December 29: Sumner Cummings Paine (1898)

Sumner Cummings Paine was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He was born August 31, 1848 in Maine to Seth and Mary (Cummings) Paine. His father was city treasurer of Bangor, Maine.  Sumner was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Maine and graduated with the Class of 1869. He reached the grade of lieutenant in October 1896 and his last cruise was executive officer on Admiral Dewey’s flagship Olympia just prior to the Spanish-American War. Paine was taken ill in April 1898 and his health gradually failed until his death came in December. He was 50 years old.

Sumner Paine provides an interesting link between two significant Epiphany families. Two of his classmates at the Naval Academy were John H.C. Coffin, Jr. and Benjamin H. Buckingham. On February 27, 1878, Sumner Paine married John Coffin’s sister, Helen Olcott Coffin, at the Church of the Epiphany. Benjamin Buckingham served as a witness. These two Coffins are children of Louisa Harrison Coffin, the woman who gave the land upon which Epiphany is built. Benjamin Buckingham married Margaret Freeman, one of Epiphany’s great benefactors who gave the church its parish house and tower bells. Sumner and Helen Paine’s only child, Elsie, was baptized at the church in 1879 and buried from there nine years later. Sumner Paine’s funeral was from Epiphany in 1898 before his interment in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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