"Journey Through the Past"
October 8 & 9, 2022
On Saturday October 8 & Sunday October 9, SSAAM was one of more than 30 local historic sites to participate in Somerset County's annual "Journey Through the Past" weekend.
SSAAM co-founders Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck gave their first tours of the newly-renovated Mt. Zion AME Church; Board member and 5th-generation descendant of Friday Truehart, Pat Payne, shared stories about growing up at the True Farmstead; kids learned about nature in the Sourland region with fun crafts; and Dr. Ronah Harris led volunteers in finishing SSAAM's first community quilt (to be displayed at the museum).
Thank you to the Board & staff members and volunteers who made this weekend possible!
1st Annual Juneteenth Celebration
June 18, 2022
On Saturday June 18, 2022, SSAAM was thrilled to welcome the community back to Mt. Zion AME Church and the historic True Farmstead for a Juneteenth celebration of freedom, our first in-person event since before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Long celebrated in the African American community, Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The holiday was first celebrated on June 19, 1865, following the arrival of Union troops into Galveston, Texas, proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in the state two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth 2022 at the True Farmstead
Black History Month at SSAAM
SSAAM marked Black History Month this year with a series of free online programs celebrating African American history, culture, music, and food. Programs were released each week in February, free to the public, and remain available on SSAAM's website and YouTube channel.
Gospel Music Playlist
Join Board member Catherine Fulmer-Hogan as she explores the connections between spirituals, gospel music, and social change in American history.
Then listen along to our playlist of gospel music, specially curated by Catherine and SSAAM co-founders Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills!
Meet Sojourner Truth
On February 8, SSAAM proudly presented "Meet Sojourner Truth," a theatrical performance about the life of activist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth, as portrayed by Dr. Daisy Century of American Historical Theatre.
This was a live, one-time-only performance and was not recorded.
Thank you to all who attended and supported SSAAM by donating! Special thanks also to our partner organization, the Sourland Conservancy, for hosting the Zoom meeting.
SSAAM is excited to sweeten things up with brilliant Black baker Joanne Canady-Brown of The Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville, NJ.
In a special "cook-along" demonstration on YouTube, Joanne and other local chefs will share their recipes for the perfect soulfood dinner -- including Joanne's Purple Sweet Potato Pie.
Joanne was recently featured on NBC's Today Show. Her sweets and treats are full of locally sourced ingredients. They are what the magic of Black cooking and baking has been about for hundreds of years, doing so very much with so very little.
Watch the videos and get our chefs' recipes below!
Nana Brooks Turns 101
On February 27, 2022, long-time Sourland Mountain resident Evelyn Brooks turned 101 years old! Known as "Nana Brooks" to friends and neighbors, Mrs. Brooks is a prominent member of her church and local Black community.
Over the course of the last century, Evelyn Brooks has lived through the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights movement, and all of the change and turmoil of modern politics. SSAAM is excited to celebrate her birthday with the premiere of a special video interview, to be released in eight episodes on our YouTube channel.
One - On True Love ("Sweet Mystery of Life")
Two - On Raising Children
Three - On Marriage as a Partnership
Four - On Standing Up for Your Children
Five - On the Joy of Home Ownership
Six - On Living Well & Living Long
Seven - On Respect
Eight - Life on the Mountain (Then & Now)
For more interviews, listen to Evelyn Brooks's 2015 oral history interview as well as additional stories from the Sourland Mountain's African American residents with SSAAM's Oral History Collection.
Join Us for a Culinary Feast and Live Music in Support of SSAAM
And meet the new Executive Director, Donnetta Johnson
The heritage of the African-American spirit is a triumph of perseverance and creativity, the blending of rich and varied traditions, and the will and necessity to survive. In the spirit of that tradition, we celebrate with a feast featuring the once lowly oxtail, now a highly prized delicacy with a tradition spanning cuisines of North America, and the English, French, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.
Celebrate the brilliant and eclectic culinary traditions of the African diaspora. With music by Olive Joseph and PBV Music and a live auction.
Inclusivity is a must, so delicious and wholesome vegan and gluten-free options will be served. Additionally, a special signature cocktail, wine, beer and non-alcoholic drinks will be served.
SUPPORT SSAAM and meet our new Executive Director, Donnetta Johnson.
Oxtail Fest at Put's Tavern
(The Antique Barn at Cashel - Hillsborough)
Sunday, November 7, 2021
4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Hosted by Jackie Fay, Brad Fay, Louise Wilson, Cliff Wilson, and Jennifer Bryson
SSAAM Virtual Gospel Music Concert
Saturday, February 20, 2021
Featuring nationally-recognized entertainer and concert artist,
The Concert will feature music by baritone, Keith Spencer, interspersed with fascinating facts about African American history, the Sourlands, Gospel Music and Negro Spirituals, presented by Board Members and Staff of SSAAM and the Sourland Conservancy.
