FRANCIS M. DRAKE, Iowa’s sixteenth governor, was born in Rushville, Illinois on December 30, 1830. In 1837, his family moved to Fort Madison, Iowa, where Drake was educated in the common schools. He became an adventurous young man, with treks across the plains to California, and a survival story that occurred when he sailed on a steamer that was destroyed after striking a reef in middle of the Pacific Ocean. During the Civil War, he commanded the 36th Iowa Infantry as lieutenant colonel, rose to the rank of brigadier general, was severely wounded, and was captured and later released. After his military duty, he studied law and established a successful legal practice, building a reputation in criminal law. Besides his law career, Drake was active in the Centerville Christian Church, and was very involved in the railroad industry, collaborating and building five railroads. He also was instrumental in the founding of Drake University, which was named after him. He liberally donated money there, as well as to Iowa College and Wesleyan College in Mt. Pleasant. Drake entered politics in 1895, winning the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He went on to win the popular election, and was sworn into office on January 16, 1896. During his tenure, he advocated for the development and expansion of the state’s waterways, highways and railroads, as well as for the endorsement of educational advancements, and for upholding the liquor local option. However, the most notable legislation that was sanctioned was the amendments made to the state laws. Drake did not seek reelection due to his deteriorating health. He left office on January 13, 1898 and retired from public service. Governor Francis M. Drake died on November 20, 1903, and was buried at the Oakland Cemetery in Centerville, Iowa.
Annals of Iowa, 6 (1964): 307-9.
The Political Graveyard
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.