MEDFORD, N.J. (CBS) — This Black History Month, Eyewitness News is introducing you to unsung heroes in our community. A South Jersey man is keeping Black history alive by preserving the legacy of his own family.
Meet unsung hero Samuel C. Still III.READ MORE: Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade, Allowing States To Ban Abortion
Thousands of South Jerseyans have learned the story of Dr. James Still, the Black Doctor of the Pines, to the delight of Samuel C. Still III, his second great grand-nephew.
“There’s more than just basketball players and football players or professional sports players that our children need to idolize,” he said.
Dr. James Still was born in 1812, the son of formerly enslaved people. As a young man, James became fascinated with the medicinal power of plants. He moved to Medford, becoming a prominent self-taught physician and one of Burlington County’s wealthiest men.
“People would come from all over — from Philadelphia, New York, all parts of New Jersey — to come see him. He treated Black, white, anybody that was sick that was in need of care, he did,” Samuel said.
James Still was not the only historic figure in Samuel’s family. James’ brother William was known as the father of the Underground Railroad. Another brother, Peter, escaped slavery to rejoin the family.Roe v. Wade Overturned: These US Companies Will Cover Travel Costs For Employees Who Need Abortion
All of this history has been handed down to Samuel since he was a boy.
“It gave me a sense of knowing who I was and where I came from,” Samuel said.
Dr. Still died in 1882. In 2006, the Dr. James Still Office Historic Site was the first African-American site purchased by the state of New Jersey for historic preservation and expanded to 23 acres. Dr. Still’s old house is gone, but his old office is being restored.
Nearby, Samuel and volunteers opened a new facility to show what Dr. Still’s office would look like.
Dr. James Still wrote of cultivating young minds — just what Samuel does today by sharing Black history.
“We have doctors, we have lawyers, we have entrepreneurs, and I think it’s important for them to realize that it’s possible,” Samuel said.MORE NEWS: Driver Arrested In Hit-And-Run That Left 21-Year-Old Dead In Germantown: Police
The Dr. Still historic site has events throughout the year, and the education center is open the first and third Sundays of the month.