All proceeds from this event will support the construction of a Sourland Education & Exhibit Center for the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum and the Sourland Conservancy. This Center, which will be located adjacent to the historic-register listed Mt. Zion AME Church on Hollow Road in Skillman, will enable our organizations to better achieve our missions by providing space for educational programs, exhibitions and offices.
Keith Spencer, Baritone
Originally from Philadelphia, Mr. Spencer is a nationally-recognized entertainer and concert artist. National tour highlights include the Broadway Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night with Betty Buckley and Melissa Manchester. Favorite roles include Coalhouse Walker, Jr. (Ragtime); Joe (Show Boat); The Abolitionist (For the Glory: The Civil War Musical); Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors); Leading Player (Pippin); Billy (Carousel). In the Philadelphia-region, he has enjoyed performances at several venues, including Bristol Riverside Theatre, Act II Playhouse, The Prince Music Theatre, Hedgerow Theatre, and The Broadway Theatre of Pitman.
Mr. Spencer has developed a series of programs celebrating the African-American cultural experience and music performed by renowned African-American artists. These programs include We Shall Not Be Moved - A Tribute to the Music of the Civil Rights Era, The Robeson Songbook - A Negro Spiritual and Gospel Celebration of the Music of Paul Robeson, That Old Black Magic - Celebrating the ``Cool`` of Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstine, and Johnny Hartman, and Brothers on Broadway - Celebrating the African-American Leading Men of Broadway.
Grateful to God for all things in His time. Keep up with Keith's upcoming performances at:
Montgomery Township Mayor, Sadaf Jaffer, hosted an informational and inspiring event to celebrate and raise funds for the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum. Mayor Jaffer’s annual Mayor’s Ball took place January 28, 2020 on Zoom!
The joyful celebration of diversity, community, and SSAAM’s role in telling the unique story of African American culture, experiences and contributions in the Sourland Mountain region included a short film about SSAAM (made by filmmaker Nick Christoff and produced by the Sourland Conservancy) a Q & A session featuring SSAAM’s Executive Director, Board Members, and Founders, a silent auction, and music by DJ Kiran.
Thank you Mayor Jaffer, Diya Sethi, DJ Kiran, and Montgomery Township!
Private Screening of "Harriet"
AMC Hamilton 24 Theatre
Friday, November 1, 2019
The SSAAM was joined by over 100 of our closest friends at the AMC Hamilton 24, for a private screening of the premiere of "Harriet". It is an excellent biopic about the abolitionist, and most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad, Harriett Tubman. The movie is a gripping and long overdue portrayal of her life; we highly recommend it to any of our SSAAM friends who couldn't make it lto the event.
Special thanks to SSAAM trustee and treasurer Catherine Fulmer Hogan, who did a yeoman's job of organizing this event- it wouldn't have been possible without her!
October 12 & 13, 2019, marked the annual Somerset County Weekend Journey through the Past. The SSAAM was pleased to participate in the event, as we welcomed some one hundred guests to the Mt. Zion AME on Hollow Rd in Skillman, NJ.
During the two days of the event, our visitors discovered the history of our church and organization, as well as the centuries-old history of African Americans in the region. They heard about our recent, exciting developments about the church restoration and land preservation, and listened to our distinguished invited guests and donors. Our visitors got to try out some of our new technology that we use to tell our story, (Oculus VR glasses and listening stations), as well as creating some tokens of their visit at the crafts table. Even Mother Nature joined us, with two days of perfect autumn weather!
It was a great event and we thank all who participated. We hope to see you again next autumn!
SSAAM President John Buck opens the weekend and welcomes our guests.
John and Sourland Conservancy President Dante DiPirro discuss recent land preservation efforts and futrue plans at the SSAAM site
Patricia Payne, whose family (the True family) donated the land for the Mt. Zion AME Church, back in the late 1800s, visited the church during Weekend Journey Through the Past. Patricia’s incredibly generous donation carries on the tradition of her family’s support for the church and for the mission of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum. As an alumna of Lesley U. in Cambridge, MA, it was delightful for me to meet and speak with Patricia, retired librarian at Lesley!
It was great to see Tom D’Amico, Somerset County Supervising Planner and Cultural and Heritage Commission Historic Sites Coordinator, at the event. Tom spoke about the large (and largely unacknowledged) role of African American troops in American wars. Thanks for the support, encouragement and kind words, Tom!
We had the pleasure of chatting with this gentleman. Bob Vaucher is 101 years old. He learned about our project when he was honored alongside Beverly Mills and Sharon Elaine Buck by D & R Greenway and wanted to come out to see all the work being done at SSAAM.
