THE BREESE CENTENNIAL
At the top of this page was handwritten: “Copied from a paper called “The Reporter” published at Horseheads, N.Y. and preserved by Mrs. Caroline Halsey Wood, daughter of Alfred and Rachel Lyon Breese (copy made by Mrs. L.. B. Breese, Elmdale, Kansas, 1921)”
THE BREESE CENTENNIAL
THE MEETING OF RELATIVES AFTER ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SEPARATION
Nearly Every State In the Union Represented in the Grand Reunion. The Historical Address of Hon. Steuben Jenkins.
Wednesday morning, June 19th 1889, was ushered in by lowering clods (sic) and ?fizzling rain, yet it did not serve to dampen the ardor of the large number of the well known Breese family, the largest in point of numbers undoubtedly, in this county, as it is also one of the oldest and most influential. Not withstanding the unfavorable state of the weather and the uncertainty of the railroad connections in this era of floods and wrecks, a few of those residing at remote points reached Horseheads on Tuesday evening, and although these unpleasant drawbacks to the high success of the gathering served in a measure to detract from the pleasure of the occasion, the attendance was good and the hearty enjoyment of the reunion, only marred by these circumstances. Otherwise it was a superlative success. For some time Mr. Ulysses Breese, on whose spacious grounds the festivities were conducted, has been working like a beaver to make the occasion not only a memorable one as bringing the various representatives of the historical family together to renew old acquaintances and form new ones; but also a pleasant gathering which shall live in the memory of all who attend for the real happiness derived from the meeting. Two mammoth tents were erected upon the smooth, green lawn adjoining the residence on Grand Central avenue, with seating capacity for all who might come. Within the smaller of these tents 80 feet in diameter and covering nearly the entire area, a floor of matched lumber had been lain and upon this fifteen large tables fairly groaned with their loads of luxuries, a feast spread by many willing, busy hands, in consideration of which a king might find pleasure. This space cleared in the evening became the dancing floor, where those inclined moved through the mazes of the dance to music by Cogswell’s superb orchestra. The large tent, 70x150 feet inside, was fitted up with seats having a raised platform near the center of one side where the program of exercises was carried out. In front of the platform a large frame contained a collection of historical relics, such as receipts, letters and the like, received by the first settler in this place, John Breese. These receipts all show the marks of age, some dating back as far as 1770. Both these tents were festooned with flags, Chinese lanterns, flowers and evergreens, and presented a very tasteful and inviting appearance. At 10 o’clock over one hundred people had assembled and an hour later the number had been doubled. Shortly after this time Cogwell’s band marched upon the ground, and were given seats near the raised platform. For the balance of the day the inspiring strains of music mingled with the laughter, the hum of a myriad voices, and the ?lowering aspect of the weather was almost forgotten in the pleasures of the hour.
As the various representatives arrived they were asked to register their names and addresses, and each were supplied with ribbons, the color varying as the recipient enjoyed a close or more remote connection with the family. Those of pure Breese blood wore white, those connected by marriage, blue, and the descendants, red. A piano in the larger tent added its quota of music to the occasion.
The total register of names of those in attendance was 349, all Breeses or decendents (sic) of that family. The following places sent representatives: Horseheads, Elmira, Breesport, Southport, Dundee, Swartwood, Pine Valley, Corning, East Corning, Frankfort, Savona, Painted Post, Spencer, Halsey Valley, Erin and Big Flats in New York; Montanden, Nanticoke, Westfield, West Pike, Wyoming, Duke Center, Richford, Webbs Mills, Hector, Harrison Valley and Sunderlinville, in Pennsylvania; Chicago, Ill.; Wauscon, Ohio; Kalamazo (sic), Mich. The large assemblage had the appearance of a small army when seated about the groaning tables. At 2 o’clock the regular program of exercises was carried out in the larger tent. They consisted of singing, selection by the band, a short but appropriate address by the President of the centennial association, Mr. Ulysses Breese, a historical address by Hon. Steuben Jenkins, of Wyoming, Pa. which appears below. This was followed by a short talk from Mr. DeWitt C. Curtis, of this place, who took up the history where Mr. Jenkins left off and interested the large assembly for an hour with reminiscenses of the later members of the family. This was followed by happy remarks by Dr. D. Williams Patterson, of Newark Valley, and the reading of a large number of regrets from those who from various causes were unable to be present. At the close a resolution of thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses Breese was proposed and carried unanimously. The balance of the afternoon was passed in social intercourse the call to supper at 7 o’clock being readily responded to by nearly all who had enjoyed the sumptuous dinner. After supper the floors were cleared for dancing which continued until a late hour. The proposition to make this reunion an annual occurrence hereafter was considered and will undoubtedly be acted upon. Certain it is the present occasion has been one in which all concerned can find cause for pride and especially those who have been unstinting in their efforts to make it a grand success.
