From the City of Oviedo

To Celebrate Black History Month 2021, the City of Oviedo is highlighting the 20 elements of the mural Black History of Oviedo in Round Lake Park (891 E Broadway Street). Painted by local artist Xavier Moss in 2020, the mural showcases just some of the lasting and enriching contributions to the area.

mural key plaque

The mural key is displayed on a plaque in front of the mural (above). Click here to open the mural key in a new tab.

ELEMENT #1: PRINCE BUTLER BOSTON

Prince Butler Boston was the son of a Georgia slave owner named Dr. Alexander Atkinson and moved to Central Florida in 1885 when he was 14 years old.

After a hard freeze in the 1890s destroyed much of the local citrus crop, Butler Boston graphed the heartier Temple orange that helped the Oviedo economy bounce back from devastation. Moss painted citrus (element #18, the Temple Orange) around Butler Boston to showcase his contribution to the area and citrus industry.

A longtime member of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, Butler Boston was a deacon, superintendent of the Sunday School, and a patron. He gave the church five acres of land establishing a cemetery known today as the Boston Hill Cemetery.

ELEMENT #2: HARRY “BIG NEWT” BOSTON SR.

Big NewtHarry “Big Newt” Boston Sr. is part of the other prominent Oviedo Boston families and originally from Georgia. He served in the Army as a medic during WWII then moved to Oviedo.

After moving to the area, Boston Sr. discovered there wasn’t an opportunity for local Black youth to participate in sports, so he built a baseball diamond where Black children could play. He founded the Black Hawks and Lady Black Hawks sports teams, driving the teams across the state and southeast to compete, serving as both coach and bus driver of the “Big Newt Bus.”

The City of Oviedo named Boston Hill Park in his honor in 1994.

ELEMENT #3: HAL KING

Picture of Hal King baseball card with Atlanta Braves.Oviedo born and raised, Hal King was a professional baseball player who began his career in 1962 at 23 years old in the Negro League with the Indianapolis Clowns.

The catcher, a graduate of Oviedo High School, went on to play in Major League Baseball for the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers, and Cincinnati Reds before retiring in 1974 at the age of 30.

Images of baseball and the Black Hawks mascot are depicted near King on the Black History of Oviedo mural. Moss painted King wearing his blue Atlanta Braves baseball hat.

King was president of the Booster Club at Oviedo High School while his son attended. He resides in Oviedo.

ELEMENT #4: OVIEDO BLACK HAWKS MASCOT

Black Hawks mascot image of hawk on "Big Newt's" memorial program

There were no opportunities for Black children to play organized sports in the segregated Oviedo of the past. But Oviedo resident Harry “Big Newt” Boston Sr. set out to change that, and the Oviedo Black Hawks and Lady Black Hawks were born.
The Black Hawks provided opportunities for both boys and girls with baseball and softball teams. The Hawks were sponsored by Grant Chapel A.M.E. Church, where many players attended church. They traveled across the state and southeast playing other teams. “We don’t want to fight, or fuss, all we wanna do is ride the Newt Bus,” the teams cheered as they rode the “Big Newt Bus” with their coach Boston Sr. at the helm.
When they played home games, the Black Hawks played on a baseball diamond Boston Sr. built called Boston Stadium. The City name Boston Hill Park in his honor.
The Black Hawks mascot is pictured left as part of a program in memory of Boston Sr.

ELEMENT #5: ANTIOCH CHURCH BELL
Antioch Church, with Bell and Bell tower

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church has chronicled the history and significance of its church bell. The below information is from their website.

“Antioch became an icon for the community with the sounding of the church bell. The Church had a belfry and a large bell.

When a member died, the Sexton tolled the bell as notice to the community that someone had died. It was a primary duty of the Sexton to ring the bell before each Sunday and weekly meeting.

Each Sunday Morning the Sexton sounded two bells at thirty-minute intervals to remind the members to come to Sunday School. Another was rung to announce the beginning of the Morning Worship. Mr. McCray, the Sexton of many years did this duty until Mr. Charlie Williams assumed this responsibility. They will be remembered for their faithfulness to this task.”

