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HENRIETTA RUE GOODWIN (? 1868-Sept. 17, 1943)
[Draft: Final version in process.]
In November 1897 Henrietta Goodwin began her service at Emmanuel Church in Boston. She attended the New York Training School for Deaconesses; in 1918 she was a member of the faculty, teaching a course in Missionary Preparation. Deaconess Godwin’s report in the 1897 Emmanuel Parish Yearbook details her work, which included providing clothing for 250 needy individuals, monitoring the Mothers’ Meeting, helping fund choir vestments, overseeing the Bible Class and Students’ Club, and making over 700 visits. Her inspiring reports year by year show a selfless devotion to helping others and dedication to the cause of education in missionary work.
She became Field Secretary for the Board of Missions in February 1909, and during her term paid a “most inspiring visit” in 1911 to North Carolina, speaking at a number of churches and schools to discuss the need for missionaries. Twelve years later she became the Head of Religious Education at the National Cathedral School for Girls in Mount St. Alban, Washington, DC. She accompanied Deaconess Susan Knapp to explore the work of deaconesses in England, returning in 1927 from a trip that helped define the deaconess profession as a lifetime vocation. She returned to Emmanuel Church, and by 1930 was conducting Bible classes there. She retired in 1941 but continued as Director of the Retiring Fund for Deaconesses. She is buried in the family plot at Nisky Hill Cemetery in Bethlehem, PA, where her headstone reads, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
With many thanks to Mary Chitty, Archivist at Emmanuel Church, who shared “Yearbook Reports for Deaconess.”
“Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1963.” Ancestry.com.
“Deaconess Goodwin’s Visit.” The Carolina Churchman, April 1911, p. 12.
Donovan. Mary Sudman. “Paving the Way: Deaconess Susan Trevor Knapp.” Anglican and Episcopal History, 63.4 (Dec. 1994), pp. 492-494.
Emery, Julia C. A Century of Endeavor 1821-1921. NY: Dept. of Missions, 1921, pp. 266, 328.
“The Faculty.” Yearbook of the New York Training School for Deaconesses. 1918, p. 5.
“The February Conference.” The Spirit of Missions, March 1917, pp. 217-18.
“Funeral on Wednesday for Henrietta Goodwin, Episcopal Deaconess.” The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), Sept. 21, 1943, p. 4.
“Henrietta Rue Goodwin.” Findagrave.com.“News and Notes.” The Spirit of Missions, 35.7 (July 1920), p. 449.
“News and Notes.” The Spirit of Missions, 35.7 (July 1920), p. 449.
“The Progress of the Kingdom.” The Spirit of Missions, 24.12 (Dec. 1909), pp. 1003-1004. (Photo)
“Report of the Deaconess.” Emmanuel Parish Yearbook, 1897, pp. 55-57.
ANNA ELLISON BUTLER ALEXANDER (1865-Sept. 24, 1947)
Recognized as a Saint of Georgia by Bishop Henry Louttit in 1998, Anna Alexander was the only African-American deaconess in the Episcopal Church. One of eleven children born to her parents, who were emancipated slaves, she became a teacher at St. Cyprian’s Church school in Darien, which had been founded by her sisters Mary and Dora. In 1894 she founded a mission in Pennick, GA, and in 1900 established both the Church of the Good Shepherd and a school which offered faith-based education to rural African-Americans.
She was admitted as a deaconess by Bishop C. K. Nelson in 1907, who praised her as “devout, godly, and respected.” Deaconess Alexander continued working with church and community through the difficult years of the Depression, offering both aid and education at home and abroad. In his 1930 convention address, Bishop Reese, who provided little support for African-American ministries, nonetheless praised the “faith and courage and persistency of this good woman.” Her dedication to helping those in need was exemplary, and she was added to the Calendar of Saints of the Episcopal Church in 2018. She is buried in front of the schoolhouse in the only gravesite at Good Shepherd.
“Anna Alexander.” Wikipedia.
“Anna Ellison Butler Alexander.” The Lectionary Page.“A Saint of South Georgia.” Deaconess Alexander.
