HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Descendants of one of the few black families to own land in Madison County shortly after the end of slavery are wondering about properties they say belonged to their ancestors.
Members of the Jones family say 10 acres of property on Holmes Avenue in Huntsville had been in their family since 1870, but was taken from them in the 1950s. Today, the family continues to fight to get the land back.
The Jones family says the opportunity to secure generational wealth through land ownership was never a reality like it should have been and that a wrong committed decades ago deserves to be righted.
Willie Jones’ five living children have been seeking to reclaim land that once belonged to their father since the late 1990s.
Their father Willie declined the town’s offer to get some of his land. The family claims their property was then condemned and they were forced to move – triggering a reality their sons, Willie and Billy, will never forget.
“It was taken from us, taken from my father. All the hardship and pain that he went through, what we went through,” Willie Jones said. “I had to stop working to take care of my brothers and sisters.”
“I go there often because you always feel a sense of well-being when you go back to your homeland,” Billy Jones said. “We wonder why our life took a turn for the worse when it started on a good basis. »
Land, according to the family, was an essential part of their upbringing and part of their father’s inheritance. JT and Brenda Jones say the loss of the land has caused hardship and suffering they never thought they would experience.
“I think it’s a terrible thing, a horrible thing that happened to the family. I thank God that we got here. We are the same family today that they did all these horrible things to,” JT Jones told News 19.
“We were so plunged into poverty that we moved like a military family, if you will. We went from house to house, such deplorable houses,” Brenda Jones said.
The family will host a community event this weekend to commemorate what their father meant to the city of Huntsville and to raise awareness of the land they are seeking to reclaim, something Michael Jones says his father would have loved.
“Of all the atrocities our family has experienced, on Saturday we will celebrate that of our father’s life. Our father never saw a cent of this great historic property that was stolen from him,” Jones said.
Representatives of the families are preparing to submit a second request to the UAH in the land dispute. The event titled “Activate Huntsville” is scheduled for Saturday, October 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Saint Luke’s Church on Sparkman Drive.