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Alfred Alexander and Ida Frances Phelps Branch
1.jpg (73804 bytes) Around 1882

Alfred Alexander Branch and Ida Frances Phelps were married in Washington County, Virginia. According to Mother, they first lived in a little cabin on the John Phelps (Ida's father) farm in Moccasin Gap, near Holston. Mother thought it was probably one of the Slave Cabins. Her Grandfather Phelps owned a few slaves. After emancipation, at least a part of them stayed on. The little house and the old log barn built by Grandfather Phelps we, as children, remember as "Aunt Phines place".  Iona Hope Branch and Samuel Thomas Branch were born there.  

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

2.jpg (74279 bytes) About 1899

Listening to the "oily" tones of a promoter who promised free land and free railroad transportation to a new land called Colorado, Alfred, generally called "Allie", and Ida Frances, little Iona and Sam were on their way west!  They found a claim. "Allie" built a sod house. The soil was very rich. He planted corn and cane. It came up and was growing tall - then the hot winds of the Great Plains came. In one day their crop was lost! Grandfather "Allie" worked on the rail- road - or wherever he could get a job. They moved from the "Soddie" to a larger stone house on an abandoned claim, and later with winter coming on, they moved into Vilas. An old store became their home for the winter. Fairy Caledona was born there that winter - December.

When Spring came, they came to Missouri. They lived first in Shelby County - later moving to a small log house near the place they would later buy. William Robert Lee was born there. There followed the covered wagon trip back to Virginia. Their original intent when starting on the trip was to look for land. Allie had heard there was good land in South Missouri and Arkansas. After they crossed into Tennessee at Memphis, it was an easy decision to go on to Virginia to see their folks. They had been away for six years.

When they returned to Missouri, they put a down payment on forty acres there in Rocky Hollow. They lived in the same little log house. Grandfather Allie began cutting and hewing timbers to build a big log house - with a room upstairs! He also built a log barn. Both are still. standing.

It was a bitterly cold day in February when the family rode into Monroe City in the open wagon. Grandfather Allie had traded a load of firewood to the photographer for this family portrait. Grandmother Ida had made new clothes for Iona, Fairy, Bill and Alfred. The suits Sam and Allie are wearing were purchased at a fire sale!

In April "Allie" went to Monroe City in the wagon to get a coffin for a neighbor. A big snow came before he got back.  He came down with pneumonia. A doctor was called. He said "Allie" would be better in nine days. On the ninth day, "Allie" died. Grim times faced the family then. 

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Sam_Branch_Con_Kestner.jpg (50723 bytes) Around 1902 Sam Branch and Con Kestner.

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

5.jpg (64269 bytes) Around 1902

Samuel Thomas Branch as a young man. Sam was about 12 when his father died. He had to become a man in a hurry. Mother said that when this picture was taken he was selling groceries.  In 1908 he had earned enough to take his mother back to Virginia. to see her family. There he met Della Pendleton, the little school teacher whom he later married.

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

6.jpg (59266 bytes) Around 1907 Fairy Caledonia and Iona Hope Branch were said to be two prettiest girls around Monroe City!

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

7.jpg (72684 bytes) Around 1907

Fairy Caledonia, a grown-up young lady. Both Fairy and Iona were "working out".  Fairy had bought this fur piece and muff. When little Herbert saw it, he said "Aunt Fairy, what happened to your hair?"  Mother had helped Fairy make the blue suit.

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Fairy_retouch.jpg (148618 bytes) Around 1907 Fairy Caledonia Branch

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

8.jpg (58233 bytes) 1907

Iona Hope, probably around 1907. She had had an unfortunate early marriage which did not last, but resulted in the birth of her little son, Herbert Camille Phelps. Iona worked first for the Jaeger family, and later the Longmire family in Monroe City. She earned $3.50 a week. She said she would keep perhaps a dollar for herself, and send the rest to Grandmother Ida, who cared for little Herbert.

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Iona_about_20_with_hat.jpg (56666 bytes) 1907 Iona Hope Branch.

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

9.jpg (51277 bytes) 1918 James Alfred Branch enlisted in the Army in the Fall of 1916. He was sent to Camp McArthur in Waco, Texas.. The great flu epidemic of 1918 struck the camp very hard. After that he was never really strong, although he had recovered enough to be considered able to serve his country.  He was in New York, ready to board ship when the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. He was disappointed that he did not get to go!

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Alfred_Branch_uniform.jpg (58821 bytes) 1918 Alfred Branch in his uniform

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Alfred_Branch_1959_Tombstone_AZ.jpg (42971 bytes) 1959 Alfred Branch in Tombstone Arizona

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Annie_White_Kestner.jpg (47349 bytes) ? Annie White Kestner, neighbor of Alfred A. Branch family

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

1926_Sam_Branches.jpg (178214 bytes) 1926 Family gathering at Sam Branch's.

