Society

Wel, well, a peek down into the past

90 feet deep, 101 years of local history
By MIKE BROWN
Reporter Editor


The W. R. Simonton well is 90 feet deep and bricked all the way to the bottom. No one really knows when it last produced water. 
Reporter/Mike Brown The W. R. Simonton well is 90 feet deep and bricked all the way to the bottom. No one really knows when it last produced water. Reporter/Mike Brown 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.


Father-and-son Brady Nelton Jr. and Brady Nelson III edged concrete cover off. Father-and-son Brady Nelton Jr. and Brady Nelson III edged concrete cover off. “ 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 old census.

No surprise, he listed his occupation as “well digger.”

No information has been found about Henr y 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.


Simonton scratched his name and the date, March 16, 1911, into the well, along with Henry Waker, apparently the property owner. Simonton scratched his name and the date, March 16, 1911, into the well, along with Henry Waker, apparently the property owner. Ironically the one thing nobody tod ay remember s being connected with the well is water.

“ It’s always been bone dr y 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,” Nelson said.

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.”


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2012-05-03 digital edition



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