Celebrating 175

June 14: Helen Carter King (2006)

Since 1916, the Arts Club of Washington has promoted and celebrated the arts in the nation’s capital. With a focus on painting, sculpture, music, and drama, the Arts Club has provided a contrast to Washington’s more traditional clubs. It was the first club in the city to admit women as charter members. In 1927, 19-year old Helen Carter became the youngest member ever admitted. She was already a published poet, a violinist and a budding actress as well. A native of New York City, Helen spent most of her youth in Washington, DC. On October 29, 1932, Helen Carter married Philip King at the Church of the Epiphany. Denied the opportunity of a college education in her youth, she devoted her time to helping many younger poets and enabled several to achieve degrees.

Helen followed her husband to remote areas of the country in his job as a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. In the introduction to one of his scholarly publications, Philip King stated, “My list of acknowledgments would not be complete if I failed to mention my wife, Helen Carter King, whose inspiration, both as a field companion and as a critic of this manuscript, has done much to bring it to completion.” Helen King was the winner of nearly 100 poetry prizes, including the Ina Coolbrith Award and the first prize in 1972 from the New York Forum. The classical sonnet was her specialty, for which she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Warsaw. Helen King passed away in 2006 at the age of 98.

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June 13: Edgar Dutcher Romig+ (2006)

On May 24, 1964, the Rt. Rev. William Creighton, Bishop of Washington, officiated at the formal institution of the Rev. Edgar Romig as the thirteenth rector of Epiphany Parish. Edgar was a native of New York City, where his father was the senior minister of the Collegiate Church of New York. After graduation from Princeton, Romig served in World War II as a volunteer ambulance driver in North Africa and later as an infantryman in the European Theater. He was wounded in action in 1945. His battle decorations included the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He eventually earned a theology degree from the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA, followed by his ordination to the deaconate and priesthood.

Romig’s initial parishes were all in Massachusetts and included Trinity in Boston, Grace in N. Attleboro, and St. Stephen’s in Lynn, the latter being the largest parish in the diocese at the time. In 1964, Romig began his ministry at Epiphany when downtown Washington was suffering from urban decline. An early renovation would give the church a fresh worship space and a new organ. Through challenging times, Romig was a clear voice for the church’s acceptance of women, gays, and the poor. Romig retired from Epiphany in 1992. His 28 years of service make him the second longest serving rector in the parish’s history. Following his death on June 13, a memorial liturgy was held at the church prior to his interment in the Epiphany plot at Rock Creek Cemetery.

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June 12: William Rich (1864)

The United States Exploring Expedition was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands. Funded by Congress, the expedition cost $928,000, lasted four years (1838-42), covered nearly 87,000 miles, and visited most of the continents of the world, including a significant effort in the exploration of the coast of Antarctica. When the expedition returned, over 40,000 animal specimens, 50,000 plant specimens (both living and preserved), and thousands of anthropological artifacts, minerals, gems, and fossils had been amassed. Nine specialists were on board representing all of the major natural history disciplines. William Rich was one of two botanists.

William Rich and his sister, Salome, had been orphaned when they were young and were raised by their brother, Obadiah, who was much older. It was from his brother that William gained his interest in botany. In his early years, William worked as a clerk in the Army paymaster’s office, but on the side he grew plants and organized an annual garden show in Washington. It was probably recognition from these events that gained him a spot on the exploring expedition. The extended Rich family was connected with Epiphany from its earliest days. William’s niece, Ellen, was an early organist at the church. William was a bachelor, but numerous nieces and nephews were baptized, confirmed, and married there. The funeral of William Rich on June 15, 1864 is recorded in Epiphany’s register.

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June 11: Lenthall Home for Widows (1883)

The following description of the Lenthall Home for Widows is taken from the 1922 Handbook of Epiphany Parish. “On May 5, 1883, Mrs. Elizabeth J. Stone, of this city, donated a lot on the southwest corner of Nineteenth and G Streets NW, and gave $25,000 in cash for the erection of an apartment house, the purpose of which was to supply indigent widows and their children with comfortable and sanitary living apartments at a reasonable and nominal cost. The Lenthall Home was established as a memorial to Mrs. Stone’s father, the late John Lenthall.”

