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Margaret J. Breakey:  Musician, Composer & Lyricist

Marilyn J. Breakey



Once again I am indebted to my often mentioned co-author, Ken Breakey.  Over the years his dedicated research and willingness to share hundreds of pages of that research with me has provided a substantial   basis for current manuscripts in   The Breakey Collection. However, early in 2008 a mail packet arrived from   Ken with something out of the ordinary:  a photocopy of a musical composition written for piano. Having long been fascinated by the accomplishments of many Breakey family members, this musical mystery   warranted a solution if possible.




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The front cover of the musical score that Ken sent  bears   an image of a furled American flag.  Superimposed upon the image is the following:  Most Reverently Dedicated To   the American Flag, beneath which appears the title,   The American Flag ~ Two Step ~,   followed by “Composed by M. J. Breakey, Published by C. C. Mellor Co. Ltd Pittsburgh, Pa [No date of publication or copyright date appears on the reproduction; however,   The Pittsburgh Sheet Music Collection provided by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh supplies the following date of publication as “1909?”].[1]    



With the assistance of a reference librarian at my local library who searched the World Catalog, a global catalog of library collections for librarians, it was determined that the original musical score is housed   at the University of South Florida. Further details note that the composition was published by the Union Music Company of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1900. (Retrieved 1/30/2009).



 With further research I came upon two more musical compositions by Ms. Breakey, the first being Gold Bug March.


The musical score, as indicated on the cover page,   was published by M J Breakey, Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Immediately following   Ms. Breakey’s name there is a circle in which the numeral four is shown.  On page three at the beginning of the   musical score there appears the   title, and “M J Breakey.” At the bottom of  page three appears “copyright 1895 by M J Breakey.” Ms. Breakey’s full name does not appear anywhere in this musical score.[2]   The original is housed in


the Indiana State Museum.



The second musical score housed in the Indiana State Museum is that of Oh, Will You Be My Sweetheart, Then?



This musical score was published by the Bonanza Music Publishing Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and   as may be seen from the cover, the cost of the composition was fifty cents. On the bottom of   page three appears “copyright 1896 by Margaret J. Breakey.”  Ms. Breakey’s full name also appears at the top of page three immediately following the musical score title. To date, this is also the first appearance of Ms. Breakey as a lyricist.[3]




1.         Oh! Will you be my sweetheart

            When summer days are gone,

             When the roses droop and fade, love,

            And the winter snows are on,

            Or will you forget me,

            When the summer flow’rs have fled,

            Will your heart grow cold as the winter snow

            Or will you be my sweetheart, then?


2.         Oh! Will you be my sweetheart

            When youth’s bright days are gone,

            When the golden hours have faded,

            And the shadows of life are on,

            Or will you then forget me,

            When the summer flow’rs have fled,

            Will you heart grow cold, as the winter snow,

            Or will you be my sweetheart, then?


3.         Oh! Will you be my sweetheart,

            No dark days then there’ll be,

            But in the light or shadow,

            ‘Twill all be sunshine for me,

            There’ll be no doubt of falsehood,

            And all will so true,

            If you’ll only be my sweetheart, love,

            Oh! Will you be my sweetheart, then?



            The dearest of sweethearts, are sweethearts then

            When the shadows of life fall fast,

            Will your heart be cold, as the winter snow,

            Or will you be my sweetheart, then?


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Little is known of Margaret Breakey’s early   musical interests although one may assume that as a public school student in Indiana   she was familiar with   Loomis’ 9   Progressive Music Lessons.    [Author’s note:  George Loomis began teaching music in Indiana in 1866, later becoming the first superintendent of music in the Indianapolis public school system. He also published   music education books   that introduced public school students in Indiana, as well as surrounding states, to music theory and applied music.][4][5]


Ms. Breakey’s continued interest in music   was evident in later years as reported by Chris McHenry: “Margaret Breakey wrote and published a number of popular songs around the turn of the century, including some with patriotic themes and some in a more danceable form.  Margaret Breakey worked for a time selling pianos for the Cook Piano Company that manufactured them in Greendale.”[6] 


McHenry’s comments prompted me to take a closer look at the small print appearing on the   musical scores held by the Indiana State Museum.  In the lower left-hand corner of page four of   Oh!  Will You Be My Sweetheart, Then?, there appears “Try Valse Brilliant, Breakey. 50 cts.  In the lower left-hand corner of   the final fifth page there appears:  “Try Indiana Two Step.   Breakey. 40 cts.  From that small print one might assume these to be the titles of two other musical compositions by Ms. Breakey   that can not be accounted for at the present.


