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Civil War 150: “Jonesville.”

Obvious this wasn’t taken during Civil War.

By Admin, BuyLocalBG.com, BuyLocalBg@gmail.com/
Thursday, August 25th, 2011 9:00 AM CST

Jonesville was an African American community that was founded in 1867 by Charles L. Jones, an emancipated slave. This reconstruction era settlement grew to include several hundred residents, an elementary school, businesses, and two churches. More so, it became a thriving community among emancipated slaves in the area.

Part of the area (which now Nick Denes Field, LT Smith stadium and EA Diddle Arena now sit on the old town area) had an old church that was used to enlist Runaway slaves into the Federal Army to fight the Confederates.

Jonesville on paper dates back to 1871. The earliest deed was recorded in 1871. At it’s peak in the 1920’s it was home to three salons, a gas station, a two grocery stores, boarding house, barber shop, tea room, ice rink, multiple restaurants and an elementary school. In the middle of it all was Mt. Zion Baptist church.

Once a thriving community on 30 acres it was eliminated for the expansion of WKU. 67 homes were taken to make room for the expansion of the sports facilities on WKU’s campus between 1955 and 1967. Sadly, a marker is all that’s left to let you know that a community was once there. Places where people lived or visited like “Hardin’s Roadhouse.” Hardin’s was known for some of the best barbecue.

According to an account by a Jonesville resident, ‘Back then Hardin’s didn’t just serve black patrons since he had 2 sections, one for blacks and one for whites. Hardin also used to cater and was often hired by some of the richest families in town, a testament to how good his food actually was.’

When then Presidents Dero Downing and Kelly Thompson were eliminating this community to expand WKU there was talk of naming some of the land “Hardin’s corner” but nothing ever came of honoring the community. It wasn’t till recently that a marker was placed.

If you go to the Kentucky Museum, you can find old articles that talk of how the Minister of Mt. Zion fought against Urban renewal. Mainly because it would not only hurt the singular families but the community as a whole. Plus, many of the businesses that were taken by expansion did not survive.

Jonesville child.
Old Photo of Jonesville Resident.

Jonesville community members.

This is about where the Kentucky Library sits now.

In recent accounts, the University administration brought in an agency called “Urban Renewal Commission.” This commission would condemn land for things like having too much trash in the yard and that would allow the University to buy the land on the cheap. This was quite typical in other cities around Kentucky and the US during that time and even today. Now, there is just a marker but you can see where so much history once stood.

If you want to skip ahead to get more detail or start learning more today, check out the Civil War Trail (website link for trail) via the Convention and Visitors Bureau or Kentucky Museum on WKU’s Campus.

Past Civil War 150:

Part 1: Mt. Moriah Cemetery, resting place of “African American Union Soldiers.”

Part 2: The Confederate Graveyard and Monument of Bowling Green. Also, the Most Dangerous Confederate.

Part 3: “Defending the L&N Railroad Wayside Exhibit.”

Part 4: “Mt. Ayr & Fort Underwood”

Part 5: “Baker Hill and Downtown Bowling Green”

Part 6: “Confederate Defense Line and Rifle Trench.”

Part 7: “Fort C.F. Smith and College Hill.”

Part 8: “Fort Webb Park”

Part 9: “Hines Boatlanding and Civil War Hospital Exhibit.”

Part 10: “Bowling Green Courthouse displaying Confederate Medal of Honors and Federal Army Officers.”

*Thank You to Kentucky Museum for allowing us to use their photos and contributing the entirety of this article.

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