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Jones exhibit to highlight museum's 50th year

POSTED: June 17, 2009 11:42 a.m.
Photo by Patty Leon/

Photographs show some of early members of the Jones family.

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Once called “the apostle to the blacks,” the Rev. Charles Colcock Jones has returned in spirit to his beloved Liberty County, a place where his former plantations, Maybanks, Montevideo and Arcadia, once stood and where he spent 17 years evangelizing to slaves, who his family called friends.
After a valuable collection spent many years in New Orleans, Jones family descendants have passed letters, quilts, photographs and heirlooms to the Midway Museum.
Robert Seago, a descendant of the Jones family and the executive director of the family’s trust, decided the Midway Museum was the appropriate place for the collection, which features the Jones’ family Bible, silverware and many family letters.
The artifacts were nearly destroyed when Hurricane Katrina flooded sections of the Crescent City in 2005, prompting Seago to ensure the collection’s preservation in a museum.
The letters were compiled in a book by Robert Manson Myers in 1972 titled “The Children of Pride.”
The book, which won the 1973 National Book Award, details the accounts of the Jones family as they struggled through the latter part of the Civil War. Jones died in Liberty County in 1863 and is buried in the Midway Cemetery. His widow and family were forced to flee to New Orleans and their plantations were destroyed.
“All these things had been laid up in their attic,” Joann Clark, a 30-year employee of the museum, said of the photos, letters and quilts. “And after the floods, it was a wake-up call to the family.”
Clark said Seago has the original letters used by Myers to write the book, which he was inspired to write after hearing the family talk about the letters they had collected over the years.
The museum plans to open the exhibit to the public in December as the Midway Museum commemorates its 50th anniversary. But Clark said there is a lot of work ahead for the museum and its board if they hope to make the timeline.
“It’s taken a year to get the items assessed and appraised,” she said. “Right now, we have nowhere to display the items.”
Clark and museum employee Dianne Behrens said  many precautions must be taken to preserve the delicate collection, which will mean raising money to build climate-controlled cases with light-
ing and humidity monitors.
“We’ve been talking with the curator of the state archives in Cumberland and he’s been telling us what we need to get in terms of humidity and everything else in here because these items are very important,” Behrens said. “So when these cases are built, these items can last another 200 hundreds years.”
 

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