Who was John Jones? John Jones was a simple man with a fantastic back story. John Jones was born in Virginia in June of 1817. Jones had a hard life. He was a slave. In 1844 Jones left Virginia headed for the North in search of a better life, in search of his freedom. Jones made his way out of Virginia, fighting slave hunters in Virginia and Maryland. Jones made his way to upstate New York.

As a freeman, John would build a happy life in New York State. He became a respected Elmira society member. He would take a wife and become a father of three sons and one daughter. The family had been honorable members of a church.

If you take a walk in Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York, you will see the legacy of John Jones.  He and his family lived in a small house on Woodlawn Cemetery’s grounds. The family home still stands and is a historical museum. John Jones left a forever-lasting mark in the graveyard of Woodlawn Cemetery.

Woodlawn the resting place for many men who lost their lives in the American Civil War. There was a prison camp located in Upstate New York, and this camp was a place where Confederate soldiers were held. The Confederates who died in the camp were laid to rest in the cemetery. Jones was put in charge of the burials. He laid the confederate and union soldiers alike to rest on these grounds.  Jones took decided to make a statement about the war; before burial, Jones would carefully place each man’s belongings in a safe place and, if possible, label the items with the dead men’s identifying details.

What gives John Jones a place in Civil War History is the graveyard’s Civil War section’s symbolic design. Because Jones kept such organized records, he knew the identity of each soldier. Jones knew which bodies belong to union soldiers and which belonged to the confederate soldiers. To make a statement, Jon Jones,  but all of the graves belonging to Confederate soldiers in one place and been surrounded that plot of land with all of the graves belonging to Union Soldiers. His choice to forever imprison the confederates will forever be a reminder of the power of perseverance.

– Keely Messino