Posts by epiphany

October 10: Bishop Gene Robinson’s Visit (2004)

Bishop V. Gene Robinson was the ninth bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion. On Sunday, October 10, 2004, Bishop Robinson made a visit to the Church of the Epiphany at the invitation of rector Randolph Charles and with the consent of Bishop of Washington John Bryson Chane. Charles and Robinson were classmates at Sewanee and General Theological Seminary. Bishop Robinson’s visit came just under a year after his consecration. This was Robinson’s first time in Washington since that event. Due to the controversy over Robinson’s episcopate there was a large press presence at Epiphany and services drew close to three times the normal attendance. On that Sunday morning, Bishop Robinson preached at the 8am and 11am Eucharists. Following the early service, Robinson donned plastic gloves and jumped in to help serve breakfast and interact with Welcome Table guests.

Robinson was born into poverty, the son of Kentucky tobacco sharecroppers. Raised in the Disciples of Christ denomination, he joined the Episcopal Church while attending college. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop of Newark (and former Epiphany rector) Leland Stark. Even before his election as bishop, Robinson had been an active clergyman, promoting clergy wellness, counseling clergy and reconciling parishes in conflict. He promoted education about AIDS, civil rights, and tolerance, especially for gays and lesbians. He was elected to the episcopacy on June 7, 2003, and consecrated bishop on November 2. He became bishop of New Hampshire the following March. Robinson’s election to the episcopacy became the focus of heated controversy not only within the Episcopal Church but also within the larger Anglican Communion. In 2009 he led the invocation at ceremonies preceding the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Robinson was influential in the 2009 decisions by the General Convention to affirm the right of gays and lesbians to be ordained and to explore liturgical options for performing same-sex marriages.

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October 9: Christopher D’Olier Reeve (2004)

Christopher Reeve was an American actor, film director, producer, screenwriter, author, activist and equestrian. Reeve was born September 25, 1952, in New York City, to journalist Barbara Lamb and writer/professor Franklin D’Olier Reeve. He came from an upper-class family; his paternal grandfather was CEO of Prudential Financial, and one of his maternal great-grandfathers was Supreme Court justice Mahlon Pitney. It is his ancestry that ties Reeve to Epiphany. On October 7, 1891, Reeve’s great grandparents, Augustus Henry Reeve and Margaretta Willis Baldwin were married at Epiphany. In fact, so connected was the family to the church that former rector Charles H. Hall returned to officiate at the ceremony after being gone 22 years. On November 6, 1861, Reeve’s great-great grandparents, Henry Baldwin (Jr.) and Katherine Irving Dayton were married at Epiphany. One more generation back, Reeve’s great-great-great grandfather, Henry Baldwin (Sr.) was buried from the church in 1868. There are many other strong ancestral ties. The mother of Epiphany’s founding rector, John W. French, was a Baldwin, which places Reeve in relation to the very founding of the church. Christopher Reeve once stated that he had strong attachments to his past, the place where he grew up, his heritage, and family traditions.

When Christopher Reeve was four, his parents divorced. His mother moved Christopher and his brother Benjamin to Princeton, New Jersey, and married an investment banker a few years later. After graduating from high school, Reeve studied at Cornell University while at the same time working as a professional actor. In his final year at Cornell, he was one of two students selected (Robin Williams was the other) to study at New York’s famous Julliard School, under the renowned John Houseman. Although Christopher is best known for his role as Superman (1978), his acting career spans a much larger ground. Paralyzed after a horse riding accident, he died suddenly at age 52 after several years of living and working with his severe disability. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation continues the work of Christopher and his wife, Dana in seeking a cure for spinal cord injury and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. Epiphany received a grant from the Reeve Foundation to improve accessibility with the 2012 renovation of the church.

