Politics of 1896
There is an old man who leans on his sticks;
He is always ready to talk politics.
You’d better not say that you are a Populist;
If you do he will strike you with his fist.
He has always been a good Democrat;
And he don’t mind saying so, I can tell you that.
His wife says he is old and crazy,
But I tell you he gets awfully lazy.
When you bring up the subject about “Middle of the Road,”
He will jump so high, you’ll think him a toad.
This old man is not a fake,
You know him very well. He is Capt. J.J. Drake.
Captain J.J. Drake of Griffin’s Township, Nash County, NC – and subject of this poem by his daughter-in-law Harriet Janet Clark – walked with “sticks” due to an injury from a shell during the 1862 Civil War Battle of Malvern Hill. The injury left him partially paralyzed on his left side.
This is just one of the poems in Mrs. Frederick B. Drake’s (Harriet J. Clark Drake) book of poetry Gems of the Hills published in 1897 by Kinlaw’s Print, Rocky Mount, NC. This is not the best poem in the collection, but I find it fascinating because of the political references. Other poems will be shared in future posts.
A few original books still exist among family members, and Mrs. Drake’s great-great-granddaughter Robin Freeman of Castalia had a limited number of reprints made for family members during the 1970s.
Harriet Janet Clark Drake was born in Bertie County, NC in 1861 to Gavin Hogg Clarke of Bertie and Rebecca Powell Hillard (Clarke) of Nash. She married Frederick “Fed” Battle Drake of Nash County (son of Captain J.J. Drake of the poem and his wife Elizabeth Battle, both of Nash) in 1881. She died in 1905 and is buried in the Drake-Freeman family graveyard near Castalia, NC.