Celebrating 175

July 23: Rosalie Mackenzie Poe (1874)

In the center of an oak-shaded section of Rock Creek Cemetery stands a large granite marker. On one side is carved “Epiphany Parish” and on the other, “Epiphany Church Home.” In the mid-1870’s, Epiphany purchased cemetery lots for its poorer members and lots for Church Home residents, who were typically poor, and had no place to be buried. On the Church Home side of the granite marker, there are rows of identical grave markers as might be seen at a religious order cemetery. One of the markers is labeled, “Rosalie Mackenzie Poe, 1812-1874.” This is the grave of the younger sister of renowned author, Edgar Allan Poe.

Rosalie Poe was the youngest of three children of itinerant actors David and Eliza Poe. Shortly after Rosalie’s birth, the father abandoned the family and soon died. About the same time, the mother died as well, leaving three young orphan siblings. The oldest child was taken in by grandparents. The younger two were cared for by other families – middle child Edgar by the Allan family and youngest child Rosalie by the Mackenzie family. Edgar and Rosalie had an estranged relationship. Rosalie never had the physical beauty and talent of her famous older brother. Rosalie led a comfortable existence with the Mackenzies until the Civil War left the family destitute. For many years, she survived on the streets of Richmond and Baltimore by selling reproduction pictures and artifacts of her famous brother. Rosalie was eventually placed in the Epiphany Church Home, where she died. Her burial is recorded in Epiphany’s records.

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July 22: William Nicholson Jeffers (1883)

William Nicholson Jeffers was a 19th Century U.S. Naval officer. He took part in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. During the 1870’s and the early 1880’s, Jeffers served as Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance. Jeffers biggest contribution to the U.S. Navy was his work in naval ordnance throughout his career. He wrote numerous books on the subject. A native of New Jersey, Jeffers’ eagerness for sea service was inspired by his maternal uncles, who were naval officers. After serving as a midshipman for five years, Jeffers studied at the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating fourth in a class of forty-seven. His special studies in ordnance were perhaps responsible for his transfer to the command of the Monitor, just after her engagement with the Merrimac during the Civil War.

In 1878, Jeffers’ wife, Lucy LeGrand Jeffers, was confirmed at Epiphany. Jeffers was popular and uniformly courteous. He had a firm spirit, illustrated by his refusal to admit the suffering of his last illness. Following his death, Jeffers’ funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland. A World War II-era destroyer, the USS Jeffers, was named in his honor.

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July 21: Gustavus William Pope (1902)

Gustavus William Pope was a noted Washington physician as well as a science fiction author. In 1894, Pope wrote what he called a “scientific novel” entitled, Journey to Mars the Wonderful World: Its Beauty and Splendor; Its Mighty Races and Kingdoms; Its Final Doom. A sequel, Journey to Venus the Primeval World; Its Wondrous Creations and Gigantic Monsters, followed in 1895. Pope wrote books on a range of other subjects, including one regarding Shakespeare’s supposed Roman Catholicism.

Pope followed in his father’s footsteps as a physician. He studied medicine at the University of New York. He became assistant physician to the New York State Lunatic Asylum. For two years, he was physician to the Oneida Almshouse, and while there turned his attention to the claims of homeopathy, a system of alternative medicine based on the doctrine that like cures like – a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Pope became convinced of its superiority over the allopathic system of practice. Pope became the senior homeopathic physician in Washington and secured an extensive practice. In 1856, Dr. Pope treated the first case of diphtheria that ever appeared in Washington and in the following year treated about one hundred cases, losing only three. Pope’s son, Joshua, was baptized at Epiphany in 1859. A year later, Pope and his wife were baptized and then confirmed at the church.

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July 20: Eva Dixon Barrett (1954)

In the vestibule at the rear of Epiphany Church today, there are four pairs of interior glass windows. The two pairs on the west side are Old Testament stories and the two on the east are New Testament stories. The pair of windows on the east side beside the center doorway is a memorial to Eva Dixon Barrett. The windows were designed and fabricated by Rowan and Irene LeCompte. The memorial represents a modern application of a type of stained glass developed in the 12th Century known as grisaille. This method employs entirely white and tints of white, without color, to conform to interior lighting conditions.

The Barrett Memorial Windows depict two scenes in the life of Christ – the miracle of the loaves and fishes and Christ blessing the little children, two themes appropriate to the life of Mrs. Barrett. In 1906, an Episcopal mission school of St. Paul’s Church, Morganton, North Carolina, was founded in the Linville area of western North Carolina by the Rev. Walter Hughson and Miss Eva Frances Dixon. Miss Dixon lived in a mission house on the premises, taught school, gave religious instruction and began an orphanage for the community. She was remembered for her vigor and dedication. Prior to her time in North Carolina, Eva Dixon Barrett had been a parishioner at Epiphany. The windows in her memory were the gift of her two sisters and brother.

