Category Archives: Breeden

In awe of the past

I have been spending the past 10 days on a dream vacation…. a week of research at the world’s largest genealogical library – The Family History Library in Salt Lake City. It’s been a week with no children, no husband, no work (well, almost… I still wrote a couple of stories for this week’s Leader), and almost no school (online classes ;-))

And even with that little bit of work and school I had to do, I have had an AMAZING week! Ten to 12 hours a day of researching, give or take an hour depending on if I remembered to stop to eat. I have scoured through books written in the mid-1800s, examined Internet resources which made available documents and newspapers from all over the world from the past four centuries and my favorite – microfilms documenting marriages, births, deaths, military service and censuses, some as early as 1712! This trip I have visited Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, India, Switzerland and England, all without leaving the warmth of the library.

There is something about being able to view an original document which exists as testament to the life of your ancestors. On my last trip in July, I located the 1827 marriage certificate of my 4th great-grandparents, William and Celinda Court Brown and the 1844 marriage certificate of my 3rd great-grandparents, Francis and Celinda Brown Clough from BOMBAY, INDIA… Talk about an amazing feeling! This time, I found banns (wedding announcements) and death notices written in French from my PANCHAUD line in Lausanne, Vaud, Switzerland from 1712… pouvez-vous dire merveilleux?

Death certificate of Jean Francois Panchaud

Death certificate of Mary Roberts

Death certificate of 11 month-old Mary Roberts

I also found the death records of my great-great-grandmother’s first husband and their daughter, my great-great-great-great auntie, who both died in Bombay, India in 1869, just five months apart from each other. Her husband of less than two years, Robert Clifton Roberts was 34 years old and died from an abscessed wound. He was thought of very highly in his community and the local newspaper, The Times of India, reported on Mar. 1, 1869 that his death was sincerely regretted. My 11-month-old auntie, Mary Roberts, died from convulsions. Finding their death notices helped explain why my great-great grandmother left her home and her family and traveled thousands of miles to England in the 1870s after spending her entire life in India. I can imagine how distraught she must have been to have lost her husband and baby within months of each other. She probably was trying to get away from the place that held so much pain for her, even though it was the place of her birth. But at the same time, even though I feel sadness at their passing and what could have been, when I look at those records I can’t help but think if they hadn’t died, I would not be here today. Because it was their deaths that drove my gggrandmother to England where she met my gggrandfather, and in turn, begat my line.

I also learned some American history this week. I located a census of the Indiana Territory for 1807 which listed every free white man living in the territory before it was a state. There was only 616 names on the list! I find that simply incredible that I have a document in my hands that list every single person living in the state of Indiana, before it was a state, and there’s just over 600 names on the list! My sixth-great grandfather, Alexander Guard and two of his sons, David (my 5th great grandfather) and Timothy were listed on the census. They had traveled from New Jersey with their families after the Revolutionary War by following the Ohio River, arriving at North Bend, Ohio in the spring of 1790 and moved to, what is now Dearborn County, Ind. in 1796.

There is so much history to be learned by digging up the past – The history of our ancestors and of our descendants. The reason we are here and the path we are taking. Genealogy is the map to discovering our history. Give it a try and learn the stories of your past.


Seeking the truth… the Agrue Murders

I can’t believe the interest shown in the murders of Johnson and Nina Agrue, their sons William and Leo and their 11 year-old granddaughter Mary Breeden on May 16, 1941 in Dearborn County, Indiana. I started researching the tale a few years ago when my mother told me the story as she knew it, hearing it from her mother. It wasn’t talked about much in my family. Little Mary was the daughter of my great-uncle Oakley Breeden and my first cousin once removed. Her father and my grandmother were siblings and after the murder, family members said he distanced himself from everyone.

I’ve managed to gather quite a bit of info, but there is more out there. I haven’t been able to work on my research consistently for the past couple of years, but the response I have been getting lately from other family members has renewed my interest and renewed my dedication to get to the bottom of the story.

Stay tune… more is definitely coming!

Support and Defend

I come from a long line of veterans, both American and British, who have fought on both sides of the pond.

