Branscomb/Branscum Genealogy

The Genealogy of
Richard Branscomb
of Brunswick County, Virginia,
and a Number of his Descendants

by Fred Tubbs







The Children of Joseph Branscomb:
Benjamin F. Branscomb

The line of descent for Bemjamin F. Branscomb:

(Note: Hereinafter the first three digits of the identification numbers are omitted. Please check the Author's Notes for an explanation of the numbering system I use for identifying individuals within any family.)

11. Benjamin F. Branscomb was b. 24 March 1836 OH, d. 6 August 1923 in Branscomb, Mendocino Co., CA. He md. in Sonoma Co., CA, 7 August 1859 Jane Taylor (b. 8 March 1839 in DeKalb Co., MO, d. 9 April 1919 in Branscomb, Mendocino Co.); both bur. in Branscomb.

Family members give Benjamin’s birthplace as Jackson Co., OH, whereas the probable location of his parents in 1836 suggests that he was born in either Fayette or Washington County. (Donna Serna gives his birthplace as Fayette County). It is possible that Dianne and Joseph were with Joseph’s parents at the time young Benjamin was born. At the time when a young wife was expecting her first child she might choose to be with her experienced mother-in-law if her own mother was far away or possibly dead; no records have yet been located for Dianne’s parents either in Ohio or elsewhere. Benjamin grew up principally in Knox County, IL, and then moved with his parents westward briefly to Dubuque, IA, and thence to DeKalb Co., MO. In March 1857, when he was barely 21 years of age, he joined a wagon train under the charge of Capt. Benjamin Taylor of DeKalb Co., and went to California. He spent the winter of 1857-8 near Chico, CA, in operating a ferry at Bidwell’s Landing. Then in the spring he moved to Sonoma County. The following year, on 7 August 1859, he married Jane Taylor, daughter of the aforementioned Benjamin Taylor and his wife Rachel Earnest. The wedding for Benjamin Branscomb and Jane Taylor took place on the Taylor ranch near Sebastopol. Ben and Jane Branscomb lived in the vicinity of Guerneville for more than 20 years and were engaged in farming and dairying. On 30 June 1880 Benjamin F. Branscomb received a land patent (cash entry) in Sonoma County for 167.1 acres, the S½ of the NW¼ of S15 T8N R11W, as measured from the Mount Diablo meridian, plus two additional tracts, lots 3 and 4, in the NE¼ of the same township and range; the total is reported as 167 acres. Benjamin probably applied for the patent several years earlier; by the time it was awarded he and his family had moved to neighboring Mendocino County.

Benjamin and Jane moved to Jackson Valley in Mendocino County during the spring of 1880. The census for that year, taken 10 June, shows the family in Long Valley Precinct, p. 242; see also Soundex, 18-72-4-1:

  Age Where born
Branscomb, Benjamin 44 OH
Jane 41 MO
Charles 20 CA
Elizabeth 17 CA
Joseph 14 CA
Martha 11 CA
John 9 CA
Arther (sic) 8 CA
James 5 CA
Lawrence 3 CA
Lela 8/12 CA

The voter registration rolls for 1880 also list Benjamin as a resident of Long Valley Precinct. On 16 March 1889 Benjamin F. Branscomb received a homestead land patent of 160 acres there, the N½ and the SE¼ of the SE¼ of S22 and the NE¼ of the NE¼ all of T21N R16W. He received also a patent (cash entry) dated 26 March 1892 for 40 acres, the NW¼ of the SW¼ of S23 T21N R16W. He “built a huge two-story house on the hill, which many years later was turned into a resort hotel,” all made from a single redwood tree. He had also a blacksmith shop. In addition to his success as a farmer, Ben was able to secure a post office for the area. Eventually a small village grew up around the Branscomb post office, and the road between Laytonville, 13 miles to the west, and Route 1 on the Pacific shore to the east, is still called Branscomb Road. By 1902 the voter registration rolls showed Benjamin’s residence in Jackson Precinct as the village of Branscomb. He developed “a splendid water system” to pipe water from a spring 200 yards away and then to distribute it within the village, and at least as late as 1952 the water system was still in operation. Ben also was one of the founders of the Jackson Valley School District, and he served on the Board of Trustees. He was also a member of the Masonic lodge. The large gathering at his funeral attested to his many accomplishments and to his widespread popularity. (Most of the information about #11 Benjamin’s entrepreneurship in California was collected by Betty Lawrence. Among her sources were a book by Kate Mayo, Pioneering in the Shadow of Kato Mountain, and an article written in 1952 by Betty Ison after Ison interviewed #116 John Mitchell Branscomb. Ison’s article was published in The Redwood Journal.)

