Grave-Marking Ceremony -- John Branner
September 9, 2006 Forestville, VA
(L) The Color Guard marches in. (R) The SAR Marker for John Branner is dedicated.
The Colorguard presents colors for the Pledge of Allegiance
(L) Compatriot Andrews speaks about his supplemental patriot John Branner. (R) Rev. James Griffes delivers the Benediction
Biography of John Banner - Private Dunmore County Militia, 8th Virginia Regiment of Foot
John Branner was born August 12, 1752 in Indianfield, PA. He was the son of Gasper Branner and his wife Catherine Zirkle Branner. A short while later the family moved to an area known as "the Forest", now Forestville, VA. John and his father Gasper were farmers and they worked 400 acres received as a land grant in 1760 from Thomas the 6th Lord Fairfax.
John married Catherine Harpien July 26, 1773. Together they had 8 children, the first child Phillip being born in 1775 and the last child Johannes being born in 1791. In the early years, the Branner family attended Roeders Lutheran Church a few miles south at Timberville. The first and second pages of the Baptism Records of this church lists the baptisms of their children and show John's parents, his siblings and his mother-in-law as sponsors.
In 1775, the Committee of Safety for Dunmore County established a militia for the general defense. The List of Men's Names of the Dunmore County Militia under the Command of Captain Jacob Holman dated May 29th, 1775 lists John Branner and his father Gasper.
In early January 1776, the militia was called out to join the 8th Virginia Regiment of Foot under the command of the fighting Parson, Colonel John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg. The Regiment promptly left for coastal South Carolina to meet British advances there. The unit was stationed near Fort Moultrie and saw action there against Generals Clinton and Cornwallis.
The swampy climate took its toll on the men of the regiment and fully one-half of them became seriously ill. Many of these men were brought back to Woodstock to be tended to by local people. A short while later, the rest of the regiment was marched north to join General Washington's Army in Pennsylvania. The unit saw action at Brandywine, Georgetown and Monmouth.
A most notable occurrence involving the 8th Virginia happened at the Battle of Brandywine. The Continental Army outnumbered, was driven back in a frontal assault. Their right flank was about to crumble. The 8th Virginia was on the right flank and faced with superior numbers and fire power began to fall back.
The General Marquis de Lafayette, in his first action after being commissioned a General arrived on the scene, dismounted and led the 8th Virginia in a countercharge that stemmed the advance. Lafayette was shot in the leg, but refused to leave the field earning the gratitude and admiration of the men. This brave action gave the Continental Army time to execute an orderly withdrawal. It is unknown whether John Branner was in the Pennsylvania Campaign or was taken ill and returned home. It is our preference to honor him for the former as well as the latter.
In 1781, the Continental Congress authorized the Commissar to purchase supplies from the surrounding countryside to furnish to the Continental Army. A certificate was issued to John Branner on October 28th, 1781 for receipt of one beef weighing 385 pounds and is recorded in the Shenandoah County Public Claims.
As Forestville grew, a new church was built just outside of town known as Solomon's Lutheran Church. The original subscription list for the church in 1793 shows John's mother Catherina as a widow and also records John's contribution of 18 shillings.
John inherited his fathers lands and lived there until his death on April 30th, 1837 at the age of 85. His wife had preceded
him in death by 20 years. He and his wife both rest at Solomons Lutheran Cemetery in Forestville.
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