My seventh great-grandfather, Jeremiah Gard and his sons, including my sixth great-grandfather, Alexander Guard and his cousins fought for a young America during the Revolutionary War. My great-great Uncle Henry George Louis Panchaud or Harry as he was called, was a well-known and decorated colonel in the Boer War in South Africa. My Great-great-great-great Uncle, William L. Guard was a Captain in the Mexican-American War.

During WWI, my great-great-uncle, Philip Archibald Tatem, was 24 years old when he left his home in Bermuda with the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and joined the Lincolnshire Regiment in France. He was killed on Sept. 25, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme after heavy fighting. His body was never identified, but he is honored on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in Somme, France. His younger brother, Graham Tatem, also served in WWI but fortunately did make it back to Bermuda. My paternal great-grandfather also served during WWI as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, as well as his older brother, Albert Louis Panchaud, who served as a chaplain in the British Army.

My maternal grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II in Germany for more than a year, while my paternal grandfather guarded German prisoners of war sent to Bermuda. My uncle Larry fought in Vietnam and my brother, Brian, served in Iraq during Desert Storm and he once again finds himself in Iraq today. I served almost 23 years in the United States Navy retiring as a Chief Petty Officer and my husband was a career Marine, giving more than 21 years to the Corps, retiring as a Master Gunnery Sergeant. Today, my oldest son carries on the family tradition and currently serves as a member of the Tennessee National Guard.

Earlier last year, I received a sobering comment from my brother on Facebook. He said, “I believe hell is empty, as pure evil walks the earth here in Iraq.” But even with that knowledge, he truly believes in what he and his unit are doing to help the Iraqi people.

I am proud of my family’s contributions to our great nation and to the countries they have called home. They have all I am also proud of those whom I call friend and those I don’t know personally. Without their sacrifice, I would not be living the life I have today.

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Sentenced to death

Have you ever wondered what the court decree looks like  which sentences a man to death? How does it read? What words have to go into it. How does it feel to read it? Below is a word-for-word copy of the actual document which sentenced Virginius Carter to the electric chair on Feb. 10, 1942.


14th day October Term

Oct 21, 1941

No. 4584

State of Indiana


Virginius Carter


Come now the parties and comes also the jury heretofore impaneled herein and the evidence in this cause having been concluded, argument of counsel is now had, and the same being concluded the Court instructs the Jury in writing after which the Jury in charge of Mathew Connelton, a sworn officer of this Court, now retired to their Jury Room to deliberate of their verdict.

And comes now such Jury into open Court and returns its verdict herein into open Court, which verdict reads as follows, to-wit:

“We, the Jury, find the defendant, Virginius Carter, guilty of murder in the first degree as charged in the first count of the indictment, and fix his punishment at 1st. degree murder and that he suffer the death penalty. (Signed) Paul Kaiser, Foreman”

And now the Court accepts such verdict and by order of the Court the same is filed with the Clerk of this Court in open Court in the presence of such Jury, and the Court thereupon pronounce the following judgment:

No. 4584 Crime

State of Indiana


Virginius Carter



Come now the State of Indiana, by Lester G. Baker, Prosecuting Attorney within and for the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Indiana, of which Judicial Circuit the County of Dearborn forms a part, and comes also the defendant herein, Virginius Carter, in person and by Willard M. Dean, his attorney, and in custody of the Sheriff of Dearborn County, William A. Winegard and Woodrow W. Woods, Officer of the State Police, and the Court finds that the defendant, Virginius Carter, is thirty-three (33) years of age, and that said defendant is guilty of the crime charged in the first count of the indictment herein, namely: – MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE.

