William Branham's Early Life

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    William Branham

    This account of William Branham's early life is based on both his recorded sermons and as many historical documents as we could find. Any statements that can be substantiated by written historical documents are referenced.

    Three Birthdays?
    Click here to learn more about William Branham's three birthdays.

    En Francais


    Charles Branham and Ella Harvey were both born in 1887. [1]. They were 20 years old when William Branham was born on March 10, 1907 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. [2] They were 21 years old when William Branham was born on April 8, 1908. [3] But his father was eighteen and his mother was fifteen years old when William Branham was born under an alignment of stars [4] on April 6, 1909 [5], when a pillar of light entered the shack and scared the midwife. [6]


    The Branham family moved from Kentucky to Indiana when William Branham was a young boy. William Branham claimed this was his first fulfilled prophecy. [7] Charles Branham was in trouble with the law at the time, which may explain why he used the name as “Brainon” on the 1910 census records.[8]

    William Branham’s father brewed his own moonshine and established a speakeasy in Indiana. While William Branham’s hatred for alcohol and women stemmed from this time of his life, he never stopped admiring the man who provided the booze and drew the crowd:

    My, I seen how they come when my daddy run that bootleg place. And I'd see women come there, young women, with somebody else's husband. And the way they would carry on…The only respect I had for any woman was my mother. And that's right. And I knowed she was a lady. I seen her set on the doorstep with the babies in her arms, and cry, and cry, and cry because she was locked out of the house. When my dad, which was a real man when he was sober. (William Branham, July 20, 1952)
    Nazarite Controversy
    Click to learn whether William Branham was under a Nazarite vow.]

    William Branham said that he received two visions as a young boy in Indiana. The first was when his father asked him to haul water for the moonshine operations. William Branham said that a voice spoke to him out of a whirlwind in a tree and said, "Never drink, smoke, or defile your body in any way, for I have a work for you to do when you get older." [9] By his own testimony, William Branham never drank alcohol in his life – other than in Church as part of communion.

    Who Died on the Bridge?
    Click here to learn more about William Branham's first false prophecy.

    En Francais

    William Branham also told of a second vision that happened a few weeks later when he was playing marbles with his brother. He said that he saw the construction of the Louisville Municipal Bridge being built across the Ohio River, and 16 men falling off to their death during its construction. He said the vision told him that this would take place 22 years from the time of the vision. [10] The Louisville Municipal Bridge opened on October 31, 1929 which means that this vision took place either before William Branham was born or while he was an infant.

    Teenage Years

    When William Branham was 14 years old, he was shot in a hunting accident, and spent several months in the hospital. His hospital bills were paid for by the Ku Klux Klan and the Masons. [11]

    Charles Branham broke horses for Otto Wathen, and later became his private chauffer. [12] Otto Wathen owned the R.E. Wathen Distillery as well as the Louisville Colonels baseball club. William Branham said that their family lived on Wathen’s residence for a time.

    When did Charles die?
    Click to discover whether Charles died when William Branham was a child.

    William Branham recalls that compared to other families, the Branham's were poor. At school his shoes were often torn, and he would sometimes wear a closed jacket when he had no shirt to wear. [13] William Branham also said that his father died when he was a young man, forcing him to drop out of school and become the bread-winner for the family. He did this successfully by hunting and trapping, where he learned to shoot straight in order to preserve costly ammunition.

    By 1926, (at the age of 16, 17 or 18) William Branham had enough money to buy a new Model-T Ford. [14] He also claimed to have been initiated as a hunter on a trip to New York’s Adirondack Mountains [15], and to have hunted as a young man in Maine with the famous naturalist Burt Caul (who he called “the most cruel-hearted person I ever seen”). [16] Through his teenage years William Branham did not want to have anything to do with God, or church. It was during this time that a fortune teller told him that he was born under a rare alignment of stars. [17] In 1928, he told his mother he was going camping in Green’s Mill, Indiana, and left to work as a ranch-hand in Arizona. [18] He returned after he received news that his brother Edward had died on June 20, 1929 at the age of 19. [19] Edward's funeral was taken by a close family friend, Rev. McKinney, who made a salvation call that William Branham refused. [20] William Branham was in Arizona during the time of the construction of the Louisville Memorial Bridge in 1929. As a result, he was not aware that Richard Pilton and Lloyd McEwan were the only two men who died during the construction of the Louisville Municipal Bridge, and that neither drowned.

