From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Shipley, Reuben

(born: 1811  -  died: 1873) 

Reuben Shipley was born around 1811 in Kentucky, according to the 1860 U.S. Federal Census; he later moved to Missouri with his master. While there, he married a slave woman with whom he had two boys who became the property of his wife's owner.

Around 1850, Shipley left Missouri and traveled to Oregon with his master. He became a free man and attempted to buy the family he had left in Missouri. But Shipley learned that his wife had died, and her owner refused to sell Shipley his sons.

Shipley remained in Oregon and purchased 80 acres of land in Corvallis. He married Mary Jane Holmes, with whom he had six children.

Shipley deeded two acres of his land to the county for a cemetery on the condition that African Americans would also be buried there. The land transfer for the Mt. Union Cemetery was completed in 1861. Shipley, his wife, and her second husband, R. G. Drake, are all buried in the cemetery.

For more see chapter 6, "A few Colored men in Oregon: Blacks in Oregon 1850-1900" in A Peculiar Paradise, by E. McLagan.

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NKAA Source: A Peculiar paradise: a history of Blacks in Oregon, 1788-1940

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Shipley, Reuben,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-01-11 20:58:58