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.
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:
“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: