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Bell Tower @ Solomon Wesley United Methodist Church - Blackwood, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 47.604 W 075° 02.732
18S E 496101 N 4404828
Quick Description: Shortish. rectangular prism-shaped tower rising over the front entrance. It is topped with a pyramid roof. The ventilated, louvered portion of the tower looks like a house with a roof.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 1/2/2010 2:57:25 PM
Waymark Code: WM80AX
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member scrambler390
Views: 1

Long Description:

Members of the Solomon Wesley United Methodist Church still worship in this historic church constructed in 1850, and members of the founding Davis family still attend the church located amidst modern houses, oddly out of place.

There is a cemetery in the back of about 75 graves, the majority of which were of the Davis family, the founders of this church. The church is actually in Gloucester Twp., the same place which Blackwood is located, the town under which the NRHP site is listed. This church is one of two black churches in this town and the only one still remaining from the mid 19th century. To the rear of the church is an obvious addition. it is very small by today's standards and looks a bit dilapidated and in need of repair.

Today the church and the "Davis Cemetery" remain as positive symbols of the African American community. "In his 1790 will, Daniel Bates left a mile-long parcel of land, $200, and freedom to Lindley Davis, a Black woman, and her family. The stretch of land grew into a Black village known as Davistown [This is the name of the road on which the church is located] in which most residents were Davis family members who worked on nearby farms and mark pits.

In 1850 Zachariah and Catherine Davis deeded land to Solomon and Noble Davis and three other Black men for erecting a church and establishing burial grounds. Soon after, the leaders established Solomon Wesley Church as an African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church.

Construction of the one-story church with clapboard siding encouraged the development of other facilities nearby. These included the camp meeting grounds and the Davistown Colored School, built beside the church in the 1870s. The school, which no longer stands, was the only one ever for Black children in Gloucester township.

Davistown had a population of between 100 and 200 residents at its height. However, the number of people in the village and in the congregation gradually decreased, and in the 1920s many of the founding families left Davistown. Modern homes replaced the early residences, leaving the one-story frame church and the cemetery to the rear of the church as symbols of the community's history. Members of the original Davis family, as well as veterans from the Civil War, Spanish War, and World Wars I and II are buried in the Solomon Wesley Cemetery.

"

SOURCE; Black Heritage Sites by Nancy C. Curtis, p. 318-319

The cemetery seemed very unorganized, as though the plot locations were not thought out in advance. If it were not for some relatively recent burials, I would have thought this site was potentially abandoned. It was seriously overgrown in a few placed and some of the stones were unreadable or buried or completely hidden.

Address of Tower:
291-B Davistown Rd./Asyla Rd.
Blackwood, NJ USA
08102


Still Operational: yes

Number of bells in tower?: 1

Relevant website?: [Web Link]

Rate tower:

Tours or visits allowed in tower?: Unknown

Visit Instructions:
Please post an original picture of the tower taken while you were there. Please also record how you came to be at this tower and any other interesting information you learned about it while there.
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