Stained Glass Window Dedication and Pot-Luck Supper

Event Date: February 25, 2018 at 5:00 pm Event Location: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 18313 Lappans Road, Boonsboro

A new stained glass window honoring the African American Ancestors will be dedicated at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Sunday evening, February 25 at 5 PM.  A service of solemn Evensong will include music, scripture and meditations observing Black History at St. Mark’s and the continuing effort towards Racial Reconciliation.  The service will take place in the Historic Church and a Pot Luck supper in the Fellowship Center will follow the service.  The public is invited to attend. Download an invitation flyer here.

The new window is located in the last space occupied by a window from 1849, the year the church was built.  It is in a small “pass-through” hallway between the church Sanctuary and the Sacristy, added in 1977, near the original back door of the church.  Beth Alphin, a local stained glass window artist, created the design using several symbols of the life of Isaac and Letty Ann Warfield.  Alphin has created windows for St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Williamsport as well as other locations in the community.

According to text on the St. Mark’s website written by local historian, St. Mark’s Church member, and Hood College professor, Dr. Emilie Amt, The Warfields were enslaved persons who lived in the local community and may well have sat in the balcony at St Mark’s in the mid-19th Century.  Isaac and Letty were married at St. Mark’s (according to family lore), probably in the mid-1850s. At the time of the wedding, someone present remarked, “I wonder why in the world Warfield would want to marry that half dead woman,” and the remark got back to Letty, who always remembered it. But the marriage was a solid one. Isaac and Letty had three daughters, Sarah, Letitia, and Ellen Belle, all of them were born into slavery. One day, Isaac overheard that their owner (whose identity is unknown at present) was planning to sell one of the Warfield daughters away. (Sometimes this meant that the girl was bound for prostitution in the deep South.) Isaac and Letty made a momentous decision: to take their children and their savings and make a run for freedom, north of the Mason-Dixon line. It was an enormous risk, but they succeeded, reaching Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in the northern part of the state, along with one of Isaac’s brothers and his family. The Warfields lived in Pennsylvania for the rest of the slave era and into the 1870s.

But unlike most African-Americans who migrated northward, Isaac and Letty and their daughters returned after the Civil War to the place where they had been enslaved. Letty’s large extended family may have been part of what drew them back to Maryland, and to the neighborhood of St. Mark’s, sometime after 1870. In 1876 they purchased a small farm in Breathedsville, where Isaac built a two-story log house that is still standing today (on the north side of Breathedsville Road). They became truck farmers, raising peas, beans, beets, rutabagas, and other produce, washing and tying the vegetables in bunches on Fridays, and rising at 4 a.m. on Saturdays to travel to the market in Hagerstown. Isaac also continued to make brooms, selling them to customers that included the Washington County government.  For more information and a video about the Warfield story, go to http://www.stmarkslappans.org/african-american-history-of-st-marks.html.  The descendants of the Warfields include members of the Doleman family in Hagerstown.

The stained glass window includes a log cabin, several stone walls and small brooms, made from twigs and broom corn.  The glass is opaque, so can be seen in daylight, as the window backs up to the masonry of the new sacristy, built to wrap around the corner of the original church structure.  A plaque near the window includes the names of the Warfield family as well as those persons enslaved by the founders.  It will also be unveiled and dedicated at the Evensong.

For more information about the church and directions call 301-582-0417 or go to the church website:  www.stmarkslappans.org

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