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James Drake

The Drake family is one of the oldest pioneer families of Macon County.  Things dug up from remote and dark corners of the history of the county show that they are honest, frugal and patriotic citizens.  The history of the family cannot be presented in its entirety because all of the records cannot be found.

James Drake was born on February 22, 1824, in Indiana, moving to Wapello, Iowa, when still a young man.  He was one of the many who treked their way to California during the gold rush of '49.  After spending several months in the gold fields, he took a boat at San Francisco, sailed around South America by way of Cape Horn, up the eastern coast of South America, up through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi and home.  Mr. Drake settled in Macon Conty about 80 years ago or in 1957.  At one time he owned several hundred acres of land in the northwest part of the county.  Drake township was named for him.  He was appointed postmaster of Tullvania, which was located on one of the large Drake farms on what was later called the "Red Mill Place."  At this place he operated a carding mill, feed mill, blacksmith shop, general store, and post office.  In one room of his home was the "school" which was taught by J. C. Bradley.

People came from miles around by horse and buggy to bring wool to be carded, corn to be ground, and to do their general trading at the store.  Mr. Drake bartered with the farmers and accepted such things as hides, tallow, butter, beeswax as payment for merchandise.  He also operated a store at New Cambria.  Most of the hauling was done from New Cambria.  In the earlier days, the hauling had been done from Hannibal on the Mississippi river.

The next move was in 1876 when he left Tullvania and went to Kansas.  He stayed there for 20 years.  He took several men, horses, wagons, etc., and also much stock, which had to be driven.  He took his family and hired hands along too.

Mr. Drake was married three times and raised a large number of children to manhood and womanhood.  In 1896 he returned, to Macon county, resolving to settle in a business of his own, and in the fall he, with his son, Carey O. Drake, bought the Bradley store in Elmer.  

James Drake, the pioneer and adventurer, helped make Elmer and Macon County what they are today.  Elmer is very proud of this illustrious man.  To read more of the Drake family story, see the section above on James' son, C. O. Drake. 

Author's note: According to records found on, one of James' wives was Lucinda Fulton and to this union were born four children: Alace (1863), James L. (1865), Ella (1872, and Carey (1873).  James Drake died in 1901.

The 1860 census shows James living in Walnut township, Macon County. Also in the household is Dulcinie Drake (age 31, presumably his wife), Susan Drake (age 4) and Mary Drake (age 1).

(And a little info about Mercyville)