Hughes' Views & News

My mother’s father, Robert Milton Breland

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on July 28, 2013
This photo was taken at Diamond Head, Hawaii, in the 1950s.

This photo was taken at Diamond Head, Hawaii, in the 1950s.

My mother’s father, Robert Milton Breland, was born on Feb. 14, 1889 in Washington Parish, Louisiana. His parents were Cicero Malachi Breland (1857-1917) and Sarah Frances Powell (1850-1917).

In 1910, Robert Milton Breland and Cora Esther Peirce were married in Louisiana. Cora was the daughter of Adolphus Elliott Peirce (1868-1910) and Etta Pearl Bailey (1873-1952). Robert and Cora’s first child, a girl they named Beryl Bernice Breland, was born in 1911. Robert and Cora would have 10 more children together, with each child born roughly two years apart, until their youngest, Hunter Mansfield Breland, was born in 1933.

This photo of Robert with his son, Leigh, and daughter-in-law, Kathy, was taken in Tuscaloosa in the 1950s.

This photo of Robert with his son, Leigh, and daughter-in-law, Kathy, was taken in Tuscaloosa in the 1950s.

The 1920 U.S. Census shows that Robert, Cora, and five children (Beryl, Lyman, Robert, Greg and Doug) were living in Memphis, Tenn.,  where many of Cora’s Peirce relatives lived. By 1930 they were living in New Orleans. My mother, Gloria Dell Breland, was born in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans, in 1931. By 1933 the family were living in Mobile, Ala., where Hunter was born. Cora died in Mobile in 1936, at the age of 44, from uterine cancer. She is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis.

In 1940, Robert and five of his children were living in Northport, Ala., which is just across the Black Warrior River from Tuscaloosa, where my father, Arley Hughes Jr., was born and raised. After that, the four children went first to live with Beryl in Louisiana for a year, and then to Eudora, Ark. for a year, then to Fayette, Ala. for a year, and then to a house on Oakwood Court in Tuscaloosa for two years.

In 1946, Robert Peirce Breland (son of Robert Milton) bought a house on 30th Ave. East in Tuscaloosa. My mother and her closest siblings lived in that house for several years.

In 1949, Robert Milton Breland departed from Los Angeles on Dec. 17 on board a ship headed to Hawaii. He arrived in Honolulu five days later. He lived in Hawaii for several years, but by 1959 he was in Mobile, where he died on Nov. 25 at the age of 70.

According to the Alabama Deaths and Burials Index, Robert was married at the time of his death, and his spouse’s name was listed as Willa Breland. I have never heard anyone in my family say anything about Robert having a second wife. However, I have found records indicating that his second wife was Willa Lillian Murray, who was born in Cincinnati in 1893 and arrived in Honolulu in 1932. At this point I don’t have the records to prove it, but my theory is that Willa and Robert met and married after he arrived in Honolulu in 1949.

Robert is buried in the same cemetery as his first wife, Cora, in Memphis. Willa, who lived for another 18 years after Robert’s death, is buried in Ohio, in the same cemetery as her parents.

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  1. […] 14 years old. When she began attending school in Sunny Hill, Cora was assigned to the same class as Robert Milton Breland, my grandfather, whom she married in Baton Rouge five years […]

  2. […] maternal grandfather, Robert Milton Breland (1889-1959), was born and raised near Sunny Hill, Louisiana. Robert’s father, my great […]


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