Celebrating 175

September 27: Thomas Francis Bayard (1898)

Thomas F. Bayard was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. Bayard was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1828. He attended law school in Flushing, New York, passed the bar in 1851, and thereafter began practicing law. Bayard was appointed U.S. District Attorney for Delaware in 1853, but resumed private practice in 1854. In 1869, Bayard was elected as U.S. Senator from Delaware, and served until March 6, 1885, when he became Secretary of State under President Grover Cleveland. While in the Senate, Bayard also served on the Hayes-Tilden Electoral Commission in 1877. While in Washington, Bayard became associated with Epiphany and served as a member of the vestry. Following his tenure as Secretary, Bayard served as U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain from 1893 to 1897.

As Secretary of State, Bayard moved away from patronage appointments, choosing instead to appoint diplomats known for their skill and expertise rather than their political loyalty. In foreign affairs, Bayard intervened in the ongoing disputes over U.S. fishing rights in Canada and Newfoundland. In addition to addressing fishing rights, Bayard also focused on Pacific affairs. In 1887, he oversaw the Senate’s ratification of the renewal of a reciprocity treaty with Hawaii. As Secretary, Bayard was also interested in increasing Japanese autonomy. After his tenure as Secretary of State, Bayard served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. As Ambassador, Bayard became involved in the Venezuela-Guyana boundary dispute. His public, pro-British pronouncements placed him at odds with then Secretary of State, Richard Olney, and President Grover Cleveland. Bayard remained as Minister until the end of Cleveland’s second term in 1897. Bayard retired, and died in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1898.

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September 26: Thomas Scott Fillebrown (1884)

Commodore Thomas S. Fillebrown, at the time of his death, had served in the U.S. Navy faithfully for over forty years. He served with distinction during the Civil War, and during the time he was in the Navy he saw about twenty-four years of active sea service. During his entire naval career he was noted for his unflinching integrity in the discharge of his duties. Fillebrown was born in Georgetown, D.C. and had always considered Washington his home. He entered the Navy in 1841 at age 17 and was present in all the naval operations on the Gulf coast during the Mexican War. In 1847 he attended the Naval Academy and was promoted to passed Midshipman. Until the Civil War, he was alternately at sea and the Naval Observatory in Washington. While in D.C., he became associated with Epiphany. In 1856, he was married to Mary E. Potts; in 1858 he was baptized; in 1858 and 1861, his two sons were baptized. All of these sacraments were performed by the Rev. Charles Hall, Epiphany’s rector at the time.

At the outbreak of the war in 1861 Fillebrown was attached to the steam frigate Roanoke off the Atlantic coast. As a Lieutenant Commander in 1862 he was assigned to duty at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In May 1864 he was in command of the ironclad Passaic in her operations against Fort Sumter. He was returned to the Naval Observatory at Washington having done meritorious service on each of the many vessels on which he served during the war. As Commander, Mr. Fillebrown was attached to the Hydrographic Office in Washington. For the next two years he was Chief of the Bureau of Equipment. As Captain he was Executive Officer of the Norfolk Navy Yard. His last duty was as Commandant of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where Fillebrown died in 1884. Had he lived two years longer he would have been retired as Rear Admiral. Fillebrown’s funeral took place with naval honors from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The services were conducted by his old friend and rector from Epiphany, the Rev. Charles Hall, now at Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn.

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September 25: James Ferguson (1867)

James Ferguson was an American astronomer who made the first discovery of an asteroid from North America. Ferguson was born in Scotland, but moved with his family to New York when he was only three years old. It was not until 1842 that Congress decided to establish a national observatory at Washington, which was erected under the direction of Captain James Melville Gilliss (another Epiphany parishioner). From 1847 until his death, Ferguson was an assistant astronomer of the U.S. Naval Observatory. He was assigned to the Equatorial Telescope and began observing occulations of stars by the Moon. Soon he became part of the great asteroid hunt that had driven so many astronomers since Piazzi’s discovery in 1800 that such “small planets” existed.

