Posts by epiphany

May 29: Parish Status for Epiphany (1844)

The Fifty-Sixth Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland met at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore from May 29 to June 1, 1844. At the time, the diocese included the entire state of Maryland as well as the District of Columbia. The bishop was the Rt. Rev. William Rollinson Whittingham. In his address to the convention, Bishop Whittingham stated, “The new congregation of the Church of the Epiphany has been steadily increasing in numbers and strength, and has almost completed its church edifice – an exertion that few would have thought within the bounds of possibility when the undertaking was commenced.”

On the second day of the convention, the Committee on new Parishes and Churches recommended the adoption of An Act to erect a new parish in the city of Washington, D.C. out of parts of the two parishes of St. John’s and Trinity. The act was referred to the Rev. Mr. Hawley and the Rev. Mr. French [rectors of St. John’s and Epiphany, respectively], as a committee for the further and final adjustment of the metes and bounds. That afternoon, the committee made their report, which was accepted, and the act agreed upon by them adopted. “The parish so established shall be known as the ‘Epiphany Parish in the city of Washington,’ and shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges secured to separate parishes by the vestry law of the State of Maryland, and by the constitution and canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in this diocese.

< Previous

May 28: William Beans Magruder (1869)

He was named for his uncle, Dr. William Beans, who as a political prisoner was detained aboard a British ship in Baltimore harbor during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key was sent to obtain his release. Though born in Montgomery County, Maryland, William Beans Magruder moved with his family to Georgetown at an early age. Here he obtained a preliminary education, before he studied medicine with a local Georgetown physician. In 1831, Magruder graduated from the University of Maryland Medical School. Shortly after setting up his practice, a cholera epidemic broke out in Washington. Dr. Magruder’s heroic conduct during the panic made his reputation as an important physician in the city.

By 1835, Dr. Magruder’s standing in the community had risen to a level that he decided to enter public office. He was first a member of the Washington Board of Health, then elected to the city’s Common Council, and then to the Board of Alderman where he served for 13 years. In 1856, the city’s Democrats, Republicans, and Whigs banded together as the “Anti-Know-Nothing Party” and nominated Magruder for mayor. After a fierce campaign, Magruder won by 13 votes. His term was marked by improvements to the city’s infrastructure. The baptism, confirmation and burial of Magruder’s first wife, Elizabeth, took place at Epiphany. Dr. Magruder was confirmed and married his second wife, Sarah, at Epiphany in 1854. A memorial tribute after his death stated, “his life as a physician was one long act of service and devotion to Almighty God.”

< Previous     Next >

May 27: Diocese of Washington (1895)

The 112th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Maryland met at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, DC from May 29 to May 30, 1895. At the time, the diocese included the state of Maryland other than the Eastern Shore as well as the District of Columbia. The bishop was the Rt. Rev. William Paret (former rector of Epiphany). The work of the two previous conventions had focused on a division of the diocese and the creation of the Diocese of Washington. Final approval depended on raising enough money to endow the new diocese. In his address to the convention, Bishop Paret stated, “What we all seek is the real strength and welfare of the Church, its greater power and effectiveness as Christ’s instrument and servant, in perpetuating and spreading His blessings for mankind.”

The people of Epiphany subscribed nearly one fourth of the amount pledged to support the new diocese. The approved bounds of the new organization were the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince Georges, Charles and St. Marys. The Diocese of Maryland transferred about 12,500 communicants, 49 parishes with 81 places of worship and 79 priests to the new institution. Epiphany Parish was by far the largest in the new diocese in terms of numbers. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved the creation of the new diocese in October 1895 and the primary convention of the new Diocese of Washington was held in early December.

< Previous

May 26: Samuel Powhatan Carter (1891)

Samuel Perry (later changed to Powhatan) Carter was a general in the Union Army and later became an admiral in the postbellum U.S. Navy. He was the first and to date only American officer to attain the rank of Major General and Rear Admiral. A native of Carter County, Tennessee, Samuel P. Carter was a direct descendant of the early settlers for whom the county was named. After studying at several schools, including the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), Carter enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served as a midshipman for five years before transferring to the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1846, the academy’s first class. Five years later, Carter married Caroline C. Potts at Epiphany. Caroline was later confirmed and buried from Epiphany.

