Scenes from Earth Day weekend, and Bethel celebration, in Morristown

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Earth Day weekend was so busy in Morristown that it’s taken us until now to post everything.

First, Alexandra Fisher created a video of volunteers cleaning up the Whippany River, planting trees at Burnham Park and building a community garden at the Elliott Street playground. She even managed to swing by Jockey Hollow for the annual encampment of Revolutionary War re-enactors.

Bravo, Alex!

And Penny Lopez captured some terrific history at the Bethel A.M.E Church’s Prayer Walk, which started at the Presbyterian Church in Morristown and made its way to Evergreen Cemetery to honor Frances Jane Freeman Ray, who founded Bethel — Morristown’s first African American church — 175 years ago.

Twenty-five of Ray’s descendants traveled from Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey for the celebration.

They included Lynne Huggins Smith, a third great-granddaughter of Ray.

Slideshow photos by Penny Lopez:

From left, Lynne Huggins-5th great granddaughter; Arthur Huggins, 5th great grandson; (back), Angela Osborne, mother of Lynne Huggins; next to her is Marcella Harold, 4th great granddaughter, who came from Maryland for event; Lynne Huggins Smith in front of her, 3rd great granddaughter; and on right LaFrance "Trey" Smith III, 4th great grandson, who came from Kansas Cit , MO ,for Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Bethel Pastor Sidney Williams Jr. and Morristown Councilwoman Alison Deeb at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Jan Williams, historical specialist of the Morris County Planning Department, at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Shari Chambers from Pennsylvania, who is a descendant of a Ray founder of Little Bethel A.M.E. Church in Stroudsburg, Pa., in 1868.Photo by Penny Lopez
Associate Pastor Sarah Green of the Presbyterian Church, at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
The Rev. Brandon Cho, pastor of the Morristown United Methodist Church, at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Pianist Marion Sykes Johnson at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Attorney Karl Fenske, right, and friends at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Attendees at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Congregants at Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
Bethel Pastor Sidney Williams Jr. prior to Bethel A.M.E. Prayer Walk, April 21, 2018. Photo by Penny Lopez
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“I found [Bethel] Pastor Sidney Williams as a result of researching my family history, and he showed me the Ray family members involved with the church, and introduced me to Jan Williams, who led me to our Civil War ancestors,”  Smith said.

Jan Williams, a cultural and historic resources specialist in Morris County’s Office of Planning & Preservation, has been helping Bethel research its history.

Smith learned that Frances Jane Freeman Ray was born to a woman named Margaret, enslaved in Morristown.  Her father was Martin Freeman.  Ray and her husband, Richard L. Ray, had 12 boys — four of whom served in the Civil War, Penny reports.

Pastor Sidney Williams Jr. talks about Bethel anniversary; video by Penny Lopez:

And Ilene Manahan notes that Morristown’s annual spring cleanup was a big success:

A record number of some 300 volunteers from throughout the community took advantage of this weekend’s glorious Saturday morning to participate in the annual Morristown Spring Clean-up.
 
Groups and individuals met at the Municipal Building and dispersed to areas of town they had either requested or were assigned to for litter and brush collection following this long and harsh winter.
 
Morristown Spring Cleanup 2018.
Morristown Spring Cleanup 2018.
 
Co-sponsored by Morristown Beautiful and Morristown Clean Communities, the Clean-up has been an annual spring event for over 25 years.
 
Families, neighbors, members of houses of worship, civic and school groups, non-profits, and individuals of all ages and abilities have made it a tradition to spend an early spring Saturday morning recognizing Earth Day while also exhibiting their community pride.
 
“Every year, this townwide ‘Spring cleaning’ seems to attract more and more people,” enthused Kathleen O’Neill Margiotta, head of Morristown Clean Communities.
 
“This year’s turnout was the best ever. It’s obvious that Morristown is a special town…a special home to a lot of special people who are committed to seeing our town is truly Morristown Beautiful.”

 

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