Celebrating 175

May 24: Lucius Fairchild (1896)

The accompanying photograph depicts Lucius Fairchild and his wife, Frances Bull Fairchild. The couple was married at the Church of the Epiphany on April 27, 1864. Frances’ older sister, Kate, had been married there five years earlier. The mother and stepfather of the sisters had been buried from Epiphany in the mid 1850’s. During the Civil War, Frances often visited the hospitals in the city to bring cheer to the wounded soldiers. She got to know many of the officers and was often invited to dine at the officers’ mess. Through this, she made the acquaintance of Lucius Fairchild and married him in 1864. Fairchild by that time had a highly distinguished military career.

In 1858, Fairchild enlisted as a private in a Wisconsin volunteer militia, later known as the Second Wisconsin Infantry. At the beginning of the Civil War, Fairchild served with distinction at the First and Second Battles of Bull Run and later at Antietam. During the first day of fighting at Gettysburg, Fairchild’s regiment was the first infantry unit to make close contact with the Confederate Army. Fairchild was shot in the upper arm, captured, tended to, and released. Fairchild’s left arm had to be amputated. While recovering, President Lincoln commissioned Fairchild a brigadier general. Shortly thereafter Fairchild resigned from the military and was appointed Secretary of State of Wisconsin, before being elected three term Governor of Wisconsin. Later Fairchild was appointed U.S. consul at Liverpool, then consul general at Paris and finally ambassador to Spain.

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May 23: Christopher Houston Carson (1868)

Christopher Houston Carson (or more commonly “Kit Carson”) was an American frontiersman, fur trapper, wilderness guide and Indian agent. His name may be familiar to many through exaggerated versions of his exploits recounted in comic books of their youth. What connection could a person like this possibly have with an Episcopal church in downtown Washington? It turns out that Kit Carson was at Epiphany standing as a sponsor at the baptism of three-week old Benton Frémont on August 15, 1848.  Benton Frémont was the second child of John Charles Frémont and Jessie Benton Frémont, the latter being the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton.

Senator Benton was the great expounder of “manifest destiny,” the belief that the United States was destined (by God, some said) to expand across North America to the Pacific Ocean. Benton pushed appropriations through Congress for national surveys of the region and then put his son-in-law, John C. Frémont, in charge of them. In the 1840’s, Fremont hired Kit Carson as a guide for expeditions through California and Oregon. Under Fremont’s command, Carson participated in the uprising against Mexican rule in California. Carson made a coast-to-coast journey from California to Washington, DC to deliver news of the conflict in California to the U.S. government. This put Carson in town for the aforementioned baptism. In Epiphany’s register, Carson’s name is recorded as “Kit (Christopher) Carson,” his residence, “Rocky Mountains.”

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May 22: Robert Finley Hunt (1898)

In September 2011, a 286-page collection of R. Finley Hunt’s personal papers sold at auction for $23,309. Halfway through the Civil War, Hunt, who at the time was a dentist of unknown engineering ability living in Richmond, VA, theorized that he could build an airplane. Dr. Hunt thought his steam-powered vehicle could help the Confederacy, so he wrote President Jefferson Davis of his “invention of a flying machine intended to be used for war purposes in the existing conflict.” In 1863, Davis referred Hunt to Robert E. Lee, who in turn directed him to Colonel Jeremy Gilmer, Chief of the Engineer Bureau for the Confederacy. Gilmore appointed a board of engineers to review Hunt’s idea, but the report came back unfavorable. As it turned out, only balloons were used during the war, and only in a limited way.

Hunt moved to Washington, continued his dental profession and eventually got a patent on his flying device. He built several working models and was still attempting to get financing in 1872, but never saw his vision take flight. Hunt’s 21-year old daughter Fannie was confirmed at Epiphany in 1872. A decade later, Fannie was married to Thomas Howard at Epiphany by rector William Paret. Dr. Hunt lived to see his first grandson, Busey Hunt Howard, baptized at Epiphany. Robert Finley Hunt died on May 22, 1898. His funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at Oak Hill Cemetery. Five years later, the Wright Brothers made their first flight.

