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A History of the Breese Family

A Pastorale by Kathryn Grace Breese

Chapter VII

An Old Vealtown Home

We think there is no month in the year like the month of October, especially in our country. The spring and the summer are filled with their own beauties and winter days do not lake charm, but October for us, sheds a tranquil joy over the brown earth that we find no other season can surpass. Therefore, we like to picture this family in one of the loveliest spots of this vast land on an October day when nature has spread, with all her glory, the red and yellow tints on the once green leaves with a talent no artist can ever hope to excel.

How pleasant to bask in the morning light. Tall trees wave to and fro. No cloud in the blue sky. The fields in the distance, once yellow with rich grain, are now gray with the stubble the mowers have left behind in gathering the harvest. 'tis like a pause in the year's flight and a moment of rest.

There is a square in the center of the village where stands an old town pump. A horse and gig pass by. The farmer inside greets the stranger, out of habit, though he does not know hi,. All is still and hushed except perhaps for the call of a belated bird who was left behind when his companion flew southward.

We leave the square and mount the gentle incline and presently, to the left, we stand in front of an old Colonial house; old even in those days. Just a plain, unpretentious place with an entrance in the middle and wings on either side. We ascend two stone steps leading up from the street and with a green lawn to the right and to the left and sycamore trees that shade the path, we continue to the steps of the porch which, in hospitable fashion, extends across the whole front of the house. Wooden benches are built in and each side of the door and we sit down upon them for only a moment, just to reflect and to call up visions, if possible, of the inmates who once dwelt here but who are long since departed.

We can steal in at the open door and stand by the side of those phantoms whose hearts once beat even as ours today, and whose tread was as firm and whose hopes were as high?

Yes-here is meek and modest Phebe, occupied in household duties, with the chatter of little ones in her wake greeting our ears. We see her treading lightly back and forth, the wife of a man who had been the idol of his parents and whose sisters Sally and Phebe and Nancy and Ruth and countless others not only did his bidding but anticipated his every wish. 'Twas not so easy to fill alone the place which had been occupied and divided by so many others.

The children to this woman came almost with the seasons until the number of nine was reached. In this she was like Dorothy and Nancy before her. There were Mary and Deborah and Vincent and Ann, Elizabeth and James Harris and Andrew, Sarah and Phebe. No, Phebe's life was a pathetic one.

We see by the names of some of these boys and girls that, though their mother never knew far off France, she still possessed a strain of ancient Gaul, which the power of tradition had handed down through the ages.

Vincent was named for her Huguenot ancestor and Ann for his wife, Ann Boutcher. We think that Phebe pronounced these names in the French way and though she may have said Andrew to her third son, she thought Andre.

James Harris received his name for two different reasons. There had been born in 1807 to Phebe Brees and Aaron Boylan, a son who they called James Harris and he had died in 1820. Now there lies buried in the neglected Bound Brook Presbyterian Churchyard one James Harris, who died September 15, 1794 at the age of seventy years and one James Harris who died August 1, 1813 at the age of fifty-nine years. We conclude that this Harris family were friends of Aaron Boyland ant that he followed the custom of the times in giving his boy their name.

In some way which we have been unable to discover, the Runyon's were also connected with the Harris' for we find by the side of the graves of these two men, the grave of an infant Runyon Harris, buried there in 1807. Thus we see that inasmuch as James Harris Brees was born in 1822, only two years after the death of his young cousin James Harris Boylan and that Phebe had some other interest in the Harris family, we have the origin of our father's name.

His jacet
Quid quid mortales partes
Jacobi Harris Boylan
Filii Aaronis Boylan et
Hoebes, matirs ejus
Stud. Acad.
Nat. Sep. 5 MDCCCVII
Ob. April 10MDCCCXX
Vivit annos XII, Menses VII, dies. IV


Go fair example of untainted youth,
Of modest wisdom and pacific truth;
Go rest, dear child, where bliss sincere is known
Go where to love and to enjoy are one,
Thy saviour calls thee and His will be done.


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