'Indian Mary' left her mark on region's history

I am trying to find the names of Indian Mary's children. I am also very curious about a friendship or blood relationship she must have had with Louvilla Hinman, to whom Mary gave some of the land now known as Indian Mary Park. This land was later inherited by one of Louvilla's daughters, Zinnia. Where could I find more information?

— Mona C.

As you are no doubt aware, the lady known as "Indian Mary" was a fascinating person in southwest Oregon history, Mona.

However, as you have apparently discovered, not a lot of her story is readily available.

But we have gleaned a bit from various archives that will shed a bit more light on her life and times.

Her name lives on in Indian Mary Park, the 46-acre parcel owned by Josephine County on the south bank of the Rogue River about a dozen miles west of Grants Pass.

Born in 1852, her full name was Mary Peters, the surname apparently the result of marriage. She died in 1921 and is buried in Salem's City View Cemetery.

She had two daughters, Rosetta and Lillian, according to the Hannon Library at Southern Oregon University, which has a wonderful photo of mother and daughters taken by photographer Peter Britt.

The inscription on her grave reads, "An honored native daughter of Josephine County. Operated a ferry in the Deep Canyon Country of Rogue River. Her father, Umpqua Joe, Chief of the Grave Creeks, prevented a massacre by warning early day miners of an Indian attack." The information on the marker was provided by the Josephine County Historical Society.

For his efforts, Umpqua Joe was awarded the property that included what is now Indian Mary Park. President Grover Cleveland on July 4, 1884, signed legislation to create what was the smallest Indian reservation in the United States. That land was passed down to his daughter, Mary.

Mary moved to Grants Pass in 1896, eventually selling the homestead and following her children to Salem.

As for Louvilla Hinman and her descendants, we have not yet found anything of note, although we reserve the right for an update when we are successful.

You may want to check out the book "The Legend of Indian Mary and Umpqua Joe" by Percy T. Booth. The book was published in 1975 by the Josephine County Historical Society.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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