Remember a few weeks ago, when we ran the photo of a group baptism at Bluff Springs?
At the request of a reader — and with the help of our cadre of history advocates — we pinpointed the springs and the pictured pool to private land just west of Bluff Springs Road and just south of Onion Creek. One can easily pick out the old pool on satellite maps.
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The story, however, was not over. Another reader, Joy Simmons, contacted us with more information about this baptism, which we had dated to the 1940s.
“It actually took place Sept. 10, 1939,” says Simmons, a longtime member of Manchaca Baptist Church, which turns 100 in October. “There was a big revival and it was so successful, it was extended for more than a week.”
That would explain the mass baptism and the warm-weather clothing.
Simmons was raised in Manchaca, graduated from Buda High School, married and moved away for 26 years, then returned to Manchaca for 24 years to care for her parents. She moved to Hutto two years ago.
“The man in the front of the picture is Brother L.R. Cole,” she says. “I don’t know the man next to him, but the one on the right is my father, Roy Felps, who died in 1944.”
She went on to name 14 other participants seen in the background, including members of the Stone, Hector, Sanders, Holden, Polk, Tumlinson, Keesee, Puryear and Billingsley families. She shared some of their personal histories.
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“Walter Hector, the second boy from the right, died within the last month. He was 93,” Simmons says. “The boy in the dark shirt next to the lady, Arnold Holden, is still alive. He is 93 and just got back from an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. He is the last survivor from the Holden family, who were struck by that 1922 cyclone at St. Elmo, but that was before he was born.”