William Marrion Branham (April 8, 1908 – December 24, 1965) was a Christian evangelist who has been called the "pacesetter of the healing revival"  and a "prophet". He was born in rural Kentucky, raised in Indiana, and in the 1940’s his healing ministry skyrocketed him from a rural pastor to an international evangelist.
Some people take every word he spoke as having Divine Authority. Others consider him a compulsive liar. This account is based on both his recorded sermons, and as many historical documents as we could find. Any statements that can be substantiated by written historical documents are highlighted in bold. Hopefully this will let you decide for yourself whether he was a major prophet as he claimed to be.
'Charles Branham and Ella Harvey were both born in 1887. They were 20 years old when William Branham was born on March 10, 1907 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. They were 21 years old when William Branham was born on April 8, 1908. William Branham’s younger brother Edward was born in 1909 (the 2010 Census document show Edward as being one year old). William Branham also said that his mother Ella was fifteen on April 9, 1909 when he was born under an alignment of stars, and that a pillar of light entered the shack and scared the midwife.
The Branham family moved from Kentucky to Indiana when William Branham was a young boy. William Branham claimed this was his first fulfilled prophecy. Charles Branham was in trouble with the law at the time, which may explain why he used the name as “Brainon” on the 1910 Kentucky census records.
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.
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." By his own testimony, William Branham never drank alcohol in his life – other than in Church as part of communion.
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. 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.
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.
Charles Branham broke horses for Otto Wathen, and later became his private chauffer. 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. 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. 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, William Branham had enough money to buy a brand new 1926 Ford. He also claimed to have been initiated as a hunter on a trip to New York’s Adirondack Mountains, where he hunted with the famous naturalist Burt Caul (who he said was mean, and had evil ‘lizard eyes’).
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. In 1928, he told his mother he was going camping in Tunnel Mill, Indiana, and left to work as a ranch-hand in Arizona. This was during the time of the construction of the Louisville Memorial Bridge, so William Branham was absent during its construction. He returned after he received news that his brother Edward had died on June 20, 1929 at the age of 19. Edward's funeral was taken by a close family friend, Rev. McKinney, who made a salvation call that William Branham refused.
William Branham worked as a laborer, and as a collector for the Public Works Company in Jeffersonville in the early 1930’s.
Becoming a part of 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.
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 M. Fine & Sons.
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).
William Branham went to ask Charles for Hope's hand in marriage after a sermon preached by Roy Davis after a Wednesday night sermon. They walked to her parent’s house from the church. William Branham said he stood on the porch of her parent’s home, and that he asked Charles if he could marry Hope while Hope remained inside and talked with her mother.
Roy Davis preached strongly about the Pentecostal revival, 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.
Early Signs of a Supernatural Ministry
Owen Jorgensen records that it is at was in 1932 when William Branham first prayed for the sick: a Mr. Merril and a Mrs. Mary Der Ohanion were both healed that year.
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. William Branham 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.
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:
William Branham also claimed to have started construction on the 'Pentecostal Tabernacle’ in Jeffersonville in 1933 (this later became known as the 'Branham Tabernacle'). However, the last advertisement for Roy Davis church in the Jeffersonville Evening News was on February 10, 1934, and William Branham said he was the assistant pastor of Roy Davis’ church at the time it burned down. Roy Davis then moved back to Texas. The first advertisement for William Branham’s church, The Pentecostal Tabernacle, appeared in the Jeffersonville Evening News appeared on August 17, 1935.
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.
William Branham continued to work and preach, and married Hope Brumbach on June 22, 1934 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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 faith. 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.
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.
In 1936 William Branham was pressured by his mother-in-law not to accept invitations from Oneness, colored and mixed-race Pentecostal Churches. William Branham agreed to follows his mother-in-law’s advice. Shortly after, he claimed to prophecy that the Ohio river would flood, and reach 22 feet over Spring Street in Jeffersonville. 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. William Branham later said that he had terrible grammar because of his father’s early death.
