KATHERINE PHELPS (Feb. 27, 1877-May 5, 1974)

After graduating from the New York Training School in 1905, Deaconess Phelps was put in charge of St. Hilda’s School in the district of Wuchang in Wuhan, China. She became well known not only for her work in providing education for underserved girls, who were normally uneducated, but also for traveling and giving talks about conditions in China. Her essay “A Chinese Cinderella,” published in the Spirit of Missions, is exemplary of the change she brought to those she taught. Her educational work was primary; she turned down the offer to become the foreign secretary to the Central China Christian Educational Association. After she left Wuhan, some of the brief biographies published in newspaper articles about her speaking engagements mention her involvement both with the Stuarts School at Anting and the Hooker School for Girls in Mexico City. By 1943 she had retired to Newport Beach, Oregon, where despite her saying “Being retired, I don’t do much,” she actively led a Sunday School which provided donations to needy children. She died in Monterey, California.

The American Context of China’s Christian Colleges. 
Deaconess Phelps. A Chinese Cinderella.” Spirit of MissionsFeb. 1911. 
“Deaconess Phelps Describes Educational Week in China.” Wellesley College News, April 15, 1926,
p. 3.
“Deaconess to Speak.” Pasadena Post, Jan. 18, 1930, p. 6.
“Deaconesses at Work.” The Deaconess, June 1943, n.p.
“Katherine Elizabeth Phelps.”
“Work Among Chinese is Topic of Deaconess.” The Bend, Oct. 15, 1929, p. 6.

MAY 10

ANNA MAYNARD BARBOUR (1856-May 10, 1941)

See “Anna Maynard Barbour.”  “Meet the Deaconesses A-F.” Fund for the Diaconate and Geri Swanson, Fund for the Diaconate.

MAY 12 

FLORENCE ISABEL ORMEROD (­­­­July 31, 1906-May 12, 2003)

Born in Missouri, Deaconess Ormerod graduated from the New York School for Deaconesses and served in Michigan, Ohio, and Nevada. She began her work in settlement houses in “Hell’s Kitchen,” an area on the West side of Manhattan primarily populated by Irish immigrants. In the early 1930’s she served at the Church of the Holy Apostles in St. Louis, and then moved to Munising, Michigan, where, she writes, the severe winter weather made burials impossible. By 1934 she became Director of Religious Education for the Junior Department in the district of San Joaquin, CA. In 1938 she was transferred from Moapa and Las Vegas to take charge of the St. Barnabas Episcopal Mission in Reno, Nevada. By 1944 she had moved to Vallejo, California, where she worked with those in the military and an expanded population of ship-builders, and then transferred to San Joaquin to direct the educational program. She also served in the Holy Nativity Convent in Fond du Lac, MI, as Associates’ Secretary; in 1950 she took vows as Sister of the Holy Nativity.

“Bible School at Episcopal Church Here.” Lindsey Gazette, May 26, 1944, p.6.
“Deaconess at Wells Receives Transfer.” Reno Gazette-Journal, Feb. 28, 193, p. 8.“Deaconess Talks at Meeting of St. Catherine’s Guild.” The Escanaba Daily Press, Nov. 6, 1934.
“In Colder Climes.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 19. 1934, p. 22.
“Sister Isabel Ormerod.” The Reporter, May 15, 2003, p. A2.
“The Training Schools.” The DeaconessJune 1943, n.p.

MAY 17  

MARGARET BOOZ (Oct. 22, 1893 -May 17, 1958)

Margaret Booz, who became a deaconess in 1921, served in many churches. One of her early appointments was in Reno, Nevada; in 1931, she was put in charge of religious education in Dayton, Virginia City, and the mining district of Silver City. She is listed as the first resident worker at St. Francis Mission in Lovelock (Aug. 1931-Nov. 1936), replaced by Deaconess Lilllian Crow after she was transferred to Yerington. There she established the Smith Valley Mission (eventually St. Alban’s mission) by holding services in a private home. She started a Boy Scout troop, kindergarten, and lunch program, and participated in other welfare activities. On Jan. 1, 1941, she moved to Pacific Grove, California, to work at San Benito Valley and St. Mary’s by the Sea, where she was chosen to head the Hospitality House for St. James’ Chapel, a center for service enlistees. Two years later, with support from the United Thank Offering, she was in Callaway, Virginia, where with Deaconess Anne Newman, who had been at Grace House on the Mountain in St. Paul, Virginia, she helped establish a women’s auxiliary, taught classes, and created a clothing bank. As a 1944      report in The Deaconesssays, “As she drives her ‘used Ford’ over the mountain roads of Virginia many a home will be gladdened by her visits, and those who come to the house on the mountain top, its rooms refreshed by paint newly applied by her hands will feel at home with the kerosene lamps and the wood burning range.” In 1946, she had become the Head Deaconess at the Episcopal Deaconess House in Los Angeles, then parish worker at the Church of the Advent (1946-1949). She continued her work at St. Luke’s in Long Beach even while she was seriously ill. Her memorial service was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Los Angeles. 

