The origin of the Mount Hope A.M.E. Zion Church dates back to 1827, when the Quakers of Purchase, New York liberated slaves and settled them on what is known as the Rugged Highlands in the Silver Lake section of White Plains. This heavily populated area with the people of the Afrikan Diaspora was referred to as "Nigger Hill," because it was the site of one of conductor Harriett Ross Tubman's Underground Railroad Stations. Our fore-parents along with sympathetic Caucasians for our cause of freedom for slaves on the "Hill' helped to establish the First Negro Methodist Church known as Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church and later renamed it Mount Hope African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1916. Also located on the 37 acres of land is a cemetery known as The Stoney Hill Cemetery. Some of our ancestors who lived on the ‘Hill' fought in the Civil War [movie Glory] and are buried on this sacred ground.
Mount Hope African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has had several locations in the city of White Plains: Brookfield Street, Main Street, to William Street and then the glorious march from William Street led by the Reverend Dr. Ralph W. Gullette on May 27, 1973 to 65 Lake Street; its present location. Since its birth in Zion, Mount Hope has had 12 pastors with its latest being the present clinician/pastor, the Reverend Odinga Lawrence Maddox I, who is privileged to be serving his eighteenth year.
Stoney Hill Cemetery
Mt. Hope African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at 65 Lake Street in White Plains NY, claims ownership of a 6.5 acre cemetery which is located on the 37 acres of land in the Town of Harrison, just over the White Plains border. The property was given by the Purchase Friends (Quakers) to slaves they voluntarily freed prior to the Emancipation Proclamation, as reparation for taking people from their homeland and forcing them into slavery. The Stoney Hill Cemetery is the last remaining identifiable parcel of that land grant, and is surrounded by continued development of multi-million-dollar homes. A church, a school and a community of former slaves made up the population of this area. Their remains (approximately 200) and those of many African American Revolutionary War and Civil War Veterans are buried in the Stoney Hill Cemetery. Mount Hope A.M.E. Zion Church today represents the only voice for one of the very first, free Black communities in this country. Though doubtful that a deed was ever issued, (there is no copy currently available). Mt. Hope AME Zion Church absolutely claims rightful ownership of this property. However, it should be noted that the Town of Harrison has contested our ownership in an aggressive manner. Harrison steadfastly refuses to issue instrument of ownership to the Church, even though it is obvious that the Church is the rightful heirs to the land.
Mt. Hope A.M.E. Zion Church’s objective is to have the Cemetery cited as a critical link in the National Historic Freedom Trail via identification of the underground railroad connections. Once restored and beautified, the Cemetery will be maintained and made available to the public - schools, colleges, historians, tourists, etc. - for educational, historical and other uses.