During the Civil War, Tennessee Senator Andrew Johnson used his influence to have Carter detached from the Navy to allow him to enlist and organize forces in northeastern Tennessee among the mostly Union sympathetic population. Carter was placed in command of a cavalry division and was eventually promoted to Brevet Major General of Volunteers. Returning to the Navy after the Civil War, Carter served in the Pacific Squadron, was commandant of midshipmen in the Naval Academy for a while and shortly before retirement was promoted to Rear Admiral. Fellow officers remembered him as “tall, handsome and dignified, graceful in carriage and very affable…..a ‘soldierly Christian’ of sincere piety and undoubted courage.”

< Previous     Next >

May 25: Hugh McCulloch (1895)

Hugh McCulloch served two non-consecutive terms as U.S. Treasury Secretary under three presidents. McCulloch was born in Maine and educated at Bowdoin College. After studying law in Boston, he relocated to Indiana where he began a practice. He became cashier, manager and eventually president of a Fort Wayne bank. It was from this position that Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase appointed him to be the first Comptroller of the Currency in 1863. During McCulloch’s 22 months in office, 868 national banks were chartered and no failures occurred. McCulloch recommended major changes in the banking law. The resulting legislation remains the foundation of the national banking system today.

A month before his assassination, President Lincoln appointed McCulloch as the 27th Secretary of the Treasury. He was Lincoln’s third and final Treasury secretary and was the last surviving member of Lincoln’s cabinet. McCulloch continued to serve in the Johnson administration where he maintained a policy of reducing the federal war debt and the careful reintroduction of federal taxation in the South. Following a time with a London banking firm, McCulloch returned to Washington to serve as Treasury secretary under President Chester A. Arthur. In 1867, McCulloch’s infant daughter, Mary, was baptized at Epiphany, followed by her confirmation there 14 years later.

< Previous     Next >

May 24: Lucius Fairchild (1896)

The accompanying photograph depicts Lucius Fairchild and his wife, Frances Bull Fairchild. The couple was married at the Church of the Epiphany on April 27, 1864. Frances’ older sister, Kate, had been married there five years earlier. The mother and stepfather of the sisters had been buried from Epiphany in the mid 1850’s. During the Civil War, Frances often visited the hospitals in the city to bring cheer to the wounded soldiers. She got to know many of the officers and was often invited to dine at the officers’ mess. Through this, she made the acquaintance of Lucius Fairchild and married him in 1864. Fairchild by that time had a highly distinguished military career.

In 1858, Fairchild enlisted as a private in a Wisconsin volunteer militia, later known as the Second Wisconsin Infantry. At the beginning of the Civil War, Fairchild served with distinction at the First and Second Battles of Bull Run and later at Antietam. During the first day of fighting at Gettysburg, Fairchild’s regiment was the first infantry unit to make close contact with the Confederate Army. Fairchild was shot in the upper arm, captured, tended to, and released. Fairchild’s left arm had to be amputated. While recovering, President Lincoln commissioned Fairchild a brigadier general. Shortly thereafter Fairchild resigned from the military and was appointed Secretary of State of Wisconsin, before being elected three term Governor of Wisconsin. Later Fairchild was appointed U.S. consul at Liverpool, then consul general at Paris and finally ambassador to Spain.

< Previous     Next >

May 23: Christopher Houston Carson (1868)

Christopher Houston Carson (or more commonly “Kit Carson”) was an American frontiersman, fur trapper, wilderness guide and Indian agent. His name may be familiar to many through exaggerated versions of his exploits recounted in comic books of their youth. What connection could a person like this possibly have with an Episcopal church in downtown Washington? It turns out that Kit Carson was at Epiphany standing as a sponsor at the baptism of three-week old Benton Frémont on August 15, 1848.  Benton Frémont was the second child of John Charles Frémont and Jessie Benton Frémont, the latter being the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Senator Benton was the great expounder of “manifest destiny,” the belief that the United States was destined (by God, some said) to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean. Benton pushed appropriations through Congress for national surveys of the region and then put his son-in-law, John C. Frémont, in charge of them. In the 1840’s, Fremont hired Kit Carson as a guide for expeditions through California and Oregon. Under Fremont’s command, Carson participated in the uprising against Mexican rule in California. Carson made a coast-to-coast journey from California to Washington, DC to deliver news of the conflict in California to the U.S. government. This put Carson in town for the aforementioned baptism. In Epiphany’s register, Carson’s name is recorded as “Kit (Christopher) Carson,” his residence, “Rocky Mountains.”

