Well, Well, A Peek Down Into the Past
by Mike Brown - Editor, Rockdale Reporter
May 3, 2012
90 feet deep, 101 years of local history
History can sometimes be a deep subject.
Sometimes it’s a little deeper than others. Brady Nelson Jr. lived with some of
Rockdale’s deepest subject for several years and recently went back to it and observed
a 100th anniversary of sorts.
When Nelson and wife Sherri were first married they moved into a small brick home at
274 FM 112, just north of the FM 487 turnoff and a couple of miles north of Rockdale.
The house has a long-dormant well in the front yard. It’s surrounded by concrete and an
inscription has been scratched into the face:
"Built by W. R. Simonton, Mar. 16, 1911. Owned by Henry Waker, Rockdale, Tex."
It’s not just a 102-year-old well. When you swivel around the massive round concrete
cover and peer down, the well almost becomes a work of art.
“It’s bricked all the way down,” Nelson said. “And in 1911 you know that whole project
was done by hand.”
When the Nelson family lived in the home they decided to lower a string to find out
just how deep the well is.
“It came out between 80 and 90 feet,” Nelson said. “Just think about somebody at the
bottom of that well, in 1911, laying bricks! That’s not something I’d like to do.”
The family did a little genealogical detective work and actually located Simonton on an
No surprise, he listed his occupation as “well digger.”
No information has been found about Henry Waker. The name makes you wonder if it was
supposed to have been “Walker.” 100-year-old “typos,” especially in concrete, are rare,
but they do happen.
Ironically the one thing nobody today remembers being connected with the well is water.
“It’s always been bone dry as far as we can remember,” Nelson said. The home was
formerly known as the Cecil Owens place.
Simonton obviously took pride in his work, signing it almost like a painter putting his
name at the bottom of a canvas.
“What’s kind of nice is that the Nelson family has a history of drilling water wells,”
His father, the late Brady Nelson Sr. and uncle, the late Buddy Nelson, at one time
were well drillers.
“When Uncle Buddy died, he was still drilling wells,” Nelson said. “Of course they
weren’t doing it by hand like Mr. Simonton did 201 years ago.”