Thewinter of 1842-43 in Lake County, Ind., was called the "hard winter," and one that would be long remembered. Many cattle starved to death.
In November 1842, pioneer William Wells perished with the cold while returning home from the mill in a severe snow storm. There was thaw in January 1843, and February became severely cold for many days, and forage for cattle was scarce.
These are the weather conditions that welcomed Pioneers James Brannon and Amos Brannon, early settlers of 1843.
James Brannon a well known and highly respected farmer of Lake County, came to the area at the age of 24. He was born in Summit County, Ohio, in July of 1819, the son of William Brannon and Lucinda Loveland Brannon. William was a native of Pennsylvania and Lucinda was born in Vermont.
When his father died in 1828, James went to live with an uncle, and remained until he was 16 and started out on his own. He earned eight dollars a month at farm labor. Part of his time was spent in Ohio as a member of an independent military company where he took part in drills which were common at the time.
James managed to save enough money to come to Indiana, establishing his home in Lake County. He first owned a farm of 80 acres to which he soon added 40 acres. He later sold that property and bought a soldier's land warrant, securing 160 in West Creek township in 1850.
He was an energetic, practical and progressive farmer, adding more land until he was the owner of 750 acres of valuable farmland. Well known in the area as an honored pioneer settler and agriculturist, he served as trustee of West Creek township for 20 years.
James was married to Eleanor Foster in May, 1851. Eleanor was born in Bradford County, Pa., in 1832, the daughter of Elijah D. and Jemina Nichols Foster. Elijah was born in Massachusetts and came to farm in the West Creek area in 1843. He had two sons by his former marriage, both of whom were early settlers of Lake County, A.D. Foster and George Foster.
James and Eleanor Brannon were the parents of five children: Lucina, who married William E. Belshaw; Julia, who was married to Timothy A. Wason; William Perry, who lived in North Dakota before returning to this area; Dr. George D., who practiced at Crown Point, Ind.; and Dr. Melvin, who was chancellor of the University of Montana.
The author of this column can remember listening to exciting stories of the West told by William "Perry" Brannon, a man who a small boy, this writer, was happy to have for his friend.
James Brannon witnessed the greater part of the growth and development of this portion of the state, and was able, in his later years, to relate many interesting incidents concerning pioneer life. He died in 1898, at the age of 79.
Amos Brannon, a brother of James, was born in Summit County, Ohio, in 1821. When his father, William, died in 1828, Amos stayed with his mother in Ohio until he was 22 years old. In the spring of 1843 he came to Porter County, Ind., but in the fall of the same year he came to Lake County. He purchased a wild and unimproved tract of land in West Creek township. He worked hard to improve this land until he sold it and purchased an adjoining farm of 240 acres. This he also improved, using the big sod breaking plows pulled by oxen, and transforming wild land into rich and productive fields.
On Sept. 18, 1844, Amos married Sallie Taylor, who was born in Erie County, Pa., in 1827, the daughter of Calvin and Mary Ann (Nugent) Taylor.
The Taylors had come to Porter County in 1834 with many of the early pioneer settlers.
Brannon twice supported Abraham Lincoln for the presidency, and according to historian Ball, had "an honorable, active, and useful career." He continued farming until 1885, when he retired and moved to his comfortable residence on the present West Main Street in the Town of Lowell. He was another early pioneer who bravely faced all the hardships and dangers of frontier life.
Milo Brannon, son of pioneer Amos, is still remembered by some of the people of Lowell, as he was the man in charge of the water pumping station on Liberty St.
Milo's son, Amos III, was well remembered in the 1920's by this writer, as a clerk at the Lowell Mercantile Co. on Commercial Ave., where Hitzeman Haus is now located. He later became an established businessman as an insurance agent. Late in life he was married to Beulah Plummer.
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