Jackson College Heritage Center

Jackson College Heritage Center The Jackson College Heritage Center is a place of inspiration, dedication, and service. Volunteer students donate their time to collect and share the inspirational stories of Jacksonians whose sacrifice and courage helped shape American history.

History lives at Jackson College with the opening of the Jackson College Heritage Center at the W.J. Maher Campus! Over the years, Jackson College students have interviewed more than 100 residents in Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties, collecting stories, photos and artifacts and compiling displays, videos, books and more. With the support of the Jackson College Foundation, these efforts will now be focused on the Jackson College Heritage Center. With the generous support of donor Peggy Maher, Professor Diana Agy – who has guided students through the numerous projects – is now the Maher Endowed Chair for Regional History! Creation of an endowed chair will allow Professor Agy to continue to provide leadership to the program, providing operational support for the program and professional development for the chair. It also provides funding for community outreach and engagement.

Operating as usual

Revolutionary War Veteran:  Fishley.

Revolutionary War Veteran: Fishley.

A HUGE THANK YOU SENT TO AMERICA'S VETERANS!   Please share a photo of your veterans---family and friends--- and help us...

A HUGE THANK YOU SENT TO AMERICA'S VETERANS! Please share a photo of your veterans---family and friends--- and help us remember them today and all throughout the year. Spread this posting so that many others can know how much you appreciate their sacrifice and commitment.

Our veterans served our country and we must never forget them.

In 1818, Zenneth Pond's ancestors served from the very beginning of our Country. In fact, 19th Century historians say that every member of the Pond family "knew war" and "fought to keep America free." Jehial Gates, a veteran of two wars for America's independence, sought the assistance from his country when he almost forgotten. In his plea, he wrote:

"I enlisted in the year 1777 in Col. Huntington’s regiment and served 3 years. I am a carpenter by trade, but am unable to work because of the rheumatism. I have lost the use of one of my eyes. My wife [cannot walk] … My personal estate amounts to $40.71 and includes a pine table and four chairs, a chisel, two earthen bowls, a broad axe, and an 'old scrap kettle full of holes.'” … I am in need of the assistance from my country.
Jehial Gates, Steuben County May 19th, 1818

Please remember our veterans this day---and all throughout the year!

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo


Please vote!
Here is a throwback photo of our wonderful volunteer heritage center students helping the League of Women Voters” Annual Tea this past year.

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

We thank ALL FIRST RESPONDERS for their care and concern for our community!  This is a Thank-you card created by the Jac...

We thank ALL FIRST RESPONDERS for their care and concern for our community! This is a Thank-you card created by the Jackson College Heritage Center as a small token of our appreciation.
Thank you and we wish you joy and love and happiness this beautiful fall season! Please post and share a thank you to a first responder! There are so many!

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Two years ago, on Oct 13, 2018, our Hometown hero came home.  2nd Lt. Elwood Ray Bailey was laid to rest with full milit...

Two years ago, on Oct 13, 2018, our Hometown hero came home. 2nd Lt. Elwood Ray Bailey was laid to rest with full military honors in Chapel Cemetery in Parma, Michigan.

I want to thank the students in the JC Heritage Center for their diligent effort, working to keep the memory, and the sacrifices, of the men and women who gave their lives for our country. I also want to thank our military veterans who came home---but whose struggles and trials the average man and women can never understand.
But we wish to acknowledge your sacrifices, as well, and we thank you for your service! (Diana Agy, Director of the JC Heritage Center).

Here is 2nd Lt. Elwood Ray Bailey's obituary written by his nephew, Mr. Wayne Tompkins, Jr. (edited to mark past tense by professor Agy).

2dLt Elwood Ray Bailey, USMCR, died on August 24, 1942 following aerial combat with enemy forces during the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II. His recovered remains were buried at 1:00 on Saturday, October 13, 2018, in Chapel Cemetery, 8340 E. Michigan Avenue, Parma, Michigan 49269.

2dLt Bailey was born on August 18, 1920 in Sandstone Twp., Jackson County, Michigan. His family included father Ray Jesse Bailey, mother Lula Irene Livesay Bailey and sister Virginia Bailey Tompkins, all now deceased. On June 22, 1942 he had married his high school classmate Daisy Eunice Roberts Speets, also now deceased, in San Diego, California. His nearest survivors are nephews Wayne L. Tompkins, Jr., of Fairlawn, Ohio, and Dennis W. Tompkins of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Elwood graduated from Parma High School in 1938. In June of 1941 he graduated from Jackson Junior College and then joined the U.S. Navy. He was appointed an Aviation Cadet, receiving flight training in Miami. On April 22, 1942 he received the gold wings of a Naval Aviator. A year later, after combat training, he was appointed Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and pilot of the Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat attack fighter aircraft, assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223).

