Tazewell Branch was born enslaved in Prince Edward County and laterin the House of Delegates. Learning to read and write, Branch worked as a shoemaker and was known for his intelligence. By 1873 he owned land in Farmville and sat on the town council. That same year he won a seat in the General Assembly. Branch, who was respected by African Americans and whites, won reelection two years later as a member of a coalition that included the moderate factions of Prince Edward County’s and . He dropped out of politics after his second term, and his income declined as mass-produced footwear undermined his shoemaking business. His biggest legacy might have come from his children, who became educated and led successful careers in teaching and medicine.