In the LDS version of the 1880 U.S. census, I find Patric Breene, 36, born in Ireland, married to Maria Breene, 33, born in Ireland, living in Evans, Marshall County, Illinois (p. 341B). They had six children. I am under the impression that the early Breen family moved quite a bit.
My very old notes on this family showed two first names for the Whalen mother of Charles Breen: Maria and Kate. I also find Patrick's two marriages to Whalen women in the Illinois marriage index. I now believe that Maria was Charles' mother but that Kate/Catherine raised Charles. This Irish family was very Catholic; and so far as I know, the Church did not allow a widower to marry his sister-in-law. Whether this marriage rule was always followed or was waived when a man needed a wife to care for his children is beyond me.
According to a copy of a family record from a Breen Bible, Charles Edward Breen was born on September 29, 1880, in Winona, Illinois, son of Patrick H. Breen and Maria Whalen. On January 24, 1911, Charles married Johannah Josephine Collins, born January 22, 1882, in Aspinwall in Crawford County, Iowa, by Rev. M. J. Farrelly in St Rose of Lima Church. I think that the handwriting in this Bible was either Charles' or his wife's.
In 1976, Charles Breen died in Britt, Iowa, where he lived with a grandaughter; he was buried in Ames, Iowa. He was prosperous, generous with his family, and social. He owned a great deal of land in Iowa and one of the Dakotas before the crash of 1929.
Oral family history reported that ther Breens originated in County Clare, Ireland; and one Charles' granddaughters has Clare/Clair as her middle name, supposedly as a memorial to the Breen family in old Ireland. I went to internet records for County Clare and found so many Breens and Whalens that I could not go further in research. Whalen is spelled in a variety of ways.
Do you have a complete list of Patrick Breen's children by both wives? Do you have his parents' names?