elected to the senate, 1886, and served as chairman of the committee on Finance and Taxation; was elected to the lower house, 1890, and made chairman of the committee on Ways and Means; and was re-elected in 1892. He was a presidential elector for the state-at-large on the Cleveland ticket, 1892, and was elected to the fifty-fifth and fifty-sixth Congresses. He retired from Congress in 1901 to his home, "The Cedars," about seven miles from Montgomery. In 1908 he moved his citizenship to Montgomery.


Mr. Brewer was author of History and Resources of Alabama, 1872; The Children of Isachar, 1884; Secret of Mankind, Egypt and Israel, and of various articles among which are "Suicide," "A Tribute to Col. S. S. Scott," and "The Fiery Furnace of Fifty Years Ago." He was president of the state press association in 1876; was chairman of the senate committee which investigated the embezzlement of State Treasurer Isaac Vincent in 1883; was a director in the Montgomery, Hayneville & Camden railroad; and was a Mason. He was possessor of the file of the Democrat, Cahaba, for the years 1838-1840, edited by William L. Yancey.


Married: in 1869, Mary Baine, daughter of Gen. David W. Baine, who was killed at Frazier's Farm, as colonel of the Fourteenth Alabama Infantry, C. S. Army. Children: Willis, Jr., deceased, b. February 1, 1878. Last residence: Montgomery.


Thomas McAdory Owen. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. (Spartanburg: The Reprint Company Publishers, 1978, reprint 1921), iii, 213.