Robert S. M. Donne was for many years a well known and honored resident of the village of Breese, and in various ways was instrumental in advancing its interests in different directions. He was a conspicuous figure in the promotion of various projects for the improvement of the place, and his death was a serious loss to the community, with whose material, religious and political interests he had so thoroughly identified himself. A man of good habits, his honesty, integrity and stability of character were well known, and in financial circles his credit was good.

A native of Plymouth, England, Mr. Donne grew to manhood in the land of his birth, and thence emigrated to America when a young man, locating in St. Louis about the year 1830. There he remained until 1856, meantime engaging in traffic in merchandise on the river and also following other occupations. At the time of the original settlement of Breese he came hither and became the first merchant of the place. In addition thereto he served as railroad agent and held the office of Postmaster for a number of years, resigning the latter position about 1867. He established and carried on the milling business, in which he was successful.

A devoted Christian, Mr. Donne was identified with the Catholic Church, and was a generous contributor to all religious enterprises. In politics he was a Democrat, and on the ticket of that party was elected Sheriff of Clinton County, serving in that capacity for one term. For many years he officiated as Justice of the Peace. He was a friend of the free school movement, in fact, a friend to all public-spirited and progressive measures. He died in 1869.

The lady who became the wife of Mr. Donne in 1845, and who from that time until his decease was his cheerful and efficient helpmate, bore the maiden name of Gertrude HEIDEMAN. Eight children blessed the union, of whom seven are now living. They are, Mary A., wife of Fred KOCH, of St. Louis; Sarah, who married William G. KAUNE and lives in Breese; Robert N., a resident of California; Benjamin H., of whom further mention is made in the following lines; John H., of Breese; Lizzie, the wife of H. A. HESSE, of St. Louis; and Kate, who lives with her mother.

To Benjamin H. DONNE belongs the distinction of having been the first child born in the village of Breese. His natal year was 1858. He grew to manhood in this county, and received a liberal education in the St. Louis University. In 1881 he was united in marriage with Miss Mary P. COYLE, daughter of James P. COYLE, of St. Louis. Returning to Breese, he embarked in the mercantile business, erected a substantial brick building, and now carries the most extensive and finest stock of general merchandise in the village. He was one of the originators of the Future Coal Mining Company of Breese in 1888, and has served as a Director ever since. A Democrat in politics, he has filled a number of local offices, among which may be mentioned those of Town Clerk and Village Treasurer. In religious belief he is a Catholic.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Clinton, Washington, Marion and Jefferson Counties, Illinois, 1894, Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Submitted by: Connie Albers

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