Articles previously published in The Bell Tower
By 1850 Reisterstown had been established for over 100 years. Episcopalians congregated at St. Thomas’ Church and at St. John’s-in-the-Valley, but our own parish was still twenty years in the future. In 1851 the Norris family of Reisterstown attempted to organize a new church on their property under the title of the Church of the Holy Communion. Although the Episcopal Convention authorized the new congregation, a substantial church was never built, and 35 years later those bodies which had been buried on the Norris property were transferred to All Saints’ Cemetery.
[1851: President Millard Fillmore inaugurated. First commercial ice cream factory in America founded in Baltimore.]
Hannah More Academy welcomed Dr. A. J. Rich future rector of All Saints’) as Deacon in 1852. The following year he received permission to build a chapel on the Academy grounds so that students and faculty alike would no longer have to travel to St. Thomas’ for services.
[1852: Uncle Tom’s Cabin published. President Street Station, America’s first urban railroad depot, opened in Baltimore.]
1854 marked the consecration of St. Michael’s Chapel at Hannah More and the building of another chapel just north of Reisterstown by Col. Franklin Anderson on his private estate, Montrose. Both buildings still stand today.
[USS Constellation launched. America’s first YMCA established in Baltimore.]
Dr. Rich took on the additional role of rector of St. John’s Church in 1857, the same year that Hannah More Academy was destroyed by fire in late November. Fortunately, St. Michael’s Chapel was spared, and “the usual service of the morning was conducted at a half hour later than usual.” A new school building was erected by the following year. It stood until 1895 when William Keyser (who build All Saints* Church four years previously) had it torn down and replaced by the structure we recognize today.
[1857; Jingle Bells, originally written for Thanksgiving. James Buchanan became President of the U.S.]
In 1861, as our ancestors continued to worship at St. Michael’s, St. John’s, and St. Thomas’, President Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office in early March. Easter arrived on the 31st (as it will again this year). Then, nineteen days later the Sixth Massachusetts Regiment marched through Baltimore, changing trains between the President Street Station and Camden Station on their way south. William Keyser, aware of their arrival, left his downtown office and walked to the corner of Pratt and South Streets. Minutes later, as an angry mob jeered the northern soldiers, the Regiment turned and fired into the crowd. Eleven Baltimoreans fell dead, one just a few yards from Mr. Keyser. The first blood of the great national conflict had been shed, and the people of Reisterstown, as elsewhere, became divided in their allegiance.
[1858: Transatlantic cable completed. Darwin’s The Origin of Species released.]
[1859: John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. Drake’s petroleum well heralds the modern oil industry. Baltimore’s first horse car. Western Maryland Railroad extended to Glyndon.]
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
War was on everyone’s mind in 1862, and Southern sentiment ran high in many families of the Reisterstown community. Notable among them was William Norris, friend of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. Leaving his home “Brookland” on Cockeysmill Road, he moved to Richmond to become chief of the Confederate signal service, not to return to Reisterstown until after the conclusion of the conflict. He is said by some to have been the last Southern officer to step out of uniform. Curiously, his confirmation at All Saints’ Church did not occur until his 72nd year, in 1893.
Dr. Rich, pastor for the local Episcopal community, was appointed headmaster of Hannah More Academy in 1863, the same year that Thanksgiving became a national holiday. Little is recorded about Reisterstown Episcopalians during the 1860s, except that services were sometimes held at the Odd Fellows Hall. St. John’s Church suffered a fire, and Emory Grove held its first meeting. On the national front Ulysses Grant took the oath of office and the transcontinental railroad was completed. Overseas, the Suez Canal opened for shipping.
At last, in May of 1870, a petition by Episcopalians to carve a new parish out of St. Thomas and Western Run became reality. Reisterstown Parish was officially admitted into union with the Convention on June the first, 1871. The Reverend Dr. Rich assumed leadership while Thomas J. Wyatt served as assistant. St. Michael’s Chapel, of course, continued as the principal house of worship. These early years of the decade also witnessed the incorporation of the village of Glyndon. Entertainment took the spotlight as the first professional baseball league was formed, Pimlico Race Course opened, and Ford’s Grand Opera House made its debut in Baltimore.
1873 marked the adoption of Hannah More Academy as the Diocesan school for girls. Meanwhile, attempts to create a new site for an off-campus parish church were rejected. In the same year McDonogh School was founded and an economic Panic gripped the nation. Three years later the overflow congregation began holding services elsewhere in Reisterstown; yet, in 1877 a second proposal for a new church site was turned down. Obviously, the new parish was yearning for a home to call its own. Although St. Michael’s Chapel was titled to the Vestry of the Reisterstown Parish in 1878, some parishioners found it more convenient to worship at the Henry Clay Lodge Hall in the center of town.
