Rachel Belden Brooks (1829–1910)
Rachel Belden Brooks was born in Tennessee in 1829, and like other slaves, was given her owner’s surname of Belden. On September 3, 1842, Rachel was sold to Daniel Delaney, Sr. when Mr. Delaney decided to move his family west, he sold all his property, including his slaves. His wife’s health was poor so he kept Rachel to care for the ailing Ms. Delaney on the journey from Tennessee to the Oregon Territory. They arrived in Oregon in 1843 and settled in Marion County, where Delaney, Sr. staked his claim on a large quantity of land near the Turner area.
Rachel received her freedom sometime in the early 1860s and she married Nathan Brooks on September 15, 1863. Nathan was a 70-year-old widower who had five children from a previous marriage. Rachel already had two sons, Noah Newman and Jackson “Jack” whose father was suspected to be Daniel Delaney Sr. Rachel had additional two sons, Samuel and Mansfield, with Nathan Brooks. The family lived on the farm of Daniel Waldo who came to Oregon on the same wagon train as the Delaney family.
On the evening of January 9, 1865, Daniel Delaney, Sr. was shot and killed by George Beale and George Baker. Delaney, Sr. had amassed a small fortune and there were rumors of buried treasure in his house or somewhere on the property. According to Beale’s testimony, they conspired to kill Delaney, Sr. for his money. The sole witness was Rachel’s son Jack, who was about seven or eight years old.
After the death of Daniel Delaney, Rachel sued the estate in civil court for the sum of $10,333.30 for payment for services and work for her and her son Noah Newman, for a combined total of 27 years and 10 months. She was awarded $1,000, with the argument that because she and her son were housed and fed at the Delaney’s, it negated any additional cost of payment for work.
In 1874, Nathan died and 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.” She is listed in the Salem and Marion County directories from 1902 until her death, as living in the Salem area. She died on October 12, 1910, and was buried at City View Cemetery in Salem, next to her son, Noah.