New life breathed into historic African American community in Woodford County

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 1:46 PM EDT
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WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Ten years after the last resident left a historic African American community in Woodford County, there is now a new birth and a new way to remember a rich history.

What happened to Huntertown hamlet in Woodford County, and how does it still live if it’s gone?

It was home to teachers, farmers, horsemen and Kentucky civil rights leader Jesse Bottoms.

Located off of US 60 and the Bluegrass Parkway, Huntertown was built post civil war in 1871.

This year, people are celebrating 150th years since the founding of the once thriving community filled with more than 180 people and 35 homes.

So, what happened? Sioux Finney, a former Woodford County High School social studies teacher has the answer.

“It continued to have some flooding problems though because this is a wetland,” Finney said.

Finney says residents dealt with flooding for decades, but the problem would worsen when the Blue Grass Parkway was completed in the mid-1960s.

“Some of the road was raised up and some other things were happening the way the construction went on it made the flooding worse,” Finney said.

On top of that, the Bluegrass Parkway ran right through Huntertown, splitting the 50 acre community.

Finney says sewer issues deteriorated.

The county tried to secure grants to fix it, but that failed. According to Finney, Woodford County officials decided to buy out the residents through another grant in 2003 and the families agreed.

The last family moved out in 2010.

However, Huntertown is now experiencing a new birth.

“It’s coming alive now and there are so many people that are excited about the possibilities,” Finney said.

In 2016, Finney and her 9th grade social studies class used Huntertown as a research project. After retiring, she felt like something should be done with this space, so Finney and a group of Woodford County residents came up with an idea of turning this into an interpretive park.

Now, it’s a mile long walking path with pictures and information describing the residents that once called this area home.

However, Leroy Simon, who had horses and property, is skeptical about the new parks longevity.

“How they gon make a park in the flood zone?” Simon wondered.

A historical marker has been place at Huntertown and park organizers will put up additional pictures and signage along the walking trail in the Spring of 2022.

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