Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Local News

August 19, 2013

Centerville welcomes great-great-grandson of Francis Drake

A long lost relative of Appanoose County and Centerville stopped by for a visit last week.

George Stimson III and his wife Liz decided to stop by Centerville, a place George had heard about his entire life, but never seen, during a cross country trip back to their home in Encinitas, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 12.

George is the great-great-grandson of Francis Drake, the former Iowa governor and namesake of Centerville's Drake Avenue and Drake Public Library, as well as Des Moines' Drake University.

The lineage traces back to Gov. Drake's youngest daughter, Mary Lord (Drake) Sturdivant, who married into the Sturdivant family. Her wedding present was the Beck Mansion on Drake Avenue, which George said his family still has the original plans for. However, in 1908 Mary Lord (Drake) Sturdivant and her husband moved to California, where the family remains today.

The Sturdivants had one child, Mary Drake (Sturdivant) Stimson, who married George Stimson. This couple was George Stimson III grandparents. Their son, George Stimson II had three sons, George Stimson III and his two brothers. And the tradition continues with Liz and George's children. The couple has 20-year-old twins, daughter Micah and son George IV.

Besides passing down names, the family has passed down other heirlooms from the Drake family. In addition to the Beck Mansion plans, George said his family also has a photo of Gov. Drake's wife, Mary Jane (Lord) Drake and the champagne bottle that was broken over the USS Iowa when the ship was christened.

The couple currently lives outside San Diego in Encinitas, Calif. where Liz is a nurse practitioner and George is a public high school physics teacher at San Dieguito Academy.

The Stimson's said they were only able to stay in Centerville one night, but had been able to visit the Drake family graves in Oakland Cemetery as well as the library, the museum and the Beck Mansion among other places. They were also able to walk around the Square and visited with several residents of the area about Centerville and Appanoose County places to see while they were here.

George said that he now hopes to get his two brothers and mother back to Centerville for a visit in the future.

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