Celebrating 175

February 28: John Whitney Barlow (1914)

Brigadier General John Whitney Barlow is remembered not for a battle but for a park. In 1871, General Philip Sheridan sent Barlow, his chief engineer, to map the Yellowstone Basin. Barlow’s report helped to promote Yellowstone. Congress soon passed legislation, which President Grant signed in 1872, making Yellowstone America’s first national park. John Barlow was a graduate of West Point, Class of 1861. On the day after Christmas of that same year, Barlow married Hessie McNaughten Birnie at the Church of the Epiphany. Fellow West Point classmate Henry Kingsbury had been married at Epiphany three weeks earlier. Kingsbury would be killed in the war the following September.

Barlow fought with the regular Army at Bull Run through the Peninsula Campaign before transferring to the Corps of Engineers. He served as the chief engineer of Sherman’s Army Corps in Georgia. After the war, Barlow stayed in the engineers and supervised construction of forts in Florida, New York, and Connecticut. He worked on harbors in the Great Lakes and along the Hudson River. He commanded a joint commission of engineers that surveyed and marked the U.S.-Mexican border from El Paso to the Pacific Ocean. Barlow’s West Point classmates remembered him “as a devout Christian and loyal Churchman. Modesty, courtesy, bravery, and wisdom were his attributes.”

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February 27: George Franklin Edmunds (1919)

A native of Vermont, George Franklin Edmunds practiced law for a time in Burlington before becoming active in local politics. This led to his election to the Vermont legislature and eventually to the U.S. Senate. For the next 25 years, Senator Edmunds was involved in many of the major events of the country. He was the chairman of the committee that determined the impeachment procedures against President Andrew Johnson, wrote the bill that provided for a commission that decided the disputed Hayes-Tilden presidential election, wrote the act that outlawed polygamy, and wrote most of the landmark Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Edmunds was baptized at Epiphany as an adult, four years after his arrival in Washington. One month later, Edmunds, his wife, and oldest daughter were confirmed at Epiphany by Bishop Whittingham. His second daughter, Julia Maynard Edmunds, was confirmed in 1879. Within three years, Julia died at age 21. As part of the 1890 renovation of the church, Senator Edmunds memorialized Julia with the gift of a brass cross, which still graces the altar reredos today. Shortly after Edmunds’ retirement from the Senate, the Church Congress was meeting at Epiphany. Bishop Paret asked Edmunds to act in his place as presiding officer. Edmunds and Bishop Phillips Brooks gave the opening addresses to an overflow crowd.

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February 26: John Louis Clubb (1875)

Epiphany is known today for its outstanding music. That tradition had its humble beginnings with John Louis Clubb. A native of Maine, Clubb came to Washington as a boy and for many years in the early 19th Century was a member of the U.S. Marine Band. He rose to the rank of fife major and served as such for six years. After leaving the band, Clubb became a messenger for the Secretary of the U.S. Senate. Over time with the additional responsibility to receive, inventory, and distribute stationery supplies, Clubb became the first person to attain the title of Keeper of the Stationery, a position that exists today.

Through his life, Clubb led various church choirs in the District, including Epiphany during its first three years of existence. At the first worship service in January 1842, records indicate, “a choir of mixed voices was directed by ‘Professor’ John L. Clubb, although with the aid of a tuning fork rather than a musical instrument.” For the laying of Epiphany’s cornerstone in August 1843, there was a procession from Apollo Hall, the original meeting location, to the G Street site. Included were a band hired for the occasion and the “ladies and gentlemen composing the Musical Association under the direction of Mr. Clubb.”

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February 25: Charles Carroll Glover (1936)

Though not a Washington native, Charles Carroll Glover quickly adopted the nation’s capital as his own and devoted much of his life to the city’s improvement. He was educated at a local academy and afterwards began working for Riggs Bank as a clerk, rising to become the chief administrative officer at the age of 27. It was from his unique vantage point as president of Riggs several years later that he began to lobby for civic improvement. Glover was instrumental in the establishment of Rock Creek and Potomac Parks, the zoo, Embassy Row, and the completion of the Washington Monument. The Massachusetts Avenue bridge crossing Rock Creek Park as well as a park in NW Washington bear Glover’s name.

