Old Kentucky Divorce Case

09 Mar

Sorry it has been so long since I have had a chance to blog.  I have been quite busy with genealogy research these past few weeks.  Since folks count on me to help them break down their brick walls; that must always be my first priority.

Before I get started with my little story of the Kentucky Divorce case; I want to ask everyone to let me know about any genealogy subjects you might like me to blog about.  If there are specific areas of genealogy that you would like to learn more about; please let me know; and I will try to accommodate.

Since I needed a day of from research; I thought I would take this opportunity to do a little writing.  This comes from research of part of my personal research.  For many years now, I have been researching the descendants of my GGGGG grandfather, Barnabus Branham.  Barnabus was born about 1745 in VA.  He died sometime during the 1830’s in either Cumberland or Clinton Co., KY.  This blog will be about a great grandson of his.

James K.P.Branham was born 2 Jan. 1855, in Clinton Co., KY.  He was a son of Branabus Branham (not to be confused with his great grandfather, Barnabus) and Lovina Davis.  James was united in marriage to Amanda McWhorter, 21 May 1874, in the neighboring county of Russell.  Their marriage lasted only a few years.

While doing research at the Kentucky State Archives, in Frankfort, KY, several years ago; I found the divorce case of Amanda and James.  It gives many details; and tells of the disappearance of James.

Amanda filed for divorce from James on the 2nd day of September 1881.  In her original complaint, Amanda states (transcribed as is original) “she and the defendant James Branham were legally married in Russell County, KY on the 21st day of May 1874 and lived together as husband and wife until about the 28th day of January 1878 when the defendant without any cause or fault upon the fault of the plaintiff abandoned her and left the state of Kentucky and has ever since lived separate and apart from her and has made no provision for the support of the plaintiff and their infant child a boy six years of age .  The plaintiff states that the said cause of the divorce and abandonment occurred in Russell County Ky within five years last part.  She states that all the time of said separation and at the present time and for twelve months last part she has had a continuous residence in Russell County.  She states that the defendant is a nonresident of the State of Kentucky and his place of residence and post office address is not known to her.”

Although not yet divorced, James was found to have married Maude Canzada Morris on 16 May 1876, in Clay Co., TN.  It is interesting to note that Amanda’s own statement says that she and James lived together as husband and wife until “about the 2th day of January 1878.  This means that James married Maude 2 years before he left Amanda.

According to a deposition given by George W. Evens, James was accused of committing a robbery in the edge of Tennessee and “ran off from that and has never returned”.  He goes on to say that Amanda has lived at her father’s since then.

James and Amanda were the parents of Lewis Arthur Branham, who was born 18 May 1875, in Russell County.

James went on to have 10 more children with Maude Canzada Morris.  He was found on the Clay Co., TN census records of 1900 and 1910.  Only recently, I was able to find him on the 1920 census of Mississippi Co., AR.

There were always many questions regarding James K.P. Branham.  Finding that divorce record answered several of those questions.  It was always rumored by descendants of James; that he had committed some sort of crime, and ran off to Kentucky.  The deposition of George W. Evens, in the divorce, verified that.

An Interesting Point

As some of you may be aware; I run karaoke at our small local tavern here in Redkey.  Until recently, I ran karaoke there every week, for about 12 years.  Although I still run karaoke there; I now only do it once a month. Anyway….  The deceased husband of the lady that owns the tavern, was a great grandson of James K. P. Branham.  According to her (the tavern owner); her husband must not have known anything about his great grandfather, and the mystery surrounding him.

On A Personal Note

Spring is finally near; and I am looking forward to the warmer weather.  Paid for my membership to my favorite golf course today; and am even planning on playing 18 holes with my son, tomorrow afternoon (although it will only be about 50 degree).  I am ready to get the clubs out of the garage; and back into the trunk of my car; where they will likely remain until the end of October (except when they are on the back of a golf cart; of course).

We just helped my 24 year old son move out, and into a place of his own 2 weeks ago.  Although he lived on his own for a couple of years previously; he had moved back home over a year ago; and was ready to get back out on his own.  He found a nice little apartment (in a Tri-Plex); that is in a pretty convenient area for him.  He is only 7 miles from work; and about 20 miles from us.  He seems to be pretty content with his new place; and is working hard to afford living in his own place.  Of course we have tried to help him a little; picking up various items for his new place and such.

I hope everyone has a pleasant and enjoyable weekend.


Posted by on March 9, 2012 in General Genealogy


2 responses to “Old Kentucky Divorce Case

  1. David Dyer

    July 1, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Saddly, James K. Polk Branham wasn’t any more responsible to his second family. He was the only son of Barnabus (Barney) Branham of Albany Kentucky. After abandoning Amanda (and child) he went down the Cumberland River with his Albany, KY friend, Jefferson York,and married an illiterate, desperately impoverished,.16 year old Canzade Morris (and in doing so, became a bigamist). The family remained desperately impoverished and lived a tough life. He was best remembered by those who knew him as lazy, immoral, cruel and unfeeling and taken to violence against his defenseless family, especially when drunk. He did manage to produce a bakers dozen kids….which he also did not care for. I never heard of him having a regular job.

    I think Amanda McWorter was a lucky woman to be rid of him!

    James K. Polk Branham was my great Grandfather. My grandfather (his son with Cansade) never spoke a word to me about him. =DD=

    • digginbones

      July 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

      Hi David. Thanks for adding to the story. James K. P. was a difficult Branham to find. I am curious to know about the Jefferson York you mentioned. My 3rd Great Grandfather was a Jefferson York; whom was born about 1811 in Overton Co., TN; and moved to Clinton County. Of course he would have been nearly 55 years older than James K. P. So… I am sure you are speaking of another Jefferson; who was no doubt part of the same York family.


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