Celebrating 175

February 8: Richard Eppes Shands (1981)

Although his father was a doctor, Richard Eppes Shands decided on a career in law. He received his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Virginia and later earned a master of law degree from George Washington University. Shands served as a Navy officer in World War I. His name, as well as his two brothers, appears on the plaque at the rear of Epiphany’s nave commemorating parishioners who fought in the Great War. Shands went on to become a successful Washington lawyer for nearly 60 years. During his career, he served as Chairman of the Fairfax County School Board, President of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the National Capital Area Chapter of Boy Scouts of America.


Richard Shands and his family had strong connections to Epiphany. His father, Dr. Aurelius Shands, served as a vestry member and warden for over 20 years. Richard and his siblings memorialized their parents with the contribution of a stained glass window that graces the east transept of the church today. Richard married Katherine “Kate” Snyder at Epiphany in 1936. He served as a vestry member and parish treasurer. He provided legal assistance to the parish and the diocese over the years. Richard and Kate’s farm in Great Falls, Virginia (see photo) was the setting of many Epiphany parish picnics. That property was later sold to a new faith community that was just getting started in the 1960s, today’s St. Francis Episcopal Church.

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February 7: Joseph Hammond Bryan (1935)

Dr. Joseph Hammond Bryan was born in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 1856. His baptism, a little over a year later, is recorded in Epiphany’s register, although the location is noted as St. John’s Church. In the summer and fall of 1857, Epiphany was undergoing its first major renovation. Bryan’s early education was acquired in local private schools. A year before entering the University of Virginia, he was confirmed at Epiphany by Bishop Pinkney. All five of Bryan’s siblings were baptized and confirmed at Epiphany as well.


After receiving medical degrees from UVA and the University of New York, Bryan entered the U.S. Navy as Assistant Surgeon and served for five years. With ambition to attain success in his chosen profession, Dr. Bryan went abroad, spending two years in Europe studying with eminent physicians in Heidelberg, Berlin, Vienna, and Paris. He gave particular attention to the methods of treating diseases of the throat and ear and upon his return to Washington in 1887, he began his practice as a specialist along these lines and gained an eminent position by reason of his marked ability. A decade later, Epiphany joined several other churches in creating the Episcopal Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital, of which Dr. Bryan was a regular consultant.

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February 6: Alice Hutchins Drake (1975)

In reverence, we, too, will breathe a prayer

Of gratitude for this prayer-poet friend,

So thoughtful, kind to everyone she met.

Her “fuller life” begins! God could not spare

Her any longer; her brave soul has sped!

This gracious friend we never shall forget.


Thus concludes a tribute to Alice Hutchins Drake by fellow poet Florence M. Stellwagen. Miss Drake was born in Chicago and came to Washington as a child. She graduated from Central High School and attended George Washington University. She had been an editorial researcher for the Haskins Information Service and as such had a study desk at the Library of Congress. Considered an authority on words, she was a well-known club and radio commentator for stations WRC and WMAL. She did weekly talks on painting and sculpture on display in Washington.


Miss Drake was often called upon to describe the realms of art and literature especially to the blind. She taught short story and verse writing at the YWCA. As an author, her best-known book was “Little Prayers for Stressful Times.” For many years, Alice Drake was an active member of the Church of the Epiphany. Another line from the aforementioned poem says much about Drake’s life, “How can we mourn for one who lived so well?”


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February 5: George Thomas Dunlop (1908)

George Thomas Dunlop was born in Frederick County, Maryland. Ambitious to earn his way in the world, George asked his father to allow him to try his fortune. Leaving home at age 15 with five dollars in his pocket, George immediately paid $3.65 for railroad fare to Washington, leaving him with $1.35. He found employment as a clerk in an agricultural warehouse. Within a decade, Dunlop had taken over the company. As a director of the Washington & Georgetown Railroad Company, Dunlop took an active interest in local transportation matters. The resulting Capital Traction Company, under Dunlop’s presidency, was a highly successful street railway system in the District for many years.

The first record of George Dunlop in Epiphany’s records is the marriage of his daughter, Grace, at the church in 1906. Dunlop’s funeral two years later was at Epiphany. In 1910, when Epiphany’s current parish house was being built, the rector solicited contributions to endow various rooms of the new structure. Dunlop’s widow, Emily, gave money for a room in memory of her husband. Today a second floor meeting room bears his name. The family stayed connected with the church for most of the 20th Century. George Dunlop’s granddaughter, Elizabeth, married John Stenhouse, who served as Epiphany’s Senior Warden in the 1960’s and also the architect of the 1968 renovation.

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February 4: John Moulder Wilson (1919)

As a young boy, John Moulder Wilson served as a page on the floor of the U.S. Senate during the great debates of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster. He later settled in the Washington Territory. Upon receiving an appointment to West Point, he became the first cadet from the Pacific Northwest. The Civil War broke out shortly after his graduation and Wilson saw much action. He would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery at the Battle of Malvern Hill (VA). Wilson became part of the Army Corps of Engineers. While in charge of Washington, D.C. public buildings and grounds, he did much to beautify the city. Wilson retired with the rank of brigadier general after 41 years of military service.