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May 21: Emancipation of Nelly Ann Easton (1862)

On May 21, 1862, a petition for compensation for the release of slave Nelly Ann Easton was submitted by Ann Briscoe of Washington, DC. This was the result of legislation signed by President Lincoln on April 16 “for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia.” The plan relied on a three-person Emancipation Commission to distribute the allocated funding. In order to receive compensation, former slaveholders were required to provide written evidence of their ownership, as well as state their loyalty to the Union. As a result of the act’s passage, 3185 slaves were freed. Ann Briscoe stated that she had gained ownership of Nelly Easton by way of inheriting Nelly’s mother, Louisa Easton, from the estate of her father, Dr. Edward Briscoe of Charles County, MD.

In Miss Briscoe’s petition, Nelly is described as “five feet 8 inches high, copper colored, large features, thin face, ordinary size, and a very superior cook.” The petition asked for $800 in compensation. The commission granted $262.80. In addition to Nelly, Miss Briscoe was also petitioning compensation for Nelly’s daughter, Floreed, who was described as having a “pleasing bright countenance.” Floreed had been baptized at Epiphany in 1849. Nelly was confirmed there seven months later. Through the Civil War years, Nelly Easton stood as a sponsor at the baptism of at least seven African-American infants. Due to the requirements of parochial reports, these individuals are labeled as “colored.” The last evidence of Nelly Ann Easton at Epiphany was in 1864 when she served as sponsor at the baptism of Sophia Davis. In 1867, to give African Americans greater autonomy, Epiphany and St. John’s established St. Mary’s Church in Foggy Bottom.

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May 20: Alexander Brydie Dyer (1874)

Alexander Brydie Dyer rose to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. Born in Richmond, Virginia, he was one of the few native Southerners to reach the rank of general in the Union army. A career military man, Dyer graduated sixth in a class of 50 at West Point. One of his classmates was future Epiphany parishioner Edward Townsend. Dyer served in the Seminole Wars as lieutenant of ordnance. In the Mexican-American War, he was brevetted for gallant conduct. When the Civil War erupted, Dyer stayed with the Union and was given command of the Federal Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his improvement of operations gained notice. In 1864, he was appointed chief of ordnance at Washington, DC, where he would remain the rest of his career.

The first record of General Dyer at Epiphany is the confirmation of his 14-year old daughter Anne in 1871. Three years after her father’s death, Anne was married at Epiphany. Dyer was confirmed on his sick bed shortly before his death. The General Order announcing his death and funeral was issued by Adjutant-General (and fellow West Point classmate and parishioner) Edward Townsend. The order concluded, “The funeral ceremonies will take place from the Church of the Epiphany on G street, between 13th and 14th streets. As appropriate honors to the memory of the deceased, minute guns (thirteen) will be fired at Springfield Armory and at each Arsenal, commencing at 12 o’clock M., and the national flag will be displayed at half-staff from the same hour until sundown on the next day.”

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May 19: Annie Moore Clymer McKim (1928)

Annie McKim (full name: Sarah Anne Moore Clymer Brooke McKim) was the second wife of long-time Epiphany rector Randolph McKim. Annie’s father, Daniel Clymer, was a lawyer and mayor of Reading, PA. She was the only one of five children to live to adulthood. At age 20, she married Edward Brooke, a native of Birdsboro, PA, who became a successful businessman and community leader. He was in the iron business, developed a regional railroad, served as director of a local bank, and founded an Episcopal church. When Brooke died in 1878, Annie was left as a woman of considerable means.

Annie Brooke married widower Randolph McKim two years after his arrival at Epiphany. Following their wedding, the couple left on a European vacation. Such trips would be a recurring theme the rest of their married life. Annie became involved in the charitable works of the parish, including service on the Board of Lady Managers of the Epiphany Church Home. Frederick Brooke, Annie’s youngest son from her first marriage, was an architect. He was responsible for Epiphany’s parish house in 1910. He was also in charge of Epiphany’s new tower in 1922, built as a memorial to his stepfather, Randolph McKim. Annie gave the memorial bust of her husband for the new tower entrance. After Annie McKim’s death in 1928, her surviving sons and grandchildren memorialized her with the glass vestibule inside Epiphany’s G Street entrance.

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May 18: Street Church (2006)

In 2006, Epiphany rector Randolph Charles and Urban Missioner Anne-Marie Jeffery (shown here) began a new ministry for the homeless in downtown Washington. While churches had long provided meals, occasional shelter and indoor worship services for the homeless, a small but growing number of congregations began to recognize that many homeless people will not attend traditional services indoors. So these congregations now go outdoors to bring church to the homeless and anyone else who happens along. Street Church was inspired by the Ecclesia movement, founded by the Rev. Debbie Little Wyman in Boston Commons that takes the Gospel to people who might never venture into a church.