Ferguson persisted in his asteroid research and using the 9.6-inch refractor, went on to make the first asteroid discovery from the United States. On the night of Sept 1, 1854, Ferguson had been observing the minor planet Egeria when he found nearby an unexpected object about equal brightness to it and proved through its motion to be an asteroid, the 31st found since Piazzi’s first discovery. Ferguson named it Euphrosyne, one of the three Graces in Greek mythology. Ferguson would go on to discover two additional asteroids – Virginia (#50) in 1857 and Echo (#60) in 1860.  A later asteroid (#1745) was named Ferguson in his honor. Ferguson was confirmed at Epiphany in 1863 and then buried from the church following his death in 1867.

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September 24: James Brewerton Ricketts (1887)

James B. Ricketts was a career officer in the U.S. Army, serving as a Union Army general during the Civil War. Ricketts was born in New York City. He graduated 16th in a class of 31 at the U.S. Military Academy in 1839 and was assigned to the 1st U.S. Artillery. His pre-Civil War career was unexceptional. The Civil War, however, put Ricketts at the forefront of the action. In the war’s first major engagement at Bull Run he was wounded four times while commanding a battery.  Left for dead in the wake of the Union retreat, he was captured and held in a Richmond prison.  In an attempt by the Confederate government to prevent the Lincoln administration from executing Rebel prisoners, a number of Federal officers were marked for execution—Ricketts among them.  Fortunately, no executions took place and the prisoners were eventually exchanged. When Ricketts finally returned to the field it was as a brigadier general.

Ricketts’ division participated in the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.   At Antietam, Ricketts—who had already had one horse shot from under him—was badly injured when a second horse was killed and fell on him.  Though he refused to leave the field, the injury compelled Ricketts’ relief from command. At the battle of Cedar Creek, Ricketts was shot in the chest.  Though not mortal, the wound nevertheless crippled the general for life. Ricketts’ war wounds forced his retirement from the army in 1867 with the rank of major general. In that same year, Ricketts’ youngest daughter, Fanny, was baptized at Epiphany and then a year later, his youngest son, Basil, was baptized there. Basil Norris Ricketts would follow his father in a military career. The younger Ricketts fought with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. After James B. Ricketts’ death on September 24, 1887, his funeral was at Epiphany before his interment at Arlington National Cemetery.

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September 23: William Farand Prosser (1911)

In his 77-year life, William F. Prosser lived in many places and did many things. When twenty years old, after teaching school and surveying in Pennsylvania, he set out across the plains in the trail of the gold rush, hoping to strengthen a frail physique. When he reached California, in 1854, he was as rugged and hardy as the other prairie schooner voyagers, and he served as an officer in the volunteer company that was raised to fight the hostile Indians of that district. With the outbreak of the Civil War he returned East, and was offered a commission in the regular army by President Lincoln. Passing through the battles of Shiloh, Stone River, Chicamaugua and the siege of Knoxville, the close of the war saw him in command of the cavalry of the District of North Alabama. Once he was taken prisoner and had a narrow escape from death.

Colonel Prosser figured in the stormy scenes of reconstruction in Tennessee, serving in the legislature, and in 1868 he was elected to Congress. While in Washington, he became associated with Epiphany. He is listed as a communicant in the parish records and he was confirmed at the church in 1871. He was later appointed postmaster at Nashville, and was named as commissioner for the state of Tennessee to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. For ten years, partly before and partly after this first big exposition held in America, he acted as an official, and made trips to Europe to study other exhibitions. Prosser was perhaps the first conservator of government timber in the Northwest, having been sent to the Pacific coast in 1879 as special agent of the general land office, with Washington, Oregon and Idaho timber in his charge. He founded the town of Prosser, Washington, which was named for him. Elected auditor of Yakima County, he moved to North Yakima and from there was sent as a delegate to the Washington state constitutional convention in 1889.

