52 Ancestors: #20 Simeon BREECH ~ “Shot and Killed in a Gunfight”

Captina Cemetery
Captina Cemetery (Photo used with permission of Janice Oberlin Smarr)

As I have said often, over the years, I really had not researched my paternal line with much depth. Some time had passed after I had DNA tested at Ancestry, when they introduced their DNA Circles and I had found myself plopped into a circle that I knew very little about – tracing back to a common ancestor by the name of Mary Ann Miller and her husband, my 4th great-grandfather, Simeon Breech.

I poked around a bit in the usual records of Ancestry, Family Search, and http://www.findagrave.com looking for a little more information. My curiosity was certainly piqued when I found the above tombstone of Simeon Breech. Hmm, now THAT sounds interesting! The tombstone looked fairly new and, I assumed, had replaced an old stone because the cemetery was quite old. Someone must’ve been caring for that grave.  So on that particular day, I did a quick search of the newspaper sites looking for that story because there had to be one, right? No luck. Not a big deal…

I moved on to another family line of research and quite a bit of time had passed. Then while looking over weekly writing prompts, this tombstone came to mind immediately. I spent a good seven or eight hours laboriously reading through newspaper sites for anything around this date in 1849 that might shed some light on this gunfight. I also stumbled upon some information that declared that the gunfight was with a deputy, that both had died, and that half of Simeon’s body was buried in Belmont County, Ohio and half in Brown County, Indiana. Wait…what?! So this sent me searching through Indiana newspapers. Still, no luck. Sigh.

As a last resort before entirely giving up, I posted a query on a county Facebook page to see if anyone there might know of the history of Mr. Breech. And they did. Moral of this story?

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.”

~ Edgar Allan Poe

Simeon Breech was born on 23 August 1782, to Thomas Briggs Breech and Mary Barger. He married Mary Ann Miller in Pennsylvania. They left Pennsylvania and traveling in a “one horse wagon” to Ohio, settled just south of Barnesville in Belmont County. Simeon and Mary Ann had eleven children together, the oldest being Elizabeth who was born about 1810 and is my line. Their children were:

Elizabeth, who married John Gray.

William Thomas


Charles J., who married Esther Calvert.



Isaac, who married Rachel Huff.

Mary, who married Benjamin Mellott.

Rebecca, who married Benjamin Moore.



And in the 1870 census of Brown County, Indiana, Simeon is alive and well and living with his daughter, Rebecca and her family…

1870 Census Brown County, Indiana
1870 Census Brown County, Indiana

Yes. Simeon died 04 May 1878 in Brown County, Indiana and his entire body is buried at the New Bellsville Cemetery in Pikes Peak. According to a “Breech Family History” recorded by Mary (Breech) Mellotte in 1895, her father lived to be 96 years old and that he was a temperate, moral, and kind man who taught school when he and his wife first arrived in Ohio and that he was interested in astronomy. She mentions that he read a great deal and lists some of his books which included, “Pilgrim’s Progress” and “The Life of Daniel Boone”. She notes that he was a carpenter and that he stood about 5’9’’ and had a fair complexion, light hair, and blue eyes. (Nothing at all like the Dick Dastardly type of fellow I had conjured in my head at the sight of “Killed in a Gunfight” on the tombstone!)

The story behind the tombstone? I don’t know, perhaps something misunderstood from old family stories. I won’t be pursuing the reason why it was placed. But, if nothing else, this is certainly a lesson learned for me.


This is my Week #20 post for Amy Johnson Crow’s

52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge.

The optional theme for week 20 was “Black Sheep”.

Lineage Notecard

Name: Simeon Breech

Parents: Thomas Briggs Breech and Mary Barger

Spouse: Mary Ann Miller


Relationship to Hollie: paternal 4th great grandfather

  1. Simeon Breech
  2. Elizabeth Breech
  3. Lydia Jane Gray
  4. Jeremiah Mason Pittman
  5. Erma R. Minnie Pittman
  6. George Orren Schrader
  7. Hollie Ann Schrader

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