Editor's note: W. T. Cash was born and bred in Taylor county and even after he was appointed as Florida's first state librarian, he never forgot his Taylor County roots. In a series of columns printed in the 1920s, Cash reminisced about current trends and days gone by.
By W. T. Cash
H. T. (often merely called Thomas) Brannan, the ancestor of many persons now living in Taylor or other Florida Counties, like so many of our citizens moved here from Georgia, possibly stopping in Madison County along the way. He is known to have been living in Lowndes County. Ga. in 1830 for his name appears on that county's census roll as the head of a family.
H. T. Brannan is listed on Taylor County's first tax roll, that of 1857, and in 1859 had 10 slaves assessed against him but In the first roll I've seen since the war ended, 1868, his name does not appear indicating that he had passed away before then.
H. T. (who will be called Thomas hereafter) apparently was married twice and that one son (possibly the only child of this union) was Frank Brannan. By another union there were two sons, Sam and Houston and possibly others. I have never heard the names of either of Thomas Brannan's wives.
Thomas Brannan according to Taylor's early tax rolls, like many another early settler, did not own any land, but his home was probably just south of the Donaldson Bridge on the Econfina where some Brannens are now living. His oldest son Frank if I am right In calling him the oldest, soon got away from the rest of the family and is said to have settled more places than anybody else in the county. He died about the end of the last century, southwest of Hampton Springs on the south side of the Fenholloway in the same section where his children eventually went.
Frank Brannan was married twice, although I've never learned the name of his first wife. To this first union was born one son named H. T. (the T for Thomas) for his grandfather, the original Brannan, and two daughters, Frances and Jincie (there may have been others). Frank Brannan's second was Wealthy E. Sheffield, whom he married April 22. 1866 and the children of this union were William, John, George, Marion, sons, and Nancy, Villa and Lola, daughters. George and Marion, each somewhat older than I, were my fellow pupils in the old Blue school house in 1884 or 1885. Marion is the only one of Frank Brannan's children yet alive and I hope has many years ahead of him.
Tom Brannan was the most outstanding of Frank Brannan's boys. If he took a stand on any subject or person he took small pains to conceal it. Of course this made him enemies and quite possibly is one of the reasons he lost his life in 1899. In 1898 he and two of his half brothers John and George, were indicted by the grand jury on a charge of murder. The Sheriff. A. J. Head, having showed no hurry to arrest them, Governor Bloxham removed late in 1898 and appointed F. L. Lipscomb as his successor. Sheriff Lipscomb took a posse of probably 8 or 10 men to help to arrest Brannan, who was killed, it was alleged for resisting the posse.
The shooting of Tom Brannan affected the politics of Taylor County for years and probably neither Sheriff Lipscomb nor any member of his posse could have ever been elected to any office in the county after that. Yet the grand jury which investigated the attempted arrest had only words of praise for Lipscomb, saying that in him Taylor County had "a sheriff not afraid to do his sworn duty."
John and George Brannan, Tom's two brothers indicted with him were through a change of venue tried in Madison where I heard that all of the jury except two decided for acquittal, thus the case resulted in a mistrial.
Tom Brannan's two sisters, Jincie and Frances, were like their brother in so far as being willing and ready to express their minds on any subject that came up for discussion and they were also like him in being persons of outstanding hospitality. I know this is true for I've entered in both their homes and say as can many others, nothing they had was too good for their guests.
Their cousins living out west of Shady Grove were so different that they didn't seem like kinfolks. I met one of these Brannen's, a Mr. Mack Brannan, at Shady Grove one Saturday night. Among other things I asked him was: Are you any kin to George Brannan, cashier of the bank at Inverness?" "Why, he’s my boy." was the reply. This shows what some boys of Taylor County ancestry have made of themselves.
Some Brannens, probably the Tom Brannan ancestry (the original Tom) have also made outstanding citizens as G. W. Brannan was, I believe, a member of either Suwannee County School Board or of the County Commissioners, about 20 or 25 years ago. The late Cecil Brandon whose name was originally Brannan, started a cigar factory in Perry in 1912 and subsequently served several terms as mayor of the city. He impressed me asbeing fearless in the performances of his duty and worked to do everything he could to keep Perry both sober and orderly.
There are not many of the Brannan name now living in Taylor County, mainly those near Shady Grove. However, there's plenty of blood left through the marriage of Brannan girls to Sadlers. There must be over 20 Sadler kinfolks of the Brannens left, although some of these have moved to SouthFlorida.
(Transcribed from a newspaper reprint of this article in the Taylor County paper of August 7, 1992. The article was apparently part of a series of articles by W. T. Cash originally printed in the newspapers during the 1920 to 1940’s. This particular article appears to have been written after 1942 as that is the year that the "late" Cecil Brandon, mentioned in the article died. Other information. Mr. Mack Brannan referred to this article is Mr. Malcolm Samuel Brannen, son of Houston found no Brannen and grandson of H. Thomas Brannan. George was his first cousin. Also, this transcriber was not able to find any evidence that Cecil Brandon is a descendant of H. Thomas Brannen. J. T. Burval - September 5, 1999)