 Of further interest to me are what may appear as   the   rather insignificant numerals, four and five,   on the sheet music   covers of Gold Bug March   and Oh! Will You Be My Sweetheart Heart, Then?  Do they represent   a chronological order for Ms. Breakey’s creative   compositions?


An extensive search in public records for Margaret J Breakey provided little else than an enumeration for her in the 1880 federal census records for Greendale, Dearborn, Indiana, that being a result of researching her  residence as noted on the  musical scores. The following household census listed:[7]


John Breakey, self, married, male, white, age 57, birthplace Eng, occupation Cabinet Maker

Susan Breakey, wife, married, female, white, age 39, birthplace KY, occupation keeping house

Emma Breakey, daughter, female, [no marital status noted] white, age 22, birthplace KY, occupation seamstress

Maggie Breakey, daughter, single, female, white, age 12, birthplace IN, occupation house keeping                       


            Additional family history for Margaret J. Breakey may be found in a previously included manuscript in   The Breakey Collection[8].


Preparatory to including this article in The Breakey Collection I wish to add:


            1. No amount of research has been able to determine the surname of John Breakey’s first wife, Mary Ann, nor has any research been found for her death attributed to a lightning strike pursuant to her location of residence.


            2. John Breakey’s marriage to Susan White in 1866   is documented in marriage records[9].


            3. No information has been forthcoming for Emma Breakey, listed in the 1880 census as a daughter, age 22,   of John Breakey. Inasmuch as John Breakey didn’t enroll in the Indiana Volunteers until 1861,   and based on the age differences between Emma and her mother as noted in the census, one might assume that Emma was perhaps a sister to Susan, or a child from a previous marriage.


            4. No amount of research has been able to determine a date of death for John Breakey, or   a place of residence following the 1880 US census.


            5.  Based upon the concluding sentence of the previously mentioned family history of John Breakey, Civil War Veteran on this website, no amount of research has been able to locate a Margaret Mehan (Meehan, Mahan)  residing in Danville, Illinois,   or any connection to anyone of that name in the area.


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            In conclusion, an ironic twist:  In the past few months    Ken emailed me  to say that a copy of   a piano score for Gold Bug March was put up for sale on eBay!  Hopefully the person that purchased it is a descendant of Margaret J. Breakey.                     















[1] Who’s Who in America published in 1910 lists C C   Mellor   (1836-1909) as a piano and music dealer.  Documents supporting the celebration of his 70th birthday, held by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the “Pittsburgh Music –Archival Material” collection lists   Mellor as the owner of the C C Mellor Music Company.


[2] Breakey, Margaret J. Gold Bug March, Lawrenceburg, IN.  M J Breakey, 1895.  From the sheet music collection of the Indiana State Museum.  Available at “IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana” Indiana University  (Retrieved 1/18/2009)


[3] Breakey, Margaret J. Oh!  Will You Be My Sweetheart, Then? Philadelphia, PA: Bonanza Music Pub Co., 1896.  From the sheet music collection of the Indiana State Museum.  Available at “IN Harmony: Sheet Music from Indiana” Indiana University  (Retrieved 1/18/2009)


[4] 1866. Timeline of Music in the United States (1850-1879), Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  2009.  Available at   (Retrieved 1/25/2009).                                        


[5] Birge, Edward Bailey.  History of Public School Music in the United States. Oliver Ditson Co., 1928, p 95.  Available at   <> (Retrieved 1/25/02009.

[6] McHenry, Chris. A Bicentennial Musical Celebration of Dearborn County.  Lawrenceburg Public Library District. 2008.  Available at  <> (Retrieved 1/18/2009)

[7] Available at  < >      (Retrieved 1/3/2009)

[8] Breakey, Marilyn J   “John Breakey, Civil War Veteran.”  The Breakey Collection. 2003.  Available at

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