Trenton preps its first African-American museum

Algernon Ward at Locust Hill Cemetery, photo courtesy of the Locust Hill African Museum and Cemetery

Earlier this month, president of the Sixth Regiment United States Colored Troops and Project Director for the Locust Hill Cemetery, Algernon Ward Jr. posted on his Facebook page that the New Jersey Legislature passed two supplemental appropriation bills, which offers $400K in construction and operation funding for the Locust Hill African Museum

“We envision the restoration of the Locust Hill Cemetery and the establishment of a museum there as a catalyst for the revitalization of the entire Locust Hill neighborhood. Three abandoned houses have already been removed and four others have been rehabilitated and sold to first-time home buyers,” Ward said.

The Locust Hill Cemetery and Museum is Trenton’s largest remaining African-American burial ground that has remains that dates back to 1799. Researchers have discovered the names of 175 persons interred there, with  evidence that there may be as many as 200 interned in there during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War, including at least 10 Civil War veterans. Burials in the cemetery continued until 1911 when the last burial was recorded. The burial ground was neglected for many years and became a junk yard until Ward and community volunteers organized to cleanup and preserve the segregated cemetery. Preserving the ancestral memories of local African-American communities is the cemetery/museum’s tagline. The elements of the Locust Hill Project have been incorporated into the overall Assunpink Greenway Project and the North Clinton Redevelopment Plan. The Locust Hill African Cemetery and Museum Project is sponsored by the nonprofit organization 6th Regiment United States Colored Troops. The organization is engaged in the restoration of the cemetery, which was a key factor in the passing of the legislation.

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Ward recently told the Trenton Journal that the museum organizers are waiting for guidance from the legislature on next steps of the museum buildout and will make a formal announcement in the coming days.


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