John was born on 26 Apr 1851 in Henry County, Virginia. He moved with his father to Cabell County as a baby in the early 1850s, and around 1869 at 18 he moved with the family to Cooke County, Texas. But John left his father’s home in Texas in the mid 1870s, and returned to West Virginia where he married Margaret Adelia Burgess on 4 Oct 1877. John died in November of 1939.
According to his son, George Harvey Draper, John told his children the family descended from George Draper, whose sons settled Draper, Virginia, in Pulaski County, not far from where John’s father, William Franklin Draper, was raised. Most if not all of the children passed on this story, but it wasn’t true and John should have known where he was born and where his older brother lived for awhile.
John’s oldest brother, Samuel, stayed in West Virginia when the family migrated to Texas, but around the time John was returning to West Virginia from Texas, Samuel moved east to his birthplace, Henry County, Virginia, where his grandfather lived and where he met and married his wife. There were no other Draper relatives around John in West Virginia. He doesn’t seem to have ever visited Henry County, but must have known about his grandfather or his uncle by the same the name.
John’s son, Walter Draper, paid a genealogist to trace the line and he actually proved connections to the revolutionary war. But he wouldn’t share the results with the rest of the family, who apparently didn’t know how they connected with ancestors. It’s now assumed he linked John to the proper family and the rest would not believe him. Walter died without children, and his research is lost.
Margaret’s parents were Fleming Cobb Burgess and Adelia Margaret Wood Burgess. Margaret was born on 28 June 1860, and gave birth to their first daughter in West Virginia in 1878. Two years later in 1880, the three were located in Red Willow County, Nebraska (District 8), but their next two daughters died there by 1882. They are not shown as residents in the 1885 Nebraska State Census, and apparently returned home. Ollie was born in 1886 in West Virginia.
THE FAMILY BIBLE OF JOHN AND MARGARET DRAPER
John doesn’t appear in the 1900 census since these West Virginia census records are missing, or perhaps he spent some time in California after his father died. But in 1910 he is located in the Teays Valley area of Putnam County, West Virginia. Again he is not identified in the 1920 census, and none of his family who might still be living with John is identified, but his son Homer included John as his nearest relative on his draft registration in 1917, as living in Hurricane, [Putnam County] West Virginia.
According to a Teays Valley newspaper article printed in the 1970s, John owned two farms in the valley: one was in later years known as the Holstein Farm and the other stood where the Hurricane High School was built during the last half of the 1900s. His large family was considered prominent in the Teays Valley area.
Except that his brother Samuel seems to have joined John in West Virginia for a period of time before joining his mother in California around 1900, there was no other link to extended Draper families or to the past that could relate the knowledge of Draper ancestors. And within a generation memories of actual ancestors seem to have been replaced by fanciful stories of shared blood with the more famous Draper family of Putnam County, Virginia. They fought Indians in the early 1700’s, and one was kidnapped but escaped years later. It’s still considered history up on Draper’s Mountain. But that’s not our family. No clear connection with any member of that family was ever established, and Samuel had returned to Henry County earlier and knew his background. But this was not passed on to the next generation of Drapers.
In 1930 John and Margaret were living alone in the Hurricane area. He was 78, with $2000 and no occupation. John died on 17 Nov 1939 at the age of 88, and Margaret lived until 21 May 1947. Margaret lived 87 years, giving birth to 14 children over 27 years. Her last child, Otis Boyd, was born when Margaret was 45. Both John and Margaret spent their last years living the the Oddfellows Home for the Aged in Hurricane, West Virginia. One of the last photos of the widowed Margaret is of her standing on the steps of the Home.
JOHN H. DRAPER, 89, prominent retired farmer died yesterday at his home at Hurricane. He was born April 26, 1851 at Griffithsville, Lincoln County. [Actually born in Henry County, Virginia] The body will be taken from the Allen mortuary in Hurricane at 3 p.m. today to the home. Services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Mt. Vernon Baptist church. Burial will be in the church cemetery. The Odd Fellows lodge will be in charge.
Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Maggie Draper, six sons, G. H. Draper, of Charleston, F. D. Draper of Hurricane, W. W. Draper of South Charleston, Charles Draper of California and Homer and Garland Draper of Huntington and three daughters, Mrs. Zena Harless and Mrs. Ollie Harbour both of Huntington and Miss Grace Draper of Monroe, La.,
The Charleston Gazette, Saturday, November 18, 1939, page 5.
MRS. MARGARET DRAPER - Eighty-seven years old of Hurricane, died Wednesday in Elkins. Surviving are six sons, Harvey and Walter Draper of Charleston, Frazier Draper of Hurricane, Homer Draper of Huntington, Garland Draper of Dayton and Boyd Draper of St. Louis, and three daughters, Mrs. Zena Harless and Mrs. Ollie Harbour of Huntington and Mrs. Grace Phillips of Tennessee. The body is at the Allen Funeral Home in Hurricane tomorrow at 2 P.M. with burial in the Mount Vernon cemetery. Pallbearers will be Richard Harbour, Robert Martin, Billy Draper, Carl Dean Draper, Harold Talbert, Grady Crites Jr. and Don Harless,
The Charleston Gazette, Friday, 23 May 1947 page 5.
MRS. MARGARET DRAPER - Service will be at 2 p.m. today at the Allen Mortuary chapel in Hurricane. R. McCord and W. B. Moyer will officiate. Interment will follow in the Mount Vernon cemetery near Hurricane.
Mrs. Draper 87, died Wednesday at her home.
The Charleston Gazette, Saturday, 24 May 1947 page 5.
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