Veterans of the Civil War: Z.D. Drake



Zachariah Davis Drake, son of Charles A. and Charlotte A. Drake, was born on May 30, 1840 near Stanhope, in Morris County, New Jersey.  His father was an accountant and died suddenly when Z. D. was only 3 years old.  His mother, Charlotte, married Peter Applegate, also of Stanhope on April 7, 1849 in Sussex County, New Jersey.  She was born in 1819 and died on January 1, 1900 and is buried in the Stanhope Union Cemetery. 

Zachariah had one sister, Irene (1842-1892), one half-sister, Hannah L., who died at 2 years old, another half-sister, Ida “Pauline” Applegate  and 2 half-brothers, William A. Applegate, who married Delia F. McDougall and Monmouth Chambers Applegate, who married Georgiana Fraser, a sister to Z. D.’s future wife.  In the 1910 Census, Monmouth had been remarried to Delia for 1 year.

As a boy, Z. D. pulled barges by horses along the canal.  I found him in the 1860 Census, working as a farm laborer for John Wolfe in Roxbury Township, Morris County, New Jersey.  He had no college training, only attending school through the 8th grade, but was a school and music teacher.

At the age of 22, he enlisted in the Union Army as a private in Company C. 27th Regiment of the New Jersey Infantry on September 3, 1862.  According to his enlistment record, he was a slight man, only 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall, of fair complexion with brown hair.  He fought in the Battle of Vicksburg and served until being honorable discharged on July 2. 1863, due to illness contracted during his service.  Pension payment cards show that he received an invalid pension for many years.

About 1870 he moved to Illinois, living near Sheffield, where he was united in marriage with Janet C. Fraser on January 1, 1873.  The Bureau County, Illinois marriage record spelled her name Jeanette.

Janet was born in Elgin, Scotland on November 17, 1849 to John and Helen Cattell Fraser.  The family came to the U.S. on May 7, 1853 and to Davenport, Iowa, living there one year.  They then moved to Tiskilwa, Illinois and then to Sheffield, Illinois.  John and Helen came to Walnut in October 1882.

Z. D. and Janet moved onto their Illinois farm after their marriage in 1873 and lived there until selling it and moving to Walnut in March 1878.  They came by train, soon after the railroad was built to Walnut.  Z. D. bought land, most of which was selling at $5 and $7 an acre.  The farm was 2 miles south of Walnut and almost 2 miles west on the north side of Sycamore Road; this is the SW SE Section 19 Layton Township.  This is where they lived when the 1885 Census was taken.  The family was Zachariah, 44, farmer; Jennette, 34, keeping house; Charlotte E., 11; John Z., 10; Minnie A., 8; Francis W., 7; Addie L., 5; and Jessie E., 1.  The farmhouse and outbuildings have been gone for a long time, as has the “bee tree” (tree with a bee hive) under which their 6th child was buried.

In 1893 they bought and moved to the farm 1 mile south of Walnut and 1 1/2 miles east on the south side, 51985 Teakwood Road.  Z. D. lived there until he retired.  This 100-year farm was honored at the Iowa State Fair in 1993 and still belongs to the Drake family.

The 1895 Iowa Census gives the family as Zachariah D., 54; Janet C., 45; John Z., 20; Minnie A., 18; Francis W., 16; Adalade L., 15; Jessie E., 11; Edwin W., 9; Margaret, 7; Clara A., 5; George D., 4; and Hellen J., 2.  Francis was the first child born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, as were all the following children.  Can you imagine having 10 children in the home?  The oldest child, Charlotte had married James Pope on January 1, 1893.  The other Drake marriages were John to Elsie Mertz; Minnie to Chris Larsen; Francis to Anna Matthies; Adelaide to T. Earl Palmer; Jessie to W. Ray Palmer, brother to Earl; Edwin to Selma Johnson and secondly to Katherine “Alice” Kegley; Margaret to Arthur Mertz; Clara to Benjamin Neveln; George to Dora Petersen; and Helen to Ray Staman.

The religious belief of the parents on the 1895 Census was Second Adventist and that of the children was Presbyterian.  The obituary of Zachariah says that he “united with the First Day Advent church in Illinois when a young man to which faith he remained a firm believer until the last.”  Mabel recalls that some of the prayers of her grandfather Drake were quite lengthy.  He was an ardent reader and interested in all current events, never missing his privilege to vote.

Janet C. Drake, wife of Z. D., passed away on April 14, 1916; her funeral was at the Presbyterian Church in Walnut on April 17th and burial was in the Walnut Cemetery.  Her parents, John and Helen C. Fraser, are also buried there.  Janet’s brother, Francis J. Fraser, survived her, along with her sisters Mrs. Margaret Applegate of Minatare, Nebraska; Mrs. Louise Stowell of LeMars, Iowa; Mrs. Emma Johns of Oakland, Iowa; and Mrs. Clara Warner of Sheldon, Iowa.

In the 1925 Iowa Census, the widowed Z. D. Drake was listed in Layton Township as head of household and also listed in Walnut with nothing in the relationship column.  In his latter years, Z. D. Drake lived with the families of his children.  Mabel was just a child, but she and her black and white terrier Trixie had to accompany him on his walks when he was at their home.  When they were in the cornfields, her parents would call the dog and she would bark, so they could locate the lost grandfather.  Of course Mabel remembers all of the pennies that her grandfather  Z. D. had and how she would be given some and dropped them into her bank.

The headline read “Last Old Soldier Mustered Out” when Z. D. Drake passed away on February 24, 1929 at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. W. Larsen.  He was the last surviving member of the J. A. Dix GAR Post #408 at Walnut.  He was a proud soldier and although it had been difficult for him to carry the American flag from the Legion Hall in Walnut to the cemetery east of town, he alone had to hold it for ceremonies.

He was survived by his eleven children, thirty-two grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. 

His funeral was held on February 27, 1929 at the Presbyterian Church.  A full military service was conducted by the American Legion.  He is buried on the north side of the Layton Township Cemetery, along with many of his children and their families.

Two of Zachariah Drake’s prominent descendants are recently deceased.  Great-grandson Jack Drake was a farmer who lived south of Walnut and a Representative in the Iowa House for 23 years.  Walnut resident Orris Drake, a grandson of Z. D., was a pastor and administrator of Peace Haven Retirement Home in Walnut for 30 years.