Stories from the First Cathedral  - Faribault, MN 

The Rev Canon James C Zotalis

July 27, 2021

Last week we discussed the Guild at the First Cathedral. The two guilds were the Altar Guild and the Social Activities Guild. Women at the First Cathedral were a vital force from the beginning, even before the Cathedral building was constructed from 1862-1869. The Church of the Good Shepherd built several blocks away from the Cathedral was the origin of the congregation. The Church of the Good Shepherd was a vibrant parish in the 1850s with many women in leadership, which was the catalyst of its growth.

 "For six years - 1914-1920- a Faribault woman, Mrs. H. C. Theopold, served as president of the Minnesota Auxiliary. According to her, the Cathedral Auxiliary branch was one of the strongest in the Diocese for over fifty years. According to Cathedral records the chapter had over 40 members." (The First Cathedral by Mr Robert Neslund and The Venerable Ben Scott, 1987, p195)

The Cathedral Auxiliary was active in fulfilling two causes. They raised money for local needs for the Cathedral church as well as donating funds for missions in the continental United States along with concerns around the world.

Anna Cole Theopold led the charge at the First Cathedral in inspiring women to be active in social activities and honorable charitable acts. Anna was born into the high society of Faribault. Her father Gordon Cole was the Minnesota Attorney General (1860-1866) and a one-term mayor of Faribault. He was a prominent town founder, owning the Theopold Mercantile Co and the Morris Candy Co. 

In 1878 Anna organized the Ladies' Literary Club (The Monday Club). This club was the upper crust of well-to-do women who met regularly to study literature, fine arts, and history. Anna had the background, the financial means, the social status and family background to get things done during the early years of the First Cathedral's existence. 

Next week we will meet a woman opposite in nature to Anna Cole Theopold, who had little social status, but humbly served the First Cathedral in a significant way.


July 20, 2021

I believe in every sacristy and kitchen in an Episcopal church there is a little plaque that says . . . "Priests come and go, but the Guild lasts forever."

"Though the Guild of the Good Shepherd never owned the Guild House outright, it was built at the instigation of the women of the Parish and specifically to provide a place for their work. Women had been active in the life of the Parish since its beginning, though in the first years there apparently was no formal organization to coordinate their efforts. In 1864, a "Sisterhood" was begun, but its exact purpose is unclear. The earliest mention of women's project comes from that exact same year. "The ladies of the Church of the Good Shepherd will open for the public an 'Ice-Cream Retreat', the proceeds to be used for an organ for the Bishop's Church."' (The First Cathedral by Venerable Ben Scott and Mr. Robert Neslund 1987 pg. 194).

The Women's Guild at the First Cathedral has always been the backbone of the Cathedral to enhance the social life of the church and the instrument for women of all ages to feel important and worthwhile.

The current Women's Guild in most Episcopal Churches usually makes up two guilds. There is the Women's Guild, which inspires church activities and usually raises money for non-budgeted items. Then there is the Altar Guild, which is in charge of liturgical events, maintains the sacristy, provides altar flowers, and many other tasks that make the services special for the congregation.

I found out as a Dean, Rector, Priest-in-charge and vicar to always respect the ladies of both the Women's and Altar Guilds. The Guilds were the lifeline of the First Cathedral. Today the First Cathedral has both active guilds. The altar Guild has a list of twenty-four  women who rotate monthly and take charge of the altar. The Women's Guild already has a very busy schedule for August 2021. The next few weeks I will focus on the Guilds for tales from the past.


July 13, 2021

During Lent of 1903, the addition of Gilbert Hall was started with children in mind. Today the space is located between the Great Hall and the Kitchen of the Guild House. It is the most unusual room for its contents and for the motivation to teach the Cathedral children about the Christian faith.

On the North wall of Gilbert Hall is a long series (20ft+) of the cast of Singing and Dancing Children which is a bas-relief by della Robbia. There are other cast sculptures of the Madonna, David holding the head of Goliath, and St George and the Dragon. Also in the room is a representation of the Quest for the Holy Grail. 

"The Quest was given by the two Gilbert girls and their friends at St Mary's Hall in memory of Bishop Gilbert. It cost $300. Large sepia photographs of Sir Edwin Abbey's murals in Boston Public Library alternate with carved oak panels that recount this Arthuian legend. Undoubtedly the story was chosen for its moral wisdom. It features not only a bottle with the Seven Deadly Sins, but also a victory over temptation. In 1985 color photographs of the murals were installed. The original prints have been preserved and kept behind the photographs."

(The First Cathedral by Robert Neslund and Venerable Ben Scott 1987, p193) 

Other items that have been lost through the decades, which excited Sunday school children in 1903, were a collection of shells and rocks, artifacts from the Holy Land, picture books of ancient times, 50 little oak chairs (given by Evangeline Whipple) and a large sandbox for teachers to tell stories in the sand. I wish I would have been a teacher back then with a room filled with art, hands on goodies, and objects that would rival 21st century Sunday school supplies. 

When I give tours of the three buildings of the Cathedral, I usually end up at the Gilbert addition. By then my tour companions have been on visual overload. I usually do not have enough time to explain and appreciate these visual treasures from 1903.


June 29, 2021

"The Original Guild House comprised the front two thirds of the present building - two reception rooms, the great hall, and a kitchen and dining room in the basement. A stairway in the great hall connected the basement to the main floor. Where the main doors are now, there was an open porch, entered through an arch, with steps leading up to the first floor." (The First Cathedral by Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund 1987) 

The Original Guild House has been through many changes over the past 70 years. In 1954 the parish did remodeling in the basement to provide space for Sunday School rooms, Scouting activities and the Horstman Memorial Nursery School. The main level of the Original Guild House held two reception rooms, the great hall space and stage area. There is a second floor where steep stairs take one to storage closets and two additional rooms. These two rooms today serve as the archive rooms. The archives is an ongoing project of historical records, Whipple treasures and many books. Below the archive rooms, which were originally the two reception rooms, you will find the offices of the Cathedral secretary and the Dean's office.

The stage area of the great hall houses two treasures of the Cathedral; the original altar from the Cathedral apse and the Resurrection stained glass window. The Resurrection window is in the Tiffany style and is a memorial to the Rev Clark Bill. The altar was moved from the Cathedral in 1934 and the cross and candlesticks came from the Seabury chapel. The Resurrection window was once on an outside wall, but now is lit by artificial lighting. In order to change the bulbs when they burn out, a brave soul must go through the attic of the kitchen, crawl along the attic and hoist a set of bulbs in a wooden rack to replace the bulbs. Bucky Roosemalen was the master changer. The task is difficult, but illuminating the Resurrection window  is worth the painstaking effort!


June 22, 2021

The Guild House contains one of my favorite spaces in the First Cathedral complex and is called the Great Hall. Currently there is another church meeting in the Great Hall, which pays a monthly rent to the Cathedral. The Great Hall has serviced many people and events in the past 130 years. I will be discussing these outside community-friendly events in future letters. So it is appropriate for the Great Hall to host another denomination.

One of the amazing parts of the Great Hall is the collection of stained glass windows. "The Great hall contains two large side windows, both memorials. In the east window, the young boy Samuel holds a censer, and the motto quotes the words of his mother Hannah; "I have lent him unto the Lord." The effect is especially poignant for the window is in memory of three-year-old Herbert McArthur Smith, who was accidentally shot by his brother in "forbidden play" while their parents were away. (Above are three angel heads, all commemorating Theopold children). In the west window at the top there is a richly colored representation of John the Baptist, given in memory of James Lloyd Breck, with the appropriate words "The voice of one crying in the wilderness."" (The First Cathedral  by the Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund, 1987)

Next week I will write about the other stained glass windows in the Great Hall and the variety of art hung on the walls and people behind these beautiful images.

June 15, 2021

One of my treasures was found at a large antique show at the Minnesota State Fair grounds. It is a little white card and is very valuable to me because it is a season pass for the 1934 St. Paul Saints baseball season. It was the pass used by the Rev. Frank Zoubek. The Very Rev. Zoubek was dean of the First Cathedral from 1915 to 1925. He left the Cathedral to be rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church in St. Paul. The Saints at that time played in Lexington Park on the corner of University and Lexington and had played there for decades. If you are in the area, there is a monument one can read that gives the history of the baseball park. The rector of St. Mary's could walk or take a street car in the 1930s to get to a game. That season ticket pass must have passed through many hands before I found it after 60 or 70 years. It floated around until it was found by me, Dean of the First Cathedral, with a "Z" for a last name. Frank was a little further down the alphabet; me being a ZOT and he being a ZOU! 

I admired Dean Zoubek for, during his ten years at the First Cathedral, there was a rapid growth in youth. I admire him most for the way he promoted activities for girls and young women.

"Dean Zoubek must have been a strong supporter of its work, for he told the 1922 annual meeting of the Parish that the appropriation for girl's activities should be equal to the amount allowed for the boys." (The First Cathedral by The Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Roobert Neslund)

Another quote from the same book was very descriptive of Dean Zoubek. "Life around the Cathedral must have been very different when Frank Zoubek took over. He was a hearty man, who sang exuberantly and had a house full of mischievous red haired children."

Go Saints!

June 8, 2021

If one has not taken a tour of the First Cathedral, one would not know the Cathedral Campus rests on a city block. The block is shared with Wells Fargo Bank and their parking lot. The Cathedral Campus is made up of three buildings: The Cathedral (1869), The Guild House (1896), and the Cloister (2005). All of the buildings have been joined together by the construction of the Cloister. Many decades Cathedral congregations wanted to connect the Guild House with the Cathedral. The only thing joining the two buildings was a series of pipes. The furnace in the Guild House heated the Cathedral through these underground pipes which traveled across the lot to the current heating plant depending on the year and what system of heating was used. I remember when I was ordained to the priesthood in January of 1988, the temperature was about 10 degrees below zero. After the service my ordination guests made a hurried walk to the Guild House for the reception. Hot coffee was the most popular item at my reception!

