After months of upgrades and exhibit preparation, the Jonesville History Center is scheduled to open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and from 2-6 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6.
Center volunteers anticipate opening on weekends for the remainder of the year; however, individuals or groups may arrange to use the Genealogy Lab or tour the Center during weekdays by calling 835-0077.
In addition to 80 historic display boards featuring many of Charles Mathis’ poster-exhibits from Old Jonesville Day and Jonesville Jubilee, the Center will offer a regional Genealogy Lab. The Lab will contain donated family histories, local reference books and access to fee-based Internet research sites such as Ancestry.com and Footnote.com.
Computers donated by G & B Energy add a new dimension for many local genealogists.
“Each computer will be logged to a particular fee-based genealogy site,” said Judy Wolfe, Center coordinator. “As long as we have the funds, researchers may use our accounts in exchange for a copy of their research. We expect our family history collections to expand rather quickly. Our computers, however, will not be available for surfing or non-genealogy work.”
Wolfe said a grand opening will be scheduled in conjunction with opening Mineral Spring Park next spring when parking areas are completed.
Wolfe noted that the Center will work closely with schools, the Jonesville Welcome Center and area motels to offer visitors an opportunity to learn about local history, to view video programs about the area, and, by next spring, to visit historic Mineral Spring Park across the street.
“We have had a full and productive Bicentennial year,” Wolfe said. “We’ve encountered set-backs in completing the Park and the Center, but we will meet our goals to provide lasting tributes to our history and heritage. For that, we should all share the pride and credit.
“The Center will always be available to visitors, families, church groups and especially students at no charge,” she continued. “Our funding is provided by the Town of Jonesville, individual donations and the Jonesville Tourism Authority.
“In addition to local visitors, we anticipate student tours from Jonesville Elementary School as classes and individuals again prepare history projects for the Dick Hemric Heritage Award to be presented in May,” she said. Award winners for 2010 and 2011 are on permanent display in the Center.
One featured exhibit in the Center will be the John W. Mathis Jonesville High School Collection, a display of available trophies and photos once displayed in the High School trophy cases. The majority of items from the trophy cases were discarded when the school was torn down in the mid-1960s.
“We’ve had several donations from JHS graduates and from Coach Mathis’ personal collection,” Wolfe said. “We receive photographs, trophies, parts of sports uniforms and yearbooks almost daily. We add them as they are received.”
The Center will also include a local military exhibit.
“We’re very proud of our military history and displays,” Wolfe said. “During the Revolutionary and Civil War eras, enlistees from an extended community called Allen’s Settlement (now Jonesville), were not always identified by home addresses, but by the units they joined. It is nearly impossible to identify accurate hometowns for the thousands who have served our nation from this region.
“We’re looking toward May 5 when Jonesville Jubilee 2012 will include a tribute to the military and our history of support in our nation’s defense,” she continued. “Next year is also the anniversary of the Vietnam Conflict. Jubilee 2012 will feature commemorative displays and a spectacular fireworks tribute to those who serve or have served.
“In the Center, we now have helmets from WWII, several photographs, a 1968 Viet Cong battle flag, parts of uniforms and other mementos,” said Wolfe. “Those wanting to add photos of their father or family members who served in the military call weekly.”
Next month, the Center hopes to have the uniform worn by a local Civil War hero on display, said Wolfe. She said the Center hopes to have a replica of the Distinguished Service Cross received by WWI hero Hurley Lovelace.
“Our collection of military weapons is not stored in the Center, but should be displayed on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6,” she said.
“Response has been very good,” Wolfe noted. “Individuals continue to either donate or loan items from Jonesville’s storied history.
“We hope to replicate a bedroom from historic Benham Hotel by our opening,” she said. “We have a bed from the Hotel, a painting of the Hotel, pegs and nails from the building itself, a wedge and log hammer used in original construction, a wash bowl, lamp, table and wall-hanging, but are still searching for an old trunk and quilts.”
Volunteers are needed to install shelving for a cast-iron toy display and for completing an exhibit from Jonesville’s Cedarbrook School and the Yadkin School in Boonville.
“We will always need volunteers to staff the Center during Saturday and Sunday hours,” said Wolfe. “There are no residency requirements for volunteers, either. “
The Historical Society, which began celebrating Jonesville’s Bicentennial on Dec. 31, 2010, will host a special Bicentennial program on Dec. 31, 2011. Activities will begin with an early evening Watch Night Program at a local church and conclude with an open house at the Center.
Bicentennial mementos and stocking stuffers, such as flags, posters and lapel pins, will be on sale in the Center in November and December. In December, local artists and writers will also be invited to display their work for sale.
For more information or to volunteer, call the Center at 336-835-0077.