Celebrating 175

April 5: Joseph K. Barnes (1883)

At a turbulent time in the nation’s history, Joseph K. Barnes served honorably as the 12th Surgeon General of the U.S. Army. His father, Judge Joseph Barnes had served for many years in the Philadelphia district court. The name Joseph had been used in his family for several generations. The middle initial “K” didn’t stand for anything, but was just something he inserted to distinguish himself from his father. His son and grandson bore the name Joseph, although both had middle names. Both of them followed in his army footsteps. In May 1862 after Barnes was ordered to report to Washington, he formed the acquaintance of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. This might have been the connection that brought Barnes to Epiphany, although the first official record of his presence doesn’t come until his son’s confirmation in 1868. Three years later, Barnes was baptized and later confirmed before joining Epiphany’s vestry.

After his death, Epiphany’s vestry memorialized Dr. Barnes with this: “For the past eleven years he has been a vestryman of this Parish, zealous at all times in promoting the welfare and the religious and charitable work of the church which he loved, and efficiently aiding by judicious counsel and cooperation all its undertakings. He was eminent, skillful, and successful in his profession as surgeon and physician, and distinguished for great administrative ability as the head of the medical department. He inaugurated the Medical History of the War; he founded the medical museum; and he brought the medical department to the highest state of efficiency. During the troublesome times of the late war, he earned the unbounded confidence of the secretary of war, Mr. Stanton, and held it unshaken to the last. His career was one of honor to himself and of great service to this country.”

< Previous     Next >

April 4: Eleazer Hutchinson Miller (1921)

A Group of Willows Etching, Eleazer Hutchison Miller National Gallery of Art

A native of Shepherdstown, VA (now WV), Eleazer H. Miller was the sixth of ten children. At the age of five, he manifested a talent for drawing, which his family encouraged. By the age of fifteen, he was painting portraits. At the age of seventeen, he left Shepherdstown for Washington, D.C. to study for an artistic career. Miller became a pupil of the Academy of Drawing and Painting kept by a Mr. Gibson, the only school of drawing in Washington at the time. Early on, Miller adopted portrait painting as a specialty. In the nation’s capital, he found many notable patrons among the public men of the nation. Miller became a skillful illustrator of books and also took up the difficult art of etching during a time of its revival.

In 1859, Eleazer Miller married Mary Farnham, whose family had been associated with Epiphany since its early days. Mary was baptized there as a child. Following their marriage, all six of the Miller children were baptized at Epiphany. The sponsor at the 1866 baptism of their fourth child, Arthur Peale Miller, was Titian Peale, a fellow artist and friend of Miller’s. Today, Miller’s works are housed in many fine museums, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Eleazer Hutchinson Miller’s obituary at the age of 90 hailed him as “the first artist of national reputation to establish his home and studio in Washington.”

< Previous     Next >

April 3: Anna Lizzie Giesy (1889)

When the Rev. Samuel Giesy became Epiphany’s sixth rector in 1885, he moved into the rectory with Sarah, his wife, and Anna, his single adult daughter. Anna quickly threw herself into many areas of church work. She became a teacher in the Morning Sunday School. She took a great interest in the Men’s Meeting of the Epiphany Mission in southwest Washington, at one point helping them to procure a piano. Outside organizations with which she became involved were the Guild of the Guiding Star and the Children’s Country Home, the latter being located in NE Washington and serving terminally ill children. In the midst of all this goodly work, Anna’s father died unexpectedly of pneumonia.

Tragically, only about a year later, Anna died of pneumonia. A memorial stained glass window which had been in the works to remember her father would now become a memorial to her as well. Her former Sunday school students contributed. The Giesy Memorial Window is on the east side of the church near the transept and depicts the Sermon on the Mount. The window was dedicated on Easter Sunday 1890. Anna’s funeral at Epiphany was the first to be done by her father’s successor, Randolph McKim. In the Parish Guide, Anna Geisy was remembered as “a faithful and devoted member, one who never ceased to labor for the good of others, and who ever maintained the cheerfulness and courage of a true Christian, even in the midst of sorrow and ill health.”

