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The History and Clergy of

Trinity Episcopal Church

Natchez, Adams County, Mississippi

The following information was extracted from a publication by Trinity Church, April 20, 1997,

as the church celebrated 175 years of Christian Faith in Natchez.

History of Trinity Church
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Clergy and Notes


HISTORY

Trinity Episcopal Church is the oldest church buidling in Natchez, and the oldest existing Episcopal church building in Mississippi.

The Episcopal ministry was introducted to the Natchez area by missionary Rev. Adam CLOUD, who brought the faith and doctrine of the American Protestant Episcopal Church to the "West Florida" frontier in 1790.  Rev. Cloud remained in the area until 1793, when he and his family were seized in the middle of the night, and expelled, as a result of complaints made to political and ecclesiastical officials in New Orleans.

Several years later, Episcopal services in Natchez were preformed by The Rev. Adam BOYD in the Natchez Courthouse, beginning in 1798 and ending in 1807 with his death.  Rev. Boyd was only the second Episcopal clergyman known to have been in the Mississippi Territory.

Trinity Church, Natchez, was formed in 1822.  The first services were held by The Rev. James PILMORE on Sunday, May 10, 1822.  Rev. Pilmore had arrived in Natchez through the efforts of Natchez citizen, Dr. Stephen DUNCAN.  The first services were held in the Presbyterian Church due to the kind permission of the Rev. Mr. WEIR.

The lot, on which present-day Trinity Church stands, was purchased in April, 1822 for $1500.  Constructions was begun immediately.  The architect for the building was John MUNCE, and the Master Builder was George WILLIAMS. The The first services, in the present building, were held in 1823.  Services have been held at Trinity Church ever since.

In 1838, the architectural firm of Breedon & Reynolds was engaged to remodel the building.  The dome was removed, the roof line reduced, a portico was added to the front, and stucco was applied to the exterior.  The seating capacity was enlarged, and an undercroft was made for Sunday School classes.  The work was completed at a cost of $19,664.

The first rectory was purchased from Wiliam K. HENRY for $7,000.  It was located in the 800 block of Main Street.

A second organ was purchased from Hall & Labash of NY was installed in 1851.  Electricity was first used in the chruch in 1900.

The exterior of the church was restored in 1918, thanks to a generous gift from N. L. CARPENTER.  In that same year, a new rectory was purchased, located on the corner at 310 South Commerce.

In 1963, the Prish purchased Magnolia Hall from Mrs. George ARMSTRONG for an expanded Day School.  The first commencement exercise was held in 1971.

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TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH CLERGY

YEAR(S)
NAME
NOTES
1790 - 1793 The Rev. Adam CLOUD Expelled from area in 1793
1798 - 1807 The Rev. Adam BOYD 2nd Episcopal clergyman in the MS Territory.  Held services in the Natchez Courthouse until his death in 1807
1822 - 1825 The Rev. James PILMORE Established present-day Trinity Church.  Building still unfinished when he left Natchez in 1825.
1826 - 1829 The Rev. A. A. MULLER Established first Sunday School.  First Diocesan Convenstion was held at Trinity in May, 1826. Organ installed in 1827.  A place for people of color to worship was created in the nave.
1829 The Rt. Rev. Thomas BROWNELL Trinity Church was consecrated on December 25, 1829 by Bishop BROWNELL.
1830 The Rev. John PORTER The first priest ordained in MS (by Bishop BROWNELL.) Died October 21, 1830
1832 - 1835 The Rev. Pierce CONNELLY Unanimously elected rector on Feb 2, 1832.  Became a Roman Catholic for a few years before returning to the Episcopal faith.  Spent his remaining years in Italy.
1836 - 1845 The Rev. David C. PAGE Became rector on February 8, 1836.  Trintiy Church, after the remodeling was completed, was reconsecrated by The Rt. Rev. Leonidas POLK on April 19, 1940.  A month later, the infamouse 1840 tornado caused $600 in damages. 
In 1845, Rev. Page officiated at the marriage of Miss Varina HOWELL and the Honorable Jefferson DAVIS
1846 - 1849 The Rev. William Mason GILES A native of Washington, MS. Served until his death. 
1850 - 1851 The Rt. Rev. William Mercer GREEN Rev. Green was consecrated as the first Bishop of Mississippi on February 24, 1850, at St. Andrew's Church, Jackson, MS.
1853 The Rev. John CHADBURNE Died of yellow fever at Mammouth Plantation, the home of his father-in-law, Gen. John A. QUITMAN.
1858 The Rev. (Professor) Joseph E. INGRAHAM Formerally a professor of languages at Jefferson Military College.  Authored several books.
1858 - 1866 The Rev. Gideon Babcock PERRY From Cleveland, OH. 
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Gideon Perry was rector of Trinity Natchez in the 1860ís before he went to Hopkinsville, KY. He was born in Rhode Island. For many years he was a Baptist minister until Bp McIlvaine of Ohio persuaded him to come to Cleveland, OH to be rector of St Paulís and founder of Grace Church. He then came to Natchez for some ten years.

