New Jersey Residents Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills Collect Decades of Research, Oral Histories, Land Deeds, Church Records, and Preserved Cemetery Plots Tracing the Legacy of Slavery in Small Town USA
January 18, 2016
January 18, 2016 —Princeton, NJ— Today, Princeton, New Jersey-based consulting and publishing company Wild River Books announced formal engagement in the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association book project. Funded in part by the Bunbury Company, the book spans over three centuries of untold stories, contributions, and legacies of countless African Americans in the region since the Colonial Period. Co-authors Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck are both Trustees of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association and descendants of those buried there.
The most common response Mills and Buck hear after their frequent presentations about African Americans in the Central Jersey region is: “I never knew there was slavery in New Jersey.”
It is not widely known that New Jersey, as one of the original thirteen colonies, was not only a slave holding state but was also one of the last northern states to abolish slavery through legislation in 1821.
“We are met with stares of utter amazement from Whites, but more sadly, Blacks, because this side of history has not been talked about or, more importantly, taught in our schools,” says co-author Beverly Mills, who recently won the Pennington Historical Preservation Award for her commitment to preserving the unique heritage in the region.
The Stoutsburg Cemetery is located at the foot of the Sourland Mountains, exactly halfway between New York City and Philadelphia. The Cemetery, now led by President John B. Buck, was originally purchased in 1858 by three men for the exclusive use as a burial ground for people of color, who could not be buried with Whites. It is believed that the land bordered a pre-exiting cemetery when purchased.
“I grew up hearing about the Stoutburg Cemetery and community all my life,” continues Mills. “As the oldest granddaughter, I was the first to hear about what life was like on the mountain. Imagine my shock to learn that enslaved people were instrumental in building this region and contributed to their communities in every respect. They built churches and neighborhoods, served in wars dating back to the Revolution, and excelled in education, music, and the arts. We want to put faces with the stories because there are many.”
Co-author Elaine Buck adds: “We want the public to know how and why the land was purchased. Blacks were separated even in death. The land was purchased so that Blacks would have a place to be buried with dignity. Our ancestors left their footprints in Hopewell Valley, Pennington, Princeton, Stoutsburg, Rocky Hill, Blawenburg, Trenton, Lambertville, Mercer, Hunterdon and Somerset, Monmouth Counties, and surrounding areas. History books are missing this untold story, which impacts Black lives to the present day.”
Wild River is honored to be publishing the history of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association project, which lines up directly with our mission as a company, Wild River seeks to elevate difficult conversations—and bring fresh perspectives and important stories to new audiences in print and digital formats. The history of slavery in the United States remains a hot-button issue that is too often missing full historical context.
About Wild River Books and Wild River Consulting & Publishing: With over thirty years of publishing, editing, design, and marketing experience, Wild River Books upholds the top standards of the industry. Through editorial consultation, marketing, publicity expertise, and crafted packaging, Wild River Books helps authors tell and promote stories that make a difference in the world. Through Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, Wild River Books also runs the international online literary and arts magazine, Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com), with loyal readers from every corner of the world.
Partner. After a long career as a librarian, Hope Tillman has moved on to her passion, as a technologist promoting use of technology for progress and change. A librarian with an MLS and MBA, Hope provides Wild River with business consulting and technical expertise. Beyond Wild River, Hope serves as webmaster for both for profit and not for profit organizations helping them communicate via the web.
Founder and Principal. Kimberly Nagy received a BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record.
During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy has an extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
Nagy pursued a publishing career in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers-Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton - as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic. She extensive experience in editorial management and marketing/ public relations for corporations, publishers, state agencies, and nonprofits.
Combining her love of writing, editing and publishing, Nagy is an editor, poet and professional storyteller who helps clients discover, rediscover and deepen their authentic voice as well as sculpt good ideas into refined, structurally-sound articles, essays, brochures, and book-length manuscripts (among other written communications). Nagy has worked for authors, publishers, businesses, non-profit organizations, and universities alike. In partnership with poet and award-winning literary journalist Joy Stocke, Nagy is a principal of Wild River Consulting and Publishing (WRCP) Services which offers comprehensive manuscript evaluations, coaching, social media guidance, publishing advice (in a rapidly changing landscape) and enthusiasm for the writing process itself. Stocke and Nagy mentor many talented students and clients.
Partnering with Stocke, Nagy serves as Executive Editor for Wild River Review, an internationally renowned non-profit cultural literary magazine, for which Nagy commissions articles and curates content. Noted by the Utne Reader for exceptionally interesting interviews, Nagy has profiled many artists, writers, philosophers, poets, film-makers, photographers, and business leaders who are making a beneficial difference in the world.
Praised for her literary yet down-to-earth style, Kimberly Nagy is the author of the column (and forthcoming book) Triple Goddess Trials, a mythology/memoir that draws on the divine feminine archetype, phases of the moon, and timeless stories (Medea, Aphrodite, Kali and Syrinx to name but a few) to shed light on women’s experiences in the modern world. Readers have called Nagy’s work “thought-provoking,” “funny,” “deeply important” “inspiring” and “real.”