The Dam Drakes

My husband and I recently toured Flaming Gorge Dam in Utah. While I was walking through the interior workings of the dam, I was thinking about my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Ervin Alonzo DRAKE, his wife- Lavina (PILGRIM) DRAKE, and their 9 known children. In Ervin’s Mexican-American War Pension records, Ervin states that he lived in Echo, Delaware County, Oklahoma in 1887 (NOTE: In the 1800’s the area that is now Delaware County, OK, was still Indian Territory). You will not find Echo, Oklahoma, today. I became curious about this years ago and began doing research into the town of Echo. I went to the Grove (Oklahoma) Public Library. (There are only two genealogical collections in Delaware County, OK, and this one was my best shot at finding this specific information.)

I looked in a book called Oklahoma Place Names by George H. Shirk and what I discovered is that Echo was a now-defunct town sitting Northwest of Grove. I talked with the librarian (whose name I, unfortunately, can’t remember) and she told me that Echo was covered with water when Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees was created. She told me that if I were to go to the center of Sailboat bridge and face West, I would be looking directly at the location that used to be Echo, Oklahoma. I decided to drive across Sailboat Bridge and do just that. Of course, all you see is water. I then decided to keep driving and get as close as I could to the location she described. What I discovered is that there is a place near Monkey Island (and near the location she described) called Echo Bay. I can only assume that this is very near where Echo used to be. I jokingly told my husband I wanted him to gear up and scuba dive down there to see if he could find my grandpa’s house. Alas, he didn’t do it.

Many of the graves in Echo (and other locations now covered in water) were re-located to local cemeteries around the Grove, OK, area. I have never found any information to indicate that Ervin or any of his family were among those relocated graves. In fact, the information I have for Ervin indicates he died in Coy, McDonald, MO, in 1900. Additionally, his new widow (second wife, Elizabeth J.) was censused in McDonald County, MO, in 1900. To my knowledge, neither his first wife nor any of his children died while living in the Echo area.

Our tour through Flaming Gorge Dam was interesting and filled with thoughts of my ancestors who lived in a location now forever linked with a dam. The building of a dam takes away from some to give to many. I am glad that our family did not lose anything in the building of Pensacola Dam and the filling of Grand Lake.

The Drake family reunion is coming up on July 28, 2012, in South West City, Missouri. The location is near enough that a drive to Echo Bay would be feasible. I encourage my family members to take a drive around the area of Echo Bay. The GPS coordinates are Latitude: 36.6278538 and Longitude: -94.864401 (courtesy of HometownLocator at You can find a map online at (also courtesy of HometownLocator). You can also get a satellite image of the area by going to Satellite Views’ website at Enjoy your drive to see Echo Bay and I hope to see you all at the reunion.

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