Ruby, Reuben (1798-1878)

In Recognition For: Service to the Town of Gray

Reuben Ruby (1798 - 3 Jul 1878) was an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, an activist and a gold miner.  Born in Gray, he was the son of a North African slave.  Reuben moved to Portland in the early 1820s, where he established and operated a successful hack [taxi] business—the first in the state.  It was through his hack business that he became involved as a conductor on Portland's Underground Railroad.  Reuben helped found the Abyssinian Religious Society in 1828, which became Portland's first African-American church.  He donated the land for the Society's meetinghouse and was a major financial contributor to the building's construction on Newbury Street.  Reuben worked for the abolition of slavery on local, state and national levels and was a personal friend of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Reuben moved his family to New York City in 1837 and opened a restaurant.  In 1849, Reuben traveled by ship from New York via Panama to join California's early gold rush.  He struck it rich when he found gold at the Stanislaus River and returned to  Portland with his wealth.  Reuben worked a variety of occupations after he came home to Maine.  He was employed as a trader, a watchman, a cook, a waiter and a janitor and during his later years, Reuben worked as a messenger at the Portland Customs House.

Sponsor: Elizabeth C. Bullen
Added: 12 Nov 2013