January 8 – John Huntington Crane Coffin (1890)

A native of Maine, John Coffin (and his twin sister Sarah) grew up in a very religious, loving, and social family. At Bowdoin College, John Coffin excelled in mathematics. He graduated in 1834 and fifty years later would be awarded an honorary LL.D. degree by the same institution. A classmate of Coffin’s described him “as of singularly sweet disposition – affable, gentle, and of fine grain. There was a rare union in him of goodness and genius.” As with many of his ancestors, Coffin heard the call of the sea and this translated into a lifelong career in the U.S. Navy. In addition to serving at sea, he also performed land duties at the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval Observatory. His expertise was in navigation and astronomy. He was a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.

During an assignment in Washington in the early 1840’s, John Coffin made the acquaintance of Louisa Harrison. Their marriage at the Church of the Epiphany was the first wedding in the new church. Earlier, Louisa had given the church the two lots of land on G Street as the site for the new building. Most of the Coffin’s six children were baptized and confirmed at Epiphany. John served on the vestry for several decades and was the treasurer from 1869 until his death on January 8, 1890. Professor Coffin had lived through seven Epiphany rectors and had witnessed the church’s growth from a small mission congregation to a prominent religious institution in the nation’s capital.

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1 Comment

  1. Edward K Campbell

    Fri 26th May 2017 at 5:27 pm

    I am enjoying these short, informative vignettes that reflect not only the history of the Church but also local and national history.


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