“Under date of June 11, 1883, a corporation was organized for carrying out the objects of the donation. The building was commenced in June 1883 and was completed and turned over to the trustees in February 1884. The first guest was admitted April 5, 1884.” The Home’s Board of Trustees consisted of Epiphany’s rector, wardens, and two other vestrymen. The Home stayed in operation until 1964 when it was determined that the building could not be kept in compliance with city building codes. After demolition of the structure, the lot was sold to George Washington University. The Lenthall Board turned the proceeds over to the Episcopal Church Home for the support of Friendship Terrace, a recently opened apartment home for the aging in northwest Washington.

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June 10: John Trout Greble (1861)

John Trout Greble was an 1854 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Seven years later in the opening months of the Civil War, he was killed at the Battle of Big Bethel, near Newport News, VA., becoming the first academy graduate to be killed in the war. Greble was detailed to Fort Monroe in late 1860. He was sent to Newport News as master of ordnance, superintended the fortifications of that point, and trained the volunteers to artillery practice. He was unexpectedly detailed to accompany the expedition to Big Bethel. When the Union Army troops were repelled during the battle, by his management of the guns he protected them from pursuit and destruction. Just at the close of the action, he was struck by a rifle ball in the temple and instantly killed. For his bravery in the two days’ action, he was brevetted captain, major, and lieutenant colonel on the day of his death.

Greble is connected to Epiphany through his marriage to founding rector John French’s oldest daughter, Sarah Bradley French. Sarah was confirmed at Epiphany in January 1856. The Rev. Mr. French and his family left Epiphany in August 1856 when he was appointed Chaplain and Professor of Geography, History and Ethics at West Point. Four months later, Greble was appointed as French’s assistant. Clara French Greble, a daughter of Sarah and John Greble married the Rev. Charles Griffith, who served as an assistant at Epiphany in the 1880’s. Clara Greble Griffith’s funeral was held at Epiphany in July 1956. One of the things she willed to the church was a miniature portrait of her grandfather, the Rev. John W. French.

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June 9: Benjamin Peffer Lamberton (1912)

Benjamin Peffer Lamberton was a U.S. naval officer who served as chief of staff to Commodore George Dewey during the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish American War. He later acted as naval representative to the negotiating of the Spanish surrender. Lamberton was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania and attended Dickinson College for three years before settling on a navy career. In 1861, he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. Graduating from the academy in 1864, he saw service at the end of the Civil War aboard the schooner America. Promoted to lieutenant commander in 1868 and commander in 1885, he held a variety of posts, including that of inspector on the Lighthouse Board in Charleston, South Carolina.

Following the Spanish American War, Lamberton went on to serve in the Atlantic and Pacific and also had four assignments with the Lighthouse Service. In 1903, he was advanced to rear admiral. He retired on his 62nd birthday. The destroyer USS Lamberton, launched in March 1918, was named for him. In his retirement, Lamberton enjoyed duck hunting and fishing with his friend President Grover Cleveland. During his time in Washington in the early 1880’s, Lamberton’s second child, Elizabeth, was born and a little over a year later was baptized at the Church of the Epiphany.

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June 8: Adele Jeanette Hughes (1918)

The two thousand women who volunteered as nurses during the American Civil War came from all walks of life to play a vital role in the war effort. When war broke out, the country’s male-dominated nursing profession was in its infancy and still relatively primitive. The huge escalation in the need for medical personnel during the conflict broke down the barriers preventing women from entering nursing. Those who wanted to play their part were spurred into action, and these remarkable women made an invaluable contribution. Even so, their hard work and dedication was, largely, historically anonymous. Such is the case with Adele Jeanette Hughes.

We do know that Adele Jeanette Johnson (her maiden name) served as a U.S. Army nurse during the Civil War. She was a native of Oakland County, Michigan and was born in 1836, making her about 25 years old at the outbreak of the war. In 1906, the U.S. Congress acknowledged her wartime service as a nurse, placing her on the pension roll at the rate of $12 per month. Adele was married twice, first to Philip Connell shortly after the war and second to George Hughes in the early 1870’s. Two daughters from her second marriage and Adele herself were baptized at Epiphany. Adele and her oldest daughter were confirmed and then that daughter was married at Epiphany in 1887. The accompanying photograph shows Adele’s gravestone at Arlington National Cemetery, a final tribute to her faithful service.