Other forms of progress abounded, however. Johns Hopkins University opened and the Baltimore Zoo was founded. Mr. Bell patented the telephone, and Thomas Edison introduced a marvelous contraption called the phonograph. (A few years previously, the director of the U.S. Patent Office had advised that his department should be closed – as there was nothing left to invent!)
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
In 1879 William Pinkney became the fifth Bishop of Maryland, just as Thomas Edison was amazing the world with his new electric light bulb. In Reisterstown, Mr. George Kephart, owner of Walnut Grove Farm, sold five acres along Bond Avenue and rented an additional five (later purchased) to the eight-year-old Parish. Within three years a layout for All Saints’ Cemetery had been completed and a temporary chapel built on the west end of the property. At last the Reisterstown Episcopal community had a home to call its own. One source claims that the vision for the future called for a church at the center of the property, a Parish building to the left, and a rectory to the right.
Even before All Saints’ Chapel opened its doors, Mr. Kephart gave permission to the Black community to erect a new church on land he had given them after the Civil War. St. Luke’s Church was built in 1880 on land previously designated for a graveyard and a schoolhouse. The church and graveyard, but not the schoolhouse, still stand today on Bond Avenue adjacent to All Saints’ Cemetery.
Nationally, the early 1880s were remarkable years. Chester Arthur succeeded the assassinated President, James Garfield. The American Red Cross was founded. Mark Twain published Huckleberry Finn. In Baltimore, the institution that was to become Goucher College was formed, and Ottmar Mergenthaler invented the revolutionary Linotype machine.
1886 proved to be a busy year. The first meeting of the chapel vestry was held, and the Reisterstown Parish boundaries were extended. A contract was made on a sexton’s cottage which was built on the lane leading to the new chapel. In the cemetery, somewhat remote from the earliest burials, the remains of seven members of the Norris family were relocated from The Mount, where the Church of the Holy Communion had been proposed but never built. Two other family members were also moved from St. Paul’s Churchyard and from Greenmount Cemetery. Back at Hannah More, a rectory for the Reverend Dr. Rich was built. Named Richleigh, it still stands proudly as the administrative center of Hannah More School.
In the same year, and prophetically for the Parish, Mr. William Keyser of Baltimore bought the old Norris estate (The Mount) on Cockeysmill Road for a summer residence. A handsome new house was erected where the previous one had burned and the 160 acre property renamed Brentwood in honor of Mrs. Mary Brent Keyser. An active member of the Episcopal community in Baltimore, Mr. Keyser soon extended his interests to the Reisterstown Parish at a time when the congregation realized that the little chapel on Bond Avenue was less than adequate.
Other items of interest in 1886-1887: The AFL was founded; Coca Cola made its first appearance; the Pratt Library was instituted; Glyndon Park was established as a temperance camp; and the Emory Grove Hotel was constructed. The United States celebrated its 110th year.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Seven years after moving into the small chapel on Bond Avenue, the Reisterstown Parish appeared to be doing well. Receipts for the year totaled $1,609; debts were being paid in a timely fashion; the chapel was painted, and efforts to macadamize the street to Reisterstown Road were under way. The Vestry recommended that the Rector’s salary, paid by subscription, be raised to $1000. The most important concern, however, was the growing awareness that the temporary chapel was becoming “wholly inadequate to meet the wants of the Congregation.” Its location just west of the cemetery was intended from the start to give way to a larger and more permanent church at the center of the property. The Vestry, in August of 1889, appealed to the congregation to raise funds for the Parish Church.
Fortuitously, in the fall of 1889, parishioner William Keyser had just returned from a visit to the coast of Massachusetts to his country home in Reisterstown. Having seen a little church near Manchester-by-the-Sea, he and his wife were contemplating the erection of a similar structure as a memorial to his mother who had died three years earlier. From his memoirs: “On my return, I found among my correspondence a circular letter from the vestry of our parish, soliciting aid to enlarge the little All Saints Chapel, which determined me, if I could carry out my plan, to make this my memorial…. On All Saints Day, the parish fete, when the parishioners are accustomed to assemble and spend the day together, I submitted a proposition to purchase a lot, and build and furnish at my own cost a handsome stone church…and deed it to the parish…which offer occasioned great rejoicing and was gratefully accepted.
“It was generally conceded that the location of the chapel could be improved upon, and as the new road I had built connecting the villages made it accessible, I bought a lot of two acres on a little knoll covered by a grove of large white oaks. The corner-stone was laid on the following All Saints fete day by…the Bishop of Western New York.” Almost one year to the day later, the new All Saints’ Church was consecrated.
The turn of the decade was also marked by two memorable events – one local, one foreign: Johns Hopkins Hospital was founded in Baltimore, and the Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris. Baltimore installed its first cable car in 1891 – a touch of San Francisco! – and Thomas Edison again astounded the world with a new invention, the motion picture camera. 1892 saw the Chicago World’s Fair; and in Baltimore the General Convention succeeded in revising the liturgy of the Episcopal Church.
