2018 Summer Hours
June 1 - Labor Day Weekend

Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 1:00 - 4:00PM

john w. jones museum elmira, nyThe John W. Jones Museum

Our Board of Trustees has restored John W. Jones’ house as an interactive museum commemorating the life and work of the former slave, who as an Underground Railroad Station Master, safely assisted nearly 800 slaves’ flight to Canada and was responsible for the dignified burial of nearly 3000 Confederate soldiers.

The museum's address is 1250 Davis Street, Elmira, NY 14901.

john jones elmira

John W. Jones

John W. Jones became an active agent in the Underground Railroad in 1851. In 1854, the Northern Central railroad tracks from Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Elmira, New York were completed. Jones made an arrangement with Northern Central employees and hid the fugitives in the 4 o'clock "Freedom Baggage Car," directly to Niagara Falls via Watkins Glen and Canandaigua. Most of Jones's "baggage" eventually landed in St. Catharines, Ontario.

By 1860, Jones aided in the escape of 800 runaway slaves. He usually received the fugitives in parties of six to ten, but there were times he found shelter for up to 30 men, women, and children a night. It is believed Jones sheltered many in his own home behind First Baptist Church. Of those 800, none were captured or returned to the South.

Jones became the sexton for Woodlawn Cemetery in 1859. One of his primary roles was to bury each deceased Confederate soldier from the Elmira Prison Camp. Of the 2,973 prisoners who Jones buried, only seven are listed as unknown. Jones kept such precise records that on December 7, 1877 the federal government declared the burial site a national cemetery.

Historically, the house was the private residence of John W. Jones and his family, changed ownership several times, and was last used as rental property that fell into disrepair. Condemned by the City of Elmira in 1997, Lucy Brown brought it to the public’s attention and with a group of concerned citizens, saved it from demolition. The building currently stands on Jones’ original farm property and the site will continue to be visually interpreted as a farm.

john w jones elmira new yorkThe museum highlights the history of African Americans who settled in New York and the activity of local abolitionists, emphasizing Elmira’s role as the only regular agency and published station on the Underground Railroad between Philadelphia and St. Catharines, Canada, and explore Mr. Jones’ community involvement and his relationship with his contemporaries.

If it's a nice day, you can go on our John W. Jones Walk/Drive Tour of the neighborhood

Our mailing address is
John W. Jones Museum
PO Box 932
Elmira, NY 14902.

John W. Jones' grave is across the street in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Find him on this Woodlawn Abolitionist Gravesite MAP.

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