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September 22: Beatrice Aitchison (1997)

Beatrice Aitchison was a pioneer government career woman and also Epiphany’s first female vestry member. Aitchison was born in Oregon and raised in Washington, D.C. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Goucher College, and she received a master’s degree in economics from the University of Oregon and master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In 1942, Aitchison began her long and distinguished career as a transportation economist with the U.S. government. In 1961, she was one of six women, chosen from a field of more than 25,000, who were awarded the government’s first Federal Woman’s Award for their careers in government. At the time of the award, Aitchison was transportation branch chief in the Post Office Department, the highest-ranking woman to ever serve in that department.

When Beatrice Aitchison began her government career in Washington, she joined her father and stepmother as an Epiphany parishioner. Having sung in church choirs since she was a teenager, Aitchison joined Epiphany’s choir. When her stepmother died in 1944, the funeral was held at Epiphany. Similarly when her father died in 1962, the funeral was at the church. An etched stained glass window, featuring King David, was placed in the rear of the church in his memory. At Epiphany’s annual meeting held on April 15, 1963, the church broke a 121-year trend and elected Beatrice Aitchison as its first female vestry member.

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September 21: James Lewis Edwards (1867)

James L. Edwards was the first Commissioner of Pensions and a founding member of Epiphany Church. Edwards was born in Petersburg, Virginia to Lewis and Mary (Danforth) Edwards on May 25, 1786. He served with the U. S. Marines during the War of 1812 and was awarded a medal for bravery. Although many sources refer to Edwards as a colonel, records show that he resigned from the army with the rank of first lieutenant. In 1816, he began working as a clerk in the War Department. He eventually became the principal pensions clerk, where he was responsible for many of the pensions granted to veterans of the Revolutionary War. When the Pension Office was created in 1833, Edwards became the first Commissioner of Pensions. He held this post until retiring on November 27, 1850. Edwards died on September 21, 1867 in Washington, D.C.

James Edwards would have been 56 years old when Epiphany was founded in 1842. In March of that year, Edwards assisted in writing the articles of association for the new congregation and was chosen as one of two temporary wardens. Edwards was one of eleven men who made a pledge for the rector’s salary. In August, Edwards was elected as one of eight vestrymen of the new congregation and was then chosen to head a three-person committee to find a building lot that the church could afford. In March 1843, Edwards served as a sponsor at the baptism of Mrs. Elizabeth Magruder, wife of Dr. William B. Magruder. In August 1844, Edwards was the sponsor at the baptism of Fannie Gilliss, the first person baptized in the new church building. One of Edwards’ sons was married in the church and one was buried from it. Following his death on September 21, 1867 at age 82, James Edwards was buried from Epiphany, a church he had helped found 25 years earlier.

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September 20: Alanson Bigelow Houghton (1941

Alanson B. Houghton was an American businessman, politician, and diplomat. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the grandson of the founder of Corning Glass Works. Houghton graduated from Harvard and pursued postgraduate courses in Europe. He took charge of his family’s business and tripled the company’s size, making it the largest producer of glass products in the country. Houghton served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, before his appointment by President Harding as Ambassador to Germany. He would later serve as Ambassador to Great Britain. During his time in Congress, Houghton became associated with Epiphany. The following is from the February 1922 issue of the Parish Guide newsletter, bidding farewell to Houghton as he leaves for Germany.

“With mixed feelings of pain and satisfaction we note the appointment of one of our honored parishioners, Mr. Alanson B. Houghton, to be Ambassador to Germany. Mr. Houghton for sometime Congressman from Corning, N.Y., has held a position in the House that was widely recognized as one of force and commanding influence. While a man of quiet and unobtrusive bearing, his clearness of vision and wide knowledge of men and things had won for him a place of high esteem among his colleagues. Mr. Houghton is a fine type of public servant, conscientious, painstaking, consistent; indeed he is the very best type because his life is governed by the Christian ideal. He had hoped to take his part here in the growing work of the Parish and was deeply interested in its enterprise. We are bound to believe that his selection is a wise one, and that he will bring to his high office fine intelligence, splendid zeal and thorough consecration. He knows Germany, having lived there. He knows America and can in a large way interpret our ideals and purposes. We are proud of our new Ambassador, and we are sorry indeed to lose him and his family from our midst, but we bid him God speed in his responsible office.”