“Deaconesses.” Diaconal History. Association of Episcopal Deacons.
Plater, Ormonde. Calendar of Deacon Saints. Association of Episcopal Deacons, 2014.
Saltzgaber, Jan McM. “A Saint of Georgia.” From Diakoneo, May 2001. (Much thanks to Dr. Saltzgaber for her excellent research.)
MARY SHEPARD (July 23, 1860-Sept. 25, 1944)
After graduating from Wells College (Aurora, NY) and then from the New York Training School for Deaconesses, Mary Shephard remained as a trained librarian to catalogue the collection of Dr. William Reed Huntington, who, with Mary Abbot Emery Twing, had founded the school in 1891. She continued her librarianship in Ogden and St. Paul’s mission in Plain City, Utah, by working to open a public reading room. She also served as parish visitor and church secretary at St. Mark’s in Seattle. Mentioned as being the first deaconess in Utah, she was set aside by Bishop Franklin S. Spalding on March 2, 1913, at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Salt Lake City (at the same ceremony, Bishop Spalding also set aside Fannie D. Lees). After seventeen years as a deaconess, including serving at St. Peter’s mission and five years in charge of social service for Bishop Arthur W. Moulton, she retired and moved back near her home town in Dansville, NY, where she is buried at Green Mount Cemetery.
“Aged S.L. Deaconess to Retire After Many Years of Service.” Nov. 14, 1936, p. 16.
“Deaconess Dies at Age of 84.” Salt Lake Telegram, Sept. 26, 1944, p. 15
“Deaconess Mary Shepard Will Retire After 25 Years of Service.” Salt Lake Telegram, Sept. 28, 1929, p. 2.
“Gives Home for Health Center and Playground.” The Dansville Express, July 24, 1931.
“In Memoriam: Deaconess Mary Shepard.” The Deaconess, Dec. 1944, n.p.
“Shepard.” Salt Lake Telegram, Sept. 26, 1944, p. 15.
SARAH KIRTLAND BARKER (Aug. 28, 1859-Sept. 28, 1944)
Deaconess Sarah was educated at Grove Hall in New Haven, Connecticut, a girls’ boarding school established in 1840 (the building no longer stands; it was demolished in 1924). She was one of the first students at the New York Training School for Deaconesses, along with Kate Newell, Mary E. Greene, and Alice Goodeve. She, along with Kate and Mary, was set aside by Bishop Henry C. Potter at Grace Church on Oct. 2, 1892, where she served until 1912, when she and Kate received gold medals from Bishop David H. Greer in November. Because of serious eye problems, she resigned from her duties in 1917. She is buried at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Connecticut.
LAURA RALPH[INE] CALLAWAY (May 18, 1863-Oct. 3, 1958)
After graduating from the Philadelphia Deaconess Training School in June 1902, Laura Callaway served as a missionary in Altamont, Ky, where she led the Sunday School, held sewing and cooking classes, and served as the church almoner. On Dec. 7, 1902 she was set apart as a deaconess by Bishop L. W. Burton. becoming the first deaconess in the diocese. In her work in the Kentucky mountains, she is lauded for her help at the Redeemer Mission in vaccinating Corbin residents to help avert a smallpox epidemic.
From 1903 to 1912 she served in Philadelphia at the City Mission and the Holy Communion Chapel. She moved to Los Angeles, serving at the Neighborhood Settlement and then in 1914 to St. Mark’s Settlement, in Seattle, serving there for nine years. Called to the Los Angeles Deaconess House in 1923, she became Head Deaconess in 1930, serving for twenty years. One of her reports in the June 1945 issue of The Deaconess mentions her involvement with the refugee ship from the Philippines. According to The Living Church, she had been a long-time member of Daughters of the King. She is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Alhambra, CA.
“Church News.” Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 6, 1902, p. 4.
“Deaconess Laura R. Callaway.” The Living Church, Dec. 21, 1958, p. 19.
“Laura Ralph Callaway.” The Deaconess, 1961, p. 13.
“Laura Ralphine Callaway.” Ancestry.com. [Photo.]
“Laura Ralphine Callaway.” Findagrave.com.
“News of Deaconesses.” The Deaconess, 1945, n.p.
“The Redeemer Mission: Report of Deaconess Callaway.” The Report of the Ninth Annual Council of the Diocese of Lexington, Dec. 21, 1904, pp. 122-123. [Multiple references available.]
EDWARDINA CRANE (Jan. 7, 1879-Oct. 9, 1940
Deaconess Crane, who graduated from the New York Training School for Deaconesses, was set aside at Grace Church, New York, on Oct. 6, 1909. She served at the Hannah More Academy in Reisterstown, MD, which opened in 1834 as the first Episcopal girls’ boarding school in America. She is listed in the Yearbook for the New York Training School for Deaconesses as doing missionary work in La Gloria, Cuba, in 1912-1913; she then served at the St. John’s School in Porto Rico.
As of 1917 she was the Superintendent of St. Luke’s Hospital in Ponce, Porto Rico under the direction of Missionary Bishop The Rt. Rev. Charles Blayney. She transferred to the Diocese of Maryland on June 6, 1919 and became canonically resident the next year, when she was Housemother at the Episcopal Eye and Ear Hospital in Baltimore (now part of Medstar Washington Hospital Center). The nurses presented a memorial window of the Incarnation to the hospital’s Chapel of the Intercession after her death in 1940.
“Deaconesses Set Apart.” Journal of the Convention of the Diocese of New York, Oct. 1909, p. 199.
“In Memoriam.” The Deaconess, May, 1941.
Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Saidi, Director – Spiritual Care, Medstar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC.
ROMOLA DAHLGREN (Feb. 15, 1874-Oct. 9, 1944)
Born in Rome, Italy, to a prestigious family, Deaconess Romola Dahlgren attended the New York Training School for Deaconesses in 1911, graduating in 1914. In that same year she was set aside as a deaconess by Bishop James De Wolf Perry of Rhode Island in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. Set aside with her were Amy Greer Phompton, Rachel Hemphill, and (?) Peck.
Records are unclear as to whether she married Lispenard Stewart.*After several years of working in the rural missions of Rhode Island, in 1919 she became Head of the New York Training School for Deaconesses, serving with Deaconess Jane Gillespy. She retired in 1930 but continued to remain active. From 1924 to 1937, she served as President of the Board of Directors; she was also Vice-president of the Executive Committee of National Conference—Deaconesses of the Church, a member of the Commission on Deaconesses of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and an honorary Director of the Retiring Fund for Deaconesses. Many of her articles and commentaries appear in The Deaconess. She is buried at St. Mary’s Episcopal Churchyard in Rhode Island.
“Becomes a Deaconess.” Newport Daily News, May 8, 1914.
*“Deaconess Romola Dahlgren.” Find a Grave.
*“Denies the Engagement.” Daily Inter Mountain, Feb. 11, 1899, p. 1.
“Gayety of Social Sets at Home and Abroad.” Washington Post, May 8, 1914.
*“Of Interest to Women.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 15, 1899, p. 9.
“Romola Dahlgren.” Ancestry.com.
“Romola Dahlgren.” Bain Collection. (Photo)
KATE SIBLEY SHAW (Dec. 25, 1879-Oct. 20, 1949)
After graduating from the Church Training and Deaconess Home of Philadelphia and working at the Church Extension Society, she was set aside as a deaconess on Nov. 5, 1922 at St. Andrew’s in Buffalo by Bishop Charles Berent. Deaconess Shaw spent ten years in the Philippines as a missionary working with the women and children of the Igorots, a group of ethnic highland tribes. Interned for three years in the Los Banos and Bilibad Japanese Prison camps in the Philippines, Deaconess Kate Sibley Shaw was freed in Feb. 1945 by General MacArthur’s forces.* She was well known for her speaking ability, telling of her mission work when on furlough. As the Bishop of the Philippines said upon her death, “Deaconess Shaw was a wonderful character and a great missionary. I miss her terribly in the work at Bontoc.”
*For an excellent article about prison conditions and the way the Deaconess and others devised a way to produce communion wafers with electric irons and empty Flit cans, see “Missionary Discusses Prison Christmas” in the Raleigh, NC News and Observer, Nov. 25, 1945, pp. 1, 14.
“Kate Sibley Shaw, Deaconess.” The Living Church, Oct 30, 1949 p. 29. “Missionaries at St. Faith’s School.”
The Living Church, May 12, 1946, pp. 36-36. (Photo: Shaw is in the front row on the right)
SOPHIE RUCKLE MILLER (May 20, 1851-Oct. 27-1943)
Sophie Ruckle Miller, set aside as a deaconess by The Rt. Rev. Joseph H. Johnson on May 28, 1905, at St. Paul’s Pro-Cathedral in Los Angeles, was committed to working with the Mesa Grande Diegueno Indians and the La Jolla tribes. A talented lace-maker and craftswoman, her goal, as she said in 1903, was to bring their work “back to the perfection of that early time when no one made haste for gain, but each woman wrought instinctively for an ideal excellence in her art.” She was so successful that she became the head of the industrial school there, where woodcarving was also taught. She reached out to other reservations in the area and was successful not only in her teaching but in helping the native craftspeople alleviate poverty by marketing their wares. Born in Illinois, she died at her home in Los Angeles and is buried in Rosedale Cemetery.
Forbes, Mrs. A.S. C. “Lace Making by Indian Women.” Out West, 16.6 (June 1902): 613- 616
Dubois, Constance Goddard. “Paths of Hope for the Mission Indians.” The Southern Workman, 32.4 April 1903 216-219
THEODORA BEARD (1871-Nov. 8, 1949)
Deaconess Beard was set aside at Chantry Chapel in Grace Church, New York, on Nov. 30, 1896; she had completed studies at the New York Training School for Deaconesses two years earlier, when she had preferred to be certified. In 1899 she became the first housemother at Grace home-in-the-Fields, which opened on May 20, 1899 in New Canaan, CT, as a summer boarding home for needy mothers and children. The next year, as a representative from Trinity Church in Boston, she participated in a forum about attracting college students to the church, suggesting that a summer camp for that age group might be helpful. At Trinity, where she served for seven years, she led St. Hilda’s Guild for college women, offering inspiration in her “quiet, sympathetic, and consecrated way.” In 1926 she joined Grace Church, where for eighteen years she was head of Huntington House, a girls’ residence. She is buried in Eaton, N.H.
“Chapel, Grace Home-in-the-Fields.” Inventory of the Church Archives of Connecticut, Vol. 1, 1940, p. 256.
“Deaconesses and Priests Ordained.” New York Daily Tribune, Oct. 8, 1894, p. 7(?).
“How Shall the Church Reach College Folk?” The Churchman, April 17, 1920, p. 21.
“Miss Theodora Beard.” Hartford Courant, Nov. 8, 1949, p. 4.
“Report of Deaconess Beard.” 1920 Trinity Church Yearbook, pp. 23-24. (Courtesy of the archives of Trinity Church.)
Trinity Church in the City of Boston, 1733-1933.
Photo courtesy of the archives of Trinity Church in the City of Boston.
HEATH DUDLEY (March 5, 1895- Nov. 20, 1958)
Deaconess Dudley, who graduated from the New York Training School in 1934, was set apart by the Rt. Rev. William Manning at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Her first assignment was in Grub Hill, VA, at the Rural Mission of St. John’s, which was established in 1852. (The name derives from the “Grub Hill” slave quarters of the family that donated the land.) She writes that after six months without a visitor in a boarding-house, she moved to a “tiny three-room house” that immediately became so popular as a community center that she had over 300 visitors per month. As she says, her boarding-house stay was “an experience of much value, since it gave me an insight into some of the problems of the local people that could never be gotten in any other way.” The roster for active members of the Third Order of St. Francis lists her as professing on Sept. 10, 1941. That same year she moved to All Hallows Church in Davidson, MD, and then the next year to St. Jude’s Chapel in Branchville. Later she became Guest Mistress at St. Elizabeth’s House of the Poor Clares. Despite her health problems, she served with Fr. Chauncey Minnick, who left Trinity Church in Virginia to become chaplain at Parkview Hospital, Pueblo, CO, where she died at the age of 63.
