Mary Elizabeth Key Butler came to Lexington in the fall of 1938 to serve
as Home Demonstration Agent. In 1945 she married Woodrow Butler and
continued to work as home agent until 1948. From 1948 until 1955 she
taught sixth grade at the Lexington City School. In 1955 she returned to
home demonstration work and remained in that position until her
retirement in 1975.
Some of Mrs. Butler's responsibilities included helping, rural homemakers
learn the "arts" of homemaking. One of her more interesting projects
during 1941 and 1942 was that of helping families make their own
mattresses out of compacted cotton and ticking supplied by the
government. More than 4,000 mattresses were made in those two years. Each
family got 50 pounds of compressed cotton and enough ticking for a full
sized mattress. After the ticking was sewn, the cotton was put inside and
beaten with a broom to be fluffed and distributed. It was then necessary
to take a long sharp needle and tuft the cotton to the mattress. During
this process injuries could occur. Sometimes the families had not
"beaten" the cotton enough to break up the hard clumps, and these clumps
could cause the needle to turn as it went upward through the mattress.
That turned needle came through the top of the mattress into Mrs.
Butler's hand hard enough and frequently enough to draw blood.
In 1959 Mrs. Butler traveled to New Orleans, LA, to receive an award for
her work with rural families.