The Jonesville History Center collection began in 2010 and is the largest to ever be assembled in Jonesville complete with thousands of artifacts, documents and images that represent heritage.
Since opening, Jonesville History Center members have worked to gather and assemble items in a labor of love that will forever stand as a tribute to Jonesville’s foundations, development and contributions.
Chair of the History Center Judy Wolfe said a common message that speaks from the depth and breadth of the huge collection surrounding her is “a theme of service to God and county.”
There are many assemblage-type pieces that allow the observer to peer into historical questions of Jonesville’s past and present accompanied by preserved public records, personal letters, journals, oral accounts and artifacts.
Wolfe said she hopes to instill in those who visit whether, it is the History Center or Mineral Springs Park, a sentiment that is an appreciation of Jonesville’s unique history, heritage and culture.
“My goals are to help visitors recognize this sentiment, to find others with whom this sentiment is shared and to whom it can be entrusted,” said Wolfe. “We are who we are because of our ancestors’ strength of character and commitment to values.”
Wolfe noted that “critical companions to history are heritage — the customs, values, legacy or cultural traditions associated with a region — and humanity, a respect for the common bond between all humans.”
Among the many items found throughout the collection is a journal that speaks about an “underground railroad.” Near to it is a collection of pieces from the Benham Hotel, where slaves were once sold.
There is a collection on notable and famous Jonesville citizens including Jonesville first postmaster Richard Gwyn, African-American confederate soldier and former slave Alfred “Teen” Blackburn, Alexander Vestal (the Benham Hotel owner) and Associated Press CEO Alexander Jones.
Several in the political domain are profiled such as James Taylor, who was an Air Force general and legal counsel to former President Bill Clinton. Also, decorated veterans such as Hurley Lovelace who single-handedly saved numerous lives in WWII are commemorated.
In addition, a large display of replica blankets and a story on Chatham Manufacturing and its progress into a 20th-century textile center for technology, woolen products, blankets and upholstery stands out amid the many pieces.
There is also a good-sized photo collection on the Jonesville Speedway that once drew so many to the area.
One of the more recent displays resulted in the culmination of a tribute to a local couple who loved music, poetry, education and journalism — Bob and Ruth Crissman.
Ruth Crissmans’ piano was given as gift from friends of Ruth Crissman. The local songstress and teacher retired from teaching after 38 years in the profession. She was known for her piano playing in church and for special occasions.
Close to her piano, Crissman’s late husband’s writings are profiled. He began teaching at Yadkinville High School in the 1950s and was a well-known local journalist, teacher, swimming instructor and Yadkin County poet laureate .
Mounted on one of the history center’s row of panels stands an old newspaper article of Crissmans. In it, he took the time to bring to life and celebrate an everyday citizen of Jonesville.
It is called, “A little woman with a big heart” about a beloved cafeterian, Mrs. Minnie Carr, who served in the Jonesville school system for many years.