A few months ago an email was forwarded to us at Searching For Vindication that originated from John (Jack) Vissing. In his email, Mr. Vissing recalls a number of personal memories about Brother Branham and speaks about the bridge prophecy. Here’s a copy of this email which has now been shared on various websites and forums:
My Recollections of Brother Billy Branham
I recall Brother Billy Branham as being my dad’s good friend. I met him in the 1950s, when my family was operating the Jefferson Villa Motel. My dad built the motel from 12 units to 43 before he sold it in 1960. We lived in our home which adjoined the office of the motel. It was a mom and pop operation, and we took care of it ourselves. Our office adjoined Mother’s kitchen, and it was a friendly place. We had a television there, and a couch and it actually served ahs a family room for us. I recall Brother Billy frequently sitting in that room with my Dad as the two of them having a cup of coffee together and telling stories of times past. Brother Billy, like my father, was a downtown Jeffersonville native and had lived all of his life with not much in the form of assets. My dad loved him because he said Brother Billy had a job walking along railroad tracks checking lines and he shot rabbits and gave them to hungry people in the community. Brother Billy would share stories with Dad, and Dad would share back, and the two of them were best of friends.
My father always talked about Brother Billy having “insights, and the gift of vision.” While I do not specifically remember Brother Billy himself prophesying the fall of the scaffolding during the construction of the George Rogers Clark Bridge, it was something that would have occurred when the two were young guys. My father was 14 when the bridge opened in 1929, and had sat in the car with his cousin for 12 hours waiting for the ribbon to be cut so they could be the first to drive across the bridge that linked Jeffersonville to Louisville, Kentucky. My father was given a bronze medallion that day at the ceremony to commemorate the bridge opening. I still have that medallion.
The story of the bridge collapse was not given to me by my Dad or by Brother Billy, but by my grandmother, Maud, and by a lady named Dorothy Phillips. She was about my dad’s age and went to church with us at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ. She was telling me about being a little girl watching the construction from the river bank. Remember, that although the depression had not “officially” begun, things were not very good economically in Jeffersonville at that time. Many people had no diversions, and spent time watching the construction of this bridge, as I am sure Brother Billy and my dad did as well. Dorothy recalled seeing scaffolding up around the piling in the first water pile, and she recalled it collapsing while there was a major cement pour and she saw men falling into the cement who were never removed. It was a tragedy at the time, and many people were appalled.
My father always told me there were people inside that first bridge piling. I do not ever recall him telling me there were 16. Now, while I do not remember the story of Billy prophesying that was going to occur, he did prophesy other things that my father advised me about. I also recall that he brought people to the Jefferson Villa Motel who came for healing. They would rent a room, and visit with Brother Branham. They would arrive on crutches, and go away walking. Not a common occurrence, but it was not an irregular occurrence. It happened multiple times. I am certain that my father believed Brother Billy’s ability of prophesy, as well as to heal.
We had worked as a blue collar family in the garage business. In 1954, my dad moved to create a motel because there were family members too plentiful to make a good living in the Vissing’s garage, so he went out on his own. In 1960, he sold the motel and in 1963 he ran for and was elected mayor of Jeffersonville. He served as mayor for 20 consecutive years which is the long standing record for longest time in continuous service to our community. During this time, Brother Billy and Dad were still friends. We had moved to a new home and we saw him less frequently than we had previously. He was still a guest at my Mother’s table. One day, he arrived with a package wrapped in butcher paper. He said, “Here, Edna, this is for you.” He had probably 10 pounds of bear steaks. Mother had never cooked bear, but was thrilled at the opportunity. I recall having a family gathering where people all shared bear meat, courtesy of Brother Billy.
The day Brother Billy was killed in the car wreck, I was at home and the phone rang and I believe it was Billy Paul asking for Dad to tell him the terrible news. I recall giving the phone to my dad, and watched his face as he gathered the details. I remember him going outside with tears running down his cheeks. During the funeral, my father had a prominent place inside the church. He had a line of sight out one of the side windows to the assistant chief of police, Edgar Branham, to make certain that if anything occurred he was there to handle any disruption. There was some belief by many that Brother Billy might rise. My dad was not convinced either way, but would not have put it past him.
I recall the prophesy of the bridge collapse being mentioned by my father, but I do not have a specific context. This would have been after Brother Billy’s death. My belief is that Brother Billy was the real deal. He was not a fake. He healed people and he had insights that were divine.
In 1958, I suddenly came down with a strep infection that turned into rheumatic fever. I was hospitalized for an entire summer, and I have a permanent state of bad joints in my body and have a heart murmur that I still carry with me. There was, in 1958, substantial concern for my very survival. I do recall Brother Billy giving me prayers and telling me I was going to be ok. I believe in Brother Billy.
