Home | Journeys | Sources | Research Info | About | What's New
Breese Family Biography

Taken from:
The Murphy-Breese Family History, first published in 1988

Richard Jeffrey Gurvine

Call number 929.273 M955g, and microfilmed in the LDS Family History Library as FHL US/CAN Film 1598380 Item 12., 1988.

Permission to use given by Richard Jeffrey Gurvine

The Murphy-Breese Family History  

The John BREES [1789] Family

Family Background

The John BREES family was previously researched by a Mrs. Mary KLEVER in 1953. The details of the individuals were sifted out by me with the help of parish records in genealogical libraries and English records offices.

The gravemarker of John BREES and his wife Mary (EDWARDS) at the chapel at Hen Gapel near Llanbrynmair, county Montgomery, Wales.

The gravemarker of John BREES and his wife Mary (EDWARDS) at the chapel at Hen Gapel near Llanbrynmair, county Montgomery, Wales. (Click photo for larger image)
Click for larger image
Mary obtained the information from the Parish Non-Conformist Registers. The Church of England members used the Parish registers, whereas those refusing to join the church of state were called non-conformists and registered their vital events in a separate book. Since the parish priest was required by law to record all those in his parish, most of the registers are accurate.

Just recently, another family historian contacted me about the BREES family. Ellinor GREEN, who lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, is a descendant of Hannah BREES, sister to my ancestor. She provided details of Hannah’s marriage to William GRIFFITHS. She and her husband traveled to Llanbrynmair in the former county Montgomery. She found graves, drew me maps, provided copies of original letters and sent me a description of the Welsh settlement in Iowa where both our relatives located.

The name BREES or BREEZE means "a stag standing at a gaze". I suspect that the "e" was added to the family name upon entry to the US because the "s" was originally given an "s" sound. Since, in English, a trailing s would have a "z" sound, the silent "e" was added to cause the proper sound to the name. This was a common activity upon entry when the native language was not English.

[webmaster note: BREESE is commonly thought to be derived from ap Rhys or Rees, which means "son of Rhys". Thanks to Susan Cook for pointing this out. A crest exists that can be described as "a stag standing at a gaze", however, this crest cannot be attributed to the BREES(E) name in general, nor does it seem to have that meaning. -sdw:9 Oct 2010]

John BREES [1789] - husband

On the family group sheet recorded by Mrs. KLEVER, John was born about 1786 in Llanbrynmair, Montgomery Co., Wales. I researched the birth records for this parish from 1760 to 1896. I found a record for the birth of John, son of John BREES, in Llanbrynmair, on January 22nd, 1789.

In the biographical sketch of his son, John is listed as "a native of the county (Montgomery), North Wales, and farmer by occupation." On the marriage record of this same son, John is called a "laborer".

There is also a marriage record that could be his in the Bishops Transcripts, Bangor Diocese, Llanbrynmair Parish for the year 1810 as follows:

John BREES of the parish of Llanbrynmair, Bachelor, to Mary EDWARDS, spinster, were married May 16th, signed Richard RICHARDS, curate, Thomas PAGE and John PUGH, church wardens.

Ellinor GREENs research turned up the gravestone for John and Mary. It is located at Hen Gapel in Llanbrynmair. It is inscribed in Gaelic. It lists their date of death and age, making possible an estimate of their birth years.

[webmaster note: The inscription is in Welsh, a Celtic language. Gaelic is also a Celtic language, but is not Welsh. Thanks to Susan Cook for pointing this out. -sdw:9 Oct 2010]

I found many other places where BREES and EDWARDS were mentioned in parish records, but it will require more time to sort them out.

Mary EDWARDS [1790] - wife

In the family group sheet submitted by Mrs. KLEVER, Mary is known simply as Mrs. Mary BREES, born about 1790 in Llanbrynmair. But in the Breese Family History written by Gladys Breese, she is know by her maiden name, Mary EDWARDS. I have found a christening record for a Mary EDWARDS on February 22nd, 1790, in Llanbrynmair, the daughter of Hugh and Elizabeth EDWARDS.

The marriage record that I assume is correct uses the EDWARDS name and lists her as a spinster at marriage.

Mary BREES [about 1811] - daughter

The first source of this child is the KLEVER record. Later, I found her mentioned in the christening records of Old Chapel Congregational Church. Her death is mentioned in a Johnson county biography about her brother, John.

Ann BREES [1812] - daughter

Thanks to Ellinor GREEN, much more is known about Ann. Her gravestone in the Welsh cemetery in Iowa and letters from her brother tell of her marriage to Thomas JONES. I feel sure that any descendant of Ann could find more by researching the census records of Iowa for Ann and her husband and family.

Hannah BREES [about 1817] - daughter

The first source of this child was the KLEVER record. But Ellinor, being a descendant, added much more. Ellinor and I have found Hannah’s in church and census records in Wales. Ellinor also received information from a Lydia SLOAN who wrote saying, “I found your great grandparents first names from an 1851 census. William and Hannah. He was a lead miner, 34 years old, and she was a wool weaver, 33 years old. They were at Trefolwern or Tafolwern between Llanbrynmair and Llanbrynmair Station (train).”

Sarah BREES [about 1820] - daughter

Sarah’s family has been uncovered by another of her descendants in, “Descendants of Edward Morris”, written by Dale Morris, 15 Nov 2000. Edward MORRIS was born August 06, 1819 in Montgomeryshire, North Wales, and died February 02, 1901. He married SARAH BREESE June 19, 1837 in North Wales.

From the, “Biographical History of Allen County”, Dale found:

“Edward Morris was born in 1819 in North Wales and come to the U.S. in 1840, immediately following his marriage. He lived a short time in Licking County, Ohio and then moved to Oneida County, N.Y., where he worked as a farm laborer about 4 years. He then came to Ohio and for two years lived in Licking county, but returned to Oneida county, and there passed nine years, when he came once more to Ohio in September 1854. He came to Sugar Creek township, Allen County, Ohio, and rented land in Sugar Creek township, Allen County, where he lived the remainder of his life. In 1865, or thereabout, he bought his first farm, which consisted of eighty acres. He died in March 1901 and was one of the leading members of the Welsh Congregational Church at Gomer, Ohio. He married Sarah BREESE (our ancestor), who was born in North Wales in 1820, and who died on the Sugar Creek township farm in 1872.”

Rachel BREES [about 1823] - daughter

Little else is known of Rachel besides the vital info from the KLEVER family group sheet and Old Chapel Congregational church records.

Suzanna BREES [about 1825] daughter

The "Breese Family History" by Gladys Breese says that two children were still alive as of 1893: one John, our ancestor; and the other a Suzanna. The published biographical record for John indicates that Suzanna was alive in 1893, and living in Putnam, Ohio, with her husband, Josiah EDWARDS. This record says that John was the youngest child, so I place Suzanna's birthday between 1829 and that of her next oldest sister in 1823. Ellinor GREEN also says she married an EDWARDS. She was called “Sue” and lived in Ohio around Delphos, Gomer and Vaughnville.

