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As Black History Month draws to a close this week, Richard Stockton College is hosting a field trip that should delight Civil War buffs and armchair historians alike.
On Monday, March 4, Stockton—in conjunction with the African American Heritage Museum of South Jersey—is offering a free, daylong bus tour with stops at the Boling Cemetery in Port Republic and the Egg Harbor City Civil War Monument and Cemetery. According to Stockton spokeswoman Susan Allen, the event commemorates the 150th anniversary of African-American soldiers legally enlisting in the Civil War, a result of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“The Boling Cemetery is just about a mile from our main Galloway campus,” says Allen. “It’s a small triangle-shaped cemetery tucked between two busy roadways that gets lots of traffic, but not the recognition it deserves.”
Several members of the Boling family, an African-American family that settled in Port Republic, were veterans of the Civil War and are buried in the cemetery at the intersection of Pomona and Moss Mill Roads. Another Boling is buried near the Egg Harbor City Monument.
Several local historians, including Stockton art professor Wendel White, will host the tour. White began researching the Boling settlement more than 20 years ago. When he first discovered the cemetery he was working on a book project. It wasn’t until he took photos at the cemetery that his book took shape. Some of the images in White’s book, Small Towns, Black Lives, can be seen on his website.
Also on hand will be Paul Stern, commander of the Garr-Greenstein-Friedenberg Post 39 of the Jewish War Veterans, who discovered the Boling Cemetery about a year ago while on a bus trip. Like White, he believes that the veterans buried at the cemetery deserve recognition, and he’s advocating for upgrades to the cemetery and to ensure that the public is aware of its history.
After visiting the gravesites, the bus tour will conclude at the African American Heritage Museum. Founded by South Jersey resident Ralph Hunter (who will also join the tour), the museum boasts more than 3,000 pieces of African-American memorabilia, artifacts, advertisements, artwork and time-capsule trinkets. It’s one of South Jersey’s best-kept secrets.
The tour kicks off at 9 a.m. at the Galloway campus at the Campus Center Theater. Participants should RSVP to Delores Mozelle-Wright at 609-652-4764.
Nick DiUlio is New Jersey Monthly’s South Jersey Bureau Chief. In addition to regularly contributing to the magazine, he has written for Slate.com, Miller McCune, Paste magazine, and numerous regional and lifestyle publications. He is also an adjunct teacher of magazine writing at Rowan University. Email Nick at email@example.com