Biography of Nathaniel S. Drake
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Nathaniel S. Drake, the treasurer and superintendent of the Drake & Sanborn Shoe Company, of Pittsfield, was born here, September 16, 1851, in the house he now occupies on Main Street, son of James and Betsey (Seavey) Drake. His genealogy is traced to Robert Drake, born in the County of Devon, England, in 1580, who came to New England with a family before 1643. Robert was one of the grantees and first settlers of Exeter. He removed in 1651 to Hampton, “where he owned and left considerable estate.” Much respected throughout his life, his death on January 14, 1668, was mourned as a loss to the community. Abraham Drake, son of Robert, was born in England in 1621. His son, Abraham Drake (second), by his wife, Jane, was born December 29, 1654. This Abraham married Sarah Hobbs, and died May 20, 1714. Abraham Drake (third), son of Abraham (second), born in December, 1688, died April 13, 1767. He married Theodate Roby, whose son, Simon, born October 4, 1730, married Judith Perkins, and died March 16, 1801.
Major James Drake, it is stated, was of middle stature, well proportioned, of a fine figure, and possessed great physical strength and powers of endurance. A description of his person strongly resembles that which is given of England’s famous admiral, Sir Francis Drake. This resemblance extended also to his mental and moral traits; for it is said he was a man of great force of character, possessing a strong will and much determination, which qualities, tempered by sound judgment, brought him into considerable prominence in the community in which his lot was cast. He was born November 14, 1755, either in Epping or Hampton, N.H. He came to Pittsfield when a young man and shortly before his marriage, being among its early settlers. Besides clearing a farm from the wilderness, he eventually became the owner of several other good farms, all of which he acquired by his industry and enterprise. The outbreak of the War of Independence so aroused his patriotism that, although but nineteen years of age, he abandoned his axe, and, shouldering a musket, joined a company then being organized, and shared its fortunes in the ensuing struggle. After his discharge from the Continental army he resumed his axe, and continued the work of clearing and improving his farm. He received his title of Major from his connection with the early State militia. Good service was rendered by him to Pittsfield in the capacity of its Representative in the State legislature. No man was more highly esteemed for his personal integrity. He died February 26, 1834. His wife, Hannah Ward Drake, who Hampton and was born October 31, 1763, reared twelve children, each of whom lived to be over sixty years old. She died December 17, 1848, aged eighty-five years.
Colonel James Drake, the father of Nathaniel S., born at the homestead in Pittsfield, June 29, 1805, was brought up to agriculture, which he also followed successfully for some years, also dealing extensively in live stock. He eventually moved to the village, and, becoming President of the Pittsfield National Bank, held that position for the rest of his life. An excellent business man, he acquired a handsome property. He figured prominently in public affairs, served as a Selectman and in other town offices, and he was also a member of the State Senate. In politics he supported the Democratic party. He was identified with the State militia, in which he served as Colonel of the Eighteenth Regiment. His strict adherence to high principles was conspicuous among his many commendable qualities, and the cause of morality and religion had in him a stanch and generous supporter. He died at his home in Pittsfield, April 7, 1870. His wife, Betsey Seavey Drake, whom he married August 13, 1834, was born October 14, 1811, a daughter of George and Betsey (Lane) Seavey, of Chichester, N.H. She had three children, of whom the survivors are: Georgia B. and Nathaniel S. Georgia B. is the wife of Josiah Carpenter, a successful banker of Manchester, N.H. She is actively engaged in charitable and patriotic work, and is the New Hampshire State Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The other child was Frank James Drake, born November 3, 1842, who died August 20, 1891. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1865, and located in Manchester, N.H., where he was a successful wholesale flour and grain merchant. The mother, who was a member of the Baptist church, died September 28, 1865.
Nathaniel S. Drake began his education in the common schools, and completed his studies at the Pittsfield Academy. For two years after leaving school, he was in the clothing business in this town. Afterward he was connected with the United States and Canada Express and the American Express Company in this town, spending a short time in their offices in Concord, N.H., and Boston, Mass. Later he entered the employ of the Lancaster Shoe Company, with which he remained about twelve years, serving for the last six years in the capacity of superintendent of the factory and its branches. He was the founder of the Hill & Drake Shoe Company, which commenced business on January 1, 1893, and which is now known as the Drake & Sanborn Shoe Company. In this connection it is interesting to note that, although Pittsfield has the reputation of being a manufacturing town, the Drake & Sanborn Shoe Company, now employing over fifty people, is the first enterprise conducted upon home capital and giving employment to more than a dozen men that has ever existed in the town, all the other manufacturing enterprises being and having been owned and operated by outside capital. As treasurer and superintendent of the company, which manufactures misses’ and children’s medium-priced goods, Mr. Drake is rapidly bringing it to the front; and it is now well advanced upon the road to prosperity.
On March 17, 1873, Mr. Drake was united in marriage with Miss Mary A. R. Green, who was born July 3, 1857, daughter of Daniel and Elizabeth F. (Chase) Green, of Pittsfield. Mrs. Drake is the mother of two children; James Frank, born September 1, 1880; and Agnes, born April 2, 1883. In politics Mr. Drake is a Democrat. He has served Pittsfield. Mrs. Drake, who is a member of the Episcopal church, shares her husband’s popularity, and is a lady of pleasing manners and true womanly grace.