ADDRESS BY MR. JENKINS
The first I find of the Breese name is in the list of those who came into England with William the Conqueror in 1066. 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 Abbey at Hastings as fixt to the freehold thereof, were the names of such as came over with the conquest were 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 that 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 in 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 county 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 ¾ in 1713, died March 4, 1803.
Sidney Breese married Miss Elizabeth Pinkerman, 14 February, 1733-4. They had children 1. Charles, born 21st Dec., 1734; was lost at sea. 3. Elizabeth, born 21st Oct., 1741; she died young. 2. Samuel, born May 23, 1737, who married Rebecca Finley, daughter of Rev. Samuel Finley, D., President of College of New Jersey, at Princeton, Nov. 14, 1765. They had children ¾
II. Samuel Sidney, Rear Admiral U. S. Navy, born in Philadelphia, Sept. 26,1768
III. Arthur, born at Shrewsbury, N. J., Sept. 11, 1770, died Aug. 13, 1825, in New York City.
I. Elizabeth Ann, who was born Sept. 29, 1766, and who married Jedediah Morse, who was born Aug. 23, 1761.
Arthur Breese married Catherine, the eldest daughter of Henry Livingston, of Dutchess Co., N. Y. They had Sidney Breese, of Illinois.
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 23d Dec. 1871.
1773, Aug. 27 or 28, Suckey or Luckey Finley died at Mrs. Breese’s, at 8 o’clock of consumption. She was buried in the old Presbyterian church, before Mrs. Breese’s pew in the aisle. Dr. Rogers spoke at the grave. ¾New York Record.
Of Sidney Breese, I find the following account in Harper’s Magazine for Nov., 1855, page 857, based on an inscription on a tombstone in the church yard of old Trinity church of New York. The tombstone reads:
June 9, 1767.
Made by Himself.
Ha! Sidney, Sidney!
Lyest Thou Here?
I Here Lie.
Till Time is Flown
To its Extremity
This Sidney Breese was a Welsh gentleman distantly related to the Watkins Williams Wynn family, the present head of it being a very wealthy baronet of Wales. In political sentiment this Sidney 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 a man-of-war, and in 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 States Senator from Illinois, who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of that state, and the 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 grandest results of the age.
I now pass to my branch of the family.
John Breese, born 1713, 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.
John, born Nov. 8, 1738; died March 24, 1829.
Azariah, born 1743; died Nov. 27, 1820.
Henry, born 1752, died 1834.
Stephen, born 1755, died June 19, 1840.
Samuel, born April 17, 1758; died July 21, 1837.
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, 1815.
Esther Breese married James Hanville.
Anna Breese married Noah Hammond, of Hardiston, Sussex Co., N.J.
Henry Breese married Ruth Pierson.
Sarah Breese married Jeremiah Hayden.
Stephen Breese married Nancy Bailey who died June 19, 1840, aged 76 years.
Samuel Breese married Hannah Pierson, who was born Feb. 15, 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 to day, 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. 15, 1844. They were married Jan. 30, 1769, and had children, to wit:
Stephen, born November 22, 1769.
Deborah and Phebe, twins, born February 18, 1773, died December 28, 1873, as to Phebe, Wm. Buchanan.
