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DRAKES, Joseph


Posted By: Joey Stark - Jefferson Co. Volunteer
Date: 8/4/2007 at 15:13:27

Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties, Iowa, Printed 1890 by Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago, Pages 183-184

Joseph DRAKES, deceased, who for some years was numbered among the respected citizens of Van Buren County, was born in Lincolnshire, England, March 15, 1809, and died at his home in Harrisburg Township, on the 5th of March, 1881. His parents, Thomas and Mary (HILL) DRAKES, were also natives of England, and unto them was born a family of nine children, of whom he was the fifth in order of birth. His father engaged in agricultural pursuits, and in consequence the days of his boyhood and youth were spent upon the farm, where he became acquainted with the business in all its details. He acquired a common-school education and remained at home until attaining his majority, when he resolved to seek his fortune in the land across the waters. In a slow-going sailship in 1830, he embarked for the New World, and after a voyage of several weeks arrived at his destination. For four years he was in the employ of Harry Livingston as private coachman, and for a number of years served in the same capacity for the illustrious Daniel Webster, one of America's great statesmen.

In 1841, while in Pennsylvania, Mr. DRAKES was united in the holy bonds of matrimony with Miss Jane NIXON, and located in the western part of the State, where he drove a stage coach belonging to the Good Intent stage line until the autumn of 1848. Hearing favorable reports from the new State of Iowa, and the excellent opportunities and advantages afforded its new settlers, he then determined to make his home in that far western region, and accompanied by his wife, at length reached Van Buren County. They settled on a farm, which is still occupied by Mrs. DRAKES, and purchased eighty acres of wild land, which has since been transformed into a most comfortable home. Year by year saw improvements added, the work of cultivation carried forward and industry and enterprise changing the once unfruitful regions into fields of rich fertility, which paid a golden tribute to the care and cultivation of the owner. Mr. DRAKES lived to see much of the growth and development of the county. He was a valued citizen, and one that took an active interest in all that pertained to the welfare of the community. As before stated, he died on the 5th of March, 1881, respected by all who knew him. He was an active Republican in politics and served for many years as Justice of the Peace. He was reared in the faith of the Church of England and adhered to its principles throughout life.

Mrs. DRAKES, who still survives her husband, was born in Fayette County, Pa., March 12, 1819, and is a daughter of Isaac and Sarah (BRIAN) NIXON. In a family of fourteen children, of which she is the eldest, eleven grew to manhood and womanhood, and eight of the number still abide, namely: Mrs. DRAKES; Nancy, wife of J. A. JONES, of Osceola, Clark County, Iowa; Maria L., widow of William SPAW of Wayne County, Iowa; Mrs. Juliet ISRAEL, deceased; Mary, now Mrs. Henry KECK, of Harrisburg Township; Eliza A., wife of Cary STEVENS, who makes his home in Adams County, Iowa; Sarah, wife of E. B. CAMPBELL, a resident farmer of Cedar Township, Van Buren County; Clarinda, who wedded A. J. JACOBS, of the same township; Ella T., wife of J. W. ELLERTON, of Aurora, Neb.; Phoebe A., deceased wife of R. B. JUNK; Joseph C., who was a member of Company C., Eighth Iowa Cavalry, and was killed at the battle of Franklin, Tenn.

The union of Mr. and Mrs. DRAKES was never blessed with children of their own, but they reared as an own son Leroy JUNK, son of George A. JUNK who was a brother-in-law of Mrs. DRAKES and died in Andersonville Prison, September 13, 1864, having been captured while on the Stoneman raid through Georgia. Leroy grew up on the farm, surrounded by the loving care and attention of Mr. and Mrs. DRAKES, and in October, 1883, was united in marriage with Miss Florence, daughter of Daniel and Lavina (WARNER) BOERSTLER, of this county. After spending three or four years in Nebraska, they returned to Van Buren County, and Leroy has now taken charge of the homestead farm of Mrs. DRAKES, and will in future here reside. Unto the young couple have been born three children -- Georga A., Edith and Ethel.

*Transcribed for genealogy purposes; I have no relation to the person(s) mentioned.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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