“Benjamin Franklin Brandenburg is a farmer and stock raiser and is one of the well known citizens of Dallas County, his post office address being Duncanville” according to the Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County in 1892. Benjamin Franklin Brandenburg was born in Lafayette County, Missouri, on October 27 , 1842. He was the seventh son, ninth child, of Absalom and Nancy Barker Brandenburg, a native of Kentucky. Grandfather Samuel Brandenburg was probably a native of Virginia and was the sixth son of Mathias Brandenburg who emigrated to America in 1741 from Germany.
Absalom and Nancy Brandenburg, who was the daughter of James Barker, a native of Kentucky and of English descent, emigrated to Missouri and located in Lafayette County. In 1847 Absalom and Nancy and eight children started for Texas, their outfit consisting of four wagons…two drawn by horses and two by oxen, and a spring wagon; they arrived in Dallas County in the fall of that year.
The Peters Colony of Texas records “Absalom Brandenburg migrated to the colony as a family man prior to July 1, 1848. He was issued a land certificate by Thomas William Ward in 1850 (Note: the record date May 13, 1850). The certificate was sold unlocated and was later patented in Dallas County. He is listed on the census of 1850, Dallas County, family No. 440, as a 51 year old farmer, born in Ohio, with 10 children and apparently the family came to Texas from Missouri.”
From Calvin Cole, Absalom Brandenburg purchased 257 acres, presently known as the Oak Lawn area. He improved the property and purchased other land until he owned 277 acres, on which he engaged in farming until his death in 1872 at the age of 73.
Benjamin Franklin Brandenburg was five years old when he came to Texas. He was reared on his father’s frontier farm and remained with him until the breaking out of the Civil War. Ben enlisted in February 1862 in Company C, Sixth Texas Cavalry, followed the fortunes of the Army in Tennessee and served until the close of the Civil War. He then returned to Dallas County and resumed farming on his father’s land.
Benjamin was married March 26, 1868 (Note: license signed by S. S. Jones and E. H. Daniel who united the pair) to Miss Sarah Josephine Merrifield, a native of Dallas County, Texas, and a daughter of William and Catherine Hickman Merrifield. Sarah Josephine ts parents came from Kentucky to Dallas in 1849 and purchased 320 acres of wild land (presently the Duncanville area). Her parents resided here the rest of their days. They had eight children who grew to maturity. Mr. Merrifield died in November of 1880; his wife in 1882.
After the death of his father in 1872, Benjamin moved to the old homestead and resided there nine years. In 1883 after his wife’s parents died, Ben and Jo moved to the Merrifield place near Duncanville with their family. By 1892, they owned 575 acres of improved land, all in a high state of cultivation. His chief products were wheat, oats and corn.
Grandchildren recall Ben F. as a rather tall and lean man who often wore a carpenter’s apron with pockets filled with all kinds of seeds which he planted anywhere he found a spot of land not being used. One grandson recalled the farm was plowed with a double disk plow drawn by mules and that it took a full half-day to plow around and complete the plowing of the outer row of the field. Other grandsons remember chopping cotton and hoeing and gathering corn and also remembered a particularly stubborn mule named Mandy. Ben had many fruit trees— peaches, pears and apples—and many pecan trees. Also, it is remembered that he raised watermelons around a straw stack. It was recalled that one son said they had popped corn at night and served it with pecans, calling it “bread and meat.”
Grandma “Jo” Brandenburg was a petite woman, quite stoop-shouldered in her latter life, who always had a host of diners for meals at her house. She served her big meal at noon (never really knowning how many to expect) and served a light meal at evening, often milk and bread. Her famous cornbread and fresh corn were baked on the old wood stove. Grandchildren recall that she often left something in the oven, offering enticing aromas upon entering the kitchen. All grandchildren knew they could expect something good to eat at their grandparents. It was often a delicious turkey sandwich.
Jo was an active homemaker. She would place clean cloths on the porch roof and was known to do the same on the tin roof of the barn and placed sliced fruit on them to dry. She kept a sharp look-out for turkey nests, necessitating her hiding to keep the turkeys from detecting her, or else they would not “nest”. Those eggs would be used to hatch. On Mondays, Jo would carry water from the well which was quite a distance away to fill the pot and boil the clothes after scrubbing them on the rub board; the clothes came out snowy white. One family member recalled a time when the men were butchering hogs and Grandma found a bug or two. The butchering was halted; Jo immediately stripped beds and washed everything; a very meticulous woman was she. A granddaughter recalls sleeping with Grandma on her big feather bed in the west room and being enthralled by her tales of her own childhood and life.
Fond memories of the grandchildren included walking in the woods to the west looking for black haws and little flowers called Johnny Jump-ups. Childlike, they made chewing gum out of residue from a gum-tree trunk.
The Brandenburg home was a festive family occasion at Christmas with a tall tree brought in from the near by cedar breaks. The tree reached to the ceiling, and the branches were strung with popcorn and cranberries with an uncle portraying Santa Claus. Another remembered occasion was a family reunion when a deep pit was dug and a whole beef was barbecued; someone remembered Aunt Cora ls most delicious pie, an apricot prune-nut pie.
Ben and Jo had ten children: William Henry who married Cora May Girard.; Herbert Walter (Hub) who married Floranette Hoge; Charles Lee who married Lillie Maud Hopkins; Lillie Katherine who married Henry Hood; Jim Franklin (later killed in an accident) who married Mary Pearl Perry; Jesse James who married Mary Pearl Perry Brandenburg; Oscar Marion who died at 20 years of age after falling from a pecan tree; Maude who married T. B. Caruth; Susie Alma who married Frank Gallagher Hood; and Glenorath who married Lawrence Homer Ferguson.
The family home was built in the mid 1880’s and was a beautiful, large, 2 storied, white house. This house has been the home of several families in the ensuing years and is presently a family residence that bears a remarkable exactness to the original structure and is of interest to historical architecture.
By Henry Brandenburg for Dallas County Pioneer Association‘s Proud Heritage.