|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
Emmett Forrest Branch (May 16, 1874 – February 23, 1932)
The son of Elliot and Alice Parks Branch, Emmett was native to Martinsville, Indiana. He attended Indiana University, graduating in 1896. He was a member of IU's championship baseball team while he attended the college.
Spanish American War
When the Spanish American War broke out, Branch enlisted in the United State Army, joining the 157th Volunteer Indiana Infantry. The Regiment mustered in on May 10, 1898. Branch's regiment was deployed to Port Tampa City, Florida first, then Fernandina, Florida. The 157th mustered out on November 1, 1898. He rose to the rank of First Lieutenant during the war.
After his return from the war, he studied law with his uncle and gained admittance to the Indiana bar in 1899. He opened a law practice in his hometown, Martinsville. . Voters from his district elected him to the Indiana House of Representatives in 1902, a seat he would hold until 1909.
World War I
After the outbreak of World War I, he re-enlisted in the Army as part of the distinguished Indiana 151st Infantry. The Army attached the regiment to the 38th Division and deployed it to Europe. The regiment was broken up to serve as replacements for casualties in other regiments.
The Republicans nominated Branch as Lieutenant Governor in 1920, with Warren T. McCray as governor. The ticket won handily. Branch served as Lieutenant Governor until 1924, when McCray was forced to resign.
McCray had been in a fight with the powerful Ku Klux Klan, when the Klan retaliated by exposing evidence linking McCray to mail fraud. The scandal forced McCray to resign, vaulting Branch into the governor's chair. He served the remainder of McCray's term, mostly carrying out his predecessor's agenda. He became the first graduate of Indiana University to serve as governor.
Branch did not run for reelection, choosing instead to retire from politics and return to his Martinsville law practice. Governor Harry G. Leslie appointed him to manage the state's Armory, a post he held until his death in 1932.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning