William Brannan

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Immigrant 1776-1783

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William Brannan was apparently born in England. His daughter Betsy reported in the 1880 census that her father was born in England, and her mother in Ireland. William was fighting with the British during the American Revolution. The facts of his service are subject of current research, and some controversy. He may have been captured by the forces of General Richard Montgomery in the campaign against the British General Sir Guy Carleton along the St. Lawrence River. If so, he was captured and imprisoned at York, PA. There is record in PA Archives of a William Brannan so captured & imprisoned.
However, the long-standing tradition in the family of Pat Moser, descendant of William's son Thomas Branand (see Moser source, below) is that our ancestor fought with Cornwallis, escaped from prison and changed his name to Brannan. This would mean that the William Brannan of the war records is not the same person (although our ancestor may have known him - he chose the name from somewhere). It is also suggested that "York" as the prison sight may be erroneous, as Cornwallis was not at York, but was at Yorktown, Virginia.
During the Revolution, the Americans had no money for feeding and supporting the prison population, so during the planting season they were loaned out to area farmers to assist on the farms. This arrangement pleased the farmers and they complained when government officials decided a stricter watch and re-imprisonment was needed. It is not known whether our ancestor was on some such work release program, but he did supposedly escape from prison and made his way to the relative wilderness of western Pennsylvania where he changed his name from whatever it had been, to "William Brannan".
The spelling is seen also as Branand, and his daughter Elizabeth changed it to Brandon. Whether any part of this name reflects his origins, perhaps his own given name or some surname from his parentage, is unknown.
He moved from place to place in western PA , finally settling in Slippery Rock Twp., Butler County when he was of rather advanced age, probably 60 to 70 years.
Sources: [9][10]

Date Location Notes Sources
Birth possibly 1750-1760 England [3][5][6][8]
Marriage To Susannah Hines [6]
Death 1843 [12]
Burial 1843 Wolf Creek Cemetery, PA Stone reading "W.B." next to the graves of the Thomas Branand family

Ancestry chart segment

 Generation 6             Generation 7          Generation 8
                                            +-- [unknown]
                                            |   (????-????)
                      +-- William Brannan --+ 
                      |   (<1760-1843)      |   
 Elizabeth Brandon ---+                     +-- [unknown]
 (1792-1879)          |                         (????-????)
                      +-- Susannah Hines



(all children with Susannah Hines)

Name Gender Date of Birth Birthplace Spouse Notes Sources
Elizabeth "Betsy" Brandon F 1792 Richard Hines, Jr. Direct line; buried Wolf Creek Cem. [5][7][11][12]
Mary Ann "Polly" Branand F Isaac Cornelius buried Wolf Creek Cem. [11][12][13][15][16]
Susannah Branand F Joseph St. Clair [11][12]
Thomas Branand M 29 Jan 1797 1) Mary Burrows
2) Mary Ann Reed
buried Wolf Creek Cem. [4][12][13]

Places of Residence

Location Dates Notes Sources
England birth in 1750's [6]
America between 1776 -1783 Fought with British (Cornwallis) in Revolution [6]
Westmoreland Co, PA escaped from Revolutionary War prison camp [6]
Scott Twp, Lawrence Co, PA ~1803 [6][8]
Worth Twp, Butler Co, PA after 1803 [8]
Slippery Rock Twp, Butler Co, PA by 1820 -death in 1843 [1][2][3][4][12]


Gravestones of William Brannan and wife Susannah, Wolf Creek Cemetery, Worth Twp Butler Co PA


Ref. Num. Description Image of original

0 1800 United States Federal Census, Elizabeth, Allegheny Co., PA, Ancestry.com pg.3.

Family of Wilm Branan: 1 male 45 & over, 1 male under 10, 2 females under 10, 1 female 26-44. Could correspond to William, his wife Susannah Hines, and their three oldest children including Thomas and Elizabeth.

