Around Thanksgiving of 2008, our family project received a significant contribution from a distant relative. She was the niece of Delson Breeding who was my great-grandfather’s younger brother.
A little background on Delson Breeding: he had no children so finding anyone who could contribute information on his life story was going to be difficult, especially since he passed away in 1961. We ran into his wife’s accountant and we eventually were able to touch base with a couple of nieces and nephews who were very helpful in passing along their memories. His niece took time on her Thanksgiving holiday during 2008 to write down her memories based on the biographical questions I had pulled down from the internet. With the answers to those questions, we were then able to assemble a very nice biography of Delson Breeding and his wife Estelle. In fact, the questions we used in generating his biography have proven to be so resilient that we have used them ever since that time in creating all the biographies we have generated for this book.
After we finished working on Delson Breeding’s biography, I was quite eager to start the biography of his older brother, my great-grandpa, Hugh Breeding. Fortunately, another relative had mailed me an old company newsletter where Hugh’s life was profiled. With that information and some other data we obtained from interviews (and along with his obituary), we were able to assemble a pretty decent first draft about his life.
Over the next few months, I completed the write-up of the Huston Breeding murder and the entire set of seven biographies (i.e. the stories of Huston Breeding’s children). Each of their stories was very different and that was the beauty of writing about this generation of Breedings. After their parents had died with many of them at such a young age, the children didn’t have much money and a few of them became incredibly successful risk takers in business – they just had simply nothing to lose. There was no safety net beneath them.
To further illustrate, when I think about my great-grandpa Hugh Breeding and his move from Green Forest, Arkansas to the Lumber Camps of East Cottage Grove, Oregon in 1909, the word that conjures up in my mind is overwhelming. It’s truly difficult to comprehend leaving everything he ever knew with a new wife in tow (and a younger brother he was looking after) and making a cross country journey on the Oregon Trail at such a young age. He was just over 19 years old! To think of the fear he must’ve had of Denton Baker who had killed his father and threatened him with his life…well, it’s just hard to imagine. During my journey of personal discovery, I have often wondered what my life would have been like had he not taken that fateful trip to Oregon and then come back to work in the oil fields of Oklahoma to chase his dream and personal fortune. So much of our life is fate. I would probably be a much different person had he not been a risk taker to a certain extent and provided so many opportunities for his children, grandchildren, etc.