Download a podcast about the Peter Mott House and four other historic African American site in Camden County at Pathways to Freedom, a project of the South Jersey Tourism Corporation and Camden County funded by the New Jersey Historic Trust.
Revisit history at the Peter Mott House, a station along the Underground Railroad, in the historically African-American town of Lawnside, N.J.
The Peter Mott House is the oldest known house in Lawnside. Built circa 1845, the house was residence to Peter Mott, an African-American preacher who was the first Sunday school superintendent at Mount Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lawnside, and his wife, Eliza.
No birth certificates survive, but census records indicate that Mott was born around 1810. The 1850 Census lists Mott, 40, as a black male laborer owning real estate valued at $600. His wife, Elizabeth Ann Mott, was listed as 42. Gloucester County marriage records show that he married Eliza Thomas on Nov. 2, 1833.
Mott was a free Black man and an agent of the Underground Railroad. The size of his house in what was then called Snow Hill or Free Haven and its method of construction two stories reflect Mott's status as a respected member of the community.
Land transactions for May 30, 1844, record Mott's purchase of the property for his home from Thomas Stephenson for $100. The 1870 Census valued Mott's real estate at $1,000 and his personal estate at $250.
The Borough of Lawnside, located eight miles north of Camden, is the only historically African-American incorporated municipality in the northern United States. It dates to Colonial times as a settlement of people of color.
Through the abolition of slavery in New Jersey, the perils of the Underground Railroad, the ravages of the Civil War and the grinding poverty of the Depression era, Lawnside has emerged as a viable, modern community.
The Lawnside Historical Society has fought to preserve, acquire and maintain the Peter Mott House. In February 1992, the Society was handed the deed to the property. The house was restored as a museum and opened to the public in October 2001. The property is now listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.