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Our Bicentennial
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OUR BICENTENNIAL

What’s The Bicentennial Buzz?
Report from the Trinity 1821 Bicentennial Committee

Slogan:  Ringing In the Bicentennial
June 17, 2020

Fellow Parishioners, we’ve been busy as bees!  So, we thought you would like to hear what is planned so far and put some special dates on your 2021 calendar.

Way back in October of 2019 many of you came out to offer suggestions for Bicentennial events and programs. And now the Committee meets monthly to look over those ideas and see how we can carry them out as part of the 1821 celebration. We are still offering fun-filled opportunities for more parishioners to help with planning and coordination.  This is a big birthday for Trinity, and we want everyone to come to the party.

Our meetings are currently being held monthly at 7:00 by Zoom on the third Tuesday of each month.  Please call Nancy Birchall at 904-392-6229 for the link to join us.

Now, here’s what’s happening along with the proposed dates and a bit of info about each event:

  • Ongoing – Archive Angels are organizing our historic documents and papers with plan to digitize them for safe keeping.
  • Ongoing – Plan to create a video series about parishioners through the years and important events in Trinity’s history to be posted on the Website.
  • Ongoing – A fundraiser is being organized to raise money to make our historic 1842 bell operable so we can “Ring In” a new chapter of Trinity’s love for God and our community.
  • TBD – Speakers series featuring fastening topics and presenters informing us about the church history and our community.
  • December 3 – Trinity Float in the 2020 Christmas Parade announcing our Bicentennial.
  • January 3 – Bicentennial Kick-Off Sunday
  • January – December – Trinity Tidbits about life at Trinity through the years to be presented at each Sunday service.
  • January-December – Andrew Fowler (Trinity’s founder from Charleston, SC) will be portrayed and available to tell our story at various functions and civic meetings.
  • February – An evening with Lee Weaver as The Witness.
  • April 4 -Hats Off to a Glorious Easter!  Ladies of all ages will be encouraged to have hats “on” as a salute to the 1821 custom.
  • April 17 – Diocesan Daughters of the King Spring Conference hosted by Trinity.
  • May 8 – Elegant Spring Ladies Tea – A gift to Trinity ladies of all ages from St. Catherine’s Guild.
  • June 13 – An old-fashioned Founders Day Social with food and fun for all.
  • October 15-17 – Grand Gala Bicentennial Celebration with surprises of all kinds.
  • November 10 – Celebrate America patriotic service honoring our veterans.  This year will be the 13th year Trinity has offered this tribute to our community.
  • December 24 after the Christmas Eve service – We will have a brief ceremony to place our carefully filled Trinity Time Capsule to be opened in 2046!  Be thinking of things to go in it…
  • Now if anything specifically “whets your whistle” and you want to help in that area, please email Nancy Birchall.  Remember, also, we have even more on the docket and are waiting for other Trinity associated groups to tell us what they want to do and when.

We are Trinity Parish…Florida’s oldest Episcopal Parish.

God bless us all as we gear up for Joyful Fun in 2021.

 

VAILL

Julia Cornelia Vaill (1870-1923) was the daughter of Edward Vaill and Charlotte Sturdivant Vaill. She was a winter resident from Maine who attended Trinity Church and was a “splendid worker in the Women’s Auxiliary.”  There is a marble tablet in her memory on the wall of the church. In family documents, Evelyn Wilkes Vaill Kettner wrote about her sister-in-law, “I never knew her but the stories I have heard of here are legend. She was a character as they say. She was large, jolly, and always wore sailor hats, no matter what the prevailing style was. She came down to the Bennet or Monson (hotels in St. Augustine) with her two brothers as winter visitors and her great delight was to round up women from the hotels and bring them up to sew for the Guild. She would bring 12 or more but she never sewed…….   The 2 brothers and Julia had been inseparable….each had a house where one’s guests were entertained…..   But they lived together on Park St. in Portland (Me.) which was the old Sturdivant home for generations.”