John Wilson married Augusta Waller at the Church of the Epiphany on November 5, 1861. The Wilsons are listed as Epiphany communicants in the years following the Civil War. When Waller was appointed the 23rd Superintendent of West Point, he succeeded fellow Epiphany parishioner John G. Parke in that role. Epiphany’s first rector John French left Washington in 1856 to become Chaplain and Professor at West Point. It appears Wilson, a young cadet at the time, got to know French and his family. Almost 30 years later, Wilson stood as a sponsor when French’s granddaughter was baptized at Epiphany in 1884.

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February 3: Harry Webster Baldwin, Jr.+ (2015)

The Rev. Harry Webster Baldwin, Jr. grew up from very modest means in rural Goochland County, Virginia. He learned how to exchange his mother’s homemade bread for “store bought sliced bread,” and how to repair a cracked baseball bat with screws and tape. Following graduation from the University of Richmond in 1945, Harry enrolled at the Virginia Theological Seminary. Towards the end of his studies, Harry was assigned to do his field education at the Church of the Epiphany. There he met a young woman named Elizabeth King, who was living in the area and working at the Pentagon as a secretary. On the weekend she was a Sunday School teacher at Epiphany. The rest, as they say, is history.


Harry and Elizabeth began their lives and ministry together in marriage at the Church of the Epiphany in 1950. Rector Leland Stark and Bishop Frederick Goodwin of Virginia jointly performed the ceremony. Harry spent his career in several churches in Virginia, but mostly at St. Andrew’s in Richmond, where he served for 30 years. At the time of his passing, 95-year old Harry Baldwin was the longest resident clergy person in the Diocese of Virginia. He lived a full and rewarding life. The concluding lines of Harry’s obituary sum up his life well, “He fought the good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith.”

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February 2: Jane Wadden Turner (1896)

Eleven years after its founding, the Smithsonian Institution hired its first female employee – Jane Wadden Turner. Jane’s brother, William, had been trained as a librarian at Columbia College in New York City and because there were few educational opportunities in the field available for women, William taught his sister. When Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird asked William to head the Smithsonian Library, William delegated the task of preparing the catalog to his sister Jane. Soon thereafter, Jane was hired as a library clerk and after her brother’s untimely death, she took charge of the library. Later Jane accompanied the library when it was transferred to the Library of Congress under the auspices of Librarian Ainsworth Spofford.


It’s interesting that both Baird and Spofford were associated with Epiphany. It’s hard to know if they had any influence, but Jane became associated with Epiphany as well. She is listed as a communicant in the parish register and her burial and that of her sister, Susan, are both recorded there. Jane Wadden Turner was a faithful daughter of Epiphany Parish and a trailblazer for women in the new nation’s capital.

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February 1: First Issue of the Parish Guide Newsletter (1877)

“This little monthly publication will help the rector in engaging the interest of his people in their own parish work and parish life.” With these words, Epiphany rector William Paret introduced a new monthly newsletter, Parish Guide, to his congregation in February 1877. The Guide was the rector’s personal medium for communicating with his parishioners and making them aware of the manifold activities of Epiphany and of the Episcopal Church generally. In the beginning, the Parish Guide was 8-12 pages in length and was mailed to all members at no charge. Subscriptions of $1 per year were welcomed.


Within ten years, 800 copies of the Parish Guide were being sent out at an annual cost to the church of $55. A decade later in 1895, the number of copies had soared to 1225. About this time, advertising first appeared and filled 2-3 pages for the next 25 years. In an 1896 issue, Mrs. M.J. Hunt’s Fine Millinery on F Street advertised “a choice line of the very latest importations of bonnets and hats from leading Paris and London houses.” The Parish Guide served the parish well for 135 years, but was finally a victim of modern technology and replaced by today’s online “Epiphanies Happen!”

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January 31: Wills De Hass (1910)

After graduation from Jefferson Medical College (Philadelphia), Wills De Hass went to Wellsburg, Ohio where he took up the practice of medicine. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. De Hass helped to organize the 77th Ohio Regiment of which he was made lieutenant colonel, and engaged in all the battles of this regiment.  An ardent Unionist, De Hass supported the formation of the state of West Virginia, which occurred in 1863. His early interest in historical and scientific studies led to extensive investigations into regional history and to archeological digging in the Upper Ohio Valley. He was an active member of several scientific and historical societies.


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, De Hass conducted archeological investigations relating to mound builders for the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology. A writer and lecturer on archeological subjects, De Hass turned to frontier history for his best-known work, History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia. At age 67, De Hass was confirmed at Epiphany in March 1885 by former rector and newly consecrated Bishop of Maryland, William Paret.

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January 30: Benjamin Oden West (1933)

When Benjamin Oden West retired from the Chicago and Erie railroad in 1927, he had over 50 years of service. The Chicago and Erie, which existed from 1871 to 1941, was an important connection between Chicago and the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area. West had come to Rochester, Indiana with a crew of surveyors in 1881 to fix the railroad right-of-way. A year later he was appointed the station agent at Rochester and served in that capacity until his retirement.


West was born in Washington, D.C. in 1857. He and his older sister, Helen, were both baptized at Epiphany as infants. West lived in Washington as a small boy during the trying times of the Civil War and it was he who furnished authorities with one of the first clues regarding John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. On the day of the murder, Booth had tied up his horse in the alley in back of Ford’s Theater, which also backed up to the West’s home. Eight-year old Benjamin witnessed Booth’s getaway that night and was able to tell officers in which direction the assassin had fled.

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