History of Santa Rosa County, A King's County

by M. Luther King. Used with permission.

CHURCH HISTORY OF SANTA ROSA COUNTY
ST. MARYS EPISCOPAL CHURCH
A CHURCH OF MEMORIALS
(This material was contributed by Miss Anice Brown, member of St. Mary's Church.)

St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Milton, Florida was founded in 1867. Their first rector was Rev. James S. Jarett. He had the first service August 4, 1867 and at that time there was a yellow fever epidemic here. He was victim of yellow fever and died thirteen days later, August 17, 1867. The church was a parish at that time and they gave the pulpit in memory of him. It is still in use in St. Mary's.

 
St. Mary's Episcopal Church

 

They were then without a rector from August 17, 1867 until Easter 1868 when Rev. C. F. D. Lynn came and served from Easter 1868 until Easter 1871; then Rev. H. 0. Crane came on November 17, 1874 and served until May 18, 1875. Rev. Charles E. McDougall, M. D., served from April 20, 1876 until May 25, 1916. Rev. Jon Scottow served St. Mary's from 1925 to 1927.

During the first three years the church was only a shell of a building, and a man by the name of Zelious did all the carving and built the pews all by hand. The windows were just openings on the inside of the church. They used the church three years, winter and summer, in that condition. Then they began to give and work to get stained glass windows. Many functions were held until they had enough money to buy the beautiful window over the altar ($600) with all the symbols, each of which had a meaning.

On Wednesday, June 3, 1868 the "Ladies Aid Society" was organized in the home of Mrs. H. A. Bushnell, Sr. Mrs. Potter, Mrs. Bushnell, Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Swift, Mrs. Lynne, and Mrs. Amos were all present. Other members included Mrs. Morrill, Mrs. Snow, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. McDougall, Miss M. Adams, Mrs. Dorr and Mrs. Zelious. The ladies began to work on the altar linens, the hangings, and the many other things that were needed in the church.

Mrs. Adams gave the altar, which is still in use in St. Mary's. It cost one hundred dollars.

Miss Mabel McDougall told me about making the white hangings. Her brother, Charlie, had a drugstore in the building on Willings Street where one part of the 5¢ & 10¢ store is now. She worked in the drugstore and did most of the work in the back of the store when she was not busy with customers. A sheet was spread on the floor with a rocking chair put in the center of the sheet, thus keeping her white goods off the floor. When she had to go wait on a customer, she just dropped it all down on the sheet.

Miss McDougall gave the chimes that are in the church now in memory of the Bishops Young and Weed who were guests of the McDougall family on most of their visits to St. Mary's.

The Rt. Rev. Frank A. Juhan, D. D., fourth bishop of Florida was the youngest bishop that Florida had ever had. At the time he was elected, he was thirty-eight years old. He had many heartaches during the time he was bishop. He was in an automobile wreck and was hurt severely. He also lost a son in World War 11.

The Ladies Aid Society worked, sewed, and sold the things they made. They bought the kerosene lamps (they have electric lights in them now). Each lamp in the church cost them four dollars each, and there were four in the chancel and sanctuary that cost seven dollars each. They had round globes on one round rod and were used until electric lights were put in.

In later years they had flood lights put up in the top of the church to shine on the altar, and the round globe lamps were taken out. The ones on each pew are the ones that were put there when the church was being furnished.

Many of the beautiful altar linens were made and given by Mrs. Sam Stewart and Mrs. Ethel McDougall Golson. The little reed organ was given the church by the McDougall family. Mrs. Golson played it until she was, as she said, "tired" and then Miss Anice Brown, whom Mrs. Golson taught to play, became the organist.

In later years the church received a gift of five hundred dollars as a start on a Hammond electric organ. Every member who could, gave enough ($1700.00) to buy the organ that is there now, and they gave the little reed organ to the mission church in Crestview, Florida.

The church was heated by steam heat for several years until the chimney to the furnace cracked from top to bottom. They were afraid it would fall on the church or on somebody, so they.had the old chimney torn down and the pipes taken out of the church. Meeker Gainer gave the church a heatrola which had to be fired with wood and coal. Bogan Hoodless was a good sized boy (perhaps twelve years old) at the time, and he came every Sunday morning from across the river where he lived and started the fire in the furnace.

