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Boynes immersed in history of all kinds
Pearl Boynes
Richard Loper of the Historic Effingham Society presents Pearl Boynes with the group’s member of the year plaque at the 2014 HES banquet at New Ebenezer Retreat Center. Alongside is HES President Norma Jean Morgan. - photo by File photo
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Guyton Historic Preservation Commission chair Pearl Boynes, far right, and members, left to right, Gail Paulk, Barbara Scott-Araki and Claudette Jordan unveil the historic district sign at 7th Avenue and Magnolia Street in 2014. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

RINCON — At 81 years of age, Guyton’s Pearl Boynes has witnessed plenty of history and she wants to see lots more.

Boynes is known for her knowledge of Effingham County but enjoys learning about people and places all over the globe. 

“I was interested in history in high school and it just carried over to my life,” Boynes said. 

Boynes was born in Effingham County and lived with her grandmother until her death in 1957. Then she moved to Savannah to reside with her aunt while finishing high school.

After receiving her diploma, Boynes moved to New York, living there for 12 years.

“I finally got into nursing school,” she said. “When I finished nursing school, I moved to the Virgin Islands — St. Thomas.”

It was there that Boynes learned that her love for history has no boundaries as she spent a great deal of time learning about her new surroundings.

“I do a lot reading. I always did,” she said.

Boynes worked in the Virgin Islands for 26 years before returning to the U.S.

“You would have come back, too, because the cost of living there is high and the health care system is terrible,” she said.

Boynes capped her four-decade nursing career in 2005, spending the last five years in home health care.

After her retirement, Boynes didn’t slow down. She stayed busy with volunteer work, much of it devoted to history.

The Historic Effingham Society proved to be a perfect match for Boynes’ interests. She raises a considerable amount of money for the Effingham Living History Museum by selling Betty Ford Renfro’s “River to River,” a book about local history.

“I have some of those in my car now,” she said. “I’ve been selling them for a year or two, maybe three.”

Boynes said the museum needs money to pay for upkeep of its many buildings and displays. She helps prepare it for its special functions, including Olde Effingham Days Festival.

Occasionally, she leads student groups on museum tours.

Boynes’ efforts to support the Historic Effingham Society, which also includes selling calendars adorned with photos of noteworthy local sites, haven’t gone unnoticed. She was named the 2014 member of the year and is currently serving as vice president of the organization’s board of directors.

“And prior to being on this board, when I first game back, I got involved with the Guyton Historic Society and I eventually ended up being president of that group.”

Boynes has long been a key member of Guyton’s Historic Preservation Committee. That position requires an appointment by the Guyton City Council.

“I’ve been doing that five or six years, maybe seven,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of projects in Guyton to enhance the city.”

Boynes funded some of the projects, mainly signs and markers, out of her own pocket.

“There is a lot that could be done with Guyton if we had a little bit of money,” she said. “You just have to go in baby steps to try to get things done.”

Boynes started a tourism a few years ago. Its goal was to get encourage Guyton residents to get their city ready for tourists.

“We designed a walking tour that you could do alone,” she said. “We had a brochure with a map.”

Boynes can look out her front door and see rich history any time she wants. She lives across the street from New Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church, which has been on the Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places since 1988.

“My great-great grandfather was one of the builders of that church,” she said.

Boynes realizes that population growth is important to Effingham County’s future but she wants to be sure that it doesn’t infringe on Guyton’s historic charm.

“We have more historic buildings and historic land,” she said. “On every street, there are historic houses. We do not want the kind of growth in Guyton that is in Rincon.

“We want some business but not the kind that has to have outlandish signs.”

Boynes, who helped launch Veterans Park of Effingham County, constantly tries to foster a love for history in her family and friends. She encourages people to join the Historic Effingham Society.

“They know all the stuff that I’m doing, especially now with Facebook,” she said.

Boynes doesn’t understand how anyone can be disinterested in history.

“I always thought about what was going on and tried to keep a hand in it,” she said.