To begin the story of the Leon Farm Women’s Club (later to be the Homemaker’s Club and then the West Virginia Educational Outreach Service), the current members have reached back to find a historical overview of their contribution to the community and county. The members continue to ask for additional biographical information from the families and friends who were instrumental in the Leon club.
The story begins in the winter of 1922 when the first Rural Life Conference was held at the Harmony Baptist Church, across the Kanawha River at Southside.
Educators and lecturers from the State Department of Agriculture were present to give help and information to the farmers and the farm women of the area.
A second conference was held in 1928 at the Concord Baptist Church and the Lock Eleven area as well as the Beech Hill community and at that time the South Kanawha Community Club was organized.
After a time, the Leon women determined they needed a club representing their side of the Kanawha addressing such projects as a community health survey.
In August of 1928, after the South Kanawha Pioneer Club was formed, the Leon women met with agent Kathleen Stephenson to organize a Farm Women’s Club. The date was Friday, Dec. 6, 1929, and Mrs. Effie Casto became the first president and Mrs. Cora Sommer was the vice president.
The women of the Leon club sponsored the 4-H Club which was called the Leon Mountaineers. Another activity had been a health clinic for 74 children followed by a dinner being served.
In July 1934, the club sponsored the first bible school in Leon and that was held at the Leon Baptist church.
During the Great Depression, the club purchased kerosene for the Leon School and books for the school library. They furnished clothing for needy children so that they could attend school.
In the early years, the club women cleaned the cemeteries on “Decoration Day.”
In March 1941, the club members sent a letter to the governor, M. M. Neeley, asking him for help in reducing the toll on the Shadle Bridge as it was a hardship for farm people.
During World War II, the club rolled bandages and made shirts for the Red Cross.
The club supported the Mason County Board of Education on a bond issue when the new Leon Elementary School was built and helped in acquiring a new school bus for the area.
One of the longest running projects was the building of a new Leon Town Hall. This began in 1964 by the members with Co-Chairpersons Mrs. Sceva Stewart and Miss Lyda Smith. Mrs. Anna Douglass had reported the property was acquired by the donation from the heirs of Mr. Henry Clay Williamson.
The club donated money toward the moving and restoration of a one room school that now resides at the West Virginia State Farm Museum.
A more recent project was applying for and receiving a grant from the Jackson Foundation to replace the appliances in the Town Hall kitchen.
The club continues to support the Leon Elementary School with library books as well as monetary awards for student achievement each school year. Two students are awarded at the end of the school year. An adult reading club has been an offspring of the CEOS.
The club continues to support the Operation Santa Claus at Lakin Hospital, giving gifts, money, and time to help with wrapping the Christmas presents for the residents.
The members continue to visit elderly members at the nursing homes. Updates are given at club meetings on the well-being of their members.
While the club has had 50 year members including Stewart and Mrs. Florence Burdette, Anna Lee Douglas was a 64-year-member.
While the Leon Farm Women’s Club has gone through name changes (one of them the CEOS on Jan. 1, 1999) the goals remain the same, education, home and community improvement, health and nutrition, and fellowship are the major concerns.
There is always an invitation for new members to become part of the club and county activities including both men and women. Mrs. Helen Lyons has been the longest serving president. She may be contacted for further information on membership by contacting the West Virginia Extension Service in Point Pleasant, 304-675-0888, Lorrie Wright, extension agent.
Submitted by Alice Click