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July 19: George Byrd Harrison (1898)

George Byrd Harrison had a distinguished ancestry in Virginia. His father was William Byrd Harrison of “Brandon,” a James River plantation. His mother was Mary Randolph Harrison of “Clifton,” in Cumberland County, Virginia, and a cousin of Epiphany’s ninth rector, Randolph Harrison McKim. George attended the College of William and Mary and then received his medical degree from the University of Virginia. Dr. Harrison was a teacher of pediatrics at Columbian University [George Washington University]. He was president of the Medical Association of the District of Columbia, senior physician at the Washington City Orphan Asylum, and the attending physician to the Epiphany Church Home. George Byrd Harrison married Jane Lenthall Stone at Epiphany. Jane was the daughter of Lincoln family physician, Dr. Robert King Stone. Both of the Harrison’s children were baptized at Epiphany and both George and Jane Harrison were buried from the church.

The following excerpt from an article in Epiphany’s Parish Guide newsletter testifies to Dr. Harrison’s character. “Dr. Harrison was well known in this city, which had been his home since the beginning of his professional career, and it is safe to say that all who really knew him loved him; he was a most amiable and lovable man. Pure, incorruptible integrity shone forth in his every act. He can be truly commended to attention as a citizen, as a son, as a brother, as a husband, and as a father, for under that calm, sedate demeanor, there burned the liveliest affection; and in his domestic relations he approached as near perfection as it is permitted man to come. The crowning beauty of the man was that he was a Christian, one who not only bent his knee to the altar, but whose heart bowed in genuine religious fervor to his God. His fellow physicians testify to his usefulness to his fellow man, for he truly did his Master’s will, going about healing the sick and comforting the distressed with little thought of a reward in this world. He was a physician of eminent skill which, with his unlimited benevolence, attracted the confidence and love of his patients.”

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July 18: Jane Kromer Kean (2008)

Jane Kromer Kean was the wife of Epiphany’s twelfth rector, Charles Duell Kean. For many at Epiphany, Jane was a precious link to the past. She faithfully attended Epiphany for the 45 years following her husband’s death, but Jane was much more than just the rector’s wife. She was an accomplished person in her own right. Born at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, her father was an Army officer – West Point, Class of 1899. She moved to Washington as a child. After graduating from Western High School, she attended the University of Arizona, where she was on the tennis and swimming teams. Jane’s father, General Leon B. Kromer, was chief of cavalry at Fort Myer. As a cavalryman, the general was a noted rider. Jane became an accomplished rider as well (see accompanying photo).

After her marriage in 1939 to Charles Kean, Jane lived in New York, Springfield, MA and Kirkwood, MO before returning to Washington in 1954 when Dr. Kean became Epiphany’s rector. Jane became involved with the Episcopal Center for Children, a five-day residential program for mildly and moderately emotionally disturbed children. She was the center’s financial and administrative officer from 1958 until her retirement in 1982. She cared so much about the mission of the center that she continued working as a volunteer after she retired. In her later years, Jane spent time sorting contributions of toiletries that are distributed to the homeless by social workers on behalf of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. A funeral service was held for Jane at Epiphany following her passing on July 18, 2008. Her cremains were eventually placed in Epiphany’s new columbarium, next to those of her husband’s.

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July 17: Alexander Yelverton Peyton Garnett (1888)

Dr. Alexander Y.P. Garnett’s distinguished medical career included being chair of Clinical Medicine at Columbian University [George Washington University], a member of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Hospital, president of the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, and president of the American Medical Association. A native of Essex County, Virginia, Garnett studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. After passing his examination before the Naval Medical Board, he was appointed Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Navy. On a cruise to South America, he met the woman who subsequently became his wife, Mary Wise, the daughter of the U.S. Minister to Brazil. Later while stationed at Washington, Garnett resigned his position in the Navy and began his career as a civil practitioner. About this time, he first became associated with Epiphany. His second child, Maria, was baptized at the church in 1851.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. Garnett’s sympathies were with his native state of Virginia. He left Washington for Richmond, where he remained until the close of the war. He was appointed Surgeon General of the Confederate Army, and placed in charge of two hospitals. He was the physician of General Robert E. Lee and family, as well as to the families of Generals Joe Johnston, Hampton, Preston, Breckenridge, and of many members of the Confederate Cabinet and Congress. Following the war, Dr. Garnett returned to Washington where he returned to active practice and lecturing and apparently re-associated himself with Epiphany. Following his death, Dr. Garnett’s funeral was at the church before his interment at Rock Creek Cemetery. Later his wife and oldest son were buried from Epiphany as well.

