September 19, 2018
Contact: Kimberly Nagy:

Two New Jersey Women Bring Fresh Light to White-Washed Corner of History in New Publication

Wild River Books Launches If These Stones Could Talk: African American Presence in the Hopewell Valley, Sourland Mountain and Surrounding Region in New Jersey by Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills on November 7th.


Part genealogy, part history, and part personal memoir, rooted in an amazing amount of research, and written with grace and flair, this book brings to light a rich past that had almost been lost.
— James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Hopewell, NJ--Wild River Books announces the publication of If These Stones Could Talk on November 7th, 2018. There will be a formal invitation-only launch at the Grounds for Sculpture. A public celebration will take place on November 17, 2018 at the Hopewell Bistro in Hopewell, NJ from 1-4PM.

When authors of If These Stones Could Talk Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills approached Wild River Books about their book idea three years ago, they brought over a decade of research with them, but had no written material for the book they knew they had to write. They were both board members of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, a cemetery that is nestled in New Jersey’s Sourland Mountain region. The cemetery was purchased by three Black men in the early 19th century to bury Blacks with honor and dignity. After the foray into historic preservation work that begins the pages of If These Stones Could Talk, Buck and Mills were convinced that they had a lot more work left to do to connect African American history to local and national history books, within which they still felt largely absent from the most visible narratives in United States history.

In her foreword for If These Stones Could Talk, renowned historian Emma Lapsansky-Werner, author of The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans, writes: “Elaine and Bev’s story is about both race-based pain and interracial triumph; it’s about pettiness and greed and prejudice and ignorance and exclusion. But it’s also about teamwork and mutual human concern, and about the intricacies of family life among and between White and Black Americans, stretching from the eighteenth and nineteenth century into the twenty-first century.”

Over the last decade Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills have become statewide educators on a mission to open up a healthy investigation into the history of race beginning in their home state. They have helped to create three statewide symposiums where the public can discuss difficult topics about race in healthy ways. They have become bridge-builders, engaging leaders in the boardrooms of museums and schools throughout Central New Jersey. With the publication of If These Stones Could Talk, their goal is to engage readers, educate students and impact curriculum development not only in New Jersey but across the United States.

As the authors worked on completing their writing plan with publisher Kimberly Nagy, Wild River Books developed the author’s weekly Facebook post named after Beverly’s 4th great-grandfather. In the 18th century, Friday Truehart was brought from Charleston, S.C. to Hopewell, NJ by his master, Reverend Oliver Hart. The “Friday’s Memory” fan base on Facebook rapidly grew into the thousands.

On November 7th Buck and Mills will formally launch the outcome of decades of research and work. If These Stones Could Talk has already been praised by Pulitzer-prize-winning historian James McPherson, Congresswoman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Former Lead Education Economist for the World Bank, Peter Moock, Organizing Secretary General of the National Society of Colonial Daughters of the Seventeenth Century, Marion T. Lane and Associate Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, Jill Ogline Titus.

In warm but unflinching voices in If These Stones Could Talk, Buck and Mills offer readers a unique window into our past. The stories the authors collected with diligence and devotion, including dozens of oral histories, consecrate the collected lives of a minority Black community in a predominantly White region, a pattern of community that reflects a larger, deeply important but typically overlooked national story in small towns all over the United States.

About Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills: Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills are the founders of Friday Truehart Consultants, named after Beverly’s 4th great-grandfather who was brought to Hopewell from Charleston in the 18th century by his master, Reverend Oliver Hart. Buck and Mills work closely with K-12 educators from school systems interested in including African American history in their lesson plans and curriculum. They are founding members of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum and serve on its Advisory Board. Buck and Mills have been Trustees of the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association for the past thirty-five years. They are both members of the National Council of Negro Women and the Sankofa Collaborative, a resource that will ensure that material and resources relating to African American history will be readily accessible statewide to a broader and more diverse audience. Beverly Mills is the first African American woman to hold the elected position as Councilwoman, Pennington Borough, and Elaine Buck is Church Clerk for the Second Calvary Baptist Church of Hopewell, NJ.