“Deaconesses at Work.” The DeaconessMarch 1944.

“Lyon Schools are Reopened.” Nevada State Journal, Dec. 21, 1940, p. 8Obituary. The Living ChurchJune 8, 1958, pp. 29-30.

MAY 19  

EVELYN MAY ASHCROFT  (May 10, 1904-May 19, 1997)

“The Rev. Evelyn May Ashcroft, retired deaconess in missionary service for 39 years, died May 19 in a hospital in Monterey, CA, at the age of 93. Deaconess Ashcroft was born in Liverpool, England. She was educated in England and the United States and received the M.A. degree in history from the University of California at Berkeley in 1926 [her thesis was “Popular Poetry in Sixteenth Century France]. She served as an appointed missionary of the Episcopal Church, or as a volunteer, in China, the Philippines, and Burundi until 1980. She passed canonical examinations in a Japanese internment camp near Baguio, Philippines, and was liberated at Old Bililid prison during the battle of Manila.

After repatriation in 1945, she was ordained to the diaconate in 1946. She returned to Shanghai where she remained until 1951. She then became directress of St. Hilda’s Training Center for Women Church Workers, Tadian, Mountain Province, the Philippines. The Episcopal Church Women of Tadian have requested that Deaconess Evelyn’s ashes be sent there for burial. Survivors include cousins in Manchester, England.” (From Archives of the Episcopal Church)

 “Deaconess for China Set Apart at Cathedral in New York.” Project Canterbury. From The Living Church, Feb. 3, 1946. 

n May Ashcroft.” “Meet the Deaconesses A-F.” Fund for the Diaconate.

Photo from Anglican History.

MAY 21 

 JEAN WALKER COLESBERRY* (April 26,1867-May 21, 1940)

Set aside at the Church of the Mediator (Allentown, PA) by Bishop Ozi W. Whitaker on Oct. 2, 1898, Deaconess Colesberry was chosen to head the new St. Martha’s Settlement House, assisted by Deaconess Amelia P. Butler. She was praised in The American Journal of Nursing for her “attractive personality and remarkable success in winning the people of the neighborhood.” Given the number of children’s clubs and training sessions, mothers’ meetings, and confirmation classes, the house grew so rapidly that it was expanded three years later, by 1915 including a branch of the Philadelphia Free Library. She served as head deaconess until 1930. She was put to rest at All Saints’ Church on May 24th

“St. Martha’s House.” Church News, April 1915.

Obituary. The Philadelphia InquirerMay 23, 1940

“Deaconess Jean Colesberry on Christmas Baskets for the Poor.” Evening Public Ledger, Dec. 18, 1922.

*Also spelled Colesbury in some resources.

MAY 26

CLARA M. CARTER (Nov. 15, 1861-May 26, 1957)

Deaconess Carter, the first deaconess in the Diocese of Massachusetts, was a nurse and graduate of the Philadelphia Deaconess House. Set aside on April 25, 1897, by Bishop William Lawrence at Trinity Church in Boston, she was made the superintendent of the Episcopal City Mission’s “Mother’s Rest” program near Revere beach, in addition to leading practical training in the care of those in need. In 1902 she went to Skagway, Alaska, as the hospital superintendent, and then 1904 moved to Fairbanks (her­­­ detailed account of the founding of St. Matthew’s hospital and the Episcopal mission was published in The Alaska Churchman in 1906). Three years later she became deaconess-in-charge at St. John’s in the Wilderness in Allakaket, where she served until 1913, when she became the head of the Philadelphia Deaconess House. She retired fifteen years later. After a serious stroke, died in her native Ontario where she had gone to be near a niece. She had been a deaconess for sixty years.

Carter, Deaconess Clara M. “Founding of St. Matthew’s Hospital.” Rpt. From The Alaska Churchman, June 1906, np.

“Clara Carter.” Fund for the Diaconate.

“Deaths.” The Living Church, June 23, 1957, p. 19.

“Episcopals and Jesuits Ran Early Hospitals in Fairbanks.” Daily News Miner, June 4, 1977.

“Personals.” NewsletterMay, 1956.

“St. Matthew’s Notes.” Fairbanks Daily Times, Feb. 9, 1913, np.

Stuck, Hudson. The Alaskan Missions of the Episcopal Church. NY: Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, 1920.

“Work of Foreign Missions.” Boston Globe, Nov. 3, 1897. 