The Original Guild House
"Funds to build the George Broyton Whipple Guild House were raised in 1893. The cost is given as $10,000. The Romanesque style of the building, then in vogue, was chosen. (The lines of the building have been compared to the work of Henry H Richardson, the famous Boston architect). It is a heavy, solid looking structure constructed of pressed brick and brownish-pink sandstone. Originally it had a slate roof. It was opened "informally" on November 20, 1894, but official "Benediction" could not take place until January 8, 1896, when everything was paid for." (The First Cathedral by the Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund 1987)

The Cathedral building has remained consistent as a place of worship, with some structural changes depending on the priety of liturgical practices throughout the decades. The Guild House has a long history of different functions and occupants for over 120 years. This is a very interesting story about how the Guild house has evolved with the theme of a building whose purpose is centered on social events. We will explore those stories in the future.


June 1, 2021

In past stories, I have dwelt in the 19th century. Stories have focused on clergy and famous founders of the First Cathedral's early beginnings. As we enter the months after memorial day, I will try to tell stories of the post-Whipple period and of the laity of the Cathedral keeping the Christian community alive with social activities which sparked growth between the Guild House and Cathedral building. The vessel for keeping people connected was the official publication (newsletter) of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour called the "Cathedral Chimes". 

Here is one of my favorite articles from those pages, found in the archives, titled "Parish Party".

A newspaper clipping announces a parish party in 1924, hosted by Epiphany Episcopal Church.


"Party and Dancing"! Those Cathedral Parishioners during the "Roaring Twenties" knew how to have fun! It reminds me of my favorite activity during the 150th celebration we had at the First Cathedral when I was Dean. It was dinner and dancing in the Great Hall of the Guild House.

Also in this newsletter about the annual meeting in January 1924, was a little blurb titled "Remember Our Parish Ideal". It went like this.

Every Member a Worshipper
Every Worshipper a Worker
Every Worker a Giver
Every Giver a Spiritual Force


May 25, 2021

Last week I mentioned the Whipple family moving to Faribault, MN. Henry and Cornelia were provided a home for themselves and six children. The home was across the street from the Cathedral, North and on the corner.

Bishop Whipple and family were not the first white people to move into the area. Alexander Faribault was the first recorded European to make  contact with the Indigenous people who lived near the Straight River. Mr. Faribault was a Roman Catholic fur trader and businessman who welcomed the presence of Bishop Henry Whipple.

Other white Episcopal missionary clergy entered the scene in Faribault before Bishop Whipple. In 1854, Fr Wilcoxson, Dr. Breck and Bishop Jackson Kemper traveled through St. Paul to visit potential missionary work in Faribault.

The first Episcopal service was held on December 16, 1855 at the home of Mr. Thomas Y. Santell. In the summer of 1857, Dr. Breck, Fr Manney and Fr Peake thought Faribault would be a good site for a church and school. 

Bishop Whipple was not the first clergy or white person to come among the Indigenous people in the beautiful landscape of the Straight River with its bluffs and rolling hills. There were pioneer people of different Christian faiths and those without any belief system who loved this area of south central Minnesota. Bishop Whipple was unique in his taking residence. Once settled in Faribault he had the ambition to promote a Cathedral, schools of various kinds, and activities which promoted growth and excitement in the area.


May 18, 2021

After the audience with President Lincoln and General McClellan, Bishop Whiopple returned home to Faribault, MN. Many were surprised that he selected Faribault to be his home.

 "Whipple surprised local church leaders by electing to live in Faribault, out on the prairie sixty miles south of the capital, where he could better afford a dignified house and provide himself with a more central point of departure as he traveled his new diocese behind his trusted horse, Bashaw, visiting towns, thriving farms, and 'one-roomed log huts, where my bedroom had to be improvised by partitioning one end of the room with a sheet.' 'Many of the frontier settlers were people of refinement and culture who, in some financial panic, had lost everything and had pre-empted homes in the West, where they lived in independence, scorning to apologize to their bidden guest for their meager surroundings,' he wrote. 'The genuine pioneer may be a rude man, but he is seldom an infidel.'" (38 Nooses by Scott W Berg 2012) 

When Bishop Whipple was present in Faribault in 1862, he launched what in his eyes was his most important project; the building of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. The first Cathedral in the United States was started in 1862 and finished in 1869. The Cathedral concept was vital to Henry Whipple as being the seat of the Bishop, but also a place for the community of Faribault to gather all kinds of people in an open welcoming place to show God's love. A Cathedral is not just a church or a place of worship. A Cathedral is a central structure, which is built in a majestic way to show the beauty of God's creation in the art, architecture, music making and central events for all cultures. The First Cathedral has all of these traits in Faribault. The First Cathedral or the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour compliments the other institutions in Faribault such as Shattuck-St Mary's school, the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind  and the Minimum to Medium Minnesota Correctional Facility - Faribault (which was the Faribault State Hospital for the mentally ill for over 100 years). At the turn of the 20th century, Faribult was called the "Athens of the West."


May 11, 2021

Bishop Whipple had many American Indian friends in the 1860s.  He also made several friends during the Civil War. These relationships were revisited on his trip to Wahsington, DC during his trip to meet with President Lincoln in September of 1862. On September 19, the bishop arrived on the battlefield of Antietam, where 112,000 troops engaged in the single bloodiest day in American history.

"Whipple walked a ground splattered by the blood shed by opposing troops. For the second time in less than a month, he encountered people terribly wounded in battle - first in Saint Peter, MN, where he served in the makeshift hospital, now in Maryland, where he returned to his role as spiritual comforter. Whipple spent the night in General McClellan's tent, as his guest. Despite the stark changes in their circumstances, the general still recognized a friendship that had begun when Whipple served as a priest in Chicago and McClellan was a railroad man. The two talked for three hours, then prayed together before going to sleep. A few days later, Whipple wrote to McClellan, describing his visits to the military hospitals on the battlefield. "I had the opportunity to commend some dying men to God and to whisper the Saviour's name in their ear for the last journey."" (Lincoln's Bishop by Gustav Niebur 2014)

Bishop Whipple was comfortable in any person's presence no matter who they were, from the very poor and meek to people possessing great power. All people were comfortable with Henry Whipple, because he was a compassionate, caring pastor, who listened to anyone's story of life.

May 4, 2021

Last week, I mentioned the new book about Enmegahbowh. In the book is the story of Bishop Whipple's special friendship with Enmegahbowh. Henry Whipple had many rich friendships with Indigenous people in Minnesota and around the country. Another important relationship was with a man named Taopi. 

"The story of Taopi is particularly [tragic]. He had not only been chief of a Mdewakanton village of "Famer Indians" before the 1862 conflict; he was also in line to succeed Little Crow, the leader of that catastrophe. He always carried this note: 'The bearer, Taopi ("wounded man") is entitled to the everlasting gratitude of the American people for having, with other Christian Indians, during the late outbreak, saved the lives of nearly two hundred white women and children. HH Sibley Colonel Commanding.' Taopi would die in a few years, in extreme poverty, a nearly broken man. Yet in his last minutes, he was able to say to the Bishop, "I am not afraid to go. Jesus has walked in the trail before me. I shall not be lonesome on the road." (The First Cathedral by Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund. 1987). 

Taopi spent his last days in Faribault, MN because of an invitation from Bishop Whipple. Taopi is buried in Maple Lawn Cemetery in Faribault. The cemetery is on the SW side of Faibault and one can visit Taopi's grave anytime. There are special signs giving direction to the site.


April 27, 2021

"With the birth of Henry Whipple Johnson, born in December 1861, the family of Enmegahbowh and Charlotte now included eight children. Martha was nineteen, Alfred was seventeen, Gaius was thirteen, George was ten, William was nine, Eliza was seven, Jane was five. Henry Whipple Johnson was baptized by Bishop Henry Whipple on August 1, 1862. Sarah Jamison was born to Enmegahbowh and Charlotte in June 1865. She was baptized on June 9 by Bishop Whipple." (A short excerpt from a new book I recommend everyone read called Stands Before His People Enmegahbowh and the Ojibwe by Vern Pickering and Stephen Schaitberger 2021)

Enmegahbowh is the first recognized Native American priest in the Episcopal Church. He was ordained deacon by Bishop Kemper in 1859 and priest by Bishop Whipple at the first Cathedral in Faribault in 1867. He tirelessly traveled throughout Minnesota and beyond, actively participating in the development of mission strategy and policy for the Episcopal Church. He trained many others to serve as clergy in Northern Minnesota.

Enmegahbowh is buried at White Earth where he served until 1902 at his death. We remember him as an Episcopal saint on June 12.


April 20, 2021

On September 15, 1862, Henry Whipple came to President Lincoln's office in Washington accompanied by General Henry Halleck, a West Point graduate, the chief of all Union forces and first cousin to Whipple.

"At six feet two inches tall - nearly as tall as Lincoln - Whipple had a foot's height on the average man of the time. He could nearly look Lincoln in the eye. At forty he was then a dozen years younger than the president and slimmer. In an era in which many men, including Lincoln, wore facial hair, Whipple kept himself clean-shaven. He swept his dark hair back and let it grow long down his neck, in a style some of his Indian acquaintances recognized favorably. That day in the White House, Whipple's appearance would have included a discordant note. He had a bandaged hand, the result of an injury two weeks earlier. He had hurt it while sewing up wounds suffered by white settlers in flight from the Dakotas. The bishop had spent days serving as a nurse in a makeshift hospital he had organized not far from the fighting. At some point, his needle had slipped, and the hand had become painfully infected." (From Lincoln's Bishop by Gustav Niebuhr 2014)

The stage is set for the meeting between two men, who were champions in their own cause to secure freedom for people who were enslaved and persecuted - Lincoln in his focus for freedom for the slaves,  Whipple in his focus on seeking justice for the native people in Minnesota.


April 13, 2021

I believe Bishop Henry Whipple should have a place in the book Holy Men and Holy Women and in its replacement book, Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses. The book Lesser Feasts and Fasts was the first of these daily devotionals that remember the Saints of the church. What is a Saint? The best definition can be found in Hymn 293 which is one of my top five favorite hymns in the Hymnal! I know many people feel Bishop Whipple should not be in these books for various reasons, but being a Whipple loyalist I would like to see his name entered into the book of Saints in the near future, and here is why:

"Whipple acted as a one-man movement, seeking respect and protection for American Indians to replace the monstrous fraud and injustice to which he saw them subjected. It took me little time to find in the story a contemporary resonance. I had recently had occasion to reread one of the most powerful Christian documents of my lifetime, Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." It seemed to speak to Whipple's best work as a dedicated social reformer laboring on behalf of abused people amidst a time of great violence." (from Lincoln's Bishop by Gustav Niebuhr, 2014).

