Descendants of Thomas and Annie

Descendants of Thomas and Annie Lawler Breakey


    During early 1979 I sent an initial letter of inquiry along with brief Breakey notes to a James Breakey in Chicago, his name and address gleaned from a telephone book as were so many of my early contacts.  At Easter time I received a short note from him asking that I call at my earliest convenience; two days later a package arrived.  Jim, President of Stuart-Hooper Printing Company, had very graciously reprinted five hundred copies each of my initial letter of inquiry, my lineage chart, and the lineage reply form.  He had converted my rather poor quality mimeographed forms into a very professional appearing letter of introduction and questionnaire.  All Breakeys who have received such from me will recognize the outstanding quality of print.  It is to Jim’s interest in the family search that we are indebted.

While making Jim’s acquaintance by telephone he introduced me to his sister, Patricia Breakey Vogt, who had initiated a search into their Breakey family history and had presented it to Jim the previous Christmas.  During our initial correspondence Pat sent me the manuscript she had given to Jim that Christmas; our correspondence continues, and she recently updated it for inclusion in The Breakey Collection.

It was with sadness that Jim’s family had to hear of his untimely death on 27 February 1980.  I have taken the liberty to dedicate this article to his memory.

Dedicated to the Memory of

James D. Breakey

A descendant of Thomas and Annie Lawler Breakey

For his generosity and interest in the family research

Marilyn J. Breakey[1]

The “Pullman” Breakeys

    Thomas James Breakey (22 December 1852 - 2 October 1912) and Annie Lawler (17 October 1851 – 17 October 1896) immigrated to the United States from Dublin, Ireland in 1874.  They were married on 29 September 1872 at St. Paul’s Church in Dublin at ages nineteen and twenty.  On their marriage certificate we discovered Thomas was listed as a tinsmith, and Annie as a spinster.  Thomas’ father’s name is listed as James, a laborer; Annie’s father was Thomas, and listed as a bootmaker.  This is as far back as we can go; we do not know where they were born.

    Thomas and Annie first settled in Chicago in tenements near Adams and Halsted Streets and had their first three children baptized at Old St. Pat’s Church (the oldest Catholic Church in Chicago).  Woven into their story is also the following tale of the rise and decline of the extraordinary Pullman experiment.

    Thomas James Breakey began work for the Pullman Palace Car Co. in 1879, and worked as a tinsmith until his death 33 years later.  The company town of Pullman was being built in the early 1880s and the Breakeys were among the first tenants and resided at 11212 S. Champlain Avenue, a rowhouse on a street designated for skilled laborers.  George Pullman had the vision that if he could build a town with clean new aesthetic surroundings, school, church, stores, bank, post office, etc., and no taverns or other baneful elements, he would have a happier and more productive employee.

    Thomas’ job as tinning on the Pullman Sleepers involved piping cars for heating, roofs, putting on air brakes, etc.  His work record revealed a day rate of $2.50 per day.  Rent for their five-room townhouse was $14 per month and was equipped with flush toilets, sink and other luxuries not usually found in working class housing of that era.  They had raised a total of seven children in Pullman, two daughters and five sons who were all later employed at one time or another by the Pullman Company.

    All housing, bank, stores, church, school and markets were owned and operated by the Company.  Streets named after famous inventors were class designated as Executive Row, Foreman’s Row, Tenement Row, Skilled Labor Row, and even Incubator Row.  We can assume, I think, they were happy renters in the beginning, and this model town became a showplace as many thousands of visitors to the 1893 World’s Fair dropped by to see it.

    However, in 1894 it became world famous due to a serious labor strike when the factory worker rebelled at having to pay the same rents at a time when many were receiving 25-50% wage cuts or layoffs due to a decline in demand for cars in the aftermath of the World Financial Panic of 1893.  George Pullman and his company squashed the strike and refused to compromise.  Shortly after the infamous strike, Annie died leaving four children under the age of nine.  Thomas hired an immigrant Irish housekeeper to care for his children while he worked his normal twelve hours day at the shop.

    George Pullman died in 1897, a broken hearted man unshakable in his principles and beliefs.  Some saw the town as a kind of medieval barony operated with an iron hand. In 1898 the Illinois Supreme Court forced the company to sell its housing and businesses that were not related to the manufacture of railroad cars.  The company policy of caring for the town was discontinued, and then it began to decline and ceased to be a showplace for visitors.