    William Branham worked as a laborer digging ditches[21] , and as a collector for the Public Works Company in Jeffersonville in the early 1930’s. [22]

    Joining the Church

    William Branham said that he was overcome by fumes while checking meters at the Gas Works in New Albany in 1931. When he went to a specialist, however, he was told that he had appendicitis and had to have an operation. Afraid, he requested a minister from the First Baptist Church to stand by him. During the time of the operation, he promised to preach the Gospel if God would restore his health. William Branham said that after this experience, he went into a field to pray, and saw a vision of a light that formed a cross. [23] William Branham also said that he was converted in a Baptist Church [24], a coal shed [25], a saloon that had been converted into a colored Pentecostal church [26], and in a Jewish Hospital[27].

    Roy E. Davis & the K.K.K.
    Find out Roy E. Davis’ hidden secrets.


    One of the churches William Branham visited during his recovery was the First Pentecostal Baptist Church of Jeffersonville at 328 Watt Street, which was pastored by Rev. Roy Davis, a member of the Ku Klux Klan. It was here that William Branham first met Hope Brumbach (born July 16, 1913), who was a youth leader and speaker at the church, and a seamstress at the shirt manufacturer M. Fine & Sons. [28]

    William and Hope Branham

    Hope’s parents Charles and Hazel Brumbach divorced on November 1, 1931. Charles Brumbach quickly remarried to Grace Creigh February 15, 1932 and moved away from Jeffersonville to Fort Wayne, Indiana (a 3.5 hour drive from Jeffersonville on modern roads). [29]

    William Branham asked for Hope's hand in marriage after a sermon preached by Roy Davis after a Wednesday night sermon. They talked about it as they walked to her parent’s house from the church. William Branham said he stood on the porch of her parent’s home, Charles stopped playing the Victrola and came out to the porch. William Branham asked Charles if he could marry Hope while Hope remained inside and talked with her mother. [30]

    Roy Davis preached strongly about the Pentecostal revival, advertised regularly in the Jeffersonville Evening News, and wrote that William Branham received the Holy Spirit in his front room. Even though William Branham said that he did not join a church, it was at this time that he became an elder in the First Pentecostal Baptist Church, and was president of the PBYPU (Pentecostal Baptist Young People) in March 1933. [31]

    Early Signs of a Supernatural Ministry

    In 1932 when William Branham first prayed for the sick: a Mr. Merril and a Mrs. Mary Der Ohanion were both healed that year. [32]

    In June 1933, William Branham had his first evangelistic tent meetings, in which 14 people were converted. William Branham received front page news coverage for these meetings in the Jeffersonville Evening News. [33] William Branham distributed a tract saying that a light appeared in August 1933 when he was baptizing the 17th person on the Ohio River, while 3,000 people watched from the shore.

    The Ohio River Baptism
    Click to learn about the voice at the river.

    William Branham later said the newspapers reported that a light appeared while he was baptizing the 17th person on the Ohio River, while 10,000 people watched from the shore. [34] The population of Jeffersonville was only 12,000 people at the time. [35]

    William Branham at a baptism

    William Branham said that in June 1933, he experienced a series of prophetic visions foretelling major events up until the end of the world. William Branham describes these visions inconsistently, but in summary they are:

    1. Roosevelt would cause the whole world to go to war
    2. Mussolini’s last invasion would be into Ethiopia
    3. Hitler would rise to power, build the Seigfried line, and give the Americans a terrible beating.
    4. Fascism and Nazism would be swallowed up into Communism, which would destroy the Vatican.
    5. Cars will be shaped like an egg.
    6. American women would begin to dress immodestly.
    7. A cruel woman will rule the United States.
    8. America will be ashes from coast to coast.
    9. Don’t eat eggs or live in valleys.

    William Branham claimed to have started construction on the 'Pentecostal Tabernacle’ in Jeffersonville in 1933 before he was married (this later became known as the 'Branham Tabernacle').[36]

    However, the last advertisement for Roy Davis church in the Jeffersonville Evening News was on February 10, 1934, [37] and William Branham said he was the assistant pastor of Roy Davis’ church at the time it burned down. [38] Roy Davis then moved back to Texas, and William Branham started construction on his own church. The first advertisement for William Branham’s church, The Pentecostal Tabernacle, appeared in the Jeffersonville Evening News appeared on August 17, 1935.

    A Baptist Minister?
    Or a Pentecostal Minister? Click here to find out.