Elias, born June 21, 1775, died Jan. 29, 1863.
Samuel, born August 31, 1777, died April 3, 1849.
Lewis, born September 29, 1779.
Azariah, born Sept. 15, 1781, died June 21, 1866.
Silas, born May 5, 1784.
Hannah, born March 17, 1786, died Oct. 21, 1873.
Sarah, born February 18, 1789.
John, born April 29, 1791, died May 29, 1882.
Henry Breese, born August 29, 1753, died June 3, 1835, aged 82 years. He married Ruth Pierson, daughter of Wyllis Pierson, born December 9, 1754, died March 28 1833. They were married on January 7, 1774, and had children, to-wit
Mary, born October 31, 1774 died Aug. 7, 1851.
Stephen, born December 29, 1776.
John Pierson, born May 3, 1779.
Hannah P., born Sept. 30, 1781 died Sept. 5, 1785.
Jeremiah, born Feb. 25, 1786 died Apr 29, 1847.
Joel, born May 21, 1791 died Sept. 17, 187¾
Hosea, born Nov. 24, 1788, died Aug. 16, 18¾
Ruth, born June 7, 1793 died Dec. 5, 18¾
Henry Jr., born Dec. 2, 1783 died¾
Susan, born March 1, 1796 died June 16,¾
Acly, born Jan. 12, 1799 died Oct. 19, 1799.
I now come to my line:
Samuel Breese, born April 17, 1758 died July 21, 1837, married Hannah Pierson, daughter of Wyllis Pierson, born, February 15, 1760 died April 9, 1817. They were married and had children, to wit:
Wyllis, born March 18, 1781 died Oct. 17, 1853.
Daniel, born May 11, 1783 died May 19, 1864.
Mary, born May 23, 1785 died Dec. 21, 1871.
Lot, born January 8, 1788 died May 1, 1868.
These were all born in New Jersey.
Ezra, born June 13, 1790 died June 28, 1869.
Elizabeth, born March 27, 1793 died Oct. 22, 1871.
John, born August 28, 1795 died March 12, 1879.
Henry, born Dec. 21, 1797 died Oct. 21, 1875.
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 “ Abigail Love.
Mary Breese “ Samuel LaFrance.
Lot Breese “ Falla Jenkins.
Ezra Breese “ Sarah Whisler.
Elizabeth Breese, “ James Jenkins.
John Breese, “ Jerusha Johnston.
Henry Breese, “ Sarah Johnston.
Samuel Breese “ Sarah Woodward.
My descent is from Elizabeth and James Jenkins.
The three whose families I have given and who are our ancestors, all served in the Revolutionary war on the side of their country in behalf of her liberties.
John Breese was a soldier in Capt. William Bond’s Co., in the 4th Battalion, 2nd Establishment in New Jersey line. He was in the expedition commanded by Maj. Gen. Sullivan against the Six Nations and passed over the ground where Horseheads now stands on 1st of Sept. 1779. His Colonel was Ephraim Martin.
Henry Breese was also a Revolutionary soldier in Captain Henry Luce’s Co., 2 Battalion New Jersey line, also in Capt. Stilwell’s Co, 4th Reg’t, Hunterdon Co. also in State Troops. He was also in Sullivan’s campaign under Col. Israel Shreeve.
Samuel Breese was also a Revolutionary soldier. He gives this account of his service under oath “He was called out in 1776. He served one tour previous to the battle of Long Island; one tour at the battle in Aug. 1776; one tour when Jersey was over-run in Dec., 1776; one tour when Gen. Burgoyne was taken in Oct., 1777; one tour or month at the Battle of Bound Brook, which battle he was in; one tour at the battle of Spanktown, which he was in; one tour at the battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778; one tour Gen. Lee was taken at Mrs. White’s Inn at Baskenridge; one month or tour at Elizabeth Town Point and one tour at Pluckemin, making in all ten months or tours. His officers were Col. Winds and Col. Frelinghuysen, Captain Andrew Kirkpatrick, Gaman McCoy et al. At time of service he was a resident of Barnard township, Somerset Co., N.J. In the year 1780-81 was under Pomeroy forage Master 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 1789.” “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. II, No. 4, pub. 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 Sextant of the first settlement of that village.
