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Bresse Ancestry - Part I

The following text was copied from a pamphlet prepare for a 1869 family reunion.   The text was most likely published in 1909 in the Horseheads, New York Reporter.   The editor and compilers are believed to be Ulysses Breese and Lyman F. Jackson.   Most of the  text was written by Steuben Jenkins. 

The Breese Family

The first I find of the Breese name is in the list of those who came into England with William the Conqueror in 1606. Among the names on the roll of Battle Abbey, in N. E. Genealogical and Antiquarian Register, Vol. II, page 33, is found that of "Le Sire de Bris." This roll contains the names of the principal commanders of the Norman forces under the Conqueror. It is called "Battle Abbey Roll" because it was hung up in the Battle of Abbey at Hastings as fixt to the freehold thereof, where the names of such as came over with the conquest was recorded.

The Abbey was built after the battle of Hastings, by the Conqueror on that part of the battlefield where the conflict was the most severe and bloody, and the high altar was raised on the spot where the body of the opposing king, Harold, was found. I have been unable to trace the name from the time until it is found in the western part of England and eastern part of Wales in considerable numbers, but not in very great estate, generally.

According to family tradition and the best evidence I have upon the subject, there was a Rev. Sydney Breese at Shrewsbury, England, about the year 1700, who had children, Sydney, John, Henry and Cornelius. The three latter arrived in this country about 1735, and the former on or about 1756. The first record I find upon the subject of any of them being in this country, is in the records of New York, where John is found, 1737 signing a remonstrance against the conduct of the sheriff of the country of New York in regard to the election of a representative of the City and County of New York, and praying the Governor of the State to remove the Sheriff from office. Doc’y Hist. N. Y., Vol. III, page 484.

My Make-up of the family is as follows:

Sidney Breese, born in Shrewsbury in 1709, died June 9, 1767
John Breese, born in _____in 1713, died March 4, 1803
Henry Breese
Cornelius Breese

Sidney Breese married Miss. Elizabeth Pinkerman, 14 February, 17733-4.

They had children:

  1. Charles, born 21st Dec., 1734; was lost a sea
  2. Elizabeth, born 21st Oct., 1741; she died young.
  3. Samuel, born May 23, 1737, who married Rebecca Finley, daughter of Rev. Samuel Finley , President of College of New Jersey, at Princeton, Nov. 14, 1765.

    They had Children:[Samuel and Rebecca]         

  1. Samuel Sidney, Rear Admiral U. S. Navy, born in Philadelphia, Sept. 26, 1768.

  2. Arthur, born at Shrewsbury, N. J., Sept. 29, 1770
  3. Elizabeth Ann, who was born Sept. 29, 1766, and who married Jedediah Morse, who was born Aug. 13, 1761.

Arthur Breese [above] married Catherine, the eldest daughter of Henry Livingston, of Duchess Co., N. Y. They had:

  1. Sidney Breese, of Illinois
  2. Jedediah Morse and Elizabeth Ann Breese married May 14, 1789, had among other Children, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, who was born Apr. 27, 1791, died April 1 1872, or as another authority gives it, died 23rd Dec. 1871.

Of Sydney Breese, I find the following account in Harper’s Magazine for November, 1855, page 857, based on the inscription on a tomb-stone in the church yard of old Trinity church of New York. The Tomb-stone reads:

Sidney Brees,

June 9, 1767.

Made by Himself.

Hal Sidney, Sidney!

Lyest Thou Here?

I Here Lie.

Till Time is Flown.

To its Extremity

 This Sydney Breese was a Welsh gentlemen distantly related to the Watkins Williams Wynn Family, the present head of it being a very wealthy baronet of Wales. In political sentiment this Sydney was what was called in his day a Jacobite, that is an adherent of the Stuart family, and at the time of the rebellion in 1745, was about mounting his horse to join the Pretender’s army when he heard of the defeat of the Pretender by the Royal Army, under the Duke of Cumberland. Some years after this event he received from the government the appointment of purser of the a man-of-war, and the that capacity continued for a number of years, but disliking the service he resigned his commission in the navy and emigrated to the City of New York, where his remains now rest in old Trinity churchyard.

