Boydsville Center at Heart of Community

Thursday, March 10, 2016
Quilters from years ago. From left: Lucille Milburn, Diane Groves, Eden Phillips, "Lolita," and Freda Parrish.(courtesy photo)

The Boydsville Community Center hosts several different kinds of events throughout the year, including baby showers, parties and reunions (family and school). "Just about any occasion you want," said Lucille Milburn, who is a part of a very special group of ladies who are intent on keeping the center up to date and usable for as long as they can. The old building, in the town which once was the county seat, is still a polling site.

The Extension Homemakers Club began in the 1970's with a group of 10 women: Sharon Parrish, Freda Parrish, Phyllis Cate, Eletta Simpson, Dessie Matheny, Elma Taylor, Irene Taylor, Lucille Milburn, Diane Groves, Eden Phillips and Ella Chronister. Milburn recalled several members coming and going and at one point having as many as 40 members, "but no one is as involved as they used to be, kind of like church these days."

The club would meet and quilt; each quilt was sold or used as a raffle item to raise money for the upkeep of the building. As years have gone by, many of the members have moved away, passed away or fallen to bad health, leaving only Milburn, Groves and Betty Archer.

Milburn was raised two miles south of Rector at Heubner, but moved to the Boydsville area in 1950 when she married Leddell Milburn. She has been involved with the homemakers club for more than 60 years, "back when met in each other's homes," Milburn said. Groves was born in St. Louis, but her mother and father, Jerlene and Bud Fowler, moved to the area when she was six-years-old. "I was raised here and went to school here," Groves said.

Sometime back the ladies stopped quilting and fundraising became their only source of income for upkeep. "There are still a few fundraisers, like we had last week, but it doesn't raise as much as we used to," Milburn said. "However, somehow we have kept the place up. The community is a great help; we tell them we need help and they show up and work."

In the past the club has totally remodeled the building with siding, electrical work and a new roof. "Last year's benefit helped the center get a new septic tank and all new pipes," Groves said. To keep the building's voting poll status, renovations to the restroom and patio were also required.

The ladies' club also sell cookbooks filled with homemade favorites for $8, which includes a short history of the Boydsville area. At this time the only funds keeping the community center thriving are the fundraisers put on annually by community members and the sale of the cookbooks. However, donations and memorials also make up "quite a bit of the money to keep the community center bills paid," Milburn said. To make a donation or memorial, persons may contact Milburn at (870) 566-2465 or Groves at (870) 566-2308.

The Boydsville school was opened in 1877 -- hundreds of children went to school there before its closing in 1966. What is now used as the community center was once a part of the school, first used as a bus shop and later a lunchroom.

After closing the community still gathered at the center for several years and it is now one of the few remaining historical buildings of Boydsville.

Boydsville was the county seat where court was held for 15 years when Clay County was named Clayton County in honor of Senator John Clayton. However, in 1875 the name was changed to Clay in honor of Henry Clay of Kentucky during a time counties were being reconfigured. The area known as Boydsville had previously been a part of Greene County and the Western District was in Randolph County until the reconfiguration.

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