Biography of James H. Brannon

James H. Brannon, a pioneer of Grant County, established the first livery business in Milbank, South Dakota. Known for his well-directed energy and honorable methods, he has achieved prosperity in the farming, livestock, and livery industries. Born in Massachusetts in 1859, Brannon apprenticed as a cabinetmaker before venturing west. After facing setbacks, including a prairie fire that destroyed his farm, he erected the first livery and feed barn in Milbank. Today, he owns the largest barn and controls the county’s biggest livery business. Brannon is highly regarded for his geniality, courtesy, and prominent position in Grant County’s industrial, business, and civic affairs.

JAMES H. BRANNON is one of the sterling pioneers of Grant County. He is engaged in the livery business in the city of Milbank, where he established the first enterprise of this sort. He now conducts the largest livery in the county. He is also prominently identified with the farming and livestock industries in this section of the state. He has gained marked prosperity through his well-directed energy and honorable and straightforward methods.

Mr. Brannon has the distinction of being a native of the fine old Bay State of the Union. He was born in Princeton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on the 25th of November, 1859. He is the son of John and Margaret E. Brannon, both of whom died in Massachusetts. The father was a native of Ireland and came to the United States in his youth. He followed the vocation of a farmer for most of his life. This worthy couple became the parents of nine children. Three sons and three daughters are still living. The subject was raised in his native place and received his early education in public schools.

At the age of twelve years, he began an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking in Worcester, Massachusetts. He continued in this trade for four years. In the centennial year, 1876, he came west and spent a few months in Iowa. In the fall of the same year, he settled in the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he worked in a sash and blind manufacturing company for one year. In 1879, he arrived in Grant County, South Dakota, and claimed a homestead in Kilborn Township. He built a house on the property that same year. In the spring of 1880, he planted a crop and also harvested about forty tons of hay. However, while he was in Milbank, a prairie fire swept through his farm and destroyed everything, including his buildings and approximately seventy dollars in greenbacks that he had left in his house.

In 1880, Mr. Brannon erected the first livery and feed barn in Milbank. It was one of the first four buildings constructed in the village. Since then, he has made Milbank his home and continued in the livery business. He now owns the largest barn, has the best equipment, and controls the largest business in the county in this field. He is well-regarded and popular among the citizens of the county, being esteemed by all who know him. He is known for his geniality and courtesy.

Mr. Brannon is the owner of three hundred and twenty acres of valuable farming land near Twin Brooks in this county. He focuses on raising high-grade stock, with an average of about fifty head of graded Shorthorn cattle. He also has an interest in some fine standard-bred track horses and takes a keen interest in turf affairs. For the past eighteen years, Mr. Brannon has also been involved in the ice business in Milbank. He has garnered a representative patronage and has excellent facilities for producing and dispensing pure ice to his many customers. He is progressive, public-spirited, wide-awake, and energetic. He has achieved a prominent position through his own efforts in connection with the industrial, business, and civic affairs of Grant County. In politics, he aligns himself with the Republican Party. Fraternally, he is associated with the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen of America.

On the 14th of January, 1893, Mr. Brannon married Miss Mary W. Preston, a native of Connecticut and the daughter of Edward Preston. Edward Preston currently resides in Unionville, Connecticut. The couple has four children: Edith M., Roy J., Irene G., and Gladys E. The family home is an attractive residence in Milbank and is known for its hospitality. It is a favored gathering place for the wide circle of friends that our subject and his family have gathered in the community.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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