Recently I learned that my mother’s mother, whose maiden name was Cora Esther Peirce, was born in a place called Breland, Louisiana. In fact, when Cora was born in May 1891, the U.S. post office for Breland was located on the property of her grandfather, John Ticknor Peirce, and her grandfather’s second wife, Salissa E. “Dora” Peirce, was the U.S. postmaster for Breland.
Cora’s father, Adolphus Elliot Peirce, was later appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland, in August 1904. According to family lore, Cora worked in that post office before her family moved to the nearby community of Sunny Hill in 1905, when she was 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 later.
This story is interesting to me for several reasons. First, Cora was born in a place called Breland. Then she moved away from there to Sunny Hill — where she met a boy named Breland, who later became her husband.
It also raises these questions for me: Where was Breland? Why was it called Breland? And, does the community of Breland still exist?
My brother, Brian Hughes, answered the first question by finding maps from 1900, 1906 and 1914 showing Breland located roughly half way between Franklinton and Kentwood. These maps also show Breland’s proximity to Sunny Hill.
As for why the place was called Breland, the earliest record I can find shows that William G. Breland (1839-1890), who was a 2nd great grand uncle to me, was appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland in September 1890. He died just a few months later, in December 1890. (The next person to be appointed postmaster for Breland after him was Salissa E. Peirce, in March 1891.)
The place was called “Sibila” before it was called “Breland.” My guess, and this is purely a guess, is that it came to be called “Breland” simply because the first person appointed to be postmaster for the place happened to be named Breland.
Does Breland, Louisiana still exist? To the best of my knowledge, it does not. Records indicate that the post office at Breland was discontinued, i.e., closed for good, in 1906. And, although the location of Sunny Hill can still be found via Google Maps, I have not been able to find any mention of Breland, Louisiana, on any current maps of the area.
Do you know any additional details about Breland, Louisiana? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
This letter was written by my maternal great-great grandfather, John Ticknor Peirce (1846-1912), and includes a mention of my maternal great grandparents, Adolphus Elliot Peirce (1868-1910) and Etta Bailey Peirce (1873-1952). It is part of a Peirce family scrapbook now held by my mother, Gloria Breland Hughes. Her mother, Cora Peirce Breland, was the first child of Adolphus and Etta.
Breland La 4/25/1891
Dear Niece it has been a long time since I have heard from any of you. I think it has been about a year since I received your last letter I would be glad you would write again, and let us know how you are all getting on. I wrote to Anna soon after I came home from Florida, but have never heard a word from her. I do not know whether she received it or not. Have you heard from our friend Dr. Alford. I suppose you heard he has married, as he was returning home from Fla he met her on board the cars, and before three days were engaged to be married. I have never seen her but they say She is young beautiful and very intelligent, but I fear he has made a bad choice, as she is always gone, her home was in Kansas City and she stays most of her time there.
My oldest Son Adolphus was married last August he married a Miss Bailey. Bedford’s son’s wife died last Jany.
Mary I want to hear something more about that visit of yours, don’t you think you can come this year, we would all be so glad to see you all
How was the orange crop last year, and is there a prospect for a good crop this year. My wife says to ask you how your Turkeys are doing this Spring. She has about thirty young ones.
I am through planting my crop we have had a very late Spring and every thing looks bad, Cotton is selling very low here, it is not at all encouraging, there was a poor cotton crop made in this section last year, people expected to get more than they did, but it is still going down.
Mary tell Ann, and, Laura to write. I know some of you can write oftener than you do. The girls send their love to you all. I hope you are all well, our children are, some of them complaining, but I think they will be better in a few days. With kindest regards to you and Mr. Holly I remain your affectionate Uncle.
Send your letters to Breland, Tangipahoa Par, La as that office is at my house.
J T Peirce
(Editor’s note: John’s second wife, Salissa E. Peirce, was appointed U.S. postmaster for Breland, Louisiana, on March 28, 1891 — about a month before this letter was written. )