Niebuhr's book tells the story of Henry Whipple traveling to Washington DC in September of 1862 to plead the case of the 303 Dakota warriors sitting in jail after US-Dakota war waiting to be executed. Ex-governor and MN reserve general Henry Hastings Sibley created this list after unethical and very short trials of these convicted men. Bishop Henry Whiplle was able to get an audience with a preoccupied President Lincoln in the middle of the Civil War and pleaded for the lives of these Dakota men. Whipple's visit was able to move Lincoln's conscience to review each one of these Dakota warrior's records.

I will discuss the results of this instrumental visit Whipple courageously completed in September 1862. The bishop was only in his 3rd year of his episcopate, but this action marked the turning point of a bishop who was bold, compassionate and driven for justice.

April 6, 2021

As we finish Holy Week for 2021, I thought I would bring you a story about Bishop Whipple's trip to the Holy Land in 1865. In America, the Civil War was near the end. On Bishop Whipple's return home he heard the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln. The trip was hard on the Bishop's frail physical condition. He was sick many times, with a final relapse in Paris. Bishop Whipple writes about his trip in Chapter 20 of his autobiography, The Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate. His episcopate was only 6 years old when he took this trip to the Holy Land.

I enjoyed reading this short chapter in his autobiography of only 10 pages. I have been to Israel three times and was graced by visiting the holy places marked by creative churches, many that were built by the famous Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi in the 1920s to 1940s. Bishop Whipple used guides to take him to holy places, but important biblical places weren't as well marked as when I traveled there from 2004 - 2016. I love the way Bishop Whipple describes his time in Israel. Here is an excerpt for that 20th chapter of his autobiography:

"It has blessed memories of apostolic preaching, of miracles of healing, and a long line of martyrs of Christ. The beauty of a distant view of the Holy City is lost by an approach from the Jaffa road; and yet I am sure that no Christian ever looked for the first time upon Jerusalem, that he did not cry from the depth of his heart, "Beautiful, beautiful is Mt Zion, the joy of the whole earth!"

"On the hill which overlooks the city I was met by one of the good deaconesses of Kaiserworth and her school of Arab children, who had come to welcome an American bishop with a song."


March 30, 2021

Cornelia's ministry in Chicago

I haven't written enough words in the past First Cathedral stories about Cornelia Whipple. She was college educated. She was the mother of six children. Cornelia was responsible for prodding her husband Henry, in the early years of their ministry, to study for holy orders. She also developed a fruitful ministry in Chicago under the sponsorship of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion.

"Cornelia Whipple took an active part in the work of her husband's mission. She too felt a strong calling to serve the poor and bring them to Christ, a habit mind that went back to her school days. The poor families in the back alleys of the Whipples' neighborhood soon became familiar with the cleric's wife who visited their sick and needy and her efforts were appreciated by those she served." (and the Wilderness shall Blossom - Henry Benjamin Whipple Churchman Educator Advocate of the Indians  by Ann Beiser Allen)

In other Whipple texts I have read, Cornelia Whipple's safety was her husband's concern as she ministered to people in the dangerous neighborhoods surrounding the Church of the Holy Communion. Cornelia would often go out late at night after the children went to bed to give pastoral care to the down and out of the congregation. This exceptional and courageous effort from Cornelia would not last long. In July of 1859, Henry Whipple was given the news from the Rev Dr Robert H Clarkson of St James Church that he was elected bishop of the new diocese of Minnesota. When Cornelia and the six children arrived in Faribault, MN to be at the side of her husband Henry as he began his long episcopate, it was the beginning of a remarkable adventure of ministry in the new diocese. This work of Cornelia from 1859 to 1890 is often overshadowed by her husband's work and notoriety!


March 22, 2021

More History of Bishop Whipple's Church in Chicago

Last week we discussed the evangelical fervor Henry Whipple had for the men that worked in the dangerous railway yards on the South side of Chicago. Chicago in 1857 was a busy young city with a population of 75,000. It had been founded 24 years earlier in a swampy area where the Chicago river flows into Lake Michigan. It grew faster than any other American city in the 19th century. Chicago was a network for the railway system, grain elevators, lumber yards and meat packing plants all crowded on the riverfront. There was no sewage system. Few of the streets were paved. State street where Whipple's church was located was a muddy place lined with pawn shops, boarding houses, saloons and blacksmith shops, The main business street was on Lake Street, leading down to the wharves on Lake Michigan.

Poverty was widespread in Chicago. Twenty five percent of the population controlled 100 percent of the city's wealth. Gambling and prostitution were wide spread. The Sunday closing laws for saloons were not observed. People worshiped money, so from a young clergyman's point of view, this was a town that needed revival!

"Whipple wrote to his daughter in June of 1857, describing the "very busy" city and its wooden sidewalks. At the hotel where he was boarding, 400 people ate everyday. Metropolitan Hall, where the Church of the Holy Communion would begin its life, was large enough to seat 2500 people, though his small congregation took up only a fraction of the space. There were five other Episcopal churches in the city, but his was the only "free" one. He had about a dozen scholars in his Sunday school already; and he was confident the parish would grow. Whipple soon found a small but pleasant house for his family, only half a mile from church and they joined him in September."  (And the Wilderness Shall Blossom Henry B Whipple - churchman, educator and advocate for the Indians by Anne Bieser Allen) 

Bishop Whipple would only live in Chicago for two years before he was called to Minnesota to serve as the First Bishop. Next week, we will learn about Cornelia Whipple's role in Chicago and learn Henry Whipple's view on high and low church issues in the middle of the 19th century.


March 16, 2021

A Master at Evangelism

Bishop Whipple's church before he was elected as Minnesota's first bishop was The Free church of the Holy Communion in Chicago. They rented the Metropolitan Hall for worship. Bishop Whipple visited every shop, saloon, and factory within a mile of the hall. The church was close to the railway yards. So the bishop went to the chief engineer of the Galena railway for his advice on how to reach the men who worked in the railway yards. Mr McAlpine, the head of the railway, asked Bishop Whipple what he knew about steam locomotives. The bishop said he knew absolutely nothing about steam trains. So Bishop Whippled secured a copy of Lardner's Railway Economy. Here's what happened next. This excerpt is taken from Bishop Whipple's autobiography titled Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate (1899).

"In due season I went to the roundhouse of the Galena railway, where I found a number of engineers standing by a locomotive which the firemen were cleaning. Observing that it was a Taunton engine with inside connections, I asked at a venture, "Which do you like the better, inside or outside connections?" This followed by about steam heaters and variable exhausts, and in less than half an hour I was taught far more than I had learned from my book. In leaving I said:"Boys, where do you go to church? I have a free church in Metropolitan Hall where I shall be glad to see you, and if at any time you have an accident or need me, I will gladly go to you." The following Sunday every man was in church!" 

Bishop Whipple was a master evangelist before becoming our first bishop here in Minnesota.


March 9, 2021

Carol Greeney and Bucky Roosmalen

I will continue with memories of two lay people from the First Cathedral. Both of these servants of the Cathedral have died, but their work is still remembered.

Much of Carol Greeney's ministry was on the Cathedral grounds. Carol's expertise centered on the outside flower gardens around the three buildings of the Cathedral. The flowers and decorative greens were Carol's children. She cared for them daily with a watchful eye. The day lilies which huddled up along the 1862 Cathedral building flourished under Carol's constant attention. Probably her best accomplishment was the resurrection of Evangeline's rose garden. Bishop Whipple's second wife loved her rose garden. The garden was next to the Whipple home, but was destroyed when the house was torn down in the 1930's. The new rose garden is located in the SW corner of the Cathedral grounds. Carol planted new rose bushes. She watered, trimmed and applied winter covering with much love so we can enjoy the garden today. Carol also headed the altar guild after Eileen Hansen died and tended to that ministry with the same love and devotion as the gardens.

Bucky Roosmalen was a sign painter by trade, but he possessed many talents that he shared during his decades as a member of the Cathedral. He was a repairman, a painter of gold inlay, a carpenter and mechanic. He had no fear when it came to climbing  the bell tower or crawling into high attics. His most beautiful creation is in the crypt of the Cathedral across from Bishop Whipple's grave and the columbarium. Bucky built a wall of beautiful glass cabinets that house the earliest treasures of the First Cathedral. I remember one day when I came to work as Dean of the Cathedral I saw a huge lift on the West end of the Cathedral. I walked over to see Bucky sitting on the facia of the Cathedral forty feet above ground doing a repair job and balancing with one hand while holding a calk gun in the other! By then I had been Dean long enough not to call the fire department or question Bucky. I just stood below the lift and said, "Good Morning, Bucky!". Then I went to my office and started my day.

Both Bucky and Carol contributed in many ways to the Cathedral. A big thanks to both of them and the gifts they shared with the First Cathedral.


March 2, 2021

Eileen Hansen

I believe one of the mistakes we make in the Episcopal Church is marking time and organizing periods of history in a congregation by associating it with the clergy that was serving. The laity of Episcopal church recognizes the bishops, priest, deacons, and other ordained persons as being important. We mark times in our church history by saying this was the era of this clergy or this clergy served in this period. However, most of the lay people of a congregation are the real servants. Most effective laity are humble, hardworking, possess a deep faith and work hard for decades without being recognized.

I could choose many members of the laity who have graced the inside of the First Cathedral since 1862. One of the most deserving, of the top ten effective lay people, was Eileen Hansen who was the head of the altar guild for decades at the First Cathedral. Eileen served from roughly 1970 to 2011. Eileen was a widow, soft spoken, gentle, small in stature, polite, loving and expert in liturgical setup of every season of the church.

When I was Dean and a Bishop would visit the First Cathedral, I was not the first one greeted. They would make a beeline to the Cathedral sacristy to check in with Eileen and get instructions. The sacristy was well organized, clean, neat, and completely stocked with drawers of beautiful liturgical supplies. The purificators, fair linens and corporals were white pieces of perfection used in holy services and provided with pride by Eileen and her staff of volunteers. 

Besides having the ministry of supervising a top-notch altar guild, Eileen had another special ministry. She remembered birthdays with a card and a crisp $2.00 bill. I asked her once if she made these $2.00 bills at home. She responded, "If I could make these, I would make larger bills for myself." One of my treasured bookmarks is a $2.00 bill from Eileen given in a birthday card. Thank you, Eileen, for your dedication and care of sacred items at the First Cathedral.

February 22, 2021

Deacon Donald Wafler
I received the following email from Bishop Sandy Hampton - Retired
"Greetings from San Diego, Jim,
I don't  know if this little anecdote fits in with your project of accumulating stories from the First Cathedral, but at least I will presume to inject a little levity into your collection.
I can't recall the exact year (1990-96)  but I was Presiding at The Easter Vigil in Faribault.  We began by lighting the new fire outside and shortly thereafter a strong wind began resulting in a ball of new fire being picked up and blown in the direction of Deacon David Sams who was in a wheelchair.  People scurried around and David, very fortunately, was moved out of the way.  One "wag" commented afterwards,  "It's a good thing David was moved out of the fire's way as knowing how Episcopalians honor tradition we would have expected to set a Deacon on fire at every Easter Vigil.""
Bishop Hampton has inspired me to write about a special Deacon at the First Cathedral. His name was Donald Wafler. He was ordained a Deacon in 1979.
"Deacon Wafler was the first permanent deacon in the history of the Cathedral. The service took place after Dean Swenson's departure and before Dean Winkler's arrival and it was Dean Hughes who had persuaded Mr Wafler to prepare for this ministry. Don had been involved in the Cathedral for well over twenty years, as a stalwart in the choir, as a lay-reader, as Junior and Senior Warden. Recently he had retired from directing special education programs in Rice County. The Rev Mr Wafler would perform many specific duties - pastoral and liturgical responsibilities, preaching, liaison work among the other deacons in the Diocese, occasional services in churches of other denominations- but his primary role in the congregation was to serve as a kind of living model of the servanthood that should characterize all Christians." (The First Cathedral by Mr Robert neslund and The Venerable Ben Scott)
Deacon Wafler was a master at playing the bells in the First Cathedral tower. If you have a First Cathedral book, Deacon Wafler is featured on page 178 in the middle of ringing the bells while creating a beautiful sound throughout downtown Faribault.
When I first came to the First Cathedral as chaplain of Shattuck St Mary's, Deacon Wafler encouraged our family to attend the Cathedral. His very generous personality was so encouraging for us as a family surviving three years of seminary. He made us feel so welcomed at the Cathedral services on Sunday. Deason Wafler's ministry of presence was fueled by a special person, who was his aid and main support. It was his wife Helen, who was one of the matriarchs of the First Cathedral. Helen and Don together were a witness of a solid Christian marriage. They both served for decades! Helen was always high on my list;especially when I visited their cozy home across the street from the Faribault Hospital and she served wonderful cookies with the best coffee.

February 16, 2021

Last week's story was about Lieutenant Asa Abbot and I used a quote from Robert Neslund's book For a Life of Learning and Service (How Shattuck St Mary's Came to Be).  I first met Robert Neslund in 1987 when I became the chaplain of Shattuck St Mary's school. It was the only opening for a new clergy after I graduated from Seminary in May of 1987. I loved this position being a former teacher for 11 years in Hastings MN. Mr Neslund was my oldest daughter's Latin instructor. He also played the organ for me for the girl's service and the boy's service once a week. When I arrived, Mr Neslund had already been a solid and revered fixture for many decades at the school. He was always very proper wearing a suit every day with a different button on his lapel, usually worded in Latin. His collection of several hundred buttons found their home in the First Cathedral archives. If I wanted to know anything about the Shattuck St Mary's school, Mr Neslund would tell me. He could immediately recite a definition to those who asked no matter what subject. I only spent two years as chaplain because I took a call to a two point parish in NW Minnesota from 1989 to 2001, serving Wahpeton, ND and Fergus Falls, MN.
When I accepted the position of Dean of the First Cathedral in 2001, Mr Neslund was the Senior Warden. The second love of Robert Neslund was the First Cathedral. The third love for him was to always have a canine companion and always a wlesh Corgi. Mr Neslund never married. When he retired around 2008, he was happy to purchase a condo in the old Rectory of the First Cathedral, right across the street to the North. The old rectory was built around 1910 for Dean Charles Slattery with much financial help from Bishop Whipple's second wife Evangeline Mars Whipple, The house was designed by the American-Swedish architect Olaf Hanson. All of the original blueprints reside in the First Cathedral's archives. When Mr Neslund moved into the house, the structure had been divided into four sections or four condos. The transition from one house to four parts occured in the 1930's. Mr Neslund loved his historic space, but tragically he only lived there several years as he died instantly from a fall in his residence in 2010.
Robert Neslund was very active at the First Cathedral. He loved singing in the choir, holding various positions on the Chapter and participated in many other activities. Before his death he was close to meeting one of his goals for the Cathedral; to make it a gathering place for different cultures in the FAribault area. He believed the First Cathedral could be a place where different faiths, colors of people and new residents could meet in the Cathedral cloister and enjoy common dialogue!
Mr Neslund became a great friend, a source of knowledge and invaluable resource of Cathedral history. My favorite two times with him was being guests at the Minnesota History Center and the St Paul Science Museum to view the Bishop Whipple Indian collection of art.. These collections still reside there today.
Seize the Day, Robert Neslund - I miss you!

February 9, 2021

Grace McKinstry Again! 

I start out correcting myself about Grace McKinstry's painting in the secretary's office in the Guild House of the First Cathedral. I have two corrections; 1) Grace's house was only a city block away from the Cathedral. 2) The small landscape I described was painted from Grace's home in view of Evangeline Whipple's garden next to the Whipple home. Evangeline enjoyed and worked very hard on her garden which featured many roses and beautiful foliage.

The third McKinstry painting from last week hangs in the Great Hall of the Cathedral Guild House. This is a portrait of Lieutenant Asa T Abbot painted in oil on canvas and measuring 24 inches by 36 inches.

"Dr Dobbin (Headmaster of Shattuck St Mary's) was able in the 1880's to hire Lieutenant Abbott, a Civil War Veteran; then living in St Paul. Though a native of Maine, Abbott had volunteered for the First Minnesota Infantry in April 1861. After the war, he attended the US Artillery School at Fort Meade, and so one of his first projects at Shattuck was to develop an artillery platoon and special drill. This was incorporated into the dress parade routine, adding considerable pageantry and noise." (For a Life of Learning and Service - How Shattuck-St Mary's Came to Be by Robert Neslund) 

The painting of Lieutenant Abbot is a portrait of him in his dress uniform. I am assuming that he posed for the portrait. I am also assuming that Shattuck St Mary's commissioned Grace McKinstry to paint the portrait to remember Lieutenant Asa Abbott. The painting was found at St Mary's Hall. There was a room in the basement of St Mary's Hall that had been unoccupied for decades. There were many treasurers of art and other historical archives from the First Cathedral and Shattuck St Mary's. I was allowed to restore, clean and display these items, when I was Dean of the Cathedral probably about the year 2005 - 2006. I remember the Abbott painting was covered in a dark soot and had a tear in the middle of the canvas. Lieutenant Asa T Abbott's portrait by Grace McKinstry was restored and has a prominent place on display in the Great Hall of the Guild House.

January 25, 2021 

Grace Emmajean McKinstry

Grace Emmajean McKinstry was one of the most celebrated women artists in the 19th and 20th centuries in America. Grace was an accomplished artist who painted portraits and landscapes. She used oil on canvas in her paintings. Most of her works reside in the Rice County Historical Society in Faribault. Grace lived in a house in Faribault near the Hutchinson Bed and Breakfast west of downtown. She was trained in Chicago and New York. She has works in California and spent some time in a permanent studio in Southern California. Her paintings can be found in Paris, the Smithsonian in Washington DC, Minnesota History Center and Minnesota State Capitol. Grace was born in Fredonia, NY and died in Minneapolis. She is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Faribault, MN. Most of Grace McKinstry's years were spent in Faribault even though she painted all over the United States and Europe. Grace never married.

The First Cathedral owns three paintings by Grace McKinstry. The most famous one is a portrait of the Rev Dr James Lloyd Breck found in the Cathedral Cloister. Looking at the portrait a person can appreciate her soft-like and Rembrandt-like brush strokes in the composition. The second painting by Grace is in the secretary's office of the First Cathedral, which is in the Guild House. This is a small landscape from the countryside in Rice County. It is a beautiful green impressionist scene with trees in the spring displaying new and fresh leaves. The third McKinstry painting is a portrait hanging in the Great Hall of the Guild House. This is a large portrait of a soldier and teacher from Shattuck-St Mary's school. In my next story, I will tell you his name, where the painting was discovered after being hidden for decades and how it was repaired.


January 18, 2021

William Milligan (veteren of the Civil War)

William Milligan came to the First Cathedral in 1865 when the war ended. His first task was to prepare the wood for all the pews in the nave and choir of the new Cathedral. He was paid $1.25 per 10 hour day. In 1869 when the building was finished, William stayed on as the Cathedral Verger or caretaker of the bishop's house. William liked to be called 'Major" and served as the "Bishop's Man". I don't know if he was the bishop's body guard!

""In 1930 Milligan was featured in the St Paul Pioneer Press: "Yes I guess I'm almost a member of the Bishop's family. ...Have been for years.  Why I remember going into the Bishop's study wearin' overalls, and he would introduce me to whoever was a'visiting him. Great men came to see Bishop Whipple." ....Speaking of Whipple's study, he remarked, "I've seen nearly every kind of man in this room. ... You're whistlin', I have. Indians, and Negroes, too. And the Bishop treated them all alike."" (The First Cathedral by Robert Neslund and The Venerable Ben Scott)

Cornelia Whipple died in 1890. Bishop Whipple died in 1901. Evangeline lived eight quiet years in the house until she left to take care of her ill brother in France. She put "Major" Milligan in charge, with strict orders that the Bishop's rooms and library be kept exactly as he and she had left them. The rooms were never opened and Evangeline would never return. "Major" Milligan guarded everything and lived in the basement until the 1930's. He died at age 93 and served as the Cathedral Verger for 52 years and was employed by the Whipple household for 69 years. The Whipple house was torn down in 1934. There was a large auction of all the contents and Bishop Whipple's Indian Art collection was split between Shattuck-St Mary's School and the Minnesota History Museum. The auction and Indian collection will be future material for the Stories of the First Cathedral.

One of the treasures in the archives of the First Cathedral is "Major" William Milligan's scrapbook. It contains wonderful newspaper articles, souvenirs and comments by the old Verger. It is a mystery how it survived! 


January 11, 2021


Stained Glass Windows Continued


This story will finish my description of the stained glass windows in the First Cathedral buildings (1862 Cathedral, 1934 Cathedral addition, 1893 Guild House, 1905  Guild House addition and the 2005 Cathedral Cloister). Writing about the stained glass windows without color images is very difficult! When the covid days have passed I would be happy to give a tour as the First Cathedral Archivist to any group so they can observe the beautiful windows.

In the Guild House there are several windows throughout the building. In the Great Hall (in the 1893 Guild House) are the most beautiful windows and all have memorials attached to them. The most attractive window is the Resurrection window on the stage of the Great Hall. It was given in memory of the Rev Edward Clark Bill. From 1893 to 1905, the Resurrection window was on an outside wall benefiting from the natural light. When the addition was completed the window needed to be illuminated by artificial light. This light is powered by bulbs, which need changing about every 3 years. The window needs to be raised up with a pulley that is in the attic of the Guild House to be changed. The access now can only be obtained through a ceiling door in the kitchen. It is an adventure to change the bulbs!

Two other windows include a John the Baptist image window in memory of James Lloyd Breck, and reflects his title of being "an apostle of the wilderness." Across the Great Hall from this window is a grouping of windows with the image of Samuel, the Old Testament prophet, and a young boy. These windows are in memory of Herbert McArthur Smith who accidently killed himself with a gun that was not locked up. He was three years old! There are many other windows throughout the Guild house, which are decorative in nature. The ones in the Dean's office are very colorful with rich warm pigment that is really beautiful especially in the mornings.

The windows in the 2005 Cloister were obtained from Blooming Prairie, Minnesota while I was Dean of the Cathedral. The Episcopal church in Blooming Prairie was deconsecrated in the 1920's and the building was taken over by the Methodists. I received a call from a friend of mine, who was an antique dealer about these windows. The Methodists who occupied this former Episcopal church were leaving the building and were selling the windows and other Episcopal artifacts. I left the Cathedral as fast as I could with my 2005 Ford Ranger truck to get to Blooming Prairie. When I arrived the windows were already stacked outside. There were only 3 left. I don't know how many were originally in the building. The windows were beautiful (mostly decorative images) with memorials on the bottom. I was so lucky to find the Bishop Whipple memorial on one of them. I pulled up and visited with the Methodist demolition crew and told them who I was. They said I could have them as a gift. I went around town and found cardboard and whatever I could find to pile the three windows in the back of my Ranger. They stuck out about 3 feet from the back as the windows were about 10 feet long. I slowly made it back to Faribault without any damage.

About a month later, I received a call from a family from Blooming Prairie telling me they had another window they purchased from an antique dealer. I drove over the next day and visited with the family and confirmed it was part of the same Episcopal church as the others. They said I could have the window if I would place a plaque below the window as a memorial for their son who had died in his 20s.

These 4 windows were mounted in the Cloister in the window framing of the Cloister openings, which all are clear. There were 3 gentlemen from the First Cathedral who restored them and hung them. They look wonderful in the Cloister and the First Cathedral didn't have to raise funds to provide stained glass windows in the Cathedral Cloister.


January 4, 2021

The St Elizabeth Chapel 

In 1934, the St Elizabeth's Chapel and Crypt were added on to the Cathedral building. To stay in the spirit of Advent and Christmas we will discuss art in the St Elizabeth Chapel. "The chapel incorporates the furnishing and some of the structural details of Bishop Whipple's private oratory in the old See House (The arched ceiling either preserves the original beams or duplicates them). The only change in plan is that the Bishop had the pews arranged 'choir wise"." (The First Cathedral by Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund)

In the chapel, there is only one stained glass window. The window is of St Elizabeth and was created by an artist for Bishop Whipple in memory of his parents. The Bishop's mother was named Elizabeth. The window is an image of St Elizbeth of Hungary (1207-1231) not the Advent Elizabeth, wife of Zachariah and mother of St John the Baptist. Opposite the stained glass window of St Elizabeth is the altar against the wall which features a 31 inch high triptych of a Fra Angelico painting "A Virgin and Child" (original is at the Uffizi museum in Florence Italy). Another window, given in memory of Bishop Whipple's parents (John and Elizabeth Whipple), is in the Cathedral nave titled "Charity distributing gifts" and is depicted by a description "In as much as ye did unto the least of these, ye did unto me" (St Matthew 25).

These works of art and windows were Advent and Christmas related in the Cathedral building and addition of 1934. The Cathedral tradition during the Christmas season was extravagant throughout the decades and which can be seen in old photographs in the Cathedral archives.

My first Christmas decorating memory at the Cathedral was in 1987 when I was chaplain at Shattuck St Mary's.. my family and I were invited one Saturday in December to help decorate the name of the Cathedral for Christmas. I remember that 50+ people showed up and went to the undercroft of the Cathedral to haul up large boxes of decorations to be placed in the nave and choir area. The highlight for me was to help bring in the live tree through the West doors. Volunteers carried the huge tree, which almost touched the ceiling, and placed it in one of the Cathedral ambulatories near the door to the addition and Cathedral offices. People would climb on ladders to decorate the enormous tree. It was a magnificent site during the Christmas Eve service when the lights were turned off and everyone would hold their candle and sing Silent Night.  May all of you be blessed with Christmas memories, but know we have many future memories to look forward to. 


December 15th, 2020

The Good Samaritan Window

"Taken together, the stained glass windows suggest the diversity of those who helped to build the Cathedral. Two windows represent wealthy contributors: William Pierrepoint (St John) and Robert Minturn (The Good Samaritan). Two represent helpers with humble means: Miss Emelione C Bogart of Albany, NY, an invalid (The Guardian Angel) and Thomas Chappell, a blacksmith from Winona, MN (St Peter)." (The First Cathedral  by the Venerable Ben Scott and Robert Neslund)

When I became Dean of the Cathedral in 2001, the windows were on my list for preservation. To begin with, the windows were covered on the outside with plexiglass that had yellowed and let in little light and looked terrible on the outside. All of the plexiglass was removed from all the windows in the Cathedral building and the Guild House and replaced with heavy glass that has ventilation holes that keep the windows safe and sound. Then I made a list of windows, which needed repair. There were several that were bowed from almost 150 years of existence. To start the process I asked a photographer to photograph each window. These were high quality images that showed all of the details of each window and captured the colors, but also the repairs needed that were caused by age.

While working on stained glass window repair, the west side of the Cathedral nave was being reroofed. In the middle of the roofing project there was a frightening accident. One of the roofers slipped on a heavy ladder causing the ladder to smash through one of the windows on the west side of the Cathedral nave. This catastrophe happened while I was working in my office one morning. Hearing the shouting and cries of agony I rushed to the Cathedral from my office. The Good Samaritan window given by Robert Minturn was in a pile of stained glass pieces spread all over the pews with a heavy ladder on top of the remains of this beautiful window!

After several days of mourning, I pulled out the photo of this window. I found a miracle worker stained glass artist in St Paul, who came to the Cathedral and claimed he could bring the window back to life. The expense was paid by the roofer's insurance. The Good Samaritan window was resurrected and today it looks like the window was never damaged. This stained glass window repairman and artist became a fixture of stained glass window restoration at the Cathedral for many years!


Deceber 8, 2020

Stained Glass Windows

My last letter mentioned that I would give stories about the stained glass windows in the buildings of the First Cathedral. The two windows in the nave of the Cathedral that were the most popular on tours were connected to Bishop Whipple and the Native people of the Diocese of Minnesota. Both of these windows rest on the south side of the Cathedral nave. One window represents Bishop Whipple's Diocesan Seal. The inscription has a Latin sentence.."Pax per sanguinem cuces" (peace by the blood of the cross). In the window is a design of a pipe and broken tomahawk, a gift of the Christian Indians of the Diocese. The window next to this window to the west shows a lamb sustaining a banner of the cross with the inscription "in memoriam of Indian Lambs; a gift of the Indian children who earned money for the window by picking and selling berries.

"The two windows given by Indians probably elicit more interest from visitors than any other windows in the Cathedral. The first one, immediately west of the south door in the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) window. Christ represented here as a lamb, is shown with a sealed book - the "Lamb's Book of Life", containing the names of all who will be saved. Soon after the Dakota conflict, Indian children living in Faribault under the Bishop's protection began to gather and sell berries to make this window possible. The window commemorates "other Indian lambs who are asleep." The second Indian window displays the seal of the Diocese. Apparently the Bishop himself designed this emblem." (The First Cathedral" by the Venerable Benjamin Scott and Mr Robert Neslund)

These two windows express the compassion Bishop Whipple felt towards the Indian people after the Dakota Conflict and execution of the 38 Dakota warriors in Mankato in December 1862. Most Minnesota men of power and high offices wanted Indian people driven from Minnesota lands. Bishop Whipple created a haven in Faribault for Dakota people, who wanted to live in peace, despite persecution they were rendered no matter where they lived in Minnesota.

December 1, 2020

The Stain Glass Windows

During Advent and Christmas, I will write about the stained glass windows in all of the buildings of the First Cathedral. Each window has a special story. It would take many pages to tell these. When I give tours of the First Cathedral I pick and choose a few windows to tell the individual stories. If I told all the remarkable tales attributed to the beautiful pieces of stained glass created in each window it would take all day. Let's start with the nave and choir area of the 1862 cathedral which houses twenty-one windows. 

"The windows, all designed by the George Morgan studio of New York City, were not particularly expensive - the lancets in the nave each cost about $100. Though the Republican thought that they were "in the best style of modern art", the windows are not especially complex in design or technique. Most windows get by with relatively few pieces. Nor do the windows feature complex symbolism: most of their imagery is simple, not subtle. The Cathedral windows are remarkable in the intensity of their colors - notably blues, reds and bright greens. In early morning and late afternoon the windows can utterly glow." (The First Cathedral by the Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund)

My favorite window is above the altar in the choir area. It is titled Saviour Bearing a Lamb, the gift of the Rev Ezekiel Gear, former chaplain of Fort Snelling. The colors are bright and beautiful. The window shows Jesus the Good Shepherd holding a lamb close to his face with a look of compassion and love.


November 17, 2020

The Cathedral is Built and Consecrated 

I want to dwell on the First Cathedral's structure for future stories through the Advent season. The construction of the Cathedral started in 1862 and it was consecrated in 1869. Because of the custom of the church, the building could not be consecrated until everything had been paid for. ( Ironically the Cathedral Cloister built in 2005 to 2006 was paid for at its completion.) The cost of the Cathedral's building was under $100,000 with gifts coming from many people around the country. The first service was held on May 16, 1869 and Bishop Whipple baptized 15 people. The building of the First Cathedral was a great undertaking of faith by many led by our first bishop Henry Whipple. 

"At 11 o'clock on June 24, 1869, St John the Baptist's Day, the Cathedral was consecrated. The venerable, old Jackson Kemper had come by train from the Diocese of Wisconsin with Bishop Armitage, the coadjutor. Bishop Kemper had opened Minnesota to the mission of the Episcopal Church, presided over the election of its first bishop, and would now set apart the Bishop's church. The procession formed at Bishop Whipple's residence nearby. The students from Seabury Hall and Shattuck Grammar School led, followed by the clergy of the diocese. At the door of the Cathedral, Bishop Kemper entered first. As they continued down the center aisle, Psalm XXIV was recited alternately between the Bishop and others. The preacher, Bishop Whitehouse of Illinois, followed Kemper, who was followed by Whipple. The diocesan clergy were led by Minnesota's first priest, Ezekiel Gear. A total of 1000 persons were reported to have attended the consecration." (The First Cathedral, by the Venerable Ben Scott and Mr Robert Neslund)

My imagination runs wild thinking about so many people in the building, what the procession looked like and the content of the sermons given by famous church men of the 19th century.


November 10, 2020

Bishop Whipple Meets President Lincoln 

"Abraham Lincoln sat in his office in the White House on the afternoon of September 10, 1862. His desk was piled high with reports from military officers, cabinet members, legislators and civil servants. A series of humiliating defeats had been followed by a reshuffling in the high command, and now General Robert E Lee's army was encamped north of the Potomac, on the banks of Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, barely fifty miles from the capital. The next day's battle of Antietam would produce unprecedented numbers of casualties on both sides,but would result in Lee's withdrawal to Virginia.

Lincoln was awaiting a visit from the Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, Henry B Whipple. Whipple was a cousin of Lincoln's commander-in-chief, Major General Henry Wager Halleck, who had requested this meeting on his cousin's behalf. Bishop Whipple wanted to discuss the recent Dakota Indian war in Minnesota, which had come as an unpleasant distraction to a president preoccupied with a far larger conflict." (And the Wilderness Shall Blossom by Anne Beiser Allen, 2008)

It took days for Bishop Whipple to travel from the First Cathedral to Washington DC to act as an advocate for the Indian people after the Dakota conflict in August of 1862. After the war, there was a list of over 300 Indian warriors who were to be executed! Bishop Whipple pleaded for these warriors to be released because they were essentially prisoners of war. President Lincoln reviewed the records of these men and reduced the count to 38 prisoners to hang on Dec 26, 1862 on the gallows in Mankato, MN. This act of meeting with President Lincoln on Sept 10, 1862, caused many death threats on Bishop Whipple's life that year. The threats were overridden by the courage of Bishop Whipple to seek justice and mercy for his Dakota flock in the Diocese of Minnesota.

November 1, 2020

They Called Him "Straight Tongue"

 "He was the Episcopal bishop who went to see Lincoln to try to stop a mass hanging of the Sioux Indians........ Whipple did go to see Lincoln about the Sioux (henceforth to be called by their own name, the Dakotas), but the visit took place in a much larger, more impressive context: years of Whipple's advocacy, including several trips and letters to Washington in which the bishop demanded a sweeping reform of how the U.S. government treated Native Americans. Whipple acted as a one-man movement, seeking respect and protection for American Indians to replace the monstrous fraud and injustice to which he saw them subjected." (Lincoln's Bishop by Gustav Niebuhr, 2014)

Gustav Niebuhr called me in 2012 and asked if he could interview me about a new book about Bishop Whipple. He visited others on his trip to Minnesota. I was honored to show him the First Cathedral and he was thrilled to see Bishop Whipple's personal items on display throughout the three buildings of the Cathedral. 

My favorite Whipple object is a portrait of the Bishop created in charcoal by an artist who worked for the famous 19th century publication called Harper's Weekly. This portrait is more than life size and I believe the best image of Bishop Whipple circa 1870. The portrait shows a man who possesses deep compassionate eyes. It was this compassion that attracted Gustav Niebhr to write a book about a man, who died over a hundred years before the publication of Lincoln's Bishop.  What motivated Mr. Niebuhr to write about Bishop Whipple? It was the Bishop's work as an advocate for the native Dakota who needed someone to stand with them in their darkest hour. That's why the Dakota called Bishop Whipple "Straight Tongue."


October 27, 2020

Bishop Whipple's Presence in Faribault

"When I began my work there (as Dean of the First Cathedral), he (Bishop Whipple) was away, and for several months I could see how, even in his absence, his spirit dominated everything in the town (Faribault MN). It was not only that people were proud of him; they looked up to him as to a father, and all seemed to have some personal association with him." (Certain American Faces  by Charles Lewis Slattery, 1918)

Last week I commented on the physical appearance of Bishop Whipple. In this story, I wish to comment on the character of Bishop Whipple. Charles Slattery witnessed the importance of Bishop Whipple's presence in the city of Faribault, the home of the First Cathedral. Despite Bishop Whipple's denomination as an Episcopalian, everyone, no matter what faith community in Faribault, felt a special attachment to him. Bishop Whipple believed that the First Cathedral was more than an Episcopal Cathedral. The Cathedral in Faribault was in the center of town and radiated a sense of welcome to the entire city. The Guild House on the Cathedral city block was a place of social gatherings. The Cathedral church was a place to gather to honor God and for corporate worship for all people no matter what color or belief. The source of this acceptability came from the Christ-like character of love, exhibited by Henry and Cornelia Whipple as they lived among the population of 19th Century Faribault.


October 13th, 2020

Who was Bishop Charles Slattery and what was his role at the First Cathedral?

What Did Bishop Whipple Look Like? Here is what Charles Slattery had to say about him. "At last I saw this interesting man face to face. He had come to Boston to act as one of the presenters at Bishop Brook's consecration; and in calling upon an old rector in an hotel, I found myself being presented to Bishop Whipple. He was gaunt, tall, with long hair, with a patriarchal face. He passed from one to another, saying his word of affection to this old friend or that; and his voice could not be forgotten. In his youth, I have been told, this voice had a marvellous resonance and appeal; to the end, though diminished, it was such a voice as would awaken a man's thought of the open fields and the wide skies." (Certain American Faces by Charles Lewis Slattery 1918)

Charles Slattery was the Dean of the Cathedral from 1896 to 1907. He was present at Bishop Whipple's death in 1901. He was present and a significant counsel to Evngeline Whipple during the period following the Bishop's death and the transition of new leadership. Charles Slattery became the 8th bishop of Massachusetts in 1927. He served as a dedicated disciple out East after his experience of being Dean of the First Cathedral.

One of the treasures in the archives of the First Cathedral are letters he wrote to Evangeline about ideas to improve structures on the Cathedral building and other future plans. Charles would take his vacations every summer and ride the Great Northern passenger train to Glacier Park. On the train and in his respite he created wonderful letters with drawings and personal correspondence to Evnageline. Charles Slattery was a devoted priest, a talented artist and a man of mystery during his tenure as Dean of the First Cathedral.


October 6th, 2020

Bishop Whipple Face of the Episcopal Church of Minnesota 

"Henry Benjamin Whipple became synonymous with Faribault Cathedral and the Diocese of Minnesota. He moved graciously among Indians and blacks and rural congregations, among sophisticated Easterners and tycoons in Minneapolis and St Paul, among bureaucrats and bishops, among professors at Oxford and Cambridge, even among Presidents and the dignitaries of Victoria's royal court." (from The First Cathedral by the Venerable Benjamin Scott and Robert Neslund)

Despite Bishop Whipple's fame his priority was being a family man. His relationship with his wife Cornelia and six children was kept at the forefront of his life. We forget that life in Faribault during that time was much different than our lives in 2020. There was a railroad, stage coach and Bashaw (the large black horse) that provided transportation for the bishop. There was no television, radio or computer technology to promote the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. 

I often have been asked why there are so many pictures of Bishop Whipple. These were called cabinet cards, which were photos produced on a hard card stock. These cabinet cards were also used in the 19th century as the first baseball cards to promote products such as candy and tobacco. When Bishop Whipple would travel around the Diocese or country he passed out images of himself on these cabinet cards. Some people today thought that these images were connected with a large ego, but they were passed out among people to promote the Episcopal church as a tool of evangelism. The photos of Bishop Whipple in the 19th century were his business cards, because he was the face of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.


September 29th, 2020

The Rev George Brayton Whipple (1830-1888) 

Did you know that Bishop Whipple had a brother? Yes, he did! His name was George and he was younger by eight years. "In a letter, the Bishop described his brother as "a man of decidedly Evangelical views", "simple hearted and earnest", and "opposed to ritualism is all its forms"." (The First Cathedral a book by the Venerable Benjamin Ives Scott and Robert Neslund) George was an Episcopal priest who was ordained in 1862 and served on the Sandwich Islands for 3 years. He married Mary Mills (1829- 1911) and spent the majority of his ministry in Faribault MN. He was an instructor at Seabury Episcopal Seminary in Faribault and served doing priestly duties at the First Cathedral as well as being his brother's secretary.  George and Mary had two daughters, Emma (1864-1878) and Eva (1866-1897). George was a very compassionate man, who was often described as having personal qualities which were Christ-like and his heart was always full of giving to those in need. George died at the young age of 58 in Nantucket while recovering from a spinal disease. There are many stories I have enjoyed reading about George. The story that is my favorite has to do with his conversion and it was shared by Bishop Whipple after George's death while laying the cornerstone of the George Brayton Whipple Memorial Guild House (yes, the very one standing today) . 

"George had always loved the sea. In his youth he had read Dana's Two Years Before the Mast and longed to go whaling. After graduation from college he wanted "to see the world" and signed on.

After they had been out for two years, they one day struck an enormous whale; the creature no sooner felt the harpoon than it turned upon the boat and with a stroke of its tail threw the craft in the air; and as the whale dove, George Whipple was caught in a coil of rope, which would have cut him in two, had it not been for a broad belt of heavy leather which he wore. When the whale rose, George was in some way disentangled, and found himself near the overturned boat, on which he climbed in company with others; and that night, in the midst of the stormy sea, he gave his heart to Christ and His service." (The First Cathedral a book by the Venerable Benjamin Ives Scott and Robert Neslund).


September 22nd, 2020


"I have known Enmegahbowh in sunshine and in storms, and he has always been to me a faithful friend and brother. He has been my companion in my journeys in the wilderness, and while he is the most thoughtful in character, he possesses a vein of fun which, I suppose, he has more often revealed to his bishop than to any other." (from "Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate" by H B Whipple)

Enmegahbowh ("The One Who Stands Before His People'') is the first recognized Native American priest in the Episcopal church He was ordained deacon by Bishop Kemper in 1859 and priest by Bishop Whipple in the first cathedral in Faribault in 1867. Enmegahbowh's english name was John Johnson. He was an Ottowa Indian from Canada and was born in 1807. He invited James Lloyd Breck to Gull Lake in 1852 where they established the St Columba's Mission. The mission was later moved to White Earth, where Enmegahbowh served until his death in 1902. He is buried there.

In the choir area of the first cathedral, is a painting recognizing Enmegahbowh's ministry. The painting is an Icon-like portrait executed by the Rev Johnson Loud. Enmegahbowh's life is told in the book "A Great Cloud of Witnesses" and we remember him on June 12th.

"Grant that the ministers of your church, following the example of blessed Enmegahbow, may stand before your holy people leading them with fiery zeal and gentle humility." (from "A Great Cloud of Witnesses")

September 15th, 2020

The Whipple Children

Bishop Henry Whipple and his wife Cornelia were parents to six children. They were Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzy) (1843-1910), Cornelia Ward (1845-1884), Jane Whiting (Jennie) (1847-1932), Charles Henry (1849-1932), Francis Ranson (Fannie) (1853-1940) and John Hall (1857 - 1878). 

Their daughter Cornelia married William Davis on his deathbed in 1866. In 1875 she married Dr  Francis Rose of Faribault and died in childbirth. The Whipple's youngest son, John, wanted to leave home and find his own way. He was tragically murdered in Louisville, KY. Bishop Henry and Cornelia grieved at the death of these two children during their lifetime.

Bishop Whipple's dear wife Cornelia died in 1890 from injuries caused by a train wreck while traveling home from Florida. When Cornelia died, Bishop Whipple was in shock. His children spent much time with him and even traveled with him to Europe to give him a distraction from the death of Cornelia. They had been married 48 years.

Sarah, their eldest child, moved to Philadelphia and married Charles Farnam in 1864. They had one son Arthur who became an Episcopal priest. Jane married Henry Scandrett in 1872.They moved to Faribault where he was in real estate, insurance, and was a judge of probate for 2 terms. Their 2 sons became well-known railroad executives. Jane is buried at Maple Lawn Cemetery in Faribault, MN near her mother Cornelia. Charles became a Brigadier General and Paymaster General. He saw military action in Montana, the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico. He settled in Los Angeles, CA. He married Evelyn McLean and they had 2 sons. Francis married Frank Craw in 1873 and Freedom Ware Jackson in 1891. One husband was a wealthy merchant from Cleveland and the other was an executive with Standard Oil. Francis was the last living Whipple child.

From reading about Cornelia and Henry it seems that they were good parents who let their children find their own destiny, but still loved them and cared for them dearly.


September 8th, 2020


"On October 5, 1842 Henry Whipple married Cornelia Wright, daughter of Benjamin Wright, a prominent local lawyer and surrogate judge. Cornelia Wright possessed a serene competence that endeared her to all whose lives she touched. Known as Nell to her friends and family, she was intelligent and practical, with a great amiability. These were admirable qualities for a merchant's wife: for a clergy man's wife, they would be invaluable." ("And the Wilderness Shall Blossom" by Anne Beiser Allen)

Nell was responsible for lighting a spark in Henry Whipple who was seeking a relationship with his saviour Jesus Christ. Cornelia was a remarkable woman and a perfect companion for Bishop Whipple in the journey of life during the 19th century.

Henry and Cornelia were parents to six children, four girls and two boys. The Whipples were solid in their relationship and were married 48 years. Cornelia died in 1890 as a result of a train accident injury which she received on her way home from Florida. Both Henry and Cornelia were fragile physically. Their physicians suggested they spend time in a warm climate to preserve their health. Despite their fragility, Henry managed a large geographical diocese, campaigns to the East for fundraising and advocating for the native population in Minnesota. Cornelia cared for her beloved children, created St Mary's girls school and supported her husband the bishop. Cornelia and Henry were truly a couple who gave their life in servanthood and lived in obedience to the wishes of Christ their Lord! The next story will be about the six Whipple children and their challenging lives.


August 25th, 2020

What Makes the Bishop Gilbert Hall in the Guild House of the First Cathedral so Spectacular? 

I want to continue the story about the Bishop Gilbert Hall. It was an addition to the original Guild House structure. The hall was furnished with children in mind and focusing on their education using stories from the Bible and rich 19th century Christian Legends.

When I give tours of the Cathedral I usually end by entering Gilbert Hall. I love to see people's faces as they view very unusual images frozen from their creation in 1905. Here is a summary of images that can be viewed today in this spectacular room, which measures 20 by 40 feet: 

1) A reproduction of Della Robia's reliefs of singing and dancing children. The reliefs are all white and larger than life size.

2) Other large white relief casts of Madonna, David holding the head of Goliath and St George and the dragon.

3) A mural on wood panels that surround the room represent the legend of the Quest of the Holy Grail. This mural was taken from Sir Edwin Abbey's frieze  "The Quest and Achievement of the Holy Grail" found in the Boston Library.

Items that once resided in the room but are no longer there are:

1) A collection of shells, rocks and pictures of the Holy Land. 

2) 50 little oak chairs for Sunday School students. There are one or two left.

3) A large sandbox used for telling bible stories. 

People often ask me why these 1905 items are important. Remember in 1905, children depended on their teacher's ingenuity and their own imagination to learn the Bible stories and legends.  Movie Theaters were just beginning to be built, telephones were new and not in very many homes, there were no computers, radios, television, or any other technology, but there was the purest form of communication - ART!

More about art in the First Cathedral to come!

August 18th, 2020

When I became Dean of the Cathedral in 2001, I was told I could have my office in the Guild House. I loved that idea because the Guild House seemed like a large comfortable home. The undercroft of this building had been the home of the Horstman Memorial Nursery School which had been in business since 1965. The school was closed down before I was hired as the Dean. The main level housed my office, the secretary's office, the Great Hall, the stage of the Great Hall and the kitchen and dining room. The upper level was a Sunday School room and Archive room. The stage of the Great Hall has a beautiful stained glass window of the resurrection. The window was a backdrop behind the old wooden altar. The altar was originally in the Cathedral apse before the stone altar took its place.


The Guild house (all but the kitchen and dining room) stood by itself for about 10 years and was finished in 1894 at the cost of $10,000 dollars. Ground was broken for the Gilbert Hall addition in 1903. The hall was a special room for children and housed a much needed kitchen. I will describe the special features of Gilbert Hall in future stories.


Most people don't know that Bishop Whipple had an assistant. The Rt. Rev. Mahlon Norris Gilbert was Assistant bishop from 1886 to 1900. He died in St Paul, a man loved by many and especially his family, who generated the money for the addition to the Guild House called Gilbert Hall.

August 11th, 2020

The Guild House of the First Cathedral

"Liturgy, in its literal sense, means "the work of the People."  Normally the word is used only in connection with public worship - and this may indeed be the highest form of human worship, yet the work of the people of God includes more than prayer and praise and preaching. The Guild House, like parish houses in general, grew out of at least two developments in the late 19th century; a larger awareness of the social implications of religion and the increasing role of the laity. Neither was an altogether new idea. In the late 1880's "organized work" burgeoned in the Parish requiring space and facilities for a variety of groups. Women took the lead in most of these activities." ( "The First Cathedral" book by the Venerable Ben Scott and Robert Neslund - 1987)

The Guild House on the grounds of the Cathedral city block opened in 1894. The Cathedral shared the block with the Guild House but there was a large separation between the two buildings. I believe in the 19th century this separation existed for a purpose. The Cathedral was a Gothic structure, which reflected prestige and grandeur. The Guild House was a Romanesque style of architecture reflecting the "arts and crafts"  type houses built in America during this time period. The Cathedral building was used for worship and liturgy. On Sundays the "People from the hill" congregated in the nave to gather and celebrate with the beautiful music created by the grand organ. Faculty from Shattuck MilitarySchool, St Mary's Girls School, St James School for middle school boys, Seabury Divinity School students and staff formed along with the common people, the congregants of the Cathedral. The common people centered their ministry at the Guild House. Many fun and festive community events happened at the Guild House. The Great Hall was at one time the largest public space for events in Faribault. 

The Guild House and the Cathedral lived out changes and evolutions of church life in the city of Faribault, MN, which was once called" "The Athens of the West". More to come on the buildings that housed the people of God in Southern Minnesota.


August 4th, 2020

The Mystery of the Cornerstone

"On July 16, 1862, I laid the corner-stone of the Bishop's Church in Faribault. At the suggestion of my beloved brother, the Rt Rev A.C. Coxe, I named it "The Cathedral Church of Our Merciful Saviour."  It was my hope that  we might build up schools around the Cathedral, making it a common centre.I felt our first building should be a House of Prayer in honor of the Triune God." (From "Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate" by Rt Rev Henry B Whipple) 

The cornerstone's location is a mystery. if you visit the First Cathedral the cornerstone is not visible. No one knows where it is. One of the theories of its disappearance is that it was covered up by the addition built on the Cathedral in the 1930's. The addition was important because it was a remodeling of the crypt which housed Bishop Whipple's sarcophagus. Also in the addition was the St Elizabeth Chapel, which was once in Bishop Whipple's house across the street from the Cathedral. The house was torn down about the same time as the construction of the addition. 

Other additions to the original Cathedral were the following. 1) The memorial bell tower added to the north side of the Cathedral promoted and built by Evangeline Whipple in the early 1900s before she left for Europe. 2) In 2005, the Cathedral Cloister was added to connect the Romanesque Guild House built in 1884 to the Cathedral building.The cloister is a combination of Gothic and Romanesque architecture, which creates a beautiful open room with large windows and is very inviting to host gatherings for about 75 people.

In future stories of the First Cathedral, I will describe the history and functions of the bell towers, the St Elizabeth Chapel, the Cloister and the Guild House.

July 28th, 2020

Early Years of Bishop Whipple's Ministry in Faribault

"The Bishop's first service in Faribault, MN was on February 19, 1860 in the "rude chapel" of the Parish of the Good Shepherd. During the visit a committee of 40 citizens met with him to make Faribault his home. They pledged $1,168 and several lots of land as a site. Alexander Faribault, a Roman Catholic part-Indian offered 5 additional acres. Early in May of 1860, the Whipples established their household in Faribault." (Information taken from "The First Cathedral" book written by Robert Neslund and the Venerable Benjamin Ives Scott.)

After one year and a year away from laying the cornerstone of the First Cathedral, the Bishop set out across the large geographical area of Minnesota! Whipple reported that his missionary stations had doubled in one year. Also in one year he traveled over 3,000 miles holding services in taverns, school houses and outside areas. He did the basics of preaching, baptizing, confirming and celebrating the Eucharist.

As the Bishop, with his trusty companion Bashaw (the large black horse), traveled around MInnesota, he sensed the underlying conflicts between native people and white settlers. The Dakota and  Anishinaabe  where living with broken promises from treaties, which had promised retribution for lands vacated by the native people. The year 1860 was only 2 years from the Dakota conflict when blood was spilled by both native and white lives in Southwestern Minnesota. The war began in August of 1862 at the same time that construction started on the First Cathedral in Faribault. 

In future stories, I will share Bishop Whipple's role in the conflict and how he earned his name from the native people, who called him "Straight Tongue".


July 21, 2020

Church of the Good Shepherd

As I promised, I will end the Bashaw story from Bishop Whipple's words found in his autobiography: "Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate."

"Bashaw was one cousin to the celebrated Patchin. He was a kingly fellow and had every sign of noble birth, --a slim, delicate head, prominent eyes, small, active ears, large nostrils, full chest, thin gambrels, heavy cords, neat fetlocks, and was black as a coal. He was my friend and companion for over fifty thousand miles, always full of spirit and gentle as a girl. The only time I ever touched him with a whip was on the brink of a precipice where the path was a sheet of glare ice and as the wagon began to slide I saved us both by a lash, but the blow hurt me more than it did Bashaw. He saved my life when lost on the prairies many times. In summer heat and winter storm he kept every appointment often by heroic effort."

When Bishop Whipple was making his trips around the state, there was a church building that served Faribault, MN called the Church of the Good Shepherd. The church was built and raised up by pre-Whipple clergy such as James Lloyd Breck, Timothy Wilcoxen, Solon Manney, David Sanford and George Dubois. The Church of the Good Shepherd was a 21 by 50 ft building, constructed a few blocks West of the First Cathedral (A picture of the structure is in "The First Cathedral " book page 22 and was written by the Venerable Benjamin Scott and Mr Robert Neslund.) As Bishop Whipple cared for his flock with the help of Bashaw, people worshipped at the Church of the Good Shepherd while the First Cathedral was being built from 1862-1869. When I was Dean of the First Cathedral we always started our Annual Meeting by opening with the Church of the Good Shepherd, closing that meeting and then beginning the meeting for the First Cathedral!

July 14, 2020

A Bashaw Story

Last time I ended with the promise to share a story about Bishop Whipple's famous horse Bashaw. This story is told by Bishop Whipple in his autobiography "Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate" 1899.

"A starless night came on and with the howling wind sweeping the snow first into almost impassable drifts and then leveling them to the bare ground, I had to confess myself lost.

Until one has encountered a western blizzard the word has little meaning. The Indians have always paid me their highest compliment when they have declared that I could follow a trail and find the points of the compass as well as any Indian.

I now kept my horses headed in the direction which I thought to be that of the Agency. I said my prayers, threw the reins over the dash-board, let the horses walk as they would, and curling myself up under the buffaloes, hoped I might weather the night.

Suddenly Bahsaw stopped. I was confident that the wise fellow had struck a landmark, for he knew as well as I did that we were lost. I jumped from the sleigh and could just distinguish in the darkness something under the snow that looked like a huge snake. It proved to be an Indian trail. The Indians always walked single file to avoid an ambush, and in the loam of the prairie these trails are several inches deep. Bashaw followed it, and when his mate was inclined to turn out he put his teeth into his neck and forced him into the path.

Mr Hinman was so sure that I had started that he had kept a light in the window of the Agency, and when Bashaw saw it he leaped like a hound from his kennel. When we reached the mission and Bashaw, comfortably stalled, turned his great eyes upon me, his whinny said as plainly as words,"We are all right now, master."" 

This is my favorite Bahaw story because it shows Bishop Whipple's relationship with his beloved horse, companion and friend. More on Bashaw next week.

July 7, 2020

Special Gift for Bishop Whipple

Two years before the construction of the First Cathedral in 1860, Bishop Whipple received a very special gift from his father-in-law, Mr Wright of Waterloo, NY. The gift was a beautiful black horse, who was 8 years old and named Bashaw. Bashaw was a second cousin of the celebrated horse George M Patchen (Dan Patch). Bashaw was widely known throughout the state of MN having carried Bishop Whipple over 50,000 miles over prairies and wilderness in the course of his pastoral calls. Bishop Whipple would take a carriage pulled by two horses. Bashaw had 6  partners in the course of his career for the Bishop. The carriage used by Bishop Whipple is a treasure of Blue Earth County Museum in Mankato, MN. Bashaw loved Bishop Whipple and Bishop Whipple loved Bashaw. Basha';s sensitivity, intellect and faithfullness were qualities which saved the Bishop's life several times. Next week I will tell such a story from Bishop Whipple's autobiography called "The Lights and Shadows of a Long Episcopate".

June 30, 2020

Whose idea was it to build the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour? Let's turn to the book the "First Cathedral", which I mentioned in my article last week, for the answer to this question.

"On April 18, 1862, Mrs Breck died. Though Whipple does not explain exactly why, this was the specific occasion for his decision to build the Cathedral. In his funeral sermon for Mrs. Breck, he refers to this idea and quotes the verse, "Work while the day lasts, for the night cometh in which no man can work." Both the funeral sermon and his address at the laying of the cornerstone would be printed and circulated widely. On Easter Day, the congregation of the Good Shepherd contributed over $600 to the cause, and eventually Dr Breck would raise over $11,000 for the building fund. As the Bishop said, "It was while my heart was sad for my brother's [Breck's] loss...that the thought came to build the [Cathedral] even in troublesome times. I believe God put that thought there...and it grew to be a plan..."

July 16, 1862, must have been a poignant day for Dr Breck. Bishop Whipple laid the cornerstone of the Bishop's Church, but as he himself said, "This world did not take much notice." Even the Central Republican thought it was nothing more than the Coxe of Western New York -- "The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour." The building was designed in a rather plain Gothic style, apparently by Renwick & Co. of New York City. Stephen Congdon was the chief supervising architect, and Robert C Wiley of St Paul was the local supervising architect. C.N. Daniels of Faribault was the supervisor of the exterior stone work. The stone for the Cathedral was native blue limestone from Milan Ponds' Fall Creek quarry east of Faribault. Edward Goodman, the chief stonecutter, had recently come to Faribault from Yarmouth, England."

We need to give credit to the strong and faithful women, who gave leadership and support to their husbands in the early history of the Episcopal Church of Minnesota. Marie Breck and Cornelia Whipple were the wives that sparked the evangelical zeal in their husbands! If Marie Breck had lived longer she most likely would have done many important tasks to help her husband James Lloyd Beck. Cornelia Whipple was probably responsible for Henry B whipple coming to Christianity and pushed him to study for the priesthood. Cornelia died in 1890. Before her death she created St Mary's School for young women and many more monumental ministries in Faribault, MN. St Mary's is still in operation on the Shattuck-St Mary's campus. One can take a tour of the Maple Lawn Cemetery in Faribault, MN and view Cornelia's grave which reads: "She did what she could."

Cornelia did what she could and made many more contributions to the beginning of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. Dr Breck and Bishop Whipple were very blessed to have wives who were true saints!


June 20, 2020

Starting next week, I will be submitting a weekly story about the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour for the ECMN news. I have gotten permission from the ECMN office and the Chapter of the Cathedral to share these weekly stories about the place, the people and the events from the past and present. The Cathedral is truly a treasure of the ECMN.

Let me take a minute to introduce myself to those who don't know me. I am the priest-in-charge at St Peter's Episcopal Church in Kasson. I am also the archivist at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour where I was the Dean from 2001 - 2013. My ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Anderson took place at this cathedral in 1988. The Cathedral is a significant place for me because my children were married there, my grandchildren were baptised there and my wife Paula's funeral was held there in 2012.

And now a little background on the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour. It was our First Bishop Henry B Whipple who had the idea to start the building of the Cathedral in 1862 and it was finished in 1869. This is the first church built as a Cathedral of any denomination in the United States. A book titled "The First Cathedral" was written in 1987 and revised in 2003 by the Venerable Ben Scott and Robert Neslund. A copy of the revision was sent to every faith community in Minnesota. Check your library for a copy of " The First Cathedral".

I believe it is time to share stories and history about this treasure called The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour as we begin a new Episcopate with Bishop Craig Loya. Hopefully you will find my weekly stories enjoyable and informative.