He makes the arrival of John Breese on the flats about two miles below Elmira to have been in 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 to Horseheads.) “She was undoubtedly the first white child born in the 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 date of John Breese’s coming into the Chemung Valley as 1789.
Without undertaking to decide which of these statements are correct, I will give a copy of a record of the concurrent period, made by my grandfather, Samuel 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 homes in New Jersey and migrated to Pennsylvania, taking their families with them. John had married Hannah Gildersleeve and had eight children. Henry had married Ruth Pierson and Samuel had married Hannah Pierson, and had four children.
They arrived in Wilkesbarre on the 11th of June, 1789. On account of the unsettled condition of land titles at Wyoming, John passed up the river, stopped 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. 3 in the 4th division, containing 170 acres, which on the count of defective title they conveyed back to Terry on the 1st of April, 1791, when Henry returned to New Jersey. Hearing good reports from his brother 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 from 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 centennial 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 Wm. Buchanan, a cousin of President Buchanan, who died in Elmira, at the age of 90, on April 19, 1874, and who married Phoebe, daughter of Henry Breese, it is stated that “he was born january 12, 1784, between Elmira and Horseheads, near the Centre 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 of Henry.
Samuel Breese was colonel of a regiment of New Jersey militia, from Monmouth Co. 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, Oct. 14, 1776, at or near Shrewsbury. (Supposed to be a son of Sidney.)
There was a Garett Breese, of Somerset Co., a member of Capt. Meade’s Co., First Regiment, N. J., in Revolutionary war, and a Timothy Breese, captain and conductor of the Team Brigade, N. J., in Revolutionary war.
There were two by the name of John Breese in service in the Revolutionary war. One of whom was from Somerset Co., and the other from Monmouth.
There was a Nehemiah Breese at Sunbury, Northumberland Co., Pa., on July 12, 1775, surveying the Sneager’s tract, now Chappell’s Hollow. On Aug. 12, 1775, he surveyed Thomas Smith’s tract for Joseph Green, latterly known as Bellas’, on Penn Creek.
John Breese was private in 7th Co., Capt. Jacob Weaver, 10th Reg’t Penna, Revolutionary war. He died in Mason Co., Ky., Aug. 27, 1827, aged 79 years.
James B. Breese, 2 Lieutenant Marine Corps. Born in Illinois and appointed from that state. Entered service, March 18, 1864. On board Receiving Ship Vermont in 1867.
S. Livingston Breese, Lieut. Commander and Inspector of Navy Yard at Pensacola, Fla., in 1867. Born in Illinois. Resides in Pennsylvania. Entered service May 14, 1846. Present commission July 15, 1862. Time in service 1867, 20 years 8 months.
E. Marshall Breese, Engineer U. S. Navy, born in Delaware. Resided in Detroit, Mich. Entered service March 25, 1862. Present commission July 25, 1866. Time in service 1867, 4 years 9 mos. A grandson of Ezra Breese, of Wyoming, Pa.
Rear Admiral Samuel L. Breese, born in New York. Residence in Penna. Entered service Dec. 17, 1810. Commissioned as Rear Admiral July 16, 1862. In service in 1867, 55 years 4 mos.
Died September 1, 1884, at Newport, R. I., Mrs. Lucy Ann Breese, widow of the late Purser Thomas Breese, United States Navy, and a daughter of the late R. K. Randolph , in her 81st year. She was the mother of the late Captain K. Randolph Breese, of the United States Navy.
K. Randolph Breese, Born in Penna. Appointed from Rhode Island, and a resident of R. I. Entered service Nov. 6, 1846. Date of commission as Commander, July 25 1866. He had 16 years of sea service. Total service on May 2, 1867, 20 years, 2 mos.
Records of Trinity Church, Newport, R. I.: Married February 1, 1778, John Breese to Elizabeth Walbone.
Copyright © 1999 by John Breese McKenzie. All rights reserved