|Abraham Drake's headstone in the Drakes-|
Cliff Cemetery in Elizabethton, Tennessee
Abraham Drake was the son of Benjamin Drake and Sarah “Sallie” Buchanan. He was one of seven children. He had an older sister Mary, an older brother William and four younger brothers Isaac, Jacob, Elijah and Ephraim. Abraham was born on July 29, 1761 shortly after the start of the American Revolution. The revolution did not end until 1791, when the United States Bill of Rights was signed, when Abraham was 30 years old. His father Benjamin participated in the revolution in as a militiaman under William Christian, according to DAR records. Records suggest that Abraham was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
At that time most children learned to read and write and attended school until the age of 8-10. Later in life Abraham was very engaged in civic matters so he may have had some additional schooling. Abraham married Elizabeth “Eliza” Murray in about 1789 and between 1790 and December of 1813 they had ten children – four sons Samuel, Ephraim, Jacob and John and six daughters Sarah, Ruth, Salina, Pricilla, Mary and Elizabeth. Sarah, the eldest daughter is my third great grandmother.
According to a Drake Family History by Donald Drake, Abraham appeared on the 1790 census living in Huntington County, Pennsylvania. By 1796, when Abraham was 35, he and his father were living in Carter County, Tennessee. Both of them appear on tax lists for Carter in 1796 through 1800. Abraham’s father Benjamin is shown as a land owner – initially with 339 acres of land and by 1799 439 acres. Records show that his four younger brothers were also living in Carter County.
|This is a portion of the tax list from 1796. The 6th and 7th names listed|
are Benjamin Drake and Abraham Drake
From studying court records found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and the book Remembrances of Carter County by Mildred Kozsuch I’ve found more than 45 cases of Abraham having served on juries or grand juries in Carter County. There are four documents from 1797. Two were about his serving on juries in the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, and two were about Abraham being involved with road building. On July 5, 1797 he was appointed overseer for the publick (sic) road that was to start at a ford of the Watauga River above his property and extend to the head of Indian Creek. It was to continue to the mouth of Sugar Creek and up the creek to John Peter’s land. From there it was to connect to the farms owned by Nicholas Carriger, Thomas Dunk and John Miller. The document stipulated that “all hands living above the tumbling shoals” should work on the road.
|The tumbling shoals - a shallow place in the Watauga River|
this photo from another blogger - 2 RV Gypsies
Another document, also dated July 1797 included Abraham in a long list of men who were responsible for building a road “near Elisha Humphrey’s up the Doe River to the middle ford”.
From February 1803 to January 1806 Abraham was involved in some manner in five additional transactions that were recorded by the courts. In 1803 he simply witnessed a couple of land deeds for a man named Godfrey Carriger. In 1804 Abraham was again charged with overseeing the construction of a road “from the ford of the river above widow Carter’s to the Sullivan Line at the head of Indian Creek”. The document stipulated that the hands of Andrew and Alexander Greer, Benjamin Drake and James Finley were to help build the road. In April of 1804 Abraham served on another jury, and on January 21, 1806 he witnessed a deed between John Blevins and Alfred M. Carter.
I’ve found no records for Abraham between 1806 and 1819 when I found seven documents that reference him. Three were cases where he served on juries to resolve local land transactions and four were about road construction projects. Abe and a small group of men were charged with laying off a new public road from Elizabethton that would cross the Watauga River at the tumbling shoals and pass across the Doe River. From there it was to go through the “coaling grounds until it intersects the present road or go by George Emmert’s land and intersects the old road near George Emmert’s spur.”
I have five more court records for the period 1820 to 1822 when Abe was age 59 to 61. In August of 1820 he was listed on a tax list that showed that he lived in Captain Patton’s District of Carter County. He was appointed to serve on the jury of the Court of Pleas and Sessions in 1821 and in that capacity was again involved in road construction projects in the same general area near Indian Creek, the Watauga River and on Stoney Creek Road. On one day – August 18, 1821 Abraham and the rest of the jury ruled on six cases. On February 12, 1822 he was on the jury when Alfred M. Carter applied to the court to lay out a 3000 parcel of land so Carter could build a furnace near the ironworks he owned.
