Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum

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(SSAAM) 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 Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum 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 which is located at the former site of the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the adjacent True Farmstead. These are two historically African-American-owned properties in Skillman. 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, made in 2018, have sat in my Adobe Lightroom Catalog for the last two years, 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, I had very little energy the next day. I had forgotten about the pictures until now.

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum · 14 October 2018 · FujiFilm X-T2 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County

South Branch School House, Branchburg, Somerset County, New Jersey

Constructed in 1873, the South Branch School House in Branchburg Township is a one-room building in the Victorian-Italianate style of architecture. From 1873 to 1950 it educated children in grades 1 through 8.

In 1848, Henry Barnard published School Architecture, which offered designs and ideas for model schoolhouses. Following his advice, schools were built with rectangular plans on raised foundations, with the gable end would serving as the front. The longer side walls featured multiple double-sash windows, and the classrooms offered high ceilings. Up until shortly after the Civil War, their style and manner of construction mirrored churches and meetinghouses.

South Branch School House | FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm

Students faced a windowless wall at the back. The school also incorporated a raised platform at one end for when the classroom was used for assemblies. The South Branch School House was one of the first in the area built expressly as a tuition-free public school following the New Jersey Free School Act of 1871. With a room size of about 24 or 25 feet square the school was designed to accommodate 50 students.

Writing in the 1874 Annual Report of the New Jersey Department of Education, State Superintendent of Education Ellis Apgar wrote:

Every school should be well furnished. Everything added to make the schoolroom comfortable, convenient, and attractive, facilitates the work of education. A teacher cannot be expected to do good work without the proper tools. The desks furnished the children should be of the most approved style; they should have folding seats, so as to allow of freedom of motion in marching, callisthenics, and general exercises. Settees placed in front of the teacher's desk are convenient for recitation purposes. The teacher's desk should be neat and substantial, having at least six drawers in it. There should be three or four chairs, a thermometer, an eight-day clock, a small globe, a call bell, and other conveniences for teaching.

South Branch School House | FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm

Peak attendance at the school hit 95 in 1875. Due to declining enrollment, in 1950 Branchburg Township built a new built a consolidated elementary school and use of the Little Red School House dropped even further.

In 1963, the Branchburg Board of Education sold the schoolhouse to Branchburg Township, and work was begun on a restoration project to coincide with the township's tercentenary. Closing in 1965, the South Branch Schoolhouse was the last one-room school in use in Somerset County. Restoration worked continued into 2005, when the school was placed on the state and national registers of historic places.

The famous opera singer, Anna Case, attended the school in the late 1890s.

South Branch School House | FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm

I shot from a tripod and bracketed my shots. The Classic Chome Fujifilm Film Simulation preset was applied to each image and the images combined in Photomatix Pro. The Natural filter was applied in Photomatix Pro and the resulting image was imported back into Adobe Lightroom for further adjustment.

Sources

South Branch School House, VisitSomeresetNJ.org, Somerset County, https://visitsomersetnj.org/fun-somerset-nj/south-branch-school-house/
Greg Gillette, South Branch Schoolhouse, My Central Jersey, 7:00 a.m. ET May 25, 2017, https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/view-from-hillsborough/2017/05/25/south-branch-schoolhouse-2/102137624/
Kelly, Somerset County's Last One-Room Schoolhouse: South Branch, The History Girl, Kelly, 201502, https://www.thehistorygirl.com/2015/02/south-branch-schoolhouse-nj.html

Kingston Grist Mill in Fog

I got up this morning, looked out the window, and saw a thick fog. It was just before 7 AM. I got dressed and grabbed my camera and tripod. I initially thought to visit Carnegie Lake near the Princeton racing crew boathouse. But as I drove along Blue Spring Road, I thought that I might get a better set of images from near the Kingston Lock section of the D& R Canal State Park
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The Kingston Flour Mill is a historic property and part of the Kingston Mill Historic District.

The Kingston Mill, built in the late 1800s, is the most recent of several mills built on this site since the 1700s. Grist, fulling and flour mills were established here over Kingston Mill for the past 300 years. The mill, now a private home, to many is a symbol of Kingston and its historic past.

KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 53.3 mm, f/11

I've photographed the mill and the Kingston Lock area around the D& R Canal State Park many times in the past, in all seasons. I think this is the first time I have photographed it in fog. I'm not too fond of the way it looks in the fog. It's too dreary. I think the building stands out more in the snow and in the spring.

KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 33.2 mm, f/11
KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/4.5
KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/22

I made a mistake with the first three images. I forgot the AUTO ISO. The camera adjusted accordingly, and some of the first three images were shot at very high ISO. I did one pass through Nik's Dfine 2.

Kingston Flour Mill ( historic ).