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Jones collection coming home to Liberty

POSTED: May 29, 2009 11:53 a.m.
Pete Clark came into the office the other day with great news: A collection of heirlooms and papers from the Jones family is being returned to Liberty County.
That’s the Rev. Charles Colcock Jones family, whose letters were the basis of “The Children of Pride,” a book of letters compiled and edited by Robert Manson Myers.
A 1972 New York Times review of the book, published the same year, said, “No story in America’s history has been so often told, or has so well stood the retelling, as that of the Old South and its destruction. But Robert Manson Myers’ splendid ‘The Children of Pride’ tells it as it has not been told before, in the fullness of its poignance and tragedy.”
The book, which won the 1973 National Book Award, covers 1854-1868 and ends with letters from Jones’ widow as she prepares to flee the family’s east Liberty County plantations, which had been destroyed by the Civil War.
Mrs. Jones was heading to New Orleans, where she soon died and where branches of the family have continued to live. But events in the Crescent City in recent years have gotten descendants concerned about the family’s legacy.
That’s how the collection has been designated for the Midway Museum. Clark is a member of the museum’s board.
Dianne Behrens, an employee of the Midway Museum, recently wrote that destruction wrought in August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina caused Robert Seago, a descendant of Jones, to start thinking of how to preserve the family’s rare artifacts.
The Rev. Jones was born in Liberty County in 1804 and is buried in the Midway Cemetery. His wife’s flight to Louisiana did not end the family presence in Liberty. In fact before Jones’ most recent namesake, Charlie Jones, died he was considered one of the most influential attorneys in the Southeast and had been elected to the Georgia Senate after a long career in regional politics.
But it was the original Charles Jones, who owned three plantations in Liberty County, whose story has shaped how people around the world think of plantation life in the South just before, during and after the Civil War.
Behrens points out that over the years the Jones family has accumulated many heirlooms and artifacts from their beloved ancestors. And Seago, executive director of the family’s trust, has decided that the Midway Museum would be the most appropriate resting place for the collection. The collection includes books, pictures, portraits, silverware, quilts, clothes and letters that belonged to the family. Even the mother of pearl pen quills that were used to write the letters that are used in the book are part of this magnificent collection.
The Midway Museum is home to many colonial treasures. Operating now in its 50th year, the museum was started by the Daughters of the American Colonists, the United Daughters of the Colonists and the Daughters of the American Revolution. The museum is operated by a board of 12 men and women, many whom are descended from the original families of Liberty County. The museum board meets every quarter.
The museum will display the Jones collection in the near future. Special archival cases must be purchased to ensure quality air control and lighting specifications. When this is achieved the public will be invited to view the collection.
There will be a reception for the public among the collection on June 12. More details about it will be announced later.
If you’d like more information, call curator Joann Clark or Dianne Behrens at the museum at 884-5837 or e-mail museum@coastalnow.net.
 

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