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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Drake, James Perry

by William S. Powell, 1986; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, June 2023

15 Sept. 1797–12 Aug. 1876

James Perry Drake, military officer and public official, was born in Robeson County, perhaps the son of Albriton or Silas Drake, the only men of this name recorded in the 1800 census of that county. Both had sons then under ten years of age. He removed to Kentucky in 1808 but by about 1816 was in Indiana where he served in the state militia; he was brigadier general of the Twelfth Brigade in 1825, and he served in the Black Hawk War (1832). He saw duty as a colonel in the Mexican War and afterward was civil and military governor of Matamoras as well as commander of U.S. forces in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Leaving Indiana, he lived briefly in Missouri but was back in Indiana by 1841. He removed to Tennessee in 1861 and finally to Alabama.

While in Indiana Drake held a variety of elective and appointive offices; among them were a seat in the General Assembly (1848–49), county clerk and auditor, receiver at the United States Land Office in Indianapolis and in Vincennes, director of the state bank, trustee of the institution for people with disabilities, state treasurer, state superintendent of common schools, and commissioner from the state to the Paris Exposition in 1855. In Missouri he was a probate judge. He read law as a young man and may have practiced for a time, but otherwise he was a merchant and a farmer.

Drake married Priscilla Holmes Buell in 1831 and they were the parents of seven children. He died in Huntsville, Ala.


Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly (1980).

Additional Resources:

Mary Jones Arrington Papers, 1707-1955 (collection no. 03241). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Mary_Jones.html (accessed July 24, 2013).

Drake Family Papers, Western KY University:

Origin - location: