Celebrating 175

September 1: Ely Samuel Parker (1895)

In 1869, President Ulysses Grant appointed Ely S. Parker as Commissioner of Indian Affairs, the first Native American to hold that post. Parker was a Seneca attorney, engineer and tribal diplomat. He was commissioned a lieutenant colonel during the Civil War and rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. As an adjutant to General Grant, Parker wrote the Confederate surrender terms that were signed by Robert E. Lee at Appomattox. Ely Samuel Parker was his Anglicized name, but his real name was Ha-sa-no-an-da. As a youth on the Tonawanda reservation in western New York, he quickly learned that the owner of an Indian name was not taken seriously in the world of white men. For almost half a century, Parker battled racial prejudice.

As a youth, he entered a missionary school to improve his poor English. After graduation, he felt he could do the most good for his people by becoming a lawyer. After studying for three years, he was denied admission to the bar because of the color of his skin. Parker began his career in public service by working as an interpreter and diplomat to the Seneca chiefs in their negotiations about land and treaty rights. Parker studied engineering and found employment working on the Erie Canal. The U.S. government then sought him out to supervise construction of levees and buildings. In 1860 his duties took him to Galena, Illinois where he met and made friends with a clerk in a harness store, a former Army captain named Ulysses S. Grant. On December 23, 1867, Ely S. Parker married Minnie O. Sackett at the Church of the Epiphany. His old friend, U.S. Grant, gave the bride away and served as Parker’s best man.

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August 31: Isabel Coleman Freeman (1929)

The generocity of Isabel Freeman and her sister, Margaret Buckingham, played a significant role in the undergirding of Epiphany’s ministry in the first half of the 20th Century. Isabel was the second child, first daughter of William Grigsby Freeman and Margaret Coleman Freeman. Isabel’s father was a military man, who died when she was 15. Her mother was the heiress and part owner of an iron furnace business in southeastern Pennsylvania. In the 1850’s, Isabel’s mother and aunt purchased a home in Washington, which is today the parish house for St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square. It’s hard to know what drew the family to Epiphany. Isabel’s aunt became a big supporter of the Epiphany Church Home. Isabel and her sister seemed to have followed in those footsteps, supporting a variety of Epiphany ministries. Two of their gifts that are still prominent today are the parish house (1911) and the bells in Epiphany’s tower (1922).

The family moved between homes in Washington (DC), Cornwall (PA) and Bar Harbor (ME) depending on the seasons. Isabel’s death occurred at the end of August, a time of the year when the family would have been living in Cornwall. Her funeral was in the library of their home there. After her sister’s death many years later, a series of stained glass windows were installed at Epiphany depicting Matthew, Chapter 25 (“For I was hungry and you gave me meat…”). The accompanying plaque reads, “In loving memory of Isabel Freeman and Margaret Buckingham, Whose faith and good works are woven into the life of this church.”

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August 30: +Donald James Davis (2007)

Donald J. Davis is one of the eight clergy associated with Epiphany that became a bishop. Davis was born in 1929 in Newcastle, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Westminster College (1949) and Princeton Seminary (1952). He was ordained deacon and priest in 1955 by Bishop Angus Dun at Washington Cathedral. The first years of Davis’ ministry were spent as an assistant at the Church of the Epiphany. In 1957, Davis became the first rector of St. Christopher’s in Carmel, Indiana. This was followed by postings at Trinity, Toledo, Ohio and Trinity, Bloomington, Indiana. At the latter, Davis was also a chaplain at Indiana University. In 1973, Davis was elected bishop coadjutor of Northwestern Pennsylvania. A year later, he succeeded William Crittenden as the sixth bishop of that diocese.

During his episcopate, Davis chaired a number of positions in the House of Bishops and traveled to many developing countries while serving on the executive council of the Episcopal Church. He served on the Standing Committee on Church Music that authorized the current hymnal, known as The Hymnal 1982. Davis’ most historic act came on January 1, 1977 when he ordained Jacqueline Means as the first woman priest in the Episcopal Church under a new canon passed by General Convention the previous September. The ordination took place at All Saints Church in Indianapolis. Davis was substituting at the last minute for Bishop John Craine who was hospitalized. Both men had been among the 67 bishops who sponsored the resolution to allow women to be ordained.

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August 29: William Willis Wylie Wood (1882)

William W.W. Wood was one of the pioneers in the United States steam navy. He was the third Engineer-in-Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, serving from 1873 until 1877, with the relative rank of Commodore. He followed in the footsteps of the first Engineer-in Chief, Benjamin Isherwood, who served during the Civil War and was an Epiphany parishioner as well. Wood was born outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, where his father was a large planter. After study with a private tutor and following the death of his father, Wood was sent to a college in Maryland. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was then under construction. Wood first saw a locomotive and it was this that developed his love for mechanics. After further study, Wood entered the West Point Foundry where he completed an apprenticeship, acquiring a thorough knowledge of engineering. Later, he superintended the erection and fitting of the engines for the steam frigate Missouri, the first naval vessel on which machinery was successfully employed.