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October 8: Hiram Nichols Wadsworth (1896)

Dr. H.N. Wadsworth submitted the first patent for a toothbrush in the United States (number 18,653) on November 7, 1857. Hiram Nichols Wadsworth was born in Burlington, Vermont, in February 1819. Wadsworth was one of a family of six children, who were early left to the care of a widowed mother, and it was always a matter of great satisfaction to him in his later years to state that the entire six children had grown to years of maturity, and had done credit to the care and teaching of the mother. He commenced the study of dentistry with Dr. Elliott of Plattsburg and subsequently attended lectures at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery (the first dental school in the world), where he graduated with the class of 1853.

Dr. Wadsworth married his first wife, Sophia, at Epiphany and settled in Washington, D.C., where he practiced dentistry continuously for over forty years, until ill health obliged him to retire in 1893. During all that long period he occupied a most prominent place in his profession. Few have enjoyed the patronage of such a distinguished clientele, his patrons being from among the most distinguished circles in civil, military and diplomatic life and it was his good fortune to command not merely their confidence and patronage, but to enjoy their respect and esteem as well. He was kind and affable, social, genial, yet dignified; a polished, courteous gentleman, and a splendid example of the true professional man. His motto throughout all his practice was, “The very best which I can possibly do is none too good for my patients.” He took a deep interest in the welfare and advancement of dentistry, and was instrumental in starting the Washington City Dental Society, one of the first annual addresses ever offered before that body being delivered by him. Two daughters, Emily and Marie, were baptized and confirmed at Epiphany. Funeral services for Dr. Wadsworth are recorded in Epiphany’s register. His interment was at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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October 7: Samuel Cooper Mills (1911)

Samuel C. Mills was an American photographer, Civil War veteran, and a judge. Born in 1833 in Washington, D.C., Mills was the third of twelve children of John and Mary Ann Mills. As a young man, he worked in his father’s shoe factory. In 1856, Mills began working in the photography studio of Blanchard P. Paige on Pennsylvania Avenue. Two years later, Mills was hired as the photographer for a U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers survey of the Utah Territory. After a grueling three and half month journey across the country, Mills’ photographs were some of the first taken along the Utah and California Trails. Upon his return to D.C., Mills went back to work at Paige’s photography studio. In 1864, Mills enlisted in the Union Army as a hospital steward and after the war ended, he returned to photographic work. Meanwhile, he studied law, passed the bar in 1872, and was appointed a police judge in the district, a position he held for the remainder of his working life.

Quite a few members of the Mills family were associated with Epiphany. The first entry in the records of the family is the marriage of the oldest child, Mary Ann Susannah Mills to Joseph B. Tate in 1850. Tate was the founder of the Evening Star newspaper. Of the twelve Mills children, five were married at the church, including Samuel. In October 1860, after his western adventure, Samuel Mills and Mary Ann Knott were married at Epiphany by rector Charles H. Hall. The couple’s first child, Mary Anna, was baptized in April 1862, just before the church was converted to a military hospital during the war. The baptisms of several nieces and nephews of Samuel Mills also took place during this time period.

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October 6: Gwendolyn Hope Marshfield (1998)

A common sight following Epiphany’s 8:00am Sunday Eucharist, that includes a large number of downtown poor, was the petite Gwen Marshfield, smartly attired and wearing one of her signature large hats, attending the Welcome Table breakfast. There she would sit at table breaking bread and conversing with a wide variety of men and women, all of whom seemed to be her friends. A native of Wisconsin, Gwen Marshfield was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. She received a master’s degree in social work from the College of William and Mary and worked toward a doctorate in social work at Columbia University. Gwen left elementary school teaching in Pittsburgh and went on to work for the Red Cross in Erie, Pennsylvania just before World War II. She was assigned to the national headquarters in the early 1940s.

