Posts by epiphany

November 9: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (1854)

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was the wife of American statesman and founding father, Alexander Hamilton. She was the daughter of Philip Schuyler, a Revolutionary War general and Catherine Van Rensselaer, whose family was one of the richest and most politically influential in the state of New York. Elizabeth, or “Eliza”, married Hamilton in 1780. Eight children were born to the couple in their 24-year marriage before Hamilton was killed in a duel. Eliza outlived her husband by 50 years. In her later years, she moved to Washington, D.C. to live with one of her daughters and became associated with the Church of the Epiphany. Founding rector John French’s daughter, Mary French Weir, in her book Remembrances wrote about Eliza Hamilton at Epiphany.

 “Though I was a very young child at that time, I can clearly remember with what unabated and absorbing interest I watched Sunday after Sunday, the preparations for Mrs. Hamilton’s entrance into the Church, for as she was not able at her advanced age to sit through all the service, she only came in for the Sermon. Just before my Father was to ascend the steps of the Pulpit and begin his Sermon, Mrs. Hamilton’s daughter, Mrs. Holly, began to make her studied preparations for the event, where she was sitting in the front pew. In a most impressive manner, or so it seemed to my youthful mind, Mrs. Holly would slowly close her prayer book, and lay it carefully in its accustomed place. Then she adjusted to its proper angle the hassock on which she had been kneeling. After a few more arrangements of an elaborate nature, she slowly rose from her seat, straightened out the folds of her gown, and opening the door of her pew, in a solemn and pompous manner walked with measured steps down the middle aisle of the Church, ‘the observed of all observers’, towards the door where she was to meet her mother, Mrs. Hamilton. It was then to me a never ending source of interest to watch Mrs. Hamilton’s stately little figure, slowly walking up the aisle of the Church, leaning upon her daughter’s arm, dressed, as she always was in silk stockings and black satin slippers, no matter what the weather, a rather short black crepe de chine skirt, and a shawl of finest texture with deep fringe, and a poke bonnet which almost concealed her face. With great dignity Mrs. Hamilton entered her pew, which was immediately under the pulpit, where she quietly seated herself. Then, adjusting her ear trumpet, she turned her face toward my Father, and listened motionless to his sermon.”

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November 8: Stetson Conn (1986)

Stetson Conn held a Ph.D. degree in history from Yale University and taught history at Yale, Amherst College, and The George Washington University. After joining the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, in 1946, he served as senior editor, as Acting Chief Historian, as Chief of the Western Hemisphere Section, and as Deputy Chief Historian before becoming Chief Historian of the Army in 1958. Conn was general editor of the Army’s 15-volume history of its participation in World War II. He retired from the Army the week his wife, Mary Alice, died. He had to journey from the funeral at Epiphany to his retirement luncheon at Ft. McNair. Conn had been an Epiphany parishioner since the late 1950s and had served as a vestry member, secretary to the vestry, and parish historian.

Following Conn’s retirement, Epiphany rector Edgar Romig suggested the possibility of writing a history of the parish. The resulting book, Washington’s Epiphany: Church and Parish, 1842-1972 was published in 1976. In the preface, Conn wrote the following. “Preparing a history of an Episcopal church and parish may seem an unlikely occupation for an historian who had been reared a Congregationalist and whose professional specialization had been in the fields of diplomatic and military history. Yet when Epiphany’s rector suggested my doing so after I retired from full-time employment in 1971, it seemed to me that such an undertaking might be both useful and enjoyable, and certainly I have found the latter to be true.” Conn’s book has served as the authoritative history of the parish ever since. Conn’s daughter and son-in-law, Judy and Don Lokerson, remain parishioners of the parish today.