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July 16: John Joseph Pershing (1948)

The New York Times reported the 1905 marriage of John J. Pershing at Epiphany. “The marriage of Miss Frances Helen Warren, only daughter of Senator Warren of Wyoming, to Capt. John J. Pershing, United States Army, at the Church of the Epiphany today at noon filled that edifice with a distinguished company, including the President [Theodore Roosevelt] and Mrs. Roosevelt, the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, Lieut. Gen. Chaffee; the Cabinet and all official Washington, and nearly the entire body of the United States Senate, which, in compliment to the bride’s father, did not convene until one o’clock.” Pershing’s military career took him from his West Point graduation in 1882 to his command of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Congress created a new rank for Pershing – “General of the Armies,” making him the highest-ranking military figure. His last request was that he be buried with the men he had fought beside, and that his grave be marked with the same white regulation tombstone marking their graves.

Pershing became an Episcopalian during his time as a military commander in the Philippines. He would frequently worship at Epiphany when in Washington. Following the end of World War I, General Pershing led a victory parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Epiphany’s Parish Guide newsletter described his attendance at church the preceding Sunday. “The congregation was much pleased to be able to welcome General Pershing and Mrs. Warren [mother-in-law] as our guests and fellow-worshippers. The national hymn and the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ were sung, and at the close of the service an impromptu and informal reception was given General Pershing, who was most gracious, cordial and unaffected in responding to every friendly and admiring greeting.”

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July 15: Randolph Harrison McKim+ (1920)

Randolph Harrison McKim served as Epiphany’s rector for 32 years, the longest tenure of any rector to date. The church’s tower and bells are memorials to him. The following resolution by Epiphany’s vestry, written upon Dr. McKim’s death, indicate the characteristics that endeared him to this parish.


“The Wardens and Vestrymen of the Church of the Epiphany desire to hereby record what can be at best but an inadequate expression of our esteem and affection for our lately deceased Rector, Reverend Randolph Harrison McKim, D.D. For more than thirty years his ministrations to Epiphany Parish have been rendered with unflagging zeal, fidelity and ability. To his enlightened vision, wise judgment and notable executive ability, do we owe the progressively vigorous estate of our church. His preaching of the Gospel has ever been timely, forceful and appealing, his appeals to his people for co-operation compelling; their response by way of parish activities and generosity of contributions to the good causes he has so movingly submitted to them through the long years of his ministry constitute a notable memorial to the power of his personality and Christian zeal. The profession of the Ministry was to him the greatest of human activities. To devote his time and talents to his Master’s work was for him a perennial satisfaction and joy. To his mind no other kind of work was comparable to his work. Joyfully and unsparingly he gave himself to it with whole-hearted devotion. His sermons, always able and scholarly, seemed to grow in clarity of vision, power of expression and convincing appeal in the closing years of his long life. His great qualities of heart and mind were increasingly evidenced. ‘Doctor McKim was a great Churchman, a true patriot, a genuine scholar and a sincere Christian.’ While the long years of his work among us have reared many monuments to his memory, his more permanent monument will appear in the influence of his devoted and fruitful life upon his people and upon the Church at large.”

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July 14: James Saunders (1914)

For forty-one years, James Saunders was the sexton of Epiphany Church. He was a Civil War veteran. During the rectorship of William Paret, Saunders was baptized and confirmed at Epiphany. Following Saunders’ death, a funeral service was held in the church with nearly a thousand people in attendance. The September 1914 issue of the Parish Guide provided the following description of the funeral.


James Saunders, Sexton Emeritus

On Thursday, July 16th, the funeral of this highly esteemed and beloved old sexton took place at 2pm in the Church. The Rector [the Rev. Randolph McKim] was present and delivered a short memorial address. With him in the Chancel were the Rev. G. Freeland Peter, the Rev. Charles F. Edwards, the Rev. Gilbert F. Williams, the Rev. James Macbride Sterrett, D.D., the Rev. Thomas Alexander Johnstone, and the Rev. E.M. Mott. In the congregation was the Rev. David Barr. All but one of these had been assistant ministers in the Parish. The Vestry acted as honorary pallbearers. The music was feelingly rendered by a large vested choir, Mr. McChord officiating at the organ. James’ favorite hymns were sung. The middle aisle of the Church was filled by the colored people and the family and friends of the deceased. The side aisles were also well filled with the members of Epiphany congregation, who came to pay their last tribute of respect and affection to dear old James. After forty-one years of faithful service he entered into his rest at the age of 74. One of the clergy remarked that it was the most impressive funeral service he had ever attended. The casket was covered with an American flag. Lincoln Camp G.A.R., attended in a body, and the Chapter of the Masonic Lodge, of which he was a member, paid personal tribute.

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