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

16.jpg (68632 bytes) 1917

William Robert Lee Branch and Hazel Dell McGee were married in 1917, probably in Monroe City.  They went immediately to the Macomb, Illinois, area, where they lived in an older farm house out in the country. Bill worked in the clay pits mining the kaolin (pottery clay) for the Haeger Pottery Company in Macomb.  In the summer of 1919 Fairy, Alfred and I went to Macomb to visit them.  We stood by the tracks at Ely and waved a white handkerchief to flag down the train!  I was nine and that was really exciting. The trip took most of the day! The house where Bill and Hazel lived was supposed to be haunted!  Bill hitched up a team and took Fairy, Alfred and me out to see the clay pits. Great deep trenches, and pits half-filled with water of the deepest Blue Green! I've never forgotten that color!  Their daughters, Leola and Frances, were born there. Some years later, they came back to Missouri to farm. First, they lived on the "Craig Place", somewhere west of Warren.  Later they moved to the "Bremmer Place" on North River, and finally to the "Ward Place" near Four Corners. Later they moved back to Tennessee, Illinois.  Their son Bobby was born here. I believe Eldon was born in Missouri.  My Uncle Bill had a wonderful personality.  I loved him dearly. 

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

17.jpg (73338 bytes) 1916

Grandmother Ida had come over to Happy Hollow to spend a couple weeks with us. She became ill with uremic poisoning.  Though I was only six, I vividly remember Mother and Fairy wringing out sheets to make hot packs, the tears streaming down their faces!  She died that night.  In the morning the undertaker came.  He brought two boxes, one contained a black shroud - with some black lace - the other a creamy white shroud with lace and a bit of blue ribbon!  I was so disappointed when Mother and Fairy chose the black one.  I remember the black hearse, with the team of black horses.  It was raining as we drove "up the bottom road" to Andrew Chapel for the services. My Father lifted me up so that I could see her one last time!  I've never forgotten her face. I still wished she had the pretty dress, not the black one. 

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Alfred_Iona_Bill_Hazel_Robin_Carol_1937.jpg (55299 bytes) 1937 Alfred Branch, Iona Branch Gander, Hazel and Bill Branch, Robin and Carol Coon at Bill Branch's house.

Photo courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

18.jpg (66186 bytes) Late 1930's or early 1940's

Samuel Thomas and Della Pendleton Branch. Not a wedding picture, though no one seems to know when it was taken. Judging from the style of the clothing, I would guess somewhere in the 30's or early 40's. Aunt Della is wearing the Gold Medal which she won in "Elocution", as a girl in Virginia.      She was always so proud of it. They lived on a farm west of Warren. Seven children were born there, who grew into seven fine, successful adults.  Sam became a top salesman for State Farm Insurance, starting out during the great depression. He worked!

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

Gander_Branch_families.jpg (193405 bytes) 1945 Gander and Branch families at Happy Hollow Farm:  Charlie Coon, Alfred Branch, Hope Gander, Robin Coon, Cliff and Jo Gander, George and Mary Frances Pendleton with daughter Mary Gail, Hazel and Bill Branch, Della and Sam Branch, Nevadna Branch, Iona and Harve Gander
68.jpg (89832 bytes) August, 1968

The three Branches in August of 1968. Fairy Caledonia, Iona Hope and Samuel Thomas.  1968 saw three deaths in our family.  Harvey Smithton In Jan, 1968, Denton, Fairy's husband, in late June or early July, and Fairy in Sept.  Mother died on Nov 12, 1976.  Sam died Mar 10, 1975.  Upon mother's death our last tie to "Happy Hollow" was broken.  The farm was put up for sale.  Providentially, it was purchased by Don and Elizabeth Gander, brother Cliff's oldest son.  They have lovingly turned it into a show place.

Photo and commentary courtesy Jackie Gander Deets.  

     

These "Valentines" between Ida Frances Phelps and Alfred Alexander Branch were in the family bible.  They are provided by Jackie Gander Deets.

Valentine_Retouch.jpg (209104 bytes) C 1881 Letter from Ida to Alfred with her hand drawn flowers.  The coloring for the flowers came from "mark rocks" from the creek.

Text:

Alfred,

When other friends are round thee
And other hearts are thine:
When other bays have crowned thee
More pure and green than mine.
Then think how sad and lonely
This wretched heart will be;
Which while it beats, beats only,
Beloved one for thee.
Yet do not think I doubt thee
I know thy trust remains;
I would not live without thee,
For all the worlds contains
Thou art the star that guides me
Along life's troubled sea:
Whatever fate betides me,
This heart still beats for thee.

Ida

Valentine_Alfred.jpg (40598 bytes) C 1881 A response was written on the back of this note by Alfred:

When the golden sun is sinking
And your heart from cares is free:
When o'er a thousand things you are thinking
Will you sometimes think of me?

Alfred

Valentine2_front_retouch.jpg (236354 bytes) C 1881 Another love letter written apparently from Ida to Alfred.  She signs it but it is not addressed to anyone.  The handwriting is somewhat different from the more perfect and formal text on the first one.  One can only wonder which letter was written first.  Here is the text of this page:

What care I if you have loved before
So that you love me, love me best and last.
Nor could I ask you to forget the ties
That bound your heart to happy days now past.
Tis the remembrance of the days that were
By which your heart can gauge its love for me;
Even as my own throbed at another's touch
Beats it more quickly now with thought of thee
I know that you have whispered oft before
The same sweet nothings you breathe to me now;
I know your lips have passionately pledged 
In other moments constancy's fond vow.
I know that there are tender memories still
That speak to you of happiness gone by
I know that in its deepest depts of your soul

Valentine2_back_retouch.jpg (234843 bytes) C1881 Hath hidden feelings that may never die
Yet care I not if you have loved before
So that those loves are but in memory past,
Nor do I ask you to forget those dreams
Now that you love me - love me best and last.

Ida

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