Olney Welcomes the Branum Family
Newcomers, Dan and Summer Branum, purchased the Victorian home that sits on the 102-acre property Olney residents know as “Praise the Lord Farm” that was owned by the Lunsfords. The historic two-story home was originally built in Throckmorton in 1922 and moved to the ranch located 5 miles outside of Olney in 1965. The Lunsfords remodeled and expanded the property in 1985 according to Lands of Texas. The property has a private pond that takes center stage as the focal point of the property. Some residents would agree that the sunset views are the focal point, while others may argue that the log cabin the Lunsfords built for their grandchildren is the focal point. Dan said, “At some point in the future, I would love to build more cabins on the property so we can host big family events, or provide rentals for people who visit Olney.”
The Branums believe their move to Olney is longterm in light of the real estate investment coupled with the friendly neighbors and phenomenal schools for their children. Dan said Summer found the home while perusing multiple real estate websites online in pursuit of finding a smaller community to raise a family. “We felt that something would not work out. The first thing we checked out was the elementary school. Summer met with school officials and toured the school. Although we were impressed with [Olney ISD], we kept waiting to hit a roadblock, but finally realized Olney was the obvious choice.”
Dan said his biggest struggle with the move so far is attempting to remember the names of all the people they have met, which is not uncommon in small towns. Dan and Summer grew up in small towns, and they said they love small towns. The couple said their small-town upbringing softens the culture shock associated with moving from a large city to a small town. Dan said, “It will be an adjustment transitioning from Dallas to Olney, but we came from a small town, so we are accustomed to small towns.” Summer added, “We also had to adjust to moving from a small town to a big city, so we are used to making changes.”
Summer grew up in Hollis Oklahoma, while Dan was just three hours away in his hometown, Newcastle Oklahoma. He and Summer met between their junior and senior years in high school. They began dating and then decided to attend college at Oklahoma State University located in Stillwater, which is approximately 60 miles from Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Dan said, “While completing our undergraduate degrees, we got married between our junior and senior year. After we graduated, we decided to attend law school at the University of Texas in Austin, where we lived for more than three years.” The couple interned during law school in Tulsa and Dallas, but Dan accepted a job in Dallas during the 2007 economic crash. Dan said two days after he passed the bar, he found out the position he took in Dallas moved to Houston, which was further away from their hometowns. After living in Houston for two years, they discovered Summer was expecting baby Miles, which prompted them to move closer to home, so they returned to Dallas where they lived for the past seven years.
The Branums have three children: Miles, 7, Jessa, 5 and Leo, 2. They are also expecting another bundle of joy that is due in January. To accommodate their growing family, Summer stopped practicing law full time to devote time to raising their children who seem to be adjusting well to their new home.
The oldest son, Miles, is taking piano lessons from Carol Glover and is attending Olney Elementary School. Dan said, “OES is a great school. Miles is in Mrs. Stone’s class, and he has learned to read within the past four months. He attended kindergarten at a private school in Dallas, and we had to catch up when he moved to OES.”
Miles is not the only child embracing new activities, the Branum’s daughter Jessa was not shy about sharing her new hobbies. Jessa said, “I really love seahorses and my dad. I fell in love with the kitty on our porch.” Jessa attends 4-School that meets at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
Dan said Jessa initially did not want to move here because she did not want to leave her toy seahorse and bunk bed behind. After he explained that she could bring them to Olney and with the promise of a new dog, she agreed to the move. Dan said, “We’ve never had a pet, so the children are enjoying that. A barn cat came with the property, and then a kitten showed up. So now we have two cats and a dog.” Dan and Summer joked about Jessa’s request for a monkey and an elephant since they have room for it. Outside of expanding the farm animals, Summer said the children love to ride their bikes. Jessa also loves her ballet and tap class that she attends in Graham.
Dan is in the process of moving his law practice here to Olney. He’s currently leasing an office downtown and plans to officially open later this Spring. Dan still has an office in Dallas as well.
Although the Branums have not become members of any church in Olney, they have been attending First Baptist. “I was getting jazzed up about the home and our move, but we didn’t know anyone in Olney. I told Summer that the next time we came here to look at the place, we would stop and attend a church. We stopped at First Baptist on a Sunday night because services were going on when we came through town. The church community, especially Pastor Chad Edgington was friendly and helpful. “Before we left town that day, we met the school board president along with other members of the community. It was a great experience, so we continued to go back there for services. I’ve been to the Methodist church, too. We plan to visit other churches to get to know people other people too,” Dan said.
The Branums concluded the interview with a word of gratitude about their neighborly encounter with resident Wanda Stroud Swain. Dan explained, “We were not going to be able to close until two weeks after school started. Summer said that would not work because she did not want miles to start school late. Mrs. Swain let us borrow her house for two weeks free of charge. Summer was able to move here early with the children and Miles started school on time. “We were amazed about her generosity to us—strangers she didn’t know.”
Dan said, “We know the Lunsfords are loved in this town, and we are looking forward to allowing residents to get to know the Branums. Every other person we talk to has been to our house. I’ve heard people say they took their senior pictures there; they used to go there for prime rib dinners. We’ve enjoyed hearing the stories about our new home.”
Olney welcomes the Branums, and we look forward to the stories this new family will create during their stay.