< Previous     Next >

April 2: William Barberie Howell (1927)

Today, a modern glass office building in lower Manhattan houses the U.S. Court of International Trade. This court has its origins in 1890 legislation passed by Congress establishing the Board of General Appraisers. The board had nine members appointed by the president and was empowered to review decisions of U.S. Customs officials regarding the amount of duties to be paid on importations. William Barberie Howell was appointed to this board in 1899 by President William McKinley. Howell continued to serve on the board and its successor, the U.S. Customs Court, until he became the Chief Judge in 1926.

Judge Howell was a native of Freehold, New Jersey. His grandfather had been mayor of Trenton and his father was the cashier of a bank. As a young man, Howell went to Washington, D.C. to take business courses. During his employment at the Treasury Department, he attended the Columbian Law School (now George Washington University Law School) and graduated before being admitted to the bar. During his time at Treasury, Howell worked with matters relating to customs. This thoroughly equipped him to become Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in charge of customs. Howell became associated with Epiphany soon after his arrival in Washington. His confirmation, marriage and the baptisms of his two sons appear in Epiphany’s parish register.

< Previous     Next >

April 1: “America Summoned to a Holy War” (1917)

At the evening service on April 1, 1917 (Palm Sunday), Epiphany’s rector, Randolph McKim, preached a sermon entitled, “America Summoned to a Holy War.” The timing was no accident. The following day, President Wilson was to address a joint session of Congress asking for a declaration of war against Germany, as America’s entrance into World War I. The war had been going on in Europe for several years. Dr. McKim’s “God and Country” outlook had been firmly engrained since his time as a military chaplain during the Civil War. He had been calling awareness to the growing world crisis and America’s need to respond with a series of sermons since 1915. An address in 1916 on the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania was delivered at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

On April 6, Congress responded to Wilson’s message with a declaration of war. One only need view Epiphany’s World War I plaque (pictured here) at the rear of the church to see the parish’s commitment to the war effort. The list of 150 parishioners includes Marine Commandant John A. Lejeune and General John J. Pershing, Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces. During the war, Dr. McKim delivered a sermon appealing for support of the Third Liberty Loan. The war finally ended on November 11, 1918. A service of thanksgiving was held at Epiphany four days later.

< Previous     Next>

March 31: Jacob Thompson (1885)

Jacob Thompson shows up in Epiphany’s register just before the outbreak of the Civil War. On February 5, 1860, Thompson is recorded as the sponsor at his wife Kate’s baptism. Just one week earlier, Jefferson Davis’ nine-month old son, Joseph, had been baptized. Thompson and Davis were well acquainted, having served together in the Mississippi delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the decade. At the time of these baptisms, Davis is a U.S. Senator from Mississippi and Thompson is the Secretary of the Interior in the Buchanan administration. Within a year both men and their families would leave Washington and their jobs as Mississippi seceded from the union and Civil War was imminent. Davis became the president of the Confederate States of America. Thompson became Inspector General of the Confederate States Army.

Jacob Thompson was a loyal Episcopalian. He was a great benefactor of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, founded and operated by several southern Episcopal dioceses. His will provided the University 100 shares of AT&T stock (the telephone was invented in 1876) OR $10,000. University trustees chose the cash and built a classroom building, which was dedicated as Thompson Union. Had they chosen the stock, they might instead have made the university one of the richest in the nation. At his funeral, Thompson was eulogized as “a brilliant statesman, a friend to all classes, a great man who will be missed by all who knew him.”

< Previous     Next >

March 30: Adoption of Articles of Incorporation (1842)

A meeting was held on March 30, 1842 at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, in a move to formally organize the new Epiphany congregation. According to the minutes, The Rev. Mr. Hawley, rector of St. John’s, assured the gathering, “that the object of the meeting met with his most hearty approbation and good wishes.” A committee appointed previously to prepare a plan for the proper organization of the church with suitable rules and articles of incorporation presented its report. The report was read and after some slight modifications, the preamble and the articles were agreed to unanimously.

