Woman Outlines Family’s Revolt Against Confederacy


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Eunice C. Smith told a rapt audience about the little-known story of descendants of Newton Knight, a Confederate deserter who led a biracial resistance in Mississippi during the Civil War, at a meeting of the Lawnside Historical Society Thursday night.

She showed segments of the 2016 “The Free State of Jones” and her role as an extra discussed family research and books about the band of men, women and children that lived in Jones County in open defiance. He was quoted to say the Civil War was a rich man’s war but a poor man’s fight.

She gave away copies of the film and sold books. She also made a pitch for Lawnsiders especially in light of our history to watch Underground drama series on WGN TV on Wednesday nights. The new season, centered on freedom-seekers escaping from slavery along the UGRR, started March 8. Follow the show on Twitter along with the Historical Society @LawnsideHistory.

Plaque presented to Sharon Walden Credit: Reggie Still

Plaque presented to Sharon Walden Credit: Reggie Still

The Society presented a plaque and photo of William A. Walden, who passed away in December to his wife Sharon during the evening. William’s discovery of Harlem Renaissance writer Jessie Redmon Fauset as a Lawnside resident led to  annual observances of her birthday and an annual poetry competition. Portraying Uncle Willie the Clown, he was a fixture at local community events. He led the Lawnside Heritage Day parade as grand marshall in 2016. Several members of his family were on hand for the presentation.

Members of William Walden's family accept presentation - Credit: Reggie Still

Members of William Walden’s family accept a plaque and photo                  Credit: Reggie Still

 

 

 

Talk and Walden Tribute March 9

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LAWNSIDE, N.J. (Feb. 11, 2017)—The Lawnside Historical Society’s Black History Month program has been rescheduled for March 9 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at Borough Hall.

Eunice C. Smith will be a featured speaker. She learned early on the rich historical contributions and struggles of Blacks while growing up in Lawnside. She also learned the importance of researching her family tree — research that led to a cameo appearance in “Free State of Jones,” a Civil War drama inspired by her patrilineal ancestor Newt Knight.

The Society will also honor William A. Walden who passed away Dec. 14.  The Lawnside native held many occupations but none endeared him to the community as much as the good-natured Uncle Willie the Clown’s sight gags and corny jokes. He was the parade grand marshal for 2016 Lawnside Day in June.  In 2004, Mr. Walden discovered that Jessie Redmon Fauset, the Harlem Renaissance novelist, essayist and poet, was born in Lawnside and the Society to honor her and eventually create Jessie Redmon Fauset Day.

Ms. Smith’s community service activities include handling public relations for professional athletes to work inspiring and encouraging youth. Having seen the effects of domestic violence personally as a child, she works with the Camden County Women’s Center as a volunteer crisis intervention counselor. In 2016, Eunice successfully spearheaded a Domestic Violence Response Team in Lawnside.

Black History Program to be Rescheduled

LAWNSIDE, N.J. (Feb. 9, 2017)—The Lawnside Historical Society’s Black History Month program scheduled for Feb. 9 has been postponed because of inclement weather. A new date will be announced.

Eunice C. Smith will be a featured speaker. She learned early on the rich historical contributions and struggles of Blacks while growing up in Lawnside. She also learned the importance of researching her family tree — research that led to a cameo appearance in “Free State of Jones,” a Civil War drama inspired by her patrilineal ancestor Newt Knight.

The Society will also honor William A. Walden who passed away Dec. 14.  The Lawnside native held many occupations but none endeared him to the community as much as the good-natured Uncle Willie the Clown’s sight gags and corny jokes. He was the parade grand marshal for 2016 Lawnside Day in June.  In 2004, Mr. Walden discovered that Jessie Redmon Fauset, the Harlem Renaissance novelist, essayist and poet, was born in Lawnside and the Society to honor her and eventually create Jessie Redmon Fauset Day.

Ms. Smith’s community service activities include handling public relations for professional athletes to work inspiring and encouraging youth. Having seen the effects of domestic violence personally as a child, she works with the Camden County Women’s Center as a volunteer crisis intervention counselor. In 2016, Eunice successfully spearheaded a Domestic Violence Response Team in Lawnside.

Fauset Day 2016 Postponed

The Jessie Redmon Fauset Day, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 21 at Lawnside Public School, has been postponed. A new date has not been set.  More information will be announced in June.

Poets who submitted to the annual Spirit of the Renaissance Poetry Competition will be acknowledged and contacted with updates.

 

 

2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Day May 21

Join the Lawnside Historical Society for the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Day, Saturday, May 21 at 1 p.m. at the Lawnside Public School., 426 E. Charleston Ave., Lawnside.

Admission is free and features winners of the Annual Spirit of the Renaissance Poetry Competition. This year’s theme is “Respect.”

Dr. Keith Green, head of Africana Studies at Rutgers University, Camden, will talk briefly about Miss Fauset, the poet, author and literary editor of The Crisis Magazine.JessieRedmonFausetDay2016

Free showing of Forgotten Four: Integrating Pro Football

Executive Producer Wesley E. Smith, will discuss his film, Forgotten Four, about the integration of pro football in 1946, Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. at Lawnside Public School. The program is free.

NFL writer Andrew Gelhar wrote, “How is it possible that four men broke the color barrier in professional football before Robinson did the same in baseball, yet almost no one (aside from diehard football historians) remembers their names? That’s exactly what the EPIX original documentary “Forgotten Four: The Integration of Pro Football” seeks to explain.”

Do you know the names, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington? Marion Motley and Bill Willis? Do you know their teams?

Historians, students, peewee football players, diversity advocates will all find something to enjoy.

Smith, a Lawnside native, is a son of Morris L. and Alice Gray Smith.

Spirit of the Renaissance Poetry Competition

The Dred Scott case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 gave us the phrase, “The black man has no rights, the white man is bound to respect.” Th 2016 Spirit of the Renaissance Poetry Competition explores the theme, “Respect.”

Fifth through 12th grade poets in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties can enter the Poetry Competition. The deadline to submit is May 4, 2016.

Click the tab on this site for the form and to learn more about the theme.

A New Mott House Fence

The Lawnside Historical Society is launching a fundraising campaign to help rebuild the fence that protects the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum. The LHS has fought to save the property from demolition and maintain it by acquiring the deed in 1992. Since then, the house has been restored and opened to the public in October 2001. It is listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places and offers tours most Saturdays throughout the year.
However, we need your help to maintain the property, especially to buy and install a new fence. The costs for these repairs are significant, though not astronomical, for a small, non-profit historical society. We invite you to click on our indiegogo site link here and make a tax-deductible contribution today. We have 60 days to meet our goal of $5,500 for the fence project. Even small donations will help to ensure the safety and preservation of a New Jersey and national landmark.

About

The Lawnside Historical Society, Inc., is a nonprofit, membership organization founded in 1990 to promote and preserve the history of Lawnside, New Jersey. It owns and operates the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum, 26 Kings Court, Lawnside, N.J.

Museum hours are Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. The cost is $2 for students and $5 for adults. Group tours and weekday visits can be arranged by calling 856-546-8850 or sending email to lhs@petermotthouse.org.

Lawnside’s Legacy

The Lawnside Historical Society is a 501 (c)(3), tax-exempt membership organization established in 1990 because the Peter Mott House was about to be demolished. The house is a symbol of this free African American community that dates to colonial times.

The Society seeks members to help promote the community’s history and donations to preserve its legacy.

Contributions can be sent to the Lawnside Historical Society, P.O. Box 608, Lawnside, N.J. 08045-0608.