Posts by epiphany

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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September 30: +John Thomas Walker (1989)

John Thomas Walker was the sixth bishop of Washington. He was the first African American to attend Virginia Theological Seminary, the nation’s second black diocesan bishop and a candidate in 1985 for the office of presiding bishop. Walker earned a world reputation for his support of social activism. Through his friendship with South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he exercised an effective leadership of opposition to apartheid. Walker reached across denominational divisions to people of other faiths and was one of the founders of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. Walker was born in Barnesville, Georgia. His grandfather and great-grandfather were A.M.E. Church ministers. At age 23, Walker decided to join the Episcopal Church. When he was ordained in the 1950s, the Episcopal Church membership tended to be white, affluent, and mostly of English ancestry. Walker was among those whose work helped transform the Church’s makeup and mission.

Walker came to Washington in 1966 to serve as canon missioner at the Cathedral. This was about the same time Edgar Romig came to Washington as Epiphany’s 13th rector. Over time, the two became good friends and intellectual sparring partners. On May 1, 1971, Edgar Romig nominated John T. Walker to be bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Washington. Walker won out over three other African American contenders. On June 12, 1976, a special diocesan convention was held at Epiphany to elect a bishop coadjutor (having the right of succession to the diocesan bishop). After the first ballot, Epiphany rector Edgar Romig, one of three other candidates for the post, moved that the election be made unanimous for John Walker. When Bishop Walker died in 1989, it was his old friend Edgar Romig that came to the Canterbury Pulpit in Washington Cathedral to deliver the funeral oration. “For even in our grief we are thankful for all that John has meant to us, to the wider Church, and to the world; and we rejoice that he is now in the Lord’s nearer Presence, adding new joy to heaven itself.”

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September 29: Three Significant Events (1896, 1907, 1923)

Three Significant Events (1896, 1907, 1923)On this Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, three significant events related to Epiphany took place over a 27-year period.

Hurricane (1896)

Long before there was a Hurricane Harvey or Irma, “Hurricane #4” ripped through Washington, D.C. on the evening of September 29, 1896. One of the costliest hurricanes ever to strike the United States at the time, the small but intense storm sped northward; its rapid movement allowed it to maintain much of its severity over land. Extremely high winds up to 125 miles per hour accompanied the hurricane. In Washington, D.C., trees were uprooted, communications were severed, and localized violent gusts damaged many buildings. The steeple of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church was completely toppled. Epiphany’s four-tier 1857 tower was weakened and afterwards it was decided to remove the top two wooden tiers.

 Cathedral Cornerstone (1907)

The laying of the cornerstone of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul took place on Sunday, September 29, 1907. Although it was a diocesan event, Epiphany’s influence was definitely in it. The 1891 meeting, where the decision was made to build the cathedral, was held at the home of parishioner Charles Carroll Glover. Bishop (and former Epiphany rector) William Paret oversaw the creation of the new diocese and the plans for its cathedral. Rector Randolph McKim helped promote the cathedral concept in his roles as an incorporator of the cathedral foundation, an original cathedral trustee, and President of the House of Deputies. McKim began the foundation stone service. Parishioners George Truesdell, Ellen Parke, Margaret Buckingham, and Isabel Freeman contributed significant financial support to get the cathedral started. On the day before, Epiphany hosted the Brotherhood of St. Andrew for their corporate communion service.

 Freeman Consecration (1923)

Eight clergy associated with Epiphany have become bishops, four of whom were rectors. Eighth rector James Edward Freeman was consecrated bishop and became the third bishop of Washington at Epiphany on September 29, 1923. Freeman had only been at Epiphany two and a half years. He combined the talents of a spiritual leader with those of a business executive. After leading a successful national drive to raise money for the cathedral, he was a natural candidate to succeed Bishop Harding after his sudden death. An array of bishops and a score of clergymen high in the offices of the’ Episcopal Church either personally attended Dr. Freeman or occupied places in the chancel during the consecration service. In the congregation were men and women prominent throughout the country. Among them were former President and Mrs. Wilson, Chief Justice Taft and General Pershing.