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June 7: Noah Haynes Swayne (1884)

Noah H. Swayne was the 35th justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the first of President Lincoln’s five appointments to the court, the first Republican, and the first (and to date the only) Quaker. He was born in the uppermost reaches of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, approximately 100 miles northwest of Washington, DC. He was the youngest of nine children. At an early age he studied medicine, but eventually read law and was admitted to the bar. As a devout Quaker, Swayne was deeply opposed to slavery and left Virginia for the free state of Ohio. He established a practice in Coshocton County, was elected prosecuting attorney, was elected to the state legislature, and in 1830, President Jackson appointed him U.S. Attorney for Ohio.

President Lincoln nominated Swayne for the Supreme Court in 1862 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John McLean.  Swayne satisfied Lincoln’s criteria for appointment – commitment to the Union, slavery opponent, and geographically correct. Swayne remained on the court for 19 years, twice lobbying unsuccessfully to be elevated to chief justice. Although a Quaker, Swayne had ties with Epiphany. Perhaps it was his wife’s choice. The first record of the Swayne family in Epiphany’s register is the marriage of their only daughter Mary to Edwin Parsons in 1872. The wedding took place at the Swayne home and was officiated by Epiphany rector Thomas Starkey. The funerals of Noah Swayne and his wife Sarah both took place from Epiphany before their interment at Oak Hill Cemetery.

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June 6: George Bethune McCartee (1903)

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing had its origins in legislation enacted to help fund the Civil War. In July 1861, Congress authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to issue paper currency in lieu of coins due to the lack of funds to support the conflict. Initially the notes were printed by a private firm with BEP workers signing, separating, and trimming sheets of United States Notes in the Treasury building. Gradually, more and more work, including engraving and printing, was entrusted to the organization. Within a few years, the BEP was producing fractional currency, revenue stamps, government obligations, and other security documents for many federal agencies. George Bethune McCartee served as the second chief of the bureau from 1869 to 1876.

McCartee was born and raised in New York City. He engaged in business pursuits there, later worked as a railway superintendent in Iowa, and in 1858 moved to Salem, NY, where he was manager of a steam mill. In 1859, McCartee came to Washington as an assistant to the Treasury Secretary. Later he was superintendent of the Treasury Building and also went abroad during the Civil War to negotiate the sale of government bonds. In 1869, he was put in charge of the developing BEP. After serving seven years, he returned to Salem. McCartee came from a religious family. His father was a minister and his older brother was a missionary. During his time in Washington, McCartee was affiliated with Epiphany. One of his children born during his time here was baptized at the church. McCartee also served as a witness at several baptisms and marriages.

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June 5: Ordination of Elizabeth Carl+ (1991)

On June 5, 1991, history was made at the Church of the Epiphany when the Rev. Elizabeth Carl, an avowed lesbian, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop of Washington Ronald Haines. At the point in the ordination service where any impediments are asked for, only two objections were raised. Both dealt with the compatibility of a homosexual lifestyle with the priesthood. Bishop Haines, in response, voiced his respect for their position, but said that since they had not raised any points that had not already been prayerfully considered, the service would go on. There was a fervent response to the ordinand’s pledge to proclaim the gospel by word and deed and a prolonged applause when she was presented as a priest.

Elizabeth grew up as a Methodist in Houston, TX, before coming into the Episcopal Church as a college student. She holds degrees in comparative literature from Occidental College in Los Angeles and library science from the Catholic University of America and worked at the Library of Congress for 16 years before entering the ordination process. She received the M.Div. degree from Union Seminary in New York and was ordained a deacon at Washington Cathedral in June 1990. As of May 1991, she joined the staff on Epiphany as an assistant to rector Edgar Romig. Elizabeth remained on the staff until September 1994. Her sermons, her pastoral presence, her administrative skills, and her encouragement of the ministry of the laity were a few of the gifts she brought to the parish.

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