Today in Mount Holly, an event was held to celebrate the admittance of the John Woolman Memorial House to the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. The event started at two in the afternoon and ended at approximately four o’clock.
John Woolman was a Quaker from New Jersey who adamantly opposed slavery. Not only did he want to liberate slaves from their bondage, Woolman also wanted to free slaveholders from the greed that caused them to own slaves in the first place.
At the event, two presenters spoke about John Woolman’s life and impact on society. The first, Paul Schopp, was the historian who prepared the application for the property’s registration. This process took two years to complete.
The second speaker, from the Underground Railroad Museum of Burlington County, was Alvin Corbett, a descendant of a former slave and soldier named Jack Sherrod. He spoke in depth about Woolman’s desires of emancipation and restoration of slaves.
After both of the speakers had given their speeches, there was a presentation of a portion of a one-man play about Woolman’s life, which was written and presented by Rich Swingle. The play, entitled I Dreamed I Was Free, was written by Swingle in 1993 as part of some graduate work at Portland State University. It details moments in Woolman’s life as a recounting of “how God gave [him] a clear leading on the issue at hand (slavery)” told by Woolman at a Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
At the conclusion of all three presentations, visitors were free to check out the interior of the two-story house. It’s worth noting that upstairs there are three bedrooms, only one of which was originally part of the house. The other two rooms were built for a bed and breakfast that operated from 1916 until 1939.
The property was also home to a garden, orchards, and an outdoor gathering place. The latter has been used in the past for local high school graduation ceremonies, but maintenance stopped and that area of the property has become overgrown with trees and bamboo.
The John Woolman Memorial House is truly a remarkable piece of history, as is its namesake, and I hope you will be able to visit yourself sometime!