    William Branham told of a vision he had on the morning he was laying the cornerstone for his new tablernacle. The vision was of an orchard, with places for new trees on either side of an aisle leading to the cross. Plum trees were on one side, and apple trees were on the other side, and both types of fruit were found in the cross. William Branham was instructed to walk between these trees (which he identified as the Trinitarian and Oneness Pentecostals), and do the work of an evangelist, as both types of fruit were found in the cross. Later in his ministry he began preaching that the Trinity and Oneness doctrines were of the devil – in direct violation of this early vision.

    Is the Trinity OK?
    William Branham said it was, based on a vision.

    En Francais

    William Branham continued to work and preach, and married Hope Brumbach on June 22, 1934 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. [39]

    Already married, and a pastor of a Pentecostal church, William Branham travelled north to a town called Mishawaka, where he was received warmly by a group of mixed European-American and African-American Pentecostals. William Branham often said that these Mishawaka meetings were his first introduction to the Pentecostal people. [40] Without Roy Davis around to enforce his KKK agenda, William Branham began accepting a number of invitations to preach at various Oneness and mixed-race Pentecostal churches.

    The summer of 1935 was a whirlwind of events.

    Mishawaka Christians
    Who did William Branham meet?

    William Branham’s brother Charles died in an accident on August 5, 1935. Then Hope Branham’s mother remarried to John Cardwell on August 22, 1935. Soon after, Billy Paul Branham was born to William and Hope on September 13, 1935. The 1935 and 1937 city directory listed William Branham is pastor of the Pentecostal Tabernacle, and residing with his wife Hope at 430 Graham Street in Jeffersonville. [41]

    In 1936 William Branham said he was pressured by his mother-in-law not to accept invitations from Pentecostal Churches. How William Branham agreed to follow his mother-in-law’s advice is a mystery, because he was the pastor of a Pentecostal church at the time. What he did do was begin to refuse invitations from Oneness, colored and mixed-race Pentecostal Churches. [42]

    In the fall of 1936, William Branham claimed to have a vision that the Ohio River would flood, and reach 22 feet over Spring Street in Jeffersonville. [43] A daughter named Sharon Rose Branham was born to William and Hope Branham on October 27, 1936. A month later, William Branham’s father Charles passed away for real on November 30, 1936.[44] William Branham later said that he had terrible grammar because of his father’s early death.

    Tragedy and Recovery

    The Ohio Flood
    What happened when the Ohio river flooded

    The Ohio River flood lasted from January 5 to February 5, 1937. William Branham tells a story of how he left his Bible on the pulpit during the flood, and when he came back they found out that the pulpit had floated up during the flood, and rested on the same spot with the Bible still open and dry. [45] The newspapers, however, packed a story of the pews and pulpit rising and falling to a crest of 15 feet during the Ohio River flood in the First Presbyterian Church in Jeffersonville, because the wooden floor had loosed from the side walls. [46]

    Sharon Rose Branham, who died at 8 months old.

    William Branham tells how he lost contact with Hope during the flood, and found her dying in a hospital with a hole in her side to collapse her lungs. Hope's nurse was also a personal friend of the Branham family, and William Branham identified her as Hilda/Juanita/Evelyn/Louise Cook/Hale. He ties the story of Hope’s death so closely to the flood, that he makes is sound as if she died in February of 1937. [47] But Hope fought pneumonia for a number of months before passing away on July 21, 1937. Sharon Rose Branham also passed away from disease a few days later on July 26, 1937. [48] William Branham blamed the death of Hope and Sharon Rose on his decision to respect his mother-in-law’s request not to associate with Pentecostals. [49]

    William Branham relays little about the years after the death of his wife and daughter. He mentions that it was a period of extreme trial, depression, and responsibility as he worked and looked after his son and pastored a Pentecostal Church. William Branham said that he attempted suicide twice during this time. [50] The Jeffersonville City Directory named William Branham as a collector for the Public Service Company in 1939 and 1941, which indicates that he may have stepped down from pastoring for a few years.

    The hard times soon faded and William Branham married Meda Broy on October 23, 1941. (Meda was the daughter of Frank and Emma Broy, and was born on April 16, 1919. Emma Broy had divorced her first husband Daniel Lawton in 1907 before marrying Frank, who she divorced on April 3, 1929.) William Branham was then once again listed as the pastor of the Pentecostal Tabernacle in the 1943 Jeffersonville City Directory.[51]

    Go to part 2 of this article.


