How the cemetery began
Mount Peace Cemetery was organized in 1900. During this time, African Americans were excluded from other non-secular burial grounds. The cemetery was built on farm land sold to the former enslaved and Free People of Color in 1902 by the descendants of Nathan Willetts, who was a well known Quaker abolitionist in the community of Free Haven, Snow Hill and currently Lawnside, New Jersey. Located in a town that was a station stop on the Underground Railroad, Mt. Peace Cemetery was created to provide greater respect and guardianship to the African American communities of several neighboring towns in Camden county. It is the final resting place of many notable African Americans, including Civil War Veteran and Medal of Honor winner John Lawson. In addition, buried at Mount Peace Cemetery are veterans of all foreign wars, African royalty and persons listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book. The cemetery is a Lawnside landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service. Mt Peace Cemetery Association, which consists of a board of trustees was created by several community members. Our mission: We are committed to restoration, community engagement and educating the public on the culture and forgotten achievements of African American pioneers.
1890 Mount Peace Cemetery, located on White Horse Pike in Lawnside, NJ was planned by African Americans to provide a burial place for their dead. The numerous purchasers of burial lots on the 18-acre site had no legal right to perpetual care but did have the right to have their lots opened for burials when necessary.
1900 Land that would become Mount Peace is purchased by prominent African American men from Camden, NJ.
1952 The company that owned and maintained Mount Peace went bankrupt, and the grounds subsequently went into disrepair. Additionally, a fire in the cemetery office destroyed all the records and maps of the plots.
1960 A portion of the cemetery was sold to Texaco by Judge Davis. Judge Davis, one of the original trustees, who oversaw and kept records of the interred, but provided no maintenance of the grounds, administered proceeds of the sale.
1978 Mount Peace was overgrown with shrubbery and had become a virtual dumping ground. Cleaning it became a neighborhood volunteer project. Residents came out every Saturday during the spring and summer bringing their own tools and equipment to clean up and cut back the overgrowth. After two years the work became increasingly overwhelming, however community member Bryson Armstead suggested that the Lawnside Men's Association take over the project under the leadership of Lloyd Romero who had initiated the original cleanup.
1980s With the trust fund finally wrestled from Judge Davis the new trustees took over the administration of the cemetery. They solicited help from Camden County's probation department who along with the trustees took turns volunteering their time supervising the probationers. The money from the trust was put into CDs with the interest used over the years for major improvements like building access roads into the cemetery, building two cement tools sheds, righting all tombstones on cleared graves and erecting a Mt. Peace Cemetery sign, in addition to daily operating expenses.
2000-present day Before his death in June of 2000, Lloyd Romero with the assistance of Bryson Armstead catalogued all of the Civil War veterans' graves. Much has been accomplished by the efforts of a very few dedicated citizens and the current trustees continue the restoration efforts. However Mount Peace still needs volunteers to help preserve its legacy and uncover the hidden history that's here.
Mount Peace Cemetery is dedicated to preserving the memory of those who came before us. We believe that doing continuous kind acts can change and shape lives. The work we do at our non-profit organization is aimed at promoting volunteerism and community involvement. Our approach to solving some of our society’s biggest challenges is through providing team building activities. We make sure that the public is empowered by creating opportunities for individuals and communities. Your continued support of time and donations helps us maintain the cemetery and fulfill our mission.
Preservation and Conservation
At Mount Peace we are dedicated to preserving the past by inspiring future generations. The cleaning of headstones takes patience and attention to detail and this simple act can restore an abundance of history to learn from.
Partnering For a Cause
With this initiative, our goal is to partner with businesses and other companies through corporate giving programs. This is also a great opportunity to boost employee engagement and increase community awareness. We strive to align with corporations who share our mission of volunteering and who care about more than just profits.
With our organization’s mission always in mind, we strive to find new strategies for exposing children as well as adults to the beauty of their natural surroundings. Being in tune with the earth and the environment is a wonderful lesson everyone can benefit from.
Would you like to support our efforts?
The Focus of Our Efforts
Recognizing the enormity of the challenges our society faces, Mount Peace Cemetery is dedicated to making a lasting impact through our campaigns and programs. While our efforts are driven by our organization’s focus to educate the public on underrepresented Black history, we embrace diversity and inclusivity of all by investing in a variety of ways sharing the stories of the trailblazers buried here. Learn more about our initiatives and get involved yourself.
Through our Volunteer Program, we have the potential to make a real and positive change in the community. This is one of our key areas of focus here at Mount Peace Cemetery, and a source of much success for our Non-Profit Organization. Get in touch with us today and see how you can lend a helping hand with this program.
Most of our efforts pertaining to this program involve carefully unearthing and reconstructing the past. These projects consist of some of our most rewarding work and serve as a tangible reminder and connection to the area's rich history as a haven for freedom and prosperity.
“Life's most persistent and urgent question is,
What are you doing for others?"
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr -
At Mount Peace Cemetery the restoration of the back 3 acre portion of our cemetery began in October 2020. Over six months and 100 hours of land clearing and hand work, volunteers where able to locate 200 known and unknown graves. We are currently in phase 1 which is a very tedious and delicate process. Please follow along with us as we share this inspiring journey to "uncovering hidden history one stone at a time!"
If you are looking to get involved please consider volunteering your time and or making a donation. This is an ongoing restoration and preservation project that will take several years to execute. We always look forward to working with each and every one of you!