The second administration of Grover Cleveland was marked by the Panic of 1893, a culmination of depression that had begun three years earlier. And sadly, in Reisterstown, the founding rector who had served his flock faithfully for forty years and who had been instrumental in establishing a new parish, passed away. The Reverend Dr. Arthur John Rich was laid to rest in All Saints’ Cemetery and his name inscribed on the altar of the church he helped create. An era had ended.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
The Reverend Joseph Fletcher became All Saints’ second rector after the death of Dr. Arthur John Rich. He had served previously at St. Matthew’s (Sparrow’s Point) and at the Free Church of St. Barnabas in Baltimore. Descended from a long line of New Englanders, he became known in Maryland as a church builder. He was responsible for the remodeling of a church in Tenafly (NJ) and the building of the church in Sparrow’s Point, “laboring with his own hands, and proved himself a skillful artisan.” The first year of his arrival in Reisterstown saw the purchase of extra lots on which a new rectory/parish house would later be built under his personal supervision.
Little of significance is noted in All Saints’ history as the century drew to a close. In 1893 the Ladies Aid Society financed the building of a boardwalk from Main Street to the church property, testifying to the muddy condition of Chatsworth Avenue. (The street was finally macadamized in 1904, just in time for the arrival of the first automobile.) Beginning in 1895 Joseph Fletcher also took over as head of the Hannah More Academy, both he and his wife becoming so beloved there that they earned the nicknames “Pa and Ma Fletcher.” From time to time he was assisted at services at All Saints’ by the Reverend Edward H. C. Goodwin. Parishioner Col. William Norris (CSA) died in 1896 at the age of 76. He had been confirmed at All Saints’ only three years previously.
Locally, the electric trolley made its appearance in Reisterstown, and the new Glyndon Railroad Station was opened in 1895. It burned and was rebuilt eight years later. On the national scene William McKinley was sworn in as President, just prior to the Spanish American War. Scott Joplin composed “Maple Leaf Rag.”
The opening of the twentieth century was marked by the death of Queen Victoria and by the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. The Glyndon Women’s Club was organized, and the Wright brothers made history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. At All Saints’ the Reverend Fletcher donated a new pump organ to the church.
1904 witnessed the disastrous Baltimore fire. One can only wonder if the glow of that conflagration might have been seen in Reisterstown. William Keyser, builder of All Saints’ Church, “was appointed by the mayor chairman of the Emergency Committee and was indefatigable in his efforts for the restoration of the city.” The broadened streets near today’s Harborplace are the result of his efforts. Unfortunately, four months after his appointment, Mr. Keyser fell dead of a stroke on the front lawn of his Reisterstown estate, Brentwood. A marble tablet, similar to his mother’s, pays tribute to Mr. Keyser on the west wall of All Saints’ Church.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
As the Reverend Joseph Fletcher’s twelfth year opened at All Saints’, the parish confronted a minor crises. Some members of the parish preferred to worship at St. Michael’s Chapel, Hannah More. Father Fletcher and the vestry, determined to maintain All Saints’ as the parish church, refused requests to hold Sunday services at St. Michael’s, in effect separating the school from the parish church. Official separations from the parish took place in 1911.
The Ladies Aid Society (whose records date back to 1892) met regularly in members’ homes, enjoying each others company and sewing clothing which they sold. The San Francisco earthquake made news in 1906, two years after the Baltimore Fire, and 1907 marked the opening of the Reisterstown phone exchange in the home of Dr. C. H. Michael. Henry Ford’s Model T hit the roads the following year.
The year 1909 saw the construction of All Saints’ own rectory and parish house, largely through the efforts and personal involvement of Joseph Fletcher. (The Parish House was officially named for Fr. Fletcher in 2000.) Prior to this time, parish rectors lived on the Hannah More Academy grounds. The concept of yearly pledging began in 1909 with the formation of a new committee. President Taft took office in Washington, and, in Baltimore, the Walters Art Gallery opened its doors. Brent Keyser, son of the All Saints’ benefactor, visited the site of the new Panama Canal.
The Keyser Fund, which exists to this day, was established in 1910 by the heirs of William Keyser. It was originally intended “to keep in order All Saints’ Church and its surrounding property and to pay the premiums of insurance on the same.” The church appointed its first historian, and the rector’s stable, which today serves as a center of youth activities, was constructed. The Reisterstown Community Club, popularly known as the Men’s club, began holding meetings at All Saints’. The town formed its own police station with a force of one who patrolled the streets by foot.
