Photo of Joe and Hazel Brannen 12/20/74
If you have read the background information leading up to this page, then you've got a pretty good picture of my grandfather's ancestry. Basically his forbears were from Alabama and Georgia, and his father was his first ancestor to come to Texas, where most of this branch of the family lives today.
Joe Brannen (no middle name) was my grandfather, and in order to prevent any confusion regarding this website, I need to point out that my name is Joe Brannen also. To confuse things further, my father's name is also Joe Brannen. So I'll try to make it clear when I say "Joe", exactly to which Joe I'm referring.
My grandfather and his wife, Hazel Dominy Brannen, had four children: Joe, Bennie, Jack, and Johnny. This website contains a separate web page for each of these four children and their families. Eventually, I may even make a separate web page for each of Joe's and Hazel's grandchildren as time passes and this branch of the Brannen family continues to grow. Because Joe and Hazel are now both deceased, along with one of their sons-in-law, my count shows that as of this date (November of 1999), including spouses and step-children, there are thirty-six surviving descendants on this branch of the family tree.
So I'll attempt to keep this information current and hopefully if I drop the ball, some other descendent of Joe and Hazel will pick it up and run with it. For each family member, I hope to maintain the minimum of the following information: name of parents, date and place of birth, residence, and when it occurs, date and place of death. In addition, I would love to keep a mini-biography of every descendent (education, employer, etc.), with photographs, but I will have to depend on information supplied by the descendants to support this.
Joe and Hazel Brannen with their descendents as of summer 1976
Back row: Joe G. Brannen, Joe T. Brannen, Johnny Brannen, Donald Walker, Jack Brannen, Jimmy Hazlett, David Brannen, John M. Brannen, Rebecca Brannen
Middle row: Carolyn Brannen, Jean Brannen, Betty Brannen, Bennie Walker, Vivian Walker, Osia Walker, Pat Brannen, ?
Front row: Brenda Brannen, Joe Brannen, Hazel Brannen, Janet Walker
Without further ado, I'll now present what information I have. Joe Brannen was the second child of Jasper A. and Della Rhoden Brannen. He was born September 8, 1899, just before the dawn of the twentieth century. At the time of his birth, the Wright brothers had not yet flown their first plane and men still thought that traveling at the speed of sound was impossible, but by the date of his death, man had walked on the moon and tamed the atom. So he lived during a time of rapid change in the world.
Joe's mother, Della, died in 1907, when Joe was just barely eight years old. So he and his siblings were reared by their grandmother Rhoden (known as "Grandma Rhoden") at Shady Grove, Texas, about 5 miles northwest of Pennington and about 10 miles southeast of Crockett, in Houston County, Texas. Get a map and check it out if you can't place it--it's along US 287.
Joe joined his father at a fairly young age in Pennington, Texas. Pennington has always been a rather small farming and ranching community, located between Crockett and Groveton, just on the Trinity County side of the Houston County / Trinity County line. (In fact, Joe's farm actually straddled the county line.) While Pennington was a booming little community up through the 1960's, it is very quiet today (I'd be inclined to call it a "ghost town").. And the Pennington school, where Joe's and Hazel's children were educated, consolidated with Groveton in the late 50's. (I know because I was one of the last bunch of kids to matriculate there.).
Photo of Joe Brannen as a young man
On September 19, 1924, Joe married Hazel Dominy. Hazel's parents were John Henry ("Papa John") Dominy and Annie Heidt ("Mama Dom") Dominy, and Hazel was born September 14, 1905, so she was just barely 19 at the time they were married. Her family all lived in Pennington, and at one time, her father, a rancher and farmer, also owned the same business that Joe's father, and subsequently Joe, later owned. This link will take you to a page with photos of Annie Heidt Dominy's descendents. This link will take you to a photo of Annie Heidt Dominy, her husband, and her children circa 1939.
Hazel Brannen, John R. Brannen, Joe T. Brannen, Jack Brannen, Joe Brannen, Bennie Brannen Walker (early 1940's)
As Quinton Brannen said in his Brannen History book, Joe was "endowed with his father's thriftiness as a farmer and businessman." He first succeeded as a farmer at Pennington, then went into business in Crockett, with his first cousin, Tom Rhoden. They subsequently sold the business and Joe bought his father's mercantile business in Pennington, while diversifying into the registered livestock business. The mercantile business continued to grow though the years, and in the early 50's Joe's sons and son-in-law took over the enterprise and named it "Brannen & Walker Farm Supply". (I can personally testify to this because I left many a gallon of sweat there, as we unloaded countless boxcars of feed, fertilizer, etc. over the years.)