The Alumnae Bulletin, Alumnae Association of the New York Training School for Deaconesses, June 1935, p. 12.
“Deaconesses.” The Living Church,Nov 25, 1951, p. 31.
Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources, “St. John’s Episcopal Church, Grub Hill.”
SUSAN TREVOR KNAPP (Aug. 10, 1862-Nov. 21, 1941)
Rich, The Rev. Lawson Carter. “The Deaconesses of the Church in Modern Times.” Project Canterbury. Transcribed by Wayne Kempton. (Photo)
ANNA LOVE RANSON (Sept. 26, 1873-Nov. 28, 1969)
After attending the New York Training School and teaching a course called “Cooking for the Sick,” Anna graduated in 1902 and was set aside by Bishop Hall on Sept. 29, 1902, at Grace Chapel in New York. Two years later, she left for Japan and moved from Tokyo to Kawagoe, where as the only foreign residents, she served with Caroline Gertrude Heywood teaching classes in English and knitting and practicing chants and hymns. By the time she was transferred to Sendai, she had spent five or six hours a day learning Japanese. There, almost 200 miles from Tokyo, she was put in charge of the training school for kindergarten and bible teachers. Taking a health-related vacation at Isoyama, a small fishing village, she discovered that the living conditions for the residents were untenable, and so she worked to construct a church as well as a “beauty shop,” which effectively became a medical and spiritual center. Returning in 1938 to Harper’s Ferry, she found that in “retirement” she continued to remain active in church work, eventually moving to the rectory (now the Episcopal Home) of St. Andrew’s in Shippensberg and continued giving talks and teaching classes for the church. Her life of service was inspired by Deaconess Henrietta Rue Godwin (see entry for Sept. 17), who taught a confirmation class at Emanuel Church. She died at the age of 96 at the Episcopal Home in Shippensberg.
“Anna L. Ranson.” Findagrave.com.
“Anna Love Ranson.” “Church Work in Japan Told by Deaconess.” The Daily Item (Sunbury, PA), Dec. 5, 1938, p. 6.
“Deaconess Anna Love Ranson Spends Quiet Day After Full Life in Japanese Towns.” The News-Chronicle (Shippensburg, PA), Sept. 27, 1955, pp. 1, 5.
News-Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, 1904.
“Little Locals.” The Shepherdstown Register, Set. 9, 1909, np.
Ranson, Anna L. “The Kindergarten in Sendai, Japan.” The Spirit of Missions, Jan. 1917, pp. 108-110.
“Reception Tendered Deaconess Ranson.” Sunbury Daily Item, Dec. 7, 1938, p. 11.
Yearbook of Emmanuel Parish, 1907, p. 58.
Yearbook of the New York Training School for Deaconesses, 1900-1901, p. 6.
LUCRETIA L. ROBERTS CHESTER (1833?-Dec. 15, 1910)
After the death of her husband Charles T. Chester,* Lucretia L. Chester was set aside on Jan. 10, 1895, as a deaconess at St. James, Philadelphia, after graduating from the Philadelphia Training school. Afterwards, she joined her daughter, Susan Guion Chester Lyman, in Asheville, NC. Susan, a graduate of Vassar, was well-known as the founder of the Log Cabin Settlement, three miles from Asheville, a school dedicated to preserving the craftsmanship of the Appalachias. As a newspaper article points out, “The aim of the mother and daughter is to make the primitive and poverty-stricken mountaineers as self-respecting and independent as possible.” Her report mentions both a log cabin and a small mission chapel. According to the newspaper report, Deaconess Chester is buried at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, PA.
*See Ancestry.com and The New York Tribune, April 14, 1880.
