“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
South Boston in Halifax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Mizpah Presbyterian Church

South Boston, Virginia

— Halifax County —

Mizpah Presbyterian Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 4, 2021
1. Mizpah Presbyterian Church Marker
Many churches in the second half of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century helped fill African Americans' need for schooling. Frequently, a church would raise funds to build a school, with county governments occasionally offering some financial assistance. Parents donated much of the building labor and materials, and were also largely responsible for land and building maintenance once the school was built. The Mizpah Church, founded in 1890, is an example of such a collaboration.

In 1901 the Mizpah School was constructed on the land where the church still stands. The school served local Black children in grades 1-7. The school's teachers were poorly paid, often living with students' parents and moving from one family to another. For their board, they were expected to keep up the maintenance of the school building by sweeping, applying oil to the floors to keep the dust down, shoveling coal or putting wood in the stove, and simultaneously supervising the children. The teachers were, however, highly respected in the South Boston community and looked to for leadership.

Because the school was connected
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with the church, students of the Mizpah School not only studied the "three R's" but also memorized Bible verses and sang hymns and other songs. Many families relied on their children to work the fields with them, though, so the school year was seldom more than four or five months long, and absenteeism was high.

In 1935, the Mizpah School was converted to a community day care facility, one of the first at that time in southern Virginia.

The Hon. William A. Kent (1914-93) served for many years as a church elder and clerk of the session. He became the first African American elected to public office in South Boston when he joined the city council in 1969. He served eight years as vice mayor and four years as mayor. He retired in 1990 as mayor. He was also the owner/operator of Kent's Funeral Service in South Boston.
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. (Marker Number HX5.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansChurches & ReligionCivil RightsEducation. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1890.
Location. 36° 41.841′ N, 78° 54.276′ 
Mizpah Presbyterian Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 4, 2021
2. Mizpah Presbyterian Church Marker
W. Marker is in South Boston, Virginia, in Halifax County. Marker is at the intersection of Watkins Avenue and Noblin Avenue, on the right when traveling west on Watkins Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 607 Watkins Ave, South Boston VA 24592, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Crossing of the Dan (approx. 0.2 miles away); DAR Memorial Cannon (approx. 0.3 miles away); Campaign of 1781 (approx. 0.3 miles away); Retreat to the Dan (approx. 0.3 miles away); Refuge and Recovery in Halifax County (approx. 0.3 miles away); From Here to Victory at Yorktown (approx. 0.3 miles away); Crossing of the Dan Monument (approx. 0.3 miles away); What a Way to Cross the River! (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in South Boston.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. Old Marker At This Location titled "Mizpah Church".
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 5, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 150 times since then and 61 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 5, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Oct. 2, 2023