The Blue-Grey Army is pleased to honor the descendants of Battle of Olustee soldier, Thomas Jessup Branning, son of an early Florida pioneer, who was very powerful and prominent in the development of Clay County, Florida, and surrounding areas.
The patriarch of the Branning family in Florida was George Washington Branning, Sr., born June 6, 1799, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was listed on the census of Orange County, North Carolina in 1820. The year he moved to Florida is not known; however, he was noted on a jury list of Clay County in 1827. According to Clay County Archives, Middleburg, by Myrtice R. Truett, 1980, page 8, George Branning “supplied the United States Government with beef during the War of 1812 and moved from North Carolina to Middleburg after the cession of Florida and became wealthy raising sugar cane and cotton.” He also raised cattle, ran two ferries, and owned hundreds of acres of prime timber land in Clay County from which he shipped lumber to the North and also sold in Florida. In addition to his business pursuits, he was active in civic and community affairs.
George Washington Branning, Sr., married Mary Ellen Philips about 1824, probably in Florida. She was born March 28, 1808, in Wilkes County, Georgia, daughter of Matthew Henry Philips, of Edgecomb County, North Carolina, and his wife, Martha Barnes, born in South Hampton, Virginia.