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September 28: Phineas Jonathan Horwitz (1904)

Phineas J. Horwitz was a surgeon in the U.S. Navy for 37 years and served as the Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the position that would later become the Surgeon General of the Navy. Horwitz was born in Baltimore in 1822 of Jewish parents. His father was a surgeon and attained great distinction as a fine classical scholar, a profound thinker, and eloquent lecturer. After graduating from the University of Maryland, the younger Horwitz continued his medical studies at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He entered the U.S. Navy in 1847, as assistant surgeon, and was assigned to duty on board the frigate Cumberland, and afterwards placed in charge of the Naval Hospital in Tabasco, Mexico during the Mexican War. He was promoted to a passed assistant surgeon in 1853 and was at sea much of the time in South America and Africa.

In 1859 Horwitz was stationed in Washington as assistant chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Owing to the feeble health of the chief, the labors of the bureau fell almost entirely on Dr. Horwitz during the trying time of the Civil War. His position involved voluminous correspondence, the adjustment of pensions, the supplying of surgeons, apothecaries, nurses, medicines, and the general management of all financial matters pertaining to the office. These duties were discharged with such noted efficiency that upon the death of his predecessor he was at once appointed chief of the bureau. During his decade in Washington, Horwitz became associated with the Church of the Epiphany. Parish records contain the burials of two of his children – Joseph and Caroline and the baptisms of four children – Orville, Thomas, Theophilus, and George. Son Orville would go on to become a noted surgeon, a third generation Horwitz to follow that profession.

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September 27: Thomas Francis Bayard (1898)

Thomas F. Bayard was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1828. He attended law school in Flushing, New York, passed the bar in 1851, and thereafter began practicing law. Bayard was appointed U.S. District Attorney for Delaware in 1853, but resumed private practice in 1854. In 1869, Bayard was elected as U.S. Senator from Delaware, and served until March 6, 1885, when he became Secretary of State under President Grover Cleveland. While in the Senate, Bayard also served on the Hayes-Tilden Electoral Commission in 1877. While in Washington, Bayard became associated with Epiphany and served as a member of the vestry. Following his tenure as Secretary, Bayard served as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain from 1893 to 1897.

As Secretary of State, Bayard moved away from patronage appointments, choosing instead to appoint diplomats known for their skill and expertise rather than their political loyalty. In foreign affairs, Bayard intervened in the ongoing disputes over U.S. fishing rights in Canada and Newfoundland. In addition to addressing fishing rights, Bayard also focused on Pacific affairs. In 1887, he oversaw the Senate’s ratification of the renewal of a reciprocity treaty with Hawaii. As Secretary, Bayard was also interested in increasing Japanese autonomy. After his tenure as Secretary of State, Bayard served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. As Ambassador, Bayard became involved in the Venezuela-Guyana boundary dispute. His public, pro-British pronouncements placed him at odds with then Secretary of State, Richard Olney, and President Grover Cleveland. Bayard remained as Minister until the end of Cleveland’s second term in 1897. Bayard retired, and died in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1898.

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September 26: Thomas Scott Fillebrown (1884)

Commodore Thomas S. Fillebrown, at the time of his death, had served in the U.S. Navy faithfully for over forty years. He served with distinction during the Civil War, and during the time he was in the Navy he saw about twenty-four years of active sea service. During his entire naval career he was noted for his unflinching integrity in the discharge of his duties. Fillebrown was born in Georgetown, D.C. and had always considered Washington his home. He entered the Navy in 1841 at age 17 and was present in all the naval operations on the Gulf coast during the Mexican War. In 1847 he attended the Naval Academy and was promoted to passed Midshipman. Until the Civil War, he was alternately at sea and the Naval Observatory in Washington. While in D.C., he became associated with Epiphany. In 1856, he was married to Mary E. Potts; in 1858 he was baptized; in 1858 and 1861, his two sons were baptized. All of these sacraments were performed by the Rev. Charles Hall, Epiphany’s rector at the time.