Mary Frances Ward (1899-June 9, 1964)

Mary Frances Ward, who was set aside as a deaconess in 1935, served at St. Michael’s Mission at Ethete, WY, l­­­ocated near the Arapahoe and Shoshone Indian reservation. As she said, “We instructed them in farming and home economics, but they taught us the meaning of peace, patience, and serenity.” Because of severe arthritis she moved to Arizona, where she wrote “Biography of an Arthritic.”

For the last twenty years of her life, she was hospitalized at St. Luke’s Sanatorium in Phoenix, where she was librarian, director of the chapel, and head of the gift shop. One of her major projects was heading the Church School by Mail project of Trinity Cathedral; students, both children and adults, were mailed reading material and assignments and expected to write and mail their homework. During all the years she was busy and wheel-chair bound, her motto was “Keep busy, keep cheerful, keep close to God.” She is buried at Union Dale Cemetery in Pittsburgh, PA.

Deaths.” The Living Church, July 12, 1964,  p. 15.

“Hospital Will Honor Patient.” Arizona Republic, July 9, 1956,  p. 3. 

“Mary Frances Ward, 54, Angel of St. Luke’s.” Arizona Republic, June 10, 1964, p. 12. (Photo)


ALICE WILCOX MAYER (Feb. 16, 1898-June 10, 1948)

Born in Cinncinnati, Alice Mayer graduated from Bethesda School of Nursing and was set aside as a deaconess by Bishop Henry Disbrow Phillips on August 6, 1951, at Grace House-on-the-Mountain in St. Paul, VA, where she began as a nurse/missionary in 1946. She offered services not only as a nurse but as a crafts instructor teaching both basketry (using honeysuckle vines) and weaving, assisting Deaconess Ann Newman in helping to preserve mountain crafts.

Deaconess Mayer credits the Cherokee instructors at the Southland Handicraft Guild for her expertise. In 1958 she chaired the Committee on Modernizing the Garb of Deaconesses, which was passed on Sept. 16, 1961 at the Deaconess Conference. At her death she was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kissammee, FL; her funeral was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hamilton, OH, and she is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.

Obituary: “Alice Mayer.” The Journal-News, June 11, 194, p. 28.

“A Deaconess Tells her Story to State’s Episcopal Women.” The Courier-Journal, April 27, 1955, p. 20. (Photo)

Annual Retreat & Conference.” The Deaconess, November 1951, p.1. Obituary: “Alice Mayer.” The Journal-News, June 11, 194, p. 28.

“They Found a Use for the Pesky Honeysuckle.” Kingsport Times, May 11, 1965, p. 7.

ELIZABETH DUVAL BOORMAN  (Aug. 30, 1865-June 10, 1957)


Called “Lily” or “Lillie” by her family, Deaconess Boorman was set aside at Grace Church, New York, in 1906 and then appointed to work at the Blue Ridge mountain mission of St. James, in Lydia, VA, at Hickory Hill and Red Hill. In Fall 1913, she moved to Augusta, GA, where she served at the Episcopal Boys’ Home: as Archdeacon Neve writes, “her loss was keenly felt by the people, as she had spared neither time nor strength in their service.” For twenty years she attended St. John’s Church in Hagerstown, MD. After retiring in 1935, she commented: “Tho’ retired, I carry on the League of Intercessions . . . mailing educational books, lists for prayers, and call on those living in town.” She is buried at St. Stephens Episcopal Church Cemetery in Catlett, VA.

The DeaconessMay 1952,  p. 2.  

“Elizabeth DuVal Boorman,” Find a Grave (Photo)

Journal of the 119th Annual Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, May, 1914, p. 101.

The Living ChurchSept. 15, 1957, p. 30.

JUNE 11  

KATHERINE GILMORE (?-June 11, 1942)

(See the complete listing in Ormond Plater, “A Calendar of Deacon Saints).

See “Katherine Gilmore.” “Meet the Deaconesses G-L.” Fund for the Diaconate. 


MIRIAM B.* ALLEN (May 4, 1888-June 29, 1960

Deaconess Allen was a graduate of the Philadelphia Deaconess Training School, 1918-1920. She was set apart in 1922 by the Rt. Rev. Charles P. Anderson in St. Mark’s Church, Evanston, Illinois, and returned to the Philadelphia School for one year graduate work. She was in charge of the Young People’s Work in Nevada for a number of years, and in 1936 she went to Arizona where she was put in charge of the Salome District. Later [1938] she went to the Mission of the Good Shepherd in Fort Defiance. From 1941 to 1943 Deaconess Allen was Superintendent of St. John’s Orphanage in Knoxville, Tennessee. From 1944 to 1949 she lived in Phoenix, Ariz. where she was the Parish Worker for Trinty Cathedral; later, returning to Tennessee as Parish and Community Worker in Monteagle. Retiring in 1953, she continued to live in Monteagle until her illness in 1956, when she was taken to Houston, Texas to be near her sister. She died in 1960. [ THE DEACONESSMarch 1950, p. 10]

*Listed in various sources as Brobston , Brobton (The Deaconess), Brolton, or Brolston (FindaGrave)

Jenkins, J. Rockwood. “The Good Shepherd Mission to the Navajo.”



