Thursday, January 5, 2012

Boykin, South Carolina - Small Town U.S.A.

Over the holidays we took our two eldest grandkids to the Christmas parade in "downtown" Boykin, SC.  The weather was good, the crowds were out, and the atmosphere was festive!

Living it up in Boykin, SC, as we prepare to watch the parade.

Granddaughter Katelyn was our parade photographer.

Grandson Lee helped with the logistics by picking our spot and toting the chairs.
But before we start the parade I thought you might like to know a little more about how small town USA got it's start and where it is today.  Boykin is in  Kershaw County, SC, about 30 miles from Columbia.  It's a small southern town that hasn't changed much but has a lot of southern history.

Boykin derived its name from William Boykin who settled there with his sons in 1755. Burwell Boykin grew up to become a prosperous farmer with large holdings north and south of Swift Creek.  A mill pond consisting of 400 flooded acres was built in 1792.  Water from the pond generated power to run the flour mill, a saw mill and later a cotton gin. 

The Boykin mill pond.
Views from the mill pond.

Why people don't swim in the mill pond.

Wildlife like it here.

Magnificent plumes.

Southern lily pads.

The Mill Pond Properties are presently owned by heirs of L.W. Boykin, II, a sixth-generation descendant of the original 1755 settler.  Today the quaint historic buildings are occupied by merchants who  continue to serve not only  the surrounding community, but also a growing number of visitors who come to experience the charm and simplicity of a place that embodies the Southern rural lifestyle.  The Boykin Community and Boykin Mill Pond are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The town has a wonderful restaurant called the Mill Pond Steakhouse.  Brett and I have had dinner here several times and viewed the wildlife from a porch or dining in front of the large windows overlooking the water.  The food is good and the atmosphere is peaceful.

A view of the Mill Pond Steakhouse from the water. 

The restaurant consists of three buildings.

The bar inside the restaurant.

The rustic dining room.

Downtown Boykin also has a grill and several stores.  The Boykin Community Grille is in an 1800's wood frame building offering a menu of sandwiches, gourmet delights, and traditional Southern cooking.  On weekends the live entertainment is bluegrass music.  The Boykin Country Store, right next door, has an old-fashioned post office with elements dating from 1874 along with shelves filled with gourmet jellies, jams, candies and other temptations.  It also features freshly ground grits and cornmeal from the Boykin Mill which you can still order today. 

For those on the go or just passing through.  

The Boykin Company Store next to the Boykin Company Grille.

Another feature in Boykin is The Broom Place.  This is a business nestled into a restored settler's home originally built circa 1740.  Using antique machinery, Susan Simpson, the owner, makes beautiful brooms the same way they were made centuries ago.  The broom corn is dyed into bright colors, cut, soaked to make it flexible, wrapped into layers around a carved wooden handle and then sewn securely.  The brooms come in all sizes and are very decorative.  Gifts and crafts by local artisans are also displayed in her shop.

The Broom Place

The owner busy at work.

The Swift Creek Baptist Church was founded in 1782. The current structure was built in 1827 and is still active today.  The church is a two story Greek Revival structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The day of the parade they were hosting an evening service of Christmas music. 

The Swift Creek Baptist Church

Wedding are still performed there today.
 And, finally, there is one other item the little town of Boykin is known for, and that is the beautiful Boykin Spaniel.

What a looker.
The first Boykin Spaniel was reportedly a small, stray spaniel type dog that was found by a banker in Spartanburg, SC.  The owner noticed the dog had an aptitude for hunting so he sent the dog, Dumpy, to his friend and hunting partner, Whitaker Boykin.  In Boykin's hands the little dog developed into a superb turkey dog and waterfowl retriever and became the foundation stock for the Boykin spaniel.  After crossbreeding with different breeds, the Boykin Spaniel developed into a dog small enough to ride in a canoe or small boat and calm enough to never 'rock the boat'.  The Boykin was officially recognized by the AKC in 2009.

And now, FINALLY, the 2011 Boykin Christmas Parade:

The downtown was crowded.

The parade marshal.

Every year one of the highlights of the parade.  And, yes, that is a man!

Even the Grinch showed up in festive attire!

This was an old tractor painted Clemson colors.  The tractor works using a stick shift.

Isn't this a beauty.

Another old timer.

Much newer editions....I grew up with these models.

Even Boykin has its secrets.

Everybody had the spirit.

What's a parade without llamas.

Big horses and....

and little horses.....

and horse clubs.

Aren't they beautiful.

What's a parade in Boykin without a Boykin Spaniel. 

Decorated floats all vying for first place.

This one gets my vote.

Even a steer got in on the act.  At the judge's table the steer knelt down on its front legs and bowed to the audience.

A well preserved fire truck.

Exercise for two?

The weather was a little cool and his wife told him to make sure he wore red.

This beautiful animal danced and pranced all along the route.

Also dancing were young ladies from their music school.

Not sure what this was all about.

So that's it from Boykin, SC.  We hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season and we wish you the very best in 2012.  We are heading out tomorrow for our winter adventure.  First to Red Bay to get a little work done on the rig, then off to New Orleans, a stop on the ocean in Mississippi, and then through the Florida panhandle (to see our other grandbabies) and we'll work our way down the Gulf coast to the Keys.  That should take around three months.  Looking forward to the trip and new adventures.  Peace to all ! 

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