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Free Haven

By Linda Tancs

Black history abounds in the tiny borough of Lawnside in Camden County, New Jersey.  Both freedman and escaped slaves settled there when Philadelphia abolitionist Ralph Smith purchased land in the 1800s and sold it in lots to blacks at reduced prices, earning the place the moniker Free Haven.  Not surprisingly, the locale was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  Later, the hamlet now known as Lawnside became the only black-governed town north of the Mason-Dixon Line.  The predominately black community’s heritage is represented on the borough’s seal.

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