By Mike Avitt
I've gotten many requests to write about subjects I've already covered. So, this week I'm re-writing an article from February 13, 2014.
The original article concerns the Liberty Ballroom at Booneville. I was prompted to write the story by a newspaper clipping given to me by Ruth Saville. Charles Bennett wrote about this unique location in a History Highlights column.
The story begins in August 1934 when the Record-News reported the beginning of a rural resort located three miles north and four miles east of Mount Ayr in Liberty Township. The resort was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Boone and would include a ballroom, swimming lake, cottages and, picnic grounds.
However, trouble was on the way and it started in October 1934 when Red Hale and Jack Clark were arrested at Booneville by the
Ringgold County Sheriff for possessing illegal liquor. The resort was now being called the Liberty Spring Lake Amusement Park.
In the spring of 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Boone leased the Liberty Spring Lake Amusement Park to the Liberty Spring Lake Athletic Club. Membership to the athletic resort were being sold in Mount Ayr at retail businesses while construction continues.
The first dance held at the ballroom (also called a gymnasium) was held May 8, 1935. Jimmie Toussaint and his Radio Band played for the guests and Happy Havings and his orchestra played on May 15. Advertisements for the resort after May of 1935 announce round and square dances with no mention of musical artists.
An advertisement in June of 1936 says Booneville Park is open for business with dancing and free picnic grounds. But, their beer
permit was revoked in August of 1936 and wasn't reinstated until November 1936. I've never seen any mention of Booneville Park after December 1936. Charles Bennett's article says the resort was eventually dismantled and the lumber was used to build a shed at Hawkeye Lumber.
It has been rumored Lawrence Welk performed at the Liberty Ballroom but I've never seen any evidence he did. I also searched the internet for Jimmie Toussaint and Happy Havings but found nothing. It's possible the enterprise was a social success but a financial failure.
There were no gravel roads at Booneville during this time and that, too, may have impeded a rual business such as Booneville Park. But we'll always have Carl and Bertha Boone and the Liberty Spring Lake Athletic Club in our Ringgold County history.
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2017