Philomath’s second historical marker is scheduled to be erected this summer in Newton Creek Park along the highway in the eastern section of the city.

Based on information coming out of an Oregon Historical Marker Committee meeting on June 1, a dedication of the “Shipley Family Homestead” marker will be dedicated during an event at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 23.

The marker provides historical information about Reuben and Mary Jane Shipley, both former slaves and among the earliest Black pioneer couples in the state. Reuben donated two acres in 1861 to establish Mount Union Cemetery and was buried there in 1872 (the 150th anniversary of his death is this year in September). Mary Jane remarried with the surname Drake and was buried there after her death in 1926.

The “Shipley Family Homestead” historical marker will be located in Newton Creek Park along the highway in eastern Philomath. (Image by Oregon Travel Information Council that includes design by Sea Reach LTD)

The marker features photos of the gravestone (Reuben is identified with the surname Ficklin on a monument for the family erected by his son), a cemetery overview, Mary Jane Drake and the cabin where they lived. A map also appears with an illustration of the locations of the cemetery and cabin site in relation to where the marker will be installed at Newton Creek Park.

Eric Niemann, who has been involved with fundraising to help cover the cost of the marker, said the Oregon Travel Information Council provided an update that the marker is currently being fabricated and nearing completion.

Niemann said the travel information council’s goal was to pick up the marker on July 11 and then work with the Oregon Department of Transportation on the installation.

The City Council several months ago approved of the marker’s site to be along the Hunsaker Bike Path in Newton Creek Park with highway visibility. It will be the second site of an historical marker in town — the other identifying the site of Philomath College.

Niemann said several organizations and businesses helped generate funds to help pay for the memorial. A number of organizations also combined their efforts in the design of the marker.

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.