View a gallery of the Jones Museum here
By Denise DuBois
The Historic Jones Store Museum in Smiths Station opened over the weekend with fanfare and long lines of people waiting to see inside the converted grocery store. On Friday night, more than 200 community members attended a private grand opening with music and remarks from Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland. A tree behind the museum was dedicated to the Alabama Forestry Commission during the night. On Saturday at 10 a.m., there were lines of people waiting to take a tour of the museum.
Inside the small, white house, a guest book welcomes visitors to sign in and a young Mr. Jones, played by Smiths Station High Theatre student, Caiden Mejia, gives a message on a TV screen. Cans of food and grocery items sit on shelves behind a wooden bar in homage to what the store would have looked like in its heyday. On the other side of the museum is a round table and chairs with a coffee and tea setting, a quilt hanging on the wall behind, depicting daily life for George and Maggie Jones.
Exhibits in the museum include items from Mullens Farm, the city’s first Mayor LaFaye Dellinger, memorabilia from more than 50 years ago, an old cash register that Mr. Jones once used, an assortment of antique cameras, and items found in the wreckage from the March 3 tornados – a tribute to those who lost everything. Rounding out the exhibits include a tribute to Conway Twitty who attended Smiths Station schools and history of the school system.
Copeland said it’s hard to narrow down his favorite exhibit, but there are two things that museum has that shocked him.
“What shocked me that we got was the 1892 original Atlanta Journal newspaper from when Georgia played Auburn. That was neat. Then Herald Jenkins, Conway Twitty’s gold album from “Hello Darlin’,” he said.
The City of Smiths Station was incorporated 17 years ago, but the area is much older than that. Copeland said the museum has artifacts from the founding families of Broadus Smith, the Mullen Family, and the Jones family, with each family donating artifacts. Even the World War II uniform of Earl Stone, who was the first casualty in Lee County, is shown in the museum.
“There’s a lot of neat stuff,” Copeland said. “It’s personal. I love history, and being a lifelong resident of Smiths Station, we needed to preserve what we had before it gets lost to time.”
Preservation is exactly what the museum has accomplished. For those who were alive during the times depicted, walking through the museum is a chance to travel back in time, where Copeland said you can experience the sights and sounds. For the younger crowd, it’s a chance to learn more about the area in which they’re standing.
In fact, the museum will be open to schools for tours.
“This began because all fourth grade students have to take Alabama history. Now they can live Alabama history,” Copeland said. “We have 2,800 elementary kids right across the street, so we look forward to having a lot of students come through.”
Tours of the museum are every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be one Saturday each month open for tours. Check the Jones Store Museum Facebook page or the calendar in this newspaper for dates. Private tours are available by calling Smiths Station City Hall at 334-297-8771.
On Saturday, an older gentleman sitting in a white rocking chair on the porch of the museum said Mr. Jones taught him how to properly drink a coke, sip by sip, after he had been working in the hot sun. If you pass by the museum and happen to see him sitting in one of the chairs, stop for a chat. You may learn a little something new about the area and life in the mid 1900s.