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
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
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
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.