Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake
Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake (1841–1925)
Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake, born in Missouri in 1841, was one of Robin and Polly Holmes’ children involved in the Holmes vs Ford lawsuit. After Robin and Polly freed their children from Ford, Mary Jane Holmes voluntarily remained with the Fords as a servant for another four years.
In 1857, Mary Jane was sixteen and wanted to marry Ruben Shipley. Shipley was a former slave from Missouri, who was promised his freedom if he would drive a team of oxen to Oregon with his owner, Robert Shipley. True to his word, Ruben was freed after they arrived in the Oregon Territory and he worked hard to save enough money to purchase a large amount of farmland land near Corvallis. In order to marry Mary Jane, Ford demanded that Ruben pay him $700 ($19,446 in today’s dollars) even though she had been liberated by the Territorial Supreme Court four years earlier. Regardless, Ruben agreed to pay Ford the money to ensure Mary Jane’s freedom.
Mary Jane and Reuben had six children and became well-respected members of the community. In 1861, they donated three acres of land from their hillside farm for the formation of Mt. Union Cemetery. After Ruben’s death, Mary Jane married R.G. Drake in 1875. Mary Jane Holmes Shipley Drake outlived her second husband and all but one of her children. She died in 1925.