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In the News

"Century-old love letters reveal a romance from long ago at N.J. Black History Month display", 13 February 2023

As part of its Black History Month celebration, the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum has a month-long display at the Montgomery Library featuring two newly-discovered love letters written in 1921, that reveal a century-old love story from the Sourland Mountain region's past.

Read more.


Above: Executive Director Donnetta Johnson arranges the "Love Letters" display at the Montgomery Library.

"Untold Black History: Preserving the history of enslaved Sourland Mountain New Jerseyans"
News 12 New Jersey, 6 February 2023

Naomi Yané sat down with the founders of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum as they continue to preserve the history of enslaved New Jerseyans from the “Sourland Mountain” region.

New Jersey's overlooked Black history dates back centuries. For nearly 20 years, Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills have set out to unearth local stories of the enslaved members of the founding families of Central New Jersey who lived in the Sourland Mountain region.

"We were here all along, and we are left out of history books all the way till today," said Buck.

Learn more.


"Award-Winning Preservation Plan Unveiled by Somerset County"
Somerset County, NJ, 4 November 2022

Somerset County has released an award-winning preservation plan, supporting SSAAM and the Sourland Conservancy in preserving the historic True Farmstead in Montgomery Township.

Read More.

"Sourland Nonprofits awarded highly-competitive NJ Historic Trust Grant"
MercerMe, 1 November 2022

Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) and the Sourland Conservancy are pleased to announce that the two organizations’ jointly-owned historic True Farmstead on Hollow Road in Skillman will receive $75,000 from the Preserve New Jersey Historic Preservation Fund. New Jersey Historic Trust (NJHT) recommended the grant for the sites historic site project plan and it is authorized by the Garden State Preservation Trust.

Donnetta Bishop-Johnson, SSAAM’s Executive Director stated, “This project will help to ‘fill in the blanks’ in American history, which will enable us to understand where we are today and how we can move forward to a more just, equitable, and inclusive future.”

Read More.


Above: John Buck, Elaine Buck, Bruce Daniels, Beverly Mills, and Dante DiPirro. Photo by Catherine Fulmer-Hogan at the True Farmstead.

"Nation's First Preservation Plan to Integrate Open Space, Farmland, and Historic Preservation"
Somerset County, NJ, 21 September 2022

On September 19, Somerset County officials joined SSAAM & Sourland Conservancy leaders and community members at the Mt. Zion AME Church & True Farmstead to announce that the True Farmstead will be the beneficiary of county funding in a new Preservation Plan.

The county plan, which integrates open space, farmland, and historic preservation, is the first of its kind in the nation, and will assist nonprofits to acquire and manage new properties both for environmental benefits and to support tourism and economic development in the community.

The True Farmstead is a former working farm originally owned by a Black Union Army veteran. In 1899, Spencer and Corinda True donated some of their land to create the Mt. Zion AME Church, the current home of SSAAM, which was recently restored with the assistance of a Somerset County Historic Preservation Grant.

Read More.

"NJCH builds capacity and community
with $402,514 in new grant awards"

New Jersey Council for the Humanities, 12 July 2022

The New Jersey Council for the Humanities is pleased to announce that we have awarded $402,514 in grant funding to 33 organizations across the state for Spring 2022.

​SSAAM was awarded a $20,000 Action Grant to create a series of youth historical fiction books that will provide a unique firsthand account of life through the lens of African American children who grew up in the Sourland Mountain region of central New Jersey.

Read More.

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"Central Jersey's only Black history museum
embraces the past and future"

My Central Jersey, 13 June 2022

History will look to the future when the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), Central Jersey’s only Black history museum, will hold its first Juneteenth celebration on June 18.

SSAAM is welcoming the public for the first time not only after the COVID-19 pandemic, but after extensive restoration and renovation, said Executive Director Donnetta Johnson.

Founded in 2014, SSAAM's mission is to tell the story of the unique culture, experiences and contributions of the African American community of the Sourland Mountain region, the largest undeveloped area between New York City and Philadelphia.

Read more.

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"Witness Stones project comes to N.J. to honor,
remember enslaved teen", 29 April 2022

More than 240 years ago, in Charleston, South Carolina, a 13-year-old African American boy named Friday Trueheart was separated from his mother Dinah, when their enslaver, the Rev. Oliver Hart, came north to New Jersey and took the young teen with him.

Oliver would become the new pastor at the Old School Baptist Church, which still stands on West Broad Street in Hopewell.

On Thursday, a Witness Stone — a permanent brass marker to memorialize an enslaved individual — was unveiled on the ground in front of the church by Truehart’s direct descendant and family matriarch Patricia True Payne.

Read more.

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"Preservation of Historic Property is Result of Collaborative Purchase"
Town Topics, 13 April 2022

A property originally owned by an African American Union army veteran after the Civil War has been saved by a partnership of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) and Sourland Conservancy.

The two nonprofits have purchased the True family farmstead in Skillman, which not only preserves the historic site, but will also provide permanent office space for both organizations.

Read more at Town Topics.

Read SSAAM and the Sourland Conservancy's full press release.


"Lifelong friends bring Black history to life in the Sourlands"
News12 New Jersey, 22 February 2022

Halfway up Sourland Mountain in Hopewell sits Stoutsburg Cemetery – officially founded as a burying ground for slaves, free Blacks and veterans in the 1850s when rules prohibited Blacks from being buried in white cemeteries.

As generations passed, the stories of those buried there slowly faded like the engravings on the stones themselves. Until Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills got to work. The lifelong friends, who trace their own ancestry back four and five generations in the Sourlands region, spent years digging through wills, deeds and court records to recover the area’s forgotten Black history.