He settled in New York about 1756, married Elizabeth Pinkerman, and opened a large fancy store, the first of the kind ever opened in the city. He was a remarkably handsome man, of great humor, somewhat eccentric, as his epitaph made by himself clearly shows; gave good dinners, sang a good song, and was, in the largest sense a bon vivant. Commodore Breese of the United States Navy, and Sidney Breese, late United Senator from Illinois, who was chief justice of the supreme court of the state, and choice of his friends for president in 1868, were his great grandsons, and so also was the highly distinguished Samuel Finley Breese Morse, inventor of the first practical working telegraph, one of the greatest results of the age.

I now pass to my branch of the family.

John Breese, born 1718, died March 4, 1803. He married Dorothy Riggs, and for a time lived at Shrewsbury, but subsequently made his home and died in Barnard Township, Somerset Co., N. J. and was buried in the Graveyard at the Presbyterian Meeting House, Baskenridge. Dorothy was born in 1713, and died Nov. 23, 1803.

They had Children.

  1. John, Born Nov. 8, 1738; died March 24, 1829.
  2. May _____
  3. Azariah, born 1743; died Nov. 27, 1820
  4. Esther _____
  5. Anna ______
  6. Henry, born 1752, died 1834.
  7. Sarah _____
  8. Stephen, born 1755, died June 19, 1840
  9. Samuel, born April 17, 1758; died July 21, 1887

Marriages of the foregoing children of John and Dorothy:

John Breese married Hannah Gildersleeve, who was born June 9, 1750
Mary Breese Married Benjamin Hinds
Azariah Breese married Susan Gildersleeve, who was born Nov. 14, 1743, died Nov. 25, 1816
Esther Breese married James Hanville
Anna Breese married Hoah Hammond, of Hardiston, Sussex Co., N.J.
Henry Breese married Ruth Pierson
Sarah Breese married Jeremiah Hayden
Stephen Breese married Nancy Bailey, who died June19, 1840 aged 76 years.
Samuel Breese married Hannah Pierson, who was born Feb. 25, 1760, died April 9, 1817

From John, Henry and Samuel, sons of John and Dorothy Riggs Breese, are descended nearly all, if not all, who are assembled here today, and if there be those present who claim affinity to us, outside of these bounds, I am sure they will be duly recognized and thankfully received into our clan, upon making proof of their descent and good character. I will now give their children with dates of birth, death, etc. as far as I have them:

John Breese, born Nov. 8, 1738, died March 24, 1829. He married Hannah Gildersleeve, born June 9, 1750, died Jan. 16, 1844. They were married Jan. 30, 769, and has children to wit:

  1. Stephen, born November 22, 1769
  2. Deborah and Phebe, twins, born Feb. 18, 1773, died Dec. 28,
  3. Elias, born June 21, 1775, died Jan. 29, 1863
  4. Samuel, born August 31, 1777, died June 21, 1866.
  5. Silas, born May 5, 1784
  6. Hannah, born March 17,1786, died Oct. 21, 1873.
  7. Sarah, born February 18, 1789.
  8. John, born February 29, 1791, died May 29, 1882.

Henry Breese, born August 29, 1753, died June 3, 1835, aged 82 years. He married Ruth Pierson, daughter Wyllis Pierson, born December 9, 1764 died March 28, 1833. They were married on January 7, 1774, and had children, to wit:

  1. Mary, born October 31, 1774; died Aug. 7, 1851
  2. Stephen, born December 29, 1776
  3. John Pierson, born May 3, 1779
  4. Hannah P., born Sept. 30, 1781; died September 5, 1785.
  5. Jeremiah, born Feb. 25, 1786; died Sept. 5, 1847
  6. Joel, born May 21, 1791; died Sept. 17, 17--
  7. Hosea, born Nov. 27, 1788; died August 16, 18--
  8. Rath, born June 7, 1793; died Dec. 5, 18--
  9. Henry, Jr., born Dec. 2, 1783; died ----
  10. Susan, born March 1, 1796; died June 16--
  11. Aciy, born Jan. 12 1799; died Oct. 19, 1799

I now come to my line:

Samuel Breese, born April 17, 1758; died July21, 1837. Married Hannah Pierson, daughter of Wyllis Pierson, born Feb. 15, 1760; died April 9, 1817. They were married and had children, to wit:

  1. Wyllis, born March 18, 1781; died Oct. 17, 1853.
  2. Daniel, born May 11, 1783; died May 19, 1864.
  3. Mary, born May 23, 1785; died Dec. 21, 1871.
  4. Lot, born January 8, 1788; died May 1868.
  5. These were all born in New Jersey.

  6. Ezra, born June 13, 1790; died June 28, 1869.
  7. Elizabeth, born March 27, 1793; died Oct. 22, 1871.
  8. John, born August 28, 1795; died March 12, 1879.
  9. Henry, born December 21, 1797; died Oct. 21, 1875.
  10. Samuel, born Oct. 6, 1802; died Dec. 13, 1875.

This family exhibits a most extraordinary case of longevity. These last named married as follows, and all had families of children.

Wyllis Breese married Polly Quick
Daniel Breese married Abigail Love
Mary Breese married Samuel La France
Lot Breese married Falla Jenkins
Ezra Breese married Sarah Whisler
Elizabeth Breese married James Jenkins
John Breese married Jerusha Johnston
Henry Breese married Sarah Johnston
Samuel Breese married Sarah Woodward

My descent is from Elizabeth and James Jenkins.

The three whose families I lhave given and who are our ancestors, all served in the revolutionary ware on the side of their country in behalf of her liberties.

John was a soldier in Captain William Bond’s company, in the 4th battalion, 2nd Establishment in New Jersey line. He was in the expedition commanded by Major General Sullivan against the Six Nations and passed over the ground where Horseheads now stands on September 1st, 1779. His colonel was Ephriam Martin.

Henry Breese was also a Revolutionary soldier in Captains Henry Luce’s company, 2nd Battalion, New Jersey line; also in Captains Stillwell’s company, 4th Regiment, Hunterdon company; also in state troops.

Samuel Breese was also a Revolutionary soldier. He gives this account of his services under oath: "He was called out in 1776. He served one tour previous to the battle of log Island; one tour at the battle of August, 1776; one tour when Jersey was over-run in December, 1776; one tour when general Burgoyne was taken in October, 1777; one tour or month at the Battle of Bound Brook, which he was in; one tour at the battle of Spanktown, with he was in; one tour at the battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778; one tour general Lee was taken at Elizabeth Town Point and on tour at Pluckemin, making in all ten months or tours. His officers were Colonel Frelinghuysen, Captain Andrew Kirkpatrick, Gaman McCoy, et al. At time of service his was a resident of Barnard township, Somerset county, N.J. In the year 1780-81 was under Pomeroy forage Mater Morristown for four months.

As to the time when John Breese removed to and settled at Horseheads there seems to be some discrepancy of dates, which it would be interesting to have removed, but which I am aware it would be difficult to do with entire satisfaction.

John L. Sexton, Jr. in his sketches of Elmira, Horseheads, etc., says of Horseheads: "The first permanent settler of Horseheads was John Breese, who came here in 1787, and built a house in 1788." And again: "John Breese first settled in Horseheads in 1798." "Asa Gildersleeve, his brother-in –law, settled in 1790." "The first white child born in Horseheads was Sarah Breese, Feb. 18, 1789."

Elmira Gazette. Vol. 11, No. 4 Published 1874. The history of Horseheads written by DeWitt C. Curtis, Esq. and published in the "Elmira and Horseheads Directory", July, 1868, in the "Historical Sketch of Horseheads", page 2, etc., gives a fuller and somewhat different account from that given by Sexton of the first settlement of the village.

