Celebrating 175

September 12: John Wilder Tomlinson (1918)

In the vestibule at the rear of Epiphany, there is a plague on the wall labeled “In Grateful Recognition of the Fidelity and Loyalty of the Men and Women of Epiphany Parish Who Served the High Cause of Christian Civilization in the Great World War, 1914 – 1918.” Below which are listed 150 names, four with an asterisk indicating they made the ultimate sacrifice. One of those four was John Wilder Tomlinson, who was killed as he made preparations to go to war. Wilder had been baptized at Epiphany at age 16 and his funeral was at the church prior to his interment at Arlington. The autumn issue of the Parish Guide newsletter honored his sacrifice.

Lieut. J. Wilder Tomlinson

The first gold star on our Service Flag denotes the death of Lieut. J. Wilder Tomlinson, at Brooke Aviation Field, Texas, in an aeroplane accident, September 11, 1918. His funeral was conducted in the Church and at Arlington by Dr. McKim, assisted by Rev. Mr. Hall, and there was a full attendance of the surplice choir, and military honors at the grave. This fine young man, full of promise, had been brought up in our Parish, was a communicant, and took part in our activities. His Captain in the air service writes of him to his parents as follows:

“Wilder’s career at ground school and at flying school was a matter of keen interest to me. I took a great deal of pride in the fact that his record was of the highest at ground school and that he was the first of his class at flying school. I had prophesied great things for him, and, if he had lived, I know he would have justified my opinion of him. You know how deep my sympathy is for you and Mr. Tomlinson in this, your greatest bereavement. But to you both has come the honor of the Great Sacrifice. Just as surely as had it been over the enemy’s lines in France, your boy has given his all, bravely and cheerfully, to his country’s cause in this world fight for democracy. The air service is proud of Wilder. He was the true crusader, and it is such as he who will force the barbaric host across the water to their very knees in supplication. In your sacrifice you are honored above the multitude. May the thought of this alleviate your sorrow.”

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September 11: 9/11 Services (2001)

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Over 3,000 people were killed during the attacks, including more than 400 police officers and firefighters. It was one of those days that everyone remembers where they were and what they did to cope with the horror of the day’s events. For many in downtown Washington, Epiphany provided that calm in the midst of the storm. The Tuesday Concert Series for the day was cancelled, but the church remained open until most people had left the city. An impromptu prayer service was held with 60 people in attendance. The daily noontime Eucharist on the following two days drew about the same number, almost three times the typical attendance.

President Bush proclaimed “Friday, September 14, 2001, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001. I ask that the people of the United States and places of worship mark this National Day of Prayer and Remembrance with noontime memorial services, the ringing of bells at that hour, and evening candlelight remembrance vigils.” Epiphany’s bells rang and close to 800 people attended a noontime service. On the following Wednesday, an additional service with special music and remembrances was held with an attendance of over 400 people. Several years after the 9/11 attacks, an opportunity presented itself for Epiphany to host a local Muslim congregation’s weekly prayer service; an outreach that continues to this day.

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September 10: National Register of Historic Places Listing (1971)

On September 10, 1971, the Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington, D.C. was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The NRHP is the U.S. government’s official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation. The passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 established the National Register and the process for adding properties to it. Of the more than one million properties on the National Register, 90,000 are listed individually. The remaining are contributing resources within historic districts. For most of its history, the National Register has been administered by the National Park Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Contrasted to a NRHP listing, a National Historic Landmark is recognized for its outstanding historical significance. Of the 90,000 listings on the NRHP, only 2,500 are National Historic Landmarks.

The nomination for Epiphany’s addition to the National Register was completed by Suzanne Ganschinietz, Architectural Historian and Nancy C. Taylor, Landmarks Historian with the National Capital Planning Commission. It is interesting to note that at the time the commission was located at 1325 G Street, next door to the church. On the nomination form’s checklist of “Areas of Significance,” items indicated were architecture, religion and other (“Civil War Hospital; Notable early parishioners”). The nomination’s statement of significance opens with the following, “The Joint Committee on Landmarks has designated the Church of the Epiphany a Category II landmark which contributes significantly to the cultural heritage and visual beauty of the District of Columbia.”

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September 9: George Partridge Colvocoresses (1932)

George P. Colvocoresses led a distinguished military career, rising to the rank of rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. He served under then-Commodore George Dewey at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish American War and was Commandant of Cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. GPC’s father was George Musalas Colvocoresses, who was born in Scio, in the Grecian Archipelago in 1816, but was kidnapped with his mother and two sisters and ransomed by the Turks in the Greek War for Independence. The elder Colvocoresses was shipped to the United States, where he was adopted and raised by Norwich University (VT) founder Captain Alden Partridge in the early days of that institution. At the time, Norwich was known as “The American Scientific, Literary and Military Academy.” The subject of this entry was named for his father (George) and for his father’s benefactor (Partridge).