ELEMENT #6: ANTIOCH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, located at 311 East Broadway Street in Oviedo, was founded in 1875 and secured Reverend Amos Laster was the first Pastor of the church. Mr. Prince Butler Boston joined the church in 1886 and was a member until his death in 1947. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday School and Deacon. Boston designed and built a choir stand and two classrooms. The church also owns and operates the Boston Hill Cemetery, named in his honor after his patronage and gift of five acres. Boston Avenue flanks the church today to its east.
The Red School House was adjacent to the church and served as the schoolhouse for all Black children during segregated education in what was then part of Orange County (establishing Seminole County in 1913).
The Church is an integral part of the history of Oviedo, providing fellowship and community for many.

ELEMENT #7: CONGREGATION AT WHITE’S WHARF

White’s Warf, named for W.G. White who opened the wharf in 1878. Lake Jessup’s wharves were as far down as steamboats could land freight for wagons to haul to Maitland and Orlando.
Many farmers brought their crops to the wharves and White became a successful merchant in the area.
Oviedo residents used the springs for their annual May picnics beginning in 1880. Segregated, one Saturday was for the white community, another Saturday for the Black community. The picnics were planned and held by a joint committee from the Baptist and Methodist churches.
The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church held baptisms at the wharf, as is depicted in the seventh element of the mural titled Black History of Oviedo, 2020, by Xavier Moss.

ELEMENT #8: BOSTON HILL CEMETERY

Boston Hill Cemetary

The Boston Hill Cemetery is located at 199 Boston Cemetery Road in Oviedo, Florida. Black residents were forbidden from being buried in the town’s cemetery, so Oviedo resident Prince Butler Boston donated five acres to the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church to create Boston Hill Cemetery.
Boston a local businessman and citrus grower was a member and patron of the church for more than 61 years. Boston also made funeral costs free of charge. This allowed Oviedo’s Black community to have access to a proper and honorable burial for loved ones.
The dedication deed was signed on October 12, 1926, by Prince Butler Boston and E. Garvin, who represented the Board of Trustees. The document was approved by N. E. Douglass, the Seminole County Clerk, on November 3, and was then approved by A. M. Weeks, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the following day. The deed was then notarized on June 6, 1927, and approved by surveyor Allen H. Stone on November 4, 1928.

ELEMENT #9: ANTIOCH LOGO
logo

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, located at 311 East Broadway Street in Oviedo, was founded in 1875 and secured Reverend Amos Laster was the first Pastor of the church. Mr. Prince Butler Boston, Element #1 in the mural, joined the church in 1886 and was a member until his death in 1947. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday School and Deacon. Boston designed and built a choir stand and two classrooms. The church also owns and operates the Boston Hill Cemetery, Element #8 in the mural, named in his honor after his patronage and gift of five acres. Boston Avenue flanks the church today to its east. The Antioch Church Bell is the Fifth Element in the mural.

The Church is an integral part of the history of Oviedo, providing fellowship and community for many. Today, the church has more than 2,000 members, provides 20 ministries, and is lead by Pastor Charles Jones.

ELEMENT #10: MARIE JONES-FRANCIS

midwifeNicknamed “The Midwife of Sanford,” area resident Marie Jones-Francis delivered more than 40,000 babies in her 32-year career. She delivered babies for both Black and white families in Seminole County, primarily patrons who either preferred natural births or could not afford deliveries at a hospital.

Jones-Francis started out as a successful hotel and restaurant owner in Sarasota, Florida, but returned to Sanford and became a midwife when WWII caused a shortage of doctors and nurses in the area. The Florida Children’s Bureau sent her to study at Florida A&M, where she earned her nursing license in 1945. She specialized in premature babies and returned to Sanford to help her mother, Carrie Jones, who was also a midwife, at Fernald-Laughton Memorial Hospital. The pair opened a maternity ward in their Sanford home. Jones-Francis took over full time after her mother’s health failed.

Her sister Annie Walker did the cooking, and the house also served as a school where she taught nurses midwifery. Nurses would come from across the state to learn how to deliver infants naturally.

The Church is an integral part of the history of Oviedo, providing fellowship and community for many. Today, the church has more than 2,000 members, provides 20 ministries, and is lead by Pastor Charles Jones.

Check back as more elements will be profiled, culminating February 28, 2021. 

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