Indian Mary's father warned area settlers of Indian attack

Do you know who Indian Mary is of Indian Mary Park? I cannot find her listed in Lewis McArthur's bible.

— Kit S., Medford

You are absolutely right about the Oregon Geographic Names book being devoid of Indian Mary Park, Kit.

Nary a mention.

But you have to admit the bible of our state's place names has the lion's share of Oregon's geographic places.

For those unfamiliar with that wonderful little park, it is on 46 acres owned by Josephine County on the south bank of the Rogue River about a dozen miles west of Grants Pass.

As her name suggests, Indian Mary was a local native woman well-known in our region. History does not record that she had a surname.

Digging deep into our archives at Since You Asked Archival Headquarters, we find that the site was once the home of Umpqua Joe, an American Indian who operated a ferry on the Rogue. In 1855, Joe and his wife, Dolly, had warned the settlers of a pending Indian attack. To show their gratitude, he and his family were allowed to stay in the area when most other local Indians were sent north to reservations.

After Joe died, his daughter, Mary, became sole owner of the property when President Grover Cleveland signed her homestead claim in 1884. Mary moved to Grants Pass in 1896, eventually selling the homestead and following her children to Salem, where she died in 1921.

The site was once known as the smallest Indian reservation in the United States. It was purchased by the county in the late 1950s.

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

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