Family Stories

Ephraim McLean Brank – Kentucky Hero of the War of 1812

Today I want to take you to Old Greenville Cemetery in Greenville, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.  Before our last trip to Kentucky, we visited Muhlenberg County in 2019.  I intended to go to this particular cemetery, but unknowingly went to Greenville Cemetery – not the location of the older generations.  I could not miss visiting this cemetery while we were in Kentucky in April 2023.

Of the many interesting gravestones in Old Greenville is that of Ephraim McLean Brank.  Ephraim was a soldier during the War of 1812 and was the highly acclaimed ‘crack shot’ that helped win the Battle of New Orleans.  That being said, his comrades spent their time re-loading rifles and handing them to him, one by one picking off the enemy.  In a blog from August 6, 2019, I discuss this brave individual.

At that time, I did not have the war records of our hero. 

A deposition taken February 2, 1852, from information given by Lawrence Yonts, says that ‘in the year 1814 he became a member of Captain Alney McLean’s Company, raised to reinforce the Army of the South under General Jackson.  That said Company rendezvoused or met on their way to join the Army at Madisonville, twenty-two miles from this place (Greenville) and on or about the 17th day of November 1814, at which place and time I became acquainted with Ephraim M. Brank.  When said Brank came to Madisonville he was acting as orderly Sergeant, and there being a vacancy of an Ensign, he was promoted to the office Ensign.  That said Brank and this affiant continued members of said company and served through the campaign, that is from about the 17th November, aforesaid, until discharged about the 20th of May next following – that they were both in the battle of the 8th January 1815.  That he was well acquainted with said Brank and saw him almost daily and that he knows he served through the whole campaign as aforesaid.  That some time after the Battle of New Orleans Lieutenant William Alexander died and said Brank was appointed to fill his place.  This affiant has lived ever since in this county during which time he has always been well acquainted with said Brank and can with utmost assurance state that he served through the entire campaign as afore said.’

As to the above deposition I felt it necessary to include, since war records show Ephraim Brank enlisted February 6, 1815, and was discharged May 20, 1815.  In this instance he could not have participated in the Battle of New Orleans.  Enlistments were generally for a period of six months.  February through May is only four months, suggesting that Ephraim did enlist in November rather than February.

On June 12, 1855, he appeared before the Muhlenberg County Court to declare his intent, at the age of 63, that he was a Lieutenant in the company of Captain Alney McLean in the 14th regiment of Kentucky Militia, commanded by Col. Crenshaw, during the war with Great Britian.  He signed up for a term of six months.  Under the act of September 28, 1850, he made application for bounty lands and received 80 acres.  In this instance he wanted to receive further land from the act approved March 3, 1855.  His signature can be seen on the document.

In addition to land, August 22, 1871, Ephraim was given a pension of $8.00 per month, beginning February 14, 1871.

Now for Ephraim Brank’s family.  Ephraim McLean Brank was born August 1, 1791, in North Carolina.  His father, Robert Brank, born March 17, 1857, was a soldier of the American Revolution.  According to the records, Robert Brank was a private in the company commanded by Captain Taylor, under Col. Baleman.  He served a six-month tour of duty, and an additional twelve months in Capt. McDowell’s company and one month in Capt. Avery’s company.  Ephraim’s mother was Margaret McLean, and from whom he received his middle name.  Robert Brank, wife Margaret and two sons, William and Andrew, are buried in Old Paint Lick Cemetery in Garrard County, Kentucky.  Did Ephraim live there for a while before continuing across Kentucky to Muhlenberg County?

Ephraim Brank married Mary Campbell in 1817 in Muhlenberg County.  The couple lived in Hopkins County in 1820, but moved to Muhlenberg before the 1830 census, where they lived until their deaths.  Five children were born to the couple – Tabitha, July 5, 1820 – November 1, 1894; Robert Garland, November 3, 1824 – August 21, 1895 in St. Louis, Missouri, buried in the Lexington Cemetery in Fayette County, Kentucky, married Ruth A. Smith; Mary Jane, March 26, 1826 – February 18, 1861, the second wife of  William Henry Yost, died August 13, 1862, buried in Old Greenville Cemetery; Samuel Campbell who died young; and Louisa, married James M. Taylor, and who died 1884.

Family members buried in Old Greenville Cemetery, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky:

Ephraim M. Brank, Infantry, Kentucky Militia, War of 1812, September 1, 1791 – September 5, 1875

In memory of Mary C., wife of E. M. Brank, born March 25, 1791, died December 1, 1850. 

Ruth Beach Weir Brank, departed June 3, 1867, aged 56 years. Second wife of Ephraim M. Brank.

Family members buried in Old Paint Lick Cemetery, Garrard County, Kentucky:

William G. Brank, born August 15, 1805, died May 22, 1842.

Robert Brank, born March 17, 1757, died April 10, 1846, forty years and older of Paint Lick Church.

Robert Brank, North Carolina, Pvt. Rev War, March 17, 1757 – April 10, 1846.

Margaret, wife of Robert Brank, born December 26, 176, died December 25, 1857.

Andrew N. Brank, born January 26, 1806, died September 11, 1858.

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