From the Towns: Hopewell Township to Honor Black Historical Figures in New Neighborhoods

Courtney Peters-Manning

Working in coordination with leaders of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), Hopewell Township will be naming the streets in two new neighborhoods after prominent Black residents of the Hopewell Valley throughout history.

If you look at the street names, landmarks, and parks around Hopewell Township, local history and historical families feature prominently.  From Blackwell Road to Woolsey Park, Hopewell Township has always honored its history.  However, a key segment has been overlooked for this honor over the many centuries.  The contributions of Black residents of the Hopewell Valley have been wide-ranging and historically significant, yet we do not see their mark on the roads and streets around town. With the coming of two new neighborhoods, we have the rare opportunity to correct this.

When approached about the need to name the new streets in the Hopewell Parc and Hopewell Collection neighborhoods, I immediately thought of the beautiful Black History Month Resolution written by local residents Elaine Buck, Beverly Mills, and Catherine Fulmer-Hogan. Ms. Buck and Ms. Mills, in addition to co-founding the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM), wrote the book If These Stones Could Talk: African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain and Surrounding Regions of New Jersey. Ms. Fulmer-Hogan is a SSAAM Trustee who also founded the Hopewell Valley Heritage Week and serves as a Trustee for the Hopewell Museum. Their Resolution describes Black Americans from the Hopewell Valley who made critical contributions to the community and society, from William Stives, a Revolutionary War veteran and Badge of Merit recipient to Civil War heroes Aaron Truehart, Lewis Fisher, and William Boyer, among others, to pioneering athlete Paul Arnold. Recognizing these historical figures once a year for Black History Month is important, but a more lasting recognition would be even better. 

We are fortunate and thankful that these three women leaders agreed to partner with the Hopewell Township Committee and Lennar, the developer of the new neighborhoods, on this project to permanently recognize prominent African-American residents by naming streets after them. “The legacy of these local free and enslaved persons of color created inroads and pathways for all of us that have come after. How fitting that we would name the roads that will bring a new and diverse population to our community in their honor,” said Ms. Buck, Ms. Mills, and Ms. Fulmer-Hogan. Mitchell Newman, a Vice President with Lennar adds, “Lennar is honored to partner with Hopewell Township to designate street names with local significance for our two communities in Hopewell. Selecting street names based on Hopewell’s history is a wonderful way to recognize and preserve the past while forever connecting our new communities with Hopewell’s roots.”

One important issue in this project is the need to use someone’s full name, rather than just their surname as is often done for street names, when honoring African-American historical figures. This is important to distinguish the people being honored from the family that once owned their ancestors. All of the streets in the new neighborhoods will have two full names for this reason.

We have begun with a set of potential honorees and are in the process of finalizing the street names, which includes a review through the Office of Emergency Management. As the final names are set, please look out for events and further information describing the people being honored and their contributions to the Hopewell Valley.

Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning

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