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Jesse O Drake, Whiteside County

In 1888 the Asylum was concerned with the fact that a large number of the boys sent West were leaving the homes that had been found for them before the end of their indentures. The young men claimed that they wanted more money for their indenture and that they could do better if they went out to work for wages. The asylum asked for comments from the orphan train riders and Jesse O. Drake, along with several others answered that request. (His letter below) In 1888 the compensation for indenture was $100. Jesse expressed the opinion that the indenture period should be shortened or the compensation should be increased to $250. He complained: "I do not have the freedom to attend societies, celebrations and concerts." He reported that he was kept short of spending money. He was not attending school because of his poor eyesight. ". . .sometimes (I am) right saucy with the old folks, and rough with the stock, but I shall try to be better hereafter." Although these young men were worked like men, they were disciplined like boys, and they resented it.

Jesse O. Drake lived in Garden Plain, Whiteside County, Illinois with William Huffman during the censuses of 1880 and 1900 (when he was 30 years old!). He was next found in the census of 1920 in Salem, Oregon, where he worked as a laborer in a paper mill. In 1930 and 1940 he worked as a gardener. He was always single, but in 1930 he lived with a nineteen year old girl, Brenda Savage, who was reported to be his step daughter. He was noted to have a 4 year high school education when the 1940 census was taken. Not much is known about Jesse, and no wife could be identified. If he was indeed the step father of Brenda Savage, he had very briefly been married to Effie May Savage sometime between 1920 and 1925, who married Frank Herin in 1925 and was living with Herin in 1930 (as well as Brenda's two sisters, Delphine and Delpha.

It seems that Jesse Drake died in Marion Oregon in August 1961. With the odds stacked against them, it is amazing that as many of the orphans were financial "success" as were. Of course, the measure of financial success I use is owning their own farm or following a career based on a high school education, both very high marks in some decades!

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