Among the things set forth in the twelve articles, it was agreed that the Rev. John W. French would be the “Minister, pastor and teacher in Holy things.” For the temporal concerns of the institution, there would be elected, “five pious discreet men as a Board of Trustees.” An interesting addition was that the trustees would, “be elected by a majority of the members, each male and female of lawful age having a vote.” Giving women the right to vote would be against the canons of the church as then written. It was decided to keep this right during the period until the congregation was formally organized. The report was sent to the “Right Reverend Bishop of the Diocese of Maryland and his blessing upon our efforts invoked.”

< Previous     Next >

March 29: David Everett Pickford (1989)

At his memorial service at Epiphany, David Pickford was eulogized as one who knew that “life was short and fragile, and every moment mattered.” As a young man, Pickford watched his younger sister, Sarah, as she died of leukemia. And now David, at age 45, had died of complications from AIDS. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Pickford graduated from Dartmouth College and then proudly served in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam during the 1960’s. He went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. He served two years with the Peace Crops in Kenya. Upon his return to the U.S., his career included work in a private investment banking firm and the U.S. Treasury Department as assistant secretary for administration.

Pickford was diagnosed with AIDS in July 1987. Within several months, he spoke at Dartmouth on “Living with AIDS: Blame and Compassion” and later was a panelist at Harvard on “AIDS as a Political Issue in Campaign ’88.” The eulogy for David Pickford included this tribute: “David gave life everything it asked of him, every moment of every day, in every context, for better or for worse. He did it with enormous strength of will; he did it with elegance and grace; he did it with faith, hope and love.”

< Previous     Next >

March 28: Louise Griffin Parkinson Arnoldson (1956)

On June 29, 1877, 10-month old Louise Griffin Parkinson was baptized at Epiphany. Serving as a sponsor was her grandfather, the Rev. Royal Parkinson, a Congregational minister from Maine and a Dartmouth College graduate, who had moved to Washington to take a job with the Treasury Department. Louise’s father, Joseph, also a Maine native, had lost his hearing from scarlet fever as a child and was educated at the Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb (today’s Gallaudet University). Mr. Parkinson became a very successful attorney with the Patent Office. He eventually moved his family to Utah, where he was able to enjoy his love for nature and the environment.

In Salt Lake City, Louise married Torild Arnoldson, a native of Sweden and the head of the Foreign Language Department at the University of Utah. Their only child, Astrid, was born in Sweden, where the couple was living for a time. Louise earned a B.A. in French from the University of Utah and also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. Following her husband’s death, Louise took a job at the University of Montana, where she would spend the next 27 years as an associate professor in the Foreign Language Department. For her writings on French music and culture, Louise Arnoldson was posthumously made an Officier d’Académie of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (depicted here) by the French government. The award was accepted by her daughter.

< Previous     Next >

March 27: Seth Williams (1866)

Bvt. Major-General Seth Williams packed a lot into his short 44-year life. After graduation from West Point in 1842, he served with distinction in the Mexican and Civil Wars. In 1850, he was assigned as adjutant (assistant to a commanding officer) at West Point. For a time, Williams served under Superintendent Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War Williams was assigned to Washington, D.C. as Assistant Adjutant-General. While in the nation’s capital, he was confirmed at Epiphany and served on the vestry. In April 1865, Williams was on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant and in that role was one of the few officers to accompany the general to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. When Lee entered the room, his first words were of greeting to Seth Williams, his friend from their time at West Point 15 years earlier.

In Cullum’s Register, Williams is remembered like this. “General Williams was simple in manner, constant in friendship, honest in his convictions, and tolerant of adverse opinion. His personal magnetism, inextinguishable cheerfulness, genial nature, and gentleness endeared him to all who came within the sunshine of his presence. He never forgot the little amenities of life; his politeness was proverbial, his patience was inexhaustible, and it was his highest gratification to devote himself to the pleasures of others. Hence it was that his unselfishness, modest, sincere sympathy, and steadfast affection made him the loved companion of young and old of both sexes. Yet, with all this light-hearted nature and avoidance of the asperities of life, he was a manly man, a firm patriot, and a brave soldier, who never neglected his fealty to a friend nor a duty to his country.”

< Previous     Next >