Breese Township

(Clinton County)


Source: "1881 History of Marion & Clinton Counties, Illinois"


Was named in honor of that distinguished jurist and citizen of Clinton county, Judge Sidney BREESE, late of the Supreme Court of Illinois. It contains thirty-six sections, all prairie except about nine sections on the east side along Shoal Creek, which flows through the east side. The west part of the township is drained by Lake Branch. The O. and M. railroad passes through the centre from east to west. Squatters began settlements here as early as 1811, but during the war of 1812 they were all abandoned. REYNOLDS says in the fall of 1808 a wagon road was laid off from the Goshen settlement to the Ohio salt works. This road crossed the Kaskaskia river where Carlyle is now situated, by the Walnut Hills, and so on to the salt works. This was in olden times called the "Goshen road". This road passed through the northern part of the territory, now comprised in Breese, and was afterwards called the Alton and Carlyle road.

George GREEN entered the first land, April 30th, 1816. It was the south-west quarter of section thirteen. There he lived for several years, and improved a farm.

October of the same year Joseph JOHNSON entered the north-east quarter of the same section. He also improved his place here.

Andrew BANKSON settled in the southern part of the township as early as 1816. January 13th, 1817, he entered a quarter of land in section thirty-four, where he made an improvement and lived several years. He afterwards moved into the north part of what is now Wade township.

Captain BANKSON, as he was generally called, was one of the prominent men of the county in the early times. He was captain of a company from this county in the Black Hawk war. For a number of years he was the colonel of the militia. He represented the county in the State senate.

He lived in the county until 1835, when he moved to Iowa, and afterwards to Wisconsin, where he died.

Daniel SWEARINGEN settled on section one as early as 1816. Feb. 1817 he entered land in this section. His cabin stood on the north side of the State road, about one mile east of Shoal creek crossing. SWEARINGEN was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and a good and worthy citizen.

About 1822 he erected a water-mill on the west side of Shoal creek on section eleven. It was a saw and grist mill. He operated this mill for four or five years, but it never proved a lucrative investment. His death occurred on the old home place on the State road.

November 13th, 1816, Harrison THOMPSON entered the west half of the south-east quarter, section two, where he made an improvement and lived for several years, and subsequently moved to Fayette county. He had two sons, Harrison and John W. The former, in company with a man by the name of FULTON, built a toll-bridge over Shoal creek at the State road crossing about 1820. They owned the bridge about two years, and then sold out to Henry CURTIS, a negro.

Among the pioneers who are now well remembered by the old citizens, is William BLACKMAN, who, May 26th, 1818, entered the north-west quarter of section three, where he improved a farm. His house stood on the summit of a high mound, about one and a half miles west of the toll-bridge, and was one of the most beautiful locations in this part of the country. BLACKMAN was a native of the Isle of Wight, and his wife was from the city of London. They both continued to reside here until their deaths.

In 1817 there came into this settlement Elijah BALE, Caleb and David PIERCE. BALE located on the west side of Shoal creek, a short distance south of the State road. He was a carpenter by trade, and came from Philadelphia, Pa. The PIERCE brothers were also from Pennsylvania. They entered the north-east quarter of section eleven, situated on the west side of Shoal creek. About four years later they built a water-mill here, and BALE did the carpenter work. This was among the first water-mills in the county. About two years later after the mill was built, Caleb was drowned while endeavoring to dislodge some drift wood that was gathering in upon the dam in a time of high water. About five years later David returned to Pennsylvania, and for a time, BALE operated the mill, but it gradually went into a state of dilapidation, and hardly a vestige of it is left at this date to mark its location.

William SPEECHLY, an Englishman and a Quaker, who lived the life of a bachelor, were among the early settlers west of the creek. He was a quiet, good citizen, and resided there until his death.

James CARR, also an Englishman and a Quaker, came to this settlement with William SPEECHLY. He, too, was a bachelor. He improved a farm on the east side of Shoal creek, near the toll-bridge, where he gathered about him considerable property. He afterward sold out and moved to the southern part of the county, where he died.

Mathew BARBER settled on the Alton road, one and a-half miles west of the toll-bridge. In the early times he was a grass widower. He left his wife and family in the east, and like SPEECHLY and CARR, did his own cooking for many years. Subsequently a daughter of his came out West, and kept house for him until his death. She inherited his property, where she lived many years. She was never married. Her death occurred about two years ago.

