Benjamin Bransford

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Benjamin Bransford, retired merchant and tobacco manufacturer, was born Dec. 1, 1819, in Cumberland County, Va. His family is of English origin, his great-grandfather being the first to emigrate to America, settling, probably, at Jamestown, Va. The family subsequently removed to Buckingham County, where his father, Benjamin Bransford, was born, who afterward removed to Cumberland County, where he married Miss Lucy Hatcher, daughter of an old Virginian family, and was a planter by occupation. Benjamin and Lucy Bransford raised a large family of children of which the subject of this sketch is the youngest. His ancestors on both sides were long residents in, and respectably connected with the first families, of Virginia. His education was acquired in the common schools; and, rejecting his father’s offer, to pursue a collegiate course, he left Virginia and came to Kentucky, with the view of engaging in the tobacco business. His cousin, W.H. Bransford, had erected a tobacco factory at Owensboro in the spring of 1838, and there he joined him, bringing from Virginia a number of experienced stemmers. He actively assisted in the management of the establishment until the factory was destroyed by fire, in 1850. He then accepted a salaried position with H. Kerr & Co., in the same business. In the fall of 1852 he took charge of the factory of J.A. Dunlap & Co., remaining until 1856, when he formed a partnership with Samuel W. Wing, with the purpose of carrying on a general dry-goods and tobacco business, he managing the tobacco interests of the firm. In 1852 he embarked in the tobacco trade on his own account, continuing with energy and success until the year 1873, when he retired to private life. His career as a business man has been one of great credit to himself, and, during his long connection with the tobacco business, he witnessed great development in the trade, there being at the time of his arrival in Owensboro but one factory in operation, where there are now nineteen, and in this growth he bore a prominent part. In 1872 he was elected Mayor of Owensboro, discharging the duties of that office with great credit and acceptability. At various times he has served as member of the Town Council; was instrumental in organizing the Ohio Telegraph Company, and was its only president during its existence; was a member of the first Board of Directors of the Evansville, Owensboro & Nashville Railroad, and in various ways has been conspicuous in developing the growth of Owensboro and surrounding country. At the beginning of the civil war, when the schools of Owensboro were in a sadly demoralized condition, he founded Bransford Female Institute, and, at an expense to himself of about $35,000, built the institution, and kept it in successful operation for six years. In politics he remained with the old Whig party till its final dissolution, and was actively interested in the election of General Harrison, in 1840; but after the commencement of the civil war he identified himself with the Democratic party, and, while sympathizing with the South, took no active part in the Rebellion. He is connected with the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and has always been prominently interested in all enterprises looking to the substantial benefits of the community. His life has been characterized by great liberality, integrity, and public enterprise, deservedly meriting and receiving the confidence and esteem of the community of which he has so long been a valuable member. Mr. Bransford was married in 1846 to Mary E. Athey, a native of Louisville, whose parents removed to Daviess County in 1844. They have reared a large family of children.

Source: History of Daviess County, Kentucky. Chicago: Interstate Publishing Co., 1883. Print.