Read more.

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Pix11 News
"Historians fight to preserve Black history"
February 15, 2022

In 2006, Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills successfully stopped a developer from paving a driveway over an unmarked African American burial ground in New Jersey.

Reporter Andrew Ramos for Pix11 News interviewed the SSAAM co-founders about what led them to start researching and sharing Black history with their local community.

Read more.

The Montgomery News

"School Children to Learn Local Black History"

October 12, 2021

Kevin Burkman, a Montgomey resident, delivered a poster-sized map of Black history sites in the Sourland Mountain region to Village Elementary School this week as part of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum's (SSAAM) educational outreach program.

Burkman, a board member of SSAAM, says the museum also donated maps to Princeton Day School, and public schools throughout Montgomery, Hopewell, Princeton, and Hillsborough — for classroom use.

Read more.



"Examining the History of Slavery in New Jersey"

March 10, 2021

SSAAM co-founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills were plagued by questions about their own African American lineage. What they found was New Jersey’s brutal legacy of slave owners and enslaved labor.


Watch this interview on NJ PBS here.

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Friends of the Abraham Staats House

"Slavery at the Abraham Staats House Revolutionary War Site"

February, 2021

Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck, co-founders of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, were interviewed by Brad Fay of Stepping Stone Strategies on behalf of the Friends of the Abraham Staats House (FASH).


The video was produced to educate the public and promote interest in this historic Revolutionary War Site. Included in this video is a discussion by Beverly and Elaine about the day-to-day duties of the individuals who were enslaved in the Staats home.


"History Detectives"

February 8, 2021

On February 8, 2021, SSAAM co-founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills were featured in a segment with WNBC4 NY's Pat Battle, entitled "History Detectives".


This video feature excellently describes their work in African American historical research in the Sourland region, as well as the creation of the SSAAM organization.

Smithsonian Magazine

"Meet the 'Detectives' Documenting New Jersey's Overlooked Black History"

December 23, 2020

More than a decade ago, Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck—members of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association in New Jersey’s Hopewell Valley—began exploring the overlooked African American history of their hometowns. Since then, they’ve written a book, created a series of videos and opened a museum detailing the region's past.


As Buck, 67, and Mills, 70, tell the New York Times’ Jennifer Schuessler, back when they were students in the area, their schools taught them almost nothing about the history of local black communities and practice of slavery in New Jersey.


“History wasn’t interesting to me, and the reason is they left half the people out,” Buck says. “All you heard about was white people with wigs on.”

Continue reading the article here.

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The New York Times

"Uncovering Lost Black History, Stone by Stone"

December 22, 2020

Stoutsburg Cemetery, tucked in a clearing about halfway up Sourland Mountain, is one of the state’s oldest African-American burial grounds.


It may also be one its best chronicled, thanks to Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, two self-described ordinary small-town, middle-aged women turned “history detectives” who have spent more than a dozen years combing through wills, property deeds, tax records and other documents to recover the area’s overlooked Black history.

To read more, click here.

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Delaware River Towns

"Giving Voices to the Voiceless"

Winter 2020

Having written a book and founded a museum— and with a film in the works—Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills embrace their roles as accidental guardians of New Jersey’s Black history.

To read more, click here.


My Central Jersey

"Here's who got $10.7M in NJ historic preservation grants"

November 2, 2020

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Montgomery, will receive $50,000 for a site master plan of the future Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum & Education Center, currently housed in Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Read more and watch the video.

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The Montgomery News

"Montgomery's African American Museum Receives $5,000 COVID-19 Grant"

August 3, 2020

The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) is one of 82 organizations to receive a COVID-19 response grant from the NJ Council for the Humanities with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the federal CARES Act.

To read more, click here.

New Jersey Advance Media

"Mercer County Marks Black History Month With Celebration"

February 28, 2020


New Jersey Advance Media

"This Tiny N.J. Museum Tells Black History Stories

You Haven’t Heard"

February 23, 2020

Mercer County paid tribute to those with African-American roots with a Black History Month celebration.


The county clerk’s office held a ceremony featuring speakers that have dedicated time to researching and revealing true black history within county lines ... including SSAAM founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills.

To access the online version of this article, please click here.

New Jersey Advance Media

"This Tiny N.J. Museum Tells Black History Stories You Haven’t Heard"

February 23, 2020

"In a small, unassuming white building on Hollow Road in Skillman, stands the 120-year-old one-room Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. The historic house of worship, which welcomed African American parishioners from 1899 to 2005, is now a museum that tells the often-overlooked stories of the people who have lived in the Sourland Mountains for hundreds of years..."

To access the online version of this article, please click here.


Princeton Magazine

"If These Stones Could Talk"

February 2020

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Princeton Magazine celebrates the heritage and culture of historic Princeton, NJ. Each issue of the magazine explores the region’s  history,  politics, entertainment, dining, art, design, architecture, and athletics.


The February 2020 issue featured an interview with our very own Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, in an article titled "If These Stones Could Talk", highlighting their work in African American history, founding of the SSAAM, and land preservation at the church on Hollow Road in Skillman. 

To access the online version of this article, please click here.

The Montgomery News

"African American Museum Newly Opened on Hollow Road in Skillman is among the First of Its Kind"

February 2020

For the February, 2020 issue, Editor in Chief Barbara A. Preston wrote a wonderful article about the creation and ongoing development of the SSAAM, as well as African American history in the township. The issue also includes other interesting articles on African American history in the region.

To access these articles directly, please go to the Montgomery News website.

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