John BREES [1829] - son

In the "Breese Family History" by Gladys Breese, dated 26 February 1974, Gladys writes that John was born on February 1st, 1829, in Llanbrynmair, Montgomery County, Wales. After his marriage, he immigrated to America in 1857. Little is known of his life as a youth. In a biography of the county in Iowa where John later lived, there is a description of his youth.

(John was) born in Montgomery Co., North Wales, 1 February 1829. His father, John BREESE and mother, Mary EDWARDS, both natives, had 8 children. John, the youngest and only son of the family, grew up in his native place, taking care of himself from the ninth year, having hired out at that age upon a farm for his board

In cases where the parents died or became too poor, the children were given to other families as servants until they reached maturity. In what I recall was a letter, John tells his sister that he misses them and his former family life. This was a refining fire that produced the fine steel that made up John’s character. Strong enough to withstand the new world, John raised successful sons and daughters. Even the death of his wife did not stop him. For more on John, see his family as an adult in the 5th Generation Families.

_____ BREES [about 1831] - daughter

The family history records, especially the biographical record for her brother, John, lists 8 children, 7 daughters and one brother (John). Since the family record from Mrs. KLEVER shows only a total of 6 daughters, I assume there was one more daughter, who died possibly in infancy.

The Edward BREES [1791] Family

Family Background

The knowledge of this family comes from a single source of questionable reliability. In the 1841 census for County Montgomery, Wales, I found in Rhineselson Township, Llanbrynmair Parish, the family of Edward BREES. . This father was a tailor by profession. This family matches all of the known requirements except that our ancestor is shown as "Ann" instead of Mary. The ages are all correct as well.

Other records from our ancestor, Mary, the daughter to this family, gave the name of the father as Edward. Mary's husband also married another daughter of this family named Jane BREES, who was younger.

Edward BREES [1791] - husband

In the aforementioned 1841 census, Edward is shown on the Tyder #1 farm occupying one house. His profession is tailor, age 50. On the marriage register of his daughter, the name “Edward BREES, tailor” is again given.

Ann _____ [about 1796] - wife

The wife of Edward and mother of this family is given in the 1841 census as Ann at the age of 45. She is shown as born in Montgomery County.

Edward BREES [about 1814] - son

This Edward was the first child to this family. Church records show he died at age 11. As sometimes happened in this culture, another child, born after Edward’s, was also named Edward (see below).

William BREES [about 1816] - son

This same 1841 census shows son William as age 20, male and born in the same Montgomery County. In the Biographical Record of William's brother-in-law (John BREES), it says, "Grandmother BREES (William's sister, Mary) had an older brother who came to America before she did [1855], but they lost track of him. Whether this immigrant is the William of the 1841 census or not is purely hope on my part since I know so little of him.

Richard BREESE [about 1820]- son

Little is known of Richard except christening records in the parish church

Ann BREES [about 1823] - daughter

Likewise, little is known except for the parish register on baptisms (christenings).

Mary BREES [1825] - daughter

The first indication of Mary's birthplace and date comes from the 1841 census of her father's family, Edward BREES. It lists her age as 15, suggesting her birth in 1825 or 1826. I suggest 1825 since I later found her birth month was in August after the usual census date of June. It also says she was born in the county of Montgomery. Remember, though, that whether this is the correct family or not is conjecture on my part, and the name of Mary does not appear on the 1841 census, but the name Ann does. Everything else is correct.

In the 1860 census for Union Township, Iowa, Mary is listed as age 35, therefore born in 1825 or 1824. In the 1870 census for the same place, her age is 45 indicating the same 1824 or 25 birth year. Gladys BREESE wrote that Mary was born on August 12th, 1825. The headstone in the Welsh cemetery gives her age at death which puts her birth at August 11th, 1825. To add further confusion to the matter, Marian KINSETH (?) says that Mary was born in Wales on August 11th, 1820, although the family Bible says 1829. Without the aid of her birth certificate, I will use the August 11th, 1825 date. For the full story of Mary as an adult, see the John BREESE family of 1829.

Catherine BREES [1827] - daughter

Only the church christening record gives the name and relationship of this child.

Isaac BREES [1830] - son

Isaac is shown as only 1 year (should be 11) of age at the 1841 census. He is listed as male and, like all the others, born in Montgomery County. I also found him on the Old Chapel Congregational church records. Later, in Iowa records on Civil War service reports, I found an Isaac BREESE in Company A, 33rd Infantry.

Edward BREES [1832] - son

Edward is known through the census of 1841. He is listed as age 4, male, and born in Montgomery. He is also found in the Old Chapel christening records. I found a unverified marriage record to Mary Ann LEWIS in Iowa, military records, a will, naturalization papers and land records. The will mentions an adopted daughter, born in 1870.

In the 1900 federal census for John BREESE (1852 - Edward's nephew), there is an Edward listed as a servant (a common identification found in the 1900 census for relatives living with the head of household). He is shown as born in August of 18XX (illegible) in Wales as were his parents, age 74, and divorced. His immigration date is shown as 1852, and he was naturalized. Although he is shown as a farm laborer by occupation, he has not worked for 6 months. He can read, write, and speak English. Whether this Edward and the one of the 1841 census are true ancestors is not known.

Jane BREES [1834] - daughter

This the second daughter that married our ancestor, John BREES. The first is her sister Mary, listed above.

The Welsh Cemetery headstone says that Jane was born on July 26th, 1833, in Wales. Gladys confirms this date, but Marian KINSETH thought it was 1823.

In the 1900 census of her stepson, William BREESE, she was listed as born in July of 1834 in Wales as were her parents.

The 1841 survey census described above lists Jane as age 5, female, and born in Montgomery. Whether or not this is the right Jane BREES of Llanbrynmair, Montgomery, Wales, remains to be seen.

Morris BREES [1836] - son

The 1841 census lists Morris as a male of age 8, born in the County of Montgomery. The boy’s christening is also in the congregational church records.


Wales is one of the four countries that make up what is known as Great Britain. It is about as big as the state of New Jersey located on the west coast of England. Across the Irish sea some 50 miles is Ireland. In 1860, there were 13 counties or shires in Wales. All of Patricia’s ancestry came from Montgomeryshire.

Thousands of years ago, the original inhabitants were Iberians followed by Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans, and Englishmen. Struggling against the land and invaders together with their nature, the Welsh became strong and independent. By 1536, Wales gave in to England and lost its independence. A few of the Welsh succeeded in government. In 1485, Henry Tudor became King Henry VII. I was one of his sons who brought the two countries together.

The region in the south is rich in coal - this is where most of the people live. But in the north are the farmlands of Montgomeryshire. The low mountains leave only small valleys flat enough to cultivate.

