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Cora E. Drew: Poetess

Cora was born north of Gilroy in 1864. She moved to Corralitos when her father was assigned work. Cora went to the Corralitos School and was a bright learner. In 1877 Cora was thirteen. She became seriously ill with diphtheria. The disease took a severe toll on her body, but she began to recover some of her good humor. She was really looking forward to her upcoming birthday! Cora was not, however, a selfish person. While recovering from her illness, she learned many of the children in her close-knit community, no doubt friends of hers, also succumbed to the disease. In empathy with her community, she wrote memorial poems for many of the families who lost their children. Her poems brought comfort to grieving families. At thirteen, she became a published author with some of her poems appearing in newspapers like the Watsonville Pajaronian. Diphtheria would claim her life later that year.

Adapted from “Voices of the Heart: Memorial Poems from the Diphtheria Epidemic of 1876-78” (1993) by Phil Reader.
Retrieved from Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.

Newspaer clipping of the printed obituary of five people, with the last one featuring a poem by Cora E. Drew.

Cora’s poem for Susie Tucker:
Sleep little Susie, Sleep!
Not in thy cradle bed,
Not on thy mother’s breast,
But with the quiet dead.

Yes, with the angels blest
Susie, thy form will be,
And many weary one
Would glad lie down with thee.

Watsonville PajaronianMarch 15, 1877
Pajaro Valley Historical Association and California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographical Research Studies, University of California Riverside. Special Thanks to Lou Arbanas.

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Phil Reader: Historian & Writer
Martina Castro Lodge: Californio Land Grantee
Axel Erlandson: Arboreal Sculptor
Dora Anderson: Servicewoman & Teacher
London Nelson: School Benefactor
Cora E Drew: Poetess
Ariana Jones: Community Activist
Oscar Corcoles: Community Programmer
Rhonda Harper: Surfer & Founder
Mabel Lucien Davis Pinkney Ritchardson: Singer & Church Leader
Theodore Hammond Smith: Disabilities Care Innovator
Hiroshi Shikuma: Strawberry Farmer
José Galvan Amaro: Labor Activist & Ag Worker
Apolonia Dangzalan: Redwoods Lumberer
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Alison Kim: Writer & Archivist
Carrie Lodge: Stenographer & Storyteller