OVIEDO, Fla. – When walking around Oviedo, you’ve probably seen some landmarks bearing the name “Boston.” They actually come from two separate families with the same last name, and both have played a major role in local Black history.
It all started with Prince Butler Boston. He moved to Central Florida in 1885 when he was 14 years old with his father, Dr. Alexander Atkinson, a Georgia slave owner.
“He did not want to carry the slave name from the slave plantation, therefore he changed his name to Boston. So, he never used the Atkinson name after he left Georgia,” Ida Boston said she believes the name Boston came from Prince Butler’s mother, China Boston.
“They moved on Lake Hayes which was called Lake Hayes at that particular time. So, it changed from Lake Hayes to Boston Hill,” said Ida, the wife of Russell Boston, a descendant of Prince Butler Boston.
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In the 1890s, a hard freeze destroyed a lot of the local citrus crop. The damage made Dr. Atkinson leave the state and he passed on the orange grove business to Butler Boston. His knowledge and determination were key in the creation of the Temple Orange and that brought a big boost to Oviedo’s devastated economy.
“Through the summer you can find those oranges. So I will get some oranges and I’ll take ‘em to my people In Michigan and I’ll say: This comes from my great-great-grandfather,” said Debra Boston Brundidge. She’s the oldest daughter of Ida and Russell Boston.
Butler Boston was also a longtime member, deacon, and Sunday School superintendent at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. During his more than 61 years of attending the church, he designed and built a choir stand and two classrooms. In 1926, he signed over 5 acres of land for a cemetery at the church.
At the time, Black residents were forbidden from being buried in the town’s cemetery.
“They were burying the dead at the church, and this is what most black churches did,” Ida Boston said.
Butler Boston made funeral costs free of charge, so families were able to lay their loved ones to rest.
Today, that land is known as the Boston Hill Cemetery, a place Ida visits every Saturday to leave flowers for her late husband of 64 years.
“When he was living, he did everything he could to make sure that the Boston name meant the same thing it meant to his grandfather,” said Ida Boston.
She says she wants to continue honoring her husband and their family.
“I have been so blessed to do so many things because of the Boston name and the Boston family. I want to make sure that I do everything to make sure that that name always shines,” said Ida.
Another landmark you may find with the Boston name in Oviedo is a park, but it’s not related to Butler Boston.
Harry “Big Newt” Boston Sr. is from a separate family coincidentally with the same last name. He was from Georgia until he served in the Army as a medic during World War II and moved to Central Florida.
When he came to Oviedo, he noticed there wasn’t an opportunity for Black youth to participate in sports. He built a baseball diamond so the kids could play. He then founded the Black Hawks and Lady Black Hawks sports teams. Boston Sr. even coached the teams and drove their bus around the state and the southeast to compete.
In 1994, Oviedo city leaders named Boston Hill Park in his honor.
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