While in San Diego awaiting deployment to join the early stages of the Pacific Campaign, 2dLt Bailey married Eunice Roberts. Five days later he shipped out to Hawaii. On August 2 he left Hawaii aboard the USS Long Island (CVE-1) bound for Guadalcanal Island, where he transited to Henderson Field on August 20. His plane was damaged during aerial combat with Japanese forces on August 24 and 2dLt Bailey did not return to Henderson Field -- he was declared MIA (missing in action). Efforts were made to locate him, but they were limited by the warfare raging all around and also, perhaps, by the prevailing opinion that his damaged aircraft had crashed into the ocean while attempting to return to base, making it non-recoverable. Per standard military procedure, a year later – on August 25, 1943 – the Secretary of the Navy made an official finding of the death of 2dLt Elwood Bailey, listing the cause of death as “Killed in action, details not known.”

Until December 1947, 2dLt Bailey’s case was included by the Quartermaster Graves Registration Company on the list of cases to investigate while it conducted searches for missing personnel in the Solomon Islands. Eventually, since the unit was unable to obtain any new information regarding 2dLt Bailey, it recommended that the case be closed. As a result, in October 1948, a Board of Review ruled that 2dLt Bailey’s remains were non-recoverable. However, in 2012 a series of events commenced leading to the recovery of 2dLt Bailey’s remains: In 2012, a villager on Guadalcanal removed the wing from a crashed warplane he found decomposing in the jungle. He sold the wing to a museum on the island and the museum owner recognized it as part of a U.S. plane. He notified the U.S. Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), now known as the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).

In February 2013, a JPAC team reached the crash site to investigate. On the intact tail assembly of the decomposed (and scavenged) airplane they identified the plane’s number, BuNo 02095. This was the tail number on the plane being flown by 2dLt Bailey when he disappeared. The investigating team did not recover any material evidence nor any possible human remains at the crash site. In April 2015 the same villager who had found the wing turned over several artifacts, including possible human remains, which he previously had scavenged from the crash site. The DPAA examined the material and concluded, primarily based on 2dLt Bailey’s identification tag that was included in the material submitted, that the remains were those of 2dLt Bailey. Finally, the investigation was closed when, on September 5, 2017, the DPAA’s medical examiners issued a summary report identifying the recovery of 2dLt Bailey’s remains. Beginning in 2014 the surviving family of 2dLt Bailey started receiving suggestions of the possible discovery of their uncle’s remains. Following the identification in 2017 of those remains the family has received ongoing support and direction from the DPAA as it coordinates the ceremony bringing their uncle home with full military honors on October 13, 2018. He was placed beside the graves of his long-suffering parents.

The family wishes to give its heartfelt thanks to members of the DPAA and HQMC Casualty POW/MIA Section who have worked ceaselessly and with great dedication to bring about the burial of our uncle’s remains 76 years after his death. In the hard work of these agencies truly is embodied the phrase, “No man left behind.” The family also wishes to pay tribute to the remarkable efforts of the volunteer students in the Jackson College Heritage Center, in preserving this bigger-than-life story for posterity.

News 4 San Antonio

News 4 San Antonio

105 year old WWII veteran gets a surprise birthday party.

A name--that's all that's left ---if we don't remember......One of our Heritage Center heroes, Kathleen Delgado, transcr...

A name--that's all that's left ---if we don't remember......

One of our Heritage Center heroes, Kathleen Delgado, transcribed a letter from Cpl. Lester Pond, who was Zenneth's cousin and a USAAF veteran WWII.

Lester supplied the Flying Tigers and the Chinese in one of the most dangerous areas in WWII---the HUMP. We plan to use his words and memories in the new film.

I'm re-sharing some of his photos that his son, Murray, shared with us----Lester was born in Liberty, Michigan, as was Bill Maher. He comes from the mighty Pond family, who crossed the ocean with Winthrop, saved the lives of Layette and Washington, knew Lincoln and explored the west long before Lewis and Clark---those Ponds.

He flew the HUMP---never knowing that he was in the same arena as Bill Maher.

These are our Hometown boys---more than a name to us.

And our students are heroes---like Kathleen Delgado--she gives of her precious time to share these stories with the world.

Kathleen Delgado sat for hours transcribing handwritten letters from soldiers---these men and women did not know if that letter was the last memory their loved one would have, so the content of the letter is important.

As you know, we are collecting artifacts, letters, photos, memories of Jackson County, Liberty Michigan, Jackson College, William Maher, the Pond and Bailey families, CNAC, and veterans---we love our veterans!