Tragedy and Recovery
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. The newspapers, however, packed a story of the pews rising and falling with the flood in a church down the street, because the wooden floor had not been nailed in place.
Hope Branham became sick around the time of the flood. William Branham 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. But Hope sadly died on July 21, 1937 after a long illness. Sharon Rose Branham also passed away from disease a few days later on July 26, 1937. 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.
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. 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.
In 1940, William Branham prayed for a crippled boy and girl, and both were healed. This marked the start of his recovery and the second wave of healings in his life.
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 Franck, 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.
Commission and Evangelism
In March 1945 William Branham received a commission for his healing ministry when he wrote that he saw a vision of birds that would not eat from a small pile of white bread. A voice told him “That is your Tabernacle and they won't eat the bread of life anymore. I am sending you…westward.” William Branham was then shown a large tent with a platform at the front. Behind the tent was a great pile of the same white bread, and he was told to feed a white-robed audience that had gathered from everywhere. The following day, William Branham explained the vision to his church.
William Branham left Jeffersonville on June 14, 1945 and headed directly west with his wife, son, and Rev. Daugherty to St. Louis, Missouri. The testimonies from the tent meetings in St. Louis were compiled in a tract called “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” and distributed at subsequent revival meetings. The tract describes that the group that left from Jeffersonville carpooled, as gas rationing was in effect. Gas rationing in the United States ended August 15, 1945.
Meda Branham gave birth to a girl, Rebekah, on March 21, 1946.
The Associated Press published an interview with William Branahm on June 30, 1947 when he said, “ 11 months ago, I got a call so insistent that I went out and started healing people”. This puts the date of his commission at September 1946.
In June 1947, the Evening Sun newspaper of Jonesboro, Arkansas also reported that "Residents of at least 25 States and Mexico have visited Jonesboro since Rev. Branham opened the camp meeting, June 1st. The total attendance for the services is likely to surpass the 20,000 mark." William Branham also met Gordon Lindsay in 1947, who became his primary manager and promoter. Shortly after, several other prominent Pentecostals joined his ministry team, including Ern Baxter and F.F. Bosworth. Gordon Lindsay proved to be an able publicist for Branham, founding The Voice of Healing magazine in 1948 which was originally aimed at reporting on Branham's healing campaigns.
Both F.F. Bosworth and Gordon Lindsay had connections to Alexander Dowie, who claimed he was Elijah. Bosworth was the band director in Zion, Illinois in 1905 and 1906 as Dowie’s utopian empire crumbled. Charles Parham, one of the founders of the Azuza Street Revival and a member of the KKK, established Tent meetings in Zion in 1907. Bosworth attended these meetings along with John G. Lake until the Zion Pentecostal revival fell apart after Parham was jailed.
Gordon Lindsay was born in Zion, Illinois. Lindsay eventually worked with John G. Lake in establishing a the Divine Healing Mission in Portland, Oregon.
It is likely through connections with F.F. Bosworth and Gordon Lindsay that William Branham learned the doctrine that Elijah would come before the second coming. It didn’t take long before William Branham became convinced that he was that Elijah. William Branham claimed that he received the gift of healing that commissioned his healing ministry from the Angel of the Lord on the day Israel became a nation on May 7, 1946 at Green’s Mill in an old cabin, and then again on May 6, 1947 at Green’s Mill in a hidden cave. Israel then declared its independence on May 14, 1948.
William Branham also met with Avak Hagopian in Florida in 1948, a renown “faith healer” from Armenia who was featured in the May 19, 1947 edition of LIFE magazine. Avak was tall, of olive complexion, had long shoulder-length hair and wore flowing robes – eerily similar to the description of William Branham’s angel.
William Branham’s early work in faith healing attracted attention, and as stories began to spread of his healing gift, local pastors came to ask Branham to minister to their congregations and pray for the sick. When local churches could not accommodate the crowds, Branham's meetings were moved to larger auditoriums or stadiums for united campaigns in major cities in North America. His success soon took him to minister in countries around the world. According to a Pentecostal historian, "Branham filled the largest stadiums and meeting halls in the world."