All Saints’ Chapel, which lost its official status in 1890, saw renewed life in 1910 when Episcopal members of the African-American community petitioned to held services there. On May 15 the Reverend George Freeman Bragg, Jr., along with his choir from Baltimore’s St. James P. E. Church, conducted the first service. We do not know how long services continued at the chapel, but in 1918 the old temporary building was razed.
Mrs. William Keyser died in1911, and in honor of the family, the vestry moved that Chatsworth Avenue, which had originally been constructed by Mr. Keyser as a link between Reisterstown and Glyndon be renamed Keyser Avenue. Their wishes were never fulfilled.
1912 witnessed the start of phone service to the All Saints’ rectory, and, on a more dramatic note, the Titanic disaster occurred that spring. Joseph Fletcher, admired and beloved by the community, ended his nineteen year tenure in Reisterstown, the third longest in this parish’s history. After serving in other Maryland churches he went on to come Canton and Librarian of the Washington Cathedral.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
As Europe began to slip into World War I, eventually drawing in the United States (including men from the Reisterstown Parish) our church also entered a time of uncertainty. The 19 year tenure of Joseph Fletcher had ended in the summer of 1912, and the parish would not see another period of long leadership for another four decades.
The search for a new rector continued throughout the remainder of the year, and although three priests were called, all declined the position. One of these, the Reverend E. T. Helfenstein, later became Bishop of the Diocese. Finally, in February of 1913, a call to the Reverend George W. Dame was answered positively. Dr. Dame had previously served at Holy Innocents (Baltimore) and at St. Luke’s (Harrisonville).
By November, however, it was evident that division was occurring within the parish. Dr. Dame continued to live in Baltimore City, declining to occupy the four year old rectory. An apparent rift between the rector and Junior Warden Paul Goodwin precipitated the resignation of the latter in order to spare “injury to the Parish.” Two years later, a letter to the Vestry from the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Rich deplored the condition of the church grounds and the absence of Dr. Dame. “How much longer will All Saints’ Parish be without a resident Rector? A man who can live among his people, to be with them in times of need…” Finally, in April of 1917, George Dame tendered his resignation. An appeal by certain parishioners to the Bishop asking that Dr,. Dame not resign, however, underscores the division that must have existed at All Saints’.
By June 1917, a call went out to the Reverend William T. Elmer. His acceptance of the $1,000 a year salary, occupancy of the rectory, and use of the stable brought a renewed sense of stability to the parish.
The beginning of the Woodrow Wilson presidency coincided with the George Dame years. In Reisterstown a volunteer fire company was founded and electricity was installed in the new rectory. Emmanuel church donated a pipe organ to All Saints’ and in 1915 Fannie Rich, the beloved wife of our first rectory, passed away. On the international scene, the Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland, pushing our nation and community ever closer to war. It would be William Elmer’s job to lead the church through those trying days.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
Surprisingly, little or no reference to the great European conflict appears in the parish records. One would be led to believe that life within the church followed its normal routine although, certainly, the war must have left its mark upon the private lives of parishioners. George W. Dame had resigned his post as rector in June of 1917 and was quickly succeeded by the Rev. William T. Elmer. The first American troops were leaving for France.
Mr. Elmer had served for seven years as Assistant to the Rector of St. Paul’s Parish, Baltimore. Concurrently, as headmaster of the St. Paul’s School for Boys, “he was remembered by his pupils as a strict disciplinarian and a classical scholar.” * Together with Mrs. Elmer and their three young children, he was to occupy the rectory for the next six years. Other than notes regarding his regular attendance to church affairs, we have been left scant record of his service to All Saints’.
1918 marked the end of the war and the culmination of one of the greatest world-wide flu epidemics ever known. Several burials in our cemetery can attest to this fact. 1918 also marked the official end of All Saints’ chapel. First used on Easter Sunday, 1883, it had served the parish until 1891 when the congregation moved into its new church on Chatsworth Avenue. For a time the chapel reopened its doors to the Black Episcopal community, but by 1918 it was razed — lumber and contents selling for a paltry $109.25. The site became a local dump and, bit by bit, the forest overtook the spot. And so it remained for 80 years until the church reclaimed the old lot and marked the chapel with a meditation park.
We know, too, that All Saints’ Cemetery, so grandly conceived in 1882, was falling into neglect. In a bitter letter to the Vestry in May of 1919, Superintendent W. H. Storm submitted his resignation in protest of the Vestry’s intentions to use the chapel proceeds for improvements to church property. He contended that the monies should be used to restore the cemetery avenues and walks which were nearly obliterated, “to present the appearance of a Cemetery and not that of a large burying ground.” In 1922 a conciliatory note in the Vestry minutes thanked Mr. Storm for his faithful service and reelected him to his old post. (Ever watchful, Mr. Storm reported that cattle were pasturing t in the cemetery!)
National post-war “normalcy” was interrupted by two not-so-normal events. Prohibition — for good or for ill — became official in October 1919. Then President Warren Harding, who had taken office in 1921, died suddenly in August 1923.