At the outbreak of the war in 1861 Fillebrown was attached to the steam frigate Roanoke off the Atlantic coast. As a Lieutenant Commander in 1862 he was assigned to duty at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In May 1864 he was in command of the ironclad Passaic in her operations against Fort Sumter. He was returned to the Naval Observatory at Washington having done meritorious service on each of the many vessels on which he served during the war. As Commander, Mr. Fillebrown was attached to the Hydrographic Office in Washington. For the next two years he was Chief of the Bureau of Equipment. As Captain he was Executive Officer of the Norfolk Navy Yard. His last duty was as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where Fillebrown died in 1884. Had he lived two years longer he would have been retired as Rear Admiral. Fillebrown’s funeral took place with naval honors from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The services were conducted by his old friend and rector from Epiphany, the Rev. Charles Hall, now at Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn.

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September 25: James Ferguson (1867)

James Ferguson was an American astronomer who made the first discovery of an asteroid from North America. Ferguson was born in Scotland, but moved with his family to New York when he was only three years old. It was not until 1842 that Congress decided to establish a national observatory at Washington, which was erected under the direction of Captain James Melville Gilliss (another Epiphany parishioner). From 1847 until his death, Ferguson was an assistant astronomer of the U.S. Naval Observatory. He was assigned to the Equatorial Telescope and began observing occulations of stars by the Moon. Soon he became part of the great asteroid hunt that had driven so many astronomers since Piazzi’s discovery in 1800 that such “small planets” existed.

Ferguson persisted in his asteroid research and using the 9.6-inch refractor, went on to make the first asteroid discovery from the United States. On the night of Sept 1, 1854, Ferguson had been observing the minor planet Egeria when he found nearby an unexpected object about equal brightness to it and proved through its motion to be an asteroid, the 31st found since Piazzi’s first discovery. Ferguson named it Euphrosyne, one of the three Graces in Greek mythology. Ferguson would go on to discover two additional asteroids – Virginia (#50) in 1857 and Echo (#60) in 1860.  A later asteroid (#1745) was named Ferguson in his honor. Ferguson was confirmed at Epiphany in 1863 and then buried from the church following his death in 1867.

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September 24: James Brewerton Ricketts (1887)

James B. Ricketts was a career officer in the U.S. Army, serving as a Union Army general during the Civil War. Ricketts was born in New York City. He graduated 16th in a class of 31 at the U.S. Military Academy in 1839 and was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery. His pre-Civil War career was unexceptional. The Civil War, however, put Ricketts at the forefront of the action. In the war’s first major engagement at Bull Run he was wounded four times while commanding a battery.  Left for dead in the wake of the Union retreat, he was captured and held in a Richmond prison.  In an attempt by the Confederate government to prevent the Lincoln administration from executing Rebel prisoners, a number of Federal officers were marked for execution—Ricketts among them.  Fortunately, no executions took place and the prisoners were eventually exchanged. When Ricketts finally returned to the field it was as a brigadier general.

Ricketts’ division participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.   At Antietam, Ricketts—who had already had one horse shot from under him—was badly injured when a second horse was killed and fell on him.  Though he refused to leave the field, the injury compelled Ricketts’ relief from command. At the battle of Cedar Creek, Ricketts was shot in the chest.  Though not mortal, the wound nevertheless crippled the general for life. Ricketts’ war wounds forced his retirement from the army in 1867 with the rank of major general. In that same year, Ricketts’ youngest daughter, Fanny, was baptized at Epiphany and then a year later, his youngest son, Basil, was baptized there. Basil Norris Ricketts would follow his father in a military career. The younger Ricketts fought with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. After James B. Ricketts’ death on September 24, 1887, his funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Joshua Daniel

Before seminary, Joshua Daniel and his family lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he worked both as a graduate student in philosophy (finishing his Ph.D. in 2015) and as the Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Arkansas. He and his wife, Jenna, live in Alexandria with their two children, Jude (aged 7) and Ruby (aged 3). Joshua is in his last year of seminary (God willing) and will hopefully be ordained early next year (God willing).