Colonel John Branch Bio by Philip Thieler
Patriot Ancestor - Paternal G4 Grandfather Lieutenant Colonel John Branch, Halifax County, North Carolina
Colonel John Branch was born circa 1750 in Halifax County, North Carolina to John Richard Branch and Martha Louise Henry. He was married to Rebeccah Bradford who was born on 25 December 1752 to Colonel John Bradford and Patience Reed. Christopher Branch, resident of Jamestowne (1620) was the G3 Grandfather of Colonel Branch. Christopher Branch was also Thomas Jefferson’s G3 Grandfather and is noted as being the “earliest American ancestor of record” of the 3rd President of the United States.1
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson
Colonel Branch served as the High Sheriff of the County of Halifax at the beginning of the American Revolution and in performing duties in that capacity, it is stated that he was a “terror” for the Tories.2 He also served as Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions and between the years of 1776 and 1780, he was Commissioned Lieutenant Colonel in the Halifax Regiment of the North Carolina Militia and it is stated that he also had service in the army of General Nathanael Greene. Following his time as a Commissioned Officer of the Halifax Regiment, Colonel Branch served in numerous positions: State Auditor for the Halifax District; Member of the House of Commons during two sessions in 1781 and 1782 and then again in 1788. Colonel Branch also served as a Delegate to the Convention of North Carolina in 1788 where among many actions, due to the lack of a Bill of Rights, the Convention voted to reject ratification of the proposed 1788 US Constitution.
1 John Frederick Dorman, Adventurers of Purse and Person Virginia 1607-1624/5, Fourth Edition, Vol. One Families A-F, p. 366, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.
2 Marshall de Lancey Haywood, John Branch 1782-1863 Governor of North Carolina, United States Senator, Secretary of the Navy, Member of Congress, Governor of Florida, etc. p. 2, Reprinted from the North Carolina Booklet October 1915
He closed out his public life serving as a member of the Council of State during the Governor Richard Spaight Administration. As a member of the Royal White Hart Lodge, No. 2, Colonel Branch belonged to the Masonic Fraternity3
Colonel Branch’s son, Governor John Branch served three terms as Governor of North Carolina, a State Senator, a Member of the US House of Representatives, a US Senator and the first Secretary of the Navy during the Administration of President Andrew Jackson and finally served as the last Territorial Governor of Florida shepherding the territory into statehood.4 Colonel Branch was the Grandfather of Lawrence O’Bryan Branch, US Congressman and Brigadier General, CSA.
Pictured left: Governor John Branch
As a final tribute to his significant role in the American Revolution, the Marquis de Lafayette was invited to tour all 24 States during the period 1824-1825. During his journey through North Carolina, the Branch Family hosted General de Lafayette at the “Cellar” in Enfield, North Carolina, which was the home of the late Colonel John Branch. His son, Governor John Branch was serving as a US Senator from North Carolina at the time. It was reported that following refreshments, General de Lafayette “made a speech from the porch of the Branch family home to the assembled throng.”5
Pictured right: Marquis de Lafayette
Colonel John Branch passed away in 1806 at Elk Marsh Plantation in Halifax County, NC. Colonel Branch was married twice:
- His first wife already mentioned was (G4 Grandmother) Rebeccah Bradford and left by her the following children: James Branch, Martha Branch, G3 Grandfather John Branch Jr. (Governor), Joseph Branch, and Patience W. Branch.
Pictured left: The "Cellar"
4 Ibid, 1-2.
5 W.C. Allen, Superintendent Weldon Public Schools, History of Halifax County, pp. 74-75 Copyright 1918, The Cornhill Company, Boston MA.
His second wife was Elizabeth Norwood, and by her he left three children: William Joseph Branch, Washington Lenoir Branch and Elizabeth Ann Branch.
The newspaper announcement stated:
"Departed this life on the 14th of March 1806, at Elk Marsh, in Halifax County, NC Col. John Branch, a soldier of the Revolution. Of this good man, the voice of panegyric is wont to sound praises exalted strain. As a man, he was brave, open and ingenious; as a citizen, active and useful; as a husband, father and master, he was kind, tender and affectionate. The child of sorrow found in him a protector; the man of worth, a sincere friend; the poor and needy sought shelter beneath his hospitable roof, and a numerous circle of acquaintances will partake of his glad cheer no more forever. His morning sun was fair and unclouded; its meridian, bright and effulgent; and its descending rays insured him a glorious immortality.”6
“Your Lineage Journey is Our Journey”
Philip R. Thieler
Colonel John Bradford Bio by Philip Thieler
Patriot Ancestor - Paternal G5 Grandfather Colonel John Bradford, Halifax County, North Carolina
Colonel John Bradford was born circa 1708 in Brunswick, Virginia to John Bradford and Rebecca Pace and in 1762, after the death of his mother, Colonel Bradford, the oldest surviving son of John Bradford, requested administration of his estate that had remained un-administered by his mother. Richard Pace, recognized as an Ancient Planter and resident of Jamestowne circa 1616 was the G3 Grandfather of Colonel John Bradford.
Colonel Bradford was married three times. His first wife was Patience Reed who was the daughter of Henry Reed. His second wife was Dorothea Miriam Burges, daughter of the Reverend Thomas Burgess and his third wife was Elizabeth Smith.