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November 7: Elizabeth Crocker Bowers McCollum (1895)

Elizabeth Crocker Bowers McCollum was an American stage actress and theatrical manager. She was born March 12, 1830 in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the daughter of harness maker William Crocker and Anna Seymour. She was from early childhood fond of dramatic presentations. At age 16 she made her debut in the Park Theater, in New York City, in the play, A Child of Nature. Two years later, she was married to David P. Bowers, an actor in the same company. They went to Philadelphia in the same month, and in the Walnut Street Theater she appeared as Donna Victoria in A Hold Stroke for a Husband. She was successful from the beginning. She next filled a successful engagement in the Arch Street Theater, in Philadelphia, where she remained until the death of her husband, in June 1857. In December, 1857, she leased the Walnut Street Theater, which she managed successfully until 1859. She then leased the Philadelphia Academy of Music for a season. Her roles in the 1850s were described by The New York Times as “the high-born, sympathetic ladies of the romantic drama, the tearful heroines of tragedy, and the coquettes of old comedy.”

In 1860 Elizabeth was married to Dr. Brown, of Baltimore, Maryland, who died in 1867. Mrs. Bowers retained the name under which she had won her reputation. In 1861 she went to London where she played Julia in The Hunchback, in Sadler’s Wells Theater. She was successful with the London public and played an engagement in the Lyceum Theater, appearing as Geraldine d’Arcy in Woman. In 1863 she returned to the United States and played an engagement in the Winter Garden, in New York.. In the winter of 1879-80, she and Edwin Booth toured and starred together. Edwin was the older brother of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. Late in life she married actor J.C. McCollum, with whom she had performed for many years. A year after this marriage, Elizabeth McCollum was baptized and confirmed at Epiphany. “Mrs. Bowers acquired a good deal of money and retained her vogue for many years,” The New York Times said in her obituary.

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November 6: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ Visit (2016)

On All Saints Sunday, November 6, 2016, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was the guest preacher at Epiphany’s 8:00 and 11:00am liturgies. Williams came at the invitation of interim rector Geoffrey Hoare, who had been a student of Williams. Almost an hundred years earlier, the Archbishop of York, the other archbishop of the Church of England, visited Epiphany during World War I. Williams was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he held from December 2002 to December 2012. He was previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, making him the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England. Williams spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford successively.

Williams’ primacy was marked by speculation that the Anglican Communion, in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading figure, was on the verge of fragmentation. Williams worked to keep all sides talking to one another. Notable events during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury include the rejection by a majority of dioceses of his proposed Anglican Covenant and, in the final General Synod of his tenure, the failure to secure a sufficient majority for a measure to allow the appointment of women as bishops in the Church of England. Williams stood down as Archbishop of Canterbury on December 31, 2012 to take up the position of Master of Magdalene College at Cambridge University. Later in 2013 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of South Wales. On December 26, 2012, 10 Downing Street announced Williams’ elevation to the peerage as a Life Baron, so that he could continue to speak in the Upper House of Parliament.

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November 5: William Conrad Gaisberg (1918)

William “Will” Gaisberg was an early recording engineer. The son of German immigrants, Gaisberg was a Washington, D.C. native. In his youth, Gaisberg, his parents, and several siblings were all baptized at Epiphany. He worked for a time with the Berliner Gram-O-Phone Company in Canada before coming to work at Emile Berliner’s laboratory in Washington with his brother and William Darby. It was during this period in America that Berliner imparted his knowledge of the secrets of disc record-making to these young men.  Within a few years the three of them moved to Europe, where, as recording engineers, they became the most important figures in The Gramophone Company’s staff. Gaisberg’s enthusiasm and enterprising nature led him to take over many of his brother’s duties, which included managing and leading the third recording tour of India.

Despite the Gramophone Company’s dominant position and success in the talking machine and disc record trade in Asia, it could not rest on its laurels of achievement, as American recording companies began making great advances. This motivated Gaisberg to record artists of a higher repute and achieve a product of a much higher quality. In 1910 at the age of 33, William became manager of the Recording department, where he provided a vital link between the head office and its overseas territories. In October 1918, a month before the Armistice was signed, the Gramophone Company became involved in a project to record the sound of the war. The Company elected to send Gaisberg to the Western Front. By the time the recording was completed, the war was over. Gaisberg had been slightly gassed during the expedition, and fell victim to the flu pandemic and tragically died a month later in November 1918.

