Hi all,

Several have asked that I post again this article on the Drakes of Madison co. AR; it was on the list back when the list was young, but we have many new subscribers and so perhaps it will be useful. This is a revision of an article that originally appeared in Madison County Musings back in 1990. Because of the length, I will do it in two or three installments over the next couple of days. Be glad to have any conversation, either on the list or personally, about these Drakes. This version was last revised a year or so ago, so there may be some things that have come through on the list lately that aren't incorporated. I've been on the sidelines for the last few months; some of you know I'm working on a PhD. program, and have been working toward comprehensive exams this year, so genealogy has been in the category of " still interested and reading my e-mail, but not contributing much." Just had my last written exam Friday, and the orals are in a couple of weeks, so after then I hope I can contribute more. Anyway, here goes:Richard O. Johnson


[This paper is a revision of that published in Madison County Musings in the issue of Spring, 1990.]

The Drake family, among the earliest settlers of Madison county, AR, apparently descends from two brothers, Jacob and Isaac Drake, who are said to have come from Tennessee ca. 1830/32. Much confusion still exists about these brothers and their families, but after researching the Drakes for a number of years, I would like to offer the following material as a starting point for further discussion and analysis of this family. There are a number of sources for this material, but three of the most important are as follows:

[1] A letter written by Jacob Drake (Jr.), son of the original Jacob, in 1893. I have two different versions of this letter, neither of them the original. One is a typescript which seems to have come originally from a Mrs. Donald Drake, but has passed through several hands before it got to me.

The other is a handwritten copy provided by Diana Davis of Wesley, AR, who indicated that it was sent to her by Bessie Reas of Altadena, CA. These copies differ at one significant point, which will be noted below. I also now have a photocopy of what appears to be the original, sent by Leona M. Hillis of McMinnville, TN. I am not aware of where the original may be, if it still exists (I don't believe Mrs. Hillis has it). This letter was written to a Wesley Drake of Washington co. AR, who had written to Jacob trying to ascertain whether their families were related (they apparently were not).

[2] A document written in 1914 by old Jacob's granddaughter, Emeline (Hash) Dodson, daughter of his daughter Esther (Drake) Hash, listing " my mother's parents, their names, and her brothers and sisters." I have a typescript that was included in a family history compiled by Frank A. Dodson, youngest son of Emeline. Location of the original document is unknown.

[3] A typescript of a " family history" by Oscar Johnson, a great-grandson of Jacob, provided by Ruby Johnson Weideman.

These sources are cited by number in the following analysis, and copies of each are attached to this memo.

Jacob Drake was born in Pennsylvania, in the vicinity of the Juniata River [1, 3] in 1779 [1]. The 1850 census of Madison co. is fairly consistent, giving Jacob's birth place as PA and his age as 72, i.e. b. 1777-78. His father was Benjamin Drake [1]. The 1790 census shows a Benjamin Drake living near the Juniata River in Huntington Twp., Huntington co., PA. It is claimed by Ralph Lawson, in a family history he has compiled, that this Benjamin was born in the Jersey Islands, that he is the Benjamin Drake who purchased land in 1784 in Davidson co. TN, that he is the Benjamin Drake buried near Elizabethton, Carter co. TN (whose tombstone gives his death date as 1 Jan. 1827 "in his 98 year" and that his wife was Sarah Buchanan (1730-1815). There are a number of problems with this information, and it must be treated with some skepticism. First, in spite of the fact that Jacob Jr.'s letter says his grandfather came from the Jersey Isalands, this is problematic. There is no evidence for it other than his comment, and the surname "Drake" is unusual if not unknown in records of the Jersey Islands. There were a good many Drake families in New Jersey, however, and it may be that Jacob was simply confused at this point. It is also certainly unlikely that a woman born in 1730 would give birth to a son born in the late 1770'sand as we shall see, Jacob had at least one younger brother born in 1781, which would have made his mother 51 at the time of his birth! One must also question the identification of the Benjamin of Davidson co. as Jacob's father, at least without further evidence. There is, however, evidence that this family was in Carter co. TN, as we shall see below.

