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

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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.

About What People Are Saying About If These Stones Could Talk

From James M. McPherson

Organized around the stories of men and women buried in the African-American Stoutsburg cemetery near Hopewell, New Jersey, this extraordinary book narrates the history of black communities in the Hopewell Valley and Sourland Mountains over a period of...

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From Kirkus

A debut history book focuses on a New Jersey cemetery while exploring the whole spectrum of the black experience in the region. Buck and Mills both have deep familial ties to the Stoutsburg Cemetery near Hopewell, New Jersey. They have jointly served as...

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From Mercer Me

Locals Buck and Mills Author “If These Stones Could Talk” Wild River Books announces the publication of If These Stones Could Talk by local authors Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills on November 7, 2018. There will be a formal invitation-only launch at the...

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From Cynthia Assini

If These Stones Could Talk uncovers important history of African Americans in the Sourland region while deeply inspiring readers through describing the authors’ active citizenship. The page-turning prose that describes the authors’ historical detective...

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From Bonnie Watson Coleman

Humanity is prone to the unfortunate habit of forgetting, avoiding and altogether rewriting history, particularly when it falls into uncomfortable territory. Yet history offers clarity for the present and allows us to plot a course for the future — and it does so with...

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From Peter Moock

Having grown up in the part of New Jersey about which If These Stones Could Talk is written, I became aware of this research project quite early on in its development. I realized that an honest and thorough unveiling of this slice of American history...

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From Marion T. Lane

Since the founding of our country, the recorders of history have not accurately transcribed the African American experience. Much of the African American history has been deleted, misconstrued and / or misinterpreted. Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills have...

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From Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps

All of us raised in the culture that is the USA are infused with weight of the African diaspora is in our DNA.  Black and white, male and female, northern or southern reared, we were surrounded by the air of capitalism and the disenfranchisement of people...

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From Dr. Jill Ogline Titus

If These Stones Could Talk offers a remarkable account of centuries of African American life in central New Jersey, highlighting themes of dignity, resilience, family, and faith. Authors Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills begin the book by posing the question...

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Author Events

Trinity Church, Nov. 13th

What: “A Proud Heritage” Presentation and Book signing
When: Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 6:00 PM
Where: Trinity Church, Rocky Hill, New Jersey

Launch II – Nov. 17

What: Launch II
When: November 17th, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Where: Hopewell Bistro, 15 E Broad St, Hopewell, NJ 08525
With Special If These Stones Could Talk Menu
Cost: FREE – All Welcome

All Saints Church, Nov. 19th

What: A “Proud Heritage” Presentation and Book Signing

When: November 19, 2018, 1:00 PM

Where: All Saints Church, Princeton, New Jersey

D&R Greenway Event

What: If These Stones Could Talk Presentation and Book Signing
When: December 11, 2018,
Where: Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton, NJ 08540
RSVP: Please RSVP to rsvp@drgreenway.org or call 609-924-4646

Reception will begin at 6:00 PM
Presentation 6:30-7:30 PM

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is sponsored by the Sourland Conservancy and D&R Greenway Land Trust

For more information: http://drgreenway.org/events/talk-and-book-signing-if-these-stones-could-talk/

Here is a link to SC’s Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/327131144694787/

Check out the list of all Author Events.

image from If These Stones Could Talk