December 7: Beulah Burr Stelle (1851)

In her long 85-year life, Beulah Burr Stelle was associated with many of the early events and people of the new nation.  In 1789, when George Washington traveled from Mount Vernon to New York City for his first inauguration, he made triumphal stops at several cities along the way. As he crossed the bridge into Trenton, New Jersey, Beulah was one of several young women chosen to strew flowers in his path (see accompanying depiction by artist N.C. Wyeth). Beulah’s sister, Keziah, was married to New Jersey Governor Richard Howell. Beulah frequently assumed the social responsibilities at the Governor’s Mansion for her invalid sister. When Beulah’s family followed the new government to Washington, she and her husband operated a hotel on Capitol Hill, which was primarily for members of Congress. Vice President Aaron Burr was her cousin.  Reportedly, Beulah’s daughter, Elizabeth, was the first child born in the new nation’s capital. Beulah was a personal acquaintance of the Marquis de Lafayette. When the British attacked Washington during the War of 1812, Beulah Stelle personally appealed to the British military officials to save the home of a poor widow with children as well as her own. After much back and forth, the British agreed. The houses were marked with candles in the windows.

It is difficult to determine to what degree Beulah was associated with Epiphany. Several sources indicate she was a Quaker. Her second husband, Pontius, came from a long line of Episcopalians and was a member of the vestry of St. Michael’s Parish in Trenton. Only one of her eight children appears to be associated with Epiphany. The wedding of that son (Edward) in September 1842 is the second marriage listed in Epiphany’s register. Several of Beulah’s grandchildren were baptized and married at the church. Beulah’s Stelle’s funeral is listed in Epiphany’s register and took place at the residence of her son.

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