Celebrating 175

February 4: John Moulder Wilson (1919)

As a young boy, John Moulder Wilson served as a page on the floor of the U.S. Senate during the great debates of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster. He later settled in the Washington Territory. Upon receiving an appointment to West Point, he became the first cadet from the Pacific Northwest. The Civil War broke out shortly after his graduation and Wilson saw much action. He would later be awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery at the Battle of Malvern Hill (VA). Wilson became part of the Army Corps of Engineers. While in charge of Washington, D.C. public buildings and grounds, he did much to beautify the city. Wilson retired with the rank of brigadier general after 41 years of military service.


John Wilson married Augusta Waller at the Church of the Epiphany on November 5, 1861. The Wilsons are listed as Epiphany communicants in the years following the Civil War. When Waller was appointed the 23rd Superintendent of West Point, he succeeded fellow Epiphany parishioner John G. Parke in that role. Epiphany’s first rector John French left Washington in 1856 to become Chaplain and Professor at West Point. It appears Wilson, a young cadet at the time, got to know French and his family. Almost 30 years later, Wilson stood as a sponsor when French’s granddaughter was baptized at Epiphany in 1884.

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February 3: Harry Webster Baldwin, Jr.+ (2015)

The Rev. Harry Webster Baldwin, Jr. grew up from very modest means in rural Goochland County, Virginia. He learned how to exchange his mother’s homemade bread for “store bought sliced bread,” and how to repair a cracked baseball bat with screws and tape. Following graduation from the University of Richmond in 1945, Harry enrolled at the Virginia Theological Seminary. Towards the end of his studies, Harry was assigned to do his field education at the Church of the Epiphany. There he met a young woman named Elizabeth King, who was living in the area and working at the Pentagon as a secretary. On the weekend she was a Sunday School teacher at Epiphany. The rest, as they say, is history.


Harry and Elizabeth began their lives and ministry together in marriage at the Church of the Epiphany in 1950. Rector Leland Stark and Bishop Frederick Goodwin of Virginia jointly performed the ceremony. Harry spent his career in several churches in Virginia, but mostly at St. Andrew’s in Richmond, where he served for 30 years. At the time of his passing, 95-year old Harry Baldwin was the longest resident clergy person in the Diocese of Virginia. He lived a full and rewarding life. The concluding lines of Harry’s obituary sum up his life well, “He fought the good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith.”

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February 2: Jane Wadden Turner (1896)

Eleven years after its founding, the Smithsonian Institution hired its first female employee – Jane Wadden Turner. Jane’s brother, William, had been trained as a librarian at Columbia College in New York City and because there were few educational opportunities in the field available for women, William taught his sister. When Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird asked William to head the Smithsonian Library, William delegated the task of preparing the catalog to his sister Jane. Soon thereafter, Jane was hired as a library clerk and after her brother’s untimely death, she took charge of the library. Later Jane accompanied the library when it was transferred to the Library of Congress under the auspices of Librarian Ainsworth Spofford.


It’s interesting that both Baird and Spofford were associated with Epiphany. It’s hard to know if they had any influence, but Jane became associated with Epiphany as well. She is listed as a communicant in the parish register and her burial and that of her sister, Susan, are both recorded there. Jane Wadden Turner was a faithful daughter of Epiphany Parish and a trailblazer for women in the new nation’s capital.

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February 1: First Issue of the Parish Guide Newsletter (1877)

“This little monthly publication will help the rector in engaging the interest of his people in their own parish work and parish life.” With these words, Epiphany rector William Paret introduced a new monthly newsletter, Parish Guide, to his congregation in February 1877. The Guide was the rector’s personal medium for communicating with his parishioners and making them aware of the manifold activities of Epiphany and of the Episcopal Church generally. In the beginning, the Parish Guide was 8-12 pages in length and was mailed to all members at no charge. Subscriptions of $1 per year were welcomed.


Within ten years, 800 copies of the Parish Guide were being sent out at an annual cost to the church of $55. A decade later in 1895, the number of copies had soared to 1225. About this time, advertising first appeared and filled 2-3 pages for the next 25 years. In an 1896 issue, Mrs. M.J. Hunt’s Fine Millinery on F Street advertised “a choice line of the very latest importations of bonnets and hats from leading Paris and London houses.” The Parish Guide served the parish well for 135 years, but was finally a victim of modern technology and replaced by today’s online “Epiphanies Happen!”

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January 31: Wills De Hass (1910)

After graduation from Jefferson Medical College (Philadelphia), Wills De Hass went to Wellsburg, Ohio where he took up the practice of medicine. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. De Hass helped to organize the 77th Ohio Regiment of which he was made lieutenant colonel, and engaged in all the battles of this regiment.  An ardent Unionist, De Hass supported the formation of the state of West Virginia, which occurred in 1863. His early interest in historical and scientific studies led to extensive investigations into regional history and to archeological digging in the Upper Ohio Valley. He was an active member of several scientific and historical societies.


Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, De Hass conducted archeological investigations relating to mound builders for the Smithsonian Institution’s Bureau of American Ethnology. A writer and lecturer on archeological subjects, De Hass turned to frontier history for his best-known work, History of the Early Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia. At age 67, De Hass was confirmed at Epiphany in March 1885 by former rector and newly consecrated Bishop of Maryland, William Paret.

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January 30: Benjamin Oden West (1933)

When Benjamin Oden West retired from the Chicago and Erie railroad in 1927, he had over 50 years of service. The Chicago and Erie, which existed from 1871 to 1941, was an important connection between Chicago and the Columbus, Ohio metropolitan area. West had come to Rochester, Indiana with a crew of surveyors in 1881 to fix the railroad right-of-way. A year later he was appointed the station agent at Rochester and served in that capacity until his retirement.


West was born in Washington, D.C. in 1857. He and his older sister, Helen, were both baptized at Epiphany as infants. West lived in Washington as a small boy during the trying times of the Civil War and it was he who furnished authorities with one of the first clues regarding John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin. On the day of the murder, Booth had tied up his horse in the alley in back of Ford’s Theater, which also backed up to the West’s home. Eight-year old Benjamin witnessed Booth’s getaway that night and was able to tell officers in which direction the assassin had fled.

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January 29: Benjamin Stone Roberts (1875)

It would be no exaggeration that the military was in Benjamin Stone Roberts’ blood. His father was a general and his grandfathers on both sides fought in the Revolutionary War. His paternal grandfather was with Ethan Allen at the capture of Ft. Ticonderoga. It was only natural that Benjamin would attend West Point. He graduated in the Class of 1835. His classmates included Montgomery Blair, George Meade, and Joseph H. Eaton, another future Epiphany parishioner. Four years after his graduation, Roberts resigned from the army and studied law with General Skinner in Plattsburgh.


Roberts reenlisted in the army and had a distinguished career through the Mexican War and especially in the Civil War, during which he rose to the rank of Brigadier General, U.S. Volunteers. After Roberts retired from the army, he settled in Washington, D.C. General Skinner, with whom Roberts studied law earlier in life, was at the time serving as Senior Warden at Epiphany. This might explain his church affiliation. Two days after his death on January 29, General Roberts’ funeral took place at the Church of the Epiphany.

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January 28: Lachlan Gardiner Tyler (1902)

Once the deed to the G Street lot was secured in October 1842, Epiphany’s vestry stepped up its fundraising activities. It appointed a committee “to wait upon the President of the United States and other government departments” to solicit subscriptions toward the church building fund. John Tyler was president at the time. Tyler was an Episcopalian, so there’s every hope a contribution was made.  Lachlan Gardiner Tyler, the subject of this entry, was born about ten years later. Lachlan was the twelfth of Tyler’s fifteen children.

Lachlan Tyler was trained as a doctor, although he lived much of his early life in poverty. For years Tyler unashamedly tried to use his credentials as a president’s son to open doors but was persistently unsuccessful. Eventually, on his own merits, he obtained a position as a surgeon in the U.S. Navy, then achieved measured success in private practice.

At age 26, Lachlan Tyler married Georgia Powell on November 2, 1878 at the Church of the Epiphany, a structure that perhaps his father had helped to build.

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January 27: Memorial Service for Queen Victoria (1901)

When Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, her 63-year reign was the longest in British history. Her empire spanned the globe and her influence was immense. With news of her death, Congress adjourned and White House flags flew at half-staff. On the day of her funeral, the New York Stock Market closed. America’s unofficial memorial was a service at St. John’s, Lafayette Square on January 26. In attendance were the president, the cabinet, congressional leaders and ambassadors. Several clergy participated including Epiphany’s rector, Randolph McKim, who read the Episcopal burial office.


On Sunday, January 27, Epiphany’s morning service was a memorial to Queen Victoria. The following month’s Parish Guide described it like this:


The “Dead March from Saul” was played as a prelude while the choir and the clergy marched silently in. “The Souls of the Righteous,” by Foster, was sung as the offertory anthem, and Beethoven’s beautiful “Funeral March” was played as the postlude instead of the Recessional Hymn. Prayer was offered for King Edward VII in conjunction with that for the President of the United States, and the prayer for those in affliction was read for the members of the bereaved household and realm. An immense congregation crowded the Church, and reverently joined in the solemn and beautiful service.

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January 26: Abner Doubleday (1893)

In January of 1852 at a temporary foundry built on the ellipse, sculptor Clark Mills was completing his castings for the Andrew Jackson statue to be placed in Lafayette Square. Three blocks east at the Church of the Epiphany on G Street, Captain Abner Doubleday (U.S.A.) and Mary Hewitt were getting married. Doubleday was destined to become a career army officer. His grandfather had fought in the American Revolution and his father had fought in the War of 1812. Following graduation from West Point in the Class of 1842, Doubleday saw action in the Mexican and Seminole Wars.


The Civil War brought Doubleday some of his finest moments. When Fort Sumter came under Confederate attack, Doubleday gave the order to fire the first Union cannon shot in its defense – the beginning of the Civil War. He also played a pivotal role in the early fighting at Gettysburg. Later, Doubleday rode with President Lincoln on the train to Gettysburg to dedicate the cemetery there. After the war, Doubleday obtained a patent on the cable car railway in San Francisco that still runs there today. His role in the invention of baseball is questionable at best. A January 1864 entry in Epiphany’s register records that “Mrs. General Doubleday” stood as a sponsor at the baptism of the son of General George Sykes. Sykes and Doubleday had been classmates at West Point a quarter of a century earlier.

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