Historical marker #2629 commemorates the Huntertown community located in Woodford County.
Huntertown was an African American hamlet, or “freetown,” located in Woodford County and was settled following the Civil War. On August 29, 1871, formerly enslaved Woodford County U.S. Colored Troop veteran Jerry Gatewood purchased the first 5-acre tract from Isham Railey, a member of the Hunter family, to form the Huntertown community. Railey and his uncle, Abner C. Hunter, purchased the 50-acre site for 34 mules and $5 and began to sell the land to formerly enslaved people. The Huntertown hamlet was approximately 50 acres of land on what was known as the Crawfish Pike in Versailles.
Huntertown was a self-sufficient, close-knit community for over 130 years. The 1920 Census shows over 180 residents in the “Crawfish Road area.” Teachers, preachers, veterans, landowners, and community leaders lived and worked at Huntertown. Residents owned property, homes and businesses, sent their children to a neighborhood school, and found work opportunities. Many well-known Kentuckians grew up at Huntertown, including Reverend Jesse Bottoms, Omaha Nebraska Black, and Gene Carter, Jr.
The town emerging around the hamlet continued to thrive and serve the needs of its residents well. The Huntertown Colored School existed from 1895 to 1940. In 1902, one hundred students were enrolled in the school. Although there was no church building, the school was used for religious worship and basket suppers and revivals were held at Huntertown. The community also had a baseball team, the Huntertown Sluggers, that played against other African American teams in Central Kentucky.
The Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine, and Beattyville Railroad (Riney-B) Company ran through the Huntertown area, with two whistle stops daily on its route from Ravenna to Frankfort. Jerry Williams, a Huntertown resident, was a well-known porter on the railroad for 48 years.
Huntertown existed from 1871 to about 2002, when the county purchased the property. Persistent flooding and sewage problems led to a community development block grant where the county purchased the land and relocated residents. Existing structures were torn down in 2003-2005. The land was zoned a Conservation District in 2010. The Huntertown site encompasses approximately 38-acres that was developed into a park and is owned by Woodford County. While no structures remain, the site was incorporated into the county park system and local citizens worked closely with county government to create an interpretive community park to tell the story of this historic community, which opened in August 2021 on the 150th anniversary of the founding of Huntertown.
The marker was dedicated on August 28, 2021 during the 150th Anniversary Celebration and the interpretive park’s dedication.
Huntertown was an African-American
hamlet in Woodford County settled
after the Civil War. On August 29,
1871, Jerry Gatewood, who was
formerly enslaved and a veteran of
the USCT, bought the first 5-acre
tract from Isham Railey of the Hunter
family to form the Huntertown
community. Railey originally
purchased the 50-acre site for 34
mules and $5.
For over 130 years, Huntertown was
a close-knit community located on
what was formerly called Crawfish
Pike in Versailles. Teachers,
preachers, veterans, landowners,
and community leaders lived and
worked at Huntertown. By 1920,
there were over 180 residents. The
last people of Huntertown left the
community in 2003. The site was
developed into a 38-acre park.