Captain Edward Vaill (1833-1904), her father, was a former seafaring man and his wife, Charlotte Sturdivant Vaill (1844-1912) came to St. Augustine about 1867 and built the St. Augustine Hotel located on the Plaza between the Basilica and Charlotte Street. After the hotel was destroyed by fire in 1887, he built the Vaill Block at that location. Their sons, Edward (1864-1944) and Frederick, Sr. (1866-1931) were also winter residents and were honored at the 100th anniversary of Trinity Church as having the longest membership. Frederick Vaill, Jr. (1926-2017) served as Junior and Senior Warden at Trinity and was a benefactor in the building of Trinity Parish Hall. Two Vaill stained-glass windows were donated: “Fishers of Men” and “Faith.”

(Sources: Find a Grave; UF Digital Collections; legacy.com; Julia Vaill Gatlin)

BENJAMIN ALEXANDER PUTNAM

Benjamin Putnam (1801-1869) was born at Savannah, GA.  He attended Harvard after which he moved to St. Augustine in 1821 with his widowed mother and studied law privately. He was admitted to the Bar in 1824 and practiced with Judge Joseph Lee Smith. In 1827 an Act of Congress secured the lot on the corner of King and St. George Streets for Trinity Church through the efforts of Judge Thomas Douglas, Abraham Dupont, Judge Joseph Smith, and Benjamin Putnam. In 1830, he married Helen Kirby, a sister-in-law of Judge Smith’s. During the Second Seminole Indian War, he served in the Florida Militia as a Major, Colonel and Adjutant General. From 1835-1840 he served as a representative in the Florida Legislature, in 1844 he was a member of the Senate and in 1848 Speaker of the House. In 1849 he was appointed Surveyor General of Florida, a post he occupied until 1854. In 1856 he was one of the organizing members of the Florida Historical Society serving as its first president. In 1857 he was appointed Judge of the Eastern Circuit filling the unexpired term of Judge William A. Forward and was later twice Mayor of St. Augustine. During Union occupation of St. Augustine, because of his loyalty to the Confederacy, Judge Putnam and his family were driven from St. Augustine, losing their home (located across from Trinity Church where the Lyon Building now stands) as well as all assets.  They relocated in Madison, Florida during the remainder of the War as that part of the state was still held by the Confederates. At the close of the War, he moved to Palatka and resumed practicing law. He died in Palatka and Putnam County was named in his honor. Judge Putnam is the 3-times Great Grandfather to Nancy Birchall and Sheila Greenleaf.

(Sources: St. Augustine Historical Society Library; “By Faith with Thanksgiving,” by G. Michael Strock; Historic City News, Dec. 7, 2010)

REV. CHARLES M. SEYMOUR, JR.

Rev. Charles Seymour (1910-2004) came to Trinity Parish from Aiken, SC at the recommendation of Bishop Hamilton West. Father Seymour’s first service at Trinity was February 1949. During the following 15 ½ years significant changes took place at Trinity under his leadership. The Cradle Rocking Ceremony was started to celebrate the birth of each baby born into the parish during the previous year. In 1954, the one-story Hindry Hall was built adjacent to the then existing 3-story parish hall. Two years later the church was carpeted, and central heat and air conditioning were installed. The adjacent “Bigelow” property was purchased and the “Aloha House” on the property was used for many purposes until it was removed, and the land became the present parking lot for Trinity. During this time, Father Seymour also saw the installation of the last of the stained-glass windows in the church.

Due to concerns that the 3-story parish hall was a potential fire hazard, the rector and members of Trinity began a major building campaign that resulted in the removal of the 3-story building followed by the construction of the present 2-story parish hall that incorporated the existing Hindry Hall.

