On Memorial Day We Honor Our Veterans

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On this Memorial Day weekend, the veterans buried in the Dayton Cemetery take the spotlight. One of them is John Heath Breese, who was born October 12, 1830 in New Jersey. He was married to Elizabeth Lewis in Peoria, Illinois, on November 16, 1859.

They had seven children:
Nellie Virginia, born September 2, 1861
Ellis E., born April 14, 1867
Emmor E., born 29 June 1869
Cora, born September 19, 1871
Nora B., born March 11, 1874
William L., born October 25, 1876
Walter, born December 24, 1878.

John enrolled as a private in Company C (Houghtailing’s), 1st Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery Volunteers on August 22, 1862. At the time of enlistment he was a farmer, 5 feet 8 inches tall, with light hair and blue eyes. He joined the unit just before the march to Nashville, Tenn., September 3-12. He saw action at Murfreesboro; the Battle of Stone’s River; the Tullahoma Campaign; the Battle of Chickamauga; Mission Ridge; Rocky Faced Ridge; Buzzard’s Roost Gap; Pumpkin Vine Creek; Kenesaw Mountain; Pine Hill; Lost Mountain; the siege of Atlanta; the battle of Jonesboro; Lovejoy Station; the march to the sea; the siege of Savannah; the campaign of the Carolinas; surrender of Johnston and his army; the march to Washington, D.C., via Richmond, Va.; and the Grand Review. He was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, June 12, 1865. He suffered from rheumatism and heart trouble as a result of a fever he contracted at Nashville in the winter of 1862-3. He spent some weeks in the hospital and suffered from rheumatism from then on. This severely limited his ability to do farm work and made him eligible for a pension.

On his return from the war, he spent 8 years in Kansas, returning to Dayton in 1874. In the summer of 1880 he was working in the paper mill in Dayton when he injured himself jumping up out of a pit without waiting for the ladder to be brought.

photo of John H. Breese tombstone

He died in Dayton, September 30, 1914. Both he and Elizabeth are buried in the cemetery, along with children Nellie Virginia, Ellis, Emmor, and Nora (wife of Lowell Hoxie).

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