Breese,Illinois, a town of around 4,400 people, is the largest of all our Clinton County communities. The town’s history dates back to1816 when Joseph Johnson and George Green moved to the area and laid claim to two plots of land.
Eight years later, there was enough growth to justify a store and post office. But it wasn’t until the completion of the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad in 1855 that the area really started to take off and German settlers began moving in. The railroad defined the town then, and still does today—you’ll hear residents refer to the north side and south side of town, depending on which side of the railroad you’re talking about.
Breese was named for Sidney Breese, a contemporary of Abraham Lincoln and a beloved Illinois Senator and Chief Justice. He also was founder of the Illinois Central Railroad.
Drive through town and you’ll see many historic buildings, none more revered than St. Dominic’s Church. The dream of 40 German immigrants, the church became a reality after land was donated for its use, and construction was completed in 1869. Today there are three other churches in town, as well: St. Augustine’s, St. John’s United Church of Christ, and First Baptist Church.
While Breese has enjoyed much success over the years, it has also had great tragedy, specifically in 1914 when the cholera epidemic swept through the town. Resident Henry Altpeter’s family was spared, and to show his thanks he erected a large cross. Today the landmark is known as the Cholera Cross and you’ll find it just south of Breese on Germantown Road.
With a proud heritage and a strong family base, Breese has lots to offer, including two high schools, businesses, restaurants, and parks. Come for a visit and enjoy a taste of the good life here in Clinton County!