JULIA ADELINE CLARK (March 7, 1889-July 2, 1951)

Julia Clark, the daughter of a well-known New England pioneer family living in Pasadena, California, was educated at Smith College and graduated from the Philadelphia Training School. She was set apart as a deaconess on Aug. 12, 1913 by Bishop Joseph Horsfall Johnson at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Shortly after, on Aug. 26, she sailed for Hankow, China, where she began her 37 years as a missionary. She learned Mandarin and so could serve as a translator; she became assistant principal at St. Hilda’s School for Girls, although she preferred her non-administrative work with Chinese women. The conflict she faced between the perception of Western imperialism and Chinese culture is discussed in detail in Foreign Exchange, which provides the perspective of one of the students who was eventually baptized and became a faithful Episcopalian. During the war years, Deaconess Clark writes of bombings and her work with American soldiers, which included siphoning medicine from container ships, nursing, and preparing bodies for burial. She was called upon to help in rescuing children whose parents had been attacked and because of the large number of communicants was asked to serve at communion, which was not allowed for deaconesses; but as the Chinese bishop told her “You are a Chinese deaconess out here.” In 1950, shortly after the Chinese Communist Party took control of the country and expelled foreign teachers, she left for the United States, arriving after a four-month journey. Suffering from bronchial pneumonia, she died several months after her brother, Bishop Stephen Clark of Utah. 

“Episcopalian Missionary Deaconess Clark Dies.” Los Angeles Times, July 4, 1951, p. 27.

Liu, Judith. Foreign Exchange: Counterculture Behind the Walls of St. Hilda’s School for Girls, 1929-1937. Lehigh UP, 2011.

“Missionaries: War Years of a Deaconess.” The Living ChurchNov. 14, 1943, p. 5. 

Peterman, Cynthia. “Murder! Orphans! Escape! A Little-Known Story Uncovered in the Files of the American Consulate at Kunming, China.” 

 “Popular Girl Goes to China.” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 13, 1913, p. 17. 



Harriet Randolph Parkhill, active in the newly established southern Florida missionary district  under the leadership of Bishop — Gray, moved to the Training House in Philadelphia in 1899 and was set aside as a deaconesson on Dec. 27, 1901, at Holy Cross in Sanford, FL.  She was put in charge of Pell-Clarke Hall (St. Catherine’s Cathedral School for Girls) in Orlando, where her impact was so memorable that when she was forced to retire in 1907 because of increasing blindness, a hall was named after her. Her article in the Spirit of Missions gives a perspective not just on increasing the students fourfold in the first year but on the need for support for the only church school in Florida and Georgia. A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Confederacy, she is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville.

Blackford, Randolph F. “The Episcopal Church in South Florida, 1893-1961.”

“Deaconess Parkhill Goes to Reward After Long Period of Illness.” The Orlado Sentinel, July 4, 1926, p. 18.

Parkhill, Deaconess Harriet Randolph. “Our United Offering Missionary in Southern Florida and Her Home in Pell-Clarke Hall.” Spirit of Missions, Vol. 71, Jan. 1906, pp. 59-61.

—-. The Mission to the Seminoles in the Everglades of Florida. Orlando: Sentinel Print, 1909. (Much thanks to Emily Rogers, Valdosta State University Reference Librarian, for help with this and other entries.)


MARY LOUISE KNEEVES (July 2, 1863-July 5, 1939)

Mary L. Kneeves, who was born in England and emigrated to the United States in 1883, became a deaconess on May 15, 1907, after graduating from the New York Training School for Deaconesses.

Set aside by Bishop Coadjutator ­­­ The Rt. Rev. David H. Greer, she joined her friend Deaconess Eva Hammitt Crump at the St. John’s Mission in the Spartan Mill Village in High Shoals, NC. There she was in charge of parochial work, visiting the needy and the sick under the direction of Dr. Stovall. As the photo caption in the High Shoals history suggests, she also helped Deaconess Crump in the classroom. She was later associated with Trinity Parish in Ossining, NY, where “her kindness to the sick and shut-in, her zeal on behalf of the Woman’s work in the Parish . . . endeared her to all.” After retirement she and Deaconess Crump spent time in England; she is listed as returning to the US on the American Banker on Oct. 5, 1934. She is buried next to Deaconess Crump in Dale Cemetery, Ossining, NY.