The 1964 Civil Rights demonstrations in St. Augustine led to significant discord within Trinity Parish. The Bishop had issued an order that all churches in the Diocese of Florida would be open to anyone. Several members of the vestry tried to deny access to the church, but Father Seymour upheld the Bishop’s order that allowed anyone to worship at Trinity. Many members of the vestry resigned but Father Seymour remained.

After 15 ½ years, Charles and Kathleen Seymour left St. Augustine to become the Assistant Rector and later Rector of Trinity, New Orleans.

Father Seymour retired from Louisiana in 1978 and he and Kathleen returned to St. Augustine and Trinity Parish, where he was honored to be named Rector Emeritus along with Walter Saffran. After his death in 2004, the Seymour Garden was established in his memory.

Father Seymour’s son, Dr. Goodwin Seymour and his wife, Mary, continue to worship at Trinity Parish. Dr. Seymour has been a member of Trinity since the Seymours moved to St. Augustine in 1949.

(Source: Dr. Goodwin Seymour)

CALHOUN

Dr. John C. Calhoun, Jr., (1823-1855) the eldest son of South Carolina Statesman, John C. Calhoun came to Florida in 1850 after the death of his first wife.  He married Kate Kirby Putnam, only daughter of Judge Benjamin Putnam of St. Augustine. They married at Trinity Church in 1853 and their second son, Benjamin Alexander Putnam Calhoun was born a posthumous baby as his father died one week prior to his birth. He was christened at Trinity not long after his birth in 1855. Kate re-married to William Lowndes Calhoun, a brother to Dr. Calhoun and had one son. After Kate’s death in 1866, Ben and his brothers were raised by their Putnam grandparents who were now living in Palatka and attending St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Ben lived the remainder of his life in Palatka as an attorney and Judge, raising a family of his own. His eldest son, practicing attorney Edward Noble Calhoun grew up in Palatka but married the daughter of Senator William A. MacWilliams, of St. Augustine who was in law practice with Frank Upchurch, Sr.  E.N. Calhoun was a communicant of Trinity Church as was his son, Noble Putnam Calhoun who served in the Vestry.  Both Nancy Birchall and Sheila Greenleaf are direct descendants of Dr. Calhoun and both were christened at Trinity Church.

(Sources: Sheila Greenleaf)

RONALD F. JACKSON

Dr. Ronald Jackson (1918-2010) was born in England and moved to the United States at the age of 10. He received the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Michigan State University at the young age of 21. Dr. Jackson and his wife, Alice, moved to St. Augustine in 1944, where he opened the first veterinary practice in all of St. Augustine. His was the only veterinary practice in all of St. Augustine and St. Johns County until the mid-1960s.

As a veterinarian, Ron Jackson was recognized both nationally and internationally for his research and expertise in heartworm disease in dogs. Dr. Jackson was also involved in organized veterinary medicine as president of the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and chairman of the AVMA executive board. He also helped establish the American Heartworm Society, serving as its president and longtime executive secretary. His publications in books and journals, as well as his professional awards, are too numerous to mention, but they do include the Florida Veterinarian of the Year award and the AVMA Practitioner Research award.

Besides his service to the veterinary profession, he also served the local community where he was elected to the St. Augustine City Commission and was mayor in 1950. He was president of the Chamber of Commerce and recipient of the Outstanding Young Man award. Ron Jackson was a member of the vestry of Trinity Parish and served as its Senior Warden; his wife, Alice, was a longtime member of Trinity’s Altar Guild.

