Drake family tree rooted in county since 1880

Posted 5/5/20

I’ve found that when doing research, it takes a miracle to find three sites that totally agree on spelling of names and on dates of births and deaths. I do lean strongly towards believing a good copy of a birth or death certificate. I use Findagrave.com often, but it is not perfect. Don’t hold me to exactness. History is often not exact. I do my best.

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Drake family tree rooted in county since 1880

Posted

I’ve found that when doing research, it takes a miracle to find three sites that totally agree on spelling of names and on dates of births and deaths. I do lean strongly towards believing a good copy of a birth or death certificate. I use Findagrave.com often, but it is not perfect. Don’t hold me to exactness. History is often not exact. I do my best.

If you have been in Madison County long, I’ll bet you know some Drakes. You may not be aware that Drakes have been in Madison County at least since 1880. Drakes have married into many families and there are Drake genes spread all around.

Aaron “Bud” Drake (1852-1933) was born in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. In the 1870s, he was a cattle drover, pushing herds from Louisiana into Texas. Later he trailed cattle from Rockdale to Kansas. Still later he farmed at Bundic Prairie and finally moved into North Zulch.

Aaron’s wife, Annie (1859-1942), was a Mitchell from the Midway area. When her parents died during the Civil War, her mother’s sister and brother-in-law, Julius and Martha Zulch, took her and her sisters to raise. Annie remembered seeing fields burned by soldiers during the war. Remember the time period and the hardships when I tell you that Annie was 13 when she married Bennett Keefer, with whom she had one son, Maxie Clarence Keefer. Bennett died of injuries suffered while driving a wagon across the Navasota River at Bundic Crossing. He and another man met each other while trying to cross the river at the same time, and neither would wait for the other. Their wheels hung together when they met midstream. They began to fight right there, and the other man stuck a knife into Keefer’s chest, cutting off the tip of his heart. He died nine days later.

Two years later, Annie married Aaron “Bud” Drake, and they had nine children. Daughter Mary (1882-1978) married William Donaho. Lemuel (1884-1942) first married Lucia Boney and then Louise Driver May. Pearl (1886-1976) married Grover Donaho. Joseph (1889-1977) wed first Alma Wilson Gustavus and then Alma Husky Kimmey. Sina (1891-1978) married Charles Vaught. Tom (1893-1972) wed Lizzie Mize. Jennie (1895-1968) married Roy Newman. Rubert (1898-1979) married Eula Gustavus. Josie (1902-1969) wed Dan Burney. According to Findagrave.com, all nine of those plus half-brother Maxie are buried at Willowhole Cemetery.

Son Rubert and wife, Eula, lived all of their lives in North Zulch. He worked the pipelines some, trapped, bought and sold hides, and sold fence posts for years. In 1948 he took office as Madison County Commissioner for Precinct 4. He also served on the North Zulch School Board. Eula took great pride in taking care of her family. They raised six children in North Zulch.

One of Rubert’s and Eula’s sons, Curtis Troy Drake, (1930-1951), joined the U.S. Army on Jan. 1, 1950, just two months after his 19th birthday. By summer he was in Korea in the Eighth Cavalry Regiment. Shortly after arriving, he and 190 men of his regiment were cut off from their outfit for three days by enemy troops. They had several skirmishes and walked approximately 100 miles over mountainous terrain before friendly planes spotted them and dropped food and maps. Afterwards, Curtis wrote home, “I’m pretty weak, and I have malaria, but other than that, I’m OK.” On Sept. 7, his parents got word that he had been wounded in action and was in a Japanese hospital. They later learned he had been shot in the leg.

On or about Nov. 20, Curtis returned to duty. He had just passed his 20th birthday when he wrote the last letter his family would receive from him. He wrote “I am just fine. Don’t worry, I’m on my way back to Korea. I don’t mind it this time as much as I did before, though”.

Curtis was killed in action Feb. 7, 1951, having served one year and one month. The Meteor wrote, “War knows no favorites and North Zulch gave a son toward the fight for freedom and democracy on a Korea battlefield.” His father was heard to say, “My boy didn’t die for one, he died for all.”

Another of Aaron’s and Annie’s sons was Tom. He and wife Lizzie lived their whole lives in Madison County except for one year when they went to Jones County for work. They had six children. Years later, Judy Drake-McLaurin, a granddaughter, wrote about Tom and Lizzie for Volume 2 of our local history. She said her grandfather enjoyed Dr Pepper on the back porch, cigars, and dominos. “When I think of my grandma, I think of aprons, clotheslines, spoons in a glass on the table, and her snow-white hair and thick glasses.”

Tom and Lizzie’s middle son, James Thomas “J.T.” Drake (1923-1942), attended North Zulch schools like his siblings. He was handsome, friendly, outgoing and liked by everyone. He lettered in basketball, played football, ran track and was in FFA.

J.T. turned 18 in November of 1941. The following February, he went to Houston to visit his sister, Jewel, and her husband, Terry Kimmey. Terry and J.T. were walking down a sidewalk when both were hit by a drunken driver. Terry had cuts and bruises but recovered fully. J.T. suffered severe head injuries and internal bleeding. He died three days later at Jefferson Davis Hospital.

Not only did J.T.’s family feel horrible loss, but the entire North Zulch School and the close-knit community felt their pain. J.T. was in buried in Willowhole Cemetery on Valentine’s Day, 1942.

Bobbie Sanders Goodrum (1927-2008) attended North Zulch school too. Perhaps J.T. was the first young person she knew to die, or perhaps she’d always looked up to him. She was four years younger than J.T. Drake, and she wrote the following tribute to him.

In Memory of a Friend

This morning at half past eight,

The heavens called away our classmate.

We all loved him like a brother,

To replace him we could never find another.

There will be an empty desk in our classroom tomorrow,

For the going of our friend has caused such sorrow.

Someday we will be sent to that happy place where J.T. waits,

And Dear God we pray we’ll see him again face to face.

Where does the above folk fit with the Drakes we now know? Bobby Merle Drake (1935-2003) was father of the Bobby, Nelson, and Darrell that I know. His father was Lemuel Aaron Drake (1884-1942), an older brother of Tom and Rubert and therefore an uncle to J.T. and Curtis.

I’ve been encouraging folks to join together to compile a third volume of Madison County history. The first two were published in 1984 and 1997. Without them, I wouldn’t have had access to much of the information above. Many families did not get their families’ histories into Volumes 1 or 2, and there has also been history made since 1997. We are losing history every day we don’t get it written down!

Madison County Museum is located at 201 N. Madison Street, and the mailing address is P.O. Box 61, Madisonville, TX 77864. It is usually open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is usually open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hopefully the Museum is opening soon. Call ahead, 936.348.5230, when you’d like to come in, and hopefully we will be open. Madison County Museum’s Facebook page has been posting daily entries and facts about local history, in hopes of keeping folks interested. Hopefully you will see fit to enjoy that.

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