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November 4: Edwin Styles Curtis (1901)

Edwin Styles Curtis was a U.S. Army officer who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. He was the son-in-law of Epiphany’s founding rector, John W. French. Curtis was born in Poughkeepsie, New York. Just after his 18th birthday, he enlisted in Company D of the 48th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The regiment was assigned to duty with the Army of the Potomac, but owing to young Curtis’ beautiful penmanship and business education, he was assigned to clerical duty, and in 1862 and 1863 he was on duty in the office of Major General Henry W. Halleck at the headquarters of the army in Washington, D.C. While so employed he received his appointment as a cadet at the United States Military Academy and was honorably discharged from the volunteer service to enable him to proceed to West Point. He graduated in the class of 1867, about the middle of a class numbering sixty-three.

Curtis was assigned to the Second Artillery. He served through the several grades of Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant and Captain, until he was promoted Major Artillery Corps, United States Army, to date May 8th, 1901. His stations were many: California, Alaska and Oregon on the Pacific, and nearly all of the states on the Atlantic Coast, also Texas, Arkansas and finally Cuba. His duties were varied; most of his military life was spent on duty with troops; twice, however, he was selected by his regimental commander for recruiting duty; twice he was detailed as Professor of Military Science and Instructor of Tactics at colleges, and once he was detailed for duty at the Military Academy. Curtis married Emma Gardiner French in 1879. Emma was the sixth of the Rev. John French’s seven children. She was born during the time he was at Epiphany and was baptized there in 1851. Thirty years later, Emma was back at Epiphany with her husband for the baptisms of their daughters – Marion in 1883 and Helen in 1884.

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November 3: McKim Memorial Chime of Bells (1922)

On this day in 1922, the McKim Memorial Chime of Bells in Epiphany’s tower was dedicated. The bells were part of a renovation of the church’s tower, a memorial to the Rev. Randolph H. McKim, who served as Epiphany’s rector for 32 years. Whereas the tower renovation was the result of parishioner donations, the bells were a gift of Isabel Freeman and Margaret Buckingham, long-time, faithful and generous parishioners. The bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Alfred Harding, led the service of dedication. In the midst of the service, the bishop, vestry, and clergy of the parish proceeded to the tower vestibule. Here the bishop dedicated the bells and prayed, “May [these bells] turn heavenwards the thoughts of all who sojourn or labour in this neighborhood, and likewise of those who pass this way by day or night. May they assist them so earnestly to seek those things which are above, that they may serve thee more perfectly here on earth, and faithfully prepare themselves for the joys and privileges of thy holy city.”

The McKim Memorial Chime of Bells was made by Meneely & Co. of Watervliet (West Troy), New York. Meneely was the oldest bell foundry in America and had been making similar bells in the English manner for almost a century. Epiphany’s chime consists of 15 bells to give the ability of playing most tunes. The bells are made of a mixture of 78% copper and 22% tin.  The total weight of the bells is 18, 590 pounds. The smallest bell (G) weighs 225 pounds and has a diameter of 21 inches. The largest bell (C) weighs 4300 pounds and has a diameter of five feet. Inscribed on this bell are the words, “’Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men’ and in Loving Memory of the Reverend Randolph Harrison McKim, D.D., Honoured and Beloved Rector of the Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D.C. from 1888 to 1920, Prophet – Priest – Patriot, Born April 15, 1842, Entered into Life July 15, 1920.”

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November 2: Lewis Allison Edwards (1877)

Lewis Allison Edwards was a U.S. Army Surgeon during the Mexican-American and Civil Wars. He was the son of James L. Edwards and his second wife, Ann Allison. The elder Edwards was a member of Epiphany’s original vestry. By the time the church was founded, the younger Edwards was at school, graduating from Princeton in 1842 and then receiving his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1845. He was appointed an Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Army in 1846 and served with honor during the Mexican War. He was then stationed at Santa Fe, NM until 1850. He returned to the Washington area and served at Ft. Washington, MD. It was during this time that Edwards married Eulalia Emma Crawford at Epiphany. The couple’s first child, Clementina, was baptized at the church in 1852. Vestryman James L. Edwards served as his granddaughter’s sponsor.

