Drake House Museum in Plainfield
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Drake House Museum in Plainfield
From: "Douglas Drake"
To: "DRAKE family genealogy list"
Subject: Drake House Museum
Date: Tuesday, 4 March 1997 3:37 AM
I visited the Drake House Museum in Plainfield, NJ, yesterday. I found the house was originally built by Isaac Drake, a son of the Rev. John Drake, first Baptist minister of Piscataway, NJ. John was a son of the Francis Drake who came from England to New Hampshire, and then to New Jersey. Isaac built the house for his son Nathaniel. Among the holdings in the museum are the original deed to the property on which the house stands, beautifully handwritten, dated April 29, 1743, the will of Nathaniel Drake, and family Bible with several Drake family entries and a well-preserved portrait of Nathaniel. He was obviously a substantial man in the community, and a friend of George Washington, who used his house as a headquarters when he was in the area. The Drakes sold the house to a New York banker in 1865, who made it over from the original colonial salt and pepper style into a Victorian retreat for his family. I stopped at the little Baptist Church in Edison, NJ, and found the churchyard full of Drake headstones as well as many Runyons and other associated names. I'm planning further expeditions to the area, in case anyone wants me to look for particular headstones, etc.

I have been reading through some of the material left at the museum by other Drake researchers, which the staff was kind enough to copy for me. I was delighted to find some of the best and most professionally done work on the early New Jersey Drakes I have ever found. First, there was a report entitled "Our Drakes in New Jersey," by Mrs. Cynthia W. Rummel. Her address and those of other submitters of information was given. However, I prefer to get their permission before putting this information on the web. Those interested in the addresses should e-mail me directly. I quote at length from Mrs. Rummel's excellent little work, obviously done by a person who takes her research seriously.

xxxxxxxxx All the following to the next line of x's is quoted from Mrs Rummel.

Ancestors - Capt. Francis Drake (1)

The staff at the Drake House Museum in Plainfield, N.J., were kind enough to copy some letters and other material at the museum submitted by visitors and others concerning the Drakes. One letter by Cynthia Rummel of Wilmette, Illinois, was extremely well done, and she has kindly given me permission to quote from it here. It outlines the source material connecting her ancestor Zachariah Drake with Capt. Francis Drake, who settled in N.H. and then moved to Piscataway, NJ. The letter reads:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx The following up to the next line of x's is quoted from Cynthia Rummel.

I. Capt. Francis Drake - born probably by about 1620-1625, birthplace unknown. He died Sept. 24, 1687, Piscataway, Middlesex Co., N.J., intestate. He came to Strawberry Bank - later Portsmouth, N.H. - by 1646; removed to Piscataway, N.J. 1668-70, apparently because of the religious freedom offered there. I think it likely that he was originally Church of England and inclined toward the Baptist idea of separation of church and state; certainly his children were ardent Baptists. He seems to have been a prominent and respected citizen.

He married Mary _____. She died July 29, 1688, Piscataway, N.J. (It has been stated that she was a Walker but I have never seen any proof that this was so). Children (probably all born in or near Portsmouth, N.H.):

a. George b. m. Mary Oliver, Nov. 13, 1677, Piscataway; his will 1709-1710, Piscataway; had 11 children.
b. Elizabeth b. m. Hugh Dunn, Dec. 19, 1670, Piscataway; his will 1691-1694, Piscataway; had 9 children.
c. John b.abt 1655 m. Rebecca Trotter

Capt. Francis' estate is abstracted in New Jersey Archives, 1st series, vol. 23, as follows:

p. 142. 1687, Sept. 29. DRAKE, CAPT FRANCES, of Piscataway. Inventory of the personal estate of (67 pounds, 7 shillings); made by Benia Hull and Edward Slater. Middlesex Wills

1687, Oct 28. Admin. of the estate granted to his son George Drake of Piscataway; N.J. Arch. XXI, p. 104.

