Francis M. Drake

Francis M. Drake, fifteenth Governor of Iowa, was born at Rushville, Illinois, on the 30th of December, 1830, and removed to Iowa in 1837, locating at Fort Madison. Here he secured an education in the schools of that city and at the age of sixteen became a clerk in his father's store.

Soon after the discovery of gold in California, he fitted out two ox teams to make the overland journey to the gold fields. At the Missouri River a caravan of several teams and twelve additional men was organized for mutual protection from hostile Indians. At a crossing of the Platte River the party was attacked by a band of Pawnees and a lively fight ensued, in which the emigrants were under the command of Mr. Drake. The Indians were finally defeated and the party, after several months on the plains, reached California in safety. He remained in California until the fall of 1852, when he returned to the States by water, crossing at Panama, where he was seized with a fever.

In 1854 he again made the trip overland to Sacramento and, while returning by water, was shipwrecked.

In 1861 he volunteered to help defend the Missouri border from invasion. Upon the organization of the Thirty-sixth Regiment of Iowa Infantry he was appointed lieutenant-colonel and served three years in the Union army. He commanded at the Battle of Mark's Mills where he was severely wounded and taken prisoner. After his return to service he was brevetted a Brigadier-General of Volunteers.

After the close of the war General Drake became extensively engaged in railroad building, acquiring large wealth.

He became one of the founders of a college at Des Moines, to which he made large donations at various times, and which was named Drake University. The school is under the direction of the Christians, of which denomination General Drake is a prominent member.

In 1895, General Drake was elected Governor of Iowa, on the Republican ticket, serving one term.

See Obit

(History of Iowa from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1903)
Submitted By: Cathy Danielson

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Francis Marion Drake was born in Rushville, Schuyler county, Ill., son of John Adams and Harriet J. (O’Neal) Drake, natives of North CaroIina, grandson of Benjamin and Celia (Thayer) Drake, of Nash county, N. C., and great-grandson of James Drake, of Virginia.

In October, 1830, the family located in Rushville, Schuyler county, Ill., where Francis Marion was born December 30, 1830. In 1837 the family moved to Iowa, where they have ever since resided. The father and mother were pioneers in the church. John Adams was a personal friend of Alexander Campbell, was one among the early reformers, and they were both leaders in the church and died in the Christian faith in Centerville, Iowa, the father in 1880, at the age of 78, and the mother at the age of 76 in 1885.

The son, Francis Marion, may also be classed with the pioneers of the church, having been baptized in the Mississippi river in an opening cut in the ice at Fort Madison, Iowa, in the winter of 1843. The family moved from Rushville, Ill., to Fort Madison, Iowa, in the fall of 1837. At that time Blackhawk and his tribe were located in that place.

In 1846 what was called the new purchase having been made, they moved from Fort Madison to Davis county and founded the village of Drakeville, and entered the mercantile business, with Drake acting as clerk in the store.

In 1852 Francis Marion crossed the plains to Sacramento, Cal., with a train of ox teams. On the way, at the Crossing of Shell Creek, Neb., the small company which he was then commanding had an encounter with a large number of Pawnee Indians, in which the Indians were defeated with severe loss. He returned to Iowa after a fair success in California, and in 1854 he re-crossed the plains with a drove of cattle. On the 30th of September, 1854, he sailed on the steamer Yankee Blade from San Francisco, expecting to return home by the way of Panama. The steamer, running through a dense fog, struck a reef out from Point Aguilla on the Pacific coast and was a total wreck. The vessel was entirely destroyed and many lives were lost. He succeeded in reaching a barren coast and was picked up five days afterwards and returned to San Francisco.

Later on he returned home and entered the mercantile business with his father and brothers under the firm name of Drake & Sons. From that time he was actively engaged in the mercantile, pork packing and live stock business until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when he enlisted and entered the service for the Union. He was soon after elected Captain of his company, afterwards promoted to Major, then commissioned Lieutenant-colonel of the 36th Iowa Infantry, and from that was brevetted Brigadier General of the United States Volunteers, serving more than four years until the close of the war. Was severely wounded in the service, thought to be mortally, and was in a great many severe engagements and had a good army record. On his return home from the army, owing to his wounds, he was unable to resume the active business that he had pursued prior to the war, and entered the practice of law; afterwards in the building and operating of railroads. He engaged in the practice of law, first for three years associated with the Hon. Amos Harris, from 1867 to 1870. Again from 1875 to 1879, associated with the Hon. A. J. Baker, Ex-Attorney General of Iowa, in which in both instances, he was very successful, and established a good reputation as a lawyer, especially as a criminal lawyer. He has been engaged thirty years in the railroad business, and has built and largely controlled five railroads.