The earliest record of Glover’s connection with Epiphany is his baptism as an adult in December 1869, followed in short time by his confirmation. Eight years later came his marriage to Annie C. Poor, whose family was also associated with Epiphany. All of the Glover children were baptized at Epiphany. One daughter, age 4, was buried from Epiphany and another was married. A granddaughter was baptized shortly thereafter. Glover served on Epiphany’s vestry for many years. In 1891, a group of prominent Washington citizens (including several from Epiphany) met in the home of Charles Carroll Glover on Lafayette Square and decided to build Washington National Cathedral.

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February 24: Ellen Minott Sherman (1901)

The family of Ellen Minott Sherman obviously valued education. Her father’s ancestry included a long line of ministers and lawyers, including founding father Roger Sherman. Her father, Henry Sherman, was a Yale graduate and a noted lawyer, judge, and author. Her maternal grandfather was publisher of the New York Evening Post. The Post was founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton and was a respected broadside of the 19th Century prior to its present day tabloid format.

When Ellen was 11 years old, her father took a job with the Treasury Department and moved the family to Washington. In 1867, Ellen was enrolled at Vassar College in Poughkeepisie, NY. Vassar had been founded six years earlier and was the first degree-granting institution of higher education for women in the United States. With Ellen’s college graduation also came her confirmation at Epiphany. Ellen’s parents are both listed as Epiphany communicants at the time. It comes as no surprise that Ellen would want to spend her life enabling the education of others. As can be seen in the accompanying advertisement in the Atlantic Monthly, Ellen operated “Miss Ellen Minott Sherman’s Boarding and Day School for Girls.” Ellen Sherman passed away February 23, 1901, age 50 and was buried from Epiphany.

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February 23: The Costin Family

To celebrate Black History Month, this entry deviates from the regular format today and highlights a family instead of an individual. The Costins were an African-American family that had connections to the District, to the family of George Washington, and to the Church of the Epiphany. The patriarch, William “Billy” Costin (depicted here), was born around 1780, maybe at George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon. His mother was a slave and Martha Custis Washington’s half sister, having been the child of Martha’s father and an unnamed slave. Costin’s father was perhaps Martha’s son from her first marriage. Costin married Philadelphia “Delphy” Judge, a freed slave of the Custis family. Costin moved to Washington City about 1800 and built a house on A Street South, where the couple raised seven children.

Costin worked as a porter for many years at the Bank of Washington. Around 1818, Costin helped start a school for African-American children, which Louisa, one of his daughters, eventually led. Costin helped found an African-American Methodist Church, co-founded an African-American Masonic Temple and in 1825 helped found the Columbian-Harmony Society, which provided burial benefits and a cemetery for African-Americans. William Costin died in 1842, the year Epiphany was organized. Seven years later, one of his daughters, Harriet Parke Costin, married Richard Henry Fisk at the Church of the Epiphany. The couple is marked as “colored” in the parish register. For many years, Harriet Costin Fisk was in charge of the Senate Ladies Reception Room at the U.S. Capitol.

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February 22: George Washington’s Birthday Commemorative Services (1932)

For many years in the early 20th Century, a commemorative service honoring George Washington’s Birthday was held at Epiphany on the Sunday closest to February 22, the actual birth date. The sponsoring group was the Sons of the Revolution, a hereditary fraternal organization founded in 1876 to educate the public about the American Revolution. The order of service was prepared by Epiphany rector Randolph McKim, who was the chaplain of the DC Chapter. The service always included a reading of the exhortation from Washington’s Farewell Address. The 1932 service, held on Sunday, February 21, celebrated the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth.