The coal and wood were kept in the little room at the back of the church. This room didn't have a floor in it and was as black as coal. The choir guild (Carrie Allen, Mabel McDougall, Elma Hardee, Marguerite Williams, Fred Gwaltney, and Anice Brown) paid a pledge of twenty-five cents a month and sold Christmas cards to make enough money to have a concrete floor put in the little room. Sheet rock was put on the walls and a utility cabinet was added. The heatrola was used for a few years, and later, gas heaters were put in by Fred Gwaltney, and then this room was used for a choir dressing room in which the vestments could be kept.

Dr. McDougall had served St. Mary's forty years. Having grown unable to practice medicine or take care of his church duty, he retired. From then forward the church had a member of different rectors.

Many of the members had moved away, many had passed on, and the church didn't grow, so it became a mission instead of a parish with the bishop sending whom he could.

Rev. A. C. A. Smith, D. D. was here from 1916 to June 1, 1917 when Rev. J. J. Perry came. He was here until February 25, 1922, after which Rev. Grant Kuauff served until September 30, 1925. Rev. Kuauff lived in Pensacola and only came here on Sunday mornings. He was an Englishman.

On March 20, 1927, Rev. Thomas A. Schofield and his wife came. They were about middle-aged and they boarded at the McDougall home until he could get a place to live. Then they moved to a house on Berryhill Street near the cemetery.

Bill Bonifay and Amy Bonifay were baptised by him and confirmed while he was here. He served until 1931 and then went to Live Oak, Florida.

In July, 1931, Rev. Eldrid C. Simpkins came and lived at the Bagdad Inn in Bagdad. On the second day he was here Aubrey Gainer died, and he conducted that funeral.

He was also very good to people in need. One of whom I can remember, especially, was the man who was bridge tender for the L & N Railroad. He was very sick, and Rev. Simpkins would go to his house and work with him all night. Although the man was sick a long time, he got well and strong.

Jack Straughn was the server. The Bishop sent him to Pensacola to serve at St. Catherine's and live in St. Catherine's Rectory. He would come up here and serve St. Mary's too. He didn't like St. Catherine's and asked to be transferred to the southern diocese. He had served here until December 31, 1932.

From January 1, 1933 until September 23, 1934 the church services were conducted by university students and lay leaders. Then Rev. Russel S. Carleton served from September 23, 1934 until August 23, 1936. Rev. Carleton was also an Englishman.

In August 1936 Norlon Brown, a layreader, started coming from Pensacola every Sunday afternoon. He conducted evening services until January 15, 1939. Once a month Rev. H. B. Hodskins and Arch-Deacon Weller from Pensacola would come and celebrate Holy Communion.

In January 1939 David Rose came. Since he was just out of seminary and was not ordained Deacon, he served only six months and went back to his home church. There he was ordained Deacon and then came back to live in Pensacola in the home of Miss Lelia Ablecrombie. He came to Milton every Sunday for eleven o'clock services, and every Thursday to spend the day visiting members of the church.

(The reason the rectors of St. Mary's had to live elsewhere was there was no one here who could furnish them a room).

Mr. Rose was not a healthy man and would rest part of the day at the home of Miss Mabel McDougall. He was only twenty-six years of age and was therefore quite a favorite with the young people as well as old. Rufus Stewart especially liked him and when Mr. Rose was ordained to priesthood, Rufus wanted to be confirmed, although he had been a Presbyterian all of his life, as well as h s people before him. When the Bishop came, he and Lucile Williams were confirmed.

Rufus wanted to study for the ministry but he joined the Army Air Corps and served until the Second World War was over. He then went to the University of the South in Sewannee, Tennessee, and on June 24, 1949, was ordained Deacon by Bishop Juhan.

