The living descendants of the families of Jonesville tell stories of the community – stories of a thriving Black community in which families owned businesses, went to church together and sent their children to Jonesville Elementary School, a segregated elementary school in the Warren County Public School system.
The Jonesville community existed on the land in which currently stands E.A. Diddle Arena and Houchens Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium on the campus of Western Kentucky University. In the 1950s, the Jonesville land became eligible for purchase due to urban renewal, and the University purchased the land to expand campus.
The Jonesville marker on the campus of WKU reads: “This African American community was founded after the Civil War. It was bordered by Dogwood Dr., Russellville Road, and the railroad tracks. The community grew to include several hundred residents, an elementary school, businesses, and two churches. Frame and hand-hewn stone houses lined the streets of Jonesville.”
Photo Credit: Kentucky Library Special Collections
Since the conception of the Jonesville Academy, our leadership has met with individuals whose families lived in Jonesville. From our conversations with folklorist Maxine Ray, retired educator Angela Townsend, and artist Alice Gatewood Waddell, we have treasured the rich history of Jonesville and feel empowered to continue the spirit of a community working together in the Jonesville Academy. We will continue those meetings for the months and years to come and use this space and the Academy to recognize the families and community.
Search online and learn more about Jonesville using the references below.
Angela Townsend – https://www.wku.edu/honors/jonesville/townsend.php
Jonesville by Andrew Patrick – https://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/819
Jonesville: A Neighborhood in Bowling Green, KY – https://www.wku.edu/honors/jonesville/jonesville_video.php
Where’s Jonesville? How the Destruction of Jonesville Left a Legacy of Housing Discrimination in Bowling Green, KY by George Carpenter – https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1460&context=stu_hon_theses