The was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and a Combat Pilot in WWII. Well, I googled Bob and what we learned was remarkable. At the age of 99, he led a group of concerned citizens who fought to preserve a 32 acre parcel of land in Bridgewater where George Washington had some 2,000 troops encamped during the winter of 1778-1779. Bob and his team raised 100,000 of private funds. That coupled with grants, public gifts and a support from the town gave them the 1.9 million they needed to stop the developer from building 17 houses on the site.
Bob is an inspiration and a reminder that it is never too late to do important work. We were so pleased to have him come out and support the work of SSAAM.
He can be seen here purchasing If these Stones Could Talk from Co-Author and SSAAM Advisory Board member, Beverly Mills.
Aliens at the Mt Zion AME Church in Montgomery Township? No, it’s Jason Buck and Kevin Burkman (SSAAM board member) trying out our new Virtual Reality devices.
The Sourland Conservancy's Tatiana Fulmer (above)
led the activities at our craft table. At right, the Conservancy's Executive Director Caroline Katmann and President Dante DiPirro display their craft creations.
All photos and text by SSAAM trustees Caroline Katmann, Catherine Fulmer-Hogan and Kevin Burkman
Montgomery Evangelical Free Church Choir at the
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Sunday, September 15, 2019
On Sunday, September 15, 2019, the SSAAM came alive with the sounds of traditional hymns and fellowship, courtesy of the Montgomery Evangelical Free Church of Belle Mead, New Jersey! It also included a brief history of the Mt. Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church and its founder, Reverend Richard Allen from Mother Bethel in Philadelphia, which was provided by SSAAM President John Buck.
Many thanks to the church’s Senior Pastor Brian Cooper, its music minister Mark Hahn, and Jesse Havens, for orchestrating the event.
Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum
Sunday, May 27, 2019
May 23- 27, 2019 marked the 2nd annual Hopewell Valley Heritage Weekend, a celebration of the region’s heritage, culture and diversity.
The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum was proud to be part of the festivities on the afternoon of Sunday the 27th, when we opened the doors to the museum to the public, for the first time.
Nearly 100 people visited the church, who had an opportunity to meet the founders and board members of the SSAAM, view our exhibits and artifacts, and check out all the recent renovations to the church.
30th Anniversary Gala of the D&R Greenway Land Trust
Saturday, May 11, 2019
John Buck, President of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) along with Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, members of the SSAAM Advisory Board, were honored at the 30th Anniversary Gala of the D&R Greenway Land Trust on May 11, 2019. Since its founding in 1989, the mission of the D&R Greenway is "to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic, now and forever." Today, in celebration of 30 years of land preservation, stewardship and community, the Greenway has preserved to date 300 properties and 20,000 acres.
In presenting the Land Stewardship Award to John, Elaine and Beverly, D&R President and CEO Linda Mead stated that because of their commitment to the creation of SSAAM and Beverly and Elaine's book about the African American settlement on the Sourland Mountain, John, Elaine and Beverly were more than deserving to be recognized for "creating a place to celebrate diversity and the land."
John, Elaine and Beverly expressed their appreciation and look forward to their continued partnership with the D&R Greenway, Montgomery Township Open Space Committee and the Sourland Conservancy in acquisition of the land to create the Rock Brook Greenway, the Mt. Zion AME Church property and to Phase II to create the SSAAM and Sourland Conservancy "campus."
Photos by Jason Buck
Fourth Annual Gospel Brunch
Saturday, February 23, 2019 11 am - 2 pm
Hopewell Presbyterian Church
80 West Broad Street, Hopewell, NJ 08525
2108 Hopewell Harvest Fair
Saturday, September 22, 2018, 10am-4pm
Hopewell Elementary School, Hopewell, NJ
2108 Camp Meeting Revival
Saturday, September 29, 2018, 11am-2pm
Skillman Park, Montgomery, NJ
Our annual historic reenactment of a camp meeting revival: friends, fun and great gospel music!
Weeekend Journey through the Past
Saturday, October 13, 2018
Sunday, October 14, 2018
The Mt Zion AME Church, future home of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, was a site on the tour list!
Soul Food Community Dinner & Silent Auction
Saturday, June 30, 2018, 6PM
Unitarian Church at Washington Crossing
Twin Hunt Farm Fundraiser
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Hopewell Township, NJ
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Trent House Museum, Trenton, NJ
Camp Meeting Revivals
Saturday, August, 2017
Skillman Park, Montgomery, NJ
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, NJ
Exploring African American History and Culture in New Jersey
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Ground for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us- What We Talk About Can Save Us
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Ground for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