On the night of January 24, 1950, an unusual photograph was taken during a speaking engagement in the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston, Texas. The photograph was of William Branham standing at the podium, with a halo of light behind his head. William Branham claimed that this was a supernatural light, and paid to have the photograph examined by a professional, George J. Lacy, to confirm that the negative had not been tampered with. The photographer then refused to let William Branham use the photograph as the cover for his life story.
William Branham continued his worldwide ministry, and the “Voice of Healing” magazine published in article in June 1950 about a boy who was raised to life in Finland during the William Branham campaigns, after being hit by a car.
By this time, William Branham was praying for the sick using two methods. The first was a physical reaction in his hand indicating the presence of germ diseases. The second was that he knew could talk to people directly about their lives without the need to ask questions.
In 1951, William Branham prayed for a boy named Donny Morton, which was reported in Chatelaine Magazine and re-printed in a condensed version in the Reader’s Digest. This article describes how William Branham described the boy’s situation to his father, without asking questions. While William Branham said the boy was healed, the article tells that Donny Morton died of pneumonia while recovering from surgery.
In Durban, South Africa in 1951 William Branham spoke at meetings sponsored by the Apostolic Faith Mission, the Assemblies of God, the Pentecostal Holiness Church, and the Full Gospel Church of God. Meetings were conducted in eleven cities, with a combined attendance of a half million people. On the final day of the Durban meetings, held at the Greyville Racecourse, an estimated 45,000 people attended and thousands more were turned away at the gates. As he travelled around the world he met many individuals of public influence.
A daughter Sarah was born to Meda and William Branham on March 19, 1951 followed by a son Joseph who was born on May 19, 1955
Teaching Strange Doctrine
From the mid-1950s onwards William Branham became more open with his own beliefs. As a result, people who once preached with him abandoned his ministry. Ern Baxter told him not to teach, but he did not listen. William Booth Clibborn accused William Branham of not knowing his Bible, but William Branham never put the effort in to learn his Bible. Gordon Lindsay also reached out to William Branham, but William Branham went hunting rather than meeting Gordon Lindsay as he said he would do.
Some of William Branham’s doctrines from the 1950’s include:
It was during these years that William Branham introduced the vision of the “third pull” that was to play a more significant part in later years. The third pull relates to a vision of an Angel who was teaching him how to fish. He was to cast his line out, pull slow at first (his healing ministry), jerk a little harder the second time (his discernment ministry), and set the hook for the catch on the third pull. However, in the vision William Branham got his line tangled, and the Angel rebuked him for making a public show of his ministry. The angel then took him back to a tent where people were being saved (reminiscent of his 1945 commissioning vision), and the pillar of fire leaves William Branham and goes back into a small building to meet people privately.
It is in the late 1950’s that William Branham began talking about ‘speaking things into existence’. By his word, he claimed to have raised dead fish to life, brought a woman’s two sons to instant salvation, and created squirrels. He shot the squirrels, and one follow of William Branham claimed they sat in his freezer for years, and had no belly buttons.
In an interview, Ern Baxter said “Branham as a teacher was outside of his calling. The fruits of his teaching ministry are not good.”
On June 1956 William Branham preached a three day campaign at the Cadle Tabernacle in Indianapolis with Jim Jones. This three day campaign was attended by over 11, 000 people and sky-rocketed Jim Jones to fame. Jones later went on to commit mass suicide in 1978 after the world never ended in 1977.
In 1960 William Branham spoke a series of sermons on the Church Ages (see Seven Church Ages for more details) that outlined his views of church history and his interpretation of the first few chapters of the book of Revelation. In these sermons, William Branham predicted that the seven visions he saw in 1933 would be fulfilled by 1977. Much of these sermons is similar to the doctrines published by the Baptist theologian Clarence Larkin.
In the 1960’s William Branham would often say, “I am a prophet”, and “I am not a prophet”. He also expressed confusion as to whether he was a seer or an evangelist.