Most of the reports concerning Benjamin and Jane state that they had six sons and four daughters. It is possible that they had a seventh son, Benjamin Jr., born circa 1882, who may have died young. All of the children were born in Sonoma Co. The children:

  • 111. Charles William Branscomb, b. 20 May 1860. Md in Laytonville 3 October 1886 Melvina Uarka Middleton, b.5 May 1868 CA, d.22 February 1945 in Lake Co. CA The California death records give her mother’s maiden name as Shinn. As a young man William went to eastern Oregon and spent three years as a sheepherder. Then he returned to Mendocino Co. Two land patents are known for Charles W. Branscomb in Mendocino County; the first is a cash entry patent dated 13 May 1891 for 160 acres, the SW¼ of the SW¼ of S12 plus the N½ of the NW¼ and the NW¼ of the NE¼ of S13, all of T20N R14W of the Mount Diablo meridian. The second was a homestead patent dated 23 April 1897 for 162.53 acres: the W½ of the SW¼ of S33 T22N R14W plus lots 3 and 4 in S4 T21 R14. Charles suffered severe losses in the cattle business. Thereafter he moved to Covelo in Mendocino County and became a blacksmith. The voter registration rolls for 1902 show his residence as Covelo in Round Valley Precinct. His obituary stated that he managed a ranch there for his brother-in-law Chris Hansen. Charles and his family were shown in the 1900 Soundex for Mendocino County (18-72-3). The children of Charles and Melvina were Etta Rachel, Florence Estelle, and Reta Faith. (Aurelius Carpenter and Percy Millberry, History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, CA. Chicago: Historic Records Co., 1914. p. 665) .

  • 112. Sarah Lorene Branscomb, b. 1861 in Sonoma Co. Md. (1) James P. Miller. Since her name does not appear in the 1880 census record for Benjamin’s family, she was probably married by June 1880. They lived in Santa Rosa, CA. Sarah md. (2) ( First name unknown) Meeks. Mayo names two children as George and Walter.

  • 113. Mary Elizabeth Branscomb, b. 1863, d. 1931. Md. 15 August 1886 Charles M. Ward. They lived in Ukiah. Mayo names two children as Edna Lorine and George Elbert.

  • 114. Joseph Edmond Branscomb, b. August 1865, d. 12 April 1941 in Fortuna, Humboldt Co. Md. in Sonoma Co. 2 August 1889 Zarilda Poe (“Sallie”; b. May 1871). Sallie was the d/o Robert and Louisa Poe. Joseph received a homestead patent in Mendocino Co. on 15 Sep­tem­ber 1892 for 160 acres, the N½ and the SE¼ of the NW¼ plus the NE¼ of the SW¼, all in S 22 T21N R16W. The children of Joseph & Zarilda were: Nellie, Leroy Edmond, Amos E., Hazel and Ada. (Information about the children provided by Lynda Goforth Smith.) The 1900 Soundex shows Joseph and Zarilda in Long Valley Twp. of Mendocino Co. (18-72-2-47). With them were their first two children plus Zarilda’s parents and brother. Joseph E. was constable for seventeen years in Long Valley Township, Mendocino Co. The voter registration rolls for 1902 and 1920 show his residence as Laytonville in Long Valley, but in 1910 he was listed as residing in Covelo, Round Valley Precinct.

  • 115. Martha Rachel Branscomb, b. 11 February 1869 (Donna Serna has the DOB as 7 February 1868), d. of mushroom poisoning 9 April 1931 at Ukiah. Md. in Westport, CA, 15 August 1887 Christen Lauritsen Hansen (b. in Arø, Denmark, 4 November 1854; d. in Ukiah 21 September 1940); both bur. Ukiah Cem. Chris/Christen/Christian became a naturalized citizen of the U. S. in 1885. At various times he was a butcher and a farmer in Westport, Covelo, Ukiah and Willits. The children of Chris and Martha were Ethel Irene, Carolyn, Lawrence Benjamin, James, Genevieve, Leila, Mildred, Christen, Lucille and Martha.

  • 116. John Mitchell Branscomb, b. 18 January 1871, d. of heart attack 5 January 1955; md. 20 September 1916 Nellie Frances Raab (b. 2 February 1888 in Tionesta Forest, PA, d, 21 March 1976); both died in Healdsburg, and both bur. Sonoma Co. Nellie was the d/o George Raab and Mary Agnes Moynihan. In 1952, three years before his death, John gave an interview to Betty Isom, who then published her article. John told of the move from Sonoma County to the Jackson Valley in Mendocino County at a time when the area was pristine and wildlife was plentiful, and he told of helping to build the family home. As a young man John went to Alaska during the gold rush, and then he returned to the village of Branscomb to assist his father. He became proprietor of a store which he and his father built, and the Branscomb post office was moved to the store. According to his obituary John was postmaster from 1908 to 1941. The voter registration rolls for 1902, 1910 and 1920 list him as living in Branscomb in Jackson Precinct, and his occupation in 1920 was “Storekeeper.” Nellie F. was also listed as a voter in 1920 and 1930. On 8 April 1904 John M. Brans­comb received a patent (cash entry) for 160 acres of land in Mendoci­no Coun­ty, the S½ of the NE¼ and the N½ of the SE¼ of S10 T24N R17W. John and Nellie had six children: Barbara, Clarence, Jane, Patricia, James and John M. Jr.

