Sojourner Truth left New York to begin her anti-slavery career. Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol in London. In Washington, Congress explored the idea of a national telegraph system.
And in Morristown, a church was born.
The year was 1843. What is now known as the Bethel A.M.E. Church was incorporated by African Americans; it was the first such church established in Morris County.
On Sunday, the Morris County Heritage Commission commemorated that fact, unveiling a marker at the church. It reads:
THIS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONGREGATION, FIRST IN THE COUNTY, WAS INCORPORATED IN 1843 BY THE BETHEL MITE SOCIETY, WHICH RAISED FUNDS TO CONSTRUCT THE 1849 CARPENTER GOTHIC CHURCH THAT STOOD 150 YARDS SOUTH ON THE WEST SIDE OF SPRING STREET. THE PRESENT CHURCH WAS
DEDICATED IN 1970.
The ceremony, pictured here by MG photographer Bill Lescohier, capped an historic year for Bethel A.M.E. In September, the town honored the first pastor of the church–a conductor on the Underground Railroad–by renaming Center Street as Bishop Nazery Way.