At the instance of Professor G. T. Carpenter, his brother-in-law, and D. R. Lucas, he assisted in founding Drake University, of Des Moines, in 1888, in which institution he has taken a great interest and invested and is still investing a large amount of money. It is a prosperous institution, and has accomplished great good in sending out its graduates filling the various professions and especially the preaching of the gospel.

In 1895 he received the unanimous nomination of the Republican State Convention, and was elected Governor of Iowa by an overwhelming majority, having received the largest vote ever cast in the State for that office. On the 22nd of June, 1897, while ascending the granite steps of the capital during a beating rain storm he slipped and fell, striking an angle of the steps, striking at a place where he was wounded, bruising and battering the injured thigh bone, and owing to the critical condition in which he found himself several weeks afterward, from the advice of his physicians, he declined a second term for Governor. Since that time his health has been quite precarious, but he is now convalescing and is devoting some personal attention to his business affairs.

General Drake. has devoted much of his time and means in the building up and development of other educational institutions besides the one in Des Moines. He has been a generous giver to all other educational institutions in Iowa (not fostered by the State) and has reached out into Japan and China with his contributions to help provide Bible colleges there. Although one of the largest contributors of the church extension fund, his beneficence has been extended direct in the building of scores of churches all over Iowa and in some other districts. He has been a large contributor to the Foreign, Home and all other missionary work in the line of Christianity and the promotion of Christian civilization.

At the General Christian Convention at Cleveland in 1885 he was elected president and served for the year 1886, during which time he revived the efforts, which had been lagging, for the growth of the church extension movement, of which he was one of the founders, since which time its growth has been phenomenal under the energetic and efficient labors of corresponding secretaries, F. M. Rains and Geo. Muckley. His first contribution of one thousand dollars was used as an advanced payment in the purchase of a tabernacle in Boston for the establishing of the work in that city. He served nine years as president of the Iowa Christian Convention, and upon declining a re-election on account of ill health in 1898, he was by resolution of the convention declared president emeritus.

He has recently purchased the site and furnished his home city of Centerville, Iowa, a magnificent library building and made provision with the city for its maintenance.

He was married December 24, 1855, to Mary Jane Lord, a native of Ohio, and who died at his home in Centerville, Iowa, June 22, 1883. She was the mother of seven children, six of whom are living. George Hamilton died in infancy at the age of twenty-two months. The living are: two sons, Frank Elsworth and John Adams, and four daughters, Harriet Amelia (Milla), Jennie, Eva, and Mary, all of whom are married.

Frank is in business and resides in Chicago. He was married to Flora Bissett at Momence, Illinois, in 1883, and has one son, Francis, fourteen years of age.

John is also a resident and business man in Chicago. He was married on the 26th of January, 1893, to Dula Heisel Rae, the step and adopted daughter of Col. Robert Rae, of Chicago.

Milla resides in Chicago, the wife of T. P. Shontz, president and general manager of the Indiana, Illinois and Iowa Railroad. They were married in Centerville, in 1881, and have two daughters, Marguarite and Theodora, aged respectively fourteen and eighteen years.

Jennie is the wife of Dr. J. L. Sawyers, an eminent physician and surgeon in Centerville, Iowa. They were married in 1883 and have two daughters, Mary and Hygiene, aged respectively fifteen and eighteen, and one son, Francis Lazelle, aged six years.

Eva, is the wife of Henry Goes, a, wholesale and retail boot and shoe merchant of Centerville. They have one son, Joseph Marion, sixteen years of age.

Mary is the wife of George W. Sturdivant, a dry goods merchant in Centerville. They have one daughter, Mary, five years of age.

[Churches of Christ (1904) by John T. Brown, pp. 436-437.submitted by Cathy Danielson]

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Francis Marion Drake was born at Rushville, Illinois, on December 30, 1830. At the age of seven he removed with his parents to Fort Madison, Iowa. Here he received a common school education. His second Iowa home was at Drakeville, a town in Davis County founded by his father, John Adam Drake.

In 1852 Mr. Drake led an expedition overland to California. A second trip to California was made in 1854. During the Civil War he served with distinction in the Union army. After the war Mr. Drake engaged extensively in railroad building and in banking.

In 1895 the Republican party elected Mr. Drake to the office of Governor. This position he held for one term, from 1896 to 1898. His home at the time of his election was Centerville; and to this place he retired at the close of his term of office. He died on November 20, 1903.

(The Messages and Proclamations of the Governors of Iowa, 1905)


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