Every Tuesday, a group of volunteers gathers in Epiphany’s kitchen to make the lunches, which consist of two PB&J sandwiches, chips, fruit, and water. A small handmade sign hanging from a shopping cart announces Street Church to people at Franklin Square Park and volunteers hand out fliers. A 15-minute worship service for 20-30 people is followed by lunch and fellowship. In a 2007 New York Times article entitled “No Altar, No Pews, Not Even a Roof, but Very Much a Church,” journalist Neela Banerjee quoted a homeless man describing Epiphany’s Street Church – “This gives me strength to deal with things. I think God is with me. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I could survive all this.”

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May 17: Malcolm C. McCormack (2002)

Malcolm C. McCormack was the second executive director of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, heading the organization for 11 years, 1978-1989. The foundation was created by an Act of Congress in 1975 as a living memorial to the 33rd President of the United States. The act authorized the foundation to “award scholarships to persons who demonstrate outstanding potential for and who plan to pursue a career in public service” and to conduct nationwide competition to select Truman scholars. A $30,000 scholarship for graduate school education is awarded to 55-65 U.S. college juniors each year. Some noted recipients of the past include Janet Napolitano, Bill de Blasio, George Stephanopoulos, and Susan Rice.

McCormack was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but raised in the Washington area. He was a 1945 honors graduate of Western High School. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University. He worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and later in advertising for an insurance firm and the Washington Star newspaper. In 1967, he returned to his alma mater as executive vice president for university relations. As a fundraiser, he netted close to $100 million for the school. McCormack was a member of the University Club and the Church of the Epiphany. He served on the parish vestry as junior warden.

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May 16: John Jay Almy (1895)

A native of Newport, Rhode Island, John Jay Almy was named for John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States. Almy was the youngest child of his family. Both parents having died when he young, the Navy became his home. He was appointed midshipman at age 14. In the Mexican War, he took part in the capture of Vera Cruz and during the Civil War, he captured four blockade runners and destroyed four others. As a rear admiral, he was able to protect American and European property during a violent revolt in Panama. Upon his retirement, Admiral Almy had served twenty-seven years and ten months of duty at sea, the longest amount of any officer in the navy.

John Jay Almy and his first wife, Sarah Gardner, had five children. The youngest was baptized at Epiphany and the youngest two were confirmed there. After Almy’s wife died, he married her sister. Both wives were buried from Epiphany. Two days after his death on May 16, funeral rites for Rear Admiral Almy were performed at Epiphany by rector Randolph McKim. Pallbearers for the service included four Navy admirals and two Army generals. A detachment of sailors served as body bearers and a company of marines were at Congressional Cemetery to pay the last military tribute to the dead, by firing a volley over the grave and the sounding of “Taps” by a bugler.

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May 15: William Sharples Derrick (1852)

On May 17, 1852, The National Intelligencer reported the death of William S. Derrick, Chief Clerk in the Department of State. “Throughout the term of his service in the Department he strove to earn promotion, and obtained it, not by courting the acquaintance of those having or likely to have political importance, but by the conscientious and accurate discharge of the duties assigned to him, without any taint of personal servility to his superiors in office, and by employing his leisure in those pursuits which were adapted to inform, expand, and elevate his mind, and to improve his great natural capacity for business. By his death the public has lost a faithful and laborious servant, his immediate family an affectionate husband, father, and friend, his associates in the Department a valuable exemplar, and his friends one whose worth they will always hold in vivid remembrance.”

William Sharples Derrick was born in West Chester, PA. His father, Philip Derrick, was the first Burgess of West Chester. William was well acquainted with the French and Spanish languages and with English literature. He was employed by the State Department from 1827 until his death in 1852 and at “sundry times during that period he performed the duties of Acting Secretary of State an aggregate of 263 days by virtue of presidential appointments.” At the time of his death he was Chief Clerk. During his career William Sharples Derrick served under eight presidents. He was baptized at Epiphany on October 18, 1851 and then died of tuberculosis on May 15, 1852. After services conducted by the Reverend Mr. French at the Church of the Epiphany, he was buried in Congressional Cemetery.

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