By Myra Lee Adams Goff
Recently the Sophienburg was the recipient of a very historically valuable gift – the original bell from the Live Oak Baptist Church dating back to around 1900.
Sometime before 1900 a preacher named Rev. Lucky McQueen organized a group of 14 NB residents into what became known at the time as “Colored Baptist Church of New Braunfels”. They originally met under a live oak tree (hence the later name) in the Comaltown area. Before long they began looking for property to purchase in order to build a church. On the corner of Washington and Camp in the Braunfels subdivision, they found what they were looking for and so on June 23, 1900, a lot was purchased for $75.
Those first 14 members were Mrs. Mahalia Barnes, Mrs. Mattie Finner, Mrs. Josephine Williams, Mrs. Grinage, Mrs. Lizzie Clark, Mrs. Rebecca Woods, Mrs. John Martinez, Mrs. Addie Hardeman, A.B. Matthews, Dee Richardson, Joe Williams, Sam Williams, Green Paxton, and Sam Brown. Some original members have descendants who are members now five generations later. The Holland family has had a deacon in every generation but one.
Under the leadership of their first pastor, Charles Connally (1900-1917), the task of building the structure began. Brothers Sam and Tom Williams built a small frame building and after the church was finished, a bell was purchased. The church was renamed Live Oak Baptist Church after its historical beginning. The Fellowship Hall was built in 1964, and in 1983 when remodeling had to be done to the church structure, the bell was too heavy to be reinstalled. Margaret and Alton Grant stored the bell in their garage.
The present pastor is Rev. Alvie S. Young Sr. who came in 2003 from Louisiana
Many times because of the small size of the congregation, young pastors used the Live Oak church as a stepping stone. Pastors were secured from the Guadalupe District Association in San Antonio.
Lethia McClinton and her sister, Shirley Holland, reminisced about whatthey remembered in those days when they were children growing up in the church. Their ancestors were the Hollands mentioned earlier.They remember baptism by emersion in the Comal River. Now, the baptism is done in the church in the font that is under the pulpit.
When they were children and also when their children were growing up, the congregation was much larger and they had many youth activities. They would invite other youth from San Antonio and other towns for hayrides and swimming. They did recall that if they wanted to swim in a pool, they would have to go to the Black Pool in Seguin, not the Landa Park Pool, but then there was always the Comal…
The Sophienburg is planning a display of the bell and memorabilia from the old church sometime this summer. Keva Boardman at the Sophienburg did some research on the bell and this is what she found:
The church’s bell was made by the C.S. Bell Company of Hillsboro, Ohio. The company’s story is that a Scotsman named Charles Singleton Bell started his firm in 1858 and one day he dropped a piece of steel and it struck something on the way to the floor, making a ringing sound. He then decided to cast bells of steel instead of iron. He must have sold the public on this story because he contracted for l, 000 bells the first year. This company sold its bell molds in 1984.
In October the Live Oak Baptist Church building will be 108 years old and they are planning a giant celebration with speeches, exhibits, and food.