The Past Meets the Present…
The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum was born out of decades’ worth of research conducted by two of its advisory board members, Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck. Both women serve on the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association board and their research began as a quest to establish Stoutsburg as the official burial place for Private William Stives, a Revolutionary War veteran and one of the first African American settlers in the Sourland Region.
As story after story came to light about the early African American settlers of this region some of whom were their ancestors; Mills and Buck began to understand the magnitude of what they had begun. It became clear that these stories and this powerful history needed to be shared.
The two decided to co-author a book, If These Stones Could Talk. The book aims to provide a clearer understanding of the African American experience and their accomplishments in Hopewell Valley (and surrounding area). Hopefully, it will be used as an addendum to the little known, missing black history facts left out of our family histories, our textbooks and libraries. The goal is to engage readers - and educate students - not only in New Jersey but also across America and beyond.
What’s in a name?
In support of the book Mills and Buck began scheduling appearances throughout the state. They were hired to lecture in 2014 by The Sourland Conservancy as part of their Train Station Series at the historic Hopewell Borough Train Station. That lecture, entitled "A Proud Heritage", sparked a series of conversations that would lead to a partnership between the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association and the Sourland Conservancy. The product of that union was the Stoutsburg African American Museum.
The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum will be the only museum of its kind in Central New Jersey. Its focus will be on educating patrons about the unique culture, experiences, and contributions of the African American community living in the Sourland Mountain Region.
It will leverage the advantages provided by its unique surroundings and valuable community partnerships to offer a glimpse into the past while simultaneously educating its patrons on the merit of preserving vital traditions that continue to be relevant and instrumental in securing a bright future.
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
This project is partially funded by grants from the Somerset County Historic Preservation Office and New Jersey Council for the Humanities.