I've included a photo of our Bill Maher, pointing to the name of a friend on the wall of the fallen in China. His friends were more than a name to him.

Please share and help us build our FB site again. I was sick at the beginning of the Pandemic and lost momentum---we need your help in keeping these stories alive.


Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Remembering those who supplied the forces---unsung heroes.  Jackson's own Cpl. Lester Pond served as a supplier in the U...

Remembering those who supplied the forces---unsung heroes.

Jackson's own Cpl. Lester Pond served as a supplier in the USAAF in WWII and he flew the HUMP as he worked to make sure the Flying Tigers and the Chinese civilians had supplies, oil, and other necessities. His son, Murray Pond, shared his family photos and a wonderful letter that we hope to use in the next film.

HI letter helps us better understand the fear coupled with the wonder these veterans (and many more) have when going to a different county. Their emotions are at such a peak that we might never understand.

Here is part of his letter. He is flying the notorious HUMP route for the first time and the beauty he sees as the plane breaks the clouds overshadows the fear he was suffering in the climb. He writes:

"We were so high that we couldn’t see the ground, and when you looked down out of the window, you could see big white clouds. Between the white clouds you could see streaks of dark blue sky. It looked like the country in the winter time only the farm houses, other buildings and trees missing. The white clouds made up the snow, and the dark blue sky which showed up between the white clouds gave me the impression of rivers twisting and weaving through the snow. It sure was a beautiful sight. When we came through most of the clouds you could see the Hump about 1,000 feet or so below us. I shall not even try to explain the beauty of these scores of mountains for it takes a much better man than I to do that."

The Jackson College Heritage Center salutes those who supplied the many---those unsung heroes of American wars. We will remember you.

The Jackson College Heritage Center will always remember first responders---especially on September 11 of every year.  T...

The Jackson College Heritage Center will always remember first responders---especially on September 11 of every year.

Those who ran toward the towers to help.
Those who signed up to serve.
Those who work to heal the broken
Those who give comfort.
Those who continue to provide help to our veterans and to the families of those who lost their loved ones on that terrible day

Some of our own Heritage Center alumni were first responders and I know all of our HC students and community members were changed that day.

We will never be the same.

The Jackson College Heritage Center is working to keep the sacrifices and memories of first reponders alive.

We salute you and thank you for all you do!

We Salute the Working Man and Woman in America!My grandparents worked the fields and factories--they suffered through la...

We Salute the Working Man and Woman in America!

My grandparents worked the fields and factories--they suffered through lay-offs and depressions----they got up before the sun rose and somehow made it home in one piece, day after day.

In all of our projects, we have seen how Americans work hard to support their families and communities. The farmer, factory worker, businessman and businesswoman, laborer, and homemaker push their way through each day, doing what they can for a better tomorrow.
As we work on our new project, we returned to the photos of the Irish who built the canal.

Irish workers slogged their ---way through canal work in the 19th Century---horrible working conditions and thousands dying along the waymany found their way to our Hometown.

America is a land of workers---so much sacrifice..... Let's remember their contributions today.

Did your family tell stories of loved ones who worked in Michigan? In Jackson County? Share those memories with us.

And please don't forget our own students. . . we are saving our stories for you!
The Jackson College Heritage Center

“Still, I was willing . . . “   Bill Maher---Lester Pond---and the ride of their lifeThey were called: “Humpty Dumpties....

“Still, I was willing . . . “

Bill Maher---Lester Pond---and the ride of their life

They were called: “Humpty Dumpties.”

American history books forgot them. The communist Chinese politicians erased them, as well. They claimed no one helped the Chinese during WWII---but that’s not true.

An Irish boy from Jackson Junior College (Bill Maher) left his home, his expecting wife, and his friends to help the Chinese poor. . .

These were whispers and shadows, ghosts who once laughed and played--- desperate people made of bones and tattered clothes---cut off from food and humanity.

These WWII pilots hauled supplies across the deadly routes, across the Himalayas---each ride offering a variety of amusement park experiences---in a dark, serious way.
Hurricane like winds violently jostled the 5-man crew, as they played bumper-cars with gasoline barrels and TNT boxes in the cargo. Blue knuckle pilots laughed and joked as they played peek-a-boo with brilliant blue sky one minute---and manic jet streams the next.

The air game required nerves of steel.

Always, always, always someone or something was out to get these mighty DC-3s, whether it was ‘angry mountain god’ throwing ice arrows at, around, over, under or through the struggling plane or the famed Japanese Fighter Pilots sneaking up in the rear.

To make it more interesting, these American volunteers’ only defense was to not get blown up and to not get shot down; these planes had no guns.

Headhunters, disease, and the humid weight of a dense, remote jungle awaited any pilot and crew unfortunate enough to bail or crash.

