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Judge Breck was Leader of Richmond Community

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Judge Breck was Leader of Richmond Community


people, government, history


Judge Charles H. Breck (1837-1915) distinguished himself as a community leader in Richmond and as a member of the Madison County bar for more than 50 years; yet he is not so well remembered as his better known father and his older brother.

Charles Hampton Breck was born in Richmond on June 26, 1837, the son of Jane Todd Breck (who was the aunt of Mary Todd Lincoln) and Daniel Breck, who came here about 1812 or ‘14 and distinguished himself as an attorney, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and as a judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. He built the grand old federal style brick house on Lancaster Avenue between Breck and Oak streets.

Charles' older brother Robert was the Presbyterian scholar and ministerial leader who presided over that difficult meeting of the Synod of Kentucky at the time of the Civil War, in which the delegates voted to separate from the northern Presbyterian Church and affiliate with the southern branch. He was one of the most able ministers of that connection, ever ready to debate theological and moral questions, including slavery, which he opposed. In 1874, he became the chancellor of the newly founded Central University at Richmond.

Charles, the younger son, took to the law when quite young, frequenting his father's law office and studying law books even as a child. After his university education "back East," he returned to Richmond to practice law. When Charles died in August 1915, he and his father had been members of the Madison County Bar Association for a total of 106 years.

Although he was said to have never aspired to public office, during his half-century of legal practice, Charles Breck was elected County Attorney, and then County Judge; and for more than 20 years he was Master Commissioner. He was highly respected as a faithful holder of public office and as a legal contract specialist.

His wife Bettie was a native of Alabama; and their six children were Charles H., Percy, Bettie, Jane, Ford, and Daniel H. Breck.

It was said that Judge Breck was a cultured and refined gentleman of commanding appearance. Upon the occasion of his death, just six months after that of his brother Robert, the editor of the "Climax-Madisonian" described him as a model husband and father, "beloved by his neighbors; charitable, sympathetic and generous ..." He was a devout member of the Presbyterian Church; and as you would expect, his funeral service was conducted by the Rev. R.L. Telford at First Presbyterian Church, and burial was in the Richmond Cemetery.

"In life we meet few such men as Judge Charles H. Breck," stated the editor, observing that "the world is poorer for that reason."


Dr. Robert Grise





Dr. Robert Grise, “Judge Breck was Leader of Richmond Community,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed March 18, 2019,