The people live much like other industrial regions of England, Canada and the United States. Their food is simple consisting of lamb and beef with potatoes. On the farms, the houses are separated so families live alone. In the towns, the housing is in rows with close quarters. The people are very active in the Protestant religions, mostly in the Methodist church. In 1536, the Church of England became the church of state, but so many people belonged to the Methodists by 1811 that Wales separated and became free. Welsh are known for their singing. Both in church and elsewhere, their songs put to music their poetry of legends and stories. Many songs are religious and choirs are found in every congregation.

Parish of Llanbrynmair

The following material on the parish of Llanbrynmair is from The Powys Montgomeryshire Village Book, published in Montgomery Wales by the “Powys Montgomeryshire Federation of Women’s Institutes from notes and illustrations sent by Institutes in the County”.

Three stone circles on the top of Newydd Fynyddog are evidence of early human habitation in the parish of Llanbrynmair. The present parish, eleven miles in length and seven miles in breadth, is made up of one major and seven smaller settlements, lying along three valleys, those of the twymyn, the rhiw Saeson and the Iaen rivers.

Today the largest settlement, which includes the war memorial and the school and community centre, is clustered around the Wynnstay Arms, an old posting house on the main road from Newtown to Machynlleth, which was originally a turnpike road completed in 1821. To the southeast, along the main road, lie Dolfach ( the little meadow) and Talerddig (Erddig’s brow). An older turnpike road led from here, over the hills and down to a bridge over the river Twymyn at Bont Dolgadfan, and then over another pass to Machynlleth. Bont was once a thriving community of people engaged in the woolen industry, started by a small colony of Flemish weavers who settled there in the 17th century.

The parish takes its name from the church (Llan) on the hill (Bryn) of St Mary (Mair), which today dominates the hamlet of Llan. The present building dates from the 14th century but it is generally thought that a church was founded here by St Cadfan (hence Dolgadfan, the meadow of Cadfan) in the 7th century.

At the south-western end of the parish, along the Twymyn valley, lies the hamlet of Pennant (the head of the ravine) and beyond that the spectacular waterfall, Ffrwd Fawr, where the river Twymyn, which rises just beyond at Dylife, falls a hundred feet into the Pennant valley. It is difficult to appreciate its full beauty, even on foot, because access is not easy, so it remains a quiet and unspoilt beauty spot.

The parish includes a large portion of mountainous land, shared amongst the farms which lie along all three valleys. These concentrate mainly on sheep farming and most are family concerns.

The flannel industry was vital to the economy of this part of Wales in the 18th and 19th centuries but, although a factory was built in Bont Dolgadfan around 1800, it was very much a cottage industry and was killed off by the large-scale operators in the north. Some men worked in the lead mining industry, either at Ty Isaf near Pennant, or further afield, at Dylife.

There is a strong tradition of nonconformity. The Independents or Congregationalists held services for over 60 years in a lean-to at Tymawr Farmhouse until Hen Capel (Old Chapel) was built at Dolfach in 1739. The nonconformist chapels were the places where radical views were expressed and developed in the late 18th and 19th centuries and Llanbrynmair was a centre of radical ideas and thought. This unrest, combined with the decline of the woolen industry in the area, led many people to emigrate to America during this period.

Welsh Immigrants in Iowa

Llanbrynmair Parish, County Montgomery, Wales

The BREES family homestead lies in Llanbrynmair, County Montgomery, Wales. Montgomery is a typically small county just inland from Cardigan Bay on the west side of the British Isles. Llanbrynmair is located both on a river and main road leading to the bay. Upstream is the town of Talerddig and in the opposite direction, Cemmaes, where the river joins the Dovey flowing to the sea.

My Grandmother MURPHY spoke of the remarriage of John at the death of his first wife, Mary BREES. Grandma believed that John married Mary's sister, Jane BREES-HUGHES, who was living in Wales. John went there (for he had moved to Iowa by this time), married her, and returned to live on the same farm that his family was taking care of. Both John and Jane spoke mainly Welsh from that time on. The grandchildren, my grandma included, also spoke Welsh since it was necessary to communicate to their new grandma. When she was alive, Myrtle could still speak Welsh and enjoyed entertaining the grandchildren with memorized phrases and songs.

Old Man's Creek, Johnson County, Iowa

The following description of Old Man's Creek is believed to have been written by William D. Davies as part of “Travels to the Welsh Settlements of Iowa in 1886 and 1891”, William was a traveling supervisor for Y Drych (The Mirror) of Utica New York, the center of a large Welsh settlement. It came to me from Ellinor Green in April 1993

[webmaster note: the following is actually from: "Hanes Cymry America" (A History of the Welsh in America) by Rev. Robert David Thomas, 1872. (Translated by Phillips G. Davies, Ph.D. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983) This quote is from "Chapter Five - The State of Iowa", page 218. -sdw:2004]

"This settlement is located in an agricultural district about four or five miles southwest of Iowa City, where the main markets and the post office are found. Iowa City is a beautiful growing town on the banks of the Iowa River near forests and in the center of fruitful agricultural land. Twenty years ago [1866] it was but a small place. It had been the seat of government for years until it was moved to the city of Des Moines; but the state University is still there along with many buildings and large stores. There are some Welsh merchants there, for instance: Mr. Charles LEWIS and his brother George LEWIS, formerly of Remsen, New York; Mr. D GRIFFITHS, formerly of New York City; and others. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad runs through this city and it was in places near this railroad where the Welsh settled at Old Man's Creek. There are several flour mills near Iowa City.

"The Welsh began to populate the place around the year 1840. The first settlers were Edward Williams and Oliver Thomas, formerly of Montgomeryshire. A year or two after that came Joseph Hughes of Glyn Ceiriog, Denbighshire, Thomas Jones from South Wales and Henry Celment. After that came Peter Hughes, the son of Joseph Hughes, and William Evans. The older brother (?), Mr. Richard Tudor and his family, formerly of Penegoes, Montgomeryshire, came there about the year 1843. After that, David H. Jones of Llanbrynmair, David Davies and others arrived. They all came there from Ebensburgh, Pennsylvania, through Pittsburgh, along the Ohio River to Cairo, down the Mississippi to St. Louis, and some of them landed in Keokuk, others in Bloomington (now Muscatine). They traveled with their animals overland to the new settlements; they built houses of logs amid the wooded groves and close to each other within a mile of the stream called Old Man's Creek and on its northern bank.

"Near this river there were thousands of acres of excellent Government land for $1.25 an acre, enough wood and an abundance of rolling prairies to be purchased. They made a wise choice; it is land noted for its fruitfulness and healthfulness. But they worked there for many years with many civil and religious disadvantages. When they came there were a few families of other nationalities living in the district, English and Scots, for instance James Seaborn, Ellison Davies and his brothers and sisters, and others; and there were only three stores in Iowa City and few houses. Nor was there a bridge to cross the Iowa River, nothing but a ferry boat. They sold their goods there for the following prices:

Corn $0.10 a bushel
Wheat $0.18 to $0.23 a bushel
Pork $150 per hundred weight
Butter $0.06 to $0.07 per pound

Frequently, they did not get money, nothing but credit.