He makes the arrival of John Breese on the flats about two mile below Elmira, to have been June, 1787. "In 1789 he, with his family moved to Horseheads. On the 18th of February, in the same year, Mrs. Breese gave birth to a daughter who was named Sarah, who is still living, -- 1868—and is the widow of the late John Jackson". She was probably born on the Lebens Hammond place below Elmira before the removal of Horseheads. "She was undoubtedly the first white child born in Chemung Valley".

I leave the further elucidation of the history of John Breese and his family to your local historian, who should be better able to give us all the facts bearing upon the case, with this addition on my part.

Dr. D. William Patterson gives the data of John Breese’s coming to Chemung valley as 1789.

Without undertaking to dicide which of these statements are correct, I will give a copy of a record of the concurrent period, made by my granfather, Smuel Breese, who may be Presumed to have known somewhat of the history he was writing: On the third day of June, 1789, John Breese, Henry Breese and Samuel Breese, Sons of John Breese and Dorothy Riggs, left their home in New Jersey and migrated to Pennsylvania, taking their families with them. John had married Hannah Gildersleeve and Samuel had married Hannah Pierson and four children.

They arrived at Wilkesbarre on the 11th of June, 1789. On account of the unsettled condition of land titles at wyoming, John passed up the river, stopping for a year or two at Hammond’s place below Elmira, and finally came to a satisfactory place at Horseheads, where he bought and settled for life, and where at his death he left a fine property and a long line of descendants.

Soon after their arrival in Wyoming Valley, to wit, on the 15th day of July, 1789, Henry and Samuel bought of Parshall Terry two lots of land in Kingston township, to wit, meadow lot No. 19, containing 50 acres, and back lot No. 8 in the 45th division, containing 50 acres, and back lot No. 3 in the 4th division, containing 170 acres, which on account of defective title they conveyed back to Terry on the 1st of April, 1791, when Henry returned to New Jersey. Hearing of good reports from his bother John in reference to the land at Horseheads, he moved with his family to that locality, near which he settled and remained until his death in 1834, leaving a long line of descendants.

Samuel remained in Wilkesbarre, near the Parsons place, until the purchase of the farm Terry, when he moved onto that place, and made his home there until they sold back to Terry some two years after. He remained and continued an inhabitant of Kinston township in the now borough of Wyoming, until his death on July 21, 1837. He left nine children and they and their Husbands and wives were all living at the time of his death.

He left a valuable property and a long line of descendants.

IF the story told by samuel Breese, as to the time when he and his brothers, John and Henry, left New Jersey and their arrival at Wyoming, and that of John in the Chemung Valley be true, then we are here today celebrating the centinnial of the arrival of John Breese and his family in the Chemung Valley, and although we may not be gathered on the spot of his first stop in the valley, yet we are on or near the place of his first purchase of land, and the building by him of a home, and the clearing away of the wilderness, which covered these plains. That he was a pioneer of this region there is no doubt, and no one has been able to dispute successfully the claim that he was the pioneer settler of this region.

In an obituary notice of William Buchanan, a cousin of President Buchanan, who died in Elmira at the age of 90, on April 19, 1874, and who married Phebe, daughter of Henry Breese, it is stated that "He was born Jan. 12, 1784, between Elmira and Horseheads, near the Center Mills." If this be true, he and his father’s family lead all competitors in the claims as pioneers of this region. But I think there is some mistake in this statement. It is not sustained by any other authority I have seen.

The following mention I find in relation to other persons of the name, for whom I have not been able to find a place, in our line,, although they may belong there, at least some of them. Some may have been descendants from Henry.

Samuel Breese was colonel of a regiment of New Jersey militia, from Monmouth County. He resigned July 9, 1776. He was one of a committee at Allentown, N.J., who were addressed by the Committee of Safety at Philadelphia October 14, 1776, at or near Shrewsbury. --- Supposed to be a son of Sidney

There was a Garett Breese of Somerset County, a member of Captain Mead’s company, First Regiment, NJ, in Revolutionary War, and a Timothy Breese, captain and conductor of the Team Brigade, N. J., Revolutionary War.

[Part 2]


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