< Previous     Next >

May 22: Robert Finley Hunt (1898)

In September 2011, a 286-page collection of R. Finley Hunt’s personal papers sold at auction for $23,309. Halfway through the Civil War, Hunt, who at the time was a dentist of unknown engineering ability living in Richmond, VA, theorized that he could build an airplane. Dr. Hunt thought his steam-powered vehicle could help the Confederacy, so he wrote President Jefferson Davis of his “invention of a flying machine intended to be used for war purposes in the existing conflict.” In 1863, Davis referred Hunt to Robert E. Lee, who in turn directed him to Colonel Jeremy Gilmer, Chief of the Engineer Bureau for the Confederacy. Gilmore appointed a board of engineers to review Hunt’s idea, but the report came back unfavorable. As it turned out, only balloons were used during the war, and only in a limited way.

Hunt moved to Washington, continued his dental profession and eventually got a patent on his flying device. He built several working models and was still attempting to get financing in 1872, but never saw his vision take flight. Hunt’s 21-year old daughter Fannie was confirmed at Epiphany in 1872. A decade later, Fannie was married to Thomas Howard at Epiphany by rector William Paret. Dr. Hunt lived to see his first grandson, Busey Hunt Howard, baptized at Epiphany. Robert Finley Hunt died on May 22, 1898. His funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at Oak Hill Cemetery. Five years later, the Wright Brothers made their first flight.

< Previous     Next >

May 21: Emancipation of Nelly Ann Easton (1862)

On May 21, 1862, a petition for compensation for the release of slave Nelly Ann Easton was submitted by Ann Briscoe of Washington, DC. This was the result of legislation signed by President Lincoln on April 16 “for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia.” The plan relied on a three-person Emancipation Commission to distribute the allocated funding. In order to receive compensation, former slaveholders were required to provide written evidence of their ownership, as well as state their loyalty to the Union. As a result of the act’s passage, 3185 slaves were freed. Ann Briscoe stated that she had gained ownership of Nelly Easton by way of inheriting Nelly’s mother, Louisa Easton, from the estate of her father, Dr. Edward Briscoe of Charles County, MD.

In Miss Briscoe’s petition, Nelly is described as “five feet 8 inches high, copper colored, large features, thin face, ordinary size, and a very superior cook.” The petition asked for $800 in compensation. The commission granted $262.80. In addition to Nelly, Miss Briscoe was also petitioning compensation for Nelly’s daughter, Floreed, who was described as having a “pleasing bright countenance.” Floreed had been baptized at Epiphany in 1849. Nelly was confirmed there seven months later. Through the Civil War years, Nelly Easton stood as a sponsor at the baptism of at least seven African-American infants. Due to the requirements of parochial reports, these individuals are labeled as “colored.” The last evidence of Nelly Ann Easton at Epiphany was in 1864 when she served as sponsor at the baptism of Sophia Davis. In 1867, to give African Americans greater autonomy, Epiphany and St. John’s established St. Mary’s Church in Foggy Bottom.

< Previous

May 20: Alexander Brydie Dyer (1874)

Alexander Brydie Dyer rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. Born in Richmond, Virginia, he was one of the few native Southerners to reach the rank of general in the Union army. A career military man, Dyer graduated sixth in a class of 50 at West Point. One of his classmates was future Epiphany parishioner Edward Townsend. Dyer served in the Seminole Wars as lieutenant of ordnance. In the Mexican-American War, he was brevetted for gallant conduct. When the Civil War erupted, Dyer stayed with the Union and was given command of the Federal Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his improvement of operations gained notice. In 1864, he was appointed chief of ordnance at Washington, DC, where he would remain the rest of his career.

The first record of General Dyer at Epiphany is the confirmation of his 14-year old daughter Anne in 1871. Three years after her father’s death, Anne was married at Epiphany. Dyer was confirmed on his sick bed shortly before his death. The General Order announcing his death and funeral was issued by Adjutant-General (and fellow West Point classmate and parishioner) Edward Townsend. The order concluded, “The funeral ceremonies will take place from the Church of the Epiphany on G street, between 13th and 14th streets. As appropriate honors to the memory of the deceased, minute guns (thirteen) will be fired at Springfield Armory and at each Arsenal, commencing at 12 o’clock M., and the national flag will be displayed at half-staff from the same hour until sundown on the next day.”

< Previous     Next >