That same month, William Elmer, for reasons unknown, submitted his resignation from All Saints’. The Vestry found in the Reverend Hobart Smith, an “elder statesman” of St. Thomas Church, a capable interim rector. But failure to immediately locate a full-time pastor prompted them to ask the Bishop to combine the parishes of Reisterstown and Western Run. The idea was soon abandoned. Then the call went out to the Reverend Walter Archibald. It was followed by a call to Theodore N. Barth who accepted in March of 1924. The Parish finally settled on an even keel — at least for another four years.
* Francis F. Beirne, St. Paul’s Parish Baltimore, A Chronicle of the Mother Church, 1967.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
As the Reverend Theodore N. Barth took over leadership of the Parish in 1924, the United States was riding the wave of post-war growth. Earnings of Americans were on the rise and the work week declined by nearly 4 percent. In 1925, talking motion pictures began, and the famous Scopes Monkey Trial took place, testing the waters of teaching evolution in the schools. Charles Lindbergh made his mark in history by flying the Atlantic nonstop. Reisterstown, on the other hand, did not fare so well. A devastating fire wiped out the center of town in February, 1926. One family from All Saints’, including Frances Hill, was driven from an apartment above the butter and egg store.
Called from Deer Creek Church in Darlington, Ted Barth was to serve All Saints’ along with St. John ’s Church for just four years, after which he moved on to Baltimore and eventually became Bishop of Tennessee. These were the years of the now-famous names in the leadership of the Reisterstown Parish – William E. Wyatt, William Groff, Clement Reese, John Logsdon, and Paul Goodwin. Southgate Yellott served as lay reader (an exclusive lay reader was the norm). All Saints’ got a new pipe organ, and St, Michael’s Chapel was renovated and extended to its present configuration. In 1928 the Anglican Church revised the Book of Common Prayer, and – on a lighter note – Mickey Mouse made his first appearance.
In March of 1929 the future Bishop of Los Angeles, twenty-four year old Francis E. I. Bloy, not yet out of seminary, came to All Saints’ where he was ordained and served for four years (see Bell Tower, March 2004). The same month Herbert Hoover became our 31st President. The United States was experiencing the culmination of a boom market and unrestrained speculation when the Stock Market crashed in October, and the Great Depression quickly changed the face and mood of the country.
Parish records for these years are practically nonexistent. The church no doubt served as a stabilizing force in people’s lives. Locally, the Hitshue Hotel burned up; nationally, “The Star Spangled Banner” became our country’s official anthem. In 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt took over the helm of the nation, and the very long road to recovery was begun. Some people found consolation perhaps in the repeal of the Prohibition Amendment!
Upon the departure of Reverend Bloy in 1933, Deacon Albert C. Cheetham, a former Baptist minister, was placed in charge of the Parish. His ordination into the Episcopal priesthood took place in June, 1934. During his years, Reisterstown saw the building of the New Theater (now Bay County Rentals) and the chartering of the Kiwanis Club.
In 1936 Reverend Cheetham answered a call to serve Holy Trinity Church, Baltimore. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1937 at an early age, leaving his wife and two children. Mrs. Cheetham lived for a time in Baltimore with the parents of Dixon Yaste whom many will remember, later as the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Reisterstown. Albert Cheetham and his family experienced the hard times of the Depression, but he was remembered as a well-liked Christian.
The vacancy created by the departure of Reverend Cheetham was filled by Interim Rector George Packard, and once again All Saints’ was in search of a new rector – its eighth in 45 years.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
As the world rapidly approached another world war, All Saints’ was approaching the celebration of its first fifty years on Chatsworth Avenue. The Rev. Samuel Shoemaker Johnston, affectionately known as Tobv, was our eighth parish priest. Together with his wife and infant daughter Nancy, he resided in the rectory during his five-year term of service and then moved on to All Saints’ parish, Frederick, and later to Garrett County.
Headlining the news of 1937 was the marriage of Baltimore’s Wallis Warfield Simpson to the Duke of Windsor who, the year previously, had abdicated his crown. Other dramatic concerns centered on the explosion of the German airship Hindenburg and the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart.
In 1938 an apparently solvent Cemetery Committee loaned the Vestry $750 to pay off its organ debt note. And, for the first time, people began talking about converting “the barn” into a children’s chapel. The Vestry voted to approve the idea early the following year. Growing urgency for a new Sunday School building was also becoming evident, and contributions were being accepted. Among the donors was Mrs. Joseph Fletcher whose husband had resigned his rectorship in 1912. An indication of a shortage of funds at this time — we were still climbing out of the Depression — is seen in the Vestry’s decision to turn down a bid of $284 to add a lavatory next to the pantry in the rectory. They opted instead, for a temporary outhouse to be built in the barn!
