John W. Jones’ house in Elmira, New York, as an interactive museum commemorating the life and work of the former slave, who as an Underground Railroad Station Master, safely assisted nearly 800 slaves’ flight to Canada and was responsible for the dignified burial of nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers.
John W. Jones became an active agent in the Underground Railroad in 1851. In 1854, the Northern Central railroad tracks from Williamsport, Pennsylvania to Elmira, New York were completed.
Jones made an arrangement with Northern Central employees and hid the fugitives in the 4 o'clock "Freedom Baggage Car," directly to Niagara Falls via Watkins Glen and Canandaigua. Most of Jones's "baggage" eventually landed in St. Catharines, Ontario.
By 1860, Jones aided in the escape of 800 runaway slaves. He usually received the fugitives in parties of six to ten, but there were times he found shelter for up to 30 men, women, and children a night.
It is believed Jones sheltered many in his own home behind First Baptist Church. Of those 800, none were captured or returned to the South.