• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Sharing ‘our collective heritage’ with Lions Club members

Huntertown Community Interpretive Park will open to the public this

summer with two goals, historian Sioux Finney told the Versailles Lions

Club at its April 5 meeting.

One objective is sharing the history of an African American hamlet that

began in 1871 – after the American Civil War – when Jerry Gatewood

purchased 5 acres of property, Finney explained. Like in Woodford

County’s other small hamlets, Huntertown residents lived in houses on

shotgun lots that had space in the rear for growing crops, she said.

Huntertown Community existed until 2001, when Woodford County was

awarded a block grant to purchase residential lots from property owners

who had been plagued by flooding, drainage and sewage issues, Finney

said. Because the land was designated as a conservation district in

2010, “it cannot be anything but a green space,” she said.

“Unfortunately for this retired history teacher,” Finney said,

“everything was torn down. All the houses were torn down.”

On the footprints of structures that existed in the past will be “ghost

structures” so park visitors can see where people once lived in the

community known as Huntertown, Finney said.

She said the only still-standing structure is a piece of a porch.

“That’s all that’s left,” she added.

When it opens to the public on Saturday, Aug. 28, Finney said the park

will also provide the eastern end of Versailles with 38 acres of

beautiful green space on Huntertown Road – historically known as

Crawfish Pike.

It’ll be a passive park maintained by Versailles-Woodford County Parks &

Recreation with walking trails that will, hopefully, have a

representation of a baseball field where three African American teams –

the Huntertown Sluggers, Hard Hitters and Tigers – hosted tournaments

for Central Kentucky Negro teams, Finney said. She was able to record an

oral history of a man who grew up in Huntertown (until age 11) and

served as a batboy during those years.

“I always say, ‘History is our story.’ That we’re connected in so many

different ways,” said Finney, a former middle and high school history

teacher. “And that the African American heritage of Woodford County is

deep and rich … part of our heritage … our collective heritage … our

connected heritage.”

Finney, who received a grant from the Woodford County Community Fund to

do a history project on the Huntertown Community, said she’s scanned

almost 300 photos so there’s now a collection of images from its past.

“This community park is truly a community effort,” she said. “… I’m just

amazed at the number of people that are jumping in and helping with what

we’re doing.”

On Saturday mornings, volunteers – from ages 3 to 73 – have helped clear

invasive species from the Huntertown property, she said.

Finney thanked Versailles Lions Club members for being partners with a

committee of volunteers working on the Huntertown project and for their

willingness to grill food that’ll be served during the 150th anniversary

celebration’s picnic Saturday, Aug. 28. She said a historic marker will

be unveiled during the celebration.

A community worship service, involving all three historic African

American churches in Versailles, is being planned Sunday morning, Aug.

29, Finney said.

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