WILLIAM C. DRAKE has for many years carried on farming and stock-raising in Scottsville Township, and by his able management of his affairs has not only improved a large and valuable farm that is among the finest in this vicinity, but he has at the same time materially aided in extending the agricultural interests of the county and thus promoting its growth and prosperity.
Mr. Drake is of Kentucky birth, born in Casey County, August 25, 1825. His father, whose name was Hiram Drake, was a native of the same county, a son of one of its pioneer farmers, Carter Drake, who spent his last years there. The father of our subject grew to man's estate in Casey County and there married one of Kentucky's daughters, Nacy Murphy, a native of that county. In the fall of 1830, with his wife and the three children that had been born to them in their old home, he came to Illinois, making the journey with teams and bringing the household goods along. He located in the wilds of Greene County, in what is now Mt. Era Township, entering a tract of Government land three miles south of Athensville, and building a log house to shelter his family, riving boards to cover the roof. Two years he lived in that primitive abode without any floor and then one was made of puncheon. Boards were split for the door, which was made to swing inside on wooden hinges, fastened with a wooden pin. At that time deer, wild turkeys and all kinds of game were plentiful, often furnishing food for the pioneers, who were principally home-livers, subsisting on the products of their farm, and their clothing was spun and woven by the women from flax and wool. The country was sparsely settled and Alton was the nearest market.
Mr. Drake was one of the pioneers of that section of the State, and by hard labor he improved a good farm on which he lived many years. He finally sold it, and removing to Greenfield lived retired there until his mortal career was closed in the long, dreamless sleep of death. His worthy wife also departed this life at Greenfield. They reared a family of eleven children.
William C. Drake, of whom these lines are principally written, was five years old when the family came to Illinois, and he grew up amid the primitive influences of pioneer life, and well remembers many incidents of the early days of the settlement of this State, especially the noted "Winter of the Deep Snow." His education was gained in the pioneer schools that were taught in a rude log house. He made his home with his parents until he was twenty-one years old, and then came to this county and bargained for fifty-eight acres of land at $5 an acre, having to go in debt for the place as he had no money to pay for it. However, his prospects for the future were bright, as he had health, youth and vigor on his side, seconded by habits of industry, excellent judgment and sound common sense. He also had the able assistance of a capable wife, and they went to work with a good will to secure their home. As soon as that was paid for Mr. Drake bought other land at different times, at one time owning six hundred acres of valuable real estate, which he has developed into one of the choicest farms in the township in regard to improvements and cultivation. He has given a part of his land to his children and now has three hundred and twenty-five acres.
The marriage of our subject with Miss Mary A. Wheeler took place in 1847. They have five children living, named Martha, Sally, M. L., Nancy Alice and Mary. Martha married Washington Richmond, Sally is the wife of John Redfern; M. L. married Lou Davis; and Mary married J. B. Vaughn. Mrs. Drake is a native of Knox County, Ky., and a daughter of Joshua and Sally (Venbebber) Wheeler. She is a woman of rare merit, and a devoted member of the Baptist Church.
Mr. Drake's course as a farmer has been marked by shrewdness and integrity in his dealings, by forethought and enterprise, and these traits have made him an invaluable aid in the upbuilding of his township, and gives him high rank among its pioneers although he was not one of its earliest settlers. He is interested in promoting its prosperity and that of the county, as well as in the welfare of the country at large, and in regard to political questions we find him a true Democrat.