    Thomas Breakey did have the opportunity to see his son, James, receive his medical degree in 1910, James later serving as a doctor in World War I.  Thomas worked for the Pullman Company up to two months before his death in 1912.  Of the nine children born to him and Annie, only one, Leo, had descendants.

    Today the town of Pullman is a city, state and national landmark in restoration, and a showplace for visitors; I am a docent for the Historic Pullman Foundation.

    The only memorabilia we have left of Thomas and Annie Breakey are four religious artifacts: a crucifixion scene, a small stone Bible, a statue of Mary, and a family Bible started on their wedding day.  I think it would be safe to conclude that because these are the only things we have left their faith was very important to them.  This faith was passed on to us and, in tribute to their memory alone, is something we should never discard.


Patricia Breakey Vogt

Chicago, IL

Memorial Day 2000


Descendants of Thomas and Annie Lawler Breakey 

1.  Thomas1 James Breakey, son of James Breakey, laborer, was born 22 Dec 1852; died 2 October 1912 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.  Thomas married 29 Sep 1872 at St. Paul’s Church in Dublin, Ireland, Annie Lawler born 17 Oct 1851, daughter of Thomas Lawler, bootmaker.  Annie died 17 Oct 1896 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.


      i.      Joseph2 Thomas Breakey, b. 15 Jan 1875 Chicago, IL; d. 7 Feb 1875

ii.                   James Thomas Breakey, b. 11 Apr 1876 Pullman, IL; d. 16 Dec 1940; md. Ester Alice Sweet

iii.                 Sarah Anne Breakey, b. 21 Aug 1877 Chicago, IL; d. 27 Aug 1877

iv.                 John Breakey, b. 16 Feb 1879 Chicago, IL

v.                  Caroline Anne Breakey, b. 5 Mar 1882 Chicago, IL; d. 24 May 1916; md. Joseph Machris

vi.                 Thomas James Breakey, b. 12 Jan 1884 Chicago, IL; d. 30 Oct 1944

vii.               Joseph James Breakey, b. 9 Jun 1887 Chicago, IL; d. 7 May 1923 Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

2.      viii.         Leo Francis Breakey, b. 15 Jun 1890 Chicago, IL

ix.         Maria Josephine Breakey, b. 6 May 1895 Chicago, IL; d. 7 Jun 1920; md. Nicholas J. Travis

2.  Leo2 (Thomas1) Francis Breakey, b. 15 Jun 1890 in Chicago, Cook County, IL; d. 8 May 1943.  Married Florence Emily Duval, b. 29 Mar 1892 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, daughter of Frederick and Martha Helene Ida Elise Winkenwerder Duval; d. 16 Jun 1964 in Evergreen Park, IL.


3.      i.         Leo3 Francis Breakey, Jr., b. 1920

4.      ii.            Fred Thomas Breakey, b. 1922

5.      iii.            James Donald Breakey, b. 1929

6.      iv.            Patricia Ann Breakey, b. 1933

3.  Leo3 (Leo2, Thomas1) Francis Breakey, Jr., b. 27 Jun 1920 in Chicago, Cook County, IL; d. 24 Mar 2000 in Palos Hills, IL.  Married 12 Sep 1953 in Chicago, IL Patricia Marcella McElligott, b. 3 Apr 1928 in Chicago, IL.

4.  Fred3 (Leo2, Thomas1) Thomas Breakey, b. 3 Dec 1922 in Chicago, IL; d. 19 Aug 1994 in Graham, North Carolina.  On 3 Oct 1942 married Winnifred Amy Demers, b. 4 Jan 1920, Boston, MA; d. 5 Apr 1997 in Watseka, IL.

5.  James3 (Leo2, Thomas1) Donald Breakey, b. 12 July in Chicago, IL; d. 27 Feb 1980 in Chicago; md. 11 Nov 1950 Joan Marian Peterson, daughter of Oscar and Gertrude Peterson; b. 30 Jun 1929; d. 9 Jan 1994 in Chicago.

6.  Patricia3 (Leo2, Thomas1) Ann Breakey, b. 29 Sep 1933.  Married 18 Jun 1955 in Chicago to Andrew Henry Vogt, b. 4 Feb 1932, son of Joseph Sebastian & Hazel Mary Arrand Vogt.


