County Sheriff to Speak for Black History Month

LAWNSIDE, N.J. (Jan. 22, 2018)—Camden County Sheriff Gilbert “Whip” Wilson will be the keynote speaker for the Lawnside Historical Society’s Black History Month Program, Thursday, Feb. 8, 7 p.m. at Lawnside Borough Hall.

Wilson, the first African-American from Camden City to serve in the General Assembly representing the Fifth Legislative District, will talk about safe police stops, police community relations and how to succeed.

Joyce Fowler, vice president of the Society, said Wilson has a timely message about the future of Camden, the importance of discipline, hard work and self-confidence.

“When people ask, ‘Can anything good come out of Camden?’ Whip Wilson, by example, answers that question,” she said.

Wilson was elected to the assembly seat in 2010 and re-elected in 2011 and 2013. He introduced legislation to combat Camden’s classification as an “urban food desert,” by allowing residents to access Jersey fresh produce from a mobile unit.

Always a Camden booster, Wilson was a city Councilman and still helps to raise money for schools and community organizations. He was a city police officer for 26 years, serving as Commander of the Vice Unit and retired as a Lieutenant from the first community policing unit.

He is a Vietnam Veteran who served from 1965 to 1969.  His tour of duty included Thailand and Vietnam as an Airforce Ranger.  He is a member of the Camden County Democratic Committee, (served as a delegate to the 2012 National Democratic Convention), the NAACP, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, Vietnam Veterans of America and The New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation.

The program is free and open to the public. Borough Hall is located at 4 Dr. Martin Luther King Road.

King Day News Show Covers Lawnside Holiday

Click here to view the segment: NJTV King Holiday

Learn how the Lawnside School Board declared America’s first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday in 1968 on @NJTVNews Monday, Jan. 15, 2018, at 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. and Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 a.m. Check your local listing for the station. Camden area – Channel 23/523. 
Lauren WaMLK-ed-quotenko of NJTV interviewed Morris L. Smith, former president of the Lawnside Board of Education, about his reaction to the murder of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 1968 in Memphis. We owe a debt of gratitude to him and his fellow board members for their foresight. The minutes of that meeting, the resolution and related correspondence are on permanent display at the Lawnside Middle School, 426 East Charleston Avenue.

Society Volunteer to be Honored

Cornelius F. Butler, a Lawnside resident and Cherry Hill native, is one of 13 recipients of the Camden County Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal, which will be awarded January 17 at a dinner at the Boathouse in Cooper River Park, Pennsauken.
Mr. Butler was cited for his years of volunteer work with the Mount Peace Cemetery, the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum and the Benson Multicultural History Museum, all in Lawnside.
The medal, awarded since 2001, has also been given to the late Rev. James A. Benson, founder of the Multicultural Museum and Mrs. C. Joyce Fowler, tour coordinator and speaker for the Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum and Lawnside Historical Society.
Tickets are $25 and should be purchased by Jan. 12 by calling Scott Petrozza at 856-216-8217 or emailing Butler at Mount Peace Cemetery
Neil Butler in Mount Peace Cemetery at his mother’s grave. WHYY photo 4/2017

Amazon Smile to Help the Mott House

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you count your blessings include the freedom we gained through the struggle and  sacrifice of our ancestors. The Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum is a monument to courageous people who grabbed liberty from the jaws of slavery.

The Peter Mott House will be open this Saturday, Nov. 25, from noon to 3 p.m. Come explore our history.

Shop on using the Lawnside Historical Society link to benefit the Peter Mott House. Even if you already have an Amazon account, this link will trigger a donation from your purchase: 

We are thankful for your support.

Mount Peace Cemetery Featured on WHYY

An April 26 story on the struggle to maintain Mount Peace Cemetery broadcast on WHYY-FM’s Newsworks program asks for help to maintain the 115-year-old African-American burial ground. A group of volunteers led by Yolanda Romero is working to get the grounds ready for Memorial Day observances.  Many of those buried at Mount Peace are prominent Camden and Philadelphia citizens, veterans of the Civil War, World War I and World War II. Contact Romero to make a donation or volunteer at 856-546-9069.

Listen and view the slideshow by clicking here.

Woman Outlines Family’s Revolt Against Confederacy

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


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.