Edwards was assigned to Ft. Towson, AR for two years and then ordered to duty in the Surgeon General’s Office in Washington in 1854, where he served as Attending Surgeon for officers’ families. For much of the Civil War, Edwards was in charge of the General Hospital at Portsmouth Grove, RI. Following the war, he was appointed chief medical officer of the Freedmen’s Bureau, created by Congress to provide temporary one-year assistance to former slaves and destitute whites in the war-ravaged south. Edwards was brevetted Colonel for faithful and meritorious services during the Civil War. Edwards’ daughter, Clementina, died at age 13 months. The parents contributed annually in her memory to the American Tract Society and the Children’s Fund for Educating Heathen Children. Edwards’ tombstone at Oak Hill Cemetery has the following inscription. “In all private relations, blameless and beloved. In all public, just and honored. He lived that he might die and died that he might live forever.”

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November 1: Charles Kitchell Gardner (1869)

Charles Kitchell Gardner was born June 27, 1787, in Morristown, New Jersey, the son of Thomas and Sarah Kitchell Gardner.  At an early age, the family moved to Newburgh, New York, where they kept an inn.  Charles received his secondary education at a private academy in Morristown before enrolling at Columbia College in 1807, where he studied medicine under Dr. David Hosack.  In 1808 he was commissioned an ensign in the Sixth Regiment of Infantry, U.S. Army, and pursued a career in the military.  By 1812, when hostilities arose between the United States and Great Britain, he had attained the rank of brigade inspector and lieutenant.  During the war he rose in rank to that of colonel of the 25th Infantry which was stationed at various times at Sackett’s Harbor, Fort George and Fort Niagara. At the battle of Niagara, in which General Winfield Scott was severely wounded, Colonel Gardner carried him off the field. Gardner resigned from the army permanently in 1818 at the request of Ann Eliza McLean, whom he married in March 1819.

Gardner and his wife settled in New York City where he became engaged in various literary endeavors. Gardner’s political interest led to a series of appointments to positions in the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. During both terms of Andrew Jackson’s administration he was first assistant postmaster-general, and he was auditor of the treasury in the post-office department under President Van Buren. During the administration of President Polk he was postmaster of the City of Washington. In 1853 he was appointed surveyor-general of Oregon, and in 1856 he returned to Washington, D.C. to become a clerk in the Treasury Department.  He retired in 1867 and died two years later on November 1, 1869. Gardner’s wife was buried from Epiphany seven years later. Two daughters were buried from the church in 1871 and 1911. They were both married to Navy Admiral John J. Almy. Several grandchildren were baptized and confirmed at Epiphany.

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October 31: Percy Foster Hall+ (1950)

Percy Foster Hall was an Episcopal priest who served as an assistant minister at Epiphany during the time of World War I. Many new ministries began at the church during this era, including the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Junior and Senior Brotherhood of St. Andrew, the Night Branch of Woman’s Auxiliary, the McKim Bible Class for Men, the Young People’s Meeting, the Red Cross Auxiliary, the Mid-Week Bible Conference, the Prayer Circle, the Healing Services, and the Parish House Ladies’ Committee. When long-time rector Randolph McKim died in 1920, it fell upon Hall to lead the parish in an interim capacity until a new rector was called. During that time, Hall had oversight for the funerals of McKim and distinguished parishioner William C. Gorgas. Hall left Epiphany in 1921 after seven years of service, an unusually long term for the time, to become rector of St. Paul’s Church in Alexandria.

Hall was a graduate of Columbia University. He served as curate of Grace Church, New York City and was at the same time instructor in the New Testament in St. Faith’s Training School for Deaconesses. He was rector of St. Timothy’s Church, Catonsville, Maryland from 1893 to 1912. He had charge of churches in Oakland and Cumberland, Maryland and Wheeling, West Virginia. He was appointed to his position at Epiphany in 1914. During his time at Epiphany, two of Hall’s sons fought in World War I, thus their names appear on the plaque in the rear of the church. When one of those sons got married after the war, the ceremony took place at Epiphany with Percy Foster Hall performing the service. Also during this time, another of Hall’s sons began holy orders at Virginia Theological Seminary. Percy Foster Hall left Epiphany with heartfelt regret, gratitude, and affection.

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