(Sources: Dr. Goodwin Seymour)

LUCY ABBOTT

Lucy Abbott (1830-1929) was born in South Carolina but came to St. Augustine in 1860 in her twenties with her widowed mother and started investing in real estate in North City. She built nine structures in the 17-block area known as the Abbott Tract which still stand today. At the advent of the Civil War, Lucy’s uncle James D. Starke enlisted in the Florida Cavalry and sent Lucy and her mother two slaves and two mules. By then, St. Augustine was occupied by Union forces and immediately seized the two mules and claimed the real estate that Lucy owned. Ultimately, by 1872 Lucy regained her real estate but not the two mules. In 1868, Lucy had written to General Grant stating “that the mules were released to her by her uncle and it was a distressing situation in which two women found themselves, to ask that this little property given up to me out of benefit.” She further commented that “she felt she was appealing to one of noble and generous impulses – to one who thought it not unmanly to weep at the downfall of an opponent, and cannot believe he will disregard the prayer of the unfortunate orphan.” Although General Grant was magnanimous to the Confederate soldiers at Appomattox Courthouse by allowing them to keep their privately owned mules, Lucy and her mother are undoubtedly still waiting for a response as to whether the Federal Government will return the Abbotts two mules. She was an ardent worker in the erection of the Confederate monument in the Plaza as a member of the Ladies Memorial Association. In 1883, she was the organist for the church which was located at that time in the former gallery above St. Peter’s Chapel.

(Sources: Wikipedia; Centennial of Trinity Parish booklet, commentary by Reginald White, Senior Warden, 1921; Historic City Memories: Two Mules for Widow Abbott by Geoff Dobson, July 29, 2010)

FREDERICK W. MANLEY

Frederick “Fritz” Manley (1881-1958) was born in Minnesota attending schools there and in Cuba before entering West Point in 1901. He graduated with the Class of 1905 and was assigned to the 13th Infantry and was engaged on a military mapping project near Manila at the Philippines.  Because of his excellence in Drawing, he returned to West Point as an Instructor in that Department. After four years at the Point, he went to Vera Cruz as Municipal Treasurer. After his return to the U.S., he was detailed for the second time as an Instructor at the Military Academy, this time in the Department of English and History for two years where he also served on the Memorial Window Committee. He was sent as a staff officer to Plattsburg Barracks and at the end of that assignment he was designated as Adjutant of the 91st Division. He accompanied that Division to France in WWI where he participated in the Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. He was detailed a third time to West Point as Assistant Professor in the Department of English and History. He resigned in 1920 to enter a brokerage firm in San Francisco. A year later, missing military life, he was reappointed and assigned to the 32nd Infantry at the Presidio of San Francisco. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1925 and was later detailed as Military Attaché at Madrid for Spain and Portugal. He graduated from the Army War College in 1933. In 1939 upon his return to the U.S., he was designated as Senior Instructor at the Florida National Guard at St. Augustine and later was in command of Camp Blanding in Florida and Fort Rucker, Alabama. While at Camp Blanding, he forbade men in his unit to hitchhike. He said the practice was “unmilitary” and that it was a discredit to the uniform and a detriment to the standing which the Army enjoys with civilians. Finding Florida suited his and his wife’s tastes, after being relieved from active duty they settled in St. Augustine living on Marine Street where he became interested in growing exotic flowers and fruits. He was retired a Colonel but had the unusual distinction of being appointed while on the retired list as a Brigadier General in 1942. For his services in WWI, he was given the Purple Heart for Meritorious Services and the Order of the Crown (Belgium) and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor (France). He was highly active at Trinity Church where he twice served as Senior Warden and once as Junior Warden. Two stained-glass windows “Christ in the Garden” and “Crucifixion” were donated in Frederick and Lucia Manley’s memory.

(Sources: Ancestry.com; Fort Meyers News-Press, 26 Jan 1941; Trinity Gifts and Memorials)

