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Below is a family biography included in the book,  Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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HOWARD DRAKE, senior member of the firm of J. Drake’s Sons & Co., of Easton, was born in this city in 1849, being a son of John and Margaret (Stewart) Drake. The family is of Scotch-Irish descent, and has been identified with the history of Northampton County since 1835. His grandfather, Samuel Drake, followed the occupation of an agriculturist in his native county (Warren) in New Jersey. John Drake was the fourth in a family of eleven children, and was born in Warren County, where he grew to manhood upon a farm. He married Margaret, a daughter of Samuel Stewart, and shortly afterward abandoned agricultural pursuits and took up his residence in Broadway, N. J.

About the year 1835 Mr. Drake went West, with the intention of investing in land. He passed through Chicago, then an insignificant village, presenting so few inducements to a speculator that, though the site of the Palmer House could have been purchased for $400, he concluded to seek a better location. He embarked in the lumber business in Wisconsin, but soon returned East and sent his two brothers to take charge of his interests in that state. Associated with a Mr. Hulick, he operated a store in Townsbury, Warren County, N. J. About 1835 he came to Easton, where he and Mr. Hulick started a wholesale and retail general store. This was later supplanted by an exclusive jobbing-house at Fourth and Northampton Streets. In 1840 he secured the services of Abram Heller as bookkeeper, and that gentleman continued with him until his death in 1880. In 1857 Samuel Drake was admitted to the partnership, and the firm became Drake, Hulick & Co. Upon the death of Mr. Hulick in 1872 the title was changed to J. Drake, Son & Co., and continued as such until the death of the senior partner, April 28, 1873. From that time until 1877 the business was conducted under the name of J. Drake’s Son & Co., when Howard Drake became a member of the firm, since which the title has been J. Drake’s Sons & Co.

The Drake Building, which is now devoted exclusively to wholesale purposes, is a large four-story structure, situated at the corner of Third and Pine Streets. It has a frontage of sixty feet and a depth of one hundred and ninety feet. The store occupies a space 190x22 feet in dimensions, three stories besides basement, and is one of the best equipped buildings in the city. In addition to the management of this large business, the father of our subject was a Director in the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank (now the First National), in the establishment of which he was a prime factor. He was also a Director in the Northampton Fire Insurance Company and the Easton and the Lehigh Water Companies. In the organization of the Thomas Iron Company he largely aided, and remained one of its Directors until his death. He was a Director of the Carbon Iron Company at Parry ville, and was interested in many other enterprises.

In politics John Drake was a Republican, devoted to the welfare of his party and intensely interested in civic and public affairs. During and prior to the Rebellion he was a strong Abolitionist, and always advocated the cause of the Union. Prior to the organization of the Republican party he affiliated with the Whigs. He was one of the most prominent citizens and successful industrial men of Easton, and his death was greatly mourned. In religious faith he was a Presbyterian and a supporter of that denomination. Of his eleven children, all of whom attianed years of maturity, five are living, namely: Catherine S.; Ellen, widow of William B. Semple and a resident of Easton; Thomas S., a retired citizen of this city; Howard; and Emily D. Wood, wife of J. W. Wood.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in the book, Portrait and biographical record of Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties, Pennsylvania published in 1894 by Chapman Publishing Company. 

View additional Northampton County, Pennsylvania family biographies here: Northampton County, Pennsylvania Biographies

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