Celebrating 175

July 9: Frances Bull Fairchild (1925)

Seven-year-old Frances Bull moved to Washington from Detroit in 1853 with her parents. Her mother had remarried after her biological father had died when Frances was young. Her stepfather had been a respected judge and was coming to the nation’s capital as he took a job in the War Department. The family appears to have quickly become associated with Epiphany. Frances’ half brother, Charles, was baptized at the church in 1857. Within the next year, her stepfather and mother were both buried from the church. In 1859, Frances’ older sister, Kate, was married at the church followed by Frances’ marriage to Lucius Fairchild five years later.

Lucius Fairchild was in the military when he married Frances Bull. He would go on to become Governor of Wisconsin for three terms. Frances Fairchild proved to be a popular first lady for the Badger State. Her charm, tact, and beauty gathered for her and her husband many friends. Mrs. Fairchild also proved to be able to act in her husband’s absence. In 1871 following the Great Chicago Fire, her husband and many state officials had gone to that city to render aid. Meanwhile a telegram to Governor Fairchild arrived in Madison telling of a fire in upstate Wisconsin. With her husband away, Mrs. Fairchild sprang into action. She commandeered a boxcar loaded with supplies destined for Chicago and rerouted it to the Wisconsin site. Mrs. Fairchild then issued a public appeal for contributions of money, clothing, bedding, and supplies with the result that a second boxcar was dispatched.

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July 8: John William French+ (1871)

In the wall behind Epiphany’s south (back) balcony, there is a stained glass window depicting the Epiphany, the event for which the parish is named. Installed as part of the 1874 renovation of the church, the window was originally placed at the north end in a newly expanded chancel. When that same chancel was again expanded in 1890, the window was moved to its current location. Across the bottom of the window are the words, “In Memory of Rev. J.W. French D.D., First Rector of this Parish.” The fact that the window was a gift of the parish almost 15 years after the Rev. Mr. French had left says a great deal about the admiration and affection the parish had for its founding rector.

After serving parishes in Maine and Pennsylvania, John French came to Washington in the summer of 1841 to serve as chaplain to the U.S. House of Representatives. Shortly thereafter, a diocesan Domestic Committee on Church Missions hired French as a city missionary. It was in this role that he started the prayer meetings that led to the founding of the Epiphany congregation on January 6, 1842. French guided the congregation through the next 14 years. During that time, five of his children were baptized and one was buried. In 1856, parishioner and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis appointed French as Chaplain and Professor of Geography, History and Ethics at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It was here that French would spend the rest of his life. He and his wife are buried in the Post Cemetery.

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July 7: First Worship Service in Church (1844)

Almost a year after the laying of Epiphany’s cornerstone, the building was ready for use. Physically, it was a plain rectangular structure lacking transepts or chancel, with red brick and mortar walls 18 inches thick, and with a low-gabled slate-covered roof. Two small granite towers ornamented the corners of the façade, and in the middle a large window opened into the choir gallery. A narrow vestibule separated the front from the church’s interior, which had three aisles and seated about 500 people in comfort. On a sanctuary platform were a simple altar, pulpit, and reading desk. The Ladies Association provided some carpeting. The side windows had brown cloth curtains to control the sunlight through their rectangular lower part, and colored paper over their Gothic part above.

With the new building ready for use, Epiphany’s vestry on July 5, 1844 resolved unanimously to hold the first services in it two days later on July 7. The formal beginning of the new building came a week later when Bishop Whittingham preached and administered communion to a large congregation that filled the church to overflowing. The bishop spoke of the church building as a “spacious and neat edifice, the completion of which in so short a period…and with a very trifling proportion of indebtedness remaining to be discharged, was a blessing that filled the hearts of all present with deep thankfulness.”

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July 6: Marcia Frances Trouland Cramer (1996)

The Old Testament Book of Exodus tells the story of the struggling Israelites who had no food as they were wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt. Then God sent manna from heaven to sustain them. And so it was in 1996 with Epiphany, a struggling downtown parish striving to live out its gospel mandate to welcome the stranger and feed the poor, in a building with a leaking roof. Then came news from the Riggs Bank Trust Department that the church was the recipient of Marcia Cramer’s entire estate, valued at close to a half million dollars. Within a year, Epiphany had a new slate roof. At the time of her death, Mrs. Cramer was an unknown person to the parish, although there is evidence she may have had connections much earlier.

