Lawnside, New Jersey
We Need Your Help
To FinishThe Work of
Preserving Our History!
"Remember whose shoulders you are standing on" is the challenge that Reverend James A. Benson, the founder of The Benson History Museum, gave to all visitors. As you walked through the first room of this 6 room museum, you would begin to realize just what he meant. The "Lawnside Room" alone is chock full of men and women who sacrificed greatly to make Lawnside what it is today. He would tell stories of the men and women who would hide their homes on land they proudly purchased from a Quaker from Haddonfield. The homes were very deep in the woods because there was still the chance bounty hunters from the South, looking for runaway slaves, would come searching for their "property" and in an instant your family could be separated forever.
One wall in the museum is filled with the pictures and stories of the churches of Lawnside. Did you know that 6 churches came out of Mt. Pisgah AME? Did you know that one of those churches worshipped in a pool hall after they left Mt. Pisgah? Did you know that one of those churches became a Catholic congregation in Haddon Heights?
Did you know that Free Haven, also known as Snow Hill and finally called Lawnside, New Jersey was a stop on the Underground Railroad? Lawnside, New Jersey, the only African American Incorporated Municipality in the Northern United States, truly has an extraordinary history.
THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY WE MUST
SAVE THIS MUSEUM BUT.....
#1 - Our Children Need To Know Whose Shoulders They Are Standing On
How We Began
"One picture here, another there....an article or two and a collection of antiques that continued to grow". That is how one might describe the creation of The Benson Multi-Cultural History Museum at The Valley Bible Church. When there was a school at Valley Bible, Rev. Benson began to place pictures on the wall to help the students with current events and to help them remember important stories and facts about our ancestors. Every inch of the museum was packed with memories. Soon people who came to visit began to appreciate the work that he had done and often told him “You’ve got a little museum growing here Rev.” This encouraged him to continue to build room after room to house all of the antiques and displays he created. . He painstakingly covered and placed each picture and strategically located each antique to give the tour guide an opportunity to explain their origin and how it played a role in our history.
Often Rev. Benson's displays were held together with wire that he had gleaned from a pile of hangers. He believed in preserving his pictures by laminating them and when the display was too large for lamination clear packaging tape suited him just fine. Even when Rev. became ill and was hospitalized he was still making displays and trying to make books out of the museum brochures by charming the nurses out of their gauze tape. Throughout the museum were signs that said “Did You Know” and “Blacks in History” to peak the visitors interest and enable him to share a little known Black History fact. Reverend Benson hoped to encourage all who visited the museum by allowing them to see where we have come from and what our ancestors were able to accomplish with so little. He literally opened his doors to our past.
But We Need Your Help To Continue
Miss Doris Scott - Lawnside's First Female On The Police Force
Mayor Hilliard T. Moore and
Postmaster Mrs. Ellen Benson
Every donation will help us grow closer to re-opening our doors. Large or small each donation is appreciated.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP US CONTINUE THE WORK THAT REV. BENSON BEGAN PLEASE SEND YOUR DONATIONS TO:
THE BENSON HISTORY MUSEUM
c/o BB&T Bank
305 S. White Horse Pike
Lawnside, NJ 08045
THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY WE MUST
Save This Museum
#2 - Our Children Must Know Whose
Shoulders They Are Standing On
As you know, the winter was rather cruel and our building has begun to lean under the burgeoning weight of the many snow storms we have endured.
Sadly, only months after Rev. Benson's passing, we were advised that we should close our doors and no longer allow tours into the building until renovations had been made.
We are faced with the possibility of having to shut our doors for good unless we are able to find funding to help us renovate our building. We want to insure that all of Rev. Benson’s work and his collection of over 20,000 books, articles, antiques and artifacts will be preserved and that his labor of love will not be in vain.
We hope you will agree that this museum is worth saving as you view a few of the pictures, antiques and artifacts that are housed in The Benson Museum.
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The First Miller Hearse