The Family Arrives in Brooklyn

The Family Arrives in Brooklyn

Marilyn J Breakey

© 2011


In late July of 2010 I received a surprising call from a descendant of   Isaiah and Ann Jane Wilson Breakey.  As we are both great-great-granddaughters of Isaiah Breakey, she from Isaiah’s second marriage, we bonded immediately. As family historians, each involved in over thirty years of research, we have come to know each other as Nancy Drew Cousins.

Information from family contacts regarding her great grandmother, Anna Jane Maxwell McElhinney, led my cousin to Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.  Knowing   that Anna Jane’s maiden name was Breakey, it came as no surprise that there appeared a head stone for Isaiah Breakey in the cemetery plot where her great   grandmother is buried. Having   joined a genealogy study group and after visiting Salt Lake City in 2001, the mystery was solved.   In the 1865 New York State census my cousin   found not only her great grandmother, Anna Jane, age five, but also her great, great   grandparents,   Isaiah and Anna Jane Breakey.

This addition to Chapter Six would not have been possible without my cousin’s genealogical expertise, exceptional research skills, but above all   her desire to solve a mystery.  Thanks, Lilly!

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 [Note:  The spelling of Ann Jane Wilson’s first name may appear as Ann, Annie, Anne, or Anna. These are not typographical errors for her name has been transcribed as it appears in previously referenced sources or in recent references.]

1.  ISAIAH BREAKEY married Anne Jane Wilson 16 June 1859 [see previous section of Chapter Six].  As suggested then,  Isaiah Breakey and his new  family must have immigrated to the United States   after the baptism of their daughter Ann Jane Breakey in Ireland on 11 October 1860  [see “Documented Births & Baptism” in The Breakey Collection] and before the  birth of their second daughter, Sarah W Breakey  who was born in New York State,  circa 1863/64.

[Note: As we hoped to glean more information from the census that was perhaps overlooked on her visit to Salt Lake City, my cousin, this past February 2011,   spent    considerable time in Manhattan searching Microfilm once again.  As there was no index for surname entries it took a bit more than a week to locate Isaiah Breakey and his family in Brooklyn.  Once again my cousin found her ancestors, but she also found the name of my great grandfather, Samuel, child of Isaiah from his first marriage, listed in the household.  After thirty plus years of searching my family lineage, the 1865 NYS census enumeration was an astounding revelation providing an unknown clue to Samuel’s arrival in the United States].

1865 New York State Census for a portion of the Eleventh Ward in the City of Brooklyn, in the County of Kings State of New York on the first day of June 1865

[Note: The names appear as written in the census enumeration on the sixteenth day of June, 1865].

Isaiah Braky, age 42, male,  residing at Sands Street in a frame wood house valued at $3000 in the 11th ward of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Five families lived there.   His occupation is listed as a laborer; it is indicated that he was naturalized. The birthplace of Isaiah’s parents is listed as Ireland.

            In Isaiah’s household are enumerated:

            Jane Braky, age 23, female, born in Ireland

            Samuel Braky, age 14 male, child, born in Ireland

            Ann J Braky, age five, female, child, born in Ireland

            Sarah Braky, age two 8/12, female, child born in Kings County

            George Braky, age 7/12, male, child, born in Kings County.

Children of Isaiah & Ann Jane Wilson Breakey:

2.  i. Ann Jane, born 11 April 1860 in Ireland; baptised 15 October 1860 in Ireland (First Presbyterian Congregation of Ballybay in The Breakey Collection.)

    ii. Sarah Wilson Breakey born 1863/4 married (Certificate #2771) George C McIlroy August 1886, and had issue:  Sarah J McIlroy. Sarah Wilson Breakey McIlroy died from phthisis (tuberculosis) on 22 March 1887 at 24 Carlton Avenue, Brooklyn: Death Certificate # 3474 Kings County, NY. [A discrepancy appears on her death certificate for her age is given as 22 years,] Her infant daughter, Sarah J McIlroy died from enteritis (inflammation of the intestines) at 130 Canton Street, on 23 April 1887, age one month, eight days: death certificate # 4843.  Both are buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn Kings County, NY in public lot 11005, section B, and grave #163.

    iii. William George Breakey born circa 1865 in New York State; died 4 May 1910, death certificate  #14286, Manhattan,  and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery,  public lot 11005, Section B, grave #163.  [Note: Based on the NYS 1865 census enumeration, William George Breakey was seven months old which might indicate his birth date was   late 1864.]

Isaiah Breakey died of phthisis (tuberculosis) on 18 November 1866 at 206 Sands Street, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY   death certificate #8042, and is buried in public lot 11005, Section B, grave #163, Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY. This grave site is in the area off Meadow Avenue, a street within the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY.

            During her 2000 visit to Green-Wood Cemetery, my cousin copied the following inscription   found on Isaiah’s headstone:

            ITNOTGAOTU – [below which appeared]

            A recognizable Masonic symbol - [below which appeared]

            Erected by his wife

[Note: My cousin then visited the Masonic Library, 71 W 23rd St, New York City, to determine the significance of the Masonic symbol and the notation above the symbol. The letters are in reference to:  In the Name of the Great Architect of the Universe. My cousin learned that this is the non- denominational manner by which all members of the Freemasons refer to God.  The inscription may be applied to Freemasons of any rank or office.

As to the symbol inscribed on the gravestone, it is a commemorative in recognition of one’s membership in the Freemasons.  However, due to the horizontal position of the gravestone and the nature of its material, environmental damage since 1866 has nearly obliterated the design making any determination impossible.