The DeaconessMay 1941.

Journal of the 121st Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1911.
“Mary L. Kneeves,” Death Index.

“Miracle of Prayer May Save the Church.” The Charlotte Observer, April 13, 1958, p. 14C.

“Parochial School Opens.” The Charlotte Observer, Nov. 20, 1907, p. 3.

Trinity Church, Episcopal Visitation 1938, p. 11.

(Photos: With thanks to Tam Hernandez, Parish Administrator at Trinity Church, Ossining, NY; and  High Shoals: A Southern Cotton Mill TownCharlotte, NC: Observer Printing House, 1908)


AGNES ROMAINE BRADLEY   (1901-July 5, 1985)

Growing up in Trenton, NJ, Deaconess Bradley attended the New York Training School and was set aside on May 12, 1927, by Bishop William Manning on May 12, 1927, at Trinity Church. There she served as parish worker and nurse, then becoming the director of the St. Andrew’s Church & Mountain Community Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains. By 1931 she was worked with the Church of the Epiphany as head of the outpatient department at the Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in Washington, D. C., and then, by the mid 1930’s, she became a field nurse at the Pyramid Lake Reservation in Nevada.

On Oct. 1, 1941, she was called to Chicago to as head resident and supervisor of Chase House, which was established in 1920 as a community and child care center. In August 1968 she moved to Salinas, CA, where her adopted daughter Mrs. Victor Pura lived, and was welcomed at the Church of the Holy Spirit as one “who is rich in experience and devotedness and has a great heritage to transmit.” She served as the Executive Committee Chair for the National Conference of Deaconesses from 1967 to 1980, and then made her last move to St. James Church in Black Mountain, NC, where her sister lived. 

“Agnes R. Bradley.” Asheville Citizen, July 9, 1985, p. 10. “Agnes Romaine Bradley.” The Year Book of the New York Training School for Deaconesses, 1927, p. 18.

Bradley, Agnes. “A Message from the Chairman.” National Conference of Deaconesses Meeting and Retreat, OCT. 22-25, 1968.

Bishop Manning Papers Finding Aide.”

“Deaconess Joins Staff of Episcopal Church.” Salinas Californian, Aug. 24, 1968, p. 7.

“Hundreds Help Chase House to Note 25th Year.” Chicago Sunday Tribune, Jan. 21, 1945, p. 121. (Photo)


ELIZA ANNA CHRISTMAN (Nov. 16, 1858-July 9, 1949)

On May 8, 1898, Anna Christman was set aside as a deaconess by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot of Central Pennsylvania. The widow of the Rev. Morris Christman, rector of St. Mary’s in Williamsport, she served as the first Christ Church parish deaconess (and the second in the diocese of Pennsylvania). The Rev. Edward Henry Eckel endorsed her, saying that although she did not satisfy the canonical stipulation of a year of training, her “ripening and enriching experience” as a Rector’s wife taught her what being a deaconess entailed: “what a friend she was to the poor, what an indefatigable visitor . . . a ray of sunshine to the distressed in hospital or prison, what a mother to all the waifs and strays of childhood and wayward girlhood!” In January 1900 she opened a branch of the Girls’ Friendly Society, and later, the Rev. Hiram Bennett called her “the first trained social worker in Williamsport.” She was the sponsor for Mary Frances Ward (see June Commemorations).

JULY 10    

MARY AMANDA BECHTLER (1874-July 10, 1918)

Deaconess Bechtler, whose father Augustus Bechtler was well known for developing gold Bechtler dollars in the 1830’s, grew up in Morgantown, North Carolina. Her upbringing was traditional, focusing on household skills, but in both regular classes and Sunday school she proved to be an excellent student, ready to question and discuss with her teachers. She and her mother moved to New York in 1895, where she found her church home at St. George’s, an active church on Stuyvesant Square that welcomed a variety of congregants of all races. There she eagerly embraced church work and after an interview with the Rev. William Reed Huntington was accepted at the Training School for Deaconesses. After her consecration as a Deaconess in 1901, she accepted a call to St. John’s Parish in Washington, D.C. Warned that working at St. Mary’s Chapel would mean serving under an African-American rector and dealing with a mixed congregation, she said “that if the man is a Christian and a gentleman his color made no difference to her.” At St. Mary’s Chapel she was in charge of teaching children both crafts and religious classes; she tailored vestments, arranged decorations, and attended various community meetings. She had an instinct for service from the heart; as Oscar Lieber Mitchel points out, her religious work could best be described not as “vocation,” but “consecration.” A ready and sympathetic listener with a humorous bent, she had a reputation for focusing on the individual she was helping, whether it was a child or a patient. Despite her stay at a Black Mountain sanitarium, she succumbed to ill health on July 10, 1918, at the age of forty-four. Her funeral took place at Grace Church, Morgantown, where she is buried in the churchyard.

