‘Our best days are in front of us’

Published 9:11 am Friday, November 13, 2009

BOYKINS—This town of humble beginnings, which evolved from an 890-acre farm to a post office stop on the Portsmouth & Roanoke Railroad line to a small town, celebrated its 125th birthday Saturday.

Showing its wealth of community spirit, more than 200 people gathered for the day’s ceremonies.

“One of the most memorable times that I have ever witnessed,” said Mayor Spier Edwards Jr. “The people really came out and supported the event. I am proud to be the mayor of our town on the 125th anniversary. It’s a great honor and I hope the mayor at the 150th will be just as proud as I am.”

“I am glad to see so many people come out,” said Rick Francis, Boykins mayor from 1984 to 2004. “This town still has a lot of energy in it, and gives me great hope for the future.”

Boykins had humble beginnings as 890 acres of farmland owned by John Boykins, known throughout the area as “the Boykins Farm.”

When the Portsmouth & Roanoke Railroad Co. came to the area, after completion of a railroad from Portsmouth to Weldon, N.C., a post office known as “Boykins Depot” was established on April 19, 1836.

It was in 1883 that the Post Office designation of “Boykins Depot” was shortened to just “Boykins.”

On Nov. 24, 1884, an act was introduced into the Virginia Assembly to incorporate this area and give it the name of “Town of Boykins.” Today, Boykins is the only town named Boykins in the entire United States.

“What I do hope that people take away from today is the sense of how much we all love each other, and how we work together,” said Kitty Lassiter, Boykins town historian. ”I have been here 86 years and that has been my observation all of these years. I have worked together with other people, and I just think that is what it is all about. That is what makes this small town a good home.

“One thing that I hope people took away from the proceedings of today is what people have sacrificed and have preserved over the years to make this event possible — recording old records, taking old pictures of where our town was and where it has been.”

Edwards added that people need to take steps to preserve history.

“If we don’t preserve it, we are going to lose it,” he said.

The people are the ones who share the story of Boykins. The consensus of those in attendance on Saturday was that people are what makes the town special — the people who live there now and the people who now live only in memories.

Francis said, “Whatever Boykins’ future is to be, it will depend on everyone in the community. If they are committed to the town and to impressing upon their children the importance of participating in town events, not just attending, supporting its businesses, and supporting their neighbors, then Boykins’ future is secure. We have a proud past, but our best days are in front of us …”