1800 Census PA Allegheny Elizabeth p3.jpg
1 1820 United States Federal Census, Slippery Rock Twp., Butler Co., PA, Ancestry.com pg.3. Family of William Brandon: 1 male 45 & over, 1 female 16-26, 1 female 45 & over. May corresponds to William Brannan & wife Susannah, & probably youngest daughter Susannah Brandon.
1820 census pa butler slippery rock pg 3.jpg
2 1830 United States Federal Census, Slippery Rock Twp, Butler Co, PA, page 5. Family headed by Richard Hanes: 1 male <5, 2 males 5-10 , 1 male 10-15, 2 males 15-20, 1 male 40-50, 1 male 70-80; 1 female <5, 1 female 40-50, 1 female 70-80.
Corresponds to the family of Richard Hines Jr.: sons Isiah, Elijah & George, Thomas, (Alexander absent);Richard Hines Jr.; daughters Mary E., Eleanor,& an unknown female age 20-30; wife Elizabeth Brandon. The older couple ages 80-90 are perhaps the Brannans (William Brannan & wife Susanna, parents of Elizabeth Brandon.)
1830 census pa butler slippery rock pg 5.jpg
3 1840 United States federal Census, Slipperyrock Twp, Butler Co, PA, page 5. Census is not dated. Family of Thomas Brandon: 1 male <5, 1 male 10-15, 1 male 40-50, 1 male 80-90, 1 female <5, 2 females 5-10, 2 females 10-15, 1 female 40-50.
This corresponds to the household of Thomas Branand, son of William Brannan, as follows: son Thomas D. <5, son William 10-15, Thomas Branand 40-50; male 80-90 see below; dau. Margaret E. <5, dau.s Rebecca & Elizabeth 5-10, dau.s Mary & Jane 10-15, and wife Mary Ann Reed.

Notes: 1)The older male age 80-90 may be William Brannan, father of Thomas Brannan/Brandon. (If so, William was born in the 1750's and his wife, Susannah Hines, would have died before 1840).
2)However, see also in Slippery Rock Twp, 1840 census, the household of Richard Hines, Jr. & wife Elizabeth Brandon. The older couple living with them is possibly her parents, William & Susanna Brannan. It is apparently not Richard Hines, Sr.,as he is apparently in the 1840 census living with his unmarried son & daughters George, Jane & Eleanor Hines.) 3) This leaves the father of Mary Ann Reed, (wife of Thomas Branand), as possibly the older male in their household.

