SPECIAL REPORT: Collecting memories from Jonesville

Published: Feb. 14, 2019 at 8:59 PM CST
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Jonesville, a community that once existed in Bowling Green, now only lives in the memories of its former residents.

"An African American community filled with unique people, whose souls never to be forgotten, shall live eternally in the minds and the hearts of its survivors," said Angela Alexander Townsend, a former Jonesville resident, as she recited one of her many poems she's written about her home that once was.

Angela has collected folders, binders, and shelves worth of pictures and documents from Jonesville, hoping to keep its memory alive.

The community, which ran along the railroad tracks by Western Kentucky University, was bought out by Urban Renewal in the 1960s. Much of the land was sold to the college, as WKU expanded.

"It's just a part of history that you should know about," said Maxine Ray, another former resident who collects the memories of Jonesville.

"I'm happy for my memories and I'm sad, very sad about how it ended," added Angela.

Going through more of her family pictures, she continued, saying, "I was born there. I was born right there in the living room." Angela said her grandparents' house sat where Diddle Arena is now.

"In the late 50s, early 60s, there were 400-500 people that lived in that community at one time," explained Maxine.

Other than the pictures and memories, Jonesville is now only remembered by a single historical marker on the outskirts of campus.

"A lot of times, that marker will be the only memory of Jonesville," said Maxine, one of the leaders who helped bring the marker to life.

She described the community as family oriented and close-knit.

"You don't forget things like that (Jonesville)," said Angela, "You do not forget where you were born and where you would go across the street and your great-grandmother would say, 'Here comes Little Angie, she's my old sugar!'"

But one day, the last generation who experienced life in Jonesville won't be here to tell us its stories.

"People that were born in '69 or even in the early '60s don't remember it," said Maxine.

It's made the pictures and heirlooms priceless, a way to always remember.

"It's important to keep this because my children need to know," added Angela.

"If you don't know your history, if you don't know where you came from, you don't know where you're going," said Maxine.

Currently, the historical marker on campus is damaged at the base. 13 News has notified the Kentucky Historical Society of the issue, and officials there say they will work with the Kentucky Department of Transportation to get the base replaced as soon as possible.

Angela said she hopes the University will continue to remember Jonesville and one day recognize it more within the campus.

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