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Austin L. Drake - History ofButler County (Kansas)

Pages 730-731, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.



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HISTORY OF BUTLER COUNTY 730 cont'd

Austin L. Drake, a well to do farmer of Murdock township, has been a resident of this county for forty-four years, and has contributed his share, as a pioneer and successful farmer and stockman, in reclaiming the great American desert, and developing the prosperous county of Butler. Mr. Drake was born in Erie county, New York, November 22, 1841, a son of George W. and Jane Drake, natives of New York, who spent their lives in Erie county.

Mr. Drake was reared and educated in his native county and was there married to Miss Margaret A. Murray, a daughter of Henry and Nancy Murray, both natives of Ireland, who settled in Erie county at an early date, where they spent their lives. Mrs. Drake is one of six surviving children born to her parents, the others being as follows: Peter, Buffalo, N. Y.; John, Glenwood, N. Y.; Thomas, Cedar Falls, Iowa; Benjamin, London, Ontario, one of whose sons is now serving in the medical department of the British army in Turkey, and Mrs. Mary Hodge, Omaha, Neb. To Austin L. Drake and wife have been born the following children: Charles M., Avalon, Mo.; H. Lee, Sargent, Neb.; Frank A., Wichita, Kans., and Ray S., Calgary, Canada.

After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Drake came to Kansas, locating in Murdock township, Butler county, where they bought a claim of eighty acres, and have since added 160 acres to their original possession, which is now one of the valuable farms of Murdock township. They located here March 14, 1872, which was an early day in the settlement of Butler county. Conditions were primitive, conveniences few and life on the plains in those days was not only, not a luxury, but a positive hardship. When the Drakes came here there was no house to afford them shelter on their claim. Mr. Drake bought enough of walnut logs to build his house, and dug the cellar preparatory to erecting his little home, but he did not have sufficient money to build, so he covered the cellar which he had dug with the logs for a roof and they lived in the cellar for a time. During the grasshopper year, he had a good crop of corn which made



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HISTORY OF BUTLER COUNTY 731

one good square meal for the grasshoppers. However, he struggled on through these lean years of the early days, and was often forced to make great sacrifices to get a little money with which to buy the bare necessities of life. He has cut wood and hauled it to Wichita, a distance of about thirty miles, for which he received $3 a load, the trip requiring about three days, but those times have long since passed, and today Mr. Drake is one of the prosperous citizens of Butler county, and the success that has come to him is justly merited.

When the Drake family settled in Murdock township, game of all kinds was in abundance, and deer frequently came to a spring, that is on their place, for water. Mrs. Drake says that her greatest dread of the early days was her fear of the Indians, as there were a great many bands of them wandering around the country at various times, and when they came to her place she frequently gave them corn and chicken rather than take the risk of offending them by refusing. However, they never did any harm with the possible exception of some petty pilfering. Mr. and Mrs. Drake have lived to see Butler county grow up, as it were, and while they have been contributing their part to the betterment of the community, they have also succeeded in a financial way, which should he a source of gratification to them, as an assurance of peace and plenty in their latter years.

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