If These Stones Could Talk

African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain, and Surrounding Regions of New Jersey

by Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills

image from If These Stones Could Talk

We are proud to announce

If These Stones Could Talk will be available for purchase in November 2018

About If These Stones Could Talk

Cemeteries have stories to tell, voices to unearth–and lessons from the past that we can draw upon to better shape the future. If These Stones Could Talk brings fresh light to a forgotten corner of American history that begins in a small cemetery in central New Jersey.

Authors of If These Stones Could Talk Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills started their journey through the past as two middle aged African American women with busy but quiet lives. Lifelong friends, they were both board members of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, a cemetery that is nestled in New Jersey’s Sourland Mountain region. The Stoutsburg Cemetery was purchased by three Black men in the early 19th century as a location to bury Blacks with honor and dignity in the early 19th century.

When Buck and Mills got an unexpected call for help, what began as a search through the woods for gravestone markers soon had them rummaging through land deeds and making relentless calls to state officials, archeologists and reporters. Their foray into historic preservation work convinced Buck and Mills that they had a lot more work left to do to connect African American history to local and national history books—within which they still felt largely absent from the most visible narratives in United States history.

If These Stones Could Talk includes chapter titles such as “The African American Founding Families of the Sourland Region,” “Trapped in the Purgatory of History,” “Pioneers of Liberty: Local African American Military History” and “Queen Hester’s Home Remedies and Recipes” among many others.

In warm but unflinching voices Buck and Mills offer readers a unique window into our past which connects us directly with the present. These stories, including dozens of oral histories, consecrate the collected lives of a minority Black community in a predominantly White region, a pattern of community that reflects a larger, deeply important but typically overlooked national story in small towns all over the United States.

book cover of If These Stones Could Talk

About the Authors: Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck

Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck

Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck, authors of If These Stones Could Talk

Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills are the founders of Friday Truehart Consultants, named after the original slave brought to Hopewell, New Jersey at the age of thirteen by his master Oliver Hart. Buck and Mills work closely with K-12 educators from school systems interested in including African American history in their lesson plans and curriculum. They are founding members of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum and serve on its Advisory Board.

Buck and Mills have been Trustees of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association for the past thirty-five years. They are both members of the National Council of Negro Women and the Sankofa Collaborative, a resource that will ensure that material and resources relating to African American history will be readily accessible statewide to a broader and more diverse audience.

Through decades of research, Buck and Mills have become more than statewide educators on a mission to open up a healthy investigation into the history of race beginning in their home state. They have also become bridge builders, engaging leaders in the boardrooms of museums and schools throughout Central New Jersey. Their goal is to engage readers, educate students and impact curriculum development not only in New Jersey but across the United States. Bucks and Mills have created lesson plans for schools, museums and historic sites among other venues.

Beverly Mills is the first African American woman to hold the elected position as Councilwoman, Pennington Borough, and Elaine Buck is Church Clerk for the Second Calvary Baptist Church of Hopewell.