George Franklin Drew was a native of Alton, New Hampshire, born on August 6, 1827. He moved to Columbus, Georgia in the 1840s where he worked as a machinist; he later became involved in the lumber industry. He remained in the South during the Civil War, but was a Unionist who took no active part in the struggle. At the conclusion of the war he built a large sawmill on the Suwannee River at Ellaville. Drew built a lumber empire over the next several decades, and he also became active in Democratic politics. In 1876 he won the Democratic nomination for governor and defeated Republican Marcellus Stearns in a controversial election by the razor-thin margin of 24,179 to 23,984. Drew's election ended Reconstruction in Florida. During his administration he worked to reduce state expenditures and build economic prosperity. Following his term of office, Drew returned to his business interests. He eventually settled in Jacksonville with his wife, Amelia Dickens Drew.
Governor Drew wrote the letter reproduced below on September 24, 1900 to his daughter Vannie. He describes a stroke or similar attack that his wife of forty-eight years had suffered that morning. Amelia, Drew's wife would die two days later on September 26. The ex-governor, who had written "when she is taken I don't care to live any longer," made funeral arrangements for his wife, and then sat down in a chair on the veranda of his Jacksonville home. Friends who had gathered there noticed that Drew "was seen to draw a long breath, gasp once or twice, after which his head fell to the back of the chair and he immediately became motionless." He was dead by the time doctors arrived. The Jacksonville newspaper reported that Drew had died of "a broken heart."
Jacksonville Florida Sept 24th 1900
Your mother is very sick, I awoke up just before four o clock and heard somthing that sounded like one slaping them selves, and I called your mother, and she couldn't give me an intelligent answer, and I went in the room and found her slaping he[r] right thigh, and she could not speak plainly, and I dressed and went over and called Maggia, and then came back and telaphoned Dr Mitchel to come out as soon as he could, and he came right out, and examined her, he found that she was paralized on her left side, he left a perscription for her, and said he would be out again in the afternoon, but he has no doubt but she will have another attack but say that no one can tell when she will have another attack, I write you this so that you may know if I wire you that it is serious, that this is the begining of the end, and that we shall soon be parted, and when she is taken I don't care to live any longer, we have lived togather so long that there can be no comfort for the one that is left and I have always wished that I might be taken first, and I may be yet, but I do so dred these paraletic shocks, and when any one has one attack it is sure to be the end of them, we will do all for her we can, and if she does not rally I will wire you Maggia sends Nellie money to come home on, but I don't know as she wants her untill Satuarday, have just talked to Maggia and she thinks that Nellie had better come at once, by the way of Leesburg so as to get in here in the afternoon, but she sends a note to her in her letter, I am all torn up this morning, and may not have written inteligently. Love to you all.
Geo. F. Drew