William Branham’s mother Ella Harvey (Branham) died October 27, 1961. Just over a year later, William Branham moved his family to Tucson, Arizona. As he left, he told his congregation in Jeffersonville that he was leaving to fulfill a vision of hunting in the Mountains with his son Joseph, and that five angels would appear to him.
William Branham came back for meetings in Jeffersonville in early 1963 where he preached about an angelic visitation he had received without his son Joseph, and how he was divinely instructed to preach about the Seven Seals. These sermons contained a lot of church history, and also borrowed heavily from the commentary of Clarence Larkin. People who believe that William Branham was a major prophet consider these sermons the fulfillment of Matthew 17:11, where Jesus says that Elijah must come and “restore all things”. The seals as taught by William Branham can be summarized as follows:
In these sermons, William Branham tells that he was hunting earlier that month when seven angels came to him in Arizona, and that one angel revealed the seals to him before each sermon. He later saw a picture of a cloud over Arizona in LIFE magazine, and claimed that he was hunting exactly under it at the time, when he actually went hunting a few hundred miles south of the cloud a week later.
In May 1962 William Branham expressed his confusion and decision at becoming a seer or an evangelist. In June 1963 he tells of an angelic visitation where he is told to "Return! Did not I tell you in the beginning to do the work of an Evangelist?" In the same sermon, William Branham confesses that he has lost the love for the people, calling them "Ricky and Ricketta" when they are still children of God, and are only under bondage to denominations who tell them "don't you do this, and don't you do that." 
William Branham spoke some very bold prophecies that were recorded during his sermons in the 1960’s that did not come to pass. These prophecies include:
In January 1964, Kenneth Hagin had a prophecy that Gordon Lindsay communicated to William Branham, that the devil would take William Branham's life before the end of 1965 because of his own error.
William Branham went hunting again in March 1964. This time he took a larger number of friends with him. He claimed that a whirlwind came from heaven (there is a video of the dust-devil taken at the camp). He claimed that it was the judgment sign of the end of the world, and that his message was the “evening light” that came to him on “Sunset Mountain”. In reality, all of these men were hunting on Rattlesnake Mesa. While he declared judgement on California, an earthquake struck Alaska. Not deterred, William Branham claimed it was fulfillment of judgement.
In 1965 he spoke some radical sermons. In Marriage and Divorce, he taught that a man could divorce his wife if she trimmed her hair. There was no mercy in William Branham’s sermons in 1965. He also taught that rapturing faith could only come by listening to his voice.
On December 18, 1965 William Branham and his family (all except his daughter Rebekah) were returning to Jeffersonville, Indiana from Tucson, Arizona for the Christmas Holidays. About three miles east of Friona, Texas just after dark, a car traveling west struck Branham's car head-on.
The driver of the other car died at the scene, as did the other front seat passenger. The other two passengers in the back seat of the car were severely injured. Branham's wife was seriously injured and his daughter Sarah was lying in the back seat and was also injured. Branham's left arm was mangled and caught in the driver-side door, and his left leg was wrapped around the steering wheel. After about 45 minutes Branham was pulled from his car and transported to the hospital at Friona, and then later transported to the hospital at Amarillo, Texas. He lived for six days after the crash, dying on December 24, 1965 at 5:49 PM. His body was returned to Jeffersonville, Indiana for burial.
- William Branham listed April 8, 1908 as his birthday on his marriage license to Hope Brumbach.
- The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: (Zondervan, 1988, p. 372) ~ Branham filled the largest stadiums and meeting halls in the world.’ ... As the pacesetter of the healing revival, Branham was the primary source of inspiration in the development of other healing ministries.
- The Full Gospel Men's Voice Magazine (February, 1961) ~ "In Bible Days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the Sacred Records, none of these had a greater record than that of William Branham."
- Questions and Answers, May 27, 1962
- Standing in the Gap, June 23, 1963
- Based on tract Jesus Christ the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever written and published by William Branham.
- Edward Branham's death was reported on the front page of the Jeffersonville Evening News on Thursday, June 30, 1929, (http://searchingforvindication.com/assets/Bridge/19290620B.pdf)