In my cousin’s family the terms Grand Marshall and 32nd degree Mason have been linked to Isaiah Breakey’s family history although to date no documentation has been found. It is possible the Masonic career of Isaiah Breakey began in the early 1800s, as did other Breakey individuals in County Monaghan, Ireland. (See “Isaiah Breakey of Greenvale Mills” in The Breakey Collection.) ]



Gravestone of Isaiah Breakey in Green-Wood Cemetery


Anne Jane   Wilson Breakey married second Robert Simpson.    The following 1880 United States Federal census record indicates Anna J Breakey Simpson was living in Brooklyn with her second husband and children. 

1880 United States Federal Census:

[Note: The following data are given in this manner:  name/relationship to head of household/civil condition/sex/color/age/birthplace/occupation/ birthplace of father & mother.]

            Robert Simpson/self/M/Male/W/46/Eng/Steam Engineer/Eng/Eng

            Anna J Simpson: wife/M/Female/ W/36/Ire/keeping house/Ire/Ire

            Anna J Breakey/SDau/S/Female/W/ 21/Ire/Lamp Store/ Eng/Ire

            Sarah W Breakey/SDau/S/Female/W/17/NY/Book Folder/Eng/Ire

            William Breakey/SSon/S/Male/ W/15/NY/Works for tinsmith/Eng/Ire

 Anna Jane Wilson Breakey Simpson died 25 April 1902: death certificate #7316.  She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY   public lot 11005, Section B, grave #163.

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2. ANNA JANE BREAKEY (Isaiah1) married Robert James Maxwell 6 November 1881 in Manhattan, New York. 

Children of Anna Jane Maxwell and Robert Maxwell:

       i. William married and had issue: Helen, Anna, Dorothy & George.

 3.   ii. Samuel Isaiah born 3 April 1890

     iii. Sarah married (?) Sweeney and had issue:  Francis & Isabelle

     iv. Robert

After the death of her first husband, Anna Jane Maxwell married second Joseph McElhinney and had issue: Joseph.  Anna Jane Breakey Maxwell McElhinney died in Brooklyn, NY on 12 July 1921: death certificate # 12013.  Anna J McElhinney is buried with her parents in public lot 11005, Section B. grave #163 in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, and Kings County NY.

3. SAMUEL3 ISAIAH MAXWELL (Anna Jane2, Isaiah1) married and had issue:

    i. Margaret

   ii. Frances

    iii. Samuel

   iv. Lillian

Samuel Isaiah Maxwell died 29 October 1954.  

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[Reference notes relevant to previous entries.]

1.  Upon closer inspection of the marriage record between Isaiah Breakey and his second wife, considering the information to date, it appears that his wife’s name is written as   “Anne Wilson.” Errors in the recording of such illegible historical forms are often the norm in genealogical research.

2.  Referencing the previous 1880 United States Census Record: note that the birthplace   for the stepchildren of Robert Simpson is England, the same as is listed for their stepfather, Robert Simpson, head of the household.

3.  Referencing Ann Jane Simpson’s letter to her sister in this previous chapter section, it may be concluded that Robert Simpson died circa 1885.

4.  Since several family members are buried in grave #163, a comment is in order.  Per my cousin, there is only one headstone in evidence lying on the ground, and that for Isaiah Breakey.  A recent letter from my cousin explained it this way after her contact with Green-Wood Cemetery officials:

“Grave #163 is in what they call a public lot, and because it was purchased in the 1860's, it is not as big as a plot that someone would buy today. This single grave is 32" wide, seven and 1/2 feet long.  I inquired about up-righting the headstone, again. I was told I could not put a foundation in for the headstone because the grave is 7 and 1/2 feet long. It needs to be eight feet long to accommodate a foundation. If the cemetery puts a foundation in, it [the plot] will be closed for future burials. This grave, as the others in the public lot, butts against the grave behind it. Today, a single grave is three feet by eight feet, 27 square feet.  There is room for a one foot foundation to hold the headstones.  In order to close this grave to future burials, the owner of the grave has to show the deed or show his relationship to the owner. He [the owner] also has to prove that there are no other living relatives. If there are, permission must be given by all the others to close the grave for future burials. Then he would have to write a letter to the cemetery saying that the foundation is necessary to save the integrity of the headstone.”

[Author’s note: A bit of research on my part indicates that cemetery plots for such family burials were dug much deeper than what is considered the norm today. That may account for why numerous family members could be interred in grave #163].

5.  Depending upon various reference sources, the above mentioned cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York may be documented as Greenwood, Green-wood, or Green-Wood.

6.   Referencing Chapter Seven and Margaret (Maggie) Breakey born May 1846:  Family tradition is that Margaret (Maggie) came as a nanny with another family.  Is it possible she immigrated with her father and stepmother?  [I believe so].  Maggie was married to John Sutliff on 9 February 1864 which would account for her not being listed in the 1865 NYS census. The birth date of Sarah Wilson Breakey born in Nov/Dec 1862, based on her age and my computations from the 1865 NYS census entries, would indicate the immigration date for the arrival of Isaiah Breakey and family in the United States to a time period between October 1860 and late fall of 1862. 

7.   Once again referencing Chapter Seven and my cousin’s research: Hettie Lockwood Breakey and her son, Joseph, are both buried in the same grave #396, public lot 20118, Section 6 in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, King’s County NY.   There is no grave marker.