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History of Oakland County, Michigan, A Narrative Account of its Historical Progress, its People, and its Principal Interests Compiled from the official records of the County, the newspapers and data of personal interviews, under the editorial supervision of THADDEUS D. SEELEY
VOLUME I, ILLUSTRATED, THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY, CHICAGO AND NEW YORK
By Thaddeus De Witt Seeley
The early life of Elijah Drake was spent in the neighborhood of the Delaware Water Gap, that now famous summer resort where the combination of mountain and river forms scenery unexcelled in beauty. Here he was born July 4, 1759. In the sparsely settled country embraced by Smithfield township, the settlers were protected from raids of hostile Indians by the garrison at Fort Penn. It was located on a large tract of land owned by Col. Stroud and commanded also by him. Lying adjacent to this great property of Col. Stroud was the land of Samuel Drake, father of Elijah.
A company belonging to the Associates Battalion formed in Pennsylvania was organized in Smithfield May 22, 1775, of which Jacob Stroud was captain and Samuel Drake lieutenant. In 1776 Jacob Stroud was colonel and Samuel Drake captain (Vol. 14, second series of Pennsylvania Archives, page 555, 576).
In June, 1778, the records of the Bureau of Pensions state that Elijah Drake enlisted as a private and served six months under Capt. Benjamin Schoonhoven, Col. Stroud's Pennsylvania regiment; reenlisted June 5, 1779, for three months under the same captain in Col. Armstrong's regiment Pennsylvania troops. After that a service of fifteen days is recorded under Capt. Samuel Shoemaker and his place of residence is given as Lower Smithville, Northhampton county, Pennsylvania. The state records also show the service of his brother Thomas. This official record is meager enough, for in reality he gave four years of his life to the service of his country. The position of the family on the frontier of necessity demanded the protection of father and sons in the early days of the war and Elijah thus served three years before his official enlistment in 1778.
Like others of the valiant volunteers who first viewed the fertile valley of the Susquehanna in time of strife, he was resolved to make this locality his home some time in the future, and after serving as executor of his father's estate in 1789 he joined his sister Ruth, who had married Capt. Daniel McDowel and settled at Chemung, fourteen miles below Newtown Point, or Elmira. as the place is now called.
Living in the beautiful valley of Wyoming at the time of the terrible massacre, was the family of Thomas and Abigail (Culver) Stoddard, settlers from Connecticut. They were warned of the approaching danger by a friendly Indian, in time to escape with their children. Their daughter Abigail was at that time eight or nine years old and many times in the course of her long life of ninety years, she recited the thrilling experiences which were so indelibly stamped upon her memory. The youngest child of two years of age died of exposure and hardships encountered in their long march in the wilderness.
Just where was their refuge we do not know, but presumably to the north. This much is fact—that Elijah Drake married Abigail Stoddard in the year 1790 at Newtown Point. Their home was in Chemung, as we find Elijah Drake elected overseer of highways at the fourth town meeting held 1791. The next year he is still a resident, as is proved by a release given by him to his brother Joseph, for his interest in a piece of land adjoining their home farm.
His second daughter, Welthy, is said to have been born in Scipio, New York. If so, the change of residence must have taken place early in 1793. His father-in-law. Thomas Stoddard. went with him, and they settled on a farm in the town of Scipio, one and three-fourths miles east of the village of Aurora, lying on Cayuga lake. Here his eight sons were born and here he lived until 1821 when he sold out and bought a farm two miles east of the village of Perry, Genesee county, New York, where he resided ten years.
Thomas J., the second son, had made his way to Pontiac, Michigan, in 1824, and became one of the most prominent men of the early history of Oakland county. His success and liking for the new country influenced the rest of the family to leave New York for the land of promise.
In 1835 Elijah Drake, with six of his sons, and their families embarked from Buffalo on the old time steamer, "Thomas Jefferson." One son, Cyrus, with his family, settled in Huron county, Ohio, but the other five became pioneers of Michigan.
After tarrying a while in Oakland county, the old gentleman and his wife went to live with their sons who had settled near Ann Arbor. After a residence there of a few years, they removed with their son, Dr. Flemon Drake, in 1844, to Royal Oak, where they made their home the remaining years of their lives.
Elijah Drake died April 8, 1848. His wife lived to be over ninety years old and died February 20, 1860.
Children: (I.) Sally, b. January n, 1791, at Chemung, N. Y.; d. February 18, 1875, at Humberstone, Ont.; m. April 4, 1810 at Scipio, N. Y., Guy Jerome Atkins.
(II.) Welthy, b. March 4, 1793, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. April 30, 1856, at Buffalo, N. Y.; m. March 4, 1820 at Perry, N. Y., Samuel Rudolph Atkins.
(III.) Samuel, b. August 27, 1795, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. Sept., 1827, at New Orleans, La.; m. November 28, 1816 at Buffalo, Eliza Chapman, oldest daughter of Col. Asa Chapman. Her mother was Electa Doney, daughter of John and Mary (Keyes) Doney. Mrs. Eliza Drake died January 5, 1859, at Farmington, Mich.
(IV.) Thomas Jefferson, b. April 18, 1797, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. April 20, 1875, at Pontiac, Mich.; m. December 17, 1826, Martha Minot Baldwin, daughter of Nathaniel Baldwin of Rochester; m. 2d April 19, 1843, Evelina H. Talbot.
(V.) Cyrus, b. December 24, 1800, Scipio, N. Y.; d. April 15, 1855; m. November 14, 1824, Sylvia Huestis.
(VI.) Elias, b. Sept. 25, 1803, Scipio, N. Y.; d. Nov. 18, 1878, at Madison, Lenawee county, Michigan; m. Sept. 19, 1837 at Lima, Washtenaw county, Michigan., Jane Hudson.
(VII.) Elijah, b. December 24, 1805, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. April 14, 1875, at Flint, Mich.; m. June i, 1839 at Rush, Livingstone county, N. Y., Sally Webster.
(VIII.) Flemon, b. April 30, 1807, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. November 2, 1865, at Royal Oak, Mich.; m. April 10, 1834, Electa Depue; m. 2d. Mary E. Pierson.
(IX.) Edward L., b. April 30, 1810, at Scipio, N. Y.; d. Feb. 4. 1896, at McBain, Mich.; m. ist, 1834, Ambrosia Lacy; m. 2d, Mrs. Cynthia B. Capen.
(X.) Morgan L., b. Oct. 18, 1813, Scipio, N. Y.; d. April 21, 1865. at Pontiac, Mich.; m. September 19, 1837, Sarah Sophronia Stannard