Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry


On the 21st Inst. at Utica, Mrs. Catherine Breese,
the wife of Arthur Breese, Esq.
aged 33 years and 3 days.

Her little bark on life's wide ocean tossed,
In the unequal struggle soon was lost:
Severe its conflict! Much alas it bore!
Then sunk beneath the storm and rose no more.
But when th' Archangels clarion shall sound,
And thunder lIFEl thro all the vast profound,
Her renovated vessel will be seen
Transcendent floating on the stream;
The joyful ensigns waving in the air,
The tides propitious and the zephyrs fair,
Till safe within the destin'd port of bliss
The anchor drop in everlasting peace.

Poughkeepsie Journal
(31 Aug 1808)

Pioneers of Utica

One of the prominent men of Oneida county while the county was yet new was Arthur Breese. He was born in Shrewsbury, NJ September 16, 1770, and was the second son of Samuel and Elizabeth Breese. His paternal grandfather, a native of Shrewsbury, in England, and of Welsh parentage, had been an officier in the British navy, and a Jacobite, but resigned his commission after the Pretender's defeat, and came to America. An extremely social man in his lifetime and noted for giving good dinners, at which he always sang songs and told stories with much spirit, -- he lies buried in Trinity Church yard, NY, beneath an epitaph made by himself, and which reads as follows:

Ha! Sidney, Sidney,
Lyest thou here?
I here lye
Till time is flown
To its extremity.

Arthur Breese's mother was the grand-daughter of Rev. James Anderson, first minister of the Wall Street Presbyterian Church, New York. He was graduated at Princeton, studied law with Elias Boudinot, and was admitted an attorney of the Supreme Court in August 1792. As early as 1794 he removed to Whitesboro, where he became a partner in practice with Jonas Platt. He acted also as deputy clerk of the county, Mr. Platt being clerk, was a master in chancery, and in 1796-7 was a representative in the Legislature. Upon the organization of the new county of Oneida he was appointed surrogate, and held the office so long as he remained at Whitesboro. But when a clerkship of the Supreme Court was established at Utica, in 1808, he was made clerk and removed thither. The building he occupied stood where now stands the office of the county clerk, to which it has but recently given way. He soon built for his dwelling a large stone house directly opposite, and next above Jeremiah Van Rensselaer's, a site now filled by the Miller, or step-ladder row. On the death of its first president, Mr. Breese also held for a time the position of president of the Ontario Branch Bank. He was himself cut down in the very prime of life, having died August 14, 1825, at the age of fifty-three, in the city of New York, whither he had gone to seek for the restoration of his health.

By nature inactive in temperament and easy of disposition, Mr. Breese was yet possessed of strong sense and much personal worth, of sterling integrity, of large hospitality, and generous in his care for the religious, educational and other important interests of the town and neighborhood. He bore his part among the founders of the Oneida Bible Society and the Utica Academy, and as trustee of the village corporation, and of the Presbyterian Church, of which latter he was a communicant.

He was somewhat of an epicure, and fond of the delicacies of the table, his larder and ice-house being always well supplied, and he never so happy as when surrounded by his friends, to enjoy with him his good cheer. A capital judge of wines, his cellar was liberally stocked with choice kinds, of his own important. In manners he was quiet and rather taciturn, though cheerful and genial, with the looks and bearing of a thorough gentleman. His features were regular, his eyes large and expressive, and though, in later life, a little beyond embonpoint, he was in his younger days remarked for his personal beauty.

Mr. Breese was twice married, and the father of a large family of whom some have risen to distinction, and all were highly respectable and well connected. Catharine, his first wife, was the daughter of Harry Livingston, of Poughkeepsie. She died August 21, 1808, very soon after their removal to Utica, in her thirty-third year. She is represented to have been a faithful guide to her household in the path of duty, and an example of Christian meekness and piety. Endeared to all her acquaintances, she was universally lamented.

Her children were Samuel Livingston, rear admiral of the Navy of the United States, who entered the navy in 1810, and after sixty years of duty, including the war of 1812, the Mexican war, service at the Norfolk and Brooklyn navy yards, and as commander of the European Squadron, was placed on the retired list; he died December 17, 1870; Sarah (Mrs. B.B. Lansing, and afterwards Mrs. James Platt;) Elizabeth (wife of William Malcolm Sands, purser of the United States Navy;) Catharine Walker, (widow of Captain Samuel B. Griswold, of United States Army); Sidney, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and United States Senator from Illinois; Susan (Mrs. Jacob Stout, then Mrs. P.A. Proal, died 1863.) Henry Livingston, died at the age of 14; Arthur, died in Florida, 1838; Mary Davenport (Mrs. Henry Davis, of Waterford).

Whitesboro's Golden Age, p. 87

Arthur Breese
The year before E.K. Kane was born, in 1794, there settled in Whitesboro another lawyer, who subsequently became prominent in the politics of the county. That lawyer was a native of New Jersey, graduated at princeton College, read law in Philadelphia with the celebrated Elias Boudinot, was admitted to the bar in 1792, and when he located in Whitesboro was but twenty-five years old. His wife was a sister of Mrs. Jonas Platt [THIS IS WRONG; Catharine was the NEICE of Helen Livingston Platt], and as Mr. Platt was county clerk of Herkimer county in 1794, he made Arthur Breese, the lawyer alluded to, deputy county clerk.

In 1796 Mr. Breese was elected to the Assembly, as successor to Jonas Platt in that body, and when Oneida county was formed, in 1798, Mr. Breese was appointed the first surrogate, and held that office for ten years afterward; surely those brothers-in-law had their share of offices. A law partnership between Messrs. Platt and Breese was formed, and their marriage, business, social and political ties were strong indeed.

The first homestead of Mr. Breese in Whitesboro was opposite the "Green," was known later as the "Storrs House," where the late Thomas H. Flandrau lived many years, and which dwelling tradition says Mr. Breese erected. Later, Mr. Breese built a fine residence on the hill near the cemetery, where Gideon Granger resided a number of years subsequent to 1814. As Mr. Breese was a federalist, the council of appointment in 1808 turned him out of the office of surrogate, adn about that time he moved to Utica. On Mr. Breese's removal to Utica, he was made one of the clerks of the old Supreme Court, and he was also master in chancery. He was clerk of that court from 1808 until his death. He died in 1825, in the city of New York, where he had gone for his health. His age was fifty-five years.

Mr. Breese was not a prominent member of the bar, nor do the court proceedings show that he ever had much to do as an attorney or counsel; but he was among the most worthy of the citizens of the county, and very high respectly and esteemed. While he and his family were residents of Whitesboro, they were valuable additions to the society of the place. He had quite a large family of children, all of whom were cultivated and refined.

Samuel L., one of his sons, was rear admiral of the navy, and sixty years in the service. One of his daughters became the wife of B.B. Lansing, and after his death she married James Platt of Oswego, brother of Judge Platt; B.B. and R.R. Lansing were brothers. Another daughter was the wife of William M. Sands, purser in the United States navy. Another was the wife of Captain S.B. Griswold, of the United States army, (afterwards the father-in-law of Professor S.F.B. Morse, of telegraph fame.) Another daughter was the wife of the late Thomas R. Walker of Utica.

Catharine and Arthur
Biographic Information
S.F.B. Morse recalls courtship
Catharine's Birth
Poem for Baby Catharine
Letter of 8 Sep 1775

Poughkeepsie Journal
(31 Aug 1808)


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