New Jersey Residents Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills Collect Decades of Research, Oral Histories, Land Deeds, Church Records, and Preserved Cemetery Plots Tracing the Legacy of Slavery in Small Town USA
January 18, 2016 —Princeton, NJ— Today, Princeton, New Jersey-based consulting and publishing company Wild River Books announced formal engagement in the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association book project. Funded in part by the Bunbury Company, the book spans over three centuries of untold stories, contributions, and legacies of countless African Americans in the region since the Colonial Period. Co-authors Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck are both Trustees of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association and descendants of those buried there.
The most common response Mills and Buck hear after their frequent presentations about African Americans in the Central Jersey region is: “I never knew there was slavery in New Jersey.”
It is not widely known that New Jersey, as one of the original thirteen colonies, was not only a slave holding state but was also one of the last northern states to abolish slavery through legislation in 1821.
“We are met with stares of utter amazement from Whites, but more sadly, Blacks, because this side of history has not been talked about or, more importantly, taught in our schools,” says co-author Beverly Mills, who recently won the Pennington Historical Preservation Award for her commitment to preserving the unique heritage in the region.
The Stoutsburg Cemetery is located at the foot of the Sourland Mountains, exactly halfway between New York City and Philadelphia. The Cemetery, now led by President John B. Buck, was originally purchased in 1858 by three men for the exclusive use as a burial ground for people of color, who could not be buried with Whites. It is believed that the land bordered a pre-exiting cemetery when purchased.
“I grew up hearing about the Stoutburg Cemetery and community all my life,” continues Mills. “As the oldest granddaughter, I was the first to hear about what life was like on the mountain. Imagine my shock to learn that enslaved people were instrumental in building this region and contributed to their communities in every respect. They built churches and neighborhoods, served in wars dating back to the Revolution, and excelled in education, music, and the arts. We want to put faces with the stories because there are many.”
Co-author Elaine Buck adds: “We want the public to know how and why the land was purchased. Blacks were separated even in death. The land was purchased so that Blacks would have a place to be buried with dignity. Our ancestors left their footprints in Hopewell Valley, Pennington, Princeton, Stoutsburg, Rocky Hill, Blawenburg, Trenton, Lambertville, Mercer, Hunterdon and Somerset, Monmouth Counties, and surrounding areas. History books are missing this untold story, which impacts Black lives to the present day.”
“We are honored to be publishing the history of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association project, which lines up directly with our mission as a company,” says Joy E. Stocke, Co-Founder of Wild River Books. “Wild River seeks to elevate difficult conversations—and bring fresh perspectives and important stories to new audiences in print and digital formats. The history of slavery in the United States remains a hot-button issue that is too often missing full historical context.”
About Wild River Books and Wild River Consulting & Publishing: With over thirty years of publishing, editing, design, and marketing experience, Wild River Books upholds the top standards of the industry. Through editorial consultation, marketing, publicity expertise, and crafted packaging, Wild River Books helps authors tell and promote stories that make a difference in the world. Through Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, Wild River Books also runs the international online literary and arts magazine, Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com), with loyal readers from every corner of the world.
Beyond the Glass Ceiling | Women, Collaboration and how two women grew a successful publishing company from grass roots
October, 2014: Princeton, NJ: When Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC, owners Joy Stocke and Kim Nagy first met for coffee in 2005, neither could have predicted how their futures would merge. Fueled by a passionate conversation about literature and more important, the power of stories to heal and transform, Stocke and Nagy—writers, editors, dedicated entrepreneurs and busy mothers—felt an instant kinship over the impact stories can make in every sector—and the craft it takes to tell them well.
They believed strongly in a nearly unheard-of approach at the time—the power of collaboration—a force slowly picking up speed with the growth of the Internet.
Stocke, a literary journalist with a degree in Radio-Broadcast Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was already a well-established author, community organizer of writers, and a founder of the Meridian Writers Collective reading series in Philadelphia (one of the first of its kind) and grass-roots publishing initiatives. In 2004, she brought her reputation for editorial direction and content curation to The Bucks County Writer literary magazine, situated in the heart of the “Genius belt”.
Fascinated with rapid technology developments (and possible cost-savings) Stocke was soon looking to bring the publication’s reputation and presence online to grow its demographic. She faced resistance. At the time, many publishers thumbed their noses at “online” magazines. But two years after Wild River Review (www.wildriverreview.com) launched its first issue in 2006, the Utne Reader named the website one of the “great” literary magazines, and praised its international literary flavor and “exceptionally interesting interviews”.
Groomed in the boardrooms of traditional publishers from London to New York City, Nagy came from the world of marketing and publicity management for houses such as Princeton University Press, Routledge UK and WW Norton. In 2003, shortly after the birth of her daughter, she left publishing to write as a work-at-home mom, focusing closely on content creation. But, Nagy never forgot her marketing and PR training, which relentlessly begged the question: “Who am I writing for?” for her clients. As passionate about promotion as she is about creation, Nagy stressed that without user-centric analysis and outreach, no creative or business initiative could ever connect with its core audience.
It was an approach the team at Wild River adopted and expanded as Stocke and Nagy rapidly grew their literary audience of creatives well beyond the mailing list of the Bucks County Writer to include international authors and journalists, publishers and TV-producers, academics and photographers, as well as non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs. In 2009, with a growing demand, Stocke and Nagy combined their talents under one roof to form Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.