It is known that Jacob had at least three brothers cited by his son: Isaac, Elijah and a third brother whose name was probably Abraham [1]. In the copy of this letter sent by Mrs. Davis, and in my copy of what appears to be the original manuscript, the third brother's name is given as "Abe," but in the other copy it is "Rhe."; (The name Abraham appears in this Drake family with some frequency, but there is also indication of some connection with a family named Rhea or Rea, so the latter name, though unusual, should not necessarily be ruled out; but since the apparent original reads " Abe," that seems to settle the matter). The brother Isaac, who is thought to have accompanied Jacob to Madison co., was apparently dead by 1840, so his approximate birth date is not known. The brother Elijah lived and died in Van Buren co. TN.

It is not certain exactly when the Drakes moved to Tennessee. We find Abraham and Benjamin Drake listed on the tax lists of Carter co. TN in 1796, and again in 1798 when Isaac Drake also appears. If Isaac's appearance coincides with his attaining 21 years of age (often the case with tax records), his birth date would be ca. 1777. Isaac Drake married Ruth Murray in Carter co. 8 Jan. 1799, and since this is known to be the Isaac who settled in Madison co. AR, we can assume that Abraham and Benjamin are probably relativesand indeed, Benjamin may be the father of the other two. Jacob Drake has not been found on the records of Carter co., but his first marriage took place in Knox co. TN in 1802. The bride's name on this marriage is recorded as Polly Noland; she has also been referred to as "Mary Nolen" [1] and "Esther Nolan" [2]. It is assumed that Jacob, perhaps joined by his brothers, was in Warren co. TN not too long after this marriage. The earliest record for him there is a deed in which he receives 102 acres on the south side of Caney Fork River on 14 Nov. 1811. Jacob's name appears in a number of other land records in Warren co. over the next several years, often in conjunction with Isaac Drake and at least once in conjunction with both Isaac and Elijah Drake.

By his first wife Mary " Polly" Nolan, Jacob had one daughter, Esther Elizabeth, b. 12 Oct. 1803 [1, 2, 3]; he apparently also had a son, Benjamin [1, 2]. His first wife died and Jacob then married Hannah [1] or Mary [3] Ross (the 1850-60 censuses support "Hannah"), said to be a sister of Cherokee Chief John Ross (but no evidence of this from Cherokee records has been found). According to Oscar Johnson [3], Jacob married his first wife in PA, after her death went to NC, and then to TN only after his second marriage. This is not likely the case, however. The marriage record cited above shows that Jacob and Mary (Nolan) Drake were married in TN, and several sources confirm that their daughter Esther was born in TN, including consistent census records, an autobiographical sketch of her son Benjamin F. Hash, and another letter written by Emeline (Hash) Dodson; these sources are surely to be trusted. Jacob's second wife, Hannah, was born in NC according to the 1850 census (ca. 1792), so there may be some possibility that Jacob spent time there; it seems more likely that her NC birth place has confused Oscar Johnson about the movements of this family.

Jacob and Isaac apparently moved to northwest AR in 1830 (according to Goodspeed's History of Northwest Arkansas) or 1832 (according to Oscar Johnson in Madison County Genealogist, III:1); they are still listed in Warren co. TN in the 1830 census. According to Goodspeed, Isaac settled at Sander's Mill, Jacob at the mouth of what is now known as Drake's Creek.

A further word must be said here about Isaac Drake. Mrs. Marian Ledgerwood has recounted to me a visit with Oscar Johnson she made in 1964, at which time (and apparently at other times, as well!) he emphatically denied that old Jacob had a brother Isaac, insisting that the only Isaac Drake was Jacob's son. In light of that comment, it must be admitted that the records relating to Jacob's supposed brother are sketchy and confusing. Goodspeed's account sounds very much like a brother Isaac accompanied Jacob to AR, and there is an Isaac Drake in Warren co. TN in 1830 who is of the proper age to be Jacob's brother (in fact there are two Isaacs of approximately the same age). Yet an Isaac of that generation doesn't seem to appear in Madison co. census records in 1840 or 1850. Madison co. tax lists reveal an Isaac Drake consistently between 1837 and 1854, but only in 1838 are two Isaacs listed; and Jacob's son Isaac would have probably been old enough to be listed in any of these tax lists. If, in fact, Jacob had a brother Isaac who came with him to AR, it seems likely that he died very earlyprobably before 1840. It may well be that the Isaac Drake in the 1837 tax list is the brother, both he and Jacob's son appear in 1838, and the older Isaac is dead by 1839, leaving only the younger Isaac listed.

