DAVID C. BRANHAM
February 28, 1877 Vernon Banner
We copy the following obituary, on the death of the Hon. David C. Branham, from the Indianapolis Journal of the 21st inst:
Hon. David C. Branham, State Senator from Jefferson County, died at 10 o'clock yesterday morning, at the residence of his son,
George F. Branham, No. 27 Butler Street, this city. He had been ill for about six weeks, though it was not until three weeks ago that his disease
acquired anything like a serious aspect. Mr. Branham was elected to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Roe, and was present at the
organization of that body, being sworn in as a member. He had been complaining of bodily Indisposition several days before this and returned to
the house of his son quite fatigued. The next day he was unable to attend to his senatorial duties, and a few days later he took to his bed, and
grew steadily worse until death relieved him of his suffering. The cause of his death was yellow jaundice and he remained conscious until an hour
or two of his decease.
Mr. Branham was born near Madison, Jefferson county, August 9, 1812 and on the 17th day of October, 1838 was married to Cynthia
A. Watson, who was with him during his last illness, and who together with George M. Branham of this city, Mrs. S.H. Cobb of this city, and Miss
Saphrona D. Branham of Madison, are the only members of a large family who survive him. Mr. Branham was a man of great force, and while lacking
the advantages of a scolastic education has proved himself thoroughly competant to fill any position to which he was called. During his long life
he has been a heavy contractor, and was one of the principle builders of the old Madison and Indianapolis railroad, and for twelve years he acted
as superintendant and manager of the road. He also built the Columbus and Shelbyville road, the Shelbyville and Rushville road, the Fairfiled and
Martinsville, the junction road from Connersville to Rushville, the Indianapolis and Vincennes, and the Cincinnati and Rockport of which latter
road he was the receiver at the time of his death. He amassed a large fortune in these and other enterprises but lost a large sum in the construction
of the I and V road, so that of late years he has been in only comfortable circumstances pecunarily, neither immensely wealthy or poor. He was a
self made man in the broadest sense of the word, and was immensely popular in Madison and the southern part of the State. Four of his sons served
their country during the war of the rebellion, and of these three died from the effects of exposure while at the front. He was a firm friend of the
government during the dark days of the rebellion and held a commission in the secret service at that time. He spent a fortune providing for the
widows and orphans of soldiers during those years.
Mr. Branham was identified with the Whig party up to the time of its dissolution, in 1854 at which time he became a Republican and
remained within that organization until his death. He was not actively in politics until 1850, at which time he was a member of the constitutional
convention. In 1852 he was elected Representative, and has since represented his county in the Legislature continuously with the exception of one
term, that of 1874-75. In 1856 he established a character as a leader, and though the Republicans were largely in Minority in the Legislature, no
individual member wielded so much influence on critical occasions as he. Many times when there were stormy dissagreements in party caucuses and the
party seemed on the point of disruption, a half hours speach from him would bring all contending factions together and harmonize them. In the House
he was always a little stronger than his party, and able to carry with him for the measures he advocated the best members of the opposite party. All
had entire confidence in his honesty and good intentions. His moral and physical courage added to his influence. His enemies feared and respected
both. It was in 1857 that the Democracy first displayed its utter disregard for constitutional obligations by electing Jesse D. Bright and Graham N.
Fitch to the United States Senate. The opposition to the measure was in a large degree led by Mr. Branham, and while the Republicans had not sufficient
force to defeat the outrage they succeeded in placing the fact so fairly upon the record that it became one of the milstones around the neck of the
Democracy which sunk in 1860.
In 1858 Mr. Jonathan W. Gordon, Speaker of the House, made Mr. Branham chairman of the committee on Ways and Means, over the protest
and determined opposition of many of the oldest politicians in the State. When notified of his appointment to that position he made it a condition of
his acceptance that the Speaker should place upon the committee with him Messrs. Harrison Smith of Perry and James Harney of Montgomery, two Democrats
in whom he had the utmost confidence. This committee set on foot a series of investigations by means of which all faults of the current system of
financial administration in State affairs were traced to their sources. When these faults had been ascertained the committee prepared for their
correction and removal, a series of bills the provisions of which were thoroughly considered and perfected in committee and presented to the House.
One of the bills made it a felony to violate the system by an unauthorized use of the public funds and this bill was vetoed by Governor Willard, but
it was reintroduced by Mr. Branham the next term and became a law. These acts are substantially unchanged and constitute the Treasury system today.
In 1859 Mr. Branham was again made chairman on the Committee on Ways and Means. In this session he opposed with unflinching courage
and determination the seditious measures and schemes proposed by the rebel Democracy to encourage the seceding States and overthrow the government.
The session which was a stormy one, as we know from written history, closed on the 13th of March, to reconvien within two months to meet the emergencies
cast upon the country by the war of the rebellion. Here he supported all measures necessary to the speedy reorganization of the State Militia and the
vigorous prosecution of the war.
He was the leader of his party in both branches of the Legislature in 1863, and when the Democracy in its endeavor to paralyze the
military force of the State,if not, indeed to cast it on the side of the rebellion, had introduced measures to strip the Governor of his consitutional
powers of commander-in-chief of the militia, he opposed the attempted revolution by abandoning the Capitor with a sufficient number of both Houses to
break a quorum in each and thus prevent the wrong. The seceding members went to Madison, and remained there until the evil intentions of the Democracy
perished by reason of the limitation of the time of the session. It was during this session that Mr. Branham first discovered that a treasonable oath
bound secret organization existed within the Democratic party, and known as "Sons of Liberty." and "Knights of the Golden Circle." In 1868 he was made
Speaker of the House of Representatives and discharged the duties of that office with credit to himself and benefit to the State.
Of the later acts of his life the public is familiar, and presentation of them here would be a work of supererogation. His name has
been mentioned quite prominently since 1860 as the candidate of his party for Governor, but he was never before a convention prior to last winter,
when he received the hearty suppost of a considerable wing of the Republican party for the nomination. It would be no disparagement to others to say
that no other legislator in Indiana has done more in the last thirty years for the public wealth than Mr. Branham.
This David Branham was the son of Linsfield Branham and Mary Vawter, here is a link to their section on the
Vawter Family Web Site
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