|St. John's Episcopal Church marker in Montgomery, Ala.|
This week’s featured historical marker is the “ST. JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH” marker in Montgomery, Ala. This unusually shaped marker is located on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and North Perry Street in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church.
This marker was erected by the Alabama Historical Association in 1973. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:
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“ST. JOHN’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH: Organized 1834; Present building erected 1855 under rectorship of Nicholas Hamner Cobbs, first Bishop of Alabama. Primary convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America was held here, July 3-6, 1861. Charles Minnegerode Beckwith, consecrated here, Dec. 17, 1902.”
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The first thing that jumps out at me from this marker is the name Nicholas Hamner Cobbs, who was born in Bedford County, Va. on Feb. 2, 1796. Raised as a Presbyterian, Cobbs was confirmed as an Episcopalian and ordained as an Episcopal deacon on May 23, 1824 in Staunton, Va. He passed away at the age of 64 on Jan. 11, 1861 in Montgomery and the Bishop Cobbs Home for Orphans in Montgomery was named in his honor.
Beckwith was born on June 3, 1851 in Prince George County, Va. An 1873 graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. As mentioned on the marker, he was consecrated as a the Bishop of Alabama on Dec. 17, 1902 and he passed away in Alabama at the age of 76 on June 3, 1851.
The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America only existed during the Civil War, from 1861 to 1865. Two senior bishops, Leonidas Polk of Louisiana and Stephen Elliot of Georgia called for the convention mentioned on the historical marker above, and all southern dioceses were represented at the convention except for Texas. As soon as the war was over, this organization reunited with its counterpart in the North.
If you visit the St. John’s Episcopal Church’s Web site, stjohnsmontgomery.org, you’ll find a nice history of the church written by Judy Oliver. What follows is a few facts about the church gleaned from her history of the church.
· The original church building, which was located on the corner of Perry and Jefferson Streets, was the first brick church in Montgomery.
· A new larger church building was built in 1855 at the other end of Perry Street, facing Madison Avenue.
· During his time in Montgomery, Confederate President Jefferson Davis attended services at the church.
· In 1869, the original church building on Jefferson Street was torn down and it’s bricks were used to build the new church’s chancel and sanctuary.
· In 1918, the church was closed when a deadly Spanish flu epidemic broke out in Camp Sheridan, a World War I training camp.
In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below.