THE BLACK DOCTOR OF THE PINES: DR. JAMES STILL February 10, 2023
February is Black History Month! It is the time of year where we, as a nation, celebrate and remember the central role African Americans have had on the development of our country. As a result, Journey Through Jersey wishes to honor the legacy of notable African Americans with ties to the Garden State.
Have you heard about the man called “The Black Doctor of the Pines?” His real name was Dr. James Still. Dr. Still was inspired at a young age to become a doctor. Because of his race and financial situation, however, medical school was not an option. Dr. Still took it upon himself to learn medicine through observation and personal study, even learning from the Native Americans in the area. Ultimately, Dr. Still was able to combine his interests in botany and medicine to become a pioneer in the local medical community and a successful doctor of color. Dr. Still also became one of the wealthiest men in Burlington County and one of the largest landholders in the area! He chronicled his life, passion, and struggles in an autobiography entitled Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still, published in 1877.
In 1855, Dr. Still and his family built a home and office off modern-day Old Church Road/Rt. 541 in Medford, New Jersey. Although the Victorian home with modern amenities (a big deal at the time!) was demolished in 1932, the office remains on the property. In 2006, with the intent to renovate the office, the New Jersey State Park Service purchased the property. Today, Dr. James Still Office Historic Site is a managed by a non-profit composed of direct descendants of Dr. Still, whose mission is “Teaching, Restoring, and Preserving the Legacy of Dr. James Still.”
Visitors to the site can enjoy the exhibits featuring Dr. Still’s life and medical practice as well as a walk on the nearby nature trails.
Interested in additional events and opportunities to learn about Dr. Still? Interested in learning about events that celebrate Black Heritage in New Jersey? Check out the Events page!
“Health is a greater boon than riches, surpassing every earthly blessing.” – Dr. James Still
ADDITIONAL FUN FACTS! William Still, James Still’s brother, was one of the founders of the Underground railroad! William managed a network of safe houses and sympathizers that stretched from Philadelphia to modern-day Southern Ontario, Canada! Check out the PBS Special!
Want to learn more about Dr. James Still? Check out these resources!
Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still, J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1877