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Stockton's New Exhibit Celebrates Local African Americans Fighting For Freedom

The exhibit opened Tuesday night, and honors African Americans who fought in the Civil War.

Galloway Township Mayor Don Purdy likened the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey’s newest exhibit to actions taken at the township’s most recent council meeting to preserve the township’s history.

“Everybody’s going so fast, sometimes we just need to stop and remember where we came from,” Purdy said while at the college on Tuesday night, Jan. 29. “In Galloway, we recently donated one of our buildings to the Historical Society. People might not have liked it, but they don’t realize that anything that happened yesterday is history. I’m happy Stockton is remembering the history of Atlantic County.”

Purdy was referring to the township setting aside the old post office building for the Galloway Historical Society last week.

Shortly thereafter, Stockton opened its newest exhibit of artifacts titled “Galloway’s Graveyard: Unearthing the History of the Boling Settlement” at the Richard E. Bjork Library on campus.

The exhibit features six cases of historical photographs and one three-dimensional model commemorating the efforts of the Boling Family, an African American family who moved to Port Republic during the Civil War. At that time, Port Republic was part of Galloway Township. Members of that family fought in the Civil War, and the Boling Cemetery is located at Pomona and Moss Mill roads.

It is there that one can find five headstones of African American veterans of the Civil War, including Josiah Boling; Samuel Smith; William Lee; Eli Boling; and Alexander Trusty.

Stockton first year graduate student Jesse Kraft learned all the names and more, as he and Kevin Konrad spent three months working to put together the exhibit, under the direction of British Literature Professor Thomas Kinsella.

“We went through 500 pages of historical documents,” Kraft said. “Kevin and I did not know anything about the family.”

The three-dimensional model is of the crossroads where the cemetery is located. The cases showcase historical photographs from the Civil War, donated by the Egg Harbor City Historical Society, among other groups.

“It’s important to remember our vets, especially in this case where they were literally fighting for their freedom and they’re buried in our own backyard,” Kraft said.

Purdy told those assembled for the ribbon-cutting and unveiling the story of his mother who drove by the cemetery on her way to and from receiving treatments for Cancer.

“She cleaned up the twigs and branches,” Purdy said. “She complained that it was too dark in that cemetery. Then one night, she put solar lights on the graves.”

The unveiling followed an event honoring African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War at the College Campus Theater. That event featured special readings and remarks from various people, including representatives from the NAACP and the UBBS.

A committee of 36 people put together the event, which was the first of a semester-long series focusing on African American soldiers in the Civil War.

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