SOURCE: History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties. (Chicago, IL: Lewis, 1893), p. 466 &467.
W. P. Branch - The warp and woof of historical narrative is made of facts and no retiring dislike for the world's plaudits, therefore, should be allowed to shade one's virtues of character. Yet when these veil themselves in a sensitive shrinking from the glare of public gaze it is sometimes very difficult to do one justice in a personal notice like the present, especially when the biographer is compelled in some degree to depend on the man himself for much of his personal history. William P. Branch, who for nearly twenty years has been a resident of Rockdale and whose business career, and in fact, the greater part of whose life has been identified with the history of the place, is one to whom the foregoing observations apply with some force.
Mr. Branch is a native of Virginia, having been born near Petersburg in 1851 and is a son of Robert H. and Martha Branch, both of whom were natives also of the Old Dominion. The boyhood and youth of the subject of this sketch were passed on his father's farm, where, in the intervals of his labor as an assistant in the duties about home, he received the elements of a common English education. The late Civil war, which wrought such havoc in the fortunes of so many of Virginia's best people, brought to the family of the subject of this notice its relative proportion of sorrow and disappointment, and changed in many essentials the plans of the father with respect to the future of his sons.
William P. Branch early decided on a career for himself, and at the age of seventeen, in 1872, left home and went to New York city, where he entered a boot and shoe house, in which he became cashier and bookkeeper, a position which at once ushered him into the world of business and brought him much valuable experience. He remained in New York four years, when in 1872, he turned his attention to the "New Southwest," then just entering on the era of development which has since marked its progress. From 1872 to February 1874 he resided near Palestine in Anderson county, this State. Where he was engaged in the mercantile business. On the completion of the railroad to Rockdale, on the date last mentioned, he settled here and this has since been his home. He started with the town being on the site early enough not only to "get in on the ground floor," as the saying goes, but to start on the ground itself, since there were but few buildings in the place when he came. From that date until the present his fortunes have been linked with those of the town, prospering with its general prosperity and losing by its reverses and disasters. For a number of years he was engaged in the general mercantile business, but about 1882 changed to furniture, and in the past ten or eleven years he has built up one of the largest trades in this line in Milam county. He also has a branch house at Taylor, which was established about the same time the one at Rockdale, and which does a large and successful business. Mr. Branch gives his attention exclusively to his business interests, never having been identified with any outside enterprises except the Rockdale bank, of which he was for about two years cashier. He has, however, contributed to local enterprises financially and assisted in person in getting them on foot. Whatever is calculated to stimulate the industry or promote the general welfare of the community in which he resides he is willing to help in proportion to his means and does so cheerfully. Like most new towns Rockdale suffered severely in former years by fires, and a number of its citizens lost at different times a large share of their earnings. Mr. Branch being one of this number, and having probably sustained heavier losses than any other man in the town. But he has survived these financial disasters, and, maintaining an abiding confidence in the future of the town, he has reared upon the ruins of his former establishments his present splendid business interest.
In January, 1877, Mr. Branch married Miss Ella V. Rogers, then of Rockdale, a daughter of Rev. O. F. Rogers, who moved to Texas from Booneville, Mississippi, where Mrs. Branch was born and reared. Mr. and Mrs. Branch have a pleasant home and lend their aid to the best social interests of the town, as well as to its moral and religious interests.
We must say a special thank you to Sylvia Thomas of Georgetown, Texas, for typing the above biographical sketch for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.
Created on 21 May 2004 and last revised on ____________