William Henry Drake (NY/IL/MN/OR) 1850-1936
From: T J Neff

Date: Tuesday, 4 March 2003 3:47 PM

Hello- I was referred to you by someone from a genealogy message board. I am trying to find ancestor info on my great, great, great grandfather whose surname was Drake.

Here is what I know (which isn't too much!)

William Henry Drake was born early 1850 in NY. His mother's name was Mary. He had a sister named Elizabeth also born in NY (approx 1852).

By 1857, the family is somewhere in IL, where 3 more children are born: George T (1857), Orianna, and Martha B.

By 1870, the family (minus the deceased father) is in Winsted Twp, McLeod Co, MN.

In 12/1874 & 1/1875, Orianna & Mary die in McLeod Co, MN.

On 6/2/1875, William Henry married Clara Estella Cole (dob 5/2/1859 Fond du Lac Co, WI), in McLeod Co.

Sometime before 1880, George T marries a Laura Lotilda (maiden name unknown) in McLeod Co.

On 1880 census William & Clara are in Ottawa Twp, Franklin Co, KS. George & Laura still in McLeod Co.

By 1888, William & Clara are in Morrison Co, MN which is prime logging territory.

During 1888-1894, William & George have land grants & also makes cash purchases off & on for several sections of forest, eventually having title to 400+ acres over the years. We do not know if George moved to Morrison Co, or stayed in McLeod (about 100 miles).

During this time, William Henry associated with Clarence Bennett (CB) Buckman of Little Falls. Mr. Buckman was a true "lumber baron" and "land baron". Some of William's more profitable land deals were in conjunction with CB. In addition to owning much of Little Falls MN (the major town of Morrison Co at the time), CB was a Sate Rep & State Senator. He was also a US Rep and US Marshal!

On 1/24/1890, Bertha Elnora Myers is born to Carrie Mable Myers (dob 8/2/1870 in Morrison Co). Although the father isn't listed on the birth cert, it was accepted that William Henry was the father. Carrie was a servant in the Drake household (William & Clara never had children). Bertha would live off & on with the Drakes in her early years, and was probably also in a Morrison Co orphanage at times. Throughout her life, Bertha referred to William as Papa, although she used Myers as her maiden name. She had sporadic contact with her birth mother & her 1/2 siblings until Carrie & her new family moved to North Dakota.

7/1897, William Henry believed to have left MN. Efforts by Clara to locate him fail. Believed she offered a reward! Several parcels of land via land grants are still in his name, but it appears most of the land he owned outright had been sold.

9/1899 Clara files for divorce on grounds of desertion. The child Bertha is NOT living with her at this time. Renewed efforts to find William to no avail.

1/1900 Clara's divorce is approved by Morrison Co court. Land liens in Clara's favor are approved for 2 parcels of land still in William's name. These parcels are later sold, and Clara received funds via the liens.

1900 = unable to locate William or George or Laura on census.

June 1900 Clara remarries. Sometime between then & 1905, Clara brings Bertha into her home. In fact she is the witness at Bertha's marriage in 1908 to George Wood.

By early 1900, a large group of old family friends (the Comer family) moved from their homes in McLeod Co, MN to Lane Co, OR. Joseph Wheeler (married to Maranda Cornelia Comer) also moves his family. He dies very soon after arriving in OR.

On 1910 census, William Henry in Benton Co, OR as a "widower". He's working as a teamster in this main logging area. Also on the 1910 census, Joseph Wheeler's widow Maranda Cornelia Comer Wheeler is listed as Maranda Drake in nearby Lane Co, OR.

Also in 1910, George T & wife Laura are in Yamhill Co, Or, doing logging work.

In fall 1916, daughter Bertha & her own young family travel to Benton Co, OR to visit William. They stay until early 1917. Bertha's daughter Amy is actually born in "Papa" Drake's home. Oddly, none of Bertha's letters or remembrances include any reference to a wife for William at that time!

1920 census William & Cornelia living together as Mr & Mrs Drake in Corvallis, Benton Co, OR. He's still doing logging work.

1922 Maranda Cornelia dies. Her death certificate lists her as WHEELER, and there's no record of a marriage to William Henry in OR from the time of her 1st husband's death. Her family did the obituary, and she is not referred to as Drake.

1923 Laura Drake dies in Yamhill Co, OR. No children!

1930 William Henry still in Benton Co, OR.

2/18/1936 William Henry dies in the Corvallis Home for the Aged & Invalids. No family known, but the nursing home lists "deceased-Nelia Drake" as his spouse.

4/4/1945 George T dies in Yamhill Co. No family known.

Well, that's what I have! Maybe if we knew what happened to his sister Elizabeth after 1870, might be able to find a source for more info. Or if we knew who his father was.

I look forward to any guidance!!

Terri Jo Neff
St Cloud MN

Terri (Flasch) Neff via Phyllis (Jones) Flasch via Georgie Elnora "Eleanora" (Wood) Jones via Bertha Elnora (Myers) Wood via William Henry Drake


Since my 1st note to you, we have been able to confirm more information on William Henry Drake, including his parents names. However, I've been unable to confirm any info about William's father's family.

Here is what I do know. The father's name was Edmund P. Drake, born approx 1828-1832. His mother was Mary Thompson, dob 1834 in Dutchess Co, NY to Samuel Slee & Rosetta Thompson. We were able to locate much info on Mrs. Mary Drake, as her family traveled with Edmund & Mary to Winnebago Co, IL in the mid-1850's.

William's sister's full name was Elizabeth Emma, and she was born in NY approx 1852. He also had 3 other siblings, all born in Winnebago Co, IL... George T, Orianna & Martha B. The entire Drake family left IL sometime in the 1860's for McLeod Co, MN. We know Edmund died sometime between August 1860 & January 1870, but no documentation yet of when / where.

Orianna & Martha died in the 1870's of Typhoid Fever. George lived to an old age but never had children. Elizabeth married J. Hatten / Hattan in MN, but moved to TX after the Typhoid Fever swept thru McLeod Co. She died in TX in the 1880's.

Roy-- we have found many DRAKE families in Dutchess Co, NY in 1830's-1850's, but have not been able to find any record of Edmund's parentage.

I would really appreciate it if you could update this file, and maybe someone out there will have some info on Edmund P Drake!!

Thank you for your help!! Terri Neff St Cloud, MN