August 2: Alexander Graham Bell (1922)

When Alexander Graham Bell died on August 2, 1922, the entire telephone system on the North American continent was silenced for one minute in tribute to his life. Although a scientist, engineer and innovator and the holder of 18 patents, Bell is best known as the primary inventor of the telephone. Bell’s father, grandfather and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing his life’s work. Bell’s research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in his being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876.

The Bell family home was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until 1880 when Bell’s father-in-law and business manager, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, bought a house in Washington. In 1882 he bought a home in the same city for Bell’s family, so that they could be with him while he attended to the numerous court cases involving patent disputes. In the early 1880’s, two of Bell’s unmarried sisters-in-law were confirmed at Epiphany. Later after one sister-in-law was married, the baptism of the couples first child was at Epiphany and the funeral of the other sister-in-law took place. The only evidence of Bell’s direct connection to Epiphany is a 1889 pew rental receipt from Epiphany found in his papers. Pew rentals were the method at the time by which people kept a pew and financially supported the church.

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