by Esther Pavao
Mary Draper is famous for her efforts to assist the Continental Army by offering food, hospitality, clothing, and ammunition to the Patriots. Little is known of her life previous to the American Revolutionary War.
She was born Mary Alvis on April 4, 1719. She was married, widowed, and remarried to a Moses Draper. Together they worked a large farm. They had six children, five sons and one daughter.
Mary Draper was widowed again at 56 years old in 1775, three months before the Lexington alarm. Her oldest son, also named Moses, was 31, married, and had joined the Patriot army.
While she couldn't leave her family and join the army (though her willingness to help leaves me little doubt she would have, if she could), she gave as much as she could. According to the records left by the Rev. William Clark, large companies of soldiers marched through their town almost daily, and Mary Draper set to work baking bread and making cheese and cider. She spread it all out on a table in front of her house that she kept stocked daily for the soldiers passing through.
After the soldiers had all made their way to the battlefield, her work was hardly over. On hearing that the army was low on ammunition, she melted down her own pewter platters and mugs. (See sidebar.)
As if that wasn't enough, she also made shirts and coats for the Continental Army from her spare sheets and fabric woven in her own home.
Her service was entirely given to her country. She died at age 92 in 1810.