1687, Oct 28. Bond of his son George Drake of Pisc., planter, as admin. of the estate. Benjamin Hull of same place, gentleman, fellow bondsman. Middlesex Wills

1688, Aug 20. Account of the estate, as admin. by his son George Drake, showing payments to brother Hugh Dun and brother John Drake, in all 62 pounds 14 shillings 4 pence

1692/3, Feb. 27. Account of payments from the estate, by George Drake, to his mother, sister Elesebeth Dun, brother John Drake, Samuel Walker of Boston, merchant, Benjamin Hull, Charles Follet, Walter Robeson, Hugh Stonnels and John Goning, in all 68 pounds, 3 shillings, 6 pence.

The marriage and death dates given above are from the Piscataway Town Records. Since others are intending to publish the "Piscataway Drakes" I shall only touch on them lightly here. However, I do want to say that a great deal of erroneous material has been printed about them. At this writing no one really knows who Capt. Francis' father was, or where he came from before he appeared in New Hampshire were the earliest record I have found of him is in 1646 (Portsmouth Town Records). It is, of course, great fun to speculate over what little evidence there is, but too often wishful thinking has put down speculation as truth.

xxxxxxxxxxx End of quotation from Cynthia Rummel xxxx

There is quite a bit more about Rev. John Drake, Benjamin Drake, and Zachariah Drake, as well as their other children and grandchildren. I will submit it as I have time. It was refreshing to find the work of this obviously careful and competent genealogist after wading through so much obvious nonsense about the early New Jersey Drakes.

Ms. Rummel continues:

xxxxxxxxxx All to the next line of x's quoted from Cynthia Rummel

II. Rev. John Drake - born about 1655, Portsmouth, N.H. He died 1740-41, will proved in Essex Co., NJ. He was a lay preacher in the early days of Piscataway, and upon the organization of the old Piscataway Baptist Church he became its pastor and served in that capacity for more than 50 years (Lee, New Jersey Genealogy, pub. 1910, v.1, p.82). He married Rebecca Trotter of Elizabeth Town, July 7, 1677 (Pisc. Town Records); she was born July 5, 1655, Newbury Mass. He is said to have been married twice more, but the names of the 2nd and 3rd wives are unknown. Rebecca was apparently mother of all his children (T.R.).

Children: (all born Piscataway, N.J.)

a) John b. June 2, 1678 - m. Sarah Compton
b) Francis b. Dec. 23, 1679 - m. Patience _____
c) Samuel b. 1680 - m. Elizabeth Hull
d) Joseph b. Oct 21, 1681 - m. Anne Hull
e) BENJAMIN b. 1683 - m. 1)Mary 2)Hannah
f) Abraham b. Apr. 1685 - m. Deliverance Wooden
g) Sarah b. 1686 - m. _____ Fulson
h) Isaac b. Jan 12, 1687/8 - m. Hannah _____
i) Jacob b. 1690
j) Ebenezer b. July 19, 1693 - m. Anna Dunn
k) Ephraim b. 1694
l) Rebecca b. Nov 21, 1697 - m. Joseph Fitzrandolph
m) Abigail b. May 10, 1699
n) Mary - m. ______ Davis

In a deposition dated April 29, 1707, John Drake gives his age as "about 50 years" (N.J. Arch. 1st ser. v.III p. 218). From N.J. Arch., 1st ser. v. 30:

1740, April 7. DRAKE, JOHN SEN'R, of Essex Co., yeoman; will of. Children: Benjamin, Isaac, Abraham, Samuel and Sarah Fulson. Grandchildren: Abraham, John, Philip, and Gershom Drake; Samuel, Thomas and Mary Davis, children of dtr Mary dec'd. Dau-in-law Patience Drake. Edward Slater, Allizhiah Skebbo, Elizabeth (wife of Benjamin Hull, Esq), Filiratea (wife of Benjamin Martain), Moses FitzRandolph, Christian Rebout, the poor of Piscataqua. Exrs: grandsons Samuel and Jonas Drake, and their mother, Hannah Drake. Wit: James Manning, Grace Manning, David Drake. Pr. Sept. 29, 1741 Lib. C p. 442

1741, Sept. 30. Hannah Drake, wife of Isaac Drake, renounces the executorship on account of age and other inability. Wit: John Blackford Jr., Jacob Thorp. Inventory, 5 pounds 3 shillings; made by David Sutton.

