Huntertown: Keeping the memories alive

June 24, 2022Healthy and Vibrant Communities, Racial Equity

On August 29, 1871, Jerry Gatewood, formerly enslaved and a U.S. Colored Troop veteran, purchased the first 5-acre parcel of what would become Huntertown Hamlet in Woodford County.

Huntertown was one of hundreds of all-Black towns established after the Civil War by formerly enslaved people. Its 50 acres were home to about 200 people and their businesses and farms. The Huntertown Colored School was open on the site from 1895 to 1940, and the Riney-B railroad ran directly through the community, with two daily whistle-stops, until 1932. The land itself, a wetland, was prone to flooding. Nevertheless, the Huntertown community thrived for over 130 years.

In 1965, construction of the Bluegrass Parkway bisected the Huntertown community and appropriated a number of residents’ homes and farms. Severe, persistent flooding prompted more and more residents to leave. In 2000, a Woodford County community development block grant funded the relocation of remaining residents. By 2005, all of Huntertown’s structures — its homes and businesses — had been torn down.

Except for the fond memories of former Huntertown residents, the history of this important community might have been forgotten. But now a project initiated and funded in part by the Woodford County Community Fund and guided by Woodford County residents is helping to tell its story.
On August 28, 2021, the 150th anniversary of Jerry Gatewood’s purchase of the first 5-acre tract, the Huntertown Community Interpretive Park was dedicated. Former residents and their families were in attendance.

Now a part of Woodford County Park system, the 38-acre green space honors the legacy of the historic Huntertown community once located there. University of Kentucky landscape architecture students are creating an overall plan that will include community gardens, boardwalks, walking trails, pavilions, and memorials to the Huntertown Colored School and the U.S. Colored Troops. UK students are also interviewing former residents and recording oral histories.

Community Funds are the perfect vehicle for accomplishing meaningful projects like the Huntertown Community Interpretive Park. BGCF is proud to host the Woodford County Community Fund as part of its network of charitable community funds in central and eastern Kentucky.