Rev. David Rose served St. Mary's until February 1942, when he went into the Navy and served as chaplain until the close of World War 11, serving in the Pacific theatre. He came back to St. Mary's on a visit for a few days, having services twice while here. He then went on to Jacksonville for a short stay and married the wife of one of his comrades who lost his life in war. They had a little boy. He and his family went to Corpus Christi, Texas to the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Rufus Stewart went to Alice, Texas about one hundred miles from Corpus Christi, so they again became neighbors.

After Mr. Rose left, Rev. H. Lindey Smythe had services a short time followed by Rev. Fred G. Yerkes. He also lived in St. Catherine Rectory. The first Sunday he was to be at St. Mary's, the congregation was there at eleven o'clock but there was no preacher. Everyone waited and waited, knowing he had to come from Pensacola. At 11:40 he came in, his hair tousled (he was blonde and needed a haircut) and looking like a boy. When he got to the pulpit, he stopped and told the people that he started from Pensacola in plenty of time but his old car, furnished by the Bishop, had broken down. He worked on it, unsuccessfully, so he finally hitchhiked a ride with a pulpwood truck . . . He then got his vestments on and really had a good service. He had an asthmatic condition in this climate which caused him to request the Bishop to send him to Cedar Key.

A young man named James Williams was serving at St. Johns in Warrington. He and his wife, whom he called "Sookie", would come by bus every Sunday afternoon and have evening prayer and sermon. They came about six months and then went to a church in South Carolina.

The church had layreaders then for quite sometime, until Henry W. Havens came. He, too, was just out of the University of the South, and was ordained Deacon in his home church in Jacksonville, but was ordained Rector in St. Mary's in Milton. Miss Mabel McDougall gave him the three upstairs rooms in her home to have one for his study, a bedroom, and an adjoining bath. He married Joyce Williams of Jacksonville while he was here, and they lived at Miss Mabel's.

He served St. Mary's three years and then went to Trinity Church in New Orleans. They had two children while in New Orleans, and he named his first son .Peter Havens.

Rev. L. C. Bailey came in September 1949. He had served in the U. S. Army, and had served the church in Australia seven years. The people there didn't want him to leave, but he said he just felt that he must come home. He came to his home in St. Petersburg, Florida intending to go to Oxford for a two-year course in church work. He had a four-year course given him, but Bishop Juhan asked him to come to St. Mary's. All the time he was here the Bishop in Australia was writing him to come back over there. He gave up his Oxford offer.

Rev. Bailey lived at Miss Mabel's. He took a great interest in all the church property and helped Miss Mabel all he could. There wasn't a parish house at that time and when there was any kind of activity that involved a large group, it was held in the Woman's Club house near the church. Mr. Bailey was very much interested in adding as much on the back of the church and as far over to the Rozier property as could be done.

St. Mary's had been in use for twenty-three years before it was consecrated. When Rev. Bailey was here, it had been a consecrated church for sixty years so they had a celebration of the event. A large cake with sixty candies was bought for the special occasion, which was held at the clubhouse with a large crowd in attendance.

In April, 1950, Mr. J. C. Rozier, who owned the property adjoining the church property, built a home in Pensacola and sold his home to St. Mary's for a parish house.

Rev. Bailey helped Miss Mabel and also took care of the church yard and parish house yard, with the help of two very poor little boys, whom he paid to help him. One of them was a sickly boy (he had diabetes) and although he was fourteen years old, he looked as though he were nine. Rev. Bailey saw to it that he had the food and medicine he needed.

In February 1951, Miss Mabel died and he lived in her home, left for a rectory, until July, when he left to go to Camp Weed to stay two weeks. He was to have the month of August for his vacation, intending to return the first of September, but he didn't return. Instead he went back to Australia in October, where he had a very large church.

Then Elmer Allen came in September from the University of the South and was ordained rector in St. Mary's. He served three years and went to Clearwater, Florida to be assistant to the rector there.

Rev. George A. P. Jewell, came from Panama City, Florida and served St. Mary's three months, but he had to retire from active duty due to bad health. Two weeks before Easter, 1954, Rev. Francis M. Hamilton and his wife and daughter came.

The present rector, Rev. Robert F. Cowling, has served the church for several years now. He and his mother occupy the rectory. They are much-loved by their congregation and are very faithful to their church and community.

