Welcome to the virtual presence of the Dr. James Still Historic Office Site and Educational Center (DJSEC). My name is Samuel C. Still III and I am currently the Chairman of the DJSEC. I am a second Great Grandnephew of Dr. James Still. My second Great Grandfather was Dr. Still’s older brother, Samuel Still, the first freeborn child of Levin and Sidney (a.k.a. Charity) Still.
It has been my pleasure and a labor of love to volunteer at the DJSEC. Our volunteers are very passionate about the life and the legacy of Dr. James Still. Dr. Still was a very unique individual who endured many barriers in life, including poverty and prejudice. He persevered to overcome many obstacles and became a physician, an entrepreneur, and an author. The real estate he acquired during his life made him the third largest landowner in the county of Burlington County, NJ during the nineteenth century.
In 2006, the State of New Jersey purchased the DJSEC site with good intentions to restore Dr. Still’s historic office. DJSEC site falls under the auspices of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). Unfortunately, with changing political winds and occasional natural disasters, the State’s focus on the office building, and allocated funding, diminished over time. Thus, the Medford Historical Society (MHS) became an “Officially Recognized Friends Group” (ORFO) by the NJDEP and essentially the caretakers of the DJSEC. Within the MHS, a core group of volunteers assembled, known affectionately as the Dr. Still Oversight Committee (DSOC).
In 2016, I was appointed Chairman of the DSOC in an effort to focus on key objectives, including to bring organizational structure to the committee; obtain a fully executed ORFO agreement with the NJDEP; raise public awareness of the DJSEC, and establish more effective communications with the NJDEP. The passage of time has been a factor in accomplishing some of those objectives; e.g., obtaining the executed ORFO agreement; but it was finally achieved. We have also sought to increase public awareness of the DJSEC through public presentations, local elementary school visits, opening of the Dr. Still Nature Walk, bi-annual meetings with the NJDEP, and two consecutive years of summer archaeological field schools. This year has also witnessed some changes at the NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry with the appointment of Olivia Carpenter Glenn as director. The volunteers and I look forward to establishing a working relationship with Olivia and her staff. She brings a set of fresh ideas and new vision to the NJDEP Division of Parks and Forestry.
As a result of the work accomplished to date, we stay focused and optimistic on the tremendous tasks and opportunities that lies ahead of us. We recognize that developing this important historic site will require more than State funding; so we also seek private and corporate donations. Over the next year, it will be our task, working with the NJDEP, to develop a Master Interpretive Site Plan for DJSEC. This Master Interpretive Site Plan is a prerequisite for soliciting private and corporate donations.
Another major task is planning for the Dr. Still Community Family Reunion in 2020 at the DJSEC. The year 2020 holds significance as it marks the 150th anniversary of the original Still Family Reunion as Dr. Still described in his autobiography. This reunion occurred at Dr. Still’s home in Cross Roads, Medford Township, New Jersey, in 1870. As the DSOC visualizes what can be done to memorialize and celebrate this event, we determined it would be interesting to invite not only Still family members, but also descendants of families that Dr. Still mentioned as patients and acquaintances in his book. Many of these family members have already stopped by the DSJEC and recounted their stories of Dr. Still interacting with their ancestors. We are in the planning stages of this monumental event for Burlington County, New Jersey.
We invite you to participate in our future events and are always seeking new volunteers at the center.
Samuel C. Still III