Branson / Cook Genealogy



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Ira Lee Branson, Sonoma County Roadmaster

Ira shown with his team of horses pulling the road grader


From about 1913 until about 1948, Ira Branson served as the Sonoma County, California Roadmaster. During this time period, he became aware of some hunting property for sale in the mountain range between the Redwood Highway and the ocean. Over a period of several years, he purchased a total of 120 acres. This property had no road access at the time of purchase. In order to access the property, he had to walk over some rough terrain for a distance of about two miles, carting his hunting and camping gear with him. It was during these hunting excursions that he was able to provide fresh meat for his family and crew, including wild boar and venison. As time went on, this property became the favorite place for Ira and his family to gather on the weekends and during holidays.

To this day, the property remains in a family trust and still serves as a family gathering place. Ira's descendants have fond memories involving what is affectionately called "the ranch". The guardian of the property, William Franklin Branson, has made every effort to keep the property in it's original pristine condition. With the exception of a small, one-room cabin, the campsite and surrounding acreage, looks very much the way it did when Ira made his first hike into the campsite. Future generations, I am sure, will be compelled to carry on in this tradition.

Located near Warm Springs dam in Sonoma County, in the heart of the California Wine Country, there exists a lasting tribute to Ira's road-building efforts. If you visit the fish hatchery building near that site and take the time to survey the immediate area, you will come across a display of one of Ira's early road graders. It was one of the smaller ones used to grade the roads into the ranch and other nearby properties.

Of note in regard to this subject, Ira's wife, Clara, often spent many hours preparing meals for Ira's crew members. In addition to running the household, raising the children and helping her neighbors with their minor health problems, Clara was no less of a hard worker than her husband.

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