John R. Vissing December 27, 2013
On May 13, 2014 Voice of God Recordings published a video interview with Mr. Vissing on their website where Mr. Vissing shares most of the same information in the email above, along with some additional personal recollections about Brother Branham. Here’s a link to the original article on the website.
There’s a couple of problems with Mr. Vissings’ email and the related stories that have been floating around. First of all, Mr. Vissing does not claim in his email to be a first hand witness to these events, but rather, is communicating something that had been told to him second or third hand.
Mr. Vissing asserts that during the period that the bridge was under construction any accidents involving construction of the bridge would not have been widely reported. We’ve already previously debunked this statement by demonstrating that previous bridge construction accidents in Jeffersonville made front page news in papers across the country all the way back in 1893. Further, two accidents were reported during the construction of the Municipal Bridge. Both were on the front page of the local paper. Accepting Mr. Vissing’s account would also require you to ignore the archives at the Indiana State Library, the official engineer’s report on the construction of the bridge, and the very detailed logs from the Coast Guard Life Saving Station just a few hundred yards away from the construction site.
While he may be a very sincere person, his account of the bridge deaths does not agree with recorded history. Should a reader take Mr. Vissing’s secondhand account of events passed down multiple generations over the multitude of information available from well documented first hand sources?
Mr. Vissing indicates in his personal testimony that his grandmother, Maud, and a woman named Dorothy Phillips told him that men were buried alive in the concrete in one of the bridge piers. As we discussed in our previous articles on the construction of the bridge, a new construction technique was used to erect the bridge and it’s construction was heavily documented in the newspapers and in engineering reports. The engineering report includes concrete strength standards and detailed test results are included in Appendix E of the report. These test results indicate that the strength of the concrete exceeded the requirements of the design. Having 16 men buried in the concrete would significantly reduce the strength of the piers. A quick google search will yield a lot of examples of urban legends about construction workers being buried in bridges and dams. These have been thoroughly debunked because the presence of decomposing bodies would significantly weaken the concrete and affect the integrity of the structures in question.
In 1888, during the construction of the Big Four Railroad Bridge in Louisville, a caisson flooded during construction and twelve men drowned while working on a pier. This event is thoroughly documented on page 89 of the Encyclopedia of Louisville. Could it be that Mr. Vissing’s grandmother was simply passing on a story about the Big Four Bridge but attributed it to the Second Street Bridge? The locations of these accidents are less than a mile apart. The Big Four Bridge was built long before Brother Branham was born, so it’s impossible for him to have prophesied this in advance.
Over the years Voice of God Recordings has underscored the importance of only “saying what the tapes say”. Mr. Vissing’s personal testimony does not agree with Brother Branham’s many accounts of the municipal bridge vision. In Brother Branham’s accounts of this story, he counted 16 men falling to their deaths from the bridge. He indicated they all drowned. Twenty-two years later the municipal bridge was erected and 16 men fell to their deaths and drowned during the construction process just exactly as the Lord had shown Brother Branham in this vision. Mr. Vissing’s testimony does not support this story, but rather, supports an alternate scenario where an undetermined number of men were buried alive in a concrete pier. This account does not agree with Brother Branham’s account of the vision.
Mr. Vissing’s personal accounts of his family’s relationship with Brother Branham appear to be very special to him. While Mr. Vissing may be very sincere, his secondhand testimony regarding the Municipal Bridge vision does not agree with recorded history. Mr. Vissing is likely not aware of the multitude of research that has been conducted on this topic. As a result, we chose not to publish any response to the circulation of his original email.
However, what’s very troubling to us is Voice of God Recordings’ propagation of this video.
In Catch The Vision, Volume 2, Voice of God Recordings first addressed the controversy surrounding the municipal bridge vision. In an article on page two of this publication, they argue that the only evidence they need to support the bridge vision is Brother Branham’s own words:
Contrary to the skeptics’ way of thinking, a lack of evidence is not evidence. Instead of saying they have no evidence, they should say they have no faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” So for the people who are looking for concrete evidence, there you have it.
Later in the article they state:
The FACT is that Brother Branham saw a vision of 16 men falling to their deaths from the Municipal Bridge, and THEY DID. How do we know? For the same reason we know that there was a king David: Because the prophet said so; that is where our faith rests.
If this is their position, then why was there any need to publish Mr. Vissing’s testimony? It appears that their position on this topic has changed. Previously, having any evidence didn’t matter. Now, they propagate this testimony as supporting evidence, but it’s not a first hand account, and it doesn’t agree with recorded history. What’s truly perplexing is by publishing this video, Voice of God Recordings is publicly supporting a version of the bridge vision that does not agree with Brother Branham’s own words recorded on tape.
Listen. May I say this right quick now? Even the visions that God gives here at the place, it’s so misunderstood. That’s the reason you hear me on the tapes say, “Say what the tapes say. Say what the visions say.” (63-0317M)