On May 14, 2016, the Oregon Black Pioneers hosted its second annual bus tour and the OMA was incredibly excited to attend! The OBP is an all volunteer nonprofit organization based in Salem, Oregon. It has an almost 25 year history of conducting research and educating Oregonians about African-Americans’ contributions to Oregon’s history. The purpose of the bus tour was to showcase the early settlement era and turn of the century places associated with Oregon’s African American history.
8:30am Unthank Park, Portland
9:45am Salem Pioneer Cemetery, Salem
11:45am Mt Union Cemetery, Philomath
1:15pm Eliza and Hannah Gorman House, Corvallis
5pm Helvetia Community Church, Hillsboro
6pm Abbey Creek Winery, North Plains
8pm Unthank Park, Portland
Bus Tour Coordinators: Kim Moreland and Natalia Fernández, OBPs Board Members
Narrators and Guest Speakers
- Gwen Carr, OBPs Board Member
- Chetter Calloway, Professional Storyteller
- Elisabeth Potter, Salem Pioneer Cemetery volunteer
- Bob Zybach, historian and author
- Pat and Tony Benner, owners of the Eliza and Hannah Gorman House, Corvallis
- Ginny Mapes, Helvetia Community Church, Hillsboro
- Bertony Faustin, Abbey Creek Winery, North Plains
The history tour began at Unthank City Park in Portland; the park is named after the late civic leader, Dr. Denorval Unthank. At the next stop at the Historic Pioneer Cemetery, located in Salem, OR, we viewed of a commemorative heritage marker honoring 43 African American pioneers buried in the cemetery. The site’s special guest was professional storyteller Chetter Galloway who brought to life black pioneers featured on the tour. Our next stop was at the Historic Mount Union Cemetery located in Philomath. It is the resting place of several Black pioneers including Reuben Shipley. On May 11, 1861 Reuben and Mary Jane Holmes Shipley, former Black slaves, deeded the original plot for this cemetery. We then traveled back north to the early settlement home of Hannah and Eliza Gorman, a mother and daughter that came to Oregon via the Oregon Trail in 1844 and purchased a home in Corvallis, OR in 1857. On the way towards our next stop at Hillsboro, Bob Zybach, historian and author, shared the story of David (Irish-born) and Leticia Carson (African American), an interracial couple that settled in Soap Creek Valley located north of Corvallis. Once in the Hillsboro area, we traveled specifically to Helvetia, Oregon to the home of the Floyd and Annie Cash who settled there in 1890. We visited the Helevetia Church to the grave sites of Annie and Maragereth Cash. Ginny Mapes, Helvetia native shared her knowledge and research of a Black family that lived among the German Swedish immigrants. We ended the tour at the Abbey Creek Vineyard located in the historic downtown of North Plains, Oregon. Owner Bertony Faustan is the first African American winemaker in Oregon and is currently producing the a short film, entitled Red, White and Black, a documentary about minority winemakers in Oregon.
Check out some highlights from the tour!
Salem Pioneer Cemetery, Salem
Eliza and Hannah Gorman House, Corvallis
Helvetia Community Church, Hillsboro