Levi EDMUNDS, one of the active business men of the county at one time, settled on the west side of Shoal creek, east of where Breese now is, as early as 1828. He was a man that speculated in stock and lands quite extensively, and accumulated considerable property, but afterwards became involved, and a number of years ago, while laboring under a deranged state of mind, shot himself, leaving a second wife and family of children to mourn his loss.

Hiram PARKER was on the early residents west of the toll-bridge. He was an upright, good citizen, and a man very careful of his word and strictly truthful. It is said that he never tried to prevaricate or tell a falsehood, under any circumstances. At one time, four of his neighbors thought they would make him tell a falsehood in the following manner: One of them went into Parker's house, and the other three remained outside and some distance away. After a short interval the three rode up and called Mr. PARKER out, and asked whether their neighbor was in his house. PARKER answered them by saying, "He was, just as I stepped out." In 1818 the MAXEY brothers, from Kentucky, came into this neighborhood; viz.: Albert, Emmitt, Nathan, Perry and Peter. The three former built a store building and opened a stock of goods at the toll-bridge in 1828, where they did quite a good business. A post-office was established there called Shoal Creek. Albert MAXEY owned the toll-bridge at one time, and the SWEARINGEN mill. He bought the Bankson place, where he lived a number of years, and subsequently moved down on the State road, now known as the Miller place, where he died. Perry MAXEY was a small boy when he came here. He grew to manhood in this settlement, married Miss Elizabeth TAYLOR, and afterwards served the county as sheriff for a number of years. He was looked upon as a very honorable and upright citizen. His only child, Phillip MAXEY, is a prominent farmer in St. Rose township. Peter MAXEY returned to Kentucky, where he now resides, the only survivor of the five brothers.

Baley and Johnson AMOS came here with the MAXEY brothers. Baley afterwards died here and Johnson returned to Kentucky.

As early as 1820 several families of free negroes came in and settled in the north-east part of the township. The most prominent among them were Henry CURTIS and Richard PENDERGRASS, who had means, and figured quite conspicuously in the neighborhood. CURTIS bought the toll-bridge about 1822, and continued to collect tolls number of years. He had many difficulties, while acting in this capacity. With the movers from Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, who objected bitterly to pay tolls to a negro. Several times he came near losing his life, but he was a resolute man, and when the occasion required it he would get down his "old gun," and in two or three instances used it. He became dissatisfied with the business and sold out and purchased the Swearingen water mill in1828, and continued to operate it until his death. J. Cooper PENDERGRASS, a son of Robert, accumulated considerable property here, and at one time was one of the moneyed men in the county, well known and much respected by all who knew him. He owned part of the Blackman mound, where he resided many years. Burrel HILL settled on the west side of Short Creek, east of where Breese now is, in 1823. His step-son, James J. JUSTICE, now of Carlyle, was then in his sixteenth year. David FLEETWOOD, from Pennsylvania, settled on the east side of Lake Branch, on the old State road, about 1837. He improved a farm here, where he resided until his death.

Henry LEAR and C. M. CARR settled in the west part of the township, on section eighteen, in 1839. They came from Pennsylvania. Judge LEAR lives on the place he improved, and Mr. CARR now lives in Trenton. T. L. P. NEAL is also one of the early settlers in this part of the township.

In the year 1835, Joseph TAYLOR, on of the early settlers spoken of in St. Rose township, organized a Baptist congregation here. They built a frame church building on the west side of Shoal Creek, a short distance from the toll-bridge, on the Alton road. This was the first church house built in the township. The Rev. TAYLOR had quite a large congregation, and the church prospered. He remained with them until his death, in 1845. The Rev. J. R. FORD, now of Carlyle, filled the vacancy for twenty years; in the meantime the old church building was replaced by a new one, which has since been moved away.

The Germans began to settle in this township in 1835. Frank HAUKAP bought the Steel farm in the south part of the township in 1835. His son, Frank HAUKAP, Jr. now lives on the place.