Gwen spent her career in youth services, serving as director of Red Cross Youth in Europe from 1959 to 1962. She was responsible for youth programs in 205 American dependent schools in 14 countries. She retired from the headquarters of the American Red Cross in 1985 as director of national youth services. In her retirement, Gwen was a volunteer in many Epiphany programs. Her funeral was held there following her passing in 1998. Gwen’s father and brother were both Episcopal clergy. In a booklet she wrote entitled God’s Interpreters, Gwen wrote the following postscript. “Dedicated to my beloved parents, The Rev. and Mrs. Walter J. Marshfield, who were the first to introduce me to God’s wondrous works and to so influence my interpretation of: What I saw, What I thought, What I heard, What I did that I recognized that life consisted of a relationship to God and to one another and realized that everyone truly was one of God’s interpreters, sometimes interpreting his work in an erroneous way, but ever trying, trying, trying!”

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October 5: John Charles Linthicum (1932)

J. Charles Linthicum was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the 4th Congressional district of Maryland. Born in 1867, Linthicum was from a wealthy land-owning family and lived in Anne Arundel County, just outside Baltimore in an area now known as Linthicum, which was named for his family. After a stint as an educator, Linthcium earned his law degree. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate, and was then elected to the U.S. House in 1911 and continued to serve until his death over 20 years later. In 1911, Linthicum introduced a bill to establish Fort McHenry as a national park.  In 1918, Linthicum introduced legislation to officially make the “Star-Spangled Banner” America’s national anthem.  There were a variety of challenges facing the idea. Linthicum would spend the next 13 years re-introducing the bill at the start of every session. Finally, in 1931, the bill was passed in Congress and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.

Linthicum turned his sights on repealing the 18th amendment that mandated Prohibition. He would not live to see the fruits of that particular labor as Prohibition didn’t end until a year after his death. During his time serving in Congress, Linthicum and his wife became associated with the Church of the Epiphany. Following his death in 1932, Helen Linthicum placed a stained glass window in the church in memory of her husband. The window is in the center position on the east side of the nave and depicts the evangelists Matthew and Mark. A special dedicatory service for the window was held on October 5, 1934, the second anniversary of Linthicum’s death. Bishop of Maryland Edward T. Helfenstein was one of four officiating clergy.

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October 4: Orlando Metcalfe Poe (1895)

Orlando Poe biographer Paul Taylor calls Poe “one of the most influential yet underrated and overlooked soldiers during the Civil War.” Orlando Metcalfe Poe was born on the family farm in Navarre, Ohio in 1832. He attended several public schools and two years in Canton Academy in Canton, Ohio before ultimately attaining his dream – attending the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Poe excelled particularly in mathematics and graduated sixth in the class of 1856. After graduation, Poe sought to put his engineering skills to work for the military. He moved to Detroit to join the Topographical Engineers. Wartime duties for topographical engineers included surveying positions of the armies, sketching routes of the enemy and preparing maps of battlefields. In peacetime, they surveyed and charted the nation’s rivers and lakes.

During the Civil War, Poe was known for his bravery, intelligence, and athleticism. Poe served under several of the war’s greatest generals, including George McClellan and William T. Sherman. Because of his successful command of a number of significant battles, he was selected by General Sherman to be his chief engineer. Poe oversaw the burning of Atlanta and continued as engineer for Sherman’s March to the Sea. Beginning in 1866, Poe begins to show up in Epiphany’s records. All four of the children of Orlando and Eleanor Poe were baptized at the church. The two oldest children were confirmed there while in their teens. After the war, Poe once again served as engineer to General Sherman. He distinguished himself with his lighthouse designs on Lake Huron and is responsible for many lighthouses, canals, and locks on the Great Lakes in Michigan. His work on the locks at Sault Ste. Marie opened up the shipping industry in the area and assisted in the creation of the U. S. steel industry.

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October 3: Samuel Sherratt (1903)

Samuel Sherratt was a well-known and highly sought after painter of china. Sherratt was born and raised in Staffordshire, England, a place renowned for the craftsmanship of its world famous potteries at Stoke on Trent. Samuel Sherratt and his wife, Margaret, came to America in 1879, when they were both about 23 years old. In the latter 19th Century, Samuel set up a decorating studio in Washington on 13th Street NW, just around the corner from Epiphany Church. He was a popular china-painting artist and teacher. He appears to have been a sought after painter of porcelain, particularly for his works decorating china with lovely floral paintings (see accompanying picture of a candy dish he painted). It is believed that pieces signed “Sherratt’s” were ones painted in his studio during this period.