GPC was born at Norwich, Vermont and was a cadet at the University, class of 1866, but left that institution at the close of his freshman year and served in the U.S. Navy as captain’s clerk on two ships during the Civil War. Subsequently he entered the U.S. Naval Academy, and was graduated in 1869. In passing through the successive grades of the Navy, his sea service of more than twenty-two years extended to every quarter of the world and comprised all the duties of a sea officer afloat. During various tours of shore duty, he was employed at the Hydrographic Office, Naval War Records Office, War College and commanded the Naval Station at Key West. He retired in 1907, at his own request, after forty-five years of service. While stationed in Washington in the 1870’s, Colvocoresses was confirmed at Epiphany in 1875 and his youngest son, Harold, was baptized at the church in 1880.

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September 8: Charles Haven Ladd Johnston (1943)

Charles H.L. Johnston was the author of numerous books on historic figures, including Attila the Hun, George Armstrong Custer, Kit Carson, and Sam Houston. He also authored many books in a famous leader series with some of the following subjects: Generals of the Great War, Discoverers and Explorers of America, Calvary Leaders, Indian Chiefs, Scouts, Frontiersmen and American Athletes. Johnston was born in Washington, DC, the third of four children of Dr. William Waring Johnston and Esther D. Ladd. His father and grandfather had both been distinguished local medical doctors. Both had been professors at Columbian University (now GWU), consulting physicians at several local hospitals as well as having successful practices. All four children of William and Esther Johnston were baptized at Epiphany over a six-year period, with the subject of this entry receiving that sacrament on October 11, 1877.

As a young man, Charles Johnston had diphtheria. His mother died of the disease at age 43. Johnston attended DC schools, the Lawrenceville School, St. Mark’s and then to Harvard, where he graduated in the class of 1899. While at Harvard, Johnston was editor of the Harvard Lampoon, a long running undergraduate humor publication. After graduation, he worked with a publisher in Boston before returning to Harvard in 1902 as an assistant instructor in the English department. One of Johnston’s pupils was future U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt. Johnston also taught English at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Johnston and his brother married women who were sisters.

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September 7: Charlotte Everett Wise Hopkins (1935)

Charlotte Hopkins was a civic leader, philanthropist and social reformer in the District of Columbia. She was a tireless crusader for the betterment of the District’s poor and working class citizens. Charlotte was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but her family moved to Washington when she was an infant. Her distinguished ancestry could be traced back to the Mayflower. Her grandfather, Edward Everett, was a great American orator of the 19th Century. He is probably best known for speaking two hours at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg just prior to President Lincoln’s two-minute speech. Charlotte Everett Wise married Archibald Hopkins at Epiphany on November 14, 1878. Mr. Hopkins was a lawyer and served as clerk of the U.S. Court of Claims. Over the next several years, all four of the couple’s children were baptized at Epiphany and the burial of their last child, age five, occurred there.

From Frances Cleveland to Eleanor Roosevelt, Charlotte Hopkins engaged every first lady in her work to improve the plight of Washington’s working class. She served as chairman of the Woman’s Department of the National Civic Federation, president of the Home for Incurables, board member of the United States Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeth’s Hospital), chairman of the D.C. Housing Commission, and a trustee of the Society for the Preservation of Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty. Hopkins fought to eradicate alley slums in the District of Columbia. She is credited with educating First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson on this issue, resulting in Wilson’s support of the Ellen Wilson Memorial Homes. She was also instrumental in the formation of the Washington Committee on Housing (later the Washington Planning and Housing Association) and the passage of the Alley Dwelling Elimination Act in 1934.

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September 6: Lewis Johnson Davis (1906)

From the time he attended the opening worship service of the new church as a 10-year old boy through his 34-year tenure as senior warden, Lewis J. Davis was a devoted member of Epiphany Parish. His father, George M. Davis, served as a vestry member from the time of church’s founding for the next 26 years. For a time at the end of the father’s life, both men were serving on Epiphany’s vestry at the same time. In addition to his long vestry service, Lewis Davis also played an active role in many related ministries – the Epiphany Church Home, the Lenthall Home for Widows, the Churchmen’s League, and the Men’s Club of Epiphany Parish. He was superintendent of the Mission Sunday School and a member of the Diocesan Convention since its inception. Davis and his future wife were in the same confirmation class in 1854.

A Washingtonian, by birth and life-long residence, at an early age Davis became associated with his grandfather in the banking house of Lewis Johnson & Company. After the close of the Civil War, it became desirable to change the form of the municipal government in the District of Columbia. Davis was one of a group of respectable residents to cooperate with the Congressional committees in planning the desired changes. Upon his death, Epiphany’s vestry memorialized Davis with the following. “He had the courage to insist on what he believed to be the right without fear or favor, and yet without personal animosity, and was always willing to change his views when they were shown to be incorrect, and loyally so carry out the conclusions of the majority in the various associations to which he belonged. We shall long lament his loss and the remembrance of his efficient and faithful work will remain as an encouragement and an example to those who survive him.”

