He was an attorney-at-law in Ida Grove, Iowa, and was a resident of Ida County since 1879. He was born in Keyesville, Clinton County, New York, August 15, 1839, and reared in Canada East until 14 years of age. In July 1861, being in the state for a visit, he enlisted in Co. C., 10th Iowa Volunteer Infantry, and re-enlisted in the same company and regiment in January 1864 and served until the close of the war. He was twice slightly wounded. He was a member of the G.A.R., Matthew Gray Post No. 93. He was a Past Commander.
In 1883, he turned his attention to the law and was admitted to the practice of law by the Supreme Court of Iowa. He was married at the close of the war to Rachael Tiser, a native of Ohio. They had 5 children: James E. of Fort Omaha, Nebraska; Emma E., wife of S. W. Kiner, editor of the Ida County Watch; William F., a blacksmith and machinist; Agnes May; and Minnie E. He was Clerk of the District Court of Ida County, Iowa.
He is the son of James and Esther Brannan, and of Irish extraction. James Brannan was a trapper and guide for the Hudson Bay Fur Co. for a number of years in the Northwest. They had 11 children: Two of the boys, James I. And Edward, were killed by the Sioux Indians in 1866. James was killed on the Little Powder River and Edward at Cimarron, New Mexico.