Last June I read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.
(1) Rev. Elijah Guion; (2) Alfred Beck Guion; (3) Alfred Duryee Guion; (4) Alfred Peabody Guion; (5) Judith Anne Guion
It was about this time, in 1865, that Guion’s own rigidity of principal caught up with him. All through the war, this clergyman had persisted in doing that which no other southern clergyman, it is said, had continued to do — namely, to read the Prayer for the President of the United States Sunday after Sunday at the services at St. Paul’s. The President, of course, was Lincoln; keeping that prayer in the ritual before a Confederate congregation required courage as well as obstinacy. During the four long years of the war he got away with it and probably was admired for it. In 1865, with the South in the misery of defeat, the parishioners could stand it no longer. The vestry met, and the Rev. Elijah Guion was ousted from the pulpit of St. Paul’s, which he had occupied with distinction for 20 years.
The rest of the story as I understand it: Major General Benjamin Butler issued an order during the Civil War to the Episcopal Churches in New Orleans. The order stated that they were to pray for the President of the United States as required by the ritual of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States or close up. The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States was the only church that had these prayers included in their liturgy. Where the vestry’s refused to comply, they had to give way to men named by the military authority.
In October, 1862, the Rector at St. Paul’s was interrupted in his ministrations by military order and exiled. During his absence, beginning on January 1, 1863,the Rev. Elijah Guion had charge of the pulpit.
As General Banks prepared in the spring of 1864 to move up the Red River to cut off Confederate supplies in northwestern Louisiana, the union military tightened its control over the city. Now General Banks issued the same kind of order that the nefarious Butler had earlier issued: pray for the President of the United States as required by the ritual of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States or close up. Where vestry’s refused to comply, they had to give way to men named by the military authority.
The only city church to be served continuously by one clergyman for most of the period between General Banks’ order reopening the churches and the end of the war was St. Paul’s. To it as acting Rector came the Reverend Elijah Guion. He was acceptable to the military authorities because he had been – and would be again – a chaplain in the United States Army.
The Rev. Elijah Guion, at St. Paul’s, wrote President Lincoln urging an abatement of the order. But his letters were returned to him through military channels. Finally he to complied.
On May 10, 1864, the Rev. Elisha Guion announced at the morning service that time had come when it was his duty to use the “Prayer for the President of the United States” and the “Prayer for Congress when in session”, and he would begin reciting those prayers at the evening service. It was reported that this announcement so irritated the ladies of his church, whose sympathies are with and for the rebels, that they chose to attend some other church, since Mr. Guion’s sermon was preached.
The Rev. Elijah Guion remained at St. Paul’s until September 1, 1865, when the previous rector resumed his office.
Inflexible men do not take such things easily. Grandma Guion was the organist for her husband’s last Sunday service at St. Paul’s. He couldn’t remember the ritual and kept crossing the chancel to ask her in a whisper what came next.
Guion’s loss of his important pulpit meant the end of the New Orleans era for his family. At 56 he was still in his prime and he had his admirers. For a time he served as Chaplain of the First New Orleans Volunteers; then he was called to the parish of Baton Rouge, capital of the state, where my mother and father already resided. At Baton Rouge, as before, he both preached and established a church school in which my grandmother taught. (Actually, he was at. St. James Church in Baton Rouge from July 1, 1854 to July 18, 1860, and I have not found any evidence that he had another parish in Baton Rouge.) The war had ended, the nation again was one, and on July 28, 1866, my grandfather became a chaplain of the 41st Infantry, United States Army.
COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.
The Diocese of Louisiana: Some of It’s History – 1838 – 1888, Complied by the Rev. Herman Cope Duncan, M.A., New Orleans: A.W. HYATT, PRINTER, 73 CAMP STREET – 13391, 1888
So Great A Good, A History of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana and of Christ Church Cathedral – 1805 – 1955 by Hodding Carter and Betty Werlein Carter, The University Press, SEWANEE, TENNESSEE, 1955
Next Sunday, I’ll continue the story of the Rev. Elijah, Clara and their large family in New Orleans.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin posting leters written in 1944. All five boys are helping Uncle Sam and Grandpa is holding down the fort in Trumbull. He doesn’t hear from each of the boys every week but he sure tries to encourage them to write home on a regular basis. Lad and his new wife, Marian, are in California but Lad is expecting to get transferred overseas in the not too distant future. Dan is in London, probably preparing maps for D-Day. Ced is in Alaska, repairing planes, rescuing downed planes and ferrying people and supplies as a Bush Pilot. Dave has left Trumbull after his furlough and is back in Missouri for more training. Dick is still withholding news, even from his wife. She and Grandpa wish he would write more often.