Historical Perspective

Kentucky author Jones to open 2016 History Dinner Series

She has been involved in O.C. History Center
since 2007

LA GRANGE, Ky. (February 2016) – Growing up in South Carolina, Carridder Jones never aspired to be a writer. But her life has taken her on a journey to Kentucky, where she has become a well-respected historian and writer.
Jones, 80, said she “had not thought about it (writing) when I was young. I didn’t have a desire to write until later in life. I had been rejected, struggled as most writers do and even went years without writing.”

Carridder Jones

She grew up on a small farm outside of Timmonsville, S.C. Her parents were sharecroppers on a farm where cotton, tobacco and other crops were grown. Jones attended a Rosenwald School six miles from her home. She wrote a book in 2009 about her life growing up in South Carolina. It is titled, “A Backward Glance.”
She came to Kentucky by way of marriage, since her husband was in the military and transferred to the Naval Ordinance in Louisville, Ky. While working, she raised six children then got the urge to write.
Jones is now a playwright and published writer. Her plays have been produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Kentucky Center for the Arts Mex Theatre, University of Louisville Theatre and the Market House Theatre in Paducah, Ky. She is a co-founder of Women Who Write.
For her efforts, Jones has received grants from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, Tennessee Williams Playwright Scholarship, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pilgrim Project of New York and the University of Louisville Women’s Center.  In 2003, she completed a historical research project for the Filson Historical Society on Early African American Communities in Jefferson County. 
The outcome from this project fueled her latest book, “Voices: From Historical African American Com-munities near Louisville, Kentucky.” Jones will give a presentation about the book at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, at the Oldham County History Center.
The event will kick off the 2016 History Dinner Series and will be held in the Rob Morris Educational Building, located on the campus at 207 W. Jefferson St. Dinner and a cash bar are included in the ticket price.
Jones has been, “involved with the Oldham County History Center since 2007 when we started the archaeology program,” said Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director. “She has served on numerous committees for the History Center, including the Henry Bibb Project, African American Committee, and the Task Force Committee for the Renovation Project which got the campus renovation campaign started.”
Jones wrote a play, “Voice of the Fugitive,” for the History Center. It was about the life of Henry Bibb, a former slave, who plays an important role in the History Center’s archaeology program. “The play was performed at Actors Theatre in 2009 to a sell out crowd,” said Theiss.
Most of her current book, “Voices,” is compiled from a series of interviews she conducted in 2003 for the Filson Historical Society on African American communities. Included in the book is information on Harrods Creek, James Taylor Subdivision, Griffytown, Berrytown, Newburg and Jeffersontown.
“I had done a project in Lexington that was similar,” she said. “The Filson read about it.” As a result they contacted her to work on a project for them.
“While working with the Filson on the project, I had met such interesting people. I knew this was a good opportunity to write a history about them,” said Jones.
Approximately 10 years had passed since the initial project for the Filson had been completed. In going back through the paperwork, she realized no one had written about the stories yet, so she started writing.
She records the stories of people such as Mary Margaret and William Kellar from the Harrods Creek area. Mary was the daughter of Henry Hall Merriweather. “These were some of the first people I interviewed,” about their experiences, she said.
Alberta Wilson was an important teacher in the Jeffersontown area, she said. “She had a big family and was very popular with the teenagers.” Wilson’s niece, Linda, shared pictures and stories with Jones.
“One powerful man in the community was James Taylor. He encouraged blacks to buy their own property.” Taylor had a real estate business, as well as dabbling in other business ventures.
Taylor often subsidized lots for borrowers who were not able to pay. In an effort to help others, he would often let people who worked for him stay in houses he built, rent-free. He is responsible for the settling of Jacob St. in Prospect. “A lot of people knew and respected him,” she said.
But time interfered with Taylor’s plans and eventually homeowners began selling to the highest bidder. In 2004, 50 condominiums and 11 houses were built on eight vacant acres in the eastern part of the neighborhood. New homes have begun to replace older ones as well, and with this comes the loss of the history of the neighborhood.

“Voices: From Historical African American Communities near Louisville, Kentucky” can be purchased at Carmichael’s Bookstore. Tickets for Jones’ presentation are $20 for members of the Oldham County Historical Society and $22 for non-members. Price includes dinner and a cash bar. Reservations can be made by calling (502) 222-0826.

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