“Death of Miss Bechtler.” The News-Herald (Morgantown, NC), July 18, 1918, p. 1. 

Mitchell, Oscar Lieber. “Mary Amanda Bechler,” transc. by Wayne Kempton, Project Canterbury. (Photo)

JULY 13  

BERTHA SABINE (1845-July 13, 1921)

Bertha Sabine, who was born in Montreal, Canada, was consecrated a deaconess in 1894 in the Diocese of Central New York by Bishop Frederic Dan Huntington. She served as a nurse at the House and Hospital of the Good Shepherd in Syracuse. In 1894 she traveled to the Christ Church Mission in Anvik, Alaska by way of Minnesota to San Francisco, where she boarded the Alaska Company steamer Bertha, arriving on June 16. She accompanied the Rev. John Wright Chapman, who began his missionary work there in 1887, and Dr. Mary Vernon Glenton, the first missionary doctor. As John Chapman writes, “Sister Bertha,’ was the only woman who has served at Anvik to make any considerable headway in learning to speak the native language. She was an indefatigable visitor in the native homes and acquired quite an extensive vocabulary, to which she constantly made additions. She delighted in telling the scripture stories and made great use of pictures for that purpose.” After she died, a new school building in Anvik was dedicated as a memorial to her.

Archdeacon Stuck. “Our First Foothold in Alaska,” The Spirit of Missions, Sept. 1910, p. 732.

Chapman, John Wight. “Forty Years in Anvik.” Project Canterbury.

Christ Church Mission/Anvik Mission. “National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination

Form.” United States Department of the Interior.

“Memorial to Deaconess.” The Living Church, March 4, 1922, p. 591.

JULY 25  

GERTRUDE JEAN BAKER WHITFIELD (Jan. 25, 1874-July 25, 1947) 

Deaconess Baker, who graduated in 1911 from the New York Deaconess School, became the principal in July at St. Elizabeth’s School at the Standing Rock Reservation in Wakpala, S.D. Her 1917 article in The Spirit of Missions gives an excellent perspective on the way the school was organized. She is also mentioned in a number of publications: her work, for instance, was described in the 1919 annual report of the Board of Missions as “self-sacrificing” and “devoted.” Part of her success was teaching her students to help others.; in 1918, for instance, she reported that they were knitting much needed items to the American Red Cross. The next year she wrote an impassioned description of the work the missioners were doing: they have “nursed the sick, fed the hungry, entered upon baby welfare work and the feeding of children, taught the ignorant, cheered the lonely, comforted the sad, consoled the aged, warmed the shivering.  . . .” On Aug. 26, 1931 she married Bryan Watkins Whitfield; she is buried at Resthaven Cemetery in Kentucky.

Baker, Gertrude J. “Patriotic Indians.” The Outlook, June 19, 1918, p. 326.

–. “Day by Day at Saint Elizabeth’s.” The Spirit of Missions, April 1917, pp. 267-268. (Photo)

Miss G. J. Baker to Be Principal.” The Living Church, April 15, 1911, p. 821.

Pratt, Sara S. “Women’s Work in the Church.” The Living Church, Jan. 4, 1919, p. 327.



After graduating in 1901 from the New York Training School, Deaconess Lillian Yeo spent over forty-four years as the superintendent of the House of Mercy in Washington, D.C.; before that, she served in the Virginia mountain missions in Ingham and Lydia, VA. Little is known about her early life, except that she was born in Devonshire, England, and adopted by the Tebbs family, who immigrated from England to California.  

Bishop Henry Nates Saterlee, the first Episcopal bishop of Washington, put her in charge of the House of Mercy, which, established in 1885, provided a safe refuge for unwed mothers who were trained, given religious instruction, and helped with child care. Deaconess Yeo’s memoir of her work–Inasmuch: A Resume of Twenty-two Years in the House of Mercy provides details of daily life. As she writes on her retirement, “My work has been my life, and I have had time to do very little outside my special care of my family, which has numbered over 600 girls and 400 children.” She is buried in St. Joseph’s Chapel in the National Cathedral.

“A Life of Service to Others.” The DeaconessDec. 1945.

“Benefit Fete for House of Mercy Planned.” The Washington Times, May 17, 1922, p. 14.

“Deaconess Lillian M. Yeo Retires.” Living Church, Sept. 2, 1945, p. 11. 

“Deaconess Lillian M. Yeo, 80, Dies.” The Evening StarAug. 5, 1947, p. 6. (Photograph)

“Garden Party Will Help Girls’ Refuge.” The Sunday Star, May 17, 1925, p. 12.

