OK, here’s what I have. I found William Breckenfelder when researching a different family – the Fosters.
William C. Breckenfelder, alias “Red,” was 28 or 29 in 1901, so he was born somewhere around 1872/1873. His father was not listed as having survived him, so he presumably died before 1901. William’s mother at some point married Charles Bross.
William was “considered a tough proposition by the local police” of Monroe, Michigan. He was sentenced to several short terms in prison, including one one-year stretch in the prison in Jackson, in 1898, for stealing robes out of a farmer’s wagon.
In the April 1901 term of the circuit court, he was convicted to highway robbery, and was sentenced to three years in the prison at Ionia. On June 19, William was granted a new trial, was brought back to Monroe on Friday, June 21, and was released on bail. On Saturday evening, he was around town drinking, but was advised by the police to go home, and keep out of sight. Instead, he informed the officers that he was going to Toledo, and he left.
The Fosters lived in an outlying area of Monroe; the father, James W. Foster, having died on 7/11/1900. At about eleven o’clock that night, Miss May Foster was reading in her bedroom, when she heard a noise outside her window, on the tin roof of the house’s front porch. May awakened the rest of the family, including her 17-year-old brother Jay, who went and got his shotgun (a 10-guage gun loaded with No. 4 shot). The mother of the family suggested that Jay take the gun outside, and fire it into the air, to frighten away any potential burglars. This Jay did.
When the Fosters went back into the house, they went around the house, closing any open windows. At the point someone in the family heard moaning coming from outside the house. Jay Foster went into town for help, and returned with Deputy Sheriff Navare. Alongside the porch they found the dead body of William Breckenfelder.
Coroner Fred H. Humphrey convened a jury, launched an investigation, and released their findings on June 26, 1901. It was found that after being discovered William climbed into an apple tree next to the porch, and either hid there or got stuck. When Jay blindly fired the shot gun into the air, he had no idea that William was in the tree, and as such was exonerated from all blame. As for William, it is reported that, “the charge entered in the back on the left side just below the ribs and penetrated the stomach, death resulting from an internal hemorrhage.” No sign of a weapon was found on the deceased.
William Breckenfelder was buried on Thursday, June 27, 1901, with Rev. A.W. Allen officiating. He was survived by mother and step-father, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bross, and two brother and one sister.
Suppositions: I believe that William’s father was John Breckenfelder, who died on 8/29/1888 at the age of 45. I believe that his mother was Fredericka Bross, who died on 1/1/1905 at the age of 57.
That’s all I have. If you have any more information on William Breckenfelder’s family, I sure would be interested in hearing it.