August 25: Seth Eastman (1875)

Seth Eastman made his career with the U.S. Army. He became an accomplished artist and painted many scenes of Native American life. Eastman was born in Brunswick, Maine, the eldest of thirteen children. He convinced his parents to let him join the military, entering West Point at age 16. He graduated in 1829, the same class as Robert E. Lee. He served his first duty assignments at frontier posts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Eastman’s interest in painting led him back to West Point in 1833, where he taught drawing for the next seven years. In 1841, Eastman returned to Fort Snelling (MN) with his wife, who wrote about the native Americans in the area. One of her publications reportedly provided Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with material for his poem “Hiawatha.” Eastman painted a number of interpretations of native American culture to illustrate his wife’s writing.

In 1849, the Army sent Eastman to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. to work on a report on Indian tribes in the United States. During this time, Eastman and his family became associated with Epiphany. The baptism of his youngest child, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft Eastman, was at the church. H.R. Schoolcraft was an explorer and Indian agent. Eastman illustrated a massive six-volume study that Schoolcraft did. Eastman was baptized at Epiphany in 1855, with his wife serving as his sponsor. Eastman held various command positions during the Civil War. Following the war, Congress authorized Eastman to paint two series of paintings for the U.S. Capitol – one set regarding native American scenes and the other set a series of seventeen military forts. In addition to various baptisms, confirmations and marriages of his children at Epiphany, Eastman was confirmed there in 1870, and following his death in 1875 was buried from the church prior to his interment in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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