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Salem Pioneer Cemetery ~ Joseph T. Drake ~ part of the Marion County Pioneer Cemeteries of Oregon
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Joseph "Joe" T. Drake
BORN: Abt 1856 DIED: Mar 1885 BURIED: 22 Mar 1885
ETHNICITY:  African American OCCUPATION:  Farm laborer
BIRTH PLACE:  Missouri
DEATH PLACE: Salem, Marion Co., Oregon
IOOF - Joe Drake, died in Salem, hanged, deceased was hanged in Salem for the murder of D. Swartz.
1870 OR CENSUS - Joseph Drake, age 14, black, b. Missouri, is enumerated with Alfred Drake, black, age 44, laborer, b. Kentucky, and Elizabeth, age 33, black, b. Missouri, along with William B. S., age 11, black, b. Misssouri, George D., age 5, black, b. Oregon, James A., age 3, black, b. Oregon, and Elizabeth, age 1, black, b. Oregon.
1880 OR CENSUS - Joseph T. Drake, black, age 25, occupation farm laborer, b. Missouri.

NOTE - Salem Pioneer Cemetery Black Pioneer Omnibus dedicated by the Oregon Northwest Pioneers on 1 Feb 2007.

Hanged for murder of D. Swartz. One of the last hangings at court houses in Oregon, before the task was transferred to the state penitentiary. 

From Salem History Online:
The Wrong Man
With the transfer in 1866 of the Oregon State Penitentiary to Salem from Portland hangings ceased to be public events—with one notable exception: March 20, 1885, Joe Drake was hanged at the Marion County Courthouse for the murder of Dave Swartz. Numerous jurists and the majority of public opinion felt the young black man had been falsely convicted in the summer 1884 killing and his pre-execution statement confirmed what many suspected; he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and took the fall for the real murderer. But no one came forward with their defense of Drake and he was hanged on the gallows just north of the eastside entrance to the courthouse that Friday afternoon. A temporary fence for privacy enclosed the scaffold but the upper rooms of the courthouse offered ringside seats for the "grewsome spectacle".

