Most of you know that Materson Bransford, one of the first slave guides and Jerry Bransford’s Great-great grandfather was son of a well to do white farmer, Thomas Bard Bransford, and a slave girl named Little Hannah.
Thomas Bard Bransford was born in King William Parish, Chesterfield County, VA on April 5, 1767 to John Bransford II and his second wife Judith Ammonet. On November 3, 1789 he married Ann Lee Snoddy. According to some sources he moved to the Tennessee/Kentucky area over the Cumberland Mountains sometime between 1800 and 1810. Later in life he resided primarily in Glasgow, KY. He died there on January 24, 1853.
Thomas Bard Bransford. Photograph taken Feb. 1851, Portrait date unknown
Thomas and Ann Lee had at least 11 children. These all were Materson Bransford’s half brothers or sisters. The only one of importance to the Mammoth Cave story is one of the sons, Thomas Louis Bransford. He inherited Mat and Nick upon his father’s death in 1853. He chose to continue the lease agreement for the use of Materson’s and Nicholas’s services at Mammoth Cave. During the Civil War Thomas Louis Bransford served as a Colonel in the Confederate army. He died on February 25, 1865 in Union Springs, Bullock, Alabama, USA. There is an account of Thomas B. Bransford’s granddaughters visiting Mammoth Cave, but I don’t have a copy of that letter.
Col. Thomas Lewis Bransford
During my research on the Thomas Bransford family tree I came across this website: http://www.angelfire.com/mac/bransford/bransford.html The document traces the history of the family back to King Edward III of England who reigned from 1312-1377. This was an interesting side note, so I looked at the family trees on the Myfamily Search website sponsored by the Mormon Church. They also had a family tree for the Bransford’s leading back to King Edward III. Comparing the two there were some differences with regard to one ancestor John Brandling (1484-1522). The Myfamily Search site had a link back to King Edward III through John Brandling’s wife Anne Neville, while the Angelfire site had a different name for John’s wife that was not a descendant of King Edward III. However the Angelfire site traced the link to the King through John Brandling’s father. I worked through other genealogical links and through Wikipedia, and as far as I can tell the Angelfire geneology is the correct one. In either case the link to King Edward III can be traced back to King Edward III. It can be traced farther back than that. With a little effort descriptions in Wikipedia can push the lineage back to about 600 AD. These would need to be confirmed, but the information is pretty well documented in British Geneology references for royalty. That means that 15 generations back, Materson Bransford is a direct descendant of King Edward III of England and all of his descendants are likewise a descendant of the King.
What about Materson’s Mother?
It is generally known that his mother was a slave known as Little Hannah. Family trees on the MyFamilySearch site and on Ancestry.com show Hannah’s mother to be a slave woman named Millie, they also indicate that she had a brother named Dave. One note says Dave died in adolescence. There were no references given for this information. A note suggested that Millie and Hannah had belonged to Thomas Bard Bransford’ father, John Bransford II and they were from his estate in Buckingham, VA, and furthermore they (or at least Hannah) was bequeathed to Thomas B. Bransford when his father died in 1809. Materson was biorn somewhere between 1815 and 1820, and this would fit with the suggested time frame. The last child Thomas B. Bransford had with his wife Ann Lee Snoddy was a daughter Mary Jane Bransford born in 1815.
I did not know what happened to Little Hannah after the birth of Materson. But there was an article posted to Ancestry.com that shed some light on the question.
The article shows another son, Sam Bransford, born in 1825 to Hannah and an unspecified father. So this means Materson had another had brother who was black, and another family tree of relatives descending from his half-brother Sam. In addition it indicates that Little Hannah was sold to a Franklin, TN family and died there in 1872. That also means that Materson’s mother Hannah was in the possession of Thomas Bransford when he was leased to Mammoth Cave. Thomas B. Bransford was living in Glasgow at the time, and that she was living nearby until she was sold in 1853. I wonder if Mat ever got a chance to visit with his mother?
This information reiterates and expands upon the previous account of Little Hannah. Do we have any evidence of this events aside from the stories presented. I would like to find out who has the papers regarding Little Hannah – who the third granddaughter in Texas might be and try to get a copy of the relevant documents. Anyone??? Help???
Ther is one other document that indicates the truthfulness of the information. It is the sale of slaves listing that was made upon the death of Thomas B. Bransford in 1853.
It shows the sale of (Little) Hannah for $90 to Doc Kinnes(?)
It also shows the sale of Sam to W. F. Pedigo, as is listed in the first of the two accounts. This would seem to bear out the stories. I will continue this thread in the next post and talk about Materson’s children that were sold away as slaves prior to the end of the Civil War.
Edward Forrest Frank