Author’s notes:

In his Memoirs,[2] Thomas C. Breakey states: “My great grandfather had three sons.  William lived here.  He built the house now occupied by Thomas Henry at the Church for his son Isaiah and the year after, Derry Big House (as it was called) for his son Obadiah…Obadiah sold out his interest to his brother Isaiah and went to live in Queen’s County.  He had two sons.  Frank lived in opulence in Dublin and died on the turn of life…”

Because Thomas Breakey and Annie Lawler were married in Dublin, Ireland, and because so little reference to any Breakeys of Dublin exists in my files, I wish to include the following information (Patricia Vogt to author, 7 Feb 1982) Pat received from a genealogist she employed while searching for her ancestors.  It is done with the hope that it might facilitate another’s search (Frances Devilly to Patricia Vogt, 1981).

Dear Mrs. Vogt,

…In the birth index I took a note of 31 references with the name Breakey.  Only one of that number had a Dublin reference.  For the marriages there were 16 entries and two were Dublin references; and in the death index I found 20 entries of which four were appropriate…I have worked to your specified sum of $50 including the cost of phone calls to Monaghan and the cost of the photocopies.


Frances Devilly

Transcriptions of the photocopies follow:

St. Mary’s Church, Dublin Ireland

Marriage certificate of:

8 Dec 1866:  William Freeman, full age, bachelor, draper, 141 Henry St & Annie Breakey, full age, spinster, 5 Victoria Terrace, North Circle Rd. & Sandymount.

His father:  Richard Freeman, Gentleman

Her father:  Francis Breakey, Gentleman

Death certificate of:

20 May 1869:  Francis Breakey, married, 65 years old, Gentleman

Cause:  Enlargement of liver

William Freeman present at death – 30 Bloomfield Ave.

Catholic Chapel of Rathgar – District of Rathforesham, So. Dublin

Marriage certificate of:

26 June 1866:  John Breakey, full age, bachelor laborer, 37 Sandwich Lane & Mary Walsh, full age, spinster, servant, Rathgar Rd.

His father:  James Breakey, laborer

Her father:  John Walsh, laborer

Birth certificate of:

14 Jan 1868  Sarah F. Breakey

Father: John Francis Breakey; occupation – railway porter

Mother: Mary Breakey (Walsh)

161 Great Britain

Anne Breakey (x) her mark present at birth at 161 Great Britain

St. Paul’s Church, Arran Quay

Birth certificate of:

6 Jul 1861:  Judith Breakey

Father:  James Breakey

Mother: Anne Byrne

Home address:  55 Brunswick, Dublin 7

Sponsors: Thomas Breakey; Mary Anne Towe

Baptized 15 Jul 1861

Birth certificate of:

11 Dec 1859:  Mary Breakey

Father:  James Breakey

Mother:  Anne Byrne

Home address:  55 Brunswick,, Dublin 7

Sponsors: Joseph Caffey; Mary Blake

Baptized: 21 Dec 1859

Death certificate of:

Elizabeth Breakey, 13 Aug 1866; spinster, 86 years old; profession – supported by friends.  Cause: apoplexy 5 days.  Address: 11 Spring Garden.  Informant: Anne Burns.

Death certificate of:

L(J)udith Breakey, 11 Mar 1867.  Servant Royal Canal Terrace; condition – unknown.  Cause: asthoemia, long time. Anne Breakey (x) her mark, present at death Royal Canal Terrace.

Birth certificate obtained from St. Paul’s Church, Arran Quay

Born 19 Jul 1853 Mary Jane Breakey.

Father:  William Breakey

Mother:  Anne Turner

Sponsors: Elizabeth Wynne, baptized 3 Mar 1872.


I am indebted to Patricia Breakey Vogt for the detailed records she sent that facilitated the compilation of this lineage as well as providing me with the report from Frances Devilly. 

Marilyn J. Breakey

Harrington House

Baldwinsville, NY

June 2000


[1] See author’s notes at conclusion of article for other Breakeys of Dublin, Ireland.

[2] Breakey, Edward P. (1963). The Memoirs of Thomas C. Breakey  (27th April 1834 – 2nd April 1914) of Drumskelt House, Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland. Belvedere, WA. p.4