(Oscar Johnson, in the article cited above, noted that Jacob and Isaac Drake were the first school teachers at Drake's Creek. In light of Oscar's denial that old Jacob had a brother Isaac, he must have been referring to Jacob and his son Isaac; Jacob's son Jacob, b. 1824, would have been too young to be teaching school in the early years of Drake's Creek education.)

Jacob died, presumably at Drake's Creek, in 1856 [1]. It seems likely he is buried in the Drake's Creek Cemetery, though his name is not included in the published list of the graves there. His widow was still living at the time of the 1860 census, but apparently had died by 1870.

As for the children of Jacob Drake, the three primary sources have significant differences:

[1] Jacob Jr. (presumably the one in the best position to know!) says there were two children by the first wife ("Easter" and Benjamin); he then names 13 children of Hannah (including separate listings for Polly and Mary Jane, who seem likely to be the same person), but says "14 children in all," seeming to meet Jacob had 14 in all by two wives.

[2] Emeline says "my mother's mother died, leaving two children," then lists ten whom she calls "half-brothers and sisters."

[3] Oscar mentions only one child by the first wife ("Easter") and ten by the second, but lists only eight by name, one of whom is "Easter" (i.e., he lists an Easter as a daughter of each wife).

Collating this contradictory information with census and other data, the following is a tentative list of the children of Jacob Drake:

By Esther Nolan:

i. Esther Elizabeth, b. 12 Oct. 1803, married Alvin Hash. They were married in Warren co. TN, moved with his parents to Sangamon co. IL, then located near the Drakes in adjacent Washington co. AR. While her name is usually spelled "Easter" in the Drake sources, all sources written by her own children and grandchildren are consistent in spelling it "Esther."

ii. Benjamin, b. ca. 1805. Named by Jacob and mentioned (but not by name) by Emeline. A Benjamin Drake appears in the 1850 census for Madison co., age 44; a descendant, Mrs. Stanley Hill, had believed him to be a son of Isaac Drake, but reported that no real evidence exists for that assumption, which she first made when only Oscar Johnson's list of Jacob's children was available to her. Arvel Glenn, a very thorough Drake researcher last known to be living in Southern California in 1971 (and probably now dead), suggested to her several years ago that her Benjamin might be a son of Jacob's first wife. It seems that both Jacob and Isaac had sons in this age group in the early TN census records. This Benjamin's family appears in Hopkins co. TX in 1860, but without Benjamin, who presumably had died. It should also be noted that there is a record of a Benjamin Drake, possibly this one, who sold land in Sangamon co. IL to (his brother-in-law?) Alvin Hash.

By Hannah Ross:

iii. Mary Jane, b. ca. 1811, married John Clark Johnson. She was known as "Polly," and so probably was mistakenly named twice in Jacob Jr.'s list.

iv. Elijah, b. ca. 1813, married Lucinda Hawk/Hock. Oscar Johnson inexplicably listed one of Jacob's children as "Mrs. Lige Drake."

v. Isaac, b. ca. 1815, married Nancy Johnson.

vi. "Elexander"(Alexander?), listed by Jacob Jr. but not by Emeline or Oscar; possibly a son who appears in early census records and apparently died young.

vii. Ephraim, listed only by Jacob (where the name seems to be spelled "Ekreim"). Marian Ledgerwood wrote that Oscar Johnson told of an Ephraim Drake who was murdered by thieves who thought he was carrying gold. An Ephraim Drake appears in the Madison co. tax lists for several years, as well as the 1850 census, then later in the Barry co. MO census records, who seems to be the son of the elusive Isaac; so Oscar's Ephraim is probably this son mentioned by Jacob Jr.

viii. Elizabeth, b. ca. 1820, married Ruben Rogers (listed by Emeline and Jacob, but not Oscar).

ix. Jacob, b. 6 Dec. 1824, married (1) Margaret Counts, and (2) Telitha Young. later lived in Barry co. MO.

x. E. Salina, b. ca. 1827, married Bennet Lewis. Listed by Jacob and Emeline (list says Helina, but this is probably a misreading), but not Oscar unless his second "Easter" is really "Easter Salina.".