In general, china painting was a widely respected art and a major hobby for women during the mid 1800s and into the early 1900s. Artists and the general public would purchase “blank white” pieces of white ware that was Czechoslovakian and as light and translucent as any Limoges. The white ware including many made by major manufacturers of Limoges china, Thomas Bavaria, Rosenthal Donatello, and decorate them either with simple gold detailing or with intricate paintings of flowers and scenes, and then take them to a shop to be kiln fired so that the paint would be “set” and not wash off. Sherratt continued his craft until his death in 1903 at age 47. Sherratt’s wife and nephew took over his shop. Samuel Sherratt’s funeral took place at the Church of the Epiphany before his interment at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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October 2: Aaron Ogden Dayton (1858)

When Aaron O. Dayton came to Washington in the early 1830s, he originally worked for the State Department, serving for a time as Chief Clerk, which was akin to an Assistant Secretary of State in the early days. In 1838, Dayton became Fourth Auditor of the Treasury Department and served in that role for twenty years until his death in 1858. The Fourth Auditor was responsible for settling all accounts of or relating to the Navy Department, including those for payment of naval pensions; keeping accounts of receipts and disbursements of public moneys; and filing settled accounts after final approval by the Second Comptroller. A New Jersey native, Dayton attended Princeton, graduating with high honors. He initially studied law and practiced in that field for several years.

The first record of Dayton at Epiphany is the baptism of his third child, Elizabeth, in 1847. In the same year, Dayton made the gift of the first stained glass windows to the new church. These were two windows above the altar area, which are no longer in existence. Dayton’s last child and namesake was baptized at Epiphany in 1851. After his death, one of Dayton’s daughters was married at the church and two of his grandchildren were baptized. Dayton’s brother-in-law was the Rev. William Berrian, rector of Trinity Church, New York. Following Dayton’s death, Berrian wrote a touching tribute in which he said, “the distinguishing ornament of his mind, and crowing excellence of his character, consisted in his deep religious principle, his unpretending piety, his fervent devotional feelings, his reverence for all that was holy, and his love of all that was good.” Upon his death, Secretary of the Treasury Howell Cobb said, “in that death, I lost one of my dearest friends; society, one of its best citizens; government, one of its valued officers.”

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October 1: George C. Gibson (1861)

From 1816-1818, Congress authorized two Quartermaster Generals, one for the each of the military Divisions that the United States was then divided.  Colonel George Gibson served as Quartermaster General of the Southern Division.  This was the only time in the history of the Quartermaster Corps that such an arrangement has existed. Gibson was born at Westover Mills, Pennsylvania on September 1, 1775.  He came from a family of soldiers. When Congress authorized an increase in the size of the Army, Gibson enlisted as a Captain in the 5th Infantry Regiment. Winfield Scott, who years later became commander-in-chief of the Army, was commissioned the same day as a Captain of light artillery, and their association developed into a warm friendship which lasted more than half a century.

The major activity of Gibson’s term as Quartermaster General came during his final four months in office when he was called upon to supply the campaign against the Seminole Indians in West Florida. When the Quartermaster Department was reorganized, Gibson was appointed to the newly created office of Commissary General of Subsistence. It was a position he occupied for forty-three years, during which time he introduced many reforms in the system of feeding the troops and greatly reduced the costs. Gibson’s span of life covered the period from the beginning of the Revolution to the start of the Civil War. At the time of his death, he was the oldest officer in the Army, being several years older than his close friend, General Scott, who survived him. President Lincoln was one of the first to call at General Gibson’s home and “spoke feelingly” of the veteran soldier. The President, members of his cabinet, Generals George B. McClellan and Winfield Scott, and many other notables of the day attended the elaborate military funeral with which Gibson was honored. Epiphany’s rector, the Rev. Charles H. Hall, conducted the service. Burial was in the Congressional Cemetery.

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