1840 census pa butler slipperyrock pg 5.jpg
4 Gravestone transcription, Wolf Creek Cemetery, Worth Twp, Butler Co. PA. by Helen McCandless Staiger, 1988, and by Elizabeth Wilson Williams, June 2007.
  • "W. B.".
  • "Sus.....nnan; W.....d; t.....e." (The stone of his wife Susanna has the center area spalled away.)
    These two stones stand next to the plot of their son Thomas Branand
    Directly behind these two stones is the plot of the Thomas Brannan family:
  • Thomas Brannan died Oct 13, 1872 aged (77?) yr, (*8?) m, 14d.
  • Mary Ann Reed wife of Thomas Brannan died (Mar?) 10, 1866 aged (67y 7m 9d).
  • Thos. Brannan died Mar. 1, 1856 aged 20 yrs 3 mos.
  • William Brannan died July 9, 18(15), Aged 18y 10m 24d.
5 1880 United States Federal Census Mortality Schedules, Brady Township, Butler County, PA, Enumeration district 30, Page 1, Line 4, lists Elizabeth Hines as having died in Oct 1879 at the age of 87. She was a widow. She was born in PA, her father was born in England, her mother was born in Ireland. She lived in Butler County for 80 years. The cause of death was suide[?] gangrene
Mortality Schedule-ElizabethBrandon.jpg
6 20th Century History of Butler and Butler County 1909, by McKee, p. 659 biographical sketch. William Brannan was born in England in 1775, member of the King's Life Guard Regiment under Cornwallis, taken prisoner at York, PA, escaped to Westmoreland Co. There he married Susannah Hines. In 1800 moved to Scott Township, Lawrence Co. (See complete text)
7 20th Century History of Butler & Butler County PA1909, by James McKee, p. 861-862, biographical sketch of George W. Hines, gives his grandparents Richard Hines and Elizabeth Brandon (Complete text)
8 History of Butler County PA, 1883 by Waterman, Watkins & Co, Chicago, p. 331. William Brannan, an Englishman, came from Washington County to the northeastern part of Lawrence County in 1803, thence he removed to farm in Worth Township, and in 1845 his son Thomas settled in the northern part of this township, on a farm which William Carter had been occupying for some years. Thomas Brannan married, in this county, first Mary Burrows, and second, Mary Ann Reed. Names of children - Susan, Jame, William, Mary Elizabeth, Rebecca, Thomas D., Margaret E., Alzira and Isaac R. Mary, Elizabeth, William and Thomas D. are dead.
9 Patricia Moser research & family tradition, personal correspondence; see Contributors.
Family tradition had it that
  • the person we know as William Brannan fought with Cornwallis,
  • was captured and held as a prisoner of war,
  • but escaped and changed his name to William Brannan.
    Moser noted that "Whereas the 1909 Butler County History had William Brannan fighting at York, PA, Cornwallis fought at Yorktown, VA. This is probably the correct site of William Brannan's capture." If he did indeed change his name, then his original name is untraceable.
10 PA Archives Series I vol. 8,p. 343 Letter of 1780 to Pres. Reed of the Board of War, regarding the practice of allowing prisoners of war, both British & German, to work with local farmers during the past winter, as rations were scarce at the prison. All had at time of writing been ordered back into confinement, but the farmers were unwilling to relinquish their services, and other prisoners "have escaped from their places of confinement and are scattered thro' the country, where some of them doubtless mean to fix their abode." (See full text)
11 Will of Mary Cornelius extract. Mary Cornelius of Worth Twp., Butler Co., PA, names sisters Susannah St. Clair & Elizabeth Hines, sister-in-law Margaret Cornelius. Executor S. M. Cornelius. Signed 3 July 1868, filed 16 Feb. 1870.
Contributed by personal correspondant Ann Badger.
12 Will of William Branand, Butler Library Wills Abstract Series B-267 1843.
William Branand, Slippery Rock Twp., Butler Co. PA names son Thomas, daughters Betsy Hines, Polly Cornelius, Susannah St. Clair. Executor, son Thomas Branand. Witnesses James I. Hogue, Joseph Kelly, William McNees. Signed 5 Dec. 1840. Filed 11 Dec. 1843.
Full text: daughters receive one dollar each; son Thomas receives all real estate and remainder of personal property.
(See full text)
Will of Wm Branand 1840.jpg
13 Butler County Cemetery Invertory, Wolf Creek Cemetery
Cornelius, Isaac died 05-03-1836, Maryland Minute Co. Reg.; Mary Cornelius, no dates.
Thomas Brannan died 10-13-1872 aged 75y 8m 14d; Mary Ann Reed, Wife of Thomas Brannan, died 08-30-1866 aged 65y 5m 6d
14 Personal correspondence from Elizabeth Wilson Williams
15 Book: West Liberty Cemetery,Brady Township, Butler County PA, 1966 by Dwight Cooper, RD #1 Box 100, East Harlansburg Rd., New Castle PA 16101.
"West Liberty was surveyed Feb. 13, 1829. In 1845 John and Jacob Covert resurrected the village. When the plat was recorded in 1847 the lot owners were James Vogan, James J. (sic) Hoge (see source notes), Charles Coulter, Robert Campbell, Conrad Snyder, John Stephenson, John Fagan, John Craig, John Covert, William McCanon, William McClymonds, David McJunkin, John Boyle, Thomas B. Evans, and Isaac Cornelius. The place at one time was known as Bulger which was the name of the post office."
16 Butler County Cemetery Inventory, Vol. 2 North Central Twps., Wolf Creek U. P. Cemetery.
  • Cornelius, Isaac, died 05-03-1836 Maryland Minute Co. Reg.; Mary (no further entry)
  • St. Clair, Mary, daughter of J. & S. St. Clair, died 04-03-1845, (aged?) 15/-/9
17 Nancy Dobbins research & correspondence, 2009 - ongoing.
  • PA Archives has W. Brannon as a British soldier taken prisoner along the St. Lawrence River, captured by the forces of General Richard Montgomery. Held in the prison at York PA.
  • PA Archives, unknown Vol., pg. 415. British Prisoners; Captain Gordon's Regiment: Will'm Brandon 11th December, 1775 Inlisted.
  • Undocumented note: transcript of property in Hempfield Twp., Westmoreland Co. 1783 lists Wm Brannan, 2 horses, 1 cattle.
  • Undocumented note: Susanna Hines born Westmoreland Co. PA

Source notes

A major question regarding the war record for William Brannan exists, a disparity between the family recollections of descendants of his son Thomas Branand, and records found in the Pennsylvania Archives and in the 1895 History of Butler County PA.