Zenneth Pond’s cousin, Lester Pond, flew the HUMP with one of these heroes. He worked on the planes and wrote about his HUMP jungle kit, in case the ground game was the only option: “These Jungle kits had chocolate bars, a Machete, ammunition, a pistol with flares, and vitamin pills.”

The ground game scared Lester more than the unbelievable air ride: “Believe me, that talk about the jungle kit scared me more than ever, but I still was willing to get started.”

Jackson College Heritage Center students are learning about these CNAC pilots and those who supplied them along the way.

In 2005, Bill Maher attended a Celebration for the U.S. Veterans Delegation to Chine, honoring the Flying Tigers and CNAC heroes. In one photo, you will see Bill pointing to a name on the wall---a name of his friend, who also left all he had to help the suffering Chinese.

The CNAC pilots never received any awards or recognitions until 1995. Fifty years after the ‘rides of their lives’ they were given America’s highest air awards and were recognized as veterans.

They rode the ride and they deserve to be remembered.

The JACKSON COLLEGE HERITAGE CENTER loves our veterans, our community, and our college. We work to have our collective stories remembered!
If you would like to support our work, pleases click this link to the Jackson College Heritage Center and choose "donate" on the left side. We appreciate your support!

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

Jackson College Heritage Center's cover photo

I took down most of the display at the Jackson County airport today. Our students did not help this time due to the Viru...

I took down most of the display at the Jackson County airport today. Our students did not help this time due to the Virus----so when I took it down this morning, the task really showed me how much work our students do and how they give and give more to our projects, our community, and the stories we are telling.

Our beautiful students created the display last year and maintained it all this time.

We are keeping the stories of our veterans in our alumni in the minds of our community

It was sad to see the bare walls and empty showcase but the photos we took along the way demonstrate the laughter and joy the students had while working together on this project this year

Thank you Jackson county airport!
Thank you Jackson College students!


3000 Blake Road
Jackson, MI


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Saving Our Stories for YOU!

The Jackson College Heritage Center is a place of inspiration, dedication, and service. Volunteer students donate their time to collect and share the inspirational stories of Jacksonians whose sacrifice and courage helped shape American history.

Over the past 12 years, Heritage Center students have contributed well over 20,000 service hours, working to save our unique stories. Participants in each Project learn the importance of contributing to something greater than themselves---something for the greater good.

Professor Diana Agy, the director of the JC Heritage Center, her students, and community members are answering a call given by William Maher in 2006. He wanted to inspire young people with the lost stories of men and women who made Jackson great. Students are strictly volunteers. They receive no grade. Most give up their spring breaks and Christmas holidays, as well as their Sunday afternoons, to work on their project. Many carry a heavy class load and work multiple jobs. They are devoted, dedicated, and inspired.

Heritage Center students learn to dream big. They learn about the pioneer spirit that fostered the curiosity and drive that many of their ancestors had when settling the wilds of Michigan. That same go-to spirit helped a new generation of Jacksonsians help build America’s industry; they also led the way in its aviation and space programs. Students discover themselves in these stories. Their ancestors served alongside George Washington---their ancestors mapped American before Lewis and Clark---their ancestors walked and talked with the likes of Andrew Carnegie and Amelia Earhart—their ancestors were Tuskegee airmen, and their ancestors walked on the moon.

Nearby museums


The Heritage Center students are amazing!
Thought I'd share this.
This a beautiful salute to all veterans. For All of us a wonderful reminder of how blessed we all are because of each and every veteran. It is truly amazing how much information and history about our communitie is discovered and shared by Jackson College Foundation Heritage
As the time nears to April 27, 2019, the finish date of the film of Going Home: A story of Scarifice, Commitment and Friendship is being shown. My anticipation is in high gear watching and hearing about all the pieces coming together. I really cannot believe that a small group of students can do so much. I know the film will touch many more than I will ever imagine; however, if the movie only touches one person my heart will sing. Truely, I loving all my Heritage Club Family. Even though I am only a Heritage Club member...I want to thank everyone for making these projects possible for me to be apart of. 💗 Remember invite everyone we know and who they know to see this great historical piece of Jackson, Michigan, being told in an entertaining, emotional film on the 27th of April.
I just saw Emily's story on the JC announcements. I keep seeing her popping up all over the place! So proud of you Emily and I hope this is just the beginning of the many wonderful things in store for you!
MacKenzie sifting through articles from the 40's :-)
Emily and Steven at the scanner station!
Besides being the winner of Susan B Anthony ward, he is wonderful, kind, and hardworking
I love the opportunities HC affords its members! How cool is this shot? What a fun afternoon!
Jackson College Heritage Remembering their own.