Clifton Branham rode a train back to Virginia following his release from the Kentucky State prison in Frankfort. He was met at the Norton Station by David Boggs.
He learned from Boggs that his daughter was in a disturbing situation and that his wife’s judgment was in question. It left him so distraught he tarried a week in deep thought.
“I went into the mountains to pour out my soul to God in prayer,” he wrote in his journal. “Oh, I felt that if I had wings I would flit away through the blue skies to a brighter mansion beyond the skies.”
Clifton had been so happy over his release from a life sentence yet his family circumstances left him very sad. He never thought he would have a chance of a release but the overcrowding of prisons led to the parole law allowing risoners serving at least ten years of their sentence to be eligible for parole. Clifton thought it was divine intervention.
He received a message from a nephew who awaited him with horses at the Coeburn Station. Branham met Fleming after a short train ride from Norton. That night he “happily talked and rejoiced his release and return with friends.” He planned to travel to his parent’s home the following day.
“When we got in sight of my father’s house I saw a poor old gray-haired woman standing in the yard,” he recalled. As I got closer and closer I thought Blessed God, it is my mother!”
“I rode up, got off my horse and threw my arms around her neck, hugged and kissed her. We cried and wept with joy. Later we went to Wib Branham’s. After a happy meeting I played the organ. We all sang sacred songs and had a good time. Then I sent for my wife and children.”
Clifton’s daughter Lizzie was the first to arrive.
“Papa, is it really you,” she said upon seeing him.
“Yes, this is your papa,” Clifton said before looking around and seeing another figure in the doorway.
“Clifton, do you know who that is,” someone asked. “Of course I knew. It was my sweet Nan.”
Clifton greeted Nan and asked the children to get her a chair.They sat and talked and after awhile Nan said, “Let us go home.”
Clifton answered, “I no longer have a home.”
It is unclear what brought the response but he had heard from his nephew that all was not well with his family and he may have heard something more upon arriving at his parent’s home. Perhaps Clifton found his daughter unwed and with child or expectant or maybe he learned that Nan was living out of wedlock with another. Although commonplace today, in that era it put a black mark on the parents, child and family.
“Nancy look there what a pretty daughter we have and she looks like a lamb that has been slain,” Clifton said to his wife. “Now I am as close to your house as I ever expect to be. I am sorry this is the case but you have drawn a line between us that can never be erased. I want to take our daughter and raise her feet out of the pit you have gotten them in.”
Several months later, prior to his hanging, wrote about his life, saying he questioned Nan during their meeting.
“She denied nothing and that’s how we parted.”
Clifton faced danger a little later that night when Dave Fleming sent word to meet me at the end of the garden by the road.”
“I soon found they were there for no good,” Clifton wrote . “I followed the advice of my sister and brother-in-law William J. Fleming, and didn’t go.”
The next day Clifton went to Dickenson County with his daughter Lizzie to visit the grave of one of his children.
“I also spent time that day reflecting back on my life and the meeting with Nan,” Clifton wrote. “It is strange how our lives had turned. anPd my family and how our lives had turned. It was sad because our lives had been so joyous. I thought of forgiving Nan for everything and taking her back. Being away in prison for ten years certainly had a lot to do with how things were. I considered taking Nan back, forgiving and living with her again but decided against.” copyright 2018 Jadon Gibson
Editor’s note; Clifton has trouble with Dave Fleming and has a stormy meeting with Nan in the issue next week. Jadon Gibson is a freelance writer from Harrogate, Tenn. His writings are both historical and nostalgic in nature. and nostalgic in nature. Don’t miss a single posting!