“House of Mercy.” The Washington Herald, Oct. 15, 1921, p. 8. 

Lewis, Richard Anthony. Robert W. Tebbs, Photographer to Architects: Louisiana Plantations in 1926. LSU Press, 2011.

Yeo, Lillian M.  Inasmuch: A Resume of Twenty-two Years in the House of MercyNY: Edwin & Gorham, 1923. 


EDITH REYNOLDS WHITING (Jan. 13, 1865-Aug. 9, 1943)

Deaconess Edith Whiting, who was set apart on March 22, 1903, at the Church of the Ascension, New York, was the director of St. Phoebe’s Mission House in Brooklyn. As she reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on the mission’s 24thanniversary in May 1910, the house served 600 children and over 2500 visitors a month. At the time of her death, she was active at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Flushing, where she chaired the Church Charity Foundation and served with the Church Service League. She is buried at Greenwood Union Cemetery.

“Edith R. Whiting, Church Worker.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 11, 1943.

“Work of St. Phebe’s Mission.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 6, 1910.


FRANCES BAYLOR AFFLECK (July 23, 1879-Aug. 20, 1970)

Born in Brenham, Texas, Frances Baylor Affleck attended the New York Training School and became a deaconess on May 17, 1908, with Bishop James Steptoe Johnston officiating at St. Mark’s in San Antonio. That autumn she traveled to Mexico City, arriving on Sept. 20, where she worked at the Mary Josephine Hooker Memorial School and Orphanage of San Jose de Garcia (her experience during the revolutionary years is mentioned in Bishop Frank Creighton’s book).

During her fifty years of missionary work, she worked in many places. In Missouri she was superintendent of the Episcopal Home for Children and Orphans, where in a lengthy interview in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she describes the many beneficial changes made in childcare. In 1946, when she became supervisor of the remodeled Episcopal House of Mercy in Washington, DC, which fostered the “war casualties” of unmarried mothers, she was described as “nationally known . . . for supervising the revitalization of similar church agencies in St. Louis, Des Moines, and Utica.” After she retired, she continued parish work at St. Paul’s in San Antonio, where she taught Bible classes and became publications chairperson for the Women of St. Paul’s. She is buried in City Cemetery No. 1 in San Antonio.

Creighton, Frank Whittington. Mexico: A Handbook on the Missions of the Episcopal Church, 1936. 

“Frances B. Affleck.”

“Miss Frances B. Affleck” (obituary). San Antonio Express, Aug. 21, 1970, p. 6.

“Revitalized House of Mercy Needs Phantom Dinner Funds.” The Sunday Star, Jan. 27, 1946, p. A11. (Photo)

“Sixty Years: How Times Have Changed in the Handling of Homeless Children.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch Daaily Magazine, May 29, 1934, p. 2D.


ALICE GRAY COLAHAN COWAN (June 5, 1843-Aug. 23, 1930)

Before graduating from the Church Training and Deaconess house in Pennsylvania, Alice G. Colahan married the Rev. Enoch Crosby Cowan, a Civil War veteran and Episcopal priest. After his death in 1891, she became a deaconess, set aside by Bishop Ozi William Whitaker on Jan. 10, 1895, at St. James in Philadelphia. Three years later, she was called to work with Bishop James Steptoe Johnston at St. Philip’s Normal and Industrial School (also known as Bowden’s School), which opened on March 1, 1898, for the purpose of educating emancipated slaves.

Three years later, she was called to work with Bishop James Steptoe Johnston at St. Philip’s Normal and Industrial School (also known as Bowden’s School), which opened on March 1, 1898, for the purpose of educating emancipated slaves. While there she developed classes in domestic services and skills and saw the attendance increase. She left two years later to take up residence in Mexico City, where she became a language teacher, a career she very much enjoyed. The affidavit she signed on March 18th, 1912, states that she had “no intention” of returning to the United States; however, her plans were changed by the Mexican Revolution, and she returned to Cleveland to live until her death. 

Diocese of Pennsylvania Journal of the 111th Convention, 1895, p. 84.

Lakewood History, “Mrs. Townsend’s Scrap Book” and “Alice G. Cowan.”

Thurston, Marie Pannell. St. Philip’s College: A Point of Pride on San Antonio’s EastsideTexas A&M University Press: 2013, pp. 8-9.

“St.­­­­­­ Philip’s College.” (Photo: loaned to UT Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio by Dr. Clarence W. Norris.) For papers related to her work in Mexico, see “Certificate” and “Affidavit.”

For papers related to her work in Mexico, see “Certificate” and “Affidavit.”


