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Near Farmville in Prince Edward County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden County

Farmville, Virginia

— Prince Edward County —

 
 
The Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden County Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 4, 2021
1. The Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden County Marker
Inscription.  
Established in 1843, most likely by free Black people, the Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden Sydney consisted of two mutual-benefit groups for African American men and women of the Hampden Sydney district of Prince Edward County. Members of the society also belonged to Mercy Seat Baptist Church, although it was not officially affiliated with the church. The Beneficial Benevolent Society, also known as the Brethren Society, was comprised of men, while its associated group for women was called the Loving Sister of Worship. The society's two arms shared the expenses of maintaining their joint fellowship hall but ran their organizations separately.

Members of the Loving Sisters of Worship worked at a variety of jobs, including as laundresses and domestics, and on their own or others' farms. At that time, employers did not provide benefits or insurance, so African Americans joined together to provide for one another. Members paid induction fees and monthly dues. In turn, that money was paid out in benefits, in times of need, when members could not work because of sickness or death
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(when a "death claim" was paid to the deceased member's family). Members looked after one another when ill, as well as performed funeral rites for those who died.

Together with the Brethren Society, the Loving Sisters of Worship, also provided social and spiritual opportunities for their community. The most well-known event was the "Turnout," an annual parade, fair, and worship service held during the first Saturday in August, the day before the beginning of the Mercy Street Baptist Church revival service.

The society's fellowship hall served as an important gathering space for the local African American community. When public schools closed in Prince Edward County in September 1959, the fellowship hall housed a "training center" for African American children from the surrounding community. The Prince Edward County Christian Association, led by the Rev. L. Francis Griffin, organized this and other centers with financial support from the NAACP. Former teachers and female community leaders staffed these centers, aimed at providing recreational and educational activities for school-aged children. By May 1960, there were 10 centers established in Prince Edward County.

In 1960, Mrs. Julia Anderson and Mrs. Cora Hill taught at the fellowship hall, referred to as the Hampden Sydney Center. Mrs. Anderson had earned her master's degree in elementary education
The Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden County Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), September 4, 2021
2. The Beneficial Benevolent Society of the Loving Sisters and Brothers of Hampden County Marker
at Virginia State College for Negroes (now Virginia State University) and had taught in the Prince Edward County schools until they closed. Mrs. Hill, a graduate of Virginia State as well, had also taught in the Prince Edward County schools. Some 69 children attended the training center they led. In December 1960, a Richmond News Leader reporter observed that the Hampden Sydney Center was in a building that had the appearance of a colonial country schoolhouse, "clean and neat and utilitarian."

The long history of the Brethren Society and the Loving Sisters of Worship demonstrates ways in which African Americans built and sustained their community after the Civil War.
 
Erected by Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail. (Marker Number PE7.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsEducationFraternal or Sororal Organizations. In addition, it is included in the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1960.
 
Location. 37° 13.951′ N, 78° 27.568′ W. Marker is near Farmville, Virginia, in Prince Edward County. Marker is on College Road (County Route 692) just
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north of County Road 1006, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 107 Kingsville Rd, Farmville VA 23901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Presbyterian Seminary (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Birthplace (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hampden-Sydney College (approx. 0.6 miles away); American Revolution Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Civil War Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Spanish-American War Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); World War I Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Roll of Honor (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Farmville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 6, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 6, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Mar. 4, 2024