Davistown Road currently is a residential street in Blackwood, New Jersey. Its name comes from Davistown, a small settlement for free Blacks in the 1800s. The Davis family, which consisted of Solomon Davis, his wife Lindley Davis, and their children, founded Davistown after Lindley’s slave master set her free. He also gifted her two hundred dollars, in which the Davis family was able to buy land and begin to form a small town for free Blacks.
“Davistown at this time stood as a symbol of freedom for all of the enslaved servants in the area,” Raluca Muscan, the project coordinator at the Gloucester County Historical Society, shared. “Davistown also stood as a beacon of freedom for all of the freed people in the North who settled in this area.”
From 1820 to 1840, the Davis family continued to build on their settlement. “In Davistown, the Solomon Wesley [United] Methodist Church was the center of the community,” Bonny Beth Elwell, library director at the Camden County Historical Society, explained. The church was a place for the community to gather and worship. Solomon Wesley United Methodist Church and cemetery still stands today.
Although all that remains today is the church and the cemetery, descendants from the original Davistown still reside within the community.
If you are interested in learning more about South New Jersey’s history, please visit the Camden County Historical Society and the Gloucester County Historical Society.