"The railroads did not run at that time across either Illinois or Iowa, and they were over fifty miles from the settlements overland at Davenport and Muscatine on the banks of the Mississippi River. But after the completion of the Illinois railroad from Chicago to Rock Island, after the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific railroad was opened to Iowa City around the year 1855, and after it was finished later across the state to the town of Council Bluffs on the banks of the Missouri, emigrants began to settle by the thousands in Iowa and there was a revival of its agriculture, its arts, and its business. The old settlers had chosen the flat lands and the high wooded hills; the majority of them avoided the woodless prairies because they did not believe that they would be productive. But from the year 1865 to the present [1886], hosts of Welsh emigrants, the majority of them from Ebensburgh, Pennsylvania, have bought these rolling prairies and have settled on them and have gotten abundant crops of grain, etc., out of them. There is but little of this land to be gotten there now, and one is not able to buy it for less than $10 to $15 an acre; one cannot get an excellent farmstead in the area without paying $20 to $50 an acre.

"The Welsh settlement at Old Man's Creek now has extended for miles around the small river, and there are many rich people and many valuable homes and medium sized farms. Perhaps the sons of the late Richard Tudor, Esq. i.e. Edward Tudor, Esq., and Hugh Tudor, Esq., and David H. Jones, Esq., formerly of Llanbrynmair; and Oliver Thomas, Esq., and others are the riches persons there; but all are in good and comfortable circumstances. Following are the main families who live in Sharon Township on the south side of the creek:

Baxter, John
Davies, David T.
Davies, Thomas. D.
Davies, William J.
EDWARDs, William
Hughes, David
Hughes, Peter
Jones, David O.
Jones, David R.
Jones, Rev. C.D.
Jones. David H.
Prichard, Daniel
Roberts, John
Roberts, John E.
Roberts, Rev. Evan
Thomas, Robert
Watts, Daniel
Williams, David
Williams, Widow

The following people live in Union Township on the north side of the river:

BREESE, John (our relative)
Davies, John
Davies, Robert
Davies, Robert R.
Davies, Thomas R.
EDWARDs, Edward
EDWARDs, Henry
EDWARDs, Widow
Goodwin, David
Hughes, Richard
Humphreys, Thomas
John, Daniel
Jones, David A.
Jones, David D.
Jones, Thomas (another relative)
Morris, William
Price, David H.
Price, David R.
Pryce, John
R. Hughes, John R.
Rees, John
Rees, Rowland
Roberts, David
Roberts, William.
Rowlands, William J.
Thomas, David
Thomas, Oliver
Thomas, Robert
Thomas, Thomas
Tudor, Edward
Tudor, Hugh
Williams, Richard

The following are in Iowa City Township:

Jones, David M.
Jones, Rev. Morris M
Jones, Samuel
LEWIS, George
Pate, Morris

At the beginning of November 1870 there were about sixty families and three hundred men, women, children, and male and female servants in the Welsh settlements there. They are multiplying quickly.


"The majority of the old settlers were religious people and high principled Congregationalists. They held prayer meeting and Sunday School in private houses for many years before a minister came there. The Congregational Church was founded there on February 20, 1846 by the Rev. David Knowles, formerly of Montgomeryshire and included 15 members. He labored there for three years in connection with the Congregational church of Long Creek. In 1849 the Rev. George LEWIS of Putman, Ohio, came there and he remained for nearly six years. About the year 1855 came the Rev. Morris M. Jones from Radnor, Ohio, and ministered there for some years; he still lives on his prosperous farm with his respected family. After him came the Rev. Evan GRIFFITHS, formerly of Llanegryn, Merioneth, and served successfully for five years. After that came the Rev. Cadr(?) D. Jones who was a popular minister for four years and cared for the church until the beginning of the year 1870. The first church was build in 1855 on a prominent hill near a forest and within a mile of the river on the north side near the farm of Hugh Tudor, Esq.

"From the year 1859 until 1869 there was much growth in the settlement and also in the church; and in the year 1870 a new and beautiful place of worship was built, much larger than the first, in the same place, and they paid off their debt. It was an adornment to the settlement and an honor to the denomination and the congregation. It now has 140 members, a large Sunday School, and a strong congregation. I believe that Oliver Thomas, Edward Tudor, and David H. Jones, among others, are the deacons. It contains many rich, godly, and faithful men and many industrious and talented young people. They need an able minister who can speak and write eloquently and preach fluently in both Welsh and English. I hope they get a minister of this sort quickly and that they hold him in respect. They are easily able to pay him $1000 a year. Several of the members belong to the Calvinist Methodists, the Baptists, and the Wesleyans, but they worship together with the Congregationalists. None of the other denominations have formed a church there yet; perhaps the Calvinist Methodists will do so quickly. The dear and faithful brother, the Rev. Evan Roberts, a Wesleyan, lives in the district, and is a faithful member and an approved preacher in that church. I believe that Edward Tudor, Esq., is the Secretary of the church. Address letters to him as follows; Edward Tudor, Esq., Farmer, Old Man's Creek, Iowa City PO, Johnson County, Iowa.

A History of the Welsh Congregational Church on Old Man's Creek

Also from Ellinor Green, a brochure describing the Welsh church printed just recently:

If you drive two miles southwest from Iowa City on Highway 1, then turn left onto the blacktop and drive another mile south, you'll soon see the white spire and steep-pitched roof of the Welsh Congregational Church of Old Man's Creek. It's a one?room country church, sharing its hilltop with the mossy stones of the old Welsh Cemetery. From the front door of the white, wooden building, you can see the green groves and hills of southern Johnson County.

In the late 1830's, those same hills and groves looked mighty inviting to a group of weary pioneers from Cambria County. Pennsylvania. The rolling hills reminded them of their Welsh homeland. The abundant oak groves would provide logs to build homes and barns. So the Welsh settlers decided to stay, and they prospered here, building homes on the banks of Old Man's Creek.

The Welsh settlers of Old Man's Creek organized the Welsh Congregational Church in 1846. For ten years, the twelve charter members--all named Clement, Davis, Thomas, Tudor, or Jones--took turns meeting in one anothers' homes. The little group grew, though. and sometimes meetings needed to be held in a barn.

Then Hugh Tudor donated several acres for a church and cemetery; the Congregational Association provided $20n for building materials. And the first Welsh Church building was begun in 1856. The first building has just one room, with a center aisle separating the men on one side, from women and children on the other.

That one-room building was large enough, though, for the first Gymanfa in 1858. Gymanfa, a traditional Welsh religious and social gathering, was two full days of preaching, scripture study, and, of course, music. The Welsh love music. singing patriotic and religious songs whenever and wherever they gather. Members of the church on Old Man's Creek sometimes traveled to other towns for Eisteddfod, a traditional Welsh music festival.

