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“Madam” Rebecca Brewer rose to prominence in Silver City after founding an entire neighborhood and a church within it that still bear her name. She was also an eccentric practicing folk healer and rumored witch and abortionist.“Madam” Rebecca Brewer rose to prominence in Silver City after founding an entire neighborhood and a church within it that still bear her name. She was also an eccentric practicing folk healer and rumored witch and abortionist.On Saturday, January 18, from 10:30-11:30 at the Silco Theatre, the Silver City Museum will present panelists Dr. Twana Sparks, Reverend Earseye Ross, and poet Bonnie Maldonado discussing the extraordinary life of Rebecca Brewer. A real estate mogul, philanthropist, healer and midwife, Madam Brewer was a visionary woman with a lasting impact on the community - especially the neighborhood that bears her name: Brewer Hill.

Rebecca Brewer lived from 1868 to 1969. During her century-long life, she was known perhaps foremost as a beloved neighborhood founder who bought up property on what is now Brewer Hill and sold parcels cheaply so that people of lesser means could own homes.

These neighborly beginnings formed a tight-knit community remembered fondly by current and former residents.

One of Silver City’s few African-American residents, Madam Brewer became an important pillar of the Black community as well. To this day a diverse congregation finds solace at Brewer Hill Baptist Church, which she founded and where panelist Reverend Ross had a long career as a preacher.

The mystery surrounding her identity comes largely from her reputation as a witch. Madam Brewer wore black all the time and had a rambling house that neighborhood children were afraid to approach. Her spooky trappings, along with her sought-out skills as a curandera and fortune-teller, led to rumors that she dabbled in witchcraft and performed abortions.

Dr. Twana Sparks is a local historian, writer, humorist and musician, and was a long-time resident of Brewer Hill. She grew up in southwest New Mexico and is a retired otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor ). Her published medical school journal Diary of A Hippocrate was used in a women’s studies course at UCLA. She is more recently the author of Ping Pong Balls & Donkey's Milk: A History of Tuberculosis in Fort Bayard New Mexico.

Bonnie Buckley Maldonado is Silver City’s inaugural Poet Laureate, whose wide-ranging life led from her pioneer family’s  Montana ranch to the mountains of Silver City. She has taught writing to middle schoolers and college students after earning two degrees while working as a waitress, ranch cook, and chauffer, all the while raising children on her own. Her award-winning publications include several books of poetry, and a childhood memoir. She now lives outside Silver City with her husband and many rescue animals. Next month will be the release of her new work, Denizens of the Big Ditch, featuring a poem about Madam Brewer.

In addition to having been the pastor at Brewer Hill Baptist from 1977 to 2017, Reverend Earseye Ross has a long history as a champion of civil rights, having participated in the famous march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama before moving west.

The Silver City Museum creates opportunities for residents and visitors to explore, understand, and celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage of southwestern New Mexico by collecting, preserving, researching, and interpreting the region's unique history. It is nationally recognized through its accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums. Admission is free; a suggested donation of $5 helps support the museum’s education programs, collections care and exhibitions. For more information, please contact the museum at (575) 589-5921 info@silvercitymuseum.org , or visit the museum's website: www.silvercitymuseum.org

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