Lawnside Red Cross Chapter, 1918

Members of the Red Cross Chapter gather on the steps of the Lawnside School in 1918

Members of the Red Cross Chapter gather on the steps of the Lawnside School in 1918: Photo from collection of Spencer C. Moore II

As World War I unfolded, Dr. Roscoe Moore of Magnolia, Lawnside school district physician, organized our chapter of the American Red Cross. Members gathered on the steps of Lawnside Public School, now Lawnside Meadows, on Warwick Road to pose for this photograph in 1918. They were sisters, wives, mothers and grandmothers of the Lawnside men who served in the U.S. military during the war. They made bandages, ran fund drives and supported families of service members.

COVID-19: Mott House Closed

The Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum will be closed through March as a precaution because of the coronavirus. Although we operate a small house museum, the Lawnside Historical Society takes its responsibility to the public seriously. The safety of our members, tour guides and guests of all ages is of paramount importance.

We will post an announcement when we re-open.
To learn more about the anti-slavery movement, we recommend

Amazing Grace

Books For Children
Free! Great Escapes from Slavery on the Underground Railroad by Lorene Cary
Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold
47 by Walter Mosley
The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton

Books For Adults
She Came to Slay by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman: Portrait of an American Hero by Kate Clifford Larson
“Dear Friend” Thomas Garrett & William Still: Collaborators on the Underground Railroad by Judith Bentley
The Underground Railroad by William Still
The Underground Railroad (Fiction) by Colson Whitehead

Stay safe and healthy.


“Lawnside” Play Celebrates NJ’s Black Town

LAWNSIDE, N.J (Jan. 14, 2020) – Playwrights and community organizers Kenneth and Charlotte Brown will premiere their play celebrating Lawnside, New Jersey’s oldest incorporated African American municipality, Saturday, Feb. 1 at 2 p.m. at the Liberty Center, 1121 Elizabeth Avenue, Elizabeth.

The Lawnside Historical Society is sponsoring a bus trip to see the performance leaving Lawnside at 12 p.m. Tickets are $70 and cover the cost of transportation and a four-course dinner at the Cranbury Inn, an Underground Railroad station in Cranbury, New Jersey. Checks can be made payable to the Society and mailed to P.O. Box 608, Lawnside, N.J. 08045-0608.

For several years, the Browns have brought field trips to Lawnside to visit the Benson Multicultural History Museum and the Peter Mott House Underground Museum through their organization  United Youth of New Jersey. They have relied upon information they gleaned from the Rev. James A. Benson, an archivist and founder of the Benson History Museum and the late Clarence Still, borough historian and founding president of the historical society.

“Lawnside” uses a summit of the town’s historic families as a vehicle to tell the story of its origins as a haven for people seeking freedom from slavery and founding the state’s first incorporated African American town.

They always present a multigenerational cast of UYNJ members and volunteers, acting, singing and dancing. Among the Browns’ other historic plays were 2018’s “A Mother’s Cry: The Emmitt Till Story,” “MLK: The Nightmare After the Dream,” “Black Wall Street: A True Reflection of the Sun People” and “Harlem Renaissance: Another Black Wall Street.”

To purchase tickets to play go to

Join Us for “Lawnside” at the Liberty Center on Feb. 1

Join the Lawnside Historical Society Saturday, February 1, 2020 on a bus outing to see “Lawnside,” a music-filled production about our historic town and its families by Kenneth and Charlotte Brown of United Youth of New Jersey at the Liberty Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

A comfortable coach will leave the borough at 12:30 p.m. The play starts at 2 p.m. where Lawnside showgoers will enjoy special seating. The show will be followed by a four-course dinner at the Cranbury Inn, a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Tickets are $70; only 55 seats are available. Make checks payable to the Lawnside Historical Society, Inc. and send to P.O. Box 608, Lawnside NJ 08045 or pay at the Peter Mott House, 26 Kings Court on Saturdays between 12 & 3 p.m. until January 25.

Contact information: 856-546-8850 or

Historian Details Story of Old Local Family

(Lawnside, N.J.) April 7, 2019–Dr. James Johnson will present his discovery of one of Lawnside’s 19th century free Black families when he delves into the lives of the Haney Family in his talk “Martha Haney: An American Life.”

Pic for icy...

His free presentation will be featured at the April meeting of the Lawnside Historical Society, Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Lawnside Borough Hall, 4 Martin Luther King Jr. Road. The Society owns the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum, named for the agent of the Underground Railroad who helped those seeking freedom from his farmhouse.

The historian and researcher, an adjunct professor in Rowan University’s Department Of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Education, has for years found leaves on this family tree, the namesake of our Heaney Avenue.

Dr. Johnson holds a master’s and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s from Rowan. In addition to his alma mater, he has taught at Rutgers University, Camden; Gloucester County College; Moravian College and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. He has published numerous articles on the African American history.

“We are thrilled to learn more about the courageous people who carved out free lives, served in the Civil War and grew our town from Dr. Johnson,” said Linda Shockley, Society president. “Peter Mott sold property to several people in Lawnside including a Haney.”