Abraham appeared on the 1840 Carter County census. There were three individuals in his household at the time – one male and one female in the 60-70 age bracket which would have been Abe and his wife Eliza and one other male aged 40-50 which was probably their youngest son John who never married. The census showed that Abe owned no slaves at that time – which does not jibe with the inventory of his estate that was made after his death.
|1840 Carter County Census, Abraham listed 5th from the bottom|
Like most of his neighbors Abraham was a farmer. He inherited land from his father and most likely grew tobacco for income. Starting in 1836, when he was 75, he started distributing his land and slaves to his children. He gave a parcel of land to his sons Samuel and John on September 14, 1836. Later that same year in October he gave a slave named Maria to his granddaughter Emily McLeod. Emily was the daughter of Ruth who married Abner McLeod. These records are included in the probate packet for Abraham which is available on Ancestry.com. In 2017 Ancestry had 71 separate documents in Abe’s probate packet – most are short, cryptic notes on small scraps of paper. After reading each of these documents I wrote an article for the Nugget – a magazine published by the California Genealogical Society that summarizes all that I learned from the material in Abraham’s probate packet. Here is what I learned:
|This is a photo of the Lewis farm which was located on Stoney Creek in|
Elizabethton. Abraham's farm likely looked very similar to this farm.
Photo found on Google.
The vast majority of all money paid out from his estate went to his children. I was reminded that his daughters had to receive their share through their husbands. After sorting all the information in a spreadsheet I could see that Abraham had left nearly equal amounts to each of his children. Ephraim, Sarah and Ruth each received $600. Jacob, Pricilla and Mary each got between $550 and $570. One exception, Eliza, Abraham’s youngest daughter received a total of $1180 – nearly double what all the others got. Two children, Salina and John were not mentioned. John never married and had no children. From other sources I know that John suffered from some sort of mental disorder. I do know that his oldest brother Samuel took care of John. In my research it is not clear that Salina was a child of Abraham – this lack of reference reinforces that she may not be one of Abraham’s descendant. Several of the papers reference Samuel in his capacity as an administrator but only one was a payment to Samuel. That paper said, “One day after date of will pay Samuel Drake $300 for value received of him as witness my hand and seal this 20 day of October 1836.” It was signed by Abraham and witnessed by John Drake. I suspect that this is due to a lost document and believe it is most likely that Samuel received an amount equal to what Sarah received through her husband William Stover – the other administrator.
|This is the Sabine Hill home of Nathaniel Taylor in Elizabethton|
built in 1818. The Drake family home may have looked
There were eight persons who were paid from the estate that I do not recognize as one of Abrahams children or a spouse. One of these was N. Williams who was acting as the attorney for the children of Jacob Drake who was deceased. Another of the unknowns was paid for building Abraham’s coffin and others for providing services or goods.
I know that my second great grandfather, William Stover and one of Abraham’s brothers, Samuel Drake administered the estate, and that they put up a $1000 bond to insure that they would do it right. I know the settlement date was 28 September 1842. It took two years to settle his affairs. Actually, three items in the probate packet are dated after the settlement date – the most recent being 15 July 1850 – nearly ten years after Abraham died.
Abraham had dealings with merchants named Benjamin Browning, Nicolas Rodgers, T.N. Singletory, C.C. Taylor and William Rockhold & Son.
A couple of the documents referenced loans that Abraham had made to his children prior to his death. I know that Abraham’s daughter Eliza purchased a tract of land from Alfred M. Carter because one of the payments made to Carter was made from Abraham’s estate and was part of her inheritance. A separate entry also attributed to Eliza and dated 27 October 1841 for $220 was “for property bought at sale”.
I thought it was interesting that one payment to Abraham’s daughter Eliza was in goods rather than cash. She received 50 pounds of coffee and 50 pounds of sugar. The value of the coffee was recorded in cents but the sugar in shillings – what’s that about?
|This is the interior of the Tipton-Haynes home in Johnson|
City near Elizabethton. The Drake home would
have contained similar items.
The grand total of the amounts paid was $6376.88 which is equal to $168,794 in 2016 dollars.
Abraham died on October 1, 1840 at the age of 79 and was buried in the Drakes Cliff Cemetery along with several other Drake and Stover relatives. When I visited Elizabethton in 2012 I took a photo of his headstone. It is worn and hard to read but starts, “In Memory of Abraham Drake, Died” …. but I cannot make out the rest
Not included with the above probate documents is an Inventory of the Sale of the Personal Property of the Estate of Abraham Drake which lists items that were sold after his death. His wife Elizabeth purchased a slave woman named Syntha for $100 and household and kitchen furnishings for another $100. My 3rd great grandmother Sarah bought two slaves – Dave and Allen for $100 each. Various relatives and neighbors purchased 10 cows, 1 calf, 3 steer, 5 heifers, 5 bulls, 12 sheep and one wagon. The total value of items sold came to $1818.76 ½. This is in addition to the amounts paid from the estate listed above.
|Signature of Abraham Drake|
Sources: 1796 - 1800 tax lists, 1840 Carter, TN census, Donald Drake's Family History, Carter County court records, probate documents for Abraham Drake, Google and Robert Nave, Carter Co. historian.