The Rev Dr. Breck.
Milwaukee: no publisher, 1876.
At the Thirtieth Annual Council of the Diocese of Wisconsin, June 21, 1876, the following biographical and historical Paper, with the annexed Resolutions, were passed unanimously by a rising vote.
THE undersigned, having been appointed a Committee by the Milwaukee Convocation to offer to the Diocesan Council of Wisconsin appropriate Resolutions touching the death of the Rev. Dr. James Lloyd Breck, of Benicia, Diocese of California, respectfully Report:
That, whereas it has pleased our Heavenly Father to remove from his field of earthly labor a venerable and beloved Brother, whose first sphere of action was within the Territory and State of Wisconsin, we desire to record our deep appreciation of his extraordinary labors in the Missionary field of the Church of GOD, and especially in laying foundations of successful institutions in that wide extended north-western territory, which reaches from the shores of Lake Michigan to the Pacific Ocean.
Born of a family that had dwelt for many generations amidst the social refinements of the highest and most cultivated society, himself endowed by God with the utmost graciousness of presence and sweetness of temper, under the influence of God’s Spirit and his own high character and loftiness of principle, he went forth at once into the Missionary field of Wisconsin under our first Missionary Bishop, to whom, as a spiritual son, he was most like in faith and zeal and untiring energy.
A Master of Arts of the University of Pennsylvania, and a graduate of the General Theological Seminary, he was ordained to the Diaconate in July, 1841, and the ensuing September beheld him landing at Milwaukee, then a small village on the western shore of Lake Michigan, in the glow and vigor of his earliest manhood, henceforth, for five and thirty years, never to leave the West, but to continue his labors onward from Wisconsin to California, and at last to lay his bones under the chancel of his own church, which he had founded, on the shores of the Pacific.
All men know—none more than the members of this Committee—the peculiar character of what has been called the first flood of Western emigration; how full of manifold life and various energy it was; how full, also, of lawlessness and self-will, and what freedom was given in it to all the inordinate and unbridled passions of man's nature. Upon the front of this flood Mr. Breck went forth, with two associates, as a Missionary of the Church.
Fifty miles from the lake had this flood gone. Beyond this limit were no white settlements. And it is but the bare truth to say, that everywhere through that region Mr. Breck, with his associates, preached the Gospel in the Church, consoled the dying, baptized infants and adults, and buried the dead with their ancestral rites—there being hardly a cabin in all that region wherein he had not visited or preached or taught, living like their inmates, save only for his holiness of life and purity of faith. And for this work, his associates, men older than himself and perhaps of greater intellectual attainments, had chosen him their President, under their sense of his extraordinary virtues.
This searching Missionary work, patiently continued, was the foundation of the Diocese of Wisconsin, which began its existence, six years after, in 1847, with nearly a thousand communicants, made or found by his Missionary labor.
This initial Missionary work, the first Associate Mission of the American Church, was centred at Prairieville, now Waukesha, whence it was removed farther west to Nashotah, in 1842. And here was commenced a new work of educating Clergy for the West, upon a tract of land purchased through the instrumentality of the Rev. Mr. Hobart, one of the associates. At Nashotah thenceforth, and in the region round about, for seven years Mr. Breck taught and preached and did pastoral work.
In 1850 Mr. Breck moved further West, into the then new Territory of Minnesota, and there he established the "Associate Mission of St. Paul," in the then obscure village, but now most important city of St. Paul. Here he purchased for the use of the Church a piece of land which has since proved a most valuable endowment for the Diocese of Minnesota.
And, as in Wisconsin his pupils had gone forth into the field of Indian Missions as early as 1847—so in Minnesota, leaving the city, he himself with another pupil, a graduate of Nashotah, went forth among the Chippewas of the Northwest. This work among the Indians was carried on at three several points, which lie far away in the northwestern wilderness, untouched, even now, by the footsteps of white emigration. And here he remained and labored until the leading of God’s Providence called him to Faribault in the south-eastern part of Minnesota, where, with the zeal and the wise forethought of an Apostle, whose gift from God was the laying of foundations, he laid the basis of those institutions—academic and theological—since then so wisely carried on and so largely developed by Bishop Whipple.
After seven years at Faribault, he went to the Pacific Coast, and here his career vas the same as regards Missionary work and the founding of schools, until, in the prime of his age, but worn out with much and faithful service, he was called to his rest and to the foretaste and antepast in Paradise of his eternal reward in Heaven.
We cannot but express our love and admiration of the memory of this great and good man, great in the work which was given him to do for the Kingdom of our common Lord—and we respectfully present for the adoption of this Diocesan Council the following Resolutions:
1. Resolved, That the Bishops, and Clergy, and Laity of this Diocese of Wisconsin, desire to express and permanently to record their love and reverence for the memory of the Rev. James Lloyd Breck, D.D., whose early Missionary work forms so important and interesting a part in the history of our Diocese.
2. Resolved, That, with the profoundest gratitude we return thanks to God, through Jesus Christ, for all His work through this His servant.
WILLIAM ADAMS, DAVID KEENE, A. D. COLE, HOMER WHEELER, S. K. MILLER. Committee.