ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY)--As we come to the close of veterans day weekend. One Elmira man who didn't serve in the military but was of great service to many soldiers was John W. Jones.  Jones was an enslaved man who escaped and settled in Elmira. He impacted the lives of thousands of soldiers by making sure they were buried with superhuman levels of grace.

Talima Aaron President of the Board of Trustees of the John W Jones Museum speaks of John W. Jones as a compassionate man. He saw confederate soldiers not as the enemy but as young men fighting far from home.

As sexton at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, he buried nearly 3,000 confederate soldiers.  Jones was able to negotiate his fee to $2.50 per burial.

 "He gathered all the information that he could about the dead in the hopes that if their family wanted to know where they were if they wanted to claim the body they would have as much identifying information and all the personal effects of the dead soldier," Aaron said.

Derek Maxfield is the author of Hellmira, a book about Elmira being the home of a POW camp during the Civil War. He grew up only 30 miles from Elmira in Dundee.

While writing his story he learned of Jones's story. Maxfield explained it was special, he included it in the appendix of his book. Maxfield says Jones took such good care of burying confederate prisoners, many of their families didn't move them from the Woodlawn Cemetery back home to the south. 

"John Jones had so much to do with treating these confederate soldiers with respect and making every attempt to have as much information recorded about those burials as possible," Maxfield said.

 Although Jones did not serve in the military he provided service to thousands of those who served.

"A lot of times the generosity of someone like Jones just gets bypassed we should get curious," Lavada Nahon, Interrupter of African American History for NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation Bureau of Historic Sites. 

The John W. Jones museum is located at 1248 Davis Street in Elmira.