PRIVILEGE CREEK AND BEYOND: This series of photos was taken on
the way to Polly's Chapel. The show up just as they happen with the last creek
crossing shown on the way back to the Bandera highway.
DETOUR TO PRIVILEGE
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY
You might as well know now. On our road trips we stop at every
historical marker and I take a picture which is seldom posted.
Like a page out of a history book they help us get a educated
and offer a deeper insight into a piece of Texas.
We were coming up on Privilege Creek bridge when we spotted
another one of the markers. This one wasn't on the roadside, but instead we were directed
to travel down a county road for three miles. No problem. How long could this
you're a cowboy, a pretend cowboy or just want to lay eyes on the real thing, head for
Bandera. Least ways that's what I've heard so we headed their way. Then up
popped a "historical marker ahead" sign. Then, just before Privilege Creek
bridge we saw another sign saying the sign was three miles up the road.
Following the narrow, curvy paved road we crossed the
creek a couple of times stopping briefly so I could round up a few photos. Then the
road turned to dirt. It seemed we had been driving for five miles or better and
still no marker.
I reckon the physicists are right about the expanding
universe, I just didn't figure it applied to everything including dirt roads.
Finally we saw a couple of signs for Polly's Chapel and another for the Cemetery. Talk
about relief! Sure I saw "Polly" on the map in teeny-tiny type but when
you get into dirt road country most maps are useless. And this was no exception.
Following the arrows we crossed the Privilege Creek
again where the crossing was drowned in a few inches of water. On the opposite side,
Nigel the Land Rover climbed a very steep and rocky road (?). Just past that we came upon
more signs with the cemetery sign pointing to the left and the chapel sign to the right
and something or other straight ahead. Turning
right we found no improvement on the road surface. Fact is, if you're planning to
head this way you'd better make sure the underside of you're transportation is a couple
of feet off the ground otherwise you'll hit high center. If you don't know
what that means imagine a crack in your crank case or the sight of your muffler in the
rear view mirror.
Then, there it was. Polly's Chapel sitting way
out yonder all by its lonesome. We hadn't seen a car or live body the whole way.
Kinda made me wonder what it was doing here and who, exactly, was Polly and how did
she get a chapel named after her?
My questions were answered to a fraction when I
spotted the historical marker on the building. Ponder this: Polly was named for
Policarpo Rodrigues (1829-1914). He was a Texas Ranger, army scout and guide who
settled in Privilege Creek community in 1858. He converted to the Methodist faith
and built the chapel of native stone with his own hands in 1882 where he later preached.
I've been baptized in the
Catholic, Methodist and twice in the Baptist church -- all before the age of 17 -- and
I've heard my fair share of stories about personal devotion to the faith. But
building a church by hand in the middle of nowhere all alone tops the list.
Since the place was unlocked I took a look inside and
a few pictures. The sunlight poured through huge arched windows creating one of
those clean well lighted places I am so fond of visiting. Then back out front I recorded a
few more pictures. I was stunned. The place was simply elegant. Clearly
Policarpo's talents matched his devotion.
Back in the late 1800s the community of Polly had a
general store, post office, school and over 300 residents. Policarpo lived to see
the decline of his community when the post office was closed in 1912. The consolidation of the school in 1942
with the Bandera ISD sealed the fate of Polly as consolidation did to virtually all of the
rural communities in the state. Next stop: Bandera, Texas, the Cowboy Capital of the
World. I promise.
PAGE 1: ON
THE ROAD, FINALLY / PAGE 2:
PAGE 3: DETOUR TO PRIVILEGE / PAGE 4: BANDERA
PAGE 5: LOST MAPLES & BEYOND
/ THE MAP
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