Two years ago, I drove around the lower half of Somerset County, the county in which I have lived for almost 25 years, photographing various historical buildings that were featured in the "Weekend Journey through the Past". One of the areas on the "tour" was the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum in Skillman, Montgomery Township, just a few miles from my home.
It was a rainy day when I visited, and the ground was soggy. Parking was challenging, but I found a spot on Hollow Road, a dozen yards so from the entrance to the property.
The church restoration project started with the efforts of two African American women, Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck, who sit on the advisory for the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, to establish a burial place for Private William Stives, a Revolutionary War veteran and one of the first African American settlers in the Sourland Region.
Their research led them to discover that the region had a richer past regarding African Americans some of whom were their ancestors, and the two women decided to co-author a book, If These Stones Could Talk, to tell the stories of African Americans and their lives in Hopewell Valley (and surrounding area).
In 2014, after a lecture, entitled "A Proud Heritage", at the historic Hopewell Borough Train Station organised by The Sourland Conservancy as part of their Train Station Series, they sparked a partnership between the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association and the Sourland Conservancy. The product of that partnership was the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum. The land for the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum was acquired by The D&R Greenway Land Trust in collaboration with the Sourland Conservancy.
These photos have sat in my Adobe Lightroom Catalog for the last two year, unedited, unprocessed, simply because I was too tired to process them. I was dealing with Graves Disease and after a day of driving around the county taking photographs and I had very little energy the next day. I had forgotten about the pictures until now.
MichaelStephenWills13th February 2020 at 11:35 AM
Around Burlington, NJ, you might be interested in the history of the Timbuctoo community.
Khürt Williams14th February 2020 at 9:48 AM
Hi Michael, I appreciate that tip about Timbuctoo in Burlington County which is just under an hour from my home. The Timbuctoo Historical Society has a website but no physical presence or suggestions of places to visit. From Google Maps it seems the area is now mostly older suburban homes and outdoor malls, although the Rancocas Nature Center might be interesting to explore with my camera.
MichaelStephenWills15th February 2020 at 8:07 AM
And there is the church 204 Sunset Rd, Burlington Township, NJ 08016
Khürt Williams15th February 2020 at 10:19 AM
Hi Michael. I read about the cemetery on the website, but graves are not my cup of tea. It seems only three grave stones remain.
I think the original Zion Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal African Church in Timbuctoo no longer exists as a physical structure. The address you provide, 204 Sunset Rd, Burlington Township, NJ 08016, is for the Wesley AME Zion Church, which is not in Timbuctoo. After reading some information about Timbuctoo Village and the Westampton Township websitee and the information at the Timbuctoo Advisory Committee page I have concluded that nothing of photographic interest remains of the history of Timbuctoo.
I sent a note to the Timbuctoo Advisory Committee and received the following reply.
MichaelStephenWills13th February 2020 at 11:28 AM
I enjoyed your high quality B&W images and story. Yesterday, had a similar experience of finding overlooked work on a memory card, taken by my wife, with wonderful images with my Mother a few months before she passed away, June 2013, and of a daughter-in-law with her infant son around the same time.
Khürt Williams14th February 2020 at 9:53 AM
There is a certain joy in finding photographic.