Ireland's ancient "septs" were very similar to Scottish "clans." Those groups from which the Bulloch County Brannen's are descended include the “O Braonain” and “Mac Branain” family groupings. The term "Mac" designated "the son of" while the term "O" designated "the grandson of" a ruling warrior.
The O’Braonains ruled northeastern Ireland's County Kilkenny, while MacBranains ruled Ireland's eastern County Roscommon. While some of the current descendants of these septs spell their name Brynan, Brynnan, Brenan, Brannan, and Brannion, most have settled on Brannen.
One of the earliest recorded announcements of this Irish emigration was printed in the Belfast News newspaper on Nov. 13, 1772. The author, Hugh Brannion, was one of the passengers aboard the ship the “Elizabeth,” which was preparing to leave for America.
The report stated that "the Passengers on board the Ship Elizabeth, Capt. Johnson, now Commander, and bound for Savannah in the province of Georgia, and now riding at Anchor in Belfast Lough … (have) been inhumanly treated on board of said Ship concerning Provisions and Room.”
There are four different paths written of how the Brannen families came to Bulloch County. In the first, genealogists Brannen and Brinson stated the Brannens "are descended from William, Hugh and Henry, who emigrated together from Ireland to America."
This version was seconded by famed genealogist Alvaretta Kenan Register, who wrote in her 1967 Kenan genealogy that "William, Hughey and John Brannen came from Ireland ... (and settled in) ... Screven County. Georgia.”
In the second version, Mrs. Julian Lane wrote that the Bulloch Brannens were descended from Major Thomas Alexander Brannen, who married Susanna Terrell (or Ferrell) and settled near Blitch on the Ogeechee River. Their sons were: Hugh, Thomas, Alexander, William and John.
The third version was one made famous in a 1950 pamphlet entitled "A Short History of the Brannen and The Donaldson Families.” It claimed that "The first Brannen came to the Scotch-Irish stronghold of Pennsylvania, and from there traveled through Virginia and then to Georgia."
The final version tells that Thomas Brannen, who lived in Craven County, South Carolina in 1771, later came to Bulloch County and started the Bulloch Brannens. This Thomas Brannen’s ancestors had lived in Maryland between 1690 and 1710.
Major Thomas and Susanna had five children: Hugh, John, Alexander, Thomas and William. Born in either 1745 or 1752. William is accepted as the primary Bulloch County Brannen ancestor. He took as his wife Elizabeth, who bore him at least twelve children.
These included Elizabeth, Solomon, Thomas Alexander, Sarah, William B., Mary, John, Hugh C., Lucretia, Cyrene, Edmund and Rhoda. Daughter Elizabeth married William Moore; Mary married John Allen; Cyrene married C. West Powell; Lucretia married Henry Smith; and Sarah married John Newsome.
Their sons followed suit. Solomon married Nancy Stanford, Thomas married Nancy Hendrix, William married Nancy Hodges, John first married Elizabeth Donaldson and then Emily Moore, and Edmund first married Jane “Jincy” Jones and then Fannie E. Powers.
There is a "Head Right" grant recorded awarding one William Brannon (sic) one hundred acres in Burke County in 1790. William and Elizabeth Brannen were members of the Nevils Creek Baptist Church in 1814. While they may have been buried at Lower Lotts Creek Church Cemetery, no grave markers have been found.
Roger Allen provides a brief genealogy monthly. Email Roger at email@example.com.