Between the summers of 1864 and 1865, nearly 3,000 Confederate prisoners died at the Civil War prison camp in Elmira, New York. The monumental task of burying the dead fell upon a former runaway slave named John W. Jones. Today, an exhibit at the Chemung County Historical Society commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the camp and helps tell a small part of Jones’ incredible journey from slave to prominent citizen. JOHN W. JONES
John W. Jones was born into slavery on June 21, 1817 in Leesburg, Virginia. Twenty-seven years later, Jones and a small group of other runaway slaves made a perilous 300-mile journey to Elmira, New York, evading a group of slave catchers along the way.