Eliza Hester Cunning, daughter of Richard and Julian (Swagler) Cunning was born in Ragersville, Tuscarawas Co., Ohio, on March 21, 1846. She passed away at her home on Des Moines Street, Brooklyn, Iowa on January 27, 1929.
Mrs. Drake came to Brooklyn from her childhood home in Ohio when a girl of sixteen. Since then she has lived continuously in or near Brooklyn. She experienced all the privations and hardships to which the pioneers of this community fell heir. Like a true pioneer, she has always displayed a courageous spirit, and a wonderful fortitude in time of stress or trouble. At the time of her death, she was one of the oldest pioneers in Brooklyn and held the longest membership on the roll of Grace M. E. Church, having united with the church in March 1864. She was the last charter member of the church.
She was united in marriage with Charles A. Drake on Nov. 23, 1865. They lived on their farms in Bear Creek and Madison Townships until March 1900 when they removed to her late home in Brooklyn. They were the parents of ten children, four of whom survive, Mrs. Wesley Crawford, J. A. Drake, Florence and May all of Brooklyn. No one but a mother can realize the weary hours, the sleepless nights, the sacrifices it meant to rear a family of small children under conditions which were never easy in those days. Neither can they realize the grief of giving up four of those little ones to the angel of Death. Yet, in later years many times these words were heard, “Those were the happiest years of my life.” The husband passed away on January 2, 1914. Then came fifteen long, lonely years following the death of the one with whom there had existed the truest companionship. During these years, a son Fred C. Drake, passed away on Nov. 24, 1919 and a daughter, Mrs. Lill D. Hall passed away on December 29, 1924.
When a young woman, Mrs. Drake taught two summers in the rural schools of Jefferson Township. This was during the Civil War period. She knew of the sorrows and privations of the families of these communities during those stricken days. Having the gift of song, it was often her mission to cheer and comfort those in sickness and sorrow with her singing. Years later her son and daughter both taught one of these same schools, many of their pupils being children and grandchildren of their mother’s pupils.
She was the soul of patriotism. When the boys in blue came marching home, she was one of the first to give them the glad welcome in song. This patriotism extended down thru the years. Sympathetic with the Civil War veterans in all their activities, she enjoyed many patriotic gatherings and reunions which she attended with her husband to the fullest extent. She has been a member of the Women’s Relief Corps for many years.
Perhaps two of Mrs. Drake’s greatest attributes were these. Her sympathy for and her desire to aid the one in trouble of any kind and her generosity when dealing with others. Life with her was never a playtime. It was a life of service for others before herself. She has passed into the great Eternity. The youngest of a large family and the last to depart. In her passing, she leaves the four surviving children and nine grandchildren: Glenn Baker, Margaret, Charles A., Mary, Dorothy, Donald and Allen Drake, and Margery and Miriam Hall. The most fitting tribute they could pay at her feet is this: “She hath done what she could.”
Funeral services conducted by her pastor the Rev. R. G. Nye, were held at her late home on Wednesday afternoon, January 30. The text used was taken from Numbers 21:11 “And they journeyed toward the rising of the sun.” Softly now the Light of Day, a favorite hymn of her husband’s and sang at his funeral. Asleep in Jesus, a hymn she loved and one she had selected more than once to be sung during a bereavement and Still, Still with Thee were sung by Mrs. Grace Fowler and Mrs. Della Jones. The accompanist was Mrs. Nellie Manatt who during each hour of bereavement as it came to this family has sweetly ministered with her music. And then amid the softly falling snowflakes symbol of the Winter of Life, the body was borne to the IOOF Cemetery and placed beside that of the companion whom she had “loved long since and lost awhile.”
Contributed by: Shelli Steedman