Monday, March 21, 2011

Amanuensis Monday: J.T. Drake newspaper article

'J. T. Drake, Adrian Resident, Is
County's Oldest Living Resident

  Younger than Johnson County but by three years is Adrian's James T. Drake, proud claimant to the title, "Johnson County's Oldest Citizen."  Next October he will be 97, having been born in October, 1861.
  With a remarkably keen memory of Johnson County in the early days following its founding, Mr. Drake has 73 years of residency in this county as a reservoir.  And, for that matter, even a portion of his first 24 years were spent at his home just over the Johnson Line.  Ironically enough, he is the county's oldest citizen by only a few feet, since the Emanuel-Johnson line runs along the fence of his small lot in Adrian.
  Jim Drake will probably be best remembered for being on the Adrain {sic} police force for 25 years, retiring at the age of 80.
  "I saw the Yankees all right and I remember it even if I was only four or five years old," he recalls vividly.  "They came through our place and stole all the horses and cows."
  The memory of the destructive Union troops best survives among those of "Mr. Jim's" boyhood, a part of which he also spent in Washington County near Tennille.
  He then left Adrian to become the postmaster at Odomville in Emanuel County.  Returning to Adrian in 1910, he left his family there while serving as warden in the Macon County work camp until 1912.
  He then returned to Johnson County and farmed near Adrian for about the next 20 years.  During this period "Mr. Jim" made 26 trips to Darien on a raft of timber.  "We'd start out here, and float to the Big Ohoopee," he recalls.  "Then we'd hit the Altamaha on into Darien."  The raft, naturally, would grow in size as the floaters would gather timber as the rivers widened.  Then, at Darien, the logs would be sold.
  Mr. Drake isn't all excited about being the county's oldest living resident.  But start him off on the day he picked 475 pounds of cotton and excitement fills the room.  Back to age:  "I reckon it's an honor to be the oldest fellow in the county," he says simply.  The Wrightsville Masonic Lodge has presented him with a 50-year membership button in recent years.  He's still a Notary Public, having been awarded his commission in 1925.
  Mr. Drake joined the Methodist Church at Kea's Church in 1879.  He then moved his membership to Corinth Methodist Church near Adrian in 1880.  Then, in 1883, he became a member of the Poplar Springs Methodist Church near Adrian, where he is still a member of the Board of Stewards.  He served in this Church as Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years.
  He asked this postscript be added, one in which he probably places more than in any other portion of his life's history:  "I want to say also that in all my life I have never drunk intoxicating drinks."'

- The Wrightsville Headlight, Wrightsville, GA, Thursday, May 8, 1958, Centennial Edition, page 1.

James Thomas Drake was my great grand uncle.  His brother was my great-grandfather, William John Drake, father of my grandmother, Nealie Drake Tapley.  

He died exactly one year after this article was written, and is buried at Poplar Springs Methodist Church Cemetery.

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