I was talking on the phone today with some of my kinfolk over in French Camp, and I remembered seeing your query about the James Drane home, and so I asked they knew of the home. I was told that the home had been moved from it's original location to the "Historic District" in town of French Camp. The home is on the "National Register of Historic Places." The old home has been restored, is furnished and is open to the public daily. However, it is only open a few hours each day during the time when which there is quilting exhibition put on for the public
My cousin said that just this week they had a visitor who said he ws one of Col. James Drane's descendants. My cousin didn't remember the gentleman's name but said that he and his family had stay in town for a day, or two and remarked that they wished they lived closer and could visit more often.
I did a little further checking and found that the late Hon. Judge J. P. Coleman, in his book, Choctaw County Chronicles, A History of Choctaw County, Mississippi 1830-1973 (Ackerman, MS: "Self Published," 1973) [Note: the book was reprinted a few years ago by one of the "reprint Companies" - maybe "Heritage Press" out of Maryland, or perhaps it was one of the noted South Carolina publishers, either "Southern Historical Press" or the "Reprint Company."] mentioned Col. Drane on several pages. Colonel Drane was born in Columbia County, Georgia on February 24, 1808 and when Choctaw county was "brand new" in 1836 Mr. Drane moved his family and 23 slaves to a farm near present day New Haven Church, located between French Camp and the old "ghost town" of Bankston, Miss.
(Almost nothing remains of Bankston today. The mills, especially the shoe factory, made the town the target in December of 1864 of Colonel Grierson's second notable raid through the heart of Mississippi, the first being in 1863 to draw off troops and reenforcements from the battle of Vicksburg. This first raid was dramatized, though much fictionalized, in the now classic John Ford's movie starring John Wayne and William Holden, "The Horse Soldiers." In the second raid, the target was the shoe factory at Bankston, the last remaining such remaining factory in the South, and "shoes" were to Civil War what "ball bearings" were to World War II, a most high priority target. The great battle of Gettysburg was iniated when Gen. Heath's Division of the Army of North Virginia heard of the shoe factory at Gettysburg and detoured to raid the factory, but unexpectedly ran into a dismounted unit of Union Calvary, thus starting what became the turning point of the Civil War along with the fall of Vicksburg in the West at the same time. After the Civil War, Gen. Grierson went on to command the famous "Buffalo Soldiers" of Fort Davis in West Texas.)
As to the house, Judge Coleman writes that Drane finished the house in 1848 "after two years of labor.... The lumber for the house was cut was with a sash saw, run by water power. The foundation and framing were secured with wooden pins and the ceiling with squared iron nails. There were four principal rooms downstairs, two on each side of a large central hallway, faced with huge double doors but open at the back. The fireplaces in the two front rooms had matched mohogany mantels. A curved stairway led from the left rear of the hallway to three bedrooms on the seconds floor, two large wing rooms with three front windows each, connected by a small hall at the middle front window, opposite which was a small central room with single window opening on the back of th house.
Judge Coleman writes that James Drane was "an expert rifleman and killed 110 deer the first year he lived in the county." Judge Coleman also states that James was elected to the Mississippi State legislature from Choctaw County in 1839 and from 1857 to 1865 he served in the State Senate and for a time he was first in the line of succession to the governor's office should something have happened to the then governor. As you may know, Col. Drane was nominated for governor at the 1857 Democratic Convention, but lost out to the Hon. William McWillie. In 1859 there were plans to nominated him again, and many believe he might have gotten won the nomination, but he declined to have his name placed in nomination due to the very serious illness of his wife.
Also according to Judge Coleman, a letter of Col. Drane dated June 13, 1859, appears in the "Mississippian," a newspaper published in Jackson, MS and another editorial written by him appeared in June 24, 1859.
Mr. Drane died 8 March 1869 at 61 and is buried across the road from the original location of his home. His first wife was Matilda Blance Shaw and his second wife was Amelia S. Edwards whom he married 27 May 1862. His eldest daughter, Mary Cassandra, married William Caroll Staples, sheriff of Choctaw County in 1858 who as a Major in the 24th Miss. Inf. Regt. (CSA) was severely wounded at Chickamauga.
Mr. Drane's eldest son, LTC. James William Drane of the 31st. Miss Inf. Regt. (CSA) was seriously wounded at Peach Tree Creek. James Drane "III," son of James W. Drane, was an attorney at Chester, Mississippi, once the county seat of Choctaw, where he died 20 Sept. 1889 at age 35.
The elder James Drane's second son, Virgil Leigh Drane of the 31st. Miss. Inf. Regt. was wounded at the battle of Franklin.
When James Drane ("the elder" died, the "Jackson Daily Clarion" in its issue of March 16, 1869, said:
"His elevated character, inflexible will, integrity of purpose, and clear intellect gave him large influence, and at one time he came nigh receiving the democratic nomination for Governor of the State, when a nomination was equivalent to an election. he was a conspicuous member of the class of legislature to which Whitfield, Pettus, Oliver, and their confreres belonged, and who wielded a large influence over the destinies of the State, between the years 1850 and 1860."
There is also more on the family in Goodspeed's "Bilographical Memoirs of Mississippi, I, 663" and Johnson S. Rowe's article in the "Yearbook of the American Clan Gregory Society," 22."
Judge Coleman also mentions that Col. Drane was elected one of the delegates from Choctaw County to the Sate Democratic Convention in Jackson, Mississippi and he was also elected one of the delegates from the State of Mississippi to the National Democratic Convention in Charleston, S.C. in 1860 and participated in the "Southern Walkout" led by Alabama.
In May of 1863 he appointed Captain of the "Choctaw Reserves", a calvary unit of 40 men for the "home guard" comprised mostly of those too old for regular service, or otherwise disqualified by handicaps, etc. (A G. W. C. Drane was appointed at Bankston, a Captain of the "Choctaw Silver Greys," another of the homeguard units consisting of 27 men. Colonel Drane also made a speech at the Courthouse in Greensboro (then the county seat of Choctaw County).
It appears I got a bit carried away. I hadn't realized I'd typed so much! <Grin> I trust there's not too many typo's. Hope this helps. -- Jay.
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