(Pictured above Ariel Joy Edmond Great Great Grand Daughter of Mr. William Elijah Rock publisher of The Echo Press est 1904 & Ms. Catherine "Cat" Richardson of the Pine Brook Fire Department Auxilary of St. Thomas A.M.E.Zion)
The Rock Family Summer Cemetery Care Fundraiser went well this year. We received permission to resume providing resources to assist historic St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church located in Pine Brook, NJ, now referred to as Eatontown, NJ; in 2021, the project was hampered by a miscommunication from NAD. St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church Trustee Carl Bowles worked on the issue so family members could resume caring for burial grounds. As of May 2022, the Rock Family Cemetery Care Project was allowed to continue to resume providing monetary & volunteer care to the historic "Shadow Rest, Pine Brook, & Ruffin" 1st Nation & Civil War burial grounds.
The Rock family cemetery care initiative was launched in 2017 after a meeting of the minds of family members from the Rock, Richardson, Reevey, Ruffin, & Shomo family descendants were made aware of the conditions of the historic cemetery. Once becoming aware family appointed Karen Brittingham-Edmond to work on a solution to address the situation. https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmXlXohkMyyIgrgZJq-oYptp7OEXGg
Karen began by seeing who owned the historic cemetery's land. After confirming that the land was under the care of historic St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church, she made it a point to visit the establishment. Upon seeing the landmark church, Karen found the church leadership & congregation kind and welcoming. But she also found that like many other historic Black churches that were hit by the recession, removal of Fort Monmouth, plus further divestments in long-term Black communities between 2000 to 2017, that church was struggling. Hence they did not have the expected resources to care for the churchyard.
(Fun fact: The word "Squankum" is a Lenni-Lenape word that means "place where evil spirits dwell." Hockhockson is an unincorporated community located within Tinton Falls/Pine Brook in Monmouth County, New Jersey. The name Hockhockson derives from the Lenni Lenape word meaning "plantation.")
After updating family members with information, a letter of inquiry was submitted to church leadership with the Rock family's permission that we coordinate certain activities to build
Awareness of historic 1st Nation and African community
Rally volunteers to assist with the care of the cemetery
Launch seasonal fundraising initiatives within the family to help support the church to care for the churchyard.
Karen proceeded to organize seasonal fundraisers between 2018 to 2020. Plus created two documentaries in partnership with The T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center. Under the title of "The Monmouth County Freedom Story Series Project." By supporting the historic church that Great-Great-Grandfather Peter Rock assisted with establishing. Where Great Grandfather William Elijah Rock, publisher of The Echo, grew up, and Great Grandmother Cat Richardson helped with founding plus serving on the auxiliary board of the Pine Brook Fire House, the historic cemetery went from obscurity to picture-perfect.
This summer's Cemetery Care Fundraiser, which ran for approximately two weeks, raised $250.
Here's the breakdown:
Joshua Edmond pledged: $50
Brittany Edmond pledged: $50
Ariel Edmond pledged: $20
Sophia Scott pledged $40
Ernest & Jordan Edmond pledged: $40
Judah Edmond pledged: $25
Micheal Bowles pledged: $25
David Reevey pledged to donate in-kind gifts of three rakes and three boxes of garbage bags.
The donation was promptly given to St. Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church Trustee Bowles on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, with the pending balance of $35. That will be mailed to the church directly. Fundraiser ran from June 6, 2022, to June 18, 2022. A big thank you to all who prayed and have helped tremendously in bringing awareness to the historic Pine Brook Burial Grounds on Ruffin Court in Tinton Falls, N.J., for the last four years.
Because of our efforts, other organizations are supporting caring for the historic burial ground. Plus, building awareness regarding 1st nation lineage within Monmouth County Black citizenship.
If you want to support this worthwhile cause, reach out to historic St.Thomas A.M.E. Zion Church 87 Squankum Rd, Eatontown, NJ 07724. Supporting historic Black Churches and burial grounds helps preserve the history of a people's whole DNA and provides historical evidence that certain people are desperately trying to erase. Let's not let them dismantle Black heritage here in Monmouth County, NJ. I urge you to make it a point to support, visit, and care for our historic institutions. Our ancestors & people's contributions to dismantling slavery are worth it. Plus, God will bless you for preserving the excellent work that your ancestors left behind for you.
Thanks for reading! On a side note, congratulations to our family members recently promoted in June 2022. Dr. Ernest Egu, Captain Aaron Rock, and Sergeant First Class Micheal Anthony Bowles.
Captain Aaron Rock has been with the Monmouth Beach Police Department for over twenty years. He is the agency's Deputy OEM Coordinator and is assigned to their Professional Responsibilities Unit. Capt. Rock will be designated as the Monmouth Beach Department Patrol Commander and Supervisor of the Monmouth Beach Department Professional Responsibility Unit.
Dr. Ernest Egu finished his last leg of medical training in June 2022.
Dr. Ernest S. Egu is a family medicine doctor in Bronx, New York. He received his medical degree from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and has been in practice for 6-10 years. His Medical School & Residency :
Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine (Moses and Weiler Campuses) Fellowship, Addiction Medicine, 2021-2022
Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Residency, Family Medicine, 2018-2021 Cooper Medical School of Rowan University Medical School Cell Biology and Neuroscience Other Training, Cell Biology and Neuroscience, 2008-2012 He is certified and licensed for NY State and NJ.
Mr. Micheal Anthony Bowles II was promoted to Sergeant First Class in the Army in July 2022. Salute!
Congratulations on soaring high like an eagle and accomplishing your goals the best is yet to come.
Many blessings, from The Echo.