was born 1833 in Jefferson Co., New York, son of Thomas
The Drakes lived
in a house
on the corner of Maple and Main Sts. from the 1840 census until Thomas'
death. Thomas Drake was a mason and had done all the
plastering work inside the nearby LaFarge Mansion, built in 1833.
Foster first appears by
name in census records as a 17 year old man, occupied as a mason,
living in his parents' household along with siblings Alvira, Caroline
and Dexter. Father Thomas was employed as a mechanic.
By about 1856, Foster had
become involved with Emily
E. Bort, daughter
Bort. In 1860, they
were enumerated in the same household on the opposite end of Main St.,
with a boy named William
C. Drake, age 3.
employed as a mason, as was his father Thomas.
On 23 October 1861, at age
27, Foster enlisted as a private in the 94th New York Infantry
Regiment, Co. B at LaFargeville, Town of Orleans, and was mustered out
on 9 December 1961.
For part of his service, he was tentmates on the field of battle with Willard L. Cook,
who would later precede him as keeper of Rock
Foster was wounded at the second
Battle of Bull Run
in his leg and sent to a hospital at New York. He was
subsequently discharged on 28
his discharge was vaild, he left the hospital in May 1863, but through
some clerical error, he was charged with desertion. He subsequently
applied for a pardon from the President in 1865, but years later the
error protracted his pension application process.
Foster took up residence in Sackets Harbor, Town of Hounsfield, where
in 1865 he was working as a mason.
After the war, Foster' marriage to Emily turned sour.
On 2 July 1868, Emily was summoned by the New York State Supreme Court
to answer charges of adultery brought by the Plaintiff, her husband.
Emily failed to appear at a special term of the Court, held at
Watertown on 13 October 1868, where she was to be deposed by Charles D.
Wright regarding facts in the case. Consequently, on 1 December 1868 at
Ogdensburg, the Court found that "Emily
E. Drake has
committed the several acts of adultery charged in the complaint."
The marriage was dissolved, "and it
is so ordered and
adjudged that it shall be lawful for said Complainant Foster M. Drake
to marry again in the same manner as though the said Defendant Emily E.
Drake was actually dead, but it shall not be lawful for said Defendant
Emily E. Drake to marry again until the said Complainant Foster M.
Drake is actually dead."
second marriage was a happy one that lasted the rest of his life. On 9
June 1869 at Redwood, he was married to Angeline
by the Justice of the Peace. Angeline was born at Alexandria Bay on 22
May 1846, a daughter of Isaac
and his wife Lovina
Shortly after their marriage, Foster and Angeline moved to Lincoln,
Lancaster Co., Nebraska, to be near his brother, Dexter. Here
he was enumerated as a "plasterer." They moved
back LaFargeville soon after.
On 20 February 1879, Foster Drake became the first to hold the position
of "Acting Keeper" at Rock Island. On 14 July 1880, he was
promoted to Principal
Drake was the last keeper to care for the combination keeper's dwelling
with light tower on top. In 1884, a one-and-a-half story
shingle-style Victorian dwelling was erected on the island, protected
by a concrete seawall, and a separate iron light tower was erected
behind the house on a bedrock base in the center of the island,
approximately 15 feet above mean water level.
On 7 June 1886, Foster was witness to the sinking of the ship Oconto,
which struck a shoal off Rock Island.
On 28 August 1886, Foster was dismissed from Rock Island, and replaced
by M. J. Diepolder.
working as a plasterer
and decorator. He owned his own house and lot on Maple Avenue,
Lafargeville, and owned another house and lot at Fisher's Landing.
He died on 25 May 1908 of a cerebral hemmorhage, age "74 years, 7
months, and 15 days," (as certified by J. F. Fowkes, M.D. of
LaFargeville) and he was buried in Grove Cemetery, Main St.,
LaFargeville. After his death, Angeline collected a widow's pension.
She lived in LaFargeville until November 1909, subsequently removing to
Oswego for several years. She died 13 January 1929, and was buried next
to Foster at Grove Cemetery.
indicated in his deposition for a military pension (given on 25
September 1897), Foster had no children. It is not clear how
statement relates to William Drake, found in the 1860 census.
1840 Federal Census of the Town of Orleans,
1850 Federal Census of the Town of Orleans,
1860 Federal Census of the Town of Orleans,
1870 Federal Census of the Town of Lincoln,
John & Ellen and A. E.
Rogers. "Town of Orleans Cemetery Inscriptions." Jefferson County, New
Visited 14 June 2000.
Child, Hamilton. "Town of Orleans business
Directory, 1890. Jefferson County, New York GenWeb. [http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyjeffer/chbusor.htm].
Visited 16 January 2001.
Civil War Servicemen of the Town of Orleans"
(from an 1865 town clerk's enumeration). Jefferson County, New York
Visited 16 January 2001.
Corespondence (email) with Ken Drake
(descendant of Dexter
Drake), February 2011.
Correspondence (email) with Roberta D.
Calhoun-Eagan (descendant of Leonard family), April 2005.
"Foster Monroe Drake" [obituary]. Watertown Re-Union
Herald, Saturday, 8 May 1908.
"New York Roster: Report of the
Adjutant-General." Civil War Database. [www.ancestry.com].
Visited 3 June 2000.
Pension File for Foster M. Drake. National
Archives, Washington, D.C.
"Rock Island Station Keeper's Logs, Vol.
1." Record Group 26. National Archives, Washington,
<email@example.com>, Great Lakes Lighthouse Research
Image of Oconto
sinking from Howard Gardner photo
collection, owned by Ginny Ihrig, courtesy Donna Gorrell.
2000-2011, Rock Island
Lighthouse Historical & Memorial Association.