DELLEMA JEANETTE KING (Oct. 27, 1896-Aug. 24, 1983)

Deaconess Dellema King, who received a B.S. in Education at Northwestern University in 1930 and was trained at Chase House, Chicago, spent much of her life working with Native Americans at St. Michael’s Mission school in Pierre, South Dakota. Newspaper accounts record her directing the irrigation project which brought water to St. Michael’s, giving a talk about the Niobrara convocation to be held on the Lower Brule reservation in 1958, and celebrating the silver anniversary of the mission the year before. She also served at Christ Church, Cincinnati, and at the Crow Creek Mission School at Fort Thompson, South Dakota. In 1948, she observed her 25th anniversary as a deaconess with a celebration at Christ Church in Pierre, S.D. She is buried at Paola Cemetery in Paola, KS.

“Discuss Indian Projects at Guild.” The Huronite and The Daily Plainsman, May 19, 1958, p. 6.

“Flashes.” Oklahoma City Star,  Nov. 21, 1941, p. 1.

“Ft. Thomson, S.D.” The Daily Argus-Leader, May 5, 1948, p. 25.

Margaret’s Guild.” The Daily Plainsman, April 11, 1957, p. 10.

“Talking it Over.” Minneapolis Star, June 17, 1893, p. 42. (Photo)


FANNY DOUGLAS LEES BULKLEY  (March 9, 1871-Aug. 25, 1957)

Born in Salt Lake City, Fannie Douglas Lees graduated from the Philadelphia Church Training and Deaconess House in 1901 (there, she is listed as Mrs. W. Bulkley*). By 1913, when she was set aside as a deaconess at the same service as Mary Shepard, she had served for over a decade as the Superintendent of St. Mark’s Hospital. After her ordination, she resigned as superintendent to become a spiritual advisor to student nurses. Utah census records show her wedding date as Feb. 19, 1914, when she married William Francis Buckley who was ordained in 1909 and who served as a missionary in Utah.* She is buried at the Salt Lake Cemetery.

“Death Claims St. Mark’s Church Aide.” The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 26, 1957, p. 18.

Donovan, Mary S. “Women Missionaries in Utah.” Anglican and Episcopal History 66, no. 2 (1997): 154–74.

Fannie Douglas Bulkley,

Quinn, Frederick. Building the Goodly Fellowship of Faith: A History of the Episcopal church in Utah, 1867-1996.University Press of Colorado, 2004.

(Photograph here: Digital copyright, Westminster College.)

*For more information about William Bulkley, see Frederick Quinn, Building The Goodly Fellowship Of Faith: A History of the Episcopal Church in Utah, 1867-1996.; and


SARAH MARGARET “GUTHRIE” PEPPERS (Feb 14, 1894-Aug 27, 1952)

Mrs. Peppers, godmother of 105 children of all races and nationalities, began her missionary work in the Philippines, where she spent ten years, part of them among the headhunters in Northern Luzon. For ten months she was the only white woman among 897 Igorots in Tekukan. “I gave them first aid for everything from broken legs to minor cuts and taught Belgian lace-making to the girls.” Mrs. Peppers also was in charge of a home for Mestigo girls (native girls with white fathers) and St. Stephen’s Chinese Girls’ School in Manila. “I remember during the First World War, when we were so busy with the influenza epidemic. All the trails were closed and we had no contact with the outside world. It was three weeks before we knew the Armistice had been signed!” When Mrs. Peppers first came to Seattle she worked among isolated church people in Western Washington, visiting between four and five hundred families so far from centers that they were unable to attend church services.Thirteen years ago she took up her work at St. Peter’s Mission, becoming a sort of liaison officer between the younger generation, who were American in manners and speech, and their parents, who clung to the Japanese language and customs.”I taught them everything from how to thread a needle and cook a meal to saying their prayers. I’ve watched them grow up into men and women and the third generation begin. This is the only Japanese Episcopal Church in Seattle, so our people are scattered all over the city. When they are all settled — and we hope the people in our church will be in the same settlement — I hope I’ll be with them.”

(See “Woman Missionary Hopes to Keep Ties with Japanese.” “News Clippings from the Past: Part 1”–from a collection of news clippings from West Coast newspapers during 1942). (Photo)

“All the Saints, All the Time: Honoring Deaconess Margaret Peppers.” Episcopal Women’s History Project.

Much thanks to Linda Di Biase for her research: “Neither Harmony Nor Eden: Margaret Peppers and the Exile of the Japanese Americans,” Anglican and Episcopal History, 70.1 (March 2001), 101-117.

AUG 29  

ANNA REBECCA ARMSTRONG (Jan. 31, 1873-Aug. 29, 1960)

See “Anna R. Armstrong.” “Meet the Deaconesses A-F.” Fund for the Diaconate.