EMMETT FORREST BRANCH, Indiana’s thirty-first governor, was born in Martinsville, Indiana, on May 16, 1874. In 1896, he graduated from Indiana University, and then went on to study law with his uncle, Judge M.H. Parks. He was admitted to the bar in 1899, and established a successful legal career in Martinsville. Branch also had a long and distinguished military career. During the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in Company K of the 158th Regiment, and rose through the ranks to first lieutenant by the time he was discharged. When fighting broke out on the Mexican border, Branch served for one year as lieutenant colonel. He also served as colonel of the 151st Infantry during World War I, and later commanded the 165th Depot Brigade at Camp Travis, Texas. Branch entered politics in 1903, serving as a member to the Indiana House of Representatives, an office he was reelected to in 1905 and 1907. He also served as Indiana’s lieutenant governor from 1920 to 1924. On April 30, 1924, Governor Warren McCray resigned from office, and Branch, who was lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, he endorsed improving the state’s school system and developing the highway system, and he conducted the first state safety conference through the public service commission. After leaving office on January 12, 1925, Branch retired from political life. Governor Emmett F. Branch died on February 23, 1932, and was buried at the Hilldale Cemetery in Martinsville, Indiana.
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.
Indiana Historical Bureau