  • 117. Arthur Thomas Branscomb, b. December 1872, d. 26 July 1942 in Los Angeles Co. Md. in Merced Co. 1900 Vitalene Vassar. Arthur was a farmer and a fruit grower. He also attended Santa Rosa Business College. Mayo names two children, Bernard and Vitalene.

  • 118. James Henry Branscomb, b. February 1875, d, 1938 in Montana. Md. Pauline Zant. Shortly after 1900 he and Pauline moved from Mendocino Co. to Los Angeles, where James worked as a surveyor. According to obituaries for family members, in April 1919 he resided in Butte, MT, and in 1933 he was in Idaho. Mayo says that James and Pauline had no children.

  • 119. Lawrence Elbert Branscomb (his name is spelled “Laurence” in some records), b. in Sebastopol, Sonoma Co., 9 February 1877 (the cemetery records say 1876), d. 18 October 1953 in Sacramento Co.; bur. Forest Lawn Cem. Md. 18 November 1902 in Willits, Mendocino Co., Irene Viola Manchester (b. in Laytonville 6 October 1884, d. in Yakima, WA, 23 September 1971). Irene was the d/o John Manchester and Alene M. Blair. At the time of the 1900 census Lawrence was a boarder in the household of Elmer S. Brindle in Eureka Twp. of Nevada County (Soundex 20-42-11-22). In 1902 when he married Irene he was farming near Ten Mile, north of Fort Bragg, on the Pacific Coast. The voter registration rolls for 1902 show him as living in Branscomb, but in 1910 he was listed as residing in Ten Mile Precinct, in the village of Inglenook. On 5 October 1908 “Laurence” received a patent (cash entry) for 160 acres in Mendocino County, the S½ of the SE¼ of S20 and the W½ of the SE¼ of S21, both in T21N R16W. Some time after 1915 Lawrence and his family moved to Yakima and began growing fruit. In Yakima Lawrence acquired three parcels of real estate: a patent for 160 acres, the NW¼ of S18 T11N 19E, and two lots in Yakima City (Lot 68, North 3rd St., and Lot 21, West Yakima Ave.)

  • The 1920 census shows Lawrence and his family in Yakima Co., WA: household 211, p. 185 (52-203-11-38):

      Age Where
    Branscomb, Lawrence 42 CA IL MO  
    B. Irene 34 CA WI IL  
    R. Barnie 15 CA CA CA (This is Benjamin, “Bennie”)
    E. Densel 13 CA CA CA  
    C. Leland 7 CA CA CA  
    M. Dorothy 12 CA CA CA  

    Lawrence and Irene were divorced in Yakima in 1923, and Irene remarried there in 1924. Lawrence and his son Ben raised cattle in the area for a time, and then Lawrence returned to California, settling in Sonoma Co.. He did not remarry. Densel and Dorothy lived with their father, and Ben and Leland lived with their mother. Later in life Lawrence moved to Carmichael in Sacramento Co. and lived there until he died.

    During the Great Depression one of Ben’s daughters spent some time with Lawrence in Sonoma Co. She had warm memories of her grandfather, but she said that he was something of a dreamer who tried several approaches to wealth, none of which came to fruition. One such project was raising silver foxes. At one time he had an unproductive gold mine in Trinity Co., CA. He could have made a fortune from that 160 acres in Mendocino Co.; after he sold, a subsequent purchaser became wealthy by logging and selling the redwood trees on the property.

    Lawrence and Irene had five children, all b. CA before the move to Yakima: Benjamin Rupert, Densel Elbert, Dorothy May, Charles Leland, and Theodore Kenneth (d.y.). (Information provided by Evelyn Branscomb Chinn, principally from family records.)

  • 11A (= 10). Lelia Branscomb, b. 1879. Md. (1) before November 1902 Fred Wells; md. (2) ca. 1932 (given name unknown) McGimpsey. As Mrs. Fred Wells, Lelia was a witness for the marriage of her brother Lawrence. Mayo says that Leila/Lelia had no children.

(Most but not all of the foregoing information concerning the descendants of #1 Benjamin comes from reliable sources. Readers of the account are requested to provide supporting evidence where possible.)

See also:
The Children of Joseph Edmond Branscomb and Diana Pierce





Copyright 2007
Frederick B. Tubbs

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