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  • NEXUS: New England Across the United States

    Letters to the Editor

    Lee Kugler

    Published Date : June 1985
    Thank you all for the letters received since the “Corrections” became part of the NEXUS. I wish space permitted a response to all of them. I comment on one, however.

    An entry was made in the “Book of Corrections” in 1896 by Melville M. Biglow in regards to “an error in the Drake Family - History and Genealogies, Vol. 2, pg. 215 by Salisbury 1892.”  Mr. Biglow questions the interpretation of the will of John Drake Sr. in regards to John having a son named Timothy. (See NEXUS, Vol. 1, #4, pg. 65, 66.)  Biglow then goes on to name the children of John Drake.  As you will note, they include Mary (Taylor) and Elizabeth (Taylor).  A recent letter from Jean Rowley of Thorp, Washington, advises us that the Drake girls married Gaylords not Taylors!

    This writer felt that it would be wise to sort out fact from fiction and thanks to Ann Barry and Mark Jones at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, I obtained a copy of the original will of John Drake. Jean Rowley had sent us copies of pages from The Descendants of John Drake of Windsor, Conn. published by Tuttle Co., 1933 and compiled by Frank B. Gay, and we are grateful. My wish in getting the copy of the original was to reproduce it in this column. We might all gain from close examination of it.

    Taking the first “correction” submitted by Biglow in 1896.  Timothy: the will does not say my son (sonne) Timothy, although it does say my Sonne when refering to John, Jacob, and Job.  The wording suggests the possiblity of his being an apprentice, i.e. “and to Timothy I give him forty shillings and two good suits of clothes when his time is out.”  Regrettably at this point the legibility of the will fails us so that we cannot be sure that there is anything more relating to Timothy.  However the final statement made in the will seems to say: “and [illegible] of my stock shall be equally divided amongest my (five) children” after his wife’s death. The five is difficult but is does compare favorable with the word give following Timothys name. This seems as factual as one will get regarding the number of children born to John Drake.

    The correction regarding Timothy is legitimate, but Mr. Biglow didn’t stop there.  He added the surnames (Taylor) after the daughters Mary and Elizabeth when he listed the names of the Drake children.  Jean Rowley picked this up and it was her purpose in writing the NEXUS.  But let’s look closely at the will again: the fifteenth line down reads “my daughters Elizabeth…"  A quick glance could be deceptive and one could assume Taylor was correct when one has no other clue.  But Jean had given us a tip off and with that it was easy to compare the T in Testament and the G in Grandchildren and know that it was Gaylar not Taylor.  John did not add d at the end of the name.  The Windsor vital records have three apparent entries for the marriage of Mary Drake:  1. 17 Nov. 1653 to John Gaylar, 2. 17 Nov. 1653 to John Gayler, 3. 17 Nov. 1655 to John Gaylor.  Elizabeth Drake has only two entries: 1. 9 Feb. 1653 to William Galor, and 2. 9 Feb. 1653 to William Gailer.

    I think we all need to be careful when adding bits and pieces to what has been already written.  The need to be sure of our facts and to cite primary sources is critical. There are times when we may not be able to show a primary record but the effort must be made to try to locate a source that is considered primary. I might even be tempted to go as far as splitting hairs over the assumption that the name was Gaylord! I personally feel that the spelling of the name as it was written in the Drake will must be carried on when a reference is made to it, i.e., Gaylor/Gaylor. Change in the spelling of names is another whole can of worms! Let’s not open it-today.

    We now have a new stamp, and we will use red ink to stamp the book near the page number: “*See Book of Corrections.”  We also ask that if you submit any corrections you put the essential material on an index card (3x5). Top line - surnames, second line - book, third line - your name, etc.  These will be used as an indexing system to the books of correction.

    A final note regarding the Drake will. John Drake was killed accidentally while driving a cart. Whether the will was written between the time “he was taken up dead,” life came again and he died shortly or sometime before then we don’t know as the date is illegible.  We also don’t know whether John wrote it himself - two important items when trying to prove things.

    Lee Kugler

New England Historic Genealogical Society
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Boston, Massachusetts 02116, USA

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