Wood was appointed to the navy in 1845 with the rank of Chief Engineer and superintended the construction of the boilers and engines of the steam frigate Merrimac at Cold Spring, New York. During the Civil War he rendered valuable services on special duty connected with the steam engineering service at the navy yards in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Wood was head of the Department of Steam Engineering at the Naval Academy, Chief Engineer of the New York Navy Yard and eventually Chief of the Bureau of Steam Engineering, headquartered in Washington, D.C. It was at this time that Wood became associated with Epiphany. His youngest daughter, Emilie Grace, was baptized at the church at age 17, followed by her confirmation five months later. Following Wood’s death in 1882, his funeral was at Epiphany prior to his burial in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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August 28: William A. Bradley (1867)

Shortly after becoming the nation’s capital, Congress enacted legislation to have the city governed by a presidentially-appointed mayor and popularly elected city council. William A. Bradley was appointed by President Andrew Jackson and served as mayor from 1834 to 1836. Bradley was born in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. His father was a physician who moved to D.C. to take a position with the Post Office Department. His uncle, Abraham Bradley, purchased the land that later became Chevy Chase, Maryland. Bradley had a solid education in private schools. His father got him a job as a messenger for a local bank and over time Bradley rose in the ranks until he was appointed president of the bank. He counted among his friends former presidents and many prominent men of the day.

In the 1830’s and 1840’s, Bradley ran a mail contracting business, obtaining a near monopoly on the hauling of U.S. mail on routes south of Washington. Bradley was appointed postmaster of the city. While in that post, Bradley was named a director of the inaugural board of directors of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company. Bradley purchased Analostan Island (now Theodore Roosevelt Island) and developed it as an entertainment resort. Bradley was married and had three children. His youngest daughter was married at Epiphany in 1863. Two grandchildren from his son’s marriage were baptized at the church in 1864 and 1866. Following Bradley’s death on August 28, 1867, his funeral was at Epiphany with burial at Glenwood Cemetery.

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August 27: +Harry Lee Doll (1984)

In Epiphany’s 175-year history, eight clergy associated with the church have gone on to become bishops. Four of these were rectors and four were assistant rectors. One of the assistants was Harry Lee Doll. After initially considering a career as a physician, Doll changed course after graduating from William and Mary and pursued a divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary. In 1933, Doll was married, ordained a priest and began his clerical career as an assistant rector at the Church of the Epiphany. After two years, Doll was called as rector of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He served parishes in Texas and Maryland before being elected bishop suffragan (and later coadjutor) of the Diocese of Maryland. His institution as the tenth bishop of Maryland was on November 22, 1963, the same day as President Kennedy’s assassination.

Doll’s ministry was marked by deep commitment in several areas of church and community. The civil rights movement swept across the country during his episcopate. Doll called it “the greatest religious issue of our time, not only in this nation but in the world.” He fostered close ecumenical ties with the Roman Catholic authorities in Baltimore. He supported the Episcopal Church’s move towards a new prayer book and women’s ordination. His middle daughter, Mary Chotard Doll, became a priest and was an early contender for bishop. In 1986 in a special diocesan convention held at Epiphany, Mary lost the election for suffragan bishop of Washington to Ronald Haines. Three years later, Barbara Harris would became the first female bishop in the Anglican Communion.

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August 26: Abraham Gilbert Mills (1929)

Baseball pioneer Abraham G. Mills was the fourth president of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs, and is best known for heading the “Mills Commission” which controversially credited Civil War General Abner Doubleday with the invention of baseball. Born in New York City, Mills lived there until the outbreak of the Civil War when he enlisted with the Fifth New York Volunteers. The war did not curtail his baseball playing opportunities. Mills packed his bat and ball with his field equipment. On Christmas Day 1862 at Hilton Head, South Carolina, Mills participated in a baseball game witnessed by 40,000 soldiers. After the war, Mills enrolled in Columbian Law School (now George Washington University) to study law. While in Washington, Mills became president and occasional player for the local baseball club.

On June 5, 1872, Mills married Mary Chase Steele at the Church of the Epiphany. After being admitted to the bar, Mills moved to Chicago. Here, his career took an unexpected turn. Mills wrote a newspaper article outlining a plan to prevent the raiding of non-league teams by league teams. In 1882, the National League unanimously elected Mills as their president. A debate came up at the time as to the origins of baseball – whether it was based on the British game rounders or an American invention. A commission was established with Mills as chairman. With much pressure and little research, the commission concluded that the game was truly American and invented by Abner Doubleday, a Civil War hero and friend of Abraham Mills. This conclusion has since been proved to be inaccurate. Coincidentally, Mills and Doubleday were both married at Epiphany, exactly twenty years apart.