And thereupon the Court informs such defendant above named that the jury herein has returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree, as charged in the first count of the indictment herein, against him and has fixed the penalty therefore at death. And the said defendant above named is now asked in open Court, if he has any legal cause or reason to show why judgment should not be pronounced against him upon such verdict of such jury herein; and no legal cause or reason being shown.,

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED BY THE COURT that Virginius Carter, the defendant, is guilty of murder in the first degree, as charged in the first count of the indictment herein, and that said defendant above named for such offense by him committed, do suffer death; that the said defendant above named be taken into custody by the Sheriff of Dearborn County, Indiana, and after a space of two weeks be taken by said Sheriff to the Indiana State Prison, at Michigan City, Indiana, and there safely be delivered to the Warden of said Prison, there to be safely kept until Tuesday, the 10th day of February, 1942, and that before sunrise on said day be taken by said Warden of said Prison, or in the case of his death, disability or absence, by his Deputy, to a room inside the walls of said Prison arranged for such purpose, and there be put to death by having caused to pass through his body continuance of such current through the body of such defendant above named until such defendant above named is dead. All of which shall be done by the Warden.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUGED AND DECREED BY THE COURT that this judgment shall be held and construed to be full and sufficient authority for the doing and performance of any and all acts and things on the part of the Sherriff of Dearborn County, Indiana, and the Warden of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Indiana, that may be requisite for the carrying hereof into execution.

The Sheriff of Dearborn County, Indiana, and the Warden of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Indiana, are hereby charged with the due execution of the above and fore going judgment.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDED AND DECREED BY THE COURT that a duly certified copy of the above and foregoing judgment, under the hand of the Clerk and the Seal of this Court do issue forthwith to the Warden of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Indiana, which copy when so certified, shall be to said warden full warrant and authority in this behalf, and said Warden shall in due time, return the same with his doings thereon to this Court.

All of which is finally ordered, adjudged and decreed by the Court.


The face of evil

Ever wonder what the face of evil looks like?

It’s not what you would think. It’s not unspeakable ugly nor is it undeniable beautiful. It’s not the face of a monster or the bogey man from our childhood nightmares.

But it is evil.

It is the face of a friend, a neighbor, a father, a brother and an uncle. It is the face of a loved one and it is the face of contempt and hate.

You can not see the evil in his face. But what of the eyes… what do you see there?

Can you see the unspeakable deeds he committed? Can you see the callousness and deliberate action of pulling the shotgun trigger time… and time… and time again?

The face of evil existed on 16 May 1941 and his name was Virginius “Dink” Carter.

Virginius "Dink" Carter

Virginius "Dink" Carter was charged and convicted of the mass murder of Johnson and Nina Agrue, their sons, William and Leo and their 11yo granddaughter, Mary Breeden on 16 May 1941 in Dearborn County, Indiana.

Mass Murder in Dearborn County, Ind.

Genealogy is the hunt for the unknown. And when you search and seek answers to questions long quieted, you have to be prepared for the unexpected. We all have skeletons.

For years I’ve heard stories of my Uncle Oakley’s daughter being murdered. My mom and Aunt Jean used to tell me that it was so famous, there even was a song made about it.  But that’s all they could tell me. Apparently, no one ever wanted to talk about it so after my cousin’s father and grandparents passed on, there was no one who knew the actual story. So, being the Nancy Drew type, I’ve been searching for the answers…. and boy have I found some!

The story is true. I’m still working on putting my findings together but what is an indisputable fact is that about supper time on May 16, 1941, Johnson W. Agrue, his wife Nina, their two sons, William and Leo Agrue and their 12-year-old granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth BREEDEN, were all found shot to death at point blank range. Five lives taken in less than 30 minutes… with dinner still on the stove.

There are lots of twists and turns in this story. Blurred relationships and scandals. As I’ve said, we all have skeletons. The hunt for the answers and consequently trial, made Dearborn history. It made Indiana history.

Stay tune for more….

William Edward Breeden obit

Dearborn County Register, 3 Aug 1961.

Services for William Breeden, 81, were held at the Ulrich & Sibbett Funeral Home, Dillsboro Friday at 1:30 pm. Burial was in the old cemetery at the top of Harrison Hill. Mrs. Breeden is buried there. Mr. Breeden a native of Kentucky, passed away at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Robert Banes of Clay Township. Other survivors are Mrs. Orris Rudisell, Cambridge City; Mrs. Melvin Guard, Harrison; Mrs Edward Nobak, Ocean City CA; and five sons: Loren and Thomas, Harrison; James, Cleves OH and Oakley and Charles, Cambridge City.”

He was buried at the top of Harrison Hill which is also called North Dearborn Road. This is known as the Harrison Hill Cemetery.


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