In April of ’39 the Vestry considered the novel idea of allowing women to vote for Vestrymen, “though they themselves would not be permitted to be member of the Vestry.” The proposal as turned over to the Ladies’ Guild for further discussion. Early the following year a petition was sent to the Convention to give suffrage to the women of the Parish.
1940 was an important milestone in the history of All Saints’ Church. In February the new Building Committee presented three recommendations: 1) that an addition be built on the north side of the church to accommodate a growing Sunday School, 2) that the east end of the church be extended to provide a better location for the choir and Sacristy, and 3) that a new Parish House be erected northeast of the bell tower, where the parking lot is now situated.
Just six months later, however, the committee, citing “the unsettled conditions in Europe” and not willing to take on excessive financial burdens, recommended the building plan be put on hold, for several years if necessary. As an interim measure, it was decided to extend the existing Parish room to provide for immediately needed education and kitchen facilities. The shape of Fletcher Hall today, is a reflection of this decision.
It would be over twenty years before the bulk of the 1940 proposal, in a different form, could be realized. (By 1979 these earlier proposals were moot since the church building had been declared an historic site, protected from, modification.
The most memorable event of 1940 was the commemoration of 50 years of worship at All Saints’. On Saturday, October 5, a full day of celebration was held, beginning with a scripted pageant. In nine episodes, members of the congregation portrayed the important people and events in the history of Reisterstown Parish. Old time conveyances were a part of the parade, including carriages and wagons, a 1908 Ford, a 1909 Brewster, and two Franklins. Among the actors several were descendents of the earliest parish founders. The Reverend Johnston, portraying himself, was a part of the cast of characters. The pageant was followed by an Evening Service of Thanksgiving and finally a church supper at the Firemen’s Grove.
And so, the first 50 years ended on a joyous note. But in the background, rumblings from overseas, in both Europe and Asia were becoming louder and impossible to ignore. Germany had already invaded Poland; England and France had declared war on Germany. It was only a matter of time until Reisterstown too would be caught up in the global insanity.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
It goes without saying that the war years must have had a profound effect upon the lives of our parishioners and upon the prayers and services within our church. However, a tone of near normalcy prevailed in a majority of official minutes and proceedings of All Saints’ Church.
Samuel Shoemaker Johnston submitted his resignation as rector in February of 1941 and then moved on to All Saints’ Church, Frederick. Eight months later the Reverend C. Sturges Ball officially became rector in Reisterstown. An Englishman by birth, Dr. Ball had studied in several theological schools, served extensively in the church, and taught at both Kenyon College and Goucher College.
During Dr. Ball’s tenure our church witnessed the installation of a new rood and a new organ. The Parish House addition (later named Fletcher Hall) provided a fresh venue for the Sunday School as well as a meeting room and kitchen. In the church two blank windows received dedications — one for William E. Wyatt who had been Senior Warden beginning in 1915, and one for John C. Logsdon, longtime vestryman and warden.
December 7, 1941 — the “day of infamy” — passed unrecorded in church records! Shades of world conflict did begin to creep into Vestry minutes, however, during 1942. The Parish House was declared a place of shelter in the event of a bombing. Starting in June, special collections were being made for Russian and British Relief; food relief contributions were also being made for “war torn foreign countries.” The Vestry took up a discussion of bomb insurance, and Red Cross work was taking place in the Parish Hall.
It was also proposed that an old iron gate discovered in the Cemetery be given to scrap collection. Whether this occurred is unknown, but in the late 1990’s such a gate was rediscovered near the old chapel lot, saved, and is currently being returned to the Cemetery as part of the Meditation Garden.
1942 saw the institution of ushers at church services at the suggestion of Reverend Ball. A church supper held in November cost attendees 60 cents each.
In 1943, the Vestry gave serious consideration to exchanging the locations of the church pulpit and lectern. This was prompted by members of the choir who could not see or hear the sermons being delivered. (In those days, the choir faced the nave and the organ was located just inside the choir area door.) The temporary resolution was to allow the choir to move into pews during the sermon. The final solution, some time later, was to relocate the organ and arrange the choir benches to face east — today’s configuration.
Three wartime notes appear in ’43. The Ladies Guild was granted permission to install a Service Flag in the church. Mention is made of a Victory Tax was was assessed on salaries. And in March, most Lenten services were cancelled “under the present War Conditions.”
In August, Sturges Ball received a call to St. John’s in the Valley; it took a strong stand on the part of the Vestry to persuade him to remain at All Saints’ (Reverend Ball did retire from the ministry in 1945.)
In 1944 Noble C. Powell became the 9th Bishop of Maryland; he was warmly received on frequent visits to All Saints’. Regular meetings of a new Men’s Club were held in 1944 with the Ladies Guild serving dinners. In May a special collection was taken for the Army and Navy Fund. In September the Vestry proposed two bold ventures (which never came to fruition) — one was the purchase of lots on Bond Avenue directly opposite the Cemetery — the other was the construction of a new road directly linking the church and the Cemetery.
