William McKinley Walthour, Sr., founded the Union Brotherhood Society or “The Society” in March 1932 to help provide for the proper burial of Negro citizens. During this period of segregation and Jim Crow Laws, Negroes were uninsured and had to use homemade pine boxes to bury their loved ones. The organization collected dues of ten and twenty-five cents monthly from its members; enabling them to have death and health benefits. The Society with 34 members still exists in 2006 with death benefits of $140.00 and sickness benefits of $10.00. At funerals, the Society members dressed in black and white, wore badges and greeted each other as Brother and Sister. Anniversay celebrations, known as the “Society Turning Out,” had a worship program followed by fellowship, fun and games. The founding members were: William Walthour, Sr., Frank Baker, Willie Stevens, Joe Bowers, Wilhelmina Walthour, Beatrice Bowers, Gus Williams, Priscilla Maxwell, Rose Bell Roberts, Ben Maxwell, Sarah Jane Walthour, Joe Walthour, George Walthour Sr., William Brown, Rev. R.W. Monroe and Janie Stevens. Less than an acre of land was purchased and a building, structured similar to an old T-shaped church, was built by The Society members for their meetings and gatherings at this location in 1932. This monumment is a tribute to their unity, vision and community concern. Source: Historical marker placed in 2007 by the Liberty County Historical Society.
Such relics of the Jim Crow era are fading fast and are tangible evidence of a different world. It’s a shame to see this old building in such disrepair, but I’m glad Liberty County made the effort to mark this significant part of its history. (Though maps locate this at Midway, it’s a bit further inland).