Gerhart Henry OTKE located on the Bankson place in 1839. His son bearing the same name now lives just north of Breese. Theodore VORNHOLT settled on part of the Bankson place in 1836. Conrad VORNHOLD located on the Joseph Taylor place in 1842. He came to the county in 1836. The first few years he worked on the State road, St. Louis and Vincennes. A great many of the Germans, upon coming to this settlement, worked on this road, where they earned money to enter their first land here. Theodore HUELSMANN came in 1838. He settled where he now lives, and carried on blacksmithing and farming. He was the first blacksmith in this neighborhood. Henry ALTEPETER, who lives on section twenty-eight, south of Breese, came to the county in 1838. Theodore HEIDEMANN also settled here in 1838. Tobias BRUEGGEN came in 1836. He first located in Germantown township, where he lived a number of years. He now resided in the southern part of this township. Joseph and Henry NEIMANN, settled in section twenty-seven as early as 1840. H. Henry SCHULTE came to the county in 1837, and afterwards settled where he now lives, near Breese. Benedict HAAR located where he now lives in 1838.

J. Henry BUDDE, who now lives on section fifteen, came to the county in 1838. W. HAGEN settled in the southern part of the township in 1837. Dedrick and Henry HULTHOUSE settled near by the same year. Frank MORHENNERS located north-east of where Breese now is in 1838.

Dr. THORMAN was the first German physician in this neighborhood. He bought the old Swearingen water mill of Albert G. MAXEY, but soon became dissatisfied with his bargain, and sold out to B. SUMMERS, who rebuilt the mill entirely, near the same site, in 1856 and '57. It was a substantial stone and frame structure. Mr. SUMMERS operated the mill until his death, in 1874. The mill has since been carried on by his nephew, Gerhardt IMMUTHUN. It has four run of burrs, motive power, water and steam, with a capacity of one hundred barrels.

Village of Breese

John BROWN, trustee of Sanger, Camp & Co., laid out the town of Breese, had it surveyed, platted, and recorded Feb. 3, 1855. The original town consisted of twenty-four blocks, north and south of the O. and M. railroad. C. H. KAUNE, KOCH and MARKS, C. F. STARK and Benedict HAAR afterwards laid out the additions. The first house put up by Robert S. DONNE, who was the first railroad agent here, in which he put a small stock of goods; he was also the first post-master. Shoal Creek post-office was moved here, and retained that name until the early part of 1881, when it was changed to Breese. Frank MORHENNERS built the second house, in which he kept a hotel, after which the town improved quite rapidly, wholly by Germans. The Breese Mill was built by C. H. KAUNE in 1865, now operated by KAUNE Bros. The mill is a four story frame, with brick warehouse; five run of burrs, with a capacity of one hundred and forty barrels per day. The Catholic church, a very large and handsome edifice, built of limestone, was erected in 1867. It is one of the handsomest church buildings in this part of the state. The decorations, paintings, etc., of the interior are very rich and elaborate, reflecting high credit upon the church and community. In the great steeple surmounting the building are a bell and a clock which strikes the quarter hours, and is the ingenious work of a St. Louis boy. The Lutheran, a neat brick church, was built in 1871. The town has a population of about four hundred, with the following business houses; --

General Stores - By B. HAGAN & Co. (where the post office is kept); Mrs. Frank MARKS, Fritz BURMANN, William HOFSOMMER, F. GOLLNER, and Frank BENDLER.

Drug Store - By Charles E. GISSY.

Hotels - Henry KRUPP, and Theo. KOLLME.

Lumber Yards - Theo. KLUTHO and Geo. PEEK.

Blacksmith Shops (3) - H. WINKE, H. FRUEND, and Henry DORRIS.

Wagon-makers - Conrad RUNMENSHIDER and Joseph SCHMIDT.

Saddlers and Harness - Abr. ZIMMERMAN

It is a thriving and enterprising village, situated in the midst of a rich and fertile prairie, on the line of the O. and M. R. R.

On the old St. Louis and Vincennes state road, one mile and a half east of the iron bridge, Frogtown is located. In 1859 Henry BUIERGER opened a store here. Two years later he began manufacturing soda water. In 1876 a post-office was established here. The village has a soda factory, two stores by Henry BUIERGER and Philip BEARHUS, two blacksmith shops and one shoemaker and about ten houses.

The supervisors who represented Breese since its organization are as follows: Henry LEAR, was elected in 1874, and served two terms; Clemens NIEBUR, elected in 1876, and served three terms; Theodore KLUTHO, elected in 1879; Henry USSELMAN, elected in 1880, and re-elected in 1881.



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