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September 19: Henry Clough-Leighter (1956)

Henry Clough-Leighter was an American composer, organist, and musical editor. He was born in Washington, D.C.; the son of James Henry Leighter and Sarah Katherine (Humphries) Leighter. The name Clough was given as an agnomen (additional name) at his baptism to perpetuate a family name. Clough-Leighter took charge of Epiphany’s music at the age of 18; first at Epiphany’s chapel in SW Washington and then for seven years at the parish church. During this time, Henry married Mary Mason Mitchell at the chapel. Henry Clough-Leighter’s first person account of his career is as follows.

“I was educated privately and at Columbian University, Washington [now GWU] 1887-9. At thirteen obtained scholarship at the latter university, but relinquished it to give my whole time to the study of music. Pupil of Trinity University, Toronto, Canada, in preparation for musical degree. Studied harmony, counterpoint and composition under Dr. Edward Kimball, Dr. George Walter, Henry Xander (of Stuttgart Conservatory, Germany), and Dr. J. Humphrey Anger, of Oxford, England. Piano study began at age of five, under my mother’s instruction – an English gentlewoman of exceptional refinement of mind, high intellectual attainments, and an excellent musicianship. From the age of nine to twelve solo chorister in St. John’s Church, Washington. At thirteen began organ study under Dr. George Walter, formerly organist of Trinity Church, New York. At fourteen, organist of St. Michael’s and All Angels, Washington. At fifteen organist of the Church of the Incarnation. At eighteen organist and choirmaster of Epiphany Chapel. From 1892 to 1899 organist and choirmaster of Epiphany Parish, and also the Jewish Synagogue; from 1899 to 1900, organist and choirmaster of Grace Church, Providence, R.I.; 1900 to 1901 organist and choirmaster of Christ Church and supervisor of the music courses in the schools of Westerly, R.I. During the same year Instructor of Musical Theory in the Howe School of Music, Boston; 1901 to 1908 Associate Editor on the editorial staff of the Oliver Ditson Co., Boston. Since 1908 to the present time music editor of the Boston Music Co., Boston, Mass. Since 1901 to the present time organist of the First Congregational Church, Milton, Mass.”

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September 18: Henry Walter Kingsbury (1862)

The Army was Henry Walter Kingsbury’s life from the time he was born in Chicago on Christmas Day 1836. His father was a professional soldier and a graduate in the West Point Class of 1823. Henry idolized his army officer father and dreamed of a military career. At the age of 19, he entered the U.S. Military Academy, the same month his father died. Close friend General Ambrose Burnside (yes, the “sideburns’ man) became Henry’s legal guardian. Kingsbury excelled at the Academy and in his final year he was named adjutant of the Corps of Cadets. He was graduated fourth in his class. Tall and handsome, he was a natural leader and was considered by many classmates to be the “best soldier, greatest gentleman, and most promising officer graduated in May 1861.” The Civil War had begun less than a month before the Class of 1861 was graduated. Kingsbury was assigned to the 5th Artillery and promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He was an aide-de-camp to General McDowell at First Manassas and then assigned to train volunteer batteries before being given command of Company D, 5th U.S. Artillery.

In December 1861, Henry Kingsbury married Eveline “Eva” McLean Taylor at the Church of the Epiphany. Eva’s maternal grandfather was Supreme Court Justice John McLean and a paternal uncle was President Zachary Taylor. Shortly thereafter, Kingsbury was commissioned as colonel and commander of the 11th Connecticut Infantry. In September 1862, the 11th marched to Sharpsburg, Maryland where the Confederates drew up battle lines. At the Battle of Antietam, Colonel Kingsbury was mortally wounded. He lingered through the night.  Burnside, his old friend and former guardian, came to see him, sitting for some time beside his bed and comforting the dying colonel. At age 26, Kingsbury died on September 18. His body was taken to Washington with a funeral at Epiphany before being laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery. In December, Eva Kingsbury gave birth to a son and he was named for his father. On Palm Sunday 1863, Henry Walter Kingsbury, Jr. was baptized at the Church of the Epiphany.

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