News from the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners

Shanel Y. Robinson, Commissioner Director Ÿ Sara Sooy, Commissioner Deputy Director

Melonie Marano, Commissioner Ÿ Paul M. Drake, Commissioner Ÿ Douglas Singleterry, Commissioner

 

For Immediate Release

June 3, 2024

Somerset County Juneteenth Celebration to Honor US Colored Troops Buried in Somerville’s New Cemetery

Juneteenth Leadership Award will be Presented to Arthur Adair of Somerville

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County will honor 18 US Colored Troops (USCT) who fought for the Union Army in the Civil War and are buried in Somerville’s New Cemetery at its fourth annual Juneteenth celebration on Wednesday, June 19. The program begins at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the Historic Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville.

“Juneteenth celebrates the day when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved African Americans in Texas,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “It is thus very fitting that we use this holiday to remember and honor the US Colored Troops who helped save the Union, end the sin of slavery, and who were laid to rest here in Somerset County.”

As part of the festivities, the Somerset County Commissioners will award the Juneteenth Leadership Award to Arthur E.D. Adair, a Somerville native who has cared for the graves of those 18 African American veterans for nearly two decades.

The keynote address will be given by Director Robinson’s own father, the Rev. Dr. W. Golden Carmon, Sr. the Senior Pastor at Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, New Brunswick.

Somerset County Surrogate Bernice “Tina” Jalloh, Esq., will speak regarding the County’s new grant funded project to uncover more stories of enslaved African Americans based on the deceased inventory records and wills filed more than a century ago by her predecessors.

“Unfortunately, one of the few reliable records we have of men and women enslaved in Somerset County are the deceased inventory records and probated wills of the people who enslaved them,” said Surrogate Jalloh. “As the first person of African American ancestry to hold this office, I feel a special obligation to bring these records to light.”

The celebration commences with music and mingling at 4:30 p.m., followed by the formal program from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The program will include a poetry reading by Olivia Y. Altidor and live musical performances by Antoinette Montague. Music and entertainment are being provided by the Downtown Somerville Alliance. Elected officials of Somerset County will read the names and hometowns of the 18 US Colored Troops buried at Somerville.

The second annual Juneteenth Leadership Award is being presented to veteran Arthur E.D. Adair who since his professional retirement two decades ago has maintained the grounds of the New Cemetery on South Bridge Street in Somerville, including the USCT graves. Mr. Adair is a descendant of Private Andrew Kline, a Somerset County resident who served in Company A of the 41st Regiment of the USCT and is among those Civil War veterans buried in the New Cemetery.

Mr. Adair has been a community leader in Somerville, serving 42 years on the Zoning Board of Adjustment, including the last 30 years as Chairman. He also served in elective office on the Borough Council in the 1970s, and on numerous other boards, committees, and commissions. He is a lifelong resident of Somerville and is married to Andrea Cahill-Adair, Commander of American Legion Post 12.

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