BENJAMIN F. BRANHAM,
Sheriff of San Jose 1883-1887
real estate dealer, No. 50 South First Street, San Jose,
has been a resident of California since 1846, and of San Jose for the same
period. Born in Callaway County, Missouri, July 25, 1845, he was brought by his
parents, in the following year, to California, crossing the plains and learning
to walk while on that trip.
He attended at first a private school, and later the public schools of San Jose, completing a course later at the San Jose Institute, under the management of Freeman Gates. In 1865, at the age of twenty years, he graduated in the Commercial Department of that institute. Previous to this he had worked at times on his father's ranch, and had been engaged in herding sheep in the mountains and in the Santa Clara Valley for his father. The familiarity with the surrounding country gained by this experience was later of much value in his official career. In 1868 he was appointed Deputy County Treasurer under P. O. Minor, and served until the close of the latter's term, in March, 1870. In 1871 he went into El Dorado County to take charge of a mine, which he managed for a mining company for three years. From that place he went to Lassen County, where his father owned mining interests, and engaged in mining until 1874, when these mines were abandoned. He then returned to Santa Clara County, leased his father's ranch, and conducted it for two years. He was then appointed Under-Sheriff, by N. R. Harris, in which capacity he served until March, 1880, when Sheriff Harris went out of office. In June, 1880, he was appointed bookkeeper for the San Jose Savings Bank, which position he filled until November, 1880, when the bank commenced retiring from business. In 1881 he took the position of clerk and assistant bookkeeper in the Mariposa Grocery Store, on Market Street, San Jose; this place he held until after his nomination and election as Sheriff, which position he assumed in January, 1883. He was re-elected to this office in 1885, holding it until January, 1887, being succeeded in that year by the present incumbent. He then engaged in the real-estate business, in which he is still occupied.
In 1879 he was
married to Mrs. Mary A. Walsh, a native of Maryland. To this marriage has been
born one child. Charles E., born in June, 1881. Mr. Branham has always been an
active supporter of the Democratic party, which has twice honored him with its
nomination and suffrages. In being elected to the shrievalty of Santa Clara
County on the Democratic ticket, it has always required support from individual
Republicans, that party being largely in the majority. This support has been
given freely to Mr. Branham, not only in recognition of his own sterling
integrity and good qualities of heart and head, but also as an evidence of the
high esteem and popularity in which his father and the family have always been
held by the people of this county, without regard to political affiliations. Mr.
Branham, while Sheriff, was largely instrumental in arresting and bringing to
justice several murderers, against whom the evidence was at first apparently
meager, but who later received the gallows as the reward for their crimes.
During his adminisstration of the office of Sheriff the escape of important
criminals was practically unknown.
Pen Pictures From The
Garden of the World or Santa Clara County, California, Illustrated.
- Edited by H. S. Foote.- Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1888.