Hughes' Views & News

1899 Horse-Detacher Patent of John Tichnor Peirce, of Breland, Louisiana

Posted in Breland, Genealogy, Peirce by tahughesnc on May 3, 2018

 

On May 23, 1899, the U.S. Patent Office issued Patent No. 625,695, for a horse-detacher device invented by my great-great grandfather, John Tichnor Peirce (1846-1912), who at that time lived in the community of Breland, in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. (He would later move from Breland to Warnerton, about 20 miles to the east.)

Also named in the patent was Adolphus E. Peirce, who was John’s son and my great grandfather. The first child of Adolphus and his wife, Etta Pearl Bailey, was Cora Peirce Breland, who was my maternal grandmother.

This patent is of interest to me for a couple of reasons.

First, his last name is spelled as “Peirce” throughout the document, and on the first page of the patent his name is written as “J.T. Peirce.” My mother has in her possession a handwritten letter that he wrote in 1891, and he signed that letter, “JT Peirce.” For me, these two documents present strong evidence that “Peirce” is the spelling that he preferred.

Some of his descendants have since chosen to spell the name as “Pierce,” while others have chosen to retain the “Peirce” spelling. For example, Adolphus spelled his last name as “Peirce,” and so did five of his six children. Adolphus had two sons. His first-born son, Richard Moore Peirce, retained the “Peirce” spelling all his life. Adolphus’ second-born son, Carl E. Pierce, chose to use “Pierce” instead, and Carl’s descendants use the “Pierce” spelling.

In my family, the “Peirce” spelling has been retained in the middle name of my late uncle, Robert Peirce Breland, and in the middle names given to some of my relatives who were born in the generations after Uncle Robert. Interestingly, my DNA matches include one match from this Peirce/Pierce line who was given the “Peirce” spelling at birth, and another who was given the “Pierce” spelling at birth.

Second, I love the fact that the patent document says John Tichnor Peirce “resided at Breland, in the parish of Tangipahoa, State of Louisiana.” As best as I can tell, Breland, Louisiana, no longer exists. But in the 1890s, there was a U.S. Post Office for Breland, Louisiana, and according to the 1891 letter from JT Peirce, “that office is at my house.

His second wife, Salissa Peirce, was appointed as U.S. Postmaster for Breland about a month before that letter was written. Then Adolphus was appointed postmaster for Breland on August 5, 1904. My mother’s aunt, Florence Peirce Peck, wrote that “my mother (Etta Bailey Peirce) and my sister Cora took care of the mail” until the family moved from Breland to Sunny Hill, Louisiana, about 1908.

After the move to Sunny Hill, Cora was a student at Sunny Hill School at the same time as my maternal grandfather, Robert Milton Breland. They became high school sweethearts, and later got married in Baton Rouge, in 1910.

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A place called Breland, Louisiana

Posted in Genealogy by tahughesnc on December 17, 2014
This map is from 1900.

This map is from 1900. Click to enlarge.

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 railroad map is from 1914. Click to enlarge.

This railroad map is from 1914. Click to enlarge.

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.)

Sibila it later came to be called Breland. Click to enlarge.

Sibila, shown on this map from the 1840s, later came to be called Breland. Click to enlarge.

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!