I’d given up some time ago on finding my Breilh ancestors in the Ellis Island database (www.ellisislandrecords.org). I tried every variation of Breilh that I could think of. I tried first name searches as well. The family was nowhere to be found.
Recently, I saw an obituary in the paper for a Lassalle. It listed the person’s parents. They were immigrants from France. I decided to check the Ellis Island database to see if I could locate the town they came from. I found three possibilities but none really fit with what I was looking for.
On the last text version manifest page, I noticed that many of the passengers were from France. So, I decided to look over the names. The town Izeste jumped out at me. Someone was from Izeste, but who??? I looked over to the surname. It read “Bresch”. That didn’t mean anything to me. Then I looked over the first names: Joseph, Matilde, Jean Baptiste, Justine, Jeanne…these were the same first names as the Breilh family!
I began to get excited as most genealogists do when a discovery is on the horizon. I checked out the original ship manifest. There in the “who were you coming to visit” column was the information I needed. They were going to see their son-in-law, Charles Mazeres! Their daughter and my great grandmother, Brigitte Breilh, came to San Francisco, CA a couple of years before her parents. In 1900, her parents and younger siblings were coming to join her.
I’m not sure how they got recorded in the ship manifest as Bresch. Perhaps my great great grandparents had a heavy accent or a speech impediment. All I know is if I had not seen that obituary in the newspaper, I would have never been looking for the mystery Lassalle’s. Thus, I would have never found the Breilh’s. Sometimes it seems that we are lead to information we seek when we least expect it!
[Photograph of the Breilh family before they left for America. ca 1888, France]