A native Washingtonian, Marcia Cramer was born in 1898. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church when she was 20 years old. She had a 43-year career as a fiscal auditor with the General Accounting Office, retiring in 1962. When Marcia Cramer died in 1996 at age 98, she was twice widowed, and was without descendants and had no immediate family. In addition to her estate, Epiphany was the recipient of her personal papers. There were detailed notes on a variety of subjects. Among these personal effects were handwritten prayers (see accompanying photo) that identify her as a person of faith and might help explain why she would be interested in leaving her estate to a church.

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July 5: Charlotte Margaret Sioussa Fisher (1869)

Charlotte Margaret Sioussa was the eighth child of Jean Pierre Sioussa and his second wife, Julia. The charming Jean Pierre was born in Paris and after his immigration to America was known as “French John.” Due to his knowledge of French customs, Sioussa was particularly valuable at official functions. He worked for the British Minister before being hired as the first doorkeeper at the White House by President Jefferson. First Lady Dolley Madison, known for her frequent entertaining, hired Sioussa as her master of ceremonies. When the British ravaged Washington during the War of 1812, it was Sioussa who assisted Dolley in saving the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington and evacuating the White House.

In 1845, Charlotte Sioussa married Thomas Fisher, who became a successful Washington businessman. The Fishers had twelve children, five of whom lived to maturity. The family first shows up in Epiphany’s records in 1857 with the baptism of their fifth child, Alice. The burial of Alice is recorded four days later. Nine months later, Charlotte Fisher was confirmed at Epiphany by Bishop Whittingham. A series of baptisms and burials follows until Charlotte’s burial in 1869. She was 42 years old. In the years following her death, three of Charlotte’s children were married at Epiphany. Following Thomas Fisher’s death, the Fisher children memorialized their parents with the gift of a stained glass window. Dedicated in 1890, the window is on the west side of the nave and depicts Christ as the Good Shepherd and the True Light.

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July 4: William Crawford Gorgas (1920)

On this day marking the birth of our nation, it is appropriate to remember one of America’s great citizens and a man whom many have called one of Epiphany’s most distinguished parishioners. William Crawford Gorgas was the 22nd Surgeon General of the Army and is best known for his work in abating the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry them. His work in bringing the diseases under control in Panama allowed the construction of the Panama Canal and brought Gorgas recognition as a national hero. Prior to his death on July 4, Gorgas lay dying at the Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in London. King George V visited him and bestowed an honorary knighthood (KCMG).  There was a funeral service in St. Paul’s Cathedral prior to his remains being returned to the USA. Gorgas lay in honor for four days at Epiphany before his funeral there and eventual burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Epiphany’s vestry remembered Gorgas with these words. “Leaving to others the due recognition of the notable and beneficent achievements of our late associate and friend General William C. Gorgas, the Wardens and Vestrymen of Epiphany Church desire to record their testimony to his worth as a Christian gentleman, an exemplar of a life in true consonance with the high ideals enjoined by that Lord and Master he devoutly followed. A man to whom great talent had been entrusted, he made his responsibility for its unselfish use a matter of conscience, never sparing himself in any particular when the call for service to the needs of his fellow men in any quarter of the earth came. By precept and example he urged upon all who came within the sphere of his influence the duty and joy of unreserved and unflagging faithfulness and zeal towards all recognized duties.”

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July 3: Charles Hedges James (1862)

Several members of the James family, presumably all related, were very instrumental in the founding of Epiphany. Elizabeth James, a widow affectionately known as “Grandma James,” hosted the early prayer meetings in her home that led to the founding of the congregation. William and Charles James, the latter being the subject of this entry, were both trustees when the new Epiphany congregation was initially organized. Each of the trustees pledged an amount of money to pay the new rector. Later, William James was elected one of the first two wardens and Charles James was a member of the original vestry. When William died in 1845, Charles became a warden and served as such for the next 15 years.

Charles James ran an apothecary shop at the northeast corner of 14th and E Streets, probably where the J. Willard Marriott Hotel stands today. During his whole time as warden, James served as the Sunday school superintendent. Rector Charles Hall called James “Uncle Charley” and described him as “a rich soul whose only weakness was an inability to say no to meaner men.” James was in Epiphany’s first confirmation class in 1842. His youngest three children were baptized at Epiphany. The two young daughters listed on the accompanying gravestone photo were both buried from Epiphany. The funeral of Charles H. James is recorded in Epiphany’s register as taking place on July 5, 1862. The church would have been in use as a military hospital at that time, so the service probably took place from the deceased’s residence or neighboring Foundry Methodist Church.

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July 2: Epiphany General Hospital (1862)

On July 2, 1862, Epiphany General Hospital formally began its operations. As the Civil War was entering its second year, numerous wounded soldiers from nearby battles were threatening to overload the medical facilities in the nation’s capital. Epiphany was one of the first Washington churches to offer its building for temporary hospital use, the vestry “acquiescing most cheerfully in the occupation.” At the time, Epiphany counted among its congregants the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. Perhaps Stanton wanted to show his non- partiality in allowing his parish church to be used as a hospital.

On Trinity Sunday, June 15, while the afternoon service at Epiphany was in progress, workmen began to pile lumber in front of the church for its alteration. The hospital floors were built over the pews, with furniture, carpets and hassocks stored underneath. Epiphany General Hospital was comprised of two distinct buildings – Epiphany Church on G Street and a nearby Baptist church on 13th Street (no longer in existence). The Epiphany Church building closed as a hospital on December 5, 1862. During the occupation, Epiphany held services at Foundry Methodist (at the time located at the corner of 14th and G Streets). Following the closure of the hospital, Epiphany collected $1,031.25 in compensation from the federal government. In recent years, Epiphany’s archivist obtained copies of letters (see accompanying photo) written by a soldier recuperating at Epiphany Hospital.

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July 1: William Murray Maynadier (1871)

In announcing the death of William Maynadier, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Ordnance wrote, “General Maynadier was an officer possessed of a rare sense of honor, and he performed all duties committed to him with a strict regard for justice. His death will be regretted by all who appreciated his worth.” A native of Maryland, Maynadier graduated in the West Point Class of 1827 along with Abraham Van Buren, son of the president and Leonidas Polk, future Confederate General and Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana. Rising to the rank of brigadier general, Maynadier was the number two person and principal executive of the Bureau of Ordnance. Fortunately for Epiphany, he was stationed in Washington from 1842 through the rest of his career.

Maynadier was elected to Epiphany’s vestry in 1843 and remained on it for the rest of his life. His confirmation in 1845 is his first listing in the parish register. Over the next fifty years, he and his family appear numerous times, including the baptisms of two sons and several grandchildren, the confirmation and marriage of three daughters, and the burial of several children as well as himself and his wife. His son-in-law, William Baldwin, was a warden of the church for 43 years. The vestry chose Maynadier to receive possession of the church building from the government after its use as a military hospital during the Civil War.

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June 30: Alice Thornton Jenkins (1935)

In the accompanying photograph, Alice Thornton Jenkins is shown as the standard bearer for the District of Columbia Woman’s Suffrage Association at the 1912 National Woman’s Suffrage Parade in Baltimore, Maryland. Alice Jenkins was the daughter of Rear Admiral Thornton Alexander Jenkins and his second wife, Elizabeth Gwynn Thornton. Alice was educated at Moravian Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and private schools in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. She was interested in music and was the author of four musical compositions. Professionally, she was a government clerk and stenographer. The major cause of her life was women’s suffrage.

Alice was a delegate to three national American Woman Suffrage Conventions. She was the director of the D.C. Woman Suffrage Association and the auditor for the State Equal Suffrage Association. Alice, her mother and two of her sisters were confirmed at Epiphany. Those same two sisters were married at the church. Alice never married. In 1912, when the U.S. Navy launched the USS Jenkins, named in honor her father, Alice Jenkins served as the ship’s sponsor.

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