  • Regarding the PA Archives records found for W. Brannon /Will'm Brandon, which point to his having been captured along the St. Lawrence and imprisoned at York, we have to ask whether these two names indicate the same individual, and if so, whether that individual is the same person as our ancestor, keeping in mind that our ancestor was said to have "changed his name to William Brannan after his escape from prisoner of war status". (i.e., His name was not William Brannan during the period of his service to the British war effort).

If though these records do reflect our ancestor's war record, how could the family tradition be reconsiled? That he fought "with Cornwallis" could conceivably crept into the story as a generalized way of saying he fought on the British side, Cornwallis being perhaps the most widely known British general, and involved at the surrender. This however does not remove the problem of the name change, and how the new name would appear in the Archives war records, unless they are just coincidental and unrelated.

  • It is to be noted that there was a William Brandon, of Dutch ancestry, living in Butler County at the same time as William Brannan. William Brandon was born in New Jersey on 19 Jan 1756, * died 1826 on Wolf Creek near the Mercer Co. line. He enlisted 1 Apr. 1776 in the Continental Army, & served 1 yr & 9 mos. He participated in battles of White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, & Brandywine; granted a pension in 1824. Source: Revolutionary War Veterans Who Settled in Butler County Pennsylvania by Paul W. Myers, Closson Press, Apollo PA, 1985, pg. 1.
    William Brandon was one of first elders of Mouth of Wolf Creek church (organized 1808-09); now Slippery Rock United Presby ch. at Moore's Corners. Source: Souvenir History of Slippery Rock, PA, pg. 44.
    This William Brandon married in 1781 to Sarah Livingston of New Jersey, and located eventually on Wolf creek; they were parents of 6 children: John, William, Henry, James, Thomas, and Sally. William Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon, native of Ireland. Thomas was a great-grandson of Col. William Brandon who came from Holland to Fermanagh Co. Ireland in 1600. Source: 1895 History of Butler Co. PA , R. C. Brown & Co., pg. 1184.
  • William Brannan & wife Susanna, and at least 3 of their children are buried at Wolf Creek Cemetery. The gravesite for daughter Susanna & her husband Joseph St. Clair hasn't been located, but it appears that their daughter Mary was buried at Wolf Creek. (per Butler County Cemetery Inventory).
  • The middle initial of James I. Hoge has been miss-transcribed by various researchers. In the census and other script of that era, letters "I" and "J" are written identically. His name was James Irvin Hoge/Hogue; his mother was Mary Irvin.


  • Is Susannah Hines (from Westmoreland Co., who married William Brannan), related to the Richard Hines family? Elizabeth Brandon, (daughter of Susannah Hines & William Brannan), married Richard Hines, Jr., so the two families knew each other. It is possible there was some degree of kinship, not yet established. We do know that Susannah Hines Brannan was NOT the daughter of Richard Hines. This is an error found in many family trees on the web.
  • Inconclusive Census search results:
    • 1810 census, Butler Co., Slippery Rock Twp p. 32 - W. Brannan age 26-45; no others listed in household.
    • 1810 census, Mercer Co., Slippery Rock Twp - Wm Brannon, 1 M age 10-16, 1 M age 45 or+, 1F age 16-26, 1 F age 26-45
    • 1800 census, Mercer Co, PA, no Twp. William Branen 1 male <10, 2 males 10-15, 2 male 16-25, 1 male >44, 1 female <10, 1 female >45.
    • 1790 Census William Brannon in York Co (Mixed Twps) 1 male >16, 1 male under 16, 2 females


Per discrepancy between Sources 9 & 17 above:

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