Herbert Jackson Drane
Herbert Jackson Drane was one of the pioneer settlers of Lakeland and one of the city's and state's leading political figures in the first third of the twentieth century. He served Lakeland as city clerk, city treasurer, and mayor, Florida as a member of both houses of the legislature and as a member of the U. S. House of Representatives, and the nation as a member of the Federal Power Commission.
Drane was born in Franklin, Kentucky on June 20, 1863, the son of a Confederate Army captain who was a prisoner of war at the time of his son's birth. He attended local schools until the age of fourteen, when he was removed from school by his parents due to health problems. He worked at a variety of jobs over the next five years until he contracted malaria and was urged by his doctor to "go south" for his health.
South to Drane meant Florida. He made his way to Kissimmee and obtained work on a railroad being built from Kissimmee to Tampa. He was assigned to supervise construction of a section of track near Lake Wire in present day Lakeland in December of 1883. Drane was so impressed with the fledgling community that he made it his home for the rest of his life.
In 1885, Drane opened the first drugstore in Lakeland and shortly thereafter established H. J. Drane Insurance, a company he owned to his death in 1947. He later established the Lakeland Building and Investment Company and was the president of the Lakeland-Gulf Canal Company in the late 1930's.
At the same time that he was managing his drugstore and getting his insurance business underway, Drane also became active in local politics. He was elected city clerk/treasurer of Lakeland in 1886 and two years later was elected to the first of several terms as mayor of Lakeland. Drane's political horizons broadened in 1901, as he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He served four years in the Florida House before making an unsuccessful run for the State Senate. After an eight year hiatus from politics, he was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1912 and served as the Senate president in 1913.
Drane was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from Florida's First Congressional District in 1916. He served in the House for sixteen years until his defeat in a primary in 1932. The newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Drane to a four year term on the Federal Power Commission in 1933.
Drane returned to Lakeland for good at the end of his term on the Federal Power Commission in 1937. He resumed an active role in his insurance business, now known as H. J. Drane and Son, and became a strong advocate for a proposed canal linking Lakeland to the Gulf of Mexico at Tampa. Drane served on the board of directors of the Lakeland-Gulf Canal Company and was appointed its president in 1937. World War II intervened before the proposed canal could be seriously considered and interest in the project could not be revived in the post-war era.
Herbert Jackson Drane died at the age of 84 at his longtime home in Lakeland on August 11, 1947.