In addition, there was a corporate communion service held at Epiphany on Monday, February 22 at 8am for men and boys from each parish and mission in the diocese. Bishop Freeman was the celebrant assisted by a number of the clergy of the diocese. The Parish Guide advertised the service like this, “It is earnestly hoped that every man and boy in Epiphany Church will avail himself of this wonderful privilege not only of commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, but of entering into the spirit of the bicentennial celebration itself. We feel sure that if the Father of our Country were living, he himself would be present at a service of this kind, and surely the patriotic spirit of all of us should be sufficiently evident to inspire us to attend this unique and inspiring service.”

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February 21: George Freeland Peter+ (1953)

The Rev. George Freeland Peter was an assistant rector at Epiphany in the early days of the 20th Century. Peter’s great-great-great grandmother was Martha Dandridge Custis  Washington. He was born at the Peter family home, Tudor Place, in Georgetown. Peter’s education was at Hampden-Sydney, Columbian (now GWU), Oxford, and General Theological Seminary. In addition to Epiphany, Peter served churches in Richmond, VA; Wheeling, WV, and in his later years Washington Cathedral. Peter was a passionate advocate for the city’s youth. From the pulpit he preached about girls under 16 “drinking intoxicating liquors” and “frequenting questionable resorts.” He fought against the District’s burlesque theaters, “one of the chief sources of immorality among the young boys of this city.”

Freeland Peter’s former estate in Bethesda, Maryland, which he inherited from his father, was sold to the National Institutes of Health. His home there, known as the “Stone House” still stands and is today the Lawton Chiles International House. It serves as a venue for an array of events, from international conferences to receptions for visiting dignitaries, and is a reminder of the gracious manor days of old Bethesda.

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February 20: Adolph August Hoehling, Jr. (1941)

A trivia question on this President’s Day – Which president took the oath of office the most number of times? Obviously Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately comes to mind as he was elected to an unprecedented four terms, thus taking the oath four times. Actually Barack Obama took the oath four times as well, due to Chief Justice Robert’s administering errors and also one of the terms starting on a Sunday. Four presidents have taken the oath three times – Wilson, Coolidge, Eisenhower, and Reagan. You might not suspect finding Coolidge in this group as he was only elected to the office one time.

Following the death of Warren G. Harding, Coolidge’s first oath was administered by his father, a notary public, in the middle of the night by kerosene lamp at the family homestead in Vermont. There were concerns about the authority of his father, not a federal official, administering the oath. Therefore, several weeks later, the oath was administered quietly at the Willard Hotel by Justice Adolph August Hoehling, Jr. of the District of Columbia Supreme Court. As you might suspect, Justice Hoehling had Epiphany connections. He was confirmed at the church by Bishop Pinkney in 1881. Coolidge’s third oath was in 1925 after he had won election in his own right.

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February 19: Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (1981)

On Thursday, February 19, 1981, Epiphany’s 70-year old parish hall took on new life. A recently formed theatre company in Washington, called Woolly Mammoth, began its inaugural season. For the next several years, the company presented nightly performances in the church’s parish hall. The stage had to be struck after the Saturday evening show to make the space available for coffee hour following the Sunday worship services. Prior to Epiphany’s most recent renovation, the bars that held the lighting apparatus were still visible in the parish hall ceiling.

In the later 1970’s, two young New York actors, Howard Schalwitz and Roger Brady, had an idea for a new type of theatre and decided on Washington, D.C. as the place to launch it. As the theater’s website explains, “The idea was simple: pull together a group of exceptionally talented actors, mold them into a company, seek innovative scripts with something challenging to say, and find fresh approaches to acting, directing, and design.” After Epiphany, the theatre moved to a 14th Street warehouse for many years and finally in 2005, Woolly Mammoth opened the doors of its first permanent home – a 265-seat, courtyard-style theatre in the heart of downtown Washington, just a few blocks from its beginnings in Epiphany’s parish hall.

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