    1. Searching for Vindication Timeline - See Charles Branham’s World War 1 draft card for his birthday of January 2, 1887. The Census record from 1900 shows Ella Harvey’s birthday as June 1887.
    2. Searching for Vindication Timeline - The 1910 Census lists William Branham as 3 years old. William Branham also said on September 29, 1951, “Doctor Dowie, in his death, prophesied…he died on one day, and I was borned on the next.”
    3. Proposing to Hope Brumbach - April 8 ,1909 is written as William Branham's birthday on his marriage certificate to Hope Brumbach. William Branham’s younger brother Edward was born in 1909 as the 1910 Census document show Edward Branham as being one year old.
    4. William Branham, July 13, 1952 in a sermon called “Early Spiritual Experiences”
    5. William Branham, April 27, 1964 in a sermon called “A Trial”. April 6, 1909 is also recorded as William Branham’s birthday on his marriage certificate with Meda Broy as found on the Searching for Vindication Timeline
    6. William Branham, April 27, 1964 in a sermon called “A Trial”
    7. William Branham, November 10, 1963 in a sermon called “Souls that are in Prison”
    8. Searching for Vindication Timeline
    9. William Branham, April 19, 1959 in a sermon called “My Life Story”
    10. William Branham, August 13, 1950 in a sermon called “God Revealing Himself”
    11. William Branham, November 10, 1963 in a sermon called “Souls in Prison”
    12. William Branham, April 19, 1959 in a sermon called “Life Story”
    13. William Branham, September 30, 1951 in a sermon called “Expectations”
    14. William Branham, January 17, 1962 in a sermon called “Presuming”
    15. William Branham, September 30, 1951 in a sermon called “Expectation” in New York City.
    16. William Branham, June 30, 1956 in a sermon called “Hear Ye Him”
    17. William Branham, January 17, 1955 in a sermon called “How the Angel came to me”
    18. William Branham, June 7, 1953 in a sermon called “The Ministry of Christ”
    19. Searching for Vindication Timeline
    20. From Julius Stadsklev's book, A Prophet Visits South Africa
    21. Life story by Julius Stadsklev
    22. Searching for Vindication Timeline - The Jeffersonville City Directory
    23. Life story by Julius Stadsklev and Life Story Tract
    24. William Branham, July 20, 1951, Sermon: The Angel of God
    25. William Branham, August 15, 1959, Sermon: As the Eagle Stirreth Her Nest
    26. William Branham, July 31, 1963, Sermon: There Is Only One Way
    27. William Branham, March 28, 1954, Sermon: Sirs, We Would See Jesus
    28. Searching for Vindication Timeline - The Jeffersonville City Directory, Life story by Julius Stadsklev
    29. Searching for Vindication Timeline - marriage and divorce documents.
    30. Life story by Julius Stadsklev in a story written firsthand by William Branham. Also on recording on April 15, 1951, November 8, 1953 and July 20, 1952 in sermons called “A Life Story”.
    31. Searching for Vindication Timeline - June 22, 2013 post re The Common Peoples' Church
    32. Supernatural: The Life of William Branham by Owen Jorgensen, Book one, Chapter 11
    33. Searching for Vindication Timeline - June 24, 2013 post re What The Newspapers Said About the 1933 Baptism
    34. Sermon: August 13, 1950
    35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffersonville,_Indiana#Demographics
    36. William Branham, April 7, 1957 in a sermon “God keeps his Word”
    37. Searching for Vindication Timeline - 2013/06/29 post re the History Of Roy Davis' Church
    38. William Branham, April 27, 1964 in a sermon called “A Trial”, “And the Missionary Baptist Church burned down, which I was assistant pastor, at the time. And Mr. Davis come back to Texas.”
    39. [File:Marriage License-Branham.jpg]
    40. William Branham, June 9, 1953 in a sermon called “Demonology”
    41. Searching for Vindication Timeline
    42. Searching for Vindication Timeline - 2013-06-20 post re Preaching at Pentecostal Churches
    43. William Branham, July 17 ,1951 in a sermon called “The Manifestation of The Spirit”
    44. Searching for Vindication Timeline
    45. William Branham, September 1, 1957 in a sermon called “Hebrews, Chapter Three”
    46. Searching for Vindication Timeline - 2013/04/02 post re Church Escapes In Freak Stunt
    47. William Branham, April 15, 1951 in a sermon called “Life Story”
    48. Searching for Vindication Timeline
    49. Searching for Vindication Timeline - 2013/06/19 post re Where My Sorrow Started
    50. William Branham, April 15, 1951 in a sermon called “Life Story”
    51. Searching for Vindication Timeline