Only two families have owned and lived in Glenmore: the Branners and Jarnagins. Both are well-known in Jefferson County. Also, both families have connections to almost every pioneer family in the surrounding region.
John Roper Branner, who built the house, was the grandson of Michael and Christina Branner, who came from Virginia in 1799. Their son, George, married Mary Ann Roper. George and Mary Ann were John Roper Branner’s parents. John Roper Branner started out in business with his brother, William, in a little store in the basement of the Roper Tavern in Dandridge. John left William to tend to the store and went to Mossy Creek, about ten miles away.
In 1882, the Branners sold their home to Milton Preston Jarnagin, Sr. He was a grandson of Thomas Jarnagin, one of the first settlers in Jefferson County. In 1783, Thomas came from the Watauga settlement to live at the mouth of Long Creek. Milton Preston Jarnagin was the first graduate of Maryville College in 1846. After graduation, Milton studied law with his cousin, Spencer Jarnagin, in Athens, Tennessee. Milton eventually moved to Memphis, where he had a successful career. He retired and moved back to Mossy Creek, where he bought the Branner home. Milton changed the name of the house to “Glenmore,” the name of his first son, who died as a baby.
Mossy Creek Depot, as seen from Glenmore circa 1900. This was a very good location, and it was near the stately homes of other Branner relatives. From 1868-1869, John Roper Branner built his dream house, which he called “The Oaks.” Following Emancipation, several of Branner’s former slaves continued to work for the family and were the primary masons, carpenters, and laborers in building his new home. Descendants of those former slaves, many of whom took the Branner surname, return periodically to touch a piece of their ancestral heritage. Sadly, John Roper Branner never got to live in the house. He died shortly before it was completed. John’s widow, Deborah (neé Massengill), had to oversee completion of the house and move her children there. Afterward, John’s brother, Joseph, ran the Branner Institute for Young Ladies in the house.
APTA Ownership & Restoration
In February, 1970, the 101-year-old house and surrounding property were saved from the auction block and developer’s bulldozer when the heirs of Milton Preston Jarnagin, Sr., presented the site to the Jefferson County Chapter of the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA).
Glenmore has undergone several phases of restoration since the APTA acquired it.