But the Welsh settlers were fast becoming Americanized. Some of the younger church members even asked that sermons at the Welsh Church be given in English. Once-monthly English sermons began in 1871, and in 1914, the final Welsh service was held.

In the same year that English sermons were first heard at the Welsh Church. the congregation outgrew the first tiny church building and built a new one. The membership kept on growing, reaching a high of 122 members in 1931. Then came the Depression and War years and as Iowa’s rural population decreased, so did the membership of the Welsh Church. Services were held more and more irregularly.

By 1954, the little church was closed, its members becoming associate members of the Iowa City Congregational Church. Throughout the 1950's and 60's. though. these faithful members kept alive the Welsh Church traditions, holding an annual Gymanfa. and looking after the church building and cemetery.

The 125th anniversary year of the founding of the Welsh Church in 1971 inspired them to make special efforts for that year's Gymanfa. Keith Tudor, a great-great-grandson of that Hugh Tudor who donated the land for the church 125 years before, painted the outside of the church, replaced the rickety wooden steps, and planted new shrubbery. People who came to the Gymanfa were delighted.

The Welsh Ladies Missionary Society followed up on that enthusiasm with a letter to members and former members requesting contributions for a Historic Preservation Fund. The request got a tremendous response, guaranteeing the preservation of the Welsh Church building and cemetery. Interest in the Welsh Church and the values it symbolized continued to grow, and on August 6, 1972, the little church reopened.

Today, the Welsh Church has 89 active members, who find a sense of belonging and community here, whether Welsh by heritage or not. Led by Pastor Nancy English, we try to preserve what's best from our past, to care for each other in the present, and to prepare ourselves and our children for the future.

We have weekly Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. followed by services at 10:00 a.m.

We eat potluck dinner together the first Sunday of each month. We host our Gymanfa annually on the Sunday nearest the Fourth of July.

This Welsh welcome hangs in the vestibule of the Welsh Church to greet our visitors:

Hail guest! We ask not what thou art;
If friend, we greet thee hand and heart;
If stranger, such no longer be;
If foe, our love shall conquer thee.

Drop in and visit with us sometime. We'd love to have you.

Among my grandmother’s things was this article written 17 July 1971 in an unknown newspaper, entitled Have You Heard? by Johanna Nelson Beers.

“Once each year the Little Welsh Church, located five miles southwest of Iowa City, suddenly comes to life for a day, opening its doors to former members and their families. This year the annual reunion took place July 4, marking the 125th anniversary of the church and the 101st anniversary of the building itself. Founded in 1846, this was the second Welsh Congregational Church in Iowa.

(The article mentions the program which was typical Welsh choir and solo singing and speeches similar to those delievered by Welsh preachers who traveled great distances to take part in the big meetings.)

Thanks to the thoughtfulness of the Keith Tudor family, the venerable little church had its best forward for the reunion. Mr Tudor’s great-great-grandfather, Hugh Tudor, originally donated the plot of land on which the church stands.

Church history notes that the last sermon in Welsh was delivered in 1914, and regular services were discontinued about 20 years ago (1951). Fron 1950-54, the church was supplied only by an occasional student pastor, and in 1954, Little Welsh Church members became associate members of the Congregational Church in Iowa City.

The John BREES (or BREESE) [1829] Family

Family Background

Here, the stories of the MURPHY-BREESE family touch histories of other families for which written materials exist. This connection was probably one of the highlights of my ancestral research. All of the families I have researched have been submitted by me to the Genealogical Society in the form of Family Group Records. This society provides cross-check service with other members with common ancestors. Upon submitting this families' group sheet, I was informed that another member, Mary V. J. KLEVER of Utah, had submitted John as the son of a large family. For more details, see the John BREES family - 1786, in the section on 6th Generation Families. Because of this, and the availability of Welsh records, the story of John BREES is full of life.

John came to America as an immigrant with his wife and two children. He worked hard, saved his money and made wise decisions. His success was noted in a Johnson County biography that is quoted in full later. A portion is quoted here to set the scene for this family.

(John was) born in Montgomery Co., North Wales, 1 February 1829. His father, John BREESE and mother, Mary EDWARDS, both natives, had 8 children. John, the youngest and only son of the family, grew up in his native place, taking care of himself from the ninth year, having hired out at that age upon a farm for his board. He married in May 1850 to Mary BREESE, another native, 7 years later coming to the USA [1857] to Union Township. First employer was Edward Tudor for whom he worked eight years. Next worked for David M. Jones and Hugh Tudor. Soon he bought 80 acres of Edward Tudor, government land, with no improvements, moving onto it a year later. At one time owned as much as 280 acres, but now has but 180, making all the improvements himself.

John BREES (or BREESE) [1829] - husband

In Gladys' family history, she says that John and his first wife, Mary, married in May of 1850 in Wales. I was able to obtain the Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, General Register Office, London, Application # PAS56176/76/F. Details of the record are given in Mary's history below.

Myrtle MURPHY (granddaughter) believed that her grandfather came to America in 1855 to 1858 time period. She remembers that Mary Ann, a daughter, was "on the way", meaning that Mary BREES was pregnant at the time. Gladys BREESE believes that the immigration took place in 1857.

I could not find any record of John serving in the US military from the Civil to the Spanish American wars.

In the material on the 6th generation families, I mentioned that one Ellinor GREEN had written me of the BREES family. Ellinor found a letter among her father’s papers after his death. I believe it was written by John and Mary BREES to Ellinor’s ancestor, Hannah BREESE and her husband.

Old Manscreek, December 2 1867

Dear Brother and Sister
I take the opportunity at present once more to inform you that we are all well and comfortable, in hopes These few lins Will come to hand and find you The same. I received a letter From your Son Richard November the 16th. He was very glad to here that was all well and prosperous Richard said that he had a wiffe but he Did not say Who she was and we have herd that you (Hannah) are married, but we Don’t know who by they name I should like very much to know in the next letter who are they Booth we understand in the letter that Richard is very ancous to come hear (America) and he was telling that now is the easest time for him to come while the family is small and that is verry good reason and he was asking in the letter for help to come hear. I felt very much while reding the letter because I had been in the same circumstances myself but about it he ask more than we can Do at present because we are bilding a New House.

