What is in a name? When you are looking for some evidence of someone in history, it is important to know what their name really is. In the case of Branson Smith, the second son of James and Susannah Smith, I started out on the wrong foot again with a census record. In the 1850 and 1860 Census, Susannah listed him, or should I say the census worker did, as Brunson. Not sure if they misunderstood what Susannah said or if they did not know how to spell it or was it translated wrong. At any rate, when I found the record, his name was Brunson. For years I looked for him, and did not find him. He was 12 years old in 1850 and 21 by 1860.
I looked for him in the Civil War. I looked for him in Allen County. I looked for him in the counties that I had found his siblings in but for the longest time I did not find him. There was a time when I wondered if he had served and died in the Civil War but I could not be sure of it. One evening I decided to try a few variation of two if his name just in case someone had mis-spelled it…Brenson, Brunsen, Branson. There were a few hits on Branson Smith in both Ohio and Indiana. Most are born much later than the one I was looking for but there is one to investigate. The Branson Smith I found resided in Madison County, Indiana born around 1840 in Ohio. Could this be our Branson? As I examine the 1870 census record, I could not miss that he had a neighbor, names William Smith. Could it be his brother, William, who is a couple of years older?
As it turned out there was quite a bit of data on Branson once I figured out where he and his family lived. He would marry Emily Kinnaman. She was the daughter of Hiram and Casandra (Grosley) Kinnaman. Emily's maiden name would show up spelled with an “a” and and an “o” so sometimes it was translated as Kinnoman, or Kinnaman, or Kinnamon. She came from a large family. It appears that when William, Branson's brother first came to the Madison County sometime before 1860, he worked as a farm laborer for a family who were neighbors of the Kinnaman family. William would marry Emily’s older sister Hannnah Jane Kinnaman. William and Hannah will be a story for a future blog.
I have been unable to determine the exact date of Branson and Emily Kinnaman’ s wedding but it was prior to 1865 and the birth of their first child Charles. Charles, I believe was named after Branson’s brother, Charles who died in 1863. I do not have supporting information yet but I believe that he died in the Civil War. I have found information that a Charles Smith from the Fort Wayne area died in the Civil War in 1863.
Branson and Emily remain close to her Kinnaman Family and his brother William in Madison County,Indiana. They would have 7 children; Charles (1865), Dora, (1867), Ida (1868), George Albert(1871), Thomas (1874) and a set of twins Flora and Cora born (1877). I would find evidence of the death of twins in 1879. They are listed on Emily’s gravestone. Charles died as a child too. His grave stone is very hard to read because it is worn. According to Findagrave.com, they list his death as 1810 but it is more likely January 10, 1870 but he is listed in the 1870 census which said it was recorded on the 12th August in 1870. We will need to do a rubbing of this grave stone in order to tell when he died and was buried. Emily died in 1881 and Branson would remarry in 1885.
He married Cynthia E. Whetsel in Hamilton County on May 14th, 1885. We’ll save the rest of this story for another blog.