ANNA MARIA DUMMETT

Anna Dummett (1817-1899) was the daughter of Col. Thomas Dummett (retired from the Royal British Marines) and was born on the island of Barbados in the West Indies. At that time, Barbados was wealthy in the sugar cane industry and when there was a slave uprising, the Dummetts left the Island and settled in New Haven, Connecticut before coming to Florida in 1825. He purchased a 1,400-acre plantation at Tomoka in Volusia County that included slaves, horses and cattle and started processing sugar cane and commissioned Reuben Loring of St. Augustine to build a sugar mill and rum distillery. In 1835, he conveyed his property to his son, Douglas and came to St. Augustine and purchased what is known now as the St. Francis Inn as a home in 1838.  When Col. Dummett died in 1845, Anna turned the house into a boarding house.  Her sister, Elizabeth married Confederate General William Hardee at Trinity Church in1840 and Anna, who had never married, helped raise their small children. Anna was loyal to the South and like many Southern Sympathizers in St. Augustine, she relocated to Monticello, Florida during the last part of the War as the area west of the Suwannee River was still held by the Confederates. In 1861, she wrote a poem “To Arms! To Arms!” In 1866 she returned to St. Augustine and established the Ladies Memorial Association and served as its President until her death. In 1907, the Anna Dummett Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy was officially chartered. Miss Dummett had been the driving force for the Confederate monument in the Plaza honoring St. Augustine’s war dead in 1872. Her nephew, Willie Hardee is listed on this monument, having been killed at age 17. When General William Loring returned home to St. Augustine in 1877 for a visit, he was escorted in a parade complete with a brass band from the train depot to a platform in the Plaza at the Confederate monument which had been erected by his childhood friend, Anna Dummett.

(Sources: Wikipedia; W.W. Loring: Florida’s Forgotten General by James W. Raab; sacivilwararchive.com; South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 8, 2003; St. Augustine Historical Society, Past Perfect Online)

ELIAS B. GOULD

Judge Elias B. Gould (1786-1855) a native of New Jersey, came to St. Augustine from Charleston, SC in 1822. He established the East Florida Herald and in 1834 his son, James took over. The Herald ran beyond the end of the Territorial Period in 1845. Judge Gould served as Justice of the Peace, County Judge and was Mayor of St. Augustine five different terms. Judge Gould was a Deacon at Trinity Church and a neighbor of Judge Joseph L. Smith. Another son, Archibald Falconer Gould (1823-1863) served in the Florida Militia in 1837 with his brother, James and their father, Elias. Archibald graduated from Yale in 1848 with a course of study in Theology. He represented Trinity Church as a Lay Deputy at the Annual Convention of the Florida Diocese in 1849. In the 1850 Census he was listed as “seminary teacher” still living in St. Augustine and in December 1851 he was admitted for Holy Orders by Bishop Rutledge at Trinity Church. In 1853 he was appointed by the Board of Missions as a Rector in Ocala, Florida, and the following year he was Rector in Dorchester, Maryland and in 1860, Frostburg, Maryland. In 1861, he enlisted in the Co. B 3rd Florida Infantry at Palatka. He was Ward Master at the Lake City Hospital serving as both nurse and chaplain. He was promoted to 5th Sergeant in 1864 and was captured at Farmville, VA on April 6, 1865 and was extremely ill. He was imprisoned at Point Lookout, hospitalized, and took the oath of loyalty to the Union and died there July 12, 1865. His name is listed on the Confederate monument in the Plaza.

(Sources: Ancestry.com; Yale’s Confederates: A Biographical Dictionary, Nathaniel Hughes, 2008; Journal of the Proceedings of the 14th Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Florida, 1852; “My Father was Born Here,” by Nina Kirby-Smith Buck, January 1946

Historical records indicate that Trinity Church has had an organ since at least 1857 when an organ built by Henry Erben of New York was installed. Earlier organs probably existed at Trinity, but nothing is known about them. The organ was taken down for construction in 1902 and rebuilt afterwards, adding a rank of 8′ diapason pipes. Further details of this instrument are unknown.

In the fall of 1914 a new Austin Organ of three manuals and 22 ranks, opus 504, was installed as a memorial to Junius T. Smith, given by his wife, Laura W. Smith. It served well for 53 years, but termites, water damage and changing musical tastes finally rendered it unfit for further use, and in 1965 an organ committee was appointed by the Vestry to research and recommend a new organ.