We have 80 acars of land to bild a fence arround it, But without turning you of without sumpethise with you I made up my mind to talk with Thomas JONES and Anne (his sister) on the subject and they ware feeling very much for you and now is there not any one comming here that will give you the mony to come hear. We would try to make some help to you we dont know for certain how much it will cost you Nor how much have you got. Thomas JONES have promised to find 10 Pounds and I Do promise to find 10 pounds if somthing will happen to you before you can pay them Back it may be that you Dont need so much if you will come Bring so much closs (clothes) with you that will be necessary on the Jurney if you will come. You can get as much closs as you want . Dont you think but there is a black Sheep hear but is great deal Better for me to be here than there I dont want to persuade you nor stop you but there is a good place hear for men that will work it is easer for man to keep his famly hear than there. I have not much more this time. But I hope that some one will give you the mony According to this letter. send A letter back soon I will closs (close) this time with our love to you All like family with the greatest kindness Thomas JONES and (h)is famly sends there kind love to you in short and full love

from John and Mary BREES

(editor’s note: parentheses added, family names capitalized for clarity)

The 1860 federal census for Union, Iowa, gives John's age as 28 (suggesting his birth year is 1832), a farmer, born in Wales. The 1870 census for the same town gives his age as 41 (therefore born in 1829), a farmer, born in Wales, mother and father of foreign birth, not deaf or dumb or insane, could read and write, personal estate worth $1300, and real estate worth $3300. In 1880, the same town of Union showed his census information as age 51, born in Wales as were both his parents, white, male, a naturalized citizen, and widowed. This means that Mary, his first wife, must have died between 1870 and 1880, and that he was not yet married to his second wife, Jane.

Myrtle said that John died in 1898 or maybe 1899 in Union Township of pneumonia. She remembered this because they had to burn the bed as a result. He was buried in the Welsh Cemetery in East or West Lucas Township.

The Welsh Cemetery in Johnson County, Iowa has grave markers for John. It indicates that he died on March 9th, 1900 at the age of 71 years, 1 month, and 8 days. This would make his birthday February 1st, 1829

The following biographical sketch of John was taken from “Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson, Poweshiek, and Iowa Counties”, Chapman Bros., Chicago, 1893, given to me by Gladys BREESE in August, 1976:

John BREESE, old settler and well known stock raiser of Union Township, Johnson, Iowa. Owns model farm - envy of everybody. Born in Montgomery Co., North Wales, 1 February 1829. His father, John BREESE and mother, Mary EDWARDS, both natives, had 8 children. John, the youngest and only son of the family, grew up in his native place, taking care of himself from the ninth year, having hired out at that age upon a farm for his board. He married in May 1850 to Mary BREESE, another native, 7 years later coming to the USA [1857] to Union Township. First employer was Edward Tudor for whom he worked eight years. Next worked for David M. Jones and Hugh Tudor. Soon he bought 80 acres of Edward Tudor, government land, with no improvements, moving onto it a year later. At one time owned as much as 280 acres, but now has but 180, making all the improvements himself. He and Mrs. BREESE have 5 children: John mentioned in this book; Edward, married to Matilda REESE living on section 21 of Union Township; Mary Ann, wife of John M. THOMAS living in Union; William, married to Ida GARNET; and Richard.

Mr. BREESE began working by the month seeing some pretty rough times. But by hard work and economy and good management, acquired a snug property. He has positive republican political views having little patience with opinions that change with the wind. He's served as road supervisor and school director. He liberally contributes to the Congressional Church of which he is a member and one- time Sunday School Superintendent. Wife died July 1879, he remarried to Jane OWENS of North Wales.

An added note by Garfield (grandson through John R.), "John BREESE came from Llanbrynmair; Mary BREESE did also but was unrelated though their names were spelled the same." I found John's will in the Iowa District Court of Johnson County:


I, John Breese, of the County of Johnson and State of Iowa, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, and of full age, do hereby make, declare, and publish this to be my last will and testament.

First: There shall first be paid all just claims against my estate, the expenses of my last sickness and burial, and expenses of administration.

Second: After the payment of such claims and expenses I hereby give, devise and bequeath unto my wife, Jane Breese, the sum of fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) in cash, to be paid her as here in after provided; and it is also my will that my said wife, in case she survive me, shall have her home in the house, or the part thereof, which we may occupy at the time of my death, and that she may occupy the same so long as she may live or may desire so to do.

If at the time of my death myself and wife have our home where we now live, then my said wife in case she survive me to have the right during the balance of her life to keep on the east side of the house on the home farm such chickens as she may need for her own use, and in such case she to also have the milk from one cow belonging to my estate and said cow to be kept in said home farm for her use by my son William Breese at her expense; said home farm being devised to said William Breese under this will.

My said wife in case she survive me to also have her fire wood for purposes of fuel so long as she may live, from the five acres of land devised in paragraph 9 of this will to my sons, Edward W. Breese and William Breese, and she to have the right to enter on said premises for the purpose of taking and removing such fire wood.

It is my desire that the above bequests and devises to my said wife be in lien and instead of all claim on her part for lower or distributive share in my estate.

Third: I give and bequeath unto my daughter, Mary Ann Thomas, the sum of fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) to be paid to her by my son, William Breese, as here in after provided.

Fourth: I give, devise and bequeath to my said son William Breese, the following described premises in Johnson County, Iowa, to-wit: The north half (N 1/2) of the northeast quarter (NE 1/4) of section number twenty-one (21) in township seventy-nine (79) north, range seven (7) west of the fifth P.M. subject to the rights of my wife therein under paragraph two (2) of this will, and on condition that said William Breese pay to my said daughter, Mary Ann Thomas, the fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) bequeathed to her under paragraph three (3) of this will and which bequest of fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) (last line of first page is illegible) be paid to said Mary Ann Thomas within two years from and after the date of my death.

Fifth: I have already given to my son Edward W. Breese the following described premises in Johnson County, Iowa, to-wit: Fifty (50) acres of the east end of the north half (N 1/2) of the southeast quarter (SE 1/4) of said section twenty-one (21), and thirty (30) acres off of the east end of the north half (N 1/2) of the South half (S 1/2) of said south east quarter (SE 1/4) of said section twenty one (21) except that part of said one hundred and twenty (120) acres above described all ready conveyed by me to said Edward W. Breese, and all of said premises being in township seventy-nine (79) north, range seven west of the 5th P.M. in Johnson County, Iowa, and this devise to said Edward W. Breese being on condition that he pay to my said wife, Jane Breese, the sum of seven hundred dollars ($700) and said seven hundred dollars so to be paid to be a part of the fifteen hundred dollars ($1500) bequeathed to my said wife under paragraph two (2) of this will, and the same to be a lien and charge upon the forty (40) acres of land last above described until paid, and said seven hundred dollars ($700) to be paid by my said son Edward W. Breese within two years from and after my death.

Sixth I have already given to my son, John R. Breese an amount of property and money equal to a part of this equitable share of my estate, and in addition thereto I now hereby give, devise and bequeath unto my said son J. R. Breese, the following described premises, situated in Johnson County, State of Iowa, to wit: Twenty (20) acres off of the east end of the north half (N 1/2) of the southwest quarter (SW 1/4) of section number twenty one (21) in township seventy-nine (79) north, range seven (7) west of the fifth P.M.

On condition that my said son, John R. Breese, pay to my said wife, Jane Breese, the sum of two hundred dollars ($200), and this same to be a lien and charge on the said premises last above described until paid, and said sum of two hundred dollars ($200) to be paid by my said son John R. Breese, within two years from and after my death.

