Support Us

Prince Butler Boston

Learning from one of Oviedo’s Great Pillars

Prince Butler Boston

 

Good evening! First, I want to thank you for selecting me to receive the Oviedo Historical Society, Robert James Lawton Scholarship. It is an honor to receive the scholarship and deliver a speech about a prominent historical figure, Prince Butler Boston this evening. It is always amazing to discover legendary people who lived in our community in the past and continue to influence how we live today.  Tonight, I share what I have learned about Prince Butler Boston’s contributions to Oviedo.
In preparation for this speech, I started researching the history of Oviedo and the influencers from the past.  It was interesting to discover how the city of Oviedo was established and the contributions made by community members. During the early 19th century, there were Seminoles and African American freedman who were settlers in the area. It was during this search, I discovered Prince Butler Boston, a prominent African American leader and educator.
Mr. Boston moved to Oviedo at the age of 12 with his father, Dr. Alexander Atkinson. {Footnote:  At some point, he decided to change his surname from Atkinson to Boston due to his father’s family as slave owners.} Boston’s father opened his medical practice and purchased a farm with hundreds of acres.  As a family business, it is easy to imagine how Boston would naturally become a citrus grower.  After a bad freeze in the 1890s, his father moved away and gave the land to him. Boston became a successful citrus grower in the area, sharing techniques for grafting citrus and developing fields for other farmers in Oviedo. Historical records credit him with helping to establish Oviedo’s citrus economy and developing the buds for tangerines as well as temple oranges. Mr. Boston was paid for his knowledge and experience, and today, we would call him an innovator.
As an African American in the Oviedo community, Mr. Boston fought for better educational opportunities and served as an education trustee in the community. Mr. Boston oversaw the planning and construction of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and was an active member for 61 years. During this time, Boston became Superintendent of Sunday School and designed a second choir stand for the church.
Many of us drive by the building that was the center of the African American community in Oviedo, the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. Antioch has been around since 1875.
Over the years, Antioch became the cornerstone of the growing African American community within the city of Oviedo. Before this, African Americans living in the Lake Jesup community had no official place of worship. Antioch had a Sunday school program in a building adjacent to the church called the “Little Red School House.” Many times throughout black history, we find that the church was not only a place of prayer, but a place of learning in the Black communities. The same is true for Oviedo. The Sunday school program at Antioch grew into the creation of the Oviedo Area Colored Schools.
Prince Butler Boston was the son of a Georgia slave owner and moved to Central Florida in 1885 when he was 12 years old. After the citrus freeze during the 1890s, Boston’s father abandoned the citrus industry and moved to Miami. He left most of his land to Boston, who used the land to better serve Oviedo’s burgeoning black community. He was educated in the public schools of Oviedo, finishing high school at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Florida.Boston was a member of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church and was ordained a deacon there. He became the superintendent of the church’s Sunday School as well. Once membership in the church began to grow, he designed a second choir stand for the church, and two additional classrooms for the Sunday School. He also gave five acres of land to the church to build a cemetery which today is known as the Boston Hill Cemetery. In the end he served at the church for nearly 61 years beginning in 1886 until he died in 1946 at 5 a.m. at his home with his loving wife of 62 years and his son at his side.