The organ committee determined that the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, made the finest organs at the time and recommended them as the builder. Aeolian-Skinner built outstanding organs for the Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; The Riverside Church, St. Thomas Church, and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, all in New York. After a congregational vote, a three-manual organ of 41 ranks (2,349 pipes) was ordered in the summer of 1966. The new organ was installed in the fall of 1967 and dedicated on November 5, 1967. It was enjoyed by many visitors as well as our own congregation. However, after thirty years of use and Florida humidity the instrument showed signs of wear and extensive repairs needed to be made.

The organ was partially restored during the 1990’s. As part of the restoration, the organ was cleaned, the console restored, and several sets of pipes rebuilt and replaced. At that time, a number of artificial (digital) voices were also added.

(Sources: Wikipedia; Trinity Episcopal Church website)

During the British Period (1763-1784), church services were conducted in the English Constitution House (the former Roman Catholic Bishop’s house), a structure occupying the present site of Trinity Church. Under the direction of Rev. John Forbes, a house of worship was established on south St. George Street, across from the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent. The Spanish mission church of Nuestra Senora de la Soledad “Our Lady of Solitude” was converted into St. Peter’s Church and added a new bell tower and entrance facing west. The church continued in use until the British left Florida in 1784. After the Spanish returned in 1784, the church was dismantled, and the stone was used in 1793 in the building of a new parish church – the current Cathedral Basilica on the Plaza. Archeological excavations by Florida State University in 1976-77 uncovered remnants of la Soledad and numerous burials under its floor and in the church yard. These burials included Native Americans and persons of European and African descent and reflect both Spanish and British burial practices. The site is owned and preserved by the Sisters of St. Joseph and a marker was erected there in 2012 by the St. Augustine Archeological Association.

(Sources: The St. Augustine Record, April 1, 2012; Nuestra Senora de la Soledad marker; St. Augustine and St. Johns County – a Pictorial History by Karen Harvey; America’s First City – St. Augustine’s Historical Neighborhoods by Karen Harvey)

BISHOP EDWIN GARDNER WEED

Bishop Weed (1847-1924) was born at Savannah, Georgia and received his education from the Chatham Academy and the University of Georgia. After completing his sophomore year in college, he volunteered in the Confederate army before reaching his sixteenth year. At the close of the War, he went to Germany to complete his education attending the University of Berlin. After returning to this country he entered the General Theological seminary at New York City, graduating in 1879. He received degrees of Doctor of Sacred Theology at Racine College and Doctor of Divinity at the University of the South. In 1870 he was deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church and in 1871-72 he traveled in Egypt and the Holy Land. Being ordained to the priesthood in 1871 he became rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Summerville, GA until 1886 when he was consecrated as the third Bishop of Florida. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1888, Bishop Weed was a member of the executive committee of the Sanitary Auxiliary Association as chairman of the commissary department. At the time of the great fire in Jacksonville, he was a member of the executive committee of the Jacksonville Relief Association. He was a member of the Florida Division United Confederate Veterans serving as Chaplain General and was chaplain of the Duval County Guards during World War I.

Camp Weed was founded in June 1924 with the first camp being held at St. Augustine Beach. It was officially named after Bishop Weed in 1925.  In 1999, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Camp Weed, alma mater of numerous bishops, the convention jubilantly applauded “the oldest living Camp Weed-er,” Elizabeth Jackson Eberhart (Marge Rahner’s mother), who in 1924 attended the Diocese of Florida’s first summer camp session.

“For thirty-eight years he had been our beloved bishop and his general friendliness had endeared him to all; that the day of his annual visitation was looked forward to by the whole community as the best day in the year.”

(Sources: Tampa Times, Jan. 22, 1924; The Living Church, Vol. 218, January 1999 by Virginia Barrett Barker; Times-Herald, Jacksonville, FL, Jan. 25, 1924)