|Birth: ||Dec. 7, 1817|
|Death: ||Nov. 9, 1903|
FOUNDING PRESIDENT AND LIFELONG ACTIVIST OF THE WAKE COUNTY LADIES MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION FOUNDED TO ASSURE THE PROPER BURIAL AND COMMEMORATION OF THE CONFEDERATE DEAD.
Nancy "Nannie" Haywood Blount (also found as Ann Nancy Blount) was born 1817 at "Meadowview" Plantation in Chocowinity, Beaufort Co, NC, the 2nd of 2 known children (1 boy/1 girl) born to wealthy planter and General, Dr. William Augustus Blount and his (1st) wife, Nancy "Ann" Hawkins Haywood.
Born into prominence on both sides of her family tree, her paternal grandparents were John Grey Blount and Mary Harvey who (along with his brothers) controlled vast tracts of land in North Carolina and Tennessee and became one of the wealthiest landholding families in nineteenth century America. Her maternal grandparents were Sherwood Haywood and Eleanor Howard Hawkins of Raleigh, a very prominent and wealthy family in NC.
Nancy was just 7 years old when her mother died in 1825, and she and her younger brother, William A. Blount, Jr., were raised by her widowed father until he remarried in 1835 to Nancy "Anna" Littlejohn, by whom 4 half-siblings were born.
In April 1844, 27-year old Nancy married 24-year old Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, an attorney and newspaper editor from Enfield, Halifax County, afterward known to fame as a distinguished member of Congress and as a brave and capable Brigadier-General in Confederate Army.
The couple removed to Florida shortly after their marriage where their first two children were born, and where her husband served as a newspaperman, a Florida lawyer, and soldier in the Seminole War; however, the family would return to North Carolina by September, 1848.
Nancy and Lawrence would become parents to 4 known children: Susan O'Bryan Branch (1845-1920), who married Robert H. Jones; William Augustus Branch (1847-1910), who never married but served in the CSA and NC Congress; Nancy Haywood Branch (1849-1928), who married Armistead Jones; and Josephine Branch (1853- ca. 1884), who married Hon. Kerr Craige of Salisbury, NC.
After their return to NC, her husband served as a Congressman from North Carolina from 1855-1861. Anticipating the Civil War, Lawrence Branch enlisted as a private in April, 1861, with the Raleigh Rifles, and about a month later, on the day that North Carolina seceded (May 20, 1861), Governor Ellis commissioned him to the joint office of quartermaster-general and paymaster-general. This he accepted unwillingly, wishing to go into active service. In the following September he resigned this office and was commissioned colonel of the 33rd North Carolina regiment, and a few months later, January 17, 1862, he was appointed by President Davis a brigadier-general.
Nancy Blount Branch was widowed on September 17, 1862 when her husband was killed by a sharpshooter at Antietam while in the command of the 4th Brigade of North Carolina troops. His body was brought back to Raleigh, where he was laid in state at the Capital and buried in City Cemetery amongst a greatly attended ceremony.
Nannie Blount was only 45 when her husband was killed, and she never remarried. She donned mourning black upon news of her husband's death, and forever thereafter was seen only in black in remembrance of husband.
The war had scarcely been over for a year and all of the South was suffering under Reconstruction when women first started to gather in grassroots efforts to interpret the meaning and implications of the South's defeat and conquest. One of the first organizations formed was in May 1866, called the Ladies Memorial Association (LMA) of Wake County, headed by Nancy Blount Branch.
By all accounts, Sophia Partridge was the moving spirit behind the formation of the LMA. Sophia was a native of Vienna, NY but had come to NC as a child, and in 1846 had established Miss Partridge's Select School for Young Ladies in Raleigh. Wisely, the LMA selected Nancy Blount Branch as its first President, not only for her prominent public status as the General's widow, but for her powerful political and social connections. Nancy was not only distinguished in the community, but she was well known for her elegance, intellectual and conversational gifts, and her well-bred refinement and personal graces -- assets that would help greatly with the startup of this historic association.
One of their earliest and finest accomplishments was to purchase and clear land in Oakwood Cemetery, where 2-1/2 acres had been purchased from Henry Mordecai, as the permanent resting place to honor the Confederate dead. Many Confederate soldiers in the area had been hastily buried in Rock Quarry Cemetery in Garner, with wooden gravemarkers quickly disintegrating. In February 1867, the LMA was notified by the Union Army that the Confederate dead would need to be moved from Rock Quarry Cemetery immediately to make room for Union soldiers being re-interred from other areas. The occupying army advised that the bones of those Confederates not moved would be dumped in the streets. Despite the fact new burial grounds had just started to be prepared, the LMA with the help of volunteers removed the bodies of over 400 Confederate soldiers from Rock Quarry Cemetery and reburied them at the new Confederate Cemetery. By end of March, and all the Confederates had been re-interred a the new Confederate section within Oakwood Cemetery. Plans were made for a "decoration" day on May 10th, the date of the death of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
Raleigh was not the only NC town where LMAs were formed. Charlotte also had an organization, and many other groups would follow. The "Ladies" were responsible not only for the burial and commemoration of Confederate graves, but for erecting monuments to the Confederacy throughout the South, organizing commemorative events, and for providing aid to the many veterans and families injured and devastated by the war.
Today, the LMA and other women's organizations like it, are credited with playing a crucial part in easing white Southerners' adjustment to loss and helping them regain hope for the future. As sponsors of memorial events that were for the South virtually the only cultural expression concerned with the meaning of the war, the LMA's took an early and defining role in shaping public memory of the Lost Cause, nationally as well as in the South, creating a widely accepted vision of the meaning of the Confederacy, that contributed to national reunification.
Until her death, Nancy Blount Branch remained active in the LMA and contributed greatly to many other civic causes in Wake County. In her later years, she resided with her daughter Susan O'Bryan Branch Jones, and son in law, Robert Branch on Hillsboro Street in Raleigh. Their only child died in 1892, and her son, William, never married; but she Nancy Branch died with surviving grandchildren through both her daughters, Nancy and Josie.
Nancy Blount Branch died on November 3, 1903, just about one month shy of her 86th birthday. She was buried next to her beloved husband in Old City Cemetery.
Her son William is buried in Oakdale Cemetery in Beaufort County, NC and two of her daughters (Susan Branch Jones and Nancy Branch Jones) are buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Her daughter, Josephine Branch Craige, died in Salisbury, Rowan Co, NC sometime around 1884-1900 and is believed buried there.
Today, over 1500 Confederate soldiers and sailors and four Confederate generals are buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Oakwood, a lasting tribute to the Ladies Monument Association. The distinctive pointed stone markers sitting in neat rows of quiet rest, the legend being that the tops of the stones were pointed so that no Yankee could sit on a Confederate tombstone. Not far from the Confederate Cemetery is the House of Memory, built in 1936 to honor the men and women of the state who served the nation through military service.
William Augustus Blount (1792 - 1867)
Ann Hawkins Haywood Blount (1796 - 1825)
Lawrence O'Bryan Branch (1820 - 1862)
Lawence O'Bryan Branch (1820 - 1862)*
Susan O'Bryan Branch Jones (1845 - 1920)*
William Augustus Blount Branch (1847 - 1910)*
Ann Haywood Branch Jones (1849 - 1928)*
Josephine Lawrence Branch Craige (1852 - 1885)*
Ann Haywood Blount Branch (1817 - 1903)
John Gray Blount (1819 - 1842)*
William Augustus Blount (1824 - 1901)*
North Carolina, USA
Created by: pbfries
Record added: Jul 04, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28031863