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Gathering at Bigby Creek

You may have seen our post about the photo, “The Gathering”, and if you did you know that we did not know the location for the photo or an exact year. That all changed last Friday.

It was First Friday for August in Columbia. As usual, there were lots of people downtown and many visitors to W7thCo Gallery. When there are that many people in the gallery, we don’t always get to talk to everyone, but I was so glad that wasn’t the case with a very special visitor. She told me that “The Gathering” was very familiar and she might have a copy. I said that such baptisms were quite popular at one time and there are other photographs that are similar. However, when she offered to bring what she had for us to see I said, “please do.”

Well she did return and had a photo of a newspaper clipping from 1979 that was indeed “The Gathering” and it included a range of years, but more importantly the location. According to the paper the year was either 1906 or 1908 and it was the congregation of the Allensville Baptist Church at the Big Bigby Creek. The man conducting the baptism was John Height. We did not think we would really ever know the location… but there it was.

So, we did a little digging with this new information. We now think that the more likely date for this photo is Sunday July 31, 1905. That is when the Allensville Baptist Church had a Baptist tent meeting that had a large attendance of people for Mt. Pleasant. The tent meeting was led by Rev. John Evans Height. Based on the location of the church, we do think it could be on the Bigby Creek, but there are other possibilities nearby. The West Fork of the Bigby or the Duck could possibly be where the photo was taken as both are just as close to the church. We want to take a drive out that way and do a little exploring on site to learn more.

Amazing. There’s no other way to describe this sort of discovery and it’s all due to one of our visitors helping us to learn more about a photo. We can’t do it without you. Come by and see our latest show which includes this fabulous photo that is all the more wonderful now that we know where and when… oh, and who too.