JONESVILLE — In the Jonesville History Center’s military collection there are hundreds of photos of local veterans and at least 200 numerous unique artifacts from past wars.
Local historian Judy Wolfe said the center’s largest tribute may be the collection of artifacts and mementos from Yadkin Valley men and women “who have defended our nation since before the Revolutionary War.”
Wolfe said in 2010, the center started collecting historic military collectibles right from its beginning and in the process have developed a memorial with some of their collections.
Meaningful projects develop from those collections, such as the recent memorial the center made for veterans since the Revolutionary War located in historic Mineral Springs Park.
In a year, the history center participants have gathered more than 3,000 names of veterans beginning with the Revolutionary War to add to the memorial made from salvaged bridge pieces of an old Hugh Chatham bridge that was first built in 1932. Wolfe said the bridge was a popular symbol of Elkin and Jonesville combined with Chatham Manufacturing Company.
Raising funds to complete a veterans memorial in historic Mineral Springs Park is just one of several tributes to local military history in Jonesville, said Wolfe.
Some additional collections of the historical center include a unique quilt collection, the Benham Hotel collection, a cast iron toy and bank collection, a Jonesville Fire Department collection (including items from the Roosevelt Presidential Yacht and a Jonesville High School Collection.
Wolfe said the Jonesville community has participated by donating items and along the way as well as members searching and seeking items.
“It is a community effort,” she said.
Wolfe said inspiration continues to be found from the truth in history that flows and extends all around what used to be Allen’s Settlement before Jonesville.
Wolfe said the richness of Jonesville military history and heritage goes back to the very beginning of the town and the state once a colony.
She added that Jonesville was once one of the oldest and largest settlements in the Yadkin Valley.
Being located behind a high bluff, settlers found security and protection from storms and attack whether from British in the Revolutionary War or French during the French Indian war. Ultimately, the rivers provided routes and ponds and trails over which friends and enemies traveled which much of the artifacts represent going back to earliest Jonesville history, said Wolfe.
Jonesville held one of the first military garrisons in the Revolutionary War in the Yadkin. The collection boasts an pension application letter from what was termed then “the village called Jonesville.”
“From a mural of a Civil War battle, to the true story of a local Army officer depicted in the movie ‘A Bridge Too Far,’ to an authentic hand-painted Viet Cong battle flag, to the uniforms and awards of men who have served our nation — we have a treasure of exhibits to honor our veterans,” said Wolfe.
She cited a major interest of their collection’s focusing on those who have “protected our communities and nation since home guards defended early settlements from attacks and natural disasters evolving to police, fire and rescue departments, to national guard units and fully mobile military forces.”
In the collection is a rally flag carried in a 1968 battle in Vietnam given to Wolfe who worked with the Military Service USO program for entertainment and recreation. by the troops in battle. “That flag represents the terror and the horror and the determination that our men faced in Vietnam. They were facing guerrilla warriors some were unprepared and it was frightening for all of us,” said Wolfe.
She concluded, “We are proud of our collections which honor the men and women who have defended us past, present and future.”