This obituary for my maternal grandfather was published in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday, November 26, 1959. It contains two factual errors: Robert M. Breland was born in Washington Parish, not Tangipahoa Parish, and he did not move to Mobile until after 1931. In 1930 he lived in New Orleans. By 1940, he had moved from Mobile to Northport, Alabama. By 1950 he lived in Hawai’i. He moved from Hawai’i to Mobile, where several of his children lived, in 1958 or 1959, not long before he died.
ROBERT M. BRELAND
Rites Sunday for Former Memphian, 70
Services for Robert Milton Breland, former Memphian who died yesterday in Mobile, will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at National Funeral Home. Burial will be in Memorial Park.
Mr. Breland, who was 70, was born in Tangipahoa Parish, La., and moved to Memphis in 1918. He moved to Mobile in 1930. He was a bookkeeper.
He leaves six sons, Dr. Kenneth Breland of Boise, Idaho, Hunter Breland of Fort Worth, Texas, Robert Breland, Charles G. Breland, Douglas P. Breland and Leigh Breland, all of Mobile; three daughters, Mrs. Beryl B. Young of Corpus Christi, Texas, Mrs. Brooken Campbell of Ohio, and Mrs. Arley Hughes of Mobile, and 18 grandchildren.
This story about my about my Hughes great-grandparents was published in The Tuscaloosa News in January 1956 — I’m not sure which day.
Pickens Natives, Wed 66 Years, Still Hearty And Independent
By BOB KYLE
News Staff Writer
When Mr. and Mrs. Jim Hughes both turned 88 and close partners for 66 short years, shake hands with St. Peter in another world they won’t have far to go. It’ll be like visiting kinfolks in an adjoining forty.
A Pickens County family most of their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes moved on a better farm near Columbus, Miss., right after World War I.
Last Tuesday, Mrs. Hughes celebrated her 88th birthday. Mr. Jim turned 88 last summer.
It was during the early winter that Mr. and Mrs. Hughes called in their kinfolks to celebrate the 66th anniversary of their wedding.
They have eleven children living. There are 25 surviving grandchildren and 26 surviving great-grandchildren.
A son, Arlie E. Hughes, Tuscaloosa, just recently retired at 65 from employment at Alabama Power Company here. He had worked for the company 16 years.
The elderly couple has lived through periods of prosperity and the other, were past grownup in the days of Roosevelt’s WPA, but didn’t take any money for plowing under every third heifer or for not planting cotton.
To this day, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes have been self reliant, self-supporting and never the object of any charity from the government, any individual, not even the kinfolks.
Both are still in apparent good health.
Who wears the britches in the family?
“Ours is not an absolute petticoat government,” chuckled the husband, Jim, “but it’s under pretty good control.”
What did his missus think along those lines?
Like most womenfolks, she was smart enough not to say.
Many of the Breland and Breeland families in the United States — especially in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana — are descended from a man named Abraham Breler/Breland, who lived near Beaufort, South Carolina, in the late 1700s and died there in the early 1800s.
I, too, am a descendant of Abraham Breler/Breland. He was my 5th great grandfather on my mother’s side. In particular I am descended from Abraham’s grandson, John Robertson Breland (1794-1875) who migrated from South Carolina to Louisiana about 1810. He served in de Clouet’s Regiment in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 and then lived the rest of his life in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, and Pike County, Mississippi.
My maternal grandfather, Robert Milton Breland (1889-1959), was born and raised near Sunny Hill, Louisiana. Robert’s father, my great grandfather, was Cicero Malachi Breland (1857-1917), who lived his entire life in Washington Parish, Louisiana, and is buried in Mount Hermon. Cicero’s father, my great great grandather, was Elisha Elliott Breland (1832-1862) who died in Louisiana while serving as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War.
Where Abraham Breler/Breland was born is a subject of much speculation and dispute. Some say he was born in Pitt County, North Carolina, while others say he was born in Germany. To date, no one has been able to answer that question definitively.
I recently started the Breland Surname DNA Project with the hope of answering the question of where in Europe my Breland ancestors came from. This followed my involvement in the Hughes DNA Project, as both a member and administrator. Through my involvement in the Hughes Project, the Clan Colla 425 Null Project, and the McMahon DNA Project, I learned that my paternal ancestors lived in the vicinity of County Monaghan, Ireland, before they settled near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in the 1700s and then migrated from there to North Carolina and South Carolina. My experience with these DNA projects gives me great hope that the Breland DNA Project will help solve the historical mystery of where the Brelands came from.
