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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Southern Tier Life: Events

“FUN”draiser Honors American Hero John W. Jones

Get your tickets to an evening of great music, dancing, delicious refreshments and the pleasure one gets from raising money for a wonderful nonprofit like the John W. Jones Museum, a museum that honors and preserves the legacy of an important Elmira historical figure and American hero.

Dance the night away with live jams from Rochester’s jazz group Paradigm Shift and the spintastic skills of DJ Blaze NYC at the 5th Annual John W. Jones Fundraiser, held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 on the rooftop at ILL Eagle in downtown Elmira.

Top: Jazz group Paradigm Shift and DJ Blaze NYC (bottom left) will provide an evening of entertainment in Elmira, NY to raise money for the John W. Jones (pictured) Museum on Sept. 16. Photos provided by John W. Jones Museum.

Past fundraisers have included theatrical productions of “The Fertile River” and “Susquehanna To Freedom,” author and artists’ talks, and interactive educational activities at regional community events. Talima Aaron, John W. Jones Museum’s Board President since 2016, wanted this year’s event to be a fun-filled evening of music, dance, and fellowship in a beautifully restored historic building with a fabulous view and vibe.

“We suspended activities for two years due to the pandemic and all in-person events were canceled. When we came back, I wanted the fundraisers to be F-U-Ndraisers, Talima says. "So, the idea is for people to have fun and enjoy themselves as they support the Museum and honor Mr. Jones’ legacy.”

Tickets to the fundraiser are $100.00, available here via PayPal. The deadline to purchase tickets and RSVP is Tuesday, Sept. 12. Funds raised from the benefit will be used for museum projects intended to educate and inform the public, as well as increase public access to the museum and the incredible life of the American hero.

He (Jones) was such a unique person,” says Talima. “His is such a strong story – He’s not the first to escape, or the first to help others reach freedom. But to turn around and bury the Confederate soldiers who were fighting to keep people like him enslaved with compassion and dignity is amazing. And because of Mr. Jones, Elmira has a national cemetery – that’s huge!”

You can find Mr. John W. Jones’ extraordinary story on the museum website. According to the site, Jones escaped slavery in 1844, walking from Virginia to Elmira along the Underground Railroad. He remained in the region, becoming a well-respected member of the community, a freedom fighter who helped 800 fugitives escape southern slavery and received admiration for his meticulous records and respectful burial of thousands of Confederate soldiers who died at Elmira’s Civil War Prison Camp as sexton of Woodlawn Cemetery, which was later designated a national military cemetery.

Jones’ legacy is becoming more well known. He’s even featured on Americans Who Tell the Truth, a website that “illuminates the ongoing struggle to realize America’s democratic ideals and model the commitment to act for the common good,” through the portraits and narratives of courageous and inspiring Americans. The installation Americans Who Tell the Truth: Portraits By Robert Shetterly is currently on exhibit at The Rockwell Museum in downtown Corning through Oct. 8.

John W. Jones portrait by Robert Shetterly, courtesy of Americans Who Tell the Truth (

The deadline to purchase tickets and RSVP to this fantastic fundraiser is Tuesday, Sept. 12. Tickets are $100.00 and may be purchased here via PayPal. All funds raised from the benefit will be used for museum projects intended to educate and inform the public, as well as increase public access to the museum and the incredible life of an American hero.

Visit John W. Jones Museum to learn more about the man, upcoming fundraising projects, and ways to donate or volunteer to increasing public education of a historical figure who exemplified the democratic ideals of the United States.


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