His son was also a priest who was for many years in the Diocese of Chicago.  He was a first cousin to Oliver Hazard Perry, of Rhode Island.

Additional information submitted by Alexander P. Scott.  Thank you, Alexander!

1866 - 1873 The Rev. Charles B. DANA Formerly rector of Christ Church, Alexandria, VA where he had the honor of presenting Gen. Robert E. LEE to his Bishop for confirmation.
1873 - 1886 The Rev. Alexander MARKS Responsible for transforming the interior of the church and the addition of a recessed chancel.  Built on land donated by A. D. RAWLINGS.
1887 - 1892 The Rev. Frederick Ancrum DERROSSET From Grand Rapids, MI. Continued the plans set in place by Rev. Marks.  The builder was William STIETENROTH. Opened parish school for young ladies. Miss Mattie YERGER was the principal.  Mrs. HILDRETH was directress, and Miss Jennie STIETENROTH and Miss Aimee YOUNG were assistants.
1894 - 1898 The Rev. Charles MORRIS From Evansville, IL.  Discontinued the practice of "renting" the pews.  Installed organ obtained from a $3,000 gift from Stephen DUNCAN.
1898 - 1900 The Rev. Charles H. B. TURNER Cleared the church of debt.
1900 - 1903 The Rev. Charles L. HOFFMAN Arrived at Trinity on July 18, 1900.
1904 - 1908 The Rev. Joseph B. PERRY Introduced the Vested Choir consisiting of 61 volunteer singers. Alex PEALE was choirmaster.
1908 - 1913 The Rev. Ellwood Steirling GUNN Arrived at Trinity from Winona, MS
1914 - 1946 The Rev. Joseph H. KUEHNLE Served in Como, MS prior to arriving in Natchez.  The Parish house was named Kuehnle Hall as a memorial to the faithful service of Rev. Kuehnle.
1946 - 1975 The Rev. Louis O'Vander THOMAS Established the Trinity Episcopal Day School. A nursery school for four year olds was begun in 1950 in the Parish House, later in the old rectory on S. Commerce. 
1975 - 1981 The Rev. Martin Luther AGNEW, Jr. Continued to expand the educational aspects of the church. In 1981 accepted rectorship in Tyler, TX.
1981 The Rev. Lowell E. GRISHAM, Jr. Ordained at Trinity on Feb 24, 1981.  Served as interim rector.
1982 - 1991 The Rev. Limuel G. PARKS, Jr. Expanded and renovated Kuehnle Hall, among other construction, completed by Concordia Constrcution Co in Nov, 1988.
1991 - 1995 The Rev. Harry E. ALLEN Became rector aafter the retirement of Rev. Parks. Continued extensive repair and painting to the church building.  Constructed outdoor chapel on the Day School grounds by volunteeers.
1995 - 1996 The Rev. William T. RICHTER Interim rector.
1996 The Rev. Bronson BRYANT Interim rector
1997 -  The Rev. Zabron Alfred (Chip) DAVIS, III Installed as the 34th rector of Trinity Church on May 18, 1997
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