Seventh The balance of the bequest of fifteen hundred Dollars ($1500) made to my said wife under paragraph two (2) of this will, shall be paid by my executor out of my personal estate.

Eighth I desire, and it is my will, that my son Richard Breese shall have the use, rents and profits during his natural life of the following described premises, situated in Johnson County, Iowa, to wit: The south half (S 1/2) of the north east quarter (NE 1/4) of section twenty one (21) in township seventy nine (79) North, range seven (7) west on the 5th P.M., and I hereby give and devise said premises last above named to my son John R. Breese as trustee to be by him held in trust for the use and benefit of said Richard Breese so long as he the said Richard Breese shall live. At the death of said Richard Breese the said premises shall be disposed of as follows, to wit:

Should the said Richard leave no issue surviving him at the time of his death the said trustee shall dispose of said land and distribute the proceeds thereof according to the terms of said paragraph ten (10) of this will, but if said Richard leave issue surviving him at the time of his death, the said trustee shall convey said land to such heirs of the said Richard as may be then living, or said trustee may sell said land and divide the proceeds among said heirs as by lair(?) provided. For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this will the said trustee shall have power and authority to sell, deed and convey the said eighty (80) acres of land described in this paragraph of my will.

Ninth I give, devise and bequeath to my sons, Edward W. Breese and William Breese the following described premises situated in Johnson County, State of Iowa, to wit:

Commencing at a point sixty rods (60) south of the northeast corner of the northeast fractional quarter of the northeast quarter (NE 1/4) of section number five (5) in township seventy eight (78) north, range seven (7) west of the 5th P.M. running thence west eighty (80) rods; thence south ten (10) rods; thence east 80 rods; thence north ten rods to the place of beginning, and containing five acres, and subject to a right of way across the east end of said tract as reserved in deed of Edward Tudor and wife to me of date June 14, 1866, and subject to the rights of my said wife in said premises as defined in paragraph two (2) of this will.

Tenth I give, devise and bequeath all the balance and residue of my property and estate, both real and personal, of which I may die seized or possessed, or of which I may be the owner, at my demise, in equal shares to such of my children as may survive me, to be theirs in the own right - share and share alike.

Eleventh I hereby appoint my said son John R. Breese, sole executor of this my last will and testament,, and it is my will that my said executor be not required to give bond as such executor.

Witness my hand at Union Township, Johnson County, Iowa, this 20th day of February, 1899.               John Breese

Mary Ann BREES(E) [1825] - first wife

The marriage record for Mary and John says that on the:

"1st day of June, 1850 at the Old Chapel in Llanbrynmair, in the District of Machynlleth (a nearby large town) in the county of Montgomery, were married John BREES, of full age, a Bachelor, laborer by profession, residing in Plasrhiwsueson Llanbrynmair, whose father's name was John BREES also a laborer, and Mary BREES, of full age, a Spinster of the same parish, whose father's name was Edward BREES, a tailor. Married in the Old Chapel before me Josiah JONES, Registrar. This marriage was solemnized between us, John BREES and `X' the Mark of Mary BREES in the presence of Thomas HUGHES and John THOMAS."

Besides the marriage information in 1850, I learned that later in life she went to a hospital in Rochester, New York, for breast surgery because of cancer. She later died at her farm west of Iowa City. She died on July 21st, 1879, aged 53 years, 11 months, and 10 days. She is buried in the Welsh cemetery near Iowa City

John Robert BREESE [1852] - son

The existence of John as the first son is confirmed by the biographical sketch of his father's family (see above). According to Marian KINSETH (granddaughter through Laura Moselle BREESE), John's middle name is Richard. The biographical record gives his middle name as "R.", but his death record in Johnson County Court House says Robert. Marian KINSETH believes John R. was born in December, 1852. Laura GALBRAITH, Marian's mother, says he was born December 17th, 1852 in Wales. I could not find a birth record in the Machynlleth registration district of Wales for John in the fourth quarter of 1852. His death record indicates he was born December 17th, 1852. Gladys thinks he was born in 1853.

The 1860 census for Union lists John's age as 7, and his birthplace as Wales. This age makes sense if his birth is in December. In the 1870 census, he is listed as John BREESE, age 17, born in Wales, attending school, and could read and write. By 1880, he lives next door to his parents, as John R. BREESE, age 27, married, born in Wales, with wife and son, Robert T., age 2.

John married Mary Moselle (Ann?) KERR on March 4th, 1876. She was born in Solon, Iowa, on December 19th, 1848. Mary was a very short woman, whereas John was tall. They had three children: Robert Fleming BREESE; Garfield Eugene BREESE; and Laura Moselle BREESE. Laura's daughter, Marian KINSETH, has a scroll on which are marked the family genealogy. I also have a picture of Laura (now BRISBANE) with my Grandmother Myrtle and other cousins. Laura looks like a school marm, with wire-rimmed glasses, dark tightly curled-hair, and a handkerchief tucked neatly under her waistband.

In 1900, John lived on a farm with his wife and 3 children, and servant (probably his brother) Edward BREESE. The federal census for that year lists John's birth date as December, 1852, in Wales. He has been married 23 years by now making the marriage year about 1877. He supposedly immigrated in 1856, but his brother's (Edward) record says 1857. He was given as a naturalized citizen, a farmer, and free holder of his land and buildings. His wife, Mozell(e?), was shown as born in December of 1848 in Iowa (her father in Pennsylvania, mother in West Virginia), and mother of 3 living children. The oldest son is Robert F., born May 1878 in Iowa, age 22, and a farm laborer. The second son was Garfield E., born in November of 1880 in Iowa, age 19, single and a farm laborer too. Last of the children was their daughter, Laura M., born in October, 1885, in Iowa, age was 14, and she was still at school.

There are no military records for John available from the Civil to the Spanish American wars.

John died on July 12th, 1921 in Johnson County.

Edward BREESE [1854] - son

Gladys believes that Edward was born in 1855 in Wales. His grave marker in the Iowa City Cemetery says the year was 1854. The 1900 census gives the birth date as December, 1854. I have not as yet obtained the birth record from Wales.

In the 1860 census, Edward is 5 years old, and shown as born in Wales. By 1870, he is given as 15, male, white, could read and write, and attending school. By 1880, he is still single, and working on his father's farm. The record says he was ill at the time of the 1880 census.

Family records show that he married Matilda REESE, who was born in May of 1860. They lived on Section 21 in Union Township. On the same section of land (one mile square) lived his brothers, William and John BREESE, and Mary Ann THOMAS, his sister. To Edward and Matilda were born Roscoe in March of 1885, Gertrude in August of 1888, and Erving in November of 1895. All of the children and Tillie (as Matilda was called) were born in Iowa.

