Churches and/or religious activities have always been a major part of life on the other
side of the tracks.
Most of the churches had very humble beginnings. Many began in a home, under a shade tree
or tent or in a rented building.
They were supported with personal contributions from members, tribal collections
(designated names with captains to collect money), special dinner sales and Saturday
night playground activities.
Saturday nights included a lighted playground in back of the church. Children were
provided with wholesome games.
Hamburgers, fish sandwiches and homemade ice cream were delicacies for sale.
Saturday night activities also served as a form of recreation for the community.
Early baptizing, before the indoor baptismal, was often held in a nearby tank or in the
San Gabriel River.
Most of the ministers came from surrounding areas of a 50-mile radius.
Usually, two worship services were held, morning and night, with other designated
services during the week.
Special programs were conducted on Sunday afternoons and congregations from out of town
Most churches had a training session before night worship, known in the Baptist church as
Baptist Training Union (BTU).
Everyone had special lessons. Children were taught to memorize names of all the books of
the bible along with many scriptures.
A bible-based baseball game was held to examine their knowledge.
Churches in the community also came together as a united body and held special musical
services. This practice still exists as the “Fellowship of Churches.”
Attendance was excellent for Sunday services, which were considered to be an introduction
to a good work week and an opportunity to socialize, as well as worship together.
Springfield Baptist, located on Plum and Third streets is the oldest known church in
It was founded in 1872 by a small group of spirit-filled people under the leadership of
Bro. D. Tucker and J. Kendal.
There were as yet no churches in the town of Rockdale, which had been in existence for a
few years but did not incorporate as a city until 1874.
During this time a few people met in homes, halls, under trees or wherever it was
convenient for them to gather for a worship service.
In 1874, under the leadership of the first pastor, Rev. Riley Williams, the church was
given permission to join the La Grange Area Association.
It was 1882 when trustees D. Tucker and J. Kendal purchased land and the first building
The first building was wooden and consisted of only one room for worship.
Springfield’s second building was also built of wood but contained space for classooms
and congregational worship.
The present brick building was erected under the leadership of Rev. T. R. Simmons and
completed July 7, 1974. It also houses a worship center, classrooms and a fellowship
During the 128 years the congregation has been led by 22 pastors.
For the past 23 years the Rev. S. L. Ross had pastored the flock. Many new innovations
have been added under his leadership, namely, purchase of additional land, church van,
new church instruments and improvements and remodeling of the edifice.
Springfield was recognized for its over 100 years of active service with a Texas
Historical Commission marker in 2006. It continues to render spiritual and civic service
to the community and surrounding areas.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS, SERIES 3, PART 1
Springfield Baptist is older than Rockdale
by Susie Sansom-Piper
Rockdale Reporter - February 4, 2010
Rev. R. H. Littleton stands
before the first Springfield
Baptist Church building
before the turn of the 20th
The second Springfield Baptist building
was replaced by the current sanctuary in
1974. Church members have worshipped at
the same location since 1882.