Join the Gist of Freedom on location ~The First Family of The Underground Railroad Celebrates 143rd Reunion www.LesleyPODCAST.com
By the early 1800s, the Still family was firmly established in southern New Jersey, particularly in the area that became Lawnside, a hamlet neighboring Haddonfield.
Lawnside was incorporated in 1926; it is believed to be the first self-governing, overwhelmingly African-American town in the North. It remains 94 percent African-American and full of Stillsâ€”perhaps as many as 100 members of the extended family.
Every August, Clarence (deceased 2012) hosts the Still family reunion at his place, This summer marked the 143rd Still reunionâ€”a daylong barbecue, church service, and general gospel-fest for several hundred Stills from as far away as Arizona. William Still the youngest of Charity and Levin Still's eighteen children was the Black abolitionist from Philadelphia who was described by the New York Times as William Still - known as the Father of the Underground Railroad - who, even in the 19th century embodied these modern feats. In the face of extreme challenges he prevailed to see many slaves reach freedom. His drive to see the vindication of the human spirit continued past the end of the Civil War and into the antebellum period when he fought Jim Crow. Stillâ€™s story makes a full circle journey through poverty to prosperity, ending at philanthropy (just one of Justiceâ€™s tools).
"The Father of the Underground Railroad". He commissioned Harriet Tubman's rescue missions. Still literally wrote the Underground Railroad book.
The rewards Mr. Still received for his good work is evident of his faithfulness. Bestowed with the reputation of being a renowned abolitionist permitted him to unknowingly forge the miraculous reunion between his lost enslaved brother, Peter Gist and their mother Charity. Lastly, he lived a long honorable and respectable life. The New York Times in 1902 reported he died worth nearly a million dollars.