FRANCIS MARION DRAKE
Posted By: Mona Sarratt Knight (email)
Date: 8/15/2009 at 22:06:06
File contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by:
Joy Fisher email@example.com December 9, 2007, 3:59 am
Author: Lewis Publishing Co. (1896)
GEN. FRANCIS MARION DRAKE was born in Rushville, Schuyler county, Illinois,
December 30, 1830. He was the second son of John Adams and Harriet Jane (O'Neal)
Drake, natives of Nash county, North Carolina. The father was of English
descent, and traced his relationship back to Sir Francis Drake, as also to the
distinguished Adams family. He learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed
until 1830, when having acquired sufficient capital he entered mercantile
business, afterward engaging in that of banking, which he followed to the close
of his life, with much credit and success.
He removed from Rushville to Fort Madison, Iowa, in 1837, and within his nine
years' residence there he was elected and served as Probate Judge of Lee county.
Again in 1846 he removed to Davis county of the same State, where he founded the
thriving and substantial village of Drakeville, established a general store,
and, associated with his two sons, John Hamilton and Francis Marion, built up a
large mercantile, packing and milling business, which was continued for many
years and was quite successful. He commenced the banking business at Drakeville
in 1866 and ten years later removed to Centerville in Appanoose county, where,
while president of the Centerville National Bank, he died in May, 1880, at the
age of seventy-eight years. He was a member of the Iowa State Legislature,
representing Davis county in the session of 1852-3, elected on the Whig ticket.
He was a friend of the famous Alexander Campbell, was one among the early
reformers and died in the Christian faith. His wife was a woman of superior
intelligence and Christian character. She was the devoted mother of a large
family of children, one of whom, William Henry Harrison Drake, was killed in the
battle of Fort Donel-son in the charge of the Second Iowa Regiment. She died in
Centerville, December 5, 1885, at the age of seventy-six years.
Francis Marion Drake, the subject of this sketch, received a good business
education and has led an active and successful business life. At the age of
sixteen he entered his father's store as a clerk, in which employment he
continued, until he became of age, when, during the gold excitement in
California, he decided to work out his own fortune. He crossed the plains to
Sacramento in 1852, with an ox train, taking with him two ox teams and five men.
After crossing the Missouri river, in flatboats, at Kanesville (now Council
Bluffs), he organized a small train called the Drakeville train, of which he was
chosen captain. At the crossing of Shell creek, Nebraska, in command of twenty
men he had a severe engagement with about 300 Pawnee Indians, defeating them and
inflicting upon them heavy loss in killed and wounded. His venture in California
proving quite successful, he again crossed the plains in 1854, taking with him a
drove of cattle and some horses and oxen, reaching Sacramento with them in
excellent condition and with a small percentage of loss. On his last return from
California, he was a passenger on the ill-fated steamer, Yankee Blade, which was
wrecked and totally lost on the Pacific ocean, September 30, 1854, off Point
Aguilla. He narrowly escaped and was picked up on a barren coast five days later.
On his return home Mr. Drake entered into the mercantile business with his
father and his brother, John Hamilton, under the firm name of Drake & Sons, in
which he successfully continued until January 1, 1858, when he drew out, taking
in part as his assets the milling interests of the firm. He continued in the
milling business until the fall of 1859, when, having succeeded in putting the
property on a paying basis, he disposed of it and established a general
mercantile and stock business at the village of Unionville in the adjoining
county of Appanoose, which he profitably continued until the outbreak of the
Civil war. In 1861 he enlisted and was commissioned Captain of a company, which
was organized into Colonel Edward's Independent Iowa Regiment, of which he was
elected Major, and with this command served through the critical times of 1861
in Missouri, driving the forces under General Patton from the northern part of
the State. He was assigned by General Prentiss to the command of St. Joseph,
holding the position at the time of Colonel Mulligan's surrender to General
Price at Lexington and defending the attack on St.. Joseph soon afterward.
At the organization of the Thirty-sixth Iowa Infantry, in 1862, Mr. Drake was
made Lieutenant Colonel and in the military history of the three years' hard and
efficient service of that regiment, his name stands conspicuous. He took
prominent part in the campaign of General Steele from Little Rock to re-enforce
General Banks on his Red river expedition in Louisiana in 1864, and rendered
important service. His gallant defense at Elkin's Ford on the Little Missouri
river, while in command of a detachment of 500 men, against General Marmaduke's
division of 3,000, resulting in holding the ford after a severe engagement
lasting from early daylight until noon, was highly commended by his superior
officers and he was soon afteward [sic] placed in command of his brigade. On the
25th of April, 1864, at the bloody battle of Mark's Mills, while in command of
his brigade of less than 1,500 men and arrayed against the combined cavalry
forces of Kirby Smith, about 6,000, commanded by Major General Fagan, he was
severely wounded in the left thigh and fell into the hands of the enemy. The
wound was pronounced mortal, the thigh bone being slightly fractured by a
Belgian ball weighing one and a half ounces, the bone splitting the ball and the
pieces being afterward extracted from different parts of the body, excepting
about a drachm of lead buried in the bone, where it still remains. Owing to the
severity of the wound he was not held a prisoner and after a confinement of
nearly six months, his wounds being sufficiently healed, he in October
following, by the aid of crutches, rejoined his command at Little Rock. He was
soon afterward recommended for promotion on account of special gallantry and
hard and efficient service, and was brevetted Brigadier General of United States
Volunteers and assigned for duty commensurate with his rank. He relieved General
Thayer of his command at St. Charles on White river and later commanded a
brigade in the division of General Shaler and the post of Duvall's Bluffs,
Arkansas, until his muster out of service, in 1865.
