ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – As we come upon the last few days of Black History Month, we remember Black history, but also Elmira’s history because it’s rich and full of diversity, culture, and heritage.

The John W. Jones Museum was once the home of a slave who played a vital role in the underground railroad. He escaped with 4 others and survived a 300-mile journey to Elmira.

He helped free over 860 slaves in his time and managed to save all of the documents he could of the Confederate dead. Jones buried 2,963 confederate prisoners from the Elmira Prison Camp at Woodlawn National Cemetery, and he is also buried there.

The Museum has been around since the 1860’s it was restored in 1997 by Lucy Brown and since then has been recognized by locals. There are much more developments underway and new information that keeps this history alive and current.

Talima Aaron, President of the John W. Jones Museum board of trustees, says “We’ve been awarded a bench by the road from the Toni Morrison society. There is only 33 in the world, and we expect to get this sometime in June or July. We are really excited about that honor.”

She also adds, “The statue we were just seeking funding for is complete. He is magnificent I can’t wait for the city to see it. I expect it to definitely be a part of the cities brand.”