At the time of this writing, the Breland DNA Project has just six members. The project needs to recruit many more members – especially men with the Breland surname – if it is to be successful. Anyone with the Breland surname, or who has Breland ancestors, is welcome to join. Here is the link where you can do so:
In order to join the project, you will need to buy a DNA test kit from Family Tree DNA. Men named Breland who join the project should order the Y-DNA37 test, which is a test of paternal ancestry only and costs $149 if you order it through the Breland Project (it costs $169 if you order it outside of a project). All women who join the project, and men without the Breland surname, should order the Family Finder test, which costs $99. The Family Finder tests both maternal and paternal ancestry and helps find matches within about five generations.
In addition, if you have already done an autosomal DNA test through AncestryDNA or 23andme, you will need to transfer your results to Family Tree DNA first before joining the Breland Project. Here is the link where you can do that:
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any questions about the Breland DNA Project. I look forward to hearing from you!
Tom Hughes was born and raised in Mobile, Ala., and now lives in Durham, N.C. He is the son of Gloria Breland Hughes, whose parents were Robert Milton Breland (1889-1959) and Cora Peirce Breland (1891-1936). Robert and Cora met in the early 1900s when they were both high school students at Sunny Hill School in Washington Parish, Louisiana. Tom’s uncles, Charles Gregory Breland and Hunter M. Breland, wrote, “The Breland Families of the Southern States, 1794-1875.”
This one-sentence item ran on the front page of The Fayette (Alabama) Banner newspaper on Thursday, July 3, 1919:
Mr. Thomas Hughes
Mr. Thomas Hughes, well known and highly respected citizen of the Ashcraft Corner community, died last Monday, and was buried Tuesday.
The name of the deceased was given as Thomas Hughes, but I believe this was an error. My great-great grandfather, James Thompson Hughes, was called “Thomps,” which is short for his middle name. “Thomps” and “Thomas” sound a lot alike, especially when “Thomps” is pronounced the way many Southerners would say it — as if it were a two-syllable word.
Thomps is buried at the Ashcraft Corner Cemetery in Fayette County, Alabama, and the date of death given on his headstone is June 29, 1919, which was a Sunday. The newspaper gave the day of death as Monday, which would have been June 30, 1919.
So, if I am right about this, and if the date of death on Thomps’ headstone is correct — then the newspaper managed to pack two factual errors into just one, 21-word sentence.
This obituary was published on the front page of The Commercial Dispatch newspaper in Columbus, Mississippi, on March 21, 1957.
RITES SET FRIDAY FOR J.H. HUGHES
Well-Known Farmer Of New Hope Community Dies At Age Of 89
Services for James Harvey Hughes, 89, well-known farmer of the New Hope community who died about 9:30 p.m. yesterday at Doster Hospital, will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, New Hope.
The Rev. J.F. Sansing will officiate. Burial will be in the Mt. Zion Cemetery. Memorial Funeral Home, in charge of arrangements, announced that the body will lie in state at the church from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., tomorrow preceding the funeral.
Mr. Hughes, a native of Pickens County, Ala., had lived in Lowndes County for 36 years and was a member of the Mt. Zion Church.
He leaves his wife; four sons, A.E. Hughes and E.T. Hughes of Tuscaloosa, Ala., C.G. Hughes of Columbus and A.J. Hughes of New Orleans, La.; seven daughters, Mrs. William Stinson, Mrs. Belton Patterson, Mrs. Titus Patterson and Mrs. Jack Franks, all of Columbus, Mrs. Ingram Ashcraft of Tuscaloosa, Mrs. Ozie Sanders of Gainesville, Fla., and Mrs. Breland Hill of Philadelphia; three brothers, A.E. Hughes of Tuscaloosa, M.E. Hughes of Fayette, Ala., and A.W. Hughes of Kennedy, Ala.; a sister, Mrs. Clersie Livingston, Jacksonville, Fla.; 24 grandchildren and 31 great-granchildren.
Active pallbearers will be James Arvin Jr., Herbert Lee Hughes, Billy Hughes, Lowell Hughes, Howard Hughes, J.C. Patterson, all grandsons.
Honorary pallbearers will be Birney Imes Jr., Audie Pennington, Franklin Brown, Dr. D.D. Griffin, Henry Daves, V.A. Deason, Grover Sprouse, Dr. A.E. Brown, Dr. Bernard Ellis, Robert A. Ivy, Willis Pope Sr., Willis Pope Jr., Clarence Waldon, Sidney Camp, Ben Christopher.
Serving on the flower committee will be Mrs. Clarence Walden and Mrs. Eubanks McCrary; and the granddaughters.