After the war General Drake resumed the mercantile business, but by reason of
his wounds was unable to give it his active personal attention and became
associated in the practice of law with Judge Amos Harris, with whom, and
afterward with General A. J. Baker, he successfully practiced the legal
profession for about six years. He acquired the reputation of being a good
criminal lawyer, and, though retired from practice, was prevailed upon in 1879
to engage with General Baker in defense of the notorious Bill Young of Missouri,
who was accused of murdering the Spencer family and who after acquittal was
lynched by the infuriated citizens who believed him guilty.
For the past twenty-five years General Drake has been engaged in the railroad
and banking business; has projected and constructed and put in operation five
railroads. He is president of the Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad, and Albia &
Centerville Railroad Companies; a director of the Keokuk & Western Railroad
Company; and president of the Centerville National Bank. He is also president of
the board of trustees of Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, which bears his
name as one of its founders and its most liberal benefactor. He has also been a
liberal contributor to other educational institutions, to the building of scores
of churches, to the missionary societies and the church extension fund of the
Christian or Disciple Church, with which he stands prominently connected, and is
now serving his eighth yearly term as president of the Iowa State Board. He has
been honored with the presidency of the National Board for the term of one year.
In the spirit of public enterprise and improvement in his town, county and
State, he has not only been a leader but one of the most liberal contributors.
He is kind-hearted and a true friend to the poor, the afflicted and the persecuted.
On the 10th of July, 1895, General Drake received the nomination by the
Republican party and was on the 5th day of November, elected Governor of the
State of Iowa by an overwhelming majority, which exalted position he now holds.
General Drake has been an Odd Fellow since 1854, is a past Noble Grand and a
member of the encampment. He has been a Mason since 1859, ranks as Sir Knight,
and is a member of the Mystic Shrine. In Odd Fellowship and Masonry he is held
as an honorary member, exempted from dues in the lodges to which he belongs
because of his liberal benefactions in freeing them from indebtedness incurred
in the building of their halls. In politics he is a Republican and has been
honored as a delegate from Iowa to three Republican national conventions, and as
many more national conventions of the Republican League.
General Drake was married December 24, 1855, to Mary Jane Lord, of Ohio, a
native of New Brunswick, Canada. She died at Centerville, Iowa, June 22, 1883.
Mrs. Drake was a woman of superior intelligence, a leader in society and in the
church. Her character for sincerity was especially marked, as were also her
kindness and liberality, and she was loved and admired by her associates. She
was the mother of seven children, six of whom are now living, George Hamilton
having died at the age of twenty-two months in 1870. The surviving members of
the family are: Frank Elsworth, John Adams, Amelia, Jennie, Eva and Mary. Frank
resides in Centerville, is president of the Centerville Coal Company, and is
extensively engaged in dealing in bituminous coal. He was married to Flora
Bissett at Momence, Illinois, in 1883, and has one son, Francis, about seven
years of age (1895). John, a resident of Chicago, is the secretary and treasurer
of the Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad Company, and was married on the 26th of
January, 1893, to Dula Heisel Rae, the adopted daughter of Colonel Robert Rae,
of Chicago. Amelia is the wife of T. P. Shonts, of Chicago, general manager of
the Indiana, Illinois & Iowa Railroad. They were married in 1881 and have two
daughters, Marguerite and Mary Theodora, aged respectively ten and eight years.
Jennie is the wife of Dr. J. L. Sawyers, an eminent physician and surgeon of
Centerville. They were married in 1883, and have two daughters and one son: Mary
and Hygiene, aged respectively ten and seven years, and Francis Lazelle, aged
four months. Eva is the wife of Henry Goss, a boot and shoe merchant of
Centerville. They have one son, Joseph Marion, nine years of age. Mary is the
youngest child and makes her home with her father in Centerville, Iowa.
A MEMORIAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF IOWA
"A people that take no pride in the noble achievements of remote ancestors will
never achieve anything worthy to be remembered with pride by remote
"Biography is by nature the must universally profitable, universally pleasant,
of all things."—CARLYLE
"History is only biography on a large scale"—LAMARTINE.
CHICAGO: THE LEWIS PUBLISHING COMPANY
Appanoose Biographies maintained by Renee L. Rimmert.
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