Biography - JAMES HENRY DRAKE
Among the early settlers in LaSalle county, Illinois, was Jesse R. Drake, father of the gentleman whose name initiates this review, who with his family came to Illinois in 1839 and to LaSalle county in 1844. Jesse R. Drake was a son of William Drake, and was born in New York and reared and educated there. When he reached manhood he went to Bradford county, Pennsylvania, where he married Miss Jemima Ferguson, daughter of William Ferguson, of English descent, who came to America to fight for the colonists in the Revolutionary war. Some years after their marriage they removed with their family to Coles county, Illinois, and five years later to LaSalle county, settling in South Ottawa. Their family consisted of eight children, whose names in order of birth were as follows: Ruthenne, Benjamin, William, Delia, Jesse W., all now deceased; Mary, wife of A. G. Bardwell, of Erie, Neosho county, Kansas; J. H., the subject of this sketch; and Isaac, deceased. Both parents lived to venerable age. The father died at seventy-three and the mother at seventy-five. Jesse R. Drake was a prosperous farmer and stood high in the esteem of his fellow-citizens. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. Politically he was a Republican. His good wife was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
James Henry Drake was born in Coles county, Illinois, October 26, 1840, and was four years old when his parents came to Ottawa. His boyhood days were passed in work on his father's farm and in attending the country schools. He remained at the home of his parents, except one summer, when he was engaged in driving cattle from Illinois to Kansas until the civil war broke out. When the civil war came on he was among the first to enter the Union ranks, and he went out as a member of the Fiftythird Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Colonel William Cushman and Captain J. Skinner. He enlisted in 1861 and his service covered a period of over three years, at the end of which time he was honorably discharged. In 1886 Mr. Drake located on his present farm of one hundred and twelve acres in South Ottawa township. This farm, known for years as the old Dewey farm, is well located, three miles southeast of town, and is nicely improved with good buildings, including a comfortable residence surrounded with lawn and shade trees.
July 5, 1868, Mr. Drake married Miss Mercy J. Turner, a native of Wyoming county, Pennsylvania, and a daughter of Erasmus T. and Fidelia (Ball) Turner, both natives of Pennsylvania. Mrs. Turner died in 1871, leaving two children, Mrs. Drake and Mrs. Louisa Clark. Mr. Turner is now a resident of Alta, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Drake have two children, namely: Charles H., who married Miss Allie J. Scidmore, and has one child, Charles Henry, who lives at Wenona, Illinois; and Linnie B., wife of Irving Scidmore and mother of one child, Ruth Belle Scidmore.
Mr. Drake is a Republican. Although taking an active interest in politics, he has never aspired to official honors. He is a member of the G. A. R. Post of Streator, and he and his family are identified with the Methodist Episcopal church.
After the war he returned to his father's home and remained there until 1871, when he removed to Chatsworth, where he remained for one year; next he returned to the old home and engaged in the occupation of farming until 1879. Then he and his family removed to Streator, where he turned his attention to the flour and feed business and in buying cattle.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 43-44.