REPORTED DEAD--It has been reported about town that Mrs. Swarts, the widow of the murdered man David Swarts, was dead, having passed off very suddenly. We are sorry to say, upon the authority of one of her relatives, that the rumor had no foundation in fact, and the woman still lingers in this vale of tears.
He Protests His Innocence To the Bitter End, and Takes Back Nothing. - His Last Words on Earth - 
He wants His Case to Serve as a Warning to all--Not for his Crime, But the Company he Kept--
History of the Case - Henry's "Confession". 
Synopsis of the Statement Drake Made in Jail Two Days Before the Execution - [From Saturday's Daily] 
The doomed man passed a restless night up to 11 o'clock p.m. on Thursday, and his death watch thought he was going to break completely down. At that hour he went to sleep and slept until half-past 7 yesterday morning, when he arose and ate a moderate breakfast. He was restless during the day. Some time before his execution, his spiritual adviser, Rev. M. C. Wire, of the Methodist church, went to his cell and prayed and held devotional exercises with the condemned. Drake had given up all hope, and was resigned to his fate. He professed a faith in revealed religion, and had confidence that he would meet his friends on the other shore. About 1 o'clock those persons who had invitations to be present began to assemble. The scaffold was built at the east side of the court-house, north of the steps leading up to the first floor. The outside entrance was from the court house steps, and there was an entrance from the jail by some stairs leading from the scaffold down to the ground near the door which opens under the stairs, and is commonly used for putting in wood. This time it was used as a way through which to lead the prisoner from the jail. The scaffold was inclosed with a board wall, shutting out the view of spectators, but there was no cover, and some of the county officers and others viewed the execution from the windows north of the east courthouse steps. Those who were present at and witnessed the execution were , as nearly as could be ascertained, as follows: All the jury who convicted him, viz: Chas Benson, Geo. Morris, T. H. Hubbard, Henry Hall, C. L. Keller, Adam Omart, T. H. Denham, John McIntyre, Sam Adolph, James Volney, Jesse Massey, and E. C. Cross; Sheriff Jno. Groves of Polk county, and Sheriff Wm. Knight of Clackamas county; Marshal Harbord of this city; Drs. H. R. Holmes, W. H. Byrd, and H. Parks, of Salem; Policeman James Mead; Gaines Fisher, Mr. Murphy, W. A. McPherson, F. M. Salisbury, stenographer; and A. D. Cridge, reporter for the Vidette, Frank Conover, for the Talk, and a representative of the STATESMAN. About 500 persons were outside, on the sidewalk and about the grounds, presumable anxious to hear the fatal drop. Shortly past 1:15 o'clock the condemned man was led forth. In front of him was Rev. M. C. Wire, and Drake was supported by Sheriff J. W. Minto and Deputy Sheriff Ed Croisan, and followed by his death-watchers, Messrs. S. R. Foster and W. J. Bennett. 
Drake mounted the scaffold with a firm tread, and showed no signs of trepidation. He seated himself in a chair near the trap, with Rev. Mr. Wire on the other side. The Sheriff then arose and read Drake's death sentence to the doomed man, after which Mr. Minto asked him if he had anything to say. Rev. Mr. Wire counseled him to tell the truth, and he arose and spoke substantially as follows: 'I have not much to say. I am going to be executed for a crime I know nothing about. I am about to die for a deed committed by other hands. It looks hard. Neither do I know anything about the crime. I lived with Henry some time, and did not think him a very bad man. Henry surely did the work if he knew anything about it. I think it is pretty hard that I have to lay down my life like this. I can't say who did the work, for I was not there. I know I have been rudely dealt with. I thank the people who have tried to help me for their kindness. I would like to announce to the people that I am thankful. Mr. Minto's folks have done a good part by me, and I thank them for it. They have treated me kindly, and given me all the privileges possible under the circumstances.' 'I am going to die for the company I have kept, not for any crime I have committed. This should be a warning to every boy and everybody else. I have run with all sorts of company, and I am here for it. I have harmed no one. It was my company. I don't hold any hard feelings for my persecutors. Maybe they thought they were doing right.' 'When my life has expired I would like to have my friends take it and bury it. It has suffered enough here, and I don't want it cut up. I want it laid away to rest, and to lay there. Gentlemen, I have no more to say.' This is not literally his speech but a part and complete synopsis of it. He seemed little affected, and only slightly nervous. Short religious services were then held by Rev. M. C. Wire, and the doomed man kneeled with his face in his hands furing the prayer. Then his minister shook hands and bade Drake good-bye. Drake said to him, 'Good-bye, I hope to meet you in the next world.' Joe then shook hands with his death watches, Sheriff Minto, and Deputy Sheriff Croisan. He said to the sheriff, 'Sheriff Minto, this looks pretty hard.' He had been quite familiar with Mr. Croisan, and said, 'Good-bye Ed, be good to your self; be a good boy.' These were his last words. 
His hands were then shackled behing him, his arms pinioned, the beet tied, the noose adjusted, the black cap put on, and the sheriff touched the trigger of the trap with his foot, and Joe Drake plunged into eternity. The trap fell at 12 minutes till 2 o'clock, and at 2 was pronounced dead and his body taken down. His neck was broken, the fall being about five feet. His pulse quit beating nine minutes after the fall, so pronounced by H. R. Rolman, the attending physician. 
The doomed man was dressed in _____, slippers, with a white shirt and no collar. He truly died game, for he hardly flinched during the whole time of the preparation for the execution. The body was put into a plain, neat coffin provided by the county, and will be buried by his friends. No one who witnessed the execution but was impressed with the firmness and gentlemanly bearing of the doomed man. 
