Plaque will note heritage of Timbuctoo's Cemetery              By  PATRICIA  PARENTE  Staff Writer
WESTAMPTON -- When residents here talk about their community's rich history, it's not unusual for them to bring up the section of town known as Timbuctoo.  Also known as Bucktoe, the small area along the Rancocas Creek was founded in 1825 and is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad that conducted slaves to freedom.  Part of Timbuctoo's significant history remains visible in the form of a small graveyard of black Civil War veterans.  Township residents will not allow it to be forgotten. "After all these years that cemetery is finally getting some recognition," said Samuel Hayes, past commander of the Westampton American Legion Post 509. The Westampton Historical Society will dedicate the cemetery today with a bronze plaque officially recognizing it as "Timbuctoo Civil War Memorial Cemetery" and honoring "the brave African-American men from this community who joined the Union Army in the fight against slavery during the Civil War.  " Scheduled to take place in conjunction with Black History Month, the 10 a.m. ceremony is expected to draw a crowd of residents, elected local officials and members of the historical society and the American Legion. Timbuctoo may be well known in Westampton, but Hayes said the name often raises eyebrows outside the municipality, even though it can be found on New Jersey maps.  The area, which encompasses Church Street, Blue Jay Hill Road and Rancocas Road, "was founded by non-slaves and freed blacks in 1825" and "was prosperous as a community and boasted one of the first public schools in the township, as well as the AME Zion Church," according to information about the township's history posted on the municipal Web site. The area also is listed as a historic site on Burlington County's Web site, which also notes it was once a community of freed slaves and a haven for fugitive slaves.  The Web site also highlights the "Battle of Pine Swamp" in 1860 which involved armed residents of Timbuctoo preventing the capture of Perry Simmons, a fugitive slave living in the community, by a southern slave catcher aided by sympathetic local whites. Meanwhile, the graveyard of a dozen black Civil War veterans remains tucked away in Timbuctoo.  Over the years Hayes said the local American Legion has tried to make sure those who are buried there are not forgotten. "We've kept an eye on the cemetery throughout the years," he said.  The Legion post makes sure that American flags are placed on the graves each Memorial Day and has researched the history of the cemetery, Hayes said. A dozen soldiers are believed to be buried at the site, he said, including Louis B. Armstrong, Charles Love and Edward Chapman who served in the Army's 22 Regiment, and William W. Sullivan who served in the 29th Regiment. To help honor the soldiers, Hayes said, some local Boy Scouts recently erected a wooden sign at the graveyard, helped clean up the property and added some landscaping. Township Clerk Donna Ryan said now that the municipality has taken over ownership of land surrounding the cemetery there is better access to the site, which is maintained by the public works department. She said officials are pleased with the renewed interest in the historic graveyard. "We're happy to see people interested in that part of Westampton's history," she said. Gary Jacques, president of the Westampton Historical Society, said the bronze marker. commemorating the cemetery, which is set on a stone that measures about 2 feet by 2 feet, is being donated by the historical society. "With the support of the community we thought it was the appropriate time to do it," he said
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