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September 5: Benjamin Franklin Larned (1862)

Benjamin Franklin Larned was the tenth Paymaster-General of the U.S. Army, a position he held from 1854 until his death in 1862. Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Larned was named for American statesman and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who had died just four years before Larned’s birth. Enlisting in the U.S. Army on Oct 1, 1813, Larned devoted the next 50 years to the service of his country. He was promoted to 3rd Lieutenant on March 7, 1814; made 2nd Lieutenant on March 8, 1814; and 1st Lieutenant on August 4, 1814. On August 13-15, 1814, Lt. Larned commanded his company under Major-General Gaines and defeated General Drummond of the British Army in the defense of Fort Erie. He was promoted to Regimental Paymaster in 1815; Major Paymaster in 1821; Deputy Paymaster General with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1847; and then U.S. Paymaster General with the rank of Colonel in 1854. He was one of the oldest officers in the Army during the Civil War.

On September 1, 1851, Benjamin Larned married Elizabeth Rachel Newman at the Church of the Epiphany. His first wife and mother of his seven children had died four years earlier. Elizabeth died just five years after her marriage to Larned and was buried from Epiphany. Fort Larned, an Army post in central Kansas named in his honor, was established during his tenure as Paymaster-General and was built to protect traffic along the Santa Fe Trail from hostile American Indians. In announcing his death to the Army, by order of the Secretary of War, Adjutant General, L. Thomas concluded with these words: “A man of the most genial disposition, attractive society, and unsullied life – a sincere Christian above all – Col. Larned was deservedly respected and beloved by all who had the happiness of knowing him. May the Army, which has the reason to be proud of such a son, never cease to imitate the virtues of which he was so worthy an example.”

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September 4: Albert Smith White (1864)

Albert S. White served in the U.S. Senate from Indiana and was one of the earliest members of Congress to be associated with the new Epiphany congregation. White was born in Orange County, New York into a family that valued education. His father was a graduate of Columbia College (NY) and served as a judge on the Common Pleas Court. The younger White graduated from Union College with the highest honors and then studied law. He removed to Indiana, eventually settling in Lafayette, which became his home for the rest of his life. Election to the U.S. House of Representatives on the Whig ticket brought White to Washington in 1837. After serving one term, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and served one term (1839-1845).

While in Washington, White married a local girl, Harriet Wilson Randolph. The couple’s first two children were baptized at Epiphany – Randolph in 1843 and Albert, Jr. in 1844. On both entries in the parish register is the note, “sign of cross omitted at request of father.” After White’s Senate term was complete, he returned to Indiana to practice law and also served as president of several railroads. White was once again elected to the U.S. House and served for one term during the Civil War. He was a member of the Select Committee on Emancipation. Later, he was made a judge on the U.S. District Court for Indiana, a position in which he served for the remainder of his life. Following his death, White was buried in Greenbush Cemetery in Lafayette. On his tree trunk looking stone grave marker are the following words, “In all relations of life, admirable; as a friend, sincere; as a citizen, public spirited; as a lawyer, honest; as a legislator, wise; as a judge, without reproach.”

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September 3: Margaret Gwendolyn Barge (2008)

In the early 1960’s when Margaret Barge transferred to Epiphany from a predominantly African American parish, she became a racial bridge builder of sorts. Dr. Martin Luther King had once said, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Through the racial unrest that followed Dr. King’s assassination and for the rest of her life, Margaret became a pillar of the church. For more than 20 years, she served as the parish’s liaison to the Episcopal Center for Children and also helped out at the home of an elderly couple. She served as President and Treasurer of Phillips Chapter, a parish service group for business and professional women. She was a long-time member of the Altar Guild. She helped raise money for the parish through her participation in the annual Christmas Bazaar and for the wider church by serving as the parish representative for the United Thank Offering.

Margaret Barge was born in July 1909 in her parents’ home on Newport Place near Dupont Circle. She attended Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School (a school that originally opened in 1868 and was the first in the District built with public funds to educate African American children), and then graduated from Dunbar High School. She attended Howard University for two and half years. After taking a government service exam, she was hired at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In her more than 18 years of federal service there, her tasks were many and varied, such as examining whiskey stamps, currency and invitations. Upon retirement, Margaret joined the local chapter of the AARP, serving as financial secretary and a member of its board. Following Margaret’s passing in 2008, just months shy of her 100th birthday, her funeral was held at Epiphany, a parish she loved and served so faithfully.

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