“Bibliography of College, Social, University and Church Settlements,” 1900.
“Deaconesses’ Work.” Asheville Citizen-Times, Sept. 28, 1897, p. 1.
The Handbook of Settlements. “The Log Cabin Settlement.”
“Philadelphia.” The Living Church, Jan. 19, 1895, p. 739.
Slusser, Dale Wayne. The Ravenscroft School in Asheville. McFarland: 2013.
MARY DOUGLASS SAVILLE BURNHAM (May 13, 1832-Dec. 26, 1904)
See “Burnham, Mary Douglas,” Don S. Armentrout, An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians. Church Publishing, 2000.
Graber, Jennifer. The Gods of Indian CoUntry: Religion and the Struggle for the American West. Oxford University Press, 2018.
Mary D. Burnham Papers. New York Heritage Digital Collections. (Photo)
DORA DAWSON (Aug. 7, 1848-Dec. 28, 1945)
In 1899 Sister Dora Dawson received a graduation certificate from Trained Christian Helpers, an order formed in 1896 by Bishop Darlington in Brooklyn, NY, with the object “to educate and train Christian women as nurses, to send them without compensation to the sick poor and those unable to pay for the services of a trained nurse.” In charge of the program, she also served as a nurse at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital and at the Chapel, which had been turned into a ward for those soldiers injured in the Spanish-American war. In 1910 she moved to Christ Church in St. Paul’s, MN and then to St. Peter’s in Chicago. She became a deaconess during her time at the Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh under Bishop Cortlandt Whitehead. She spent the last ten years of her life at the Episcopal Church Home in Hartford, CT and was buried in Newburgh, NY.
“Deaconess Dora Dawson.” The Deaconess, June 1946, n.p.
“Trained Christian Helpers.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 29, 1899, p. 6.
“Trained Christian Helpers.” Club Women of New York, Mail and Express Co., 1906.
HAN HSIEN-TSZ (?-DEC. 29, 1943)
Deaconess Han’s brother-in-law provided the incentive for Deaconess Han’s service by sending her to St. Hilda’s school, where she learned to read at the age of 16, was baptized, and after graduation taught at the St. John’s Girls’ School. Deaconess Han, a member of the first graduating class of St. Phobe’s Training School in Hankow, was set apart along with Lieo I-lan by Bishop Logan Roots on Oct. 18, 1921, in St. Paul’s Cathedral in Hankow, China, where she worked with Deaconess Gertrude Stewart until she left in 1927. She died of tuberculosis in China.
“Chunghua Sheng-Kung-Hui.” The Living Church, Dec. 17, 1921, p. 225.
The Deaconess, May 1944, n.p.
Stewart, Gertrude. “The First Chinese Deaconess.” The Spirit of Missions, Feb. 1922. (Photo: Deaconess Han is on the left, Deaconess I-lan is on the right)
CAROLINE HAMLIN SANFORD (Feb. 11, 1854-Dec.30 1925)
“With such sacrifices God is well pleased”: so reads the headstone of Deaconess Sanford, who is buried in Thompsonville Cemetery, in Enfield, CT. She was a member of the first class to graduate from the Church Training and Deaconesses’ Home and among the first deaconesses to be set aside in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. The ceremony, which took place on July 6, 1893, at Holy Trinity Church, welcomed the new deaconesses (including Frances Jnes, Ellen V. Adwern, Eltinge Davison, and Flora V. Stuard) “to assist rectors in the care of the poor and sick, in the religious training of the young and in the work of moral reformation.” Deaconess Sanford was appointed the Housemother for the school; as she writes in her Jan 16, 1894 report, “Perfect health, kind friends, and, above all, congenial work for the Master, with a sense of growing power in doing it, may well make us what we are- a happy, thankful household.”
“Around the Churches.” The Times (Philadelphia), Jan. 7, 1893. p. 7.
Sanford, Caroline H. “Report of House-Mother.” Third Annual Report of the Church Training and Deaconess House of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Jan 16, 1894.