xi. Rutha/Ruthy, b. 1829, married James Neal. Listed by Emeline and Jacob, but not Oscar.

xii. "Feby," listed only by Jacob; could she be the "Sarah" listed by the others? (see xiv)

xiii. Lavina J., b. ca. 1832, married Abner Lewis (brother of Bennet Lewis who married Salina). She is listed as "Malvinia" by Emeline, "Viney" by Oscar, "Vina" by Jacob, "Lavina J." or "Viney" in the census records.

xiv. Sarah/Sallie, something of a puzzle. She is still listed with her parents in the 1850 census (b. ca. 1832). She was not named by Jacob but was listed by both Oscar and Emeline. Is it possible she is identical to Jacob's "Feby"? Emeline didn't know who she married, but Ruby Weideman's Annotated 1880 Census of Madison County, Arkansas shows a Sarah Drake, b. 1832, married to Nathan Brooks.

xv. Hannah, b. ca. 1836, married Allison Boyd (listed by Emeline and Jacob, but not by Oscar).

I believe the best explanation for the discrepancies in the lists is that Jacob's "Feby" (Phoebe?) is in fact the same as the others' Sarah/Sallie, and that he simply named Mary Jane/Polly twice by mistake. That leaves his list of Jacob's second family with 12 names, which include the ten mentioned by Emeline, as well as Elexander and Ephraim. If Elexander died as a child, and Ephraim was murdered as a young man, that would account for neither Emeline nor Oscar knowing or remembering them.

Assuming Jacob did, in fact, have a brother Isaac, it is reasonable to assume that the other Drakes in Madison county are his children and their descendants. Tradition says Isaac was married to Ruth Murray, and that is confirmed by their 1799 marriage record in Carter co. TN. Ruth Drake, apparently Isaac's widow, is shown in 1850 living in the household of one Elizabeth Drake, presumably a daughter or daughter-in-law. Based on census records, the following is a tentative list of Isaac and Ruth's children:

i. Rachel, b. ca. 1800/01, who married Richard Lane about 1818 (and thus is missed by early census records). They later lived in Sangamon and Mason cos. IL.

ii. son, b. ca. 1794/1802; perhaps the David Drake who appears in the 1836 tax list of Washington co. AR but of whom I can find no further record?

iii. Jacob, b. ca. 1802, living in the household of Elizabeth Drake in 1850. While it would be unusual for the wife to be listed first, it is possible that this Elizabeth Drake was married to Jacob. She might be listed first if, for example, he were incapacitated in some way and she was thus in fact the "head of household."

iii. son, b. 1802/10, possibly the Benjamin who appears in the 1850 census of Madison co., though he seems more likely to be the son of Jacob (see #ii under Jacob above).

iv. dau., b. 1804/10, possibly the Matilda Drake, b. 1808, who was married first to Moses Goddard and second to James Hampton Clark (1850 Madison co. census #352).

v. son, b. 1804/10, possibly Pleasant Drake.

vi. William Murray, b. ca. 1811, married Sophronia Bell. Later lived Barry co. MO.

vii. dau., b. 1810/20, perhaps Ruthy who married Robert Hillis (1850 census of Madison co. #272). There was a Hillis family in early Warren co. TN which has other connections to the Drakes.

viii. Ephraim, b. 1813, married Elizabeth Henderson, later lived in Barry co. MO. The fact that this Ephraim in 1880 listed his mother's birth place as PA suggests that he is the son of Isaac rather than Jacob, since Jacob's wife Hannah was born in NC while Isaac's wife Ruth was born in PA.

ix. dau., b. 1810/20, possibly the Elizabeth in whose household her mother, Ruthy Drake, lived in 1850 (though she may also be the wife or widow of one of the sons).

x. son, b. 1810/20.

