Melvin Walter Drake was born in Michigan on February 9, 1844, and lived in Mundy, Michigan, with his parents, Walter and Adaline Drake, and his siblings, Cordelia, Mary, and Lucius. On August 9, 1862, he enlisted in Company C of the 23rd Michigan Infantry Regiment, and he served as a private until mustering out on June 28, 1865. After the war, Drake returned to Shiawassee County, Michigan, where he was a farmer. He and his wife Ada had at least five children: Irving, Lulu, Mary, Walter Joshua, and Herbert. Melvin Walter Drake died on August 26, 1912. His sister Mary married Samuel H. Daniels and they had one son, Edwin E. Daniels.