I absolutely LOVE seeing old pictures of river baptisms. They are beautiful to me. I know it's a practice and folk tradition Baptist of all - white and black -- and usually perform in rivers, bayous, and lakes. Immersion baptism, understood as demanding total submersion of the body, is required by Baptists, as enunciated in the 1689 Baptist Catechism: "Baptism is rightly administered by immersion, or dipping the whole body of the person in water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit", indicating that the whole body must be immersed, not just the head. ------ The tradition of submerging someone in a river to wash away their sins began in Europe, came to America in the 18th century and spread across the South by Baptist ministers, Daniels says. The Christian tradition replicates Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist 2,000 years ago. --- Baptisms were generally held during the summer or early fall so the water would be warm enough. Outdoor baptismal locations tend to be used traditionally in a community, with various churches using the same spot for generations. Source 1890 1848 Daguerreotype of former slaves receiving baptism on the Island of Martinique after emancipation. A large group of African-American spectators stands on the banks of Buffalo Bayou to witness a baptism (ca. 1900). African Americans Post Civil War- Baptism in Georgia Late 1800’s "Calling for Sinners." "Prayer."