Black pioneer Reuben Shipley’s land donation in 1861 to establish what would become Mount Union Cemetery as a “resting place for all” is featured on a new historical marker in Philomath.
Dignitaries and representatives from various organizations will gather at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 23, at Newton Creek Park for a dedication ceremony of the historical marker called “Shipley Family Homestead.”
The public is invited to attend the free event. Newton Creek Park is located near the intersection of Newton and James streets. Those planning to attend will find parking in the lot at the nearby Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 150 James St.
Among those planning to speak at the event will be Chas Jones, Philomath mayor; Jason Dorsette, NAACP Linn Benton Branch president; Zachary Stocks, Oregon Black Pioneers executive director; Beth Dehn, Oregon Travel Information Council heritage and community assets manager; Roger Blaine, member of the Bahá’í Faith of Linn and Benton Counties who was involved with efforts to place the historical marker; Alex Johnson, Albany mayor and president of the League of Oregon Cities Black Caucus; and Jessica Andrade, Philomath city councilor. The program will also include vocalist Marilyn Keller.
Following the program, those in attendance are invited to stay for refreshments.
Part of Mount Union Cemetery is situated on land that once belonged to Reuben and Mary Jane Shipley, one of one of Oregon’s earliest Black pioneer couples who were former slaves. Reuben Shipley became a land owner and deeded two acres to create a cemetery with the conditions that Blacks, as well as whites, could be buried there.
The other historical marker in town can be found in front of the Philomath Museum, which is housed in the historic Philomath College building. Oregon historical markers are designed to encourage motorists to stop and explore the state’s diverse regional history, culture and geology.