Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Edward Tillman Branch and Winiford Ragland Branch

They Came for Land

When I look at the individuals in Mississippi enumerated in the U. S. Census of 1850, the list appears to be a "roll-call" of persons who have migrated from the states of Alabama, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and many foreign European countries. Original settlers came to the Mississippi Territory and later, the State of Mississippi, for various reasons. Many of those settlers came in search of land, green and fertile, with tall timber and plentiful water, and they found this land in Mississippi, particularly in the Attala County area, bordering the Natchez Trace. A land grant was often payment of service for serving in early wars, including the War of 1812.

Although Edward Tillman Branch did serve in the War of 1812, I was unable at the beginning of my research to find a record that he ever received a Land Warrant. This fact was explained later when I located Edward's records relating to his service in the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 - Land Grants and Pensions

According to documents located at the National Archives located on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., Edward filed for and received Pension Certificate #16,477, On May 4, 1872, for his service in the War of 1812. He was paid $8 per month, paid each quarter.

Later on August 1, 1872, Edward filed Claim No. 25,195, a "Claim of A Person who has never before had a Land Warrant or Made a Declaration Therefor" in the County of Attala, State of Mississippi, "for the purpose of obtaining the Bounty Land to which he may be entitled..." under an Act of Congress approved March 3, 1855. The document was signed by Edward Branch, Claimant, witnessed by R. B. Webb and A. G. Noah, and W. T. Davis, Clerk, Chancery Court of Attala County, Mississippi.

The claim stated that Edward Branch served as a "Private" commanded by Captain J. B. Rice, in Geo. Pegreem's Regiment of the Virginia Militia "in the War against Great Britain, declared by the United States June 24, 1812." Edward's military records show that "he volunteered in Brunswick County, VA on or about August or September 1814, for the term of three years and continued in actual service in said war for the term of (at least) fourteen days; and was honorably discharged at Petersburg VA". He served as a "Substitute for John Lenier." Bryan Tyson of Washington, D.C. was appointed to represent Edward in the matter of his claim "to receive the Certificate or (land) Warrant when issued...." Thomas M. Evans and E. B. Parker attested to Edward's loyalty, and Rufus N. Ousley, Justice of the Peace, attested that Evans, Parker, and Edward Branch were "men of good character for truth and veracity, and their statements in the affidavit referred to are worthy of full faith and credit."Records show that Bryan Tyson, filed the claim in Washington, D.C., when it he received it on Edward's behalf from Butt & Scarborough, the attorneys who represented Edward Branch in Kosciusko, MS.

Archived records include an undated copy of the certificate for Bounty Land, No. 113.202, subsequently sent to Edward from the Department of the Interior, Pension Office, Washington, D.C. The certificate states that Edward Branch was entitled to "160 acres, issued under the act of the 3rd of March 1855,...for service in the War of 1812."
Edward Tillman Branch died on October 28, 1874.

Although Edward was drawing a pension for his service during the War of 1812 when he died, Winiford was not eligible for widow's benefits, simply because widow's benefits did not exist at the time. When The Act of March 7, 1878 was signed, it authorized widow's pension benefits, and Winiford filed claim No. 24,219 shortly thereafter.

Correspondence, including affidavits and other documents reviewed show that Winiford had difficulty with the processing and payment of her claim for a widow's pension. Documents show the Hinds County, Mississippi record book, originally located in Raymond, Mississippi, and containing the license and bond executed March 24, 1830, for "said marriage has been destroyed or lost and cannot now be found, after diligent search..." Butt & Scarborough, Attorneys, Kosciusko, Mississippi, represented Winiford Branch in her claim to prove she was married and was the legal widow of Edward Branch, just as the attorneys had represented Edward when he filed his claim. The attorneys submitted an affidavit on Winiford's behalf, signed by Robert T. W. Ragland and Sarah Naxall, witnessed by J. W. Burden and Robert Paullitt, and attested to by R. N. Ousley, Justice of the Peace for Attala County, Mississippi. On May 9, 1879, Alex R. Speel, Pension Researcher, filed a document stating that Winiford Branch, Widow of Edward Branch, who served 102 days in the War of 1812, was eligible "to (receive) a pension of EIGHT DOLLARS per month from March 9, 1878."

The entire process, from the time Edward Branch applied for his pension on May 4, 1872, until Winiford Branch was paid widow's benefits on May 9, 1879, a little over 7 years had gone by.

By this time, Edward Branch had been dead almost 5 years.

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