Rachel was born in 1829, in Tennessee and raised as a slave. She worked in the fields and in the home of her owner. She took, or was given the last name,Beldon,from her owner.
In 1840 she became the property of Daniel Delaney, Sr. and was purchased for the sum of $1000. Shortly after that time, Delaney made arrangements to make a move to the Oregon Territory. He sold off his plantation and all of his slaves except Rachel. His wife,Elizabeth,was very ill and needed a caretaker, he kept Rachel for that purpose. Rachel came West over the Oregon Trail with the Delaney's and three of their five sons. They settled in Marion County in 1843. Rachel is the first known black women of Marion County.
In 1844, Oregon's provisional government outlawed slavery in the Oregon country. It was also followed by the ban on freed slaves settling in the region. Whether, Rachel was aware that the law set her free or not, she remained with the Delaney's for the next 20 years. Besides caring for Mrs. Delaney, she also did the house work and tended the family garden. Moreover, she worked with the Delaney boys in the orchards and fields.
During her time with the Delaney's she bore two children, Newman (also referred to as Noah) in 1847 and Jack (also known as Jackson or Jack De Wolf). It is suspected that Mr. Delaney fathered these two boys.
Rachel was set free during the Civil War. In 1864, Rachel married widower, Nathan Brooks and they lived on Daniel Waldo's farm, later they moved to Salem. Nathan and Rachel raised two son's of their own, Samuel and Mansfield, along with Jack. Newman, lived and worked with the Stanley family in East Salem.
Nathan Brooks died in 1874. After his passing, Rachel worked hard to support her family. The 1877 tax records showed she owned 144 homestead acres on the west side on the Willamette River, near the bend in the river across from Keizer. From 1902 on, she is listed in the Salem and Marion County directories, as living in the Salem area.
Rachel died Oct. 12, 1910, and is buried in an unmarked grave in the Delaney plot at Pioneer Cemetery.
The above is excerpts from the article in the Statesman Journal, dated April 15, 2012 "The doctor and the slave: Profiles of 2 Mid-Valley women pioneers" written by Jennifer Ross and Ken Sturgeon.
Although, the article says that Rachel was buried in the "Delaney Plot", only one Delaney has a marker in this cemetery. Whether more Delaney's are buried here, it is unknown.
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