World War II was reaching its climax in 1945. In Europe V-E Day was declared on May 8. By happenstance, on that same day the Vestry purchased its third War Bond in the name of the Church.
Much of 1945 was taken up with the search for a new rector, with several candidates being interviewed. Finally, in July, the Vestry received an answer to its call from the Reverend Edward M. Dart who was serving in Summerville, South Carolina. His arrival was delayed, however, by a concern for his parishioners immediately following the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6. He preferred to remain with them until the settlement of peach had taken place overseas.
By the fall of 1945 a certain sense of normalcy was taking place. Our men (and women) were starting to return home. A Plaque commemorating some of them would be placed in the church in 1947. The live of the Parish resumed its normal course, and a budget was set for the coming year: $4,771.72
For unknown reasons parish records for the five year period following World War II are sadly lacking. As a matter of fact, Vestry minutes are completely missing for the years 1948 through 1950.
Nationally, 1946 saw the beginning of “the baby boom”. President Harry Truman’s administration initiated aid to war torn nations while facing the growing threat of Communism. The Berlin Airlift made front page headlines. In Baltimore the late 40’s witnessed the beginning of commercial television and the opening of both Memorial Stadium and Friendship Airport.
At All Saints, 37-year-old Edward M. Dart was invested by Bishop Noble C. Powell on February 3, 1946. Raised in New England, the Reverend Dart had studied in England and at General Theological Seminary. He served at parishes in South Carolina before being called to Reisterstown as rector of All Saints’ and chaplain of the Hannah More Academy. Following seven years of service to the Reisterstown Parish he continued in his ministry with the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island.
On June 12, 1946, the Men’s Club sponsored a banquet for local veterans returning from the war.
And in 1947 several memorials, still recognizable today, were donated to the church. These include the World War II Veterans plaque (on the north wall), the Hymn Board (given by Mrs. Humphries), and the Episcopal Church flag (given by Miss Ann Slingluff). Another notable donation was proposed in 1946 (and later installed) by Mrs. Gaylord Clark. This was the bronze plaque on our baptismal font given by her father Brent Keyser fifty-five years earlier. Mrs. Clark was christened Juliana Brent Keyser on thevery same day that All Saints’ Church was consecrated.
– Neal Haynie, Parish Archivist
The war was over and life was back to normal, or so it seemed. People chose to ignore an ugly conflict called the Korean War, and Rock and Roll made its entrance. Gas cost 27 cents a gallon, a postage stamp just 3 cents, and “I Love Lucy” entered our living rooms.
At All Saints’, Vestry meetings reflected the day-to-day routine and some concern for growth. The parking lot was too small (more people / more cars). By 1951 the boys class of the Church School needed more room, and they helped raise funds to convert part of the barn into a meeting place. The new room was dedicated as a memorial to A. Eckler King who had so ably served as church school superintendent.
Then, after seven years of leading this flock, the Reverend Ed Dart moved on to Rhode Island where he continued his ministry. His place was quickly filled in the summer of 1952 by a gentleman who had previously assisted at All Saints’ while still a student, the Reverend Scott Broadbent. A graduate of Baltimore City College, St. John’s College, and Virginia Theological Seminary, Mr. Broadbent was to oversee the years of change and expansion. During his first year, an 8 o’clock service was instituted and ushers were appointed to direct communicants to their pews. The Every Member Canvass, an effort to rally financial support for the parish, was continued with marked success. On the world scene, Elizabeth II became Queen of England; locally, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge made its debut.
Statistically, 1952 recorded 449 church members and 125 pupils in the church school. The rector received a salary of $4,000. And all those electric candles we are so familiar with at Christmas time made their first appearance. The Vestry had serious reservations about so many live candles prior to that time!
In 1953 war hero Dwight Eisenhower took over the reigns of the country, and by July an uneasy armistice was signed, ending the conflict in Korea. In Baltimore the NFL Colts made themselves at home in Memorial Stadium.
The church Vestry entertained a proposal to enlarge the old Parish House (a decade before Groff Hall solved the problem), and approval was granted to remove the iron fence in front of the church. (No photo of this Chatsworth Avenue fence is known to exist, though the fence was probably installed in 1894 when the stone pillars were constructed.) Our cemetery adopted a perpetual care policy to replace an annual care fee which had existed for 71 years. Finally, on a sad note, a beloved member of the parish passed away. Ira Leroy Wales, Treasurer, Vestryman, organist, and “master of choristers” died on December 1.