On Saturday night, the 3rd of last May, David Swartz, a farmer in Salem Prairie, about four miles east of Salem, was foully murdered. He was shot in the head and neck, and lived until the next Monday morning. Suspicion rested on the murdered man's wife and boy, he having had trouble with his family, and they were arrested and lodged in jail. Afterward Wm. Henry and Joseph Drake were also arrested on Monday, the 5th of May. On Tuesday, the 6rh of May, Wm. Henry made the following alleged confession to which he subscribed and swore to on that day. "I, William Henry, being duly sworn, depose and say the Mrs. Swarts told me numerous times that David Swartz would kill me the first chance he got and Joe Drake too. Last Saturday evening after I went home from town, I was looking for my sow in Dave Swarts's pasture. Mrs. Swarts came to my house and said Dave Swartz went over to Bass's saw-mill; she and Joe Drake talked outside together. I don't know what they said. Then Joe Drake told me it was the best chance he would get of him, Dave Swartz, to go on the road and watch for him. When Drake left the house he told me to come on down, and he would go on down with Mrs. Swarts and her boy George. They all ate supper together. I went on down the road nearly to Dave's cabin. I met Drake; he said it was all right; she would not tell anything. So then we went on horse back; we tied the horses in the timber on the other side of Bill White's and then went on up the road. Drake carried the gun; we went to the corner of the fence where Swarts was shot; we waited there until Swarts came along and Drake shot him with a shot and Swartz fell over___we did not go to Mrs. Swarts's; we got our horses and went home, arriving there at 11 o'clock at night. I make this statement voluntarily, without any threats or hope of reward. I had the gun on the way to the cabin. W. J. Henry' Joe Drake, the hanged man, was convicted upon testimony similar to this confession, while Henry was sentenced to a life-term in the penitentiary, which he is now serving. Drake's case was appealed to the Supreme Court, for a new trial, which was refused, and the 20th of March (yesterday) was set for his execution, by Judge Boise. 
On Wednesday morning last the doomed man sent for the STATESMAN reporter who had interviewed him before. The reporter went to his cell, and was admitted by the Sheriff, and the door fastened behing him. Then he sat down with Drake and the death-watch, Mr. Bennett, and Drake requested that paper be furnished, as he wished to make a statement, or confession, and wanted it in writing. He said he was going to tell the truth, and nothing else. He started in by stating that some time before he came to live with Henry, the latter borrowed a reaper of David Swarts, which he (Henry) broke, causing trouble between the men. In this trouble Swarts called Mrs. Henry and prostitute, and said her two oldest children were illegitimate. After Mrs. Henry heard of this she threatened to kill Swarts, as also did her husband. After this, Swarts killed an old sow of Henry's that had been bothering him, and buried the body. George Swarts, son of the murdered man, told Henry of the fact, and he again threatened to kill Swarts. Thus it went on, many threats being made by Mr. and Mrs. Henry. Some time before the murder, Henry and Joe were going along the road, when they met Swarts. When they were about fifty yards from him, Henry reached back into his pocket, and said he was going to kill the old s---of a b--- right there, as that was as good a time as any. Joe dissuaded him, but after Swarts started off Henry again reached back, and said he was going to take a shot at him in the back. 
On the day of the murder Joe remained at home; Henry went to town. When the latter returned, he and Joe went after the cows. While they were gone they met Mrs. Swarts and George, her son. Henry invited them to supper, and they went to the house, while he and Joe went across the field. Joe went to the barn to put up the cows and do the chores. Henry went to the house, and George Swarts came to the barn with Joe. They remained there about a half hour, when they went to the house. They were soon invited to supper, but Joe had to wash himself, and the rest were half through eating when he sat down. 
After a little while they all excused themselves and went into the sitting room. Joe and George Swarts remained. Joe heard Mrs. Swarts say she would kill some one if she had any thing to do it with. Mrs. Henry said she would put a "spider" in his coffee. She then said she had a dirk, belonging to Henry, which she would trade her, and Mrs. Swarts traded her a pocket knife for it. Mrs. Henry agreeing to give twenty-five cent's worth of tobacco to boot. Mrs. Henry said that Henry hadn't the --- to kill the old hound, but she would do it on sight. Joe made up his mind then that he would go the next morning (Sunday) and tell Dick Swarts what had happened, so that he should tell Dave to be on the lookout. Joe went out from into---yard and was smoking his pipe, when Mrs. Swarts came out and started home. She and George Swwarts bade Joe good-night, and lefyt, and that was the last he saw of them. Then Joe sat on the woodpile and smoked for half an hour, when he went into the house. He got out his fiddle and Henry started up a tune. Joe looked for some writing paper, to write a letter and then went to bed. The last that he heard that night was Henry fiddling. 
He waked up in the morning at 5 and heard Henry already up. He found no chores done as usual. He helped Henry milk and feed at the barn, and when they started to the house they heard Mrs. Henry scream, and sent and found her in a violent fit. She remained that way for sometime, and Joe went to a neighbor's for some pain killer. She was relieved by it. Between 10 and 11 o'clock Sheriff Forward came and examined the place and shooting irons. He went away after talking privately to Henry, afrter which Henry told Drake that Swarts was murdered, and Joe suspected of the murder. Drake wanted to go over but Henry referred to Swarts and wondered "who had got a shot in on the old son-of-a-b____" He hoped he was dead, and said it tickled Emma (his wife) almost to death. After they were arrested and brought to the jail Mrs. Swarts and Henry and his wife talked much secretly together, not saying much to Drake. Mrs. Henry was not in the jail, but came to visit them. Henry and Joe had a contract to slash for J. N. T. Joseph, the work amounting to about $75, and Mrs. Henry got all this except $8.00. 
Drake said he did not know who did the killing, but thought Mrs. Henry did, if not she, Henry at her instigation for her. He said he thought either Mrs. Swarts of Geo. Swarts would have killed him had they yhad a good shot. He told the same story he told on the scaffold, only much longer. We venture no opinion on the truth or falsity of his story, and only give his statement to correct a false impression and satisfy the request of many citizens. It was not a "confession," It was a statement. We refer to Mr. Bennett as to whether we have made any mistake. We have omitted a good deal which only supports the details. 
Weekly Oregon Statesman 27 March 1885 

The funeral of Joseph Drake, who was executed last Friday, took place on Sunday. The colored people of the city were all in attendance and a number of carriages containing white ladies and gentlemen were in the procession. Religious services were held at the grave and the last act of the tragedy closed decently, leaving only the record of its ghastly debate on the memory of those conversant with the facts and circumstances by which it was surrounded. 
Weekly Oregon Statesman 27 March 1885 3:1
IOOF Register of Burials 
1870 OR CENSUS (Marion Co., E. Salem Pct., pg 49, FA #407)
1880 OR CENSUS (Clackamas Co., Cuttings, ED 14, sheet 163A)
WOS 27 March 1885 ?:? 
WOS 27 March 1885 3:1 
OS 10 Jan 1886 (Necrology)
LOT: 202 SPACE:  LONGITUDE: N 44° 55.173' LATITUDE: W 123° 02.731'

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