The Raucous Reign of Tillman Branch
Janice Branch Tracy
The History Press
This is a true story, with a detailed telling of Mississippi history during the years involved. This is the story of the author's bootlegger side of the family. It is a family historical memoir but it's not dry in the telling, as books such as this often can be. The story is told in a style to be of interest to someone outside of the family and filled with prohibition tales and historical facts. It also comes loaded with fantastic photographs starting from the early 1900s.
It's a slim book, topping out at 112 pages, then another 30 or so pages of reference material and court transcriptions.
This novel does tell a family history, but also shares a great view of time and place during these tumultuous Mississippi years.
In the swamps and juke joints of Holmes County, Mississippi, Edward Tillman Branch built his empire. Tillman’s clubs were legendary. Moonshine flowed as patrons enjoyed craps games and well-know blues acts. Across from his Goodman establishment, prostitutes in a trysting trailer entertained men, including the married Tillman himself. A threat to law enforcement and anyone who crossed his path, Branch rose from modest beginnings to become the ruler of a treacherous kingdom in the hills that became his own end. Author Janice Branch Tracy reveals the man behind the story and the path that led him to become what Honeyboy Edwards referred to in his autobiography as the “baddest white man in Mississippi.”
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Notes from the author:
"Tillman, my first cousin, three times removed, and a man I never met, was shot and killed by a black man at a juke joint he owned just south of Goodman, Mississippi. The Juke Joint King of the Mississippi Hills is part regional history, mixed with a little genealogy, and is blended with the elements of a true crime that occurred in early 1963."