The 1900 federal census lists the Edward BREESE family in Union Township on page 249B. Edward is given as born in December of 1854 in Wales, age 45, married 16 years (then 1884 would be the year of marriage), immigrated in 1857 (age would have been 3), a naturalized citizen, and a farmer who owns his land and buildings. His wife, Tillie, is shown as born in May of 1860 in Iowa (parents in Wales), and the mother of 3 living children who are all shown in the census record. The first son, Rosco, was born in an unidentifiable month of 1885 in Iowa. Strangely, it says his mother was born in Pennsylvania even though Tillie has Iowa as the birthplace. Rosco was then a farm laborer who could read and write.

The only daughter shown is Gertrude, born in August of 1888 in Iowa, age 11 and at school. The last child shown is Erving, born in November of 1895 in Iowa, age 4, at school at the time.

Edward died on the farm in Union and is buried in Iowa City near William and Ida BREESE. The grave marker says 1935 for him and 1945 for his wife.

Mary Ann BREESE [1858] - daughter

Mary Ann BREES, taken about 1902 at age 45 from a family photo with her husband and children. (Click photo for larger image)
Click for larger image
Family records show Mary's birth in 1858. This is after the family came to America, but, unfortunately, before the state of Iowa began official keeping of birth records.

The 1860 census for Union Township gave her age as 2 or 3 (illegible). By 1870, she was 12, female, white, could read and write, and was attending school. In 1880, she was still at home at age 22. She was doing the housekeeping after the death of her mother. Her birth in Iowa is confirmed.

Mary Ann married John M. THOMAS and lived in the Union, Iowa area. For a period of time, they lived on the same section of land as did her brothers. I have a photo of the family taken when the youngest child, a boy, was about 7 years old, or about 1910 by my estimates. The photo shows Mary Ann as the mother, John THOMAS, the father, and children Mabel (later married Hugh WILLIAMS, had a daughter named Hester EELES), Edith, Ester (whose birthday is the same day as Grandma Myrtle's - the 21st of April 1893), Albert (supposed to have married Anne WILLIAMS), Adelaide, Elizabeth, and Glen. Grandma Myrtle also told me that Mary Ann was her school teacher at one time. From the photo, Mary Ann has soft, delicate facial features and large dark eyes that form a beautiful face. She looks like she would be a very nice school teacher.

Mary Ann's granddaughter, Hestor EELES, lived for a time in the same retirement community as my parents, and provided me with some information.

William BREESE [1859] - son

Grandma told me that her father was born about August 5th, 1860. In the 1870 census, he is 10 years old, male, white, attending school, could read and write, and his parents were born in Wales. A July Federal Census record for 1880 gave his age as 20 suggesting he was born before grandma's date, possibly in 1859. The record also says he was born in Iowa, was single and a farmer at the time. Strangely enough, he was not shown as a child with the family in the 1860 (July) census even though he was a year old. William's daughter-in-law, Gladys BREESE, wrote a family history ("The Breese Family History", by Gladys Breese, February 26th, 1974.) in which she gave his true birth date of August 5th, 1859. This is fortunate, since no state records exist for this early date in Iowa. By the 1900 census, William was 40 years of age. His birth is shown as August, 1859 in Iowa. Because William is a direct-line ancestor, see his biography as an adult under his own family in the next generation.

Will must have attended Iowa City Academy, a school beyond high school that probably was the beginnings of the Universary of Iowa which is located in Iowa City. Will had an autograph book filled with names of fellow students written between January and March 1882 which is about the year he would have graduated. Interestingly, most of the names are of Welsh origin; a few are related.

Richard BREESE [1861] - son

Family records and the Welsh cemetery marker give his birth as 1861. The death record registered in Johnson County says March 19th, 1861. This is right at the outbreak of the Civil war in the United States. It must have been a difficult time for the family. The 1893 Biographical Sketch (see father) says that Richard was indeed a son to this family.

The 1870 census gives his age as 9, and says that he could read and write, and was attending school. By 1880, he was 19, single, a farmer, and living with his parents.

Family records indicate that Richard never married. He has no military records either. Both Laura and Myrtle believe that Richard was a little retarded, or mentally slow. He was very strong and good with his hands - often making sleds for his nephews and nieces (grandma Myrtle). He was very loving and lived with William and later with Lena MYERS (his niece) and used to visit his relatives often. They called him Uncle Dick.

The 1900 census for his brother, William, shows that Richard was living with him on the farm. By then Richard was 39 (his birth date is listed as March of 1861), single, born in Iowa, and a farm laborer. The record says he could neither read nor write, but could speak.

Richard died in the grocery store which was attached to Lena's home on November 22nd, 1928, at the age of 63 years, 8 months, and 3 days. He was listed as a retired farmer. The Welsh cemetery is his final resting place.

There may have been an older brother also named Richard who died at a very young age. The tradition of naming another child with the same name was common in England and could very well have been repeated here. So far, I have no documented evidence of this earlier son.

Jane BREES(E) [1836] - second wife

Hester EELES (granddaughter to Mary Ann, step great-granddaughter to Jane) describes Jane as tall and slender, very bright and popular even to younger people. She read a great deal despite the lack of writing ability noted at the time of her marriage. She also did handy work - meaning sewing, crafts and such. In her later years, she lived with her children after the death of her husband. She died of a blood clot due to diabetes at age 72 in a hospital in Iowa City. Hester believed Jane to have married John in Johnson County.

Grandma Myrtle BREESE says that Jane married John after the death of his first wife on July 21st, 1879. Jane is Mary's sister. John went to Wales, married Jane, and returned to the US They spoke Welsh and it rubbed off on the children. Jane's name was HUGHES according to Grandma because of her prior marriage.

Gladys BREESE states that Jane’s' maiden name was OWENS as does the biographical history for John (father) given above. But, since Jane was supposed to be Mary's sister according to my Grandmother, her maiden name should be BREES, just like Mary.

When 1900 came around, the census taker found Jane at the home of her step son, William BREESE. She was listed as "my Mother". The record lists her as being born in July of 1834, age 65, widowed, the mother of 4 children (only 3 of whom were still alive), and born in Wales as were her parents. It also says she came to America in 1886 (which is listed as 13 years ago meaning that it was after June 7th of 1886). No mention is made of her naturalization status. She could read and speak English, but could not write it.

There is an Edward HUGHES listed on the same 1900 census who could be her son or grandson (43 years difference in age). He was born in September of 1877 in Wales and was 22 and single at the time. He came to the US in 1894; his naturalization status was listed as "P" (pending?). This same person is listed with the 1895 census of the William BREESE family. It says that Edward HUGHES was 17, born in Wales, and was a "hired man". But in this 1895 record, there is also a William HUGHES, age 10, born in Wales, and a helper.

The gravestone says that Jane died in March, 1904, in Iowa. Gladys suggests that it was on the 6th.

Vol. I-16

Copyright © Richard Jeffrey Gurvine 1988-2004