When Joe turned the business over to the next generation, he focused his attention on ranching. My earliest memories of visiting my grandparents (and mind you, we just lived some three miles down the road from their home during the 50's) involved feeding cattle with Granddaddy or getting to play in the hayloft of his big red barn. Anyone who drove down U.S. 287 from Dallas, toward Beaumont, couldn't help but notice the big "Joe Brannen--Registered Polled Herefords" sign on the right side of the road, just past the Pennington turnoff, featuring a painting of a stout, Hereford bull.
He raised both registered polled Herefords and registered Angus cattle through the years. Buyers from all over the state knew him well and respected him for his honesty and fair dealings. Granddaddy was always a big supporter of the big Houston Fatstock Show and Rodeo, (now renamed "Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo" because "fat" has become an ugly word). Many a young cattleman got his first head of livestock by using money he won at the rodeo calf-scramble to buy one of Granddaddy's registered calves at a price significantly below his normal selling price. Granddaddy loved these smallish highland breeds of cattle, and I can still remember him giving me a hard time when I hauled a Brahma bull to his ranch (where at that time Dad and I were raising cattle of our own)--he said he never thought he'd see a Brahma on his property.
I remember that Granddaddy was also a proud member of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Groveton, and he always took that responsibility seriously.
He and Granny attended the First Baptist Church in Pennington.
But his greatest enjoyment through the years (next to his family) came from his cabin and lake which were only a mile or two from his home. He loved to keep the place looking clean and neat, and enjoyed showing visitors how his catfish would swarm to feed. Fishing was perhaps his number one hobby.
Joe lived a full, rich life, and died at the age of 83 on January 7, 1983, not many months after his first great-grandchild was born. I was honored to be a pall-bearer in his funeral and my memories of his funeral still make me proud to this day. The funeral was held at the Waller Chapel in Crockett and the interment was at the Pennington cemetery, on the road running from Pennington toward Lufkin, just outside the Pennington "city limits". What sticks in my mind was the fact that so many people showed up for the funeral, that there were probably as many people forced to stand outside as were actually able to enter the auditorium and hear the service. This is only a small indication of the respect he had in that portion of the state. I had many, many people come up to me that day and tell me of the great admiration they had for my grandfather and what a good man he was. As I said, I'm still proud to this day and honored to be his grandson.
Hazel Dale Dominy Brannen, or "Granny" as we all called her, was a very warm, strong, outgoing woman. A proud member of the Pennington Baptist Church. My memories of her include her taking her grandchildren camping at the lake at various times and teaching us all to "jerk perch" from the bank. Like Granddaddy, fishing was probably her number one hobby. I can remember her teaching us grandchildren many other lessons about the outdoors. An invitation to spend a few days at Granny's house was always cause for excitement. She was a truly great cook. She was always interested in family history--both her side and Joe's. She impressed upon us all the need to keep in touch with our relatives and to preserve their history. If I had to point to the one reason I'm trying to keep this history, it would be her.
After Granddaddy died, Granny continued to live at the ranch, near Pennington. She was a hardy woman, and never seemed to mind living on the ranch by herself. I can remember one time, driving up for a weekend visit to the country with my friend Amos, and as we arrived, she had a butcher knife in hand, cutting up a snake that had crawled into one of her bird houses. Amos couldn't believe that a woman in her 80's would have the fortitude to take on a big black snake with nothing but a kitchen knife. She wasn't afraid to use a shotgun either if some nocturnal critter came up around her home. Eventually, age forced her to move into Crockett in the early 1990's, and then, after a stroke, to a Crockett nursing home a few months prior to her death on November 26, 1993. She too lived a rich full life, and was excited to have enjoyed the births of many great-grandchildren before her death.
Between the years of 1925 and 1933, Joe and Hazel had four children. There is a separate web page at this website for each of these four children and their descendants. You can click on the links below the photograph to go to the pages for each of these children.
Bennie Walker, Jack, Johnny, and Joe Brannen (June 2001 Brannen Reunion)
Joe Thomas Brannen (8/12/25 - 10/1/02)
Bennie Ruth Brannen (7/17/27 - )
Jack Binford Brannen (9/15/30 - )
John Richard Brannen (10/9/33 - )
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