The Town of Draper came about as a result of the location of the Norfolk and Western Railroad tracks.
It was the first station to be established on the Cripple Creek Extension after it left Pulaski in about the year 1884. There was a whistle stop at MacAdam Crossing, but no station.
Even though the population of the village has always been less than 300, it is still one of the three incorporated towns in Pulaski County, including Pulaski and Dublin.
There was a time when the town had an elected council, a mayor, police chief, as well as a fire department that is still functioning.
It is my understanding that because of lack of interest, elections were not held regularly, and after the last elected councilman passed away, organized government there came to an end.
The last town councilman was Mack Chumbley, and the last police chief, Norman Burnett. I don’t know if Frank Graham was actually elected mayor, or if the title just fell on him, but he was referred to as mayor for many years.
The town did not grow a great deal with organized government, and it has not grown much without it, but it is a nice peaceful area in which to live.
The 1950 census gave the population as 258, and my guess is that there are still about that number of contented citizens today.
The first industry was Rex Milling Company. The old building was located down by the railroad tracks and turned out flour and meal using power from a steam engine.
Sometime after the mill stopped operating, the building was occupied by the Riggs Cedar Veneer Works. This was not a good idea for the veneer company because there was no room for expansion. When Riggs needed to expand, it had to move out.
Around 1912, a school building was built to handle grades one through 11.This building, known as Draper High School, remained in operation until 1953, when it was consolidated with Dublin High School. For the first time, students had to travel out of the Draper area to attend high school.
Class reunions are still held by proud Draper graduates. The class of 1922 had one graduate, Missy Sydney Painter, author of the book, “Early Schools in Draper’s Valley.”
The town had two stores that had become famous to most Pulaski people – Draper Mercantile and Bryson’s Store.
The first to come into being was known as Draper Mercantile (recently renovated). Down through the years, beginning in 1882, this store provided just about everything people in a farming area might need that wasn’t produced on the farm.
Besides having dry goods, tools, farm supplies, groceries, ammunition, shoes, kerosene, candles and medicines, the store also provided space for Draper Post Office.
Just a few hundred feet down the road, facing the Cripple Creek Extension of the Norfolk and Western Railroad, Bryson’s Store still stands. Almost as old as the mercantile, Bryson’s began as Harper’s Store.
It has continued for many years to be operated by Joe Bryson. Only recently has he given it up to family members.
Draper is a little town with a big history. Like Belspring at the other end of the county, naming it did not come easy.
The first post office was known as Tate. A year later it was named Lucretia. It’s present name came in 1900 and has stuck.
It was named by John and Betty Draper, who gave up their land in Blacksburg, then known as Draper’s Meadows. That land was the site of the terrible Indian Massacre of 1755, in which Betty Draper and her sister-in-law, Mary Draper Ingles, were captured by the Shawnee and taken into Ohio.
After returning from captivity, Betty and her husband, John, moved to the land, which became known as Draper’s Valley.
Draper gained fame in sports early by fielding a baseball team that played other New River Valley teams under manager, Dr. Hugh Brown. The Ducks were so named because of the fact they played so many games in the rain – and won many.
People thought the interstate highway would greatly change Draper, but it hasn’t. Maybe fate would like to see the town stay the peaceful little village on the south side of Draper’s Mountain that is has always been.