III. Benjamin Drake. Born about 1683, Piscataway, Middlesex Co., N.J. He died 1763 (will, Hopewell Township, Hunterdon Co., NJ. He and wife Mary removed to Hopewell by 1715. He married Mary _____, who died by 1749. It has been stated that she was a Runyon, but there is no evidence whatsoever for this. She might have been a Seabrook, however: the estate of Daniel Seabrook, May 2, 1750, intestate - Account, May 1, 1751, mentions "cash paid Benjamin Drake (which was due his wife)..." (Arch. v.30 p. 422). He married 2) before 1753, Hannah _____.

Children: (not necessarily in order of birth)
a) John - m. Rachel _____
b) Benjamin Jr. (probable) - m. Sarah _____
c) William - m. Susannah ____
d) Francis - probably unmarried
e) Zachariah b. before 1725 - m. Elizabeth Blackwell
f) Edmond
g) Daniel
h) Thomas
i) Nathan
j) Rebecca
By wife Hannah:
k) Hannah

According to "Pioneers of Old Hopewell," by Gedney, p. 126:

1715 - Benj. Drake and Mary Drake (dec'd by 1749), in Hopewell
>From NJ Archives, 1st series, v. 33:

DRAKE, BENJAMIN of Hopewell Twp, Hunterdon Co. Will of. "Being aged". Wife Hannah, all the goods she brought when I married her, also 50 pounds. Dtr Rebecca 40 pounds. Son Zachariah 40 pounds. Dtr Hannah 40 pounds. Grandson William Drake, the son of William Drake, 5 pounds. To Isaac....(Here I am missing a page in the narrative, which the copier at the museum probably skipped. I will add it when I recover the page. D. Drake)

...v.33. 1767, Jan. 15. DRAKE, EDMOND of Hopewell, Hunterdon Co., will. My executors are to sell my estate at public sale and to pay the legacies ordered by my father's will that remain unpaid; and my father's apparel is to be divided between my three brothers Thomas, Nathan and Daniel. Son Nicholas, my apparel. Dtr. Catharine ? pounds. Dtr. Elizabeth my bed. Exrs: friends Ephraim Runyan and John Drake. Wit: Jacob Stout, Azariah Hunt. Pr. Feb 3, 1767. 1767, Feb 2. Inventory 287 pounds 11 shillings 7 pence etc. Lib. 13 p. 216

v. 30. 1742, April 12. DRAKE, BENJAMIN, of Maidenhead, Hunterdon Co. Inventory of estate, 136 pounds, 16 shillings, 10 pence, including loom and tacklings. Made by Mathew Hickson and Reuben Armitage.

Hunterdon Wills, 154 J
1742, April 16. Bond of Sarah Drake, widow, as admin. Fellow bondsman, BENJAMIN DRAKE of Hopewell, yeoman. Wit: Reuben Armitage, Archibald Horne.

All of Benjamin Drake's children are proven by the above wills excepting Benjamin, Jr. However, I believe the last will, above, is his - that he died many years before his father - and that Benjamin Drake, yeoman of Hopewell, who was bondsman for widow, Sarah, was the father. Probably Benjamin Jr. had no children - at least there is no mention of them in the later wills. There is another bit of evidence:

Benjamin Drake, Jr. joined the Baptist Church at Hopewell on May 27, 1741. (Gedney, p. 129)

Again, I have touched but lightly on the Hopewell Drakes. Considerable further research is needed to do them properly.

xxxxxxxxxxxx End of quote from C. Rummel