It appears that Colonel Bradford migrated to the Enfield area of Halifax County, NC around 1758 just as the area began to develop. It is stated that he was a man who had “commanding influence in shaping its policies… he was a man of natural ability and high character.”
As noted by John F. Dorman in Adventurers of Purse and Person, Colonel Bradford was a “member of the North Carolina Assembly, 1766-67, of the Committee of Safety, 1774, of the third Provisional Congress, 1775, of the Halifax Convention which declared for independence, April 1776, and the North Carolina Constitutional Convention, 1776, Senator from Halifax County in the First North Carolina Assembly, 1777, Colonel of the Militia, left a will 13 April 1787-codicil 5 Oct. 1787-Nov. 1787, had married (1), 1750, Patience Reed.”
Historically speaking, it should be acknowledged that except for the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775, there had not been any sincere drive by the colonies to separate themselves from King and country. So, when, on April 4, 1776, the Provisional Congress met in Halifax to deliberate such a move, John Bradford was one of the members representing Halifax County. What eventually became known as the “Halifax Resolves” was ratified on 12 April 1776, predating the Virginia Resolves of 15 May 1776 and the National Declaration of Independence passed on July 4, 1776. Following the enactment of the Halifax Resolves, the North Carolina Congress appointed a committee of which Colonel Bradford was a member, to prepare a temporary civil constitution for the reason of transitioning from a Provincial to a State government.
Pictured left: Francis Kughler's mural depicting citizens greeting members of hte NC Assembly that voted for the Halifax Resloves
In Southside Families of Virginia, John Bennet Boddie postulates that following his long public service in support of the Revolution, Colonel Bradford’s actions are “probably unequalled” in North Carolina.
Boddie remarked that Colonel Bradford’s public service spanned more than 10 years. He served as a member of the Committee of Safety in 1774. Colonel Bradford represented Halifax in the Colonial Assembly from 1766 to 1768.
In 1775, he was commissioned as a Colonel of the Halifax Militia while simultaneously serving as a member of the Third Provincial Congress. Arguably, the apex of his political career was acting as one of the 83 delegates to the Halifax Convention of April 1776, which resulted in the vote for independence and forever bore the moniker of the “Halifax Resolves”. He was a representative to the State Constitutional Convention of 1776. In 1777, he was the first Senator to represent Halifax in the NC General Assembly. Colonel Bradford actively participated in the Revolution as a soldier as “his regiment fought in General Patterson’s Brigade at the Battle of Wright’s Mill, July 22, 1778 (State Rec. Vol. 12, - 509).” After the close of the American Revolution, he completed his public life by serving as the Presiding Justice of the Court of Common Pleas.
Like his son-in-law, Colonel Bradford belonged to the Masonic Fraternity and was a member of the Royal White Hart Lodge, No. 2. The Lodge itself was located at the Old Marsh Store on the property of Colonel Branch’s Elk Marsh Plantation. Joseph Montfort served the Royal White Hart Lodge as the first and only Grand Master of the Masonic Fraternity in America. Colonel Branch’s plantation also served as the mustering point for the state militia.
Colonel Bradford’s will was dated in Halifax County on 13 April 1787, probated Nov. 1787 (W.B.3. p. 140). His son, Henry was given the house and 345 acres of land that was earlier granted to Colonel Bradford by Lord Granville.
Henry's son, Richard Henry Bradford and his wife Ann Bryan Fort moved to Tallahassee, Florida with almost the entire branch of this family except for his brother John and a sister; where their uncle by marriage, John Branch was Territorial Governor of Florida. It is also interesting to note that according to John Bennet Boddie, Henry’s sons joined the Halifax Militia in order to defend Baltimore during the War of 1812. Tradition has it that with the inclusion of the Bradford brothers, there were “forty feet” of Bradford’s who fought against the British. To celebrate his honorable service during the American Revolution, Colonel Bradford’s son Henry had his own silver pay hammered into silver tablespoons.
Colonel John Bradford and Patience Reed had the following children:
Rebeccah 25 December 1752 m. Colonel John Branch
Elizabeth 1754 Tabitha 1756 Frances 1759 Henry 1761 Joseph John 1764
 John Frederick Dorman, F.A.S.G, Adventurers of Purse and Person Virginia 1607-1624/5, Fourth Edition, Vol. Two Families G-P pp. 764 and 771, Genealogical Publish CO., INC.
 John Bennet Boddie, Southside Virginia Families, Vol. 1., p. 77, Reprinted for Clearfield Company, Inc., by Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., Baltimore Maryland, 1991, 1996, 19999, 2003
 W.C. Allen, Superintendent Weldon Public Schools, History of Halifax County, page 172, Copyright 1918, The Cornhill Company, Boston MA.
 Dorman, Adventures, 772.  Allen, History, 30,31,33.  Boddie, Southside, p. 77.  Ibid.
 Ibid, 78.
 Ibid, 77.
Colonel John Bradford 1708-1787
Citizen Soldier – Statesman of the Highest Order
“Your Lineage Journey is Our Journey”
Philip R. Thieler
Dividing Ridge Genealogy would like to sincerely thank genealogist Philip R. Thieler for sharing these Revolutionary War Biographies of his family members with History & Heritage and our followers. Please visit his website Your Linage to learn more, and visit his December 2021 featured blog post about Resolving Evidence Inconsistencies.
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