The first settlers arrived around 1816. Growth was slow because of diseases due to undrained land, causing local residents to erect crosses on their properties in hopes of protecting their families. Real growth began in 1855, upon the arrival of the Mississippi and Ohio Railroad.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.3 square miles (6.0 km²), of which, 2.3 square miles (5.9 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (1.30%) is water.
Breese is located on US Route 50.
There were 1,513 households out of which 37.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.8% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 29.0% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 94.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,639, and the median income for a family was $54,242. Males had a median income of $37,979 versus $23,231 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,530. About 1.2% of families and 3.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.