Benjamin Franklin Branscomb joined an ox-team wagon train that was headed for California, in 1857. He was born in Jackson, Ohio, in 1832, the son of Joseph Edmond Branscomb. The family moved to Dekalb County, Missouri, where Joseph became Sheriff. According to family tradition, he was shot and killed 3 days before President Lincoln was assassinated, but a contemporary newspaper account says Joseph was murdered, shot to death by a Mr. Stoffel, in Maysville, on July 31, 1865, after Lincoln's assassination.
Benjamin settled in Sonoma County and farmed there for about twenty years. He married one of the daughters of the captain of the wagon train, Mary Jane Taylor, and they had 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls. They moved to Jackson Valley, Mendocino, in 1880, where he homesteaded 160 acres of land and 40 acres more under the Timber Act. He was instrumental in starting the first school in that area. He built a large home which, after his family had grown up, he turned into a hotel. A small grocery store, meat market and livery stable were added later. After more people came into the area, he was able to establish a post office. Because he was postmaster, and the place had no official name, it was named after him. After his death, in 1921, one of his sons, John, inherited the property and ran it until 1959, when he sold it to the Harwood family, who built the timber mill in Branscomb called Harwood Products.