Dr. and Mrs. McDougall willed their home and everything in it to the church for a rectory, but it was to be used by their children while any of them lived, and Miss Mabel was the last one. Mrs. Golson had left all she had to Miss Mabel (her home across the street from the church and a residence on Berryhill Street), and Mr. Charlie McDougall owned eighty acres out on Highway 90 across from the County Farm and three business places on Willing Street. Miss Mabel, being the last one, willed the whole property to the Diocese of Florida. One-half of the income from it is to go to St. Mary's. The Diocese sold the two residences, rented the three stores, and still have the eighty acres on Highway No. 90.

St. Mary's Church, Milton, might well be called a church of memorials as it has so many beautiful ones given with much love for the ones they remembered and the church that they loved.

The window on the left is not a memorial window. It was given by Colonel G. 0. Waits of Bagdad, January 18, 1927.

The middle window on the right was given by St. Mary's Guild in 1928.

The windows in the vestry room and music room are the leaded stained glass ones that were taken out of the windows where memorials were placed.

Listed below are some of the memorials placed in the church by various members and friends:

Window on right in sanctuary -in memory of Lewis P. Golson -1916

Window on left in sanctuary -Bessie McDougall -1866-1914

Window on right next to pulpit -Meeker Greenleigh Gainer 1866-1927

Opposite window on left -Mary D. Pearson -1827-1914 and Martha Caroline Newman 1847-1927

Middle window on left -Louise Caroline McDonald -1856-1923

Middle window on right -Callie Bishop Hannah -1861-1915 given by her three daughters, Maxie Betterton, Elizabeth Read, and Carrie Allen

Front window on right -Ethel McDougall Golson -1866-1939 and Charles Clinton McDougall -1862-1930

Front window on left -Lt. Nathan Forest Lindsey -July 12, 1918 -April 17, 1944 given in his memory by his mother. He was killed in a plane wreck in the Pacific in World War 11. Their house is in Perry, Florida, but his mother lived here until she married. She was Alma Blake and their home was in the same place where Anice Brown now lives. The Blake home burned.

Choir rail and font -Fannie Elizabeth McDougall -who was born in Alabama in 1855 and lived four years.

Red Bible -given by Mrs. Elma Hardee in memory of her mother, Ella Merle Gainer and her father, James Cooper Gainer.

Chimes in music room -given in memory of Bishop Young and Bishop Weed by Miss McDougall.

Altar Rail -in memory of Leon Perrenot Mints 1864-1889 by his mother, who took in sewing to pay for it. She made dresses for twenty-five cents apiece.

Cross -William Edward McDougall -December 19, 1857 -February 1, 1891.

Eucharist candle sticks -Ebon and Clara Dovour.

Vases -Willie McDougall Golson -August 24, 1895 -June 26, 1896. She was Mrs. Golson's little girl and died of what is now called colitis.

Bread box -Samuel Jesse Stewart -September 27, 1900.

Paten and chalice -Charles Edward and Sarah Elizabeth M. McDougall.

Hymn board -George Henry Gronour, Jr. -January 16, 1911 -December 25, 1911. It was given by his mother.

Alms basins -Carolyn Floyd Stewart -1863 -1945 by her granddaughter Carolyn Granan Shepherd; and Samuel Jesse Stewart, 1861-1919, by his granddaughter, Mrs. Shepherd. Mrs. Shepherd was living in Lunia, Peru when her grandmother died. Knowing of the skill of the Peruvian silversmiths, she took a picture of a pair of alms basins from a catalogue of an Ecclesiastical supply house and had them copied. The South American silver has less alloy than our sterling, therefore it is rather soft and the design is not as clear-cut as the English hand-wrought silver.

Light in vestibule of church -in memory of Lawrence Brown by his daughter, Anice Brown.

The two lights on the front of the church -in memory of William A. Bonifay, Sr. by his son, William A. Bonifay, Jr.

The sign board in front of the church was given by Fred and Maxie Betterton.

St. Mary's has had many changes during the years, but it is a church where for many years, many members have worked with pleasure and given willingly of their time and talents.

 

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