The mid-50s, during Dwight Eisenhower’s first administration, ushered in a period of international suspicion, otherwise termed “the Cold War”. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. raced to develop spy mechanisms to peer into each other’s back yard. The race for Space was on! The launching of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik created a frenzy of concern and inspired a new word in the English language – beatnik!
Meanwhile, at All Saints’, life continued on – pretty much on an even keel. Realizing the physical constraints of the Old Parish House (now Fletcher Hall), the Vestry initiated a Building Fund as part of its budget in 1954. Church school attendance had reached 110, putting a serious burden on classroom space.
1955 witnessed several plant improvements. The church was “redecorated”, and a copper roof was approved for the chancel. Thanks to the beneficence of Mrs. Allen Girdwood, plans were drawn up in December for glass panels to enclose the church vestibule. After 65 years, the open air narthex was finally coming inside.
The Vestry approved the use of our parish house by Alcoholics Anonymous for its weekly meetings in 1956, a courtesy that continues to this day. The same year saw a half acre expansion of the church grounds after a long period of negotiations with a neighbor, Mr. DeVese.
1957 turned out to be a busy year. Besides initiating use of building fund envelopes, the Vestry retained a professional canvassing company to carry out an every-member campaign. The All Saints’ Junior Fellowship, 24 members strong, formed its own Junior Choir. Young Clayton Lawson (Jr), later to become Senior Warden, served as the group’s secretary.
The 51-member Women’s Auxiliary actively engaged in purchasing items needed by the parish; they accomplished this in part by sales of furniture polish, stationery, steak knives, vanilla, and church calendars. And thanks to a gift from Mrs. Sidney Reese, the bell in our church tower was on its way to acquiring an automatic striking system. Concern about its hours of operation prompted a neighborhood survey, but most nearby residents professed to not minding a 24-hour ringing of the bell. Finally, the Vestry record makes note in 1956-57 of a church-sponsored Kindergarten/Nursery (with tuition). Its director: Ms Jean Worthley.
As a side note, these years also marked the following: testing of a hydrogen bomb at Bikini; the death of Albert Einstein, the marriage of Grace Kelly, and digging of the Baltimore harbor tunnel.
And what you were enjoying in the mid-50s – remember these? On the Waterfront, Rear Window, The Diary of Anne Frank, The 10 Commandments, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The Cat in the Hat, Three Coins in the Fountain, Rock Around the Clock, and Sixteen Tons. Ah, those were the years!
It was 1958, just four years after McDonald’s appeared on the scene, and America was well on its way to a love affair with fast food. At All Saints’ the rector oversaw a year of rather typical concerns, upkeep, and repairs, including an overhaul of the organ. A church flag was gifted to us by a member of the parish.
The following year Vestryman Edward C. Lecarpentier declared his intention to become a candidate for Holy Orders. The church celebrated as he succeeded in this endeavor. In March of 1959 the Ushers Guild was initiated, and the Women’s Auxiliary reported continued activity in sponsoring social events and in raising money for the parish. That same fall, the Building Committee viewed preliminary sketches for a new Sunday School building – a project long awaited but still a few years from reality. The congregation also marked the 25th anniversary of the ordination of the Reverend Scott Broadbent.
Nationally, 1959 welcomed two new states, Alaska and Hawaii. The USSR’s Nikita Krushchev toured our country while Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba, bringing the Cold War almost to our doorstep. Nearer home, Interstate 83 brought us closer to downtown, although the Baltimore Beltway was still only a dream.
In 1960 John Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon for President. The first “sit-ins” were staged in opposition to segregation, and the birth control pill was introduced – both events presaged the opening of a fevered decade in America. Our parish completed a survey of property and buildings. The Altar Guild crafted new stoles for our clergy, the Reverends Broadbent and Lecarpentier. In October, a milestone was reached in our drive for a new parish hall when Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Groff presented the church with a major donation. Groff Hall now had its name!
In mid-summer, Mr. Broadbent received a letter dated August 13,1960. It was sent by St. George L. Sioussat, grandson of the Rev. George A. Leakin, former rector of Baltimore’s Trinity Church in Fells Point. The purpose of his letter was “to offer to All Saints’ Church, as a gift, a chancel chair over a hundred years old. It is mahogany, of American design … used in the chancel of Trinity Church.” Trinity Church stood at the corner of Broadway and Pratt Streets from 1853 until its closing in 1904. Mr. Sioussat noted that “my life is coming to a close and I feel my grandfather would be pleased to have the chair in All Saints’ Church.” He died just eighteen days after posting his letter. (The Leakin and Sioussat families are interred at All Saints’ Cemetery.)
In the years following,the story of Sioussat’s gift became clouded, and few people – even today – actually knew of its existence. In 1998, Janet Stenner found the chair, in the attic of the rectory, in disrepair. An arm was broken, the seat was busted through and the red fabric torn. She lovingly restored and reupholstered the chair. It is now resting quietly in the All Saints’ rectory.