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August 25: Seth Eastman (1875)

Seth Eastman made his career with the U.S. Army. He became an accomplished artist and painted many scenes of Native American life. Eastman was born in Brunswick, Maine, the eldest of thirteen children. He convinced his parents to let him join the military, entering West Point at age 16. He graduated in 1829, the same class as Robert E. Lee. He served his first duty assignments at frontier posts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Eastman’s interest in painting led him back to West Point in 1833, where he taught drawing for the next seven years. In 1841, Eastman returned to Fort Snelling (MN) with his wife, who wrote about the native Americans in the area. One of her publications reportedly provided Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with material for his poem “Hiawatha.” Eastman painted a number of interpretations of native American culture to illustrate his wife’s writing.

In 1849, the Army sent Eastman to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. to work on a report on Indian tribes in the United States. During this time, Eastman and his family became associated with Epiphany. The baptism of his youngest child, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft Eastman, was at the church. H.R. Schoolcraft was an explorer and Indian agent. Eastman illustrated a massive six-volume study that Schoolcraft did. Eastman was baptized at Epiphany in 1855, with his wife serving as his sponsor. Eastman held various command positions during the Civil War. Following the war, Congress authorized Eastman to paint two series of paintings for the U.S. Capitol – one set regarding native American scenes and the other set a series of seventeen military forts. In addition to various baptisms, confirmations and marriages of his children at Epiphany, Eastman was confirmed there in 1870, and following his death in 1875 was buried from the church prior to his interment in Oak Hill Cemetery.

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August 24: Pamela Pauly Chinnis (2011)

Pamela P. Chinnis was elected President of the House of Deputies during the 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1991 – the first woman to preside over the House in its two-century history. She was re-elected without opposition in 1994, and again in 1997. Her groundbreaking ministry began with lay leadership roles she held at Epiphany.

The following is excerpted from an introduction to Decently and In Order, a collection of Chinnis’s reflections published in 2000. “Pamela Pauly Chinnis was born in Springfield, Missouri, to a political family which included her uncle Dewey Short, who represented Missouri in the United States Congress for a quarter century. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William and Mary, Chinnis followed her mother to Capitol Hill where both worked in congressional offices. When family responsibilities interrupted her work in Congress, Chinnis channeled her professional energies into a variety of civic and educational activities, including service as the first woman President of the Society of Alumni of the College of William and Mary, and two terms as member of the Board of Governors. With her former husband and children, she became increasingly active in her parish, the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C., serving as its first woman senior warden. Serving in the parish women’s group led to election as diocesan president of the Episcopal Church Women and Presiding Officer at the 1976 Triennial Meeting. Chinnis’s commitment to the inclusion of all baptized people in the full life of the church is long-standing. She was an early supporter of the movement for the ordination of women and chair of the Presiding Bishop’s Committee for the Full Participation of Women in the Church.”

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August 23: Dorothy Josephine Eunice Wimbush (1992)

The following tribute to longtime parish secretary Dorothy J. Wimbush, written by parishioner Elizabeth Shinkman, appeared in the Parish Guide newsletter shortly after Miss Jo’s passing in 1992. “Dorothy Wimbush (known to her friends as ‘Jo’ or ‘Miss Jo’) was born in England, and came to this country as a child before World War I. She lived virtually all of her life in Washington, D.C. She attended Western High School which, in her day, was the most outstanding high school in the District, and one of the highest ranking in the country. Presidents and cabinet members sent their children there, and Jo made friends there that had an important bearing on her career. The most important without doubt was Sallie Hews Phillips, daughter of the Rev. ZeBarney Thorne Phillips, rector of the Church of the Epiphany on G Street. It was Sallie who suggested to her father, when he was looking for a secretary, that her Western classmate, Dorothy Wimbush, would be perfect for the job. Another classmate, whose friendship was of considerable help in later years was one of the Gawler sons, whose father owned the leading funeral parlor in the District. In her capacity as the Parish Secretary, Jo rapidly became the backbone of the Epiphany operation, the person to whom everyone turned for information, who had her finger on the pulse of every activity.”

Miss Jo’s service at Epiphany spanned five rectors. In celebrating her 25th anniversary, Bishop Angus Dun commented, “Rectors may come and rectors may go, but parish secretaries go on forever.” Following her retirement, Miss Jo was named Parish Secretary Emeritus. After her death, funeral arrangements were handled by Joseph Gawler’s Sons and a Service of Thanksgiving (see photo) was held at Epiphany before her interment at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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