It is apparent that one problem with this Drake family is that names were repeated in several branches, so that it is often difficult to tell whether particular individuals are brothers, cousins, etc. I would be happy to hear from anyone with comments or corrections to this material. Richard O. Johnson
P. O. Box 235
Grass Valley, CA 95945


[I have three copies of this letter; one, sent by Leona Hillis, appears to be a copy of the original. Another was sent by Diana Davis, the other passed through several hands but apparently originally came from Mrs.Donald Drake. It is the first that is copied here.] Purdy, Mo. August , 1893 [Davis copy says August 6 93]

Mr. Wesley Drake

I received your letter asking information in regard to my fathers relation my grandfather Benjamin Drake was born on the Jersey Islands, immigrated to Penn. Abe, Isac, Eligah, Jacob were his sons. Jacob was my father name he was born in 1779 in Penn. on the Juniata River Moved to Tennisee in Warren County was married to Mary Nolen he had two children by his first wife Easter & Benjamin, she died & he married Hannah Ross his children were Polly, Eligah, Isaac, Elexander, Selina, Elizabeth, Feby, Jacob, Rutha, Hannah, ["original" seems to say Ephreim but this appears to be crossed out] & Vina [again "original" seems to add Mary Jane at the end but it is crossed out] 14 children in all. He migrated to Arkansas in 1832 settled a farm on Richland Madison Cr. died in 1856.

I was born in 1824 married Margaret Counts in 1851 had 4 children Alfred John Nicholas & Ann. She died & I married Telitha Combs in 1860

We had Margaret, Young, Rutha, Eligah, Nancy, Emeline, Thomas, Amanda & Ross 13 in all 5 boys & 2 girls married 4 girls 2 boys at home. I have 29 grandchildren Alfred and Nicholas live in Arkansas, Eligah in Gatesville Texas. John and Young here Thomas and Ross at home. Your Resp. Jacob Drake My brother Isaac lives at Drakes Creek Madison co. Ark. He is 12 years older than me, he
might give you more information than I can.

Jacob Drake


Written by Emeline Dodson
Selma, California March 2, 1914

My mother's parents, their names, and her brothers and sisters. My grandfather Drake married Esther Nolan. My mother's mother died, leaving 2 children. The others are half brothers and sisters, 10 in all. 1. Polly Drake, married John Johnson, 9 children.
2. Isaac Drake, married Nancy Johnson, 2 Baptist preachers in this family
3. Elijah Drake, married Lucinda Hawk. Do not know how many children.
4. Elizabeth Drake, married Ruben Rogers.
5. Helina Drake, married Bennit Louis.
6. Ruth Drake, married Jim Neil.
7. Malvina Drake, married Abner Louis.
8. Sally Drake, married (do not remember name)
9. Jacob Drake, married Tabitha Counts
Jacob Drake married second time Tabitha Young
10. Hannah Drake, married Boyed (the young)


Jacob Drake, the first known head of the Drake family in Arkansas, was born on the Juniata River in Northeast Pennsylvania. He was married while quite young, but as to whom, so far as I know and am able to learn, I have no idea. They had one child, a daughter, Easter, before the wife died.

Following her death he and his little daughter moved to North Carolina. They settled in or near the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

While residing there Jacob married a Miss Mary Ross, a full blood Cherokee Indian, and a full sister of Chief John Ross, who for many years was Chief of the tribe in North Carolina and for a number of years after the tribes removed to the Indian Nation in 1836.

Jacob Drake did not remain long in North Carolina, moving to Warren County, Tennessee, then a fronteer area. His family of ten children were born, and grew to young youths while there. Perhaps his eldest son Isaac Drake was married there, also his daughter by his last wife Polly.

In Warren County, Tennessee, Jacobs daughter by his first wife, Easter married her husband, Alvin "Josh"Hash. Following their marriage they moved to Illinois, and settled on the Sangamon River. They were neighbors of the young, practically unknown Abraham Lincoln. young Lincoln did some surveying for them, ate the noon date meal, and while there Aunt Easter complained about not having a time piece. Young Lincoln set his surveying instrument on the 12 o'clock noon, and cut a line in their doorstep. They doubtless little thought they were entertaining a man destined to become one of the very few great men of all time....[several sentences talking about Lincoln's career] Jacob Drake and Mary Ross children.
1. Isaac Drake
2. Elijah Drake
3. Jacob Drake Jr.
4. Sallie Drake
5. Mary (Polly) Drake
6. Esther Drake
7. Viney Drake
8. Mrs. Lige Drake
[document goes on, in rather disorganized fashion, to outline descendants of these children]

End of document

Richard O. Johnson
P.O. Box 235
Grass Valley, CA 95945