On this day: Edwin Drake

On this day, 97 years ago, my grandfather Edwin Drake was born. This precious photo is him as a baby with his mother, Emma (Medine) Drake.

Emma Drake holding her son Edwin
Emma holding Edwin as a baby. Source: Drake family photo.
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One year old!

This blog turns one year old today! This year has certainly gone by fast! To celebrate, here’s a photo of my first birthday. I guess the frosting was better on my face, rather than in my mouth.

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C.D.C. Johnson 1954-2017

Johnson_Claurence_portrait.jpgA short time ago, the world lost a great man and my husband lost his father. My words can’t do justice to his legacy. He was a man who loved his children more than anything in the world, and did everything he could to give them a better life. He believed in hard work, perseverance, family ties and the value of education. He taught his children these values as well. He sacrificed so much to raise four children on his own.

He was born in Guyana, where he lost his father at an early age. He educated himself and became a teacher at the age of 16. Like all young men, he served in the military, and eventually served in the office of the President of Guyana. He married in his late 20’s and had four children. He moved the family to St. Lucia for better opportunities, then later moved to the Bahamas. He raised four young children on his own. He bought a run-down house, and worked hard to make it the best house on the block. He taught his children how to paint, put in flooring and tile. He taught them that if you don’t know something, the answer can be found at the library. He was a teacher and inspired countless other young people to work hard for their dreams. He found time to write poetry, leaving an impressive collection of sonnets, ballads and narratives. He even published one young adult novel. In 2008, he relocated to the United States, where his children had or were attending college. He wore many hats during his lifetime, but his most rewarding job was that of a father.

He also believed in strong family ties and connecting with family. He helped organize large family reunions in Guyana and was one of the founders of the “Gillis/McCammon Family Reunion Organization.” Because of his efforts, much of the family is in contact with each other through the annual family reunions in Hopetown. He kept the rich family stories alive. I hope to do my part to keep them going to his future grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

An essential part of family history is remembering the family stories and legacies of those who have gone before you, and who are now part of you. Family values, just like family heirlooms, are passed down carefully to each generation. My husband is a great man because he had a great role model in his father. I feel honored that he was a part of my life for the past 8.5 years. He’ll be missed dearly.

 

His obituary is posted here.

 

 

“We were 50 years old…”

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Marie (nee Lawrence) Loraas and Mildred (nee Lawrence) Kaiser on their 50th birthdays on May 31, 1950.

This photograph is from the day that my great-grandmother Mildred and her twin sister, Marie, turned 50 years old. Mildred wrote on the back, “We were 50 years old…” with the date. Family tales explain that Mildred was born just before midnight on May 30, and Marie was born shortly after midnight on May 31. Both of their birth certificates list May 31, and apparently both of them always celebrated their birthdays together on May 31. Even when they grew older, they still looked very much alike! It’s sometimes hard to tell them apart in photographs.

It runs in the family… Birthdays

 

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My Papa and I at my first birthday, and close to his 69th birthday.

Sometimes I’m amazed at how often certain dates repeat themselves in my family tree. For instance, five living members of my family have birthdays in July, three of which are on consecutive days. My birthday is within a week of my sister’s and my grandfather’s consecutive birthdays, and sometimes we would have a triple birthday party together! My paternal grandparents and cousin share birthdays within 5 days of each other in November. My husband’s family also have birthdays within a few days of members of my family. Further back on my family tree, certain generations will have close birthdays as well.

Although our birthdays were close together, my mom would always make sure that each of our days was special. But some of my fondest birthday memories are the birthday parties with three delicious cakes- especially Papa’s favorite, German Chocolate cake!

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My sister, my grandfather and I celebrating our birthdays together one year. My Nana made Mississippi mud cake!