Our Church History

…..The Icon

The Banner!

Many thanks to Ginny Tuxhorn for using her God-given talent in creating our newest banner, featuring the St. Mark’s Lion from The Book of Kells.


(From the University of British Columbia Library’s web site:)


The Book of Kells is one of the masterpieces of Western art.  It is believed to be the work of Irish monks at the scriptorium of lona about 1200 years ago.  The manuscript was held at Kells until 1661, when it was moved to Dublin where it remains as the chief treasure of Trinity College Library.


The Book of Kells is a copy of the four Gospels in Latin.  It is known for the extraordinary array of pictures, interlaced shapes and ornamental details.  A 13th century scholar, Giraldus Cambrensis, writes of the Book of Kells, ” … you might believe it was the work of an angel rather than a human being”.


The HISTORY of our Parish


The original St. Mark’s was located on Springfield Street, about a mile north of our present facilities.  The church was built in 1934 as a community chapel by Joseph R. Harries. His burial service was the first service performed in that chapel.  The building is now owned by the Riverside Church of God.


After Joseph’s death, his daughters Elizabeth and Imogene gave the building to Christ Episcopal Church, the downtown Dayton parish that has become the “mother church” for all other Episcopal churches in the Dayton area.  The church was consecrated as St. Mark’s Episcopal Mission by the Rt. Rev. Henry W Hobson, Bishop of Southern Ohio, on September 25, 1938, and admitted as a parish in union with the diocese in May, 1954.  The Rev Carlton K. Gamble, then the vicar, became its first rector and served the parish until June, 1963.


The congregation flourished in its early years, and its membership filled the building.  In 1958, following a tradition of the Episcopal Church, the decision was announced to split the congregation.  About 40 percent of the members left to start a new mission in Fairborn, the present St. Christopher’s parish.  As often happens, the missionary zeal of the remaining 60 percent attracted new members, and the small church thrived.


Early in 1960, a $25,000 diocesan grant enabled St. Mark’s to purchase a five-acre site at its present location.  In the spring of 1961, the Rt. Rev. Roger W Blanchard, attired in the flowing robes of his office on the seat of a bulldozer, broke ground for the community building.  For the next eleven years, the basement of this building served as our worship center.  Then, in February, 1972, another bishop, the Rt. Rev. John M. Krumm, broke ground for the church building and returned to conduct the dedication service in November.


Meanwhile, in August, 1963, St. Mark’s called its second rector, the Rev. John P Cobb. He continued to serve the parish for 32 years until his retirement in May, 1995.


Three small parcels of land were sold to commercial enterprises, reducing the original five acres to approximately three acres. The income from these sales was used to retire all debt on our present facilities.


After the retirement of Rev. Cobb, an interim rector, the Rev. Michael Randolph was appointed by the diocese.  Our current rector, the Rev. Michael A. Kreutzer, started at St. Mark’s in August, 1996.


St. Mark’s currently serves about 100 families, and is an active member of the Dayton Five Rivers Deanery.  We are one of about 80 parishes in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.








Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.
(Member 1946-1954)

October 16, 2003

A word of explanation about “A History of the Mission Years of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church” and its author, Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.

Maurice Branscomb and his wife, Joan, were faithful and dedicated members of St. Mark’s Church during the years 1946-1954. (They were married there in May 1949). He served as organist and, as he recalls, an all-round “Altar Rat.”

We owe the Branscomb’s a debt of gratitude for they saved much of St. Mark’s early history, which is now contained in The Archives. This includes many photographs, church newsletters and bulletins and memorabilia up to the time St. Mark’s was admitted in union with the diocese on May 10, 1954 at the diocesan convention assembled at Christ Church, Dayton, Ohio.

In October 2003, St. Mark’s received a hand-written copy of “A History of the Mission Years of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church” along with the handwritten transcripts of the minutes of the Women’s Auxiliary of St. Mark’s from February 1953 to November 1953. These were painstakingly handwritten by Maurice Branscomb, obviously a labor of love. And as St. Mark’s just celebrated its 50th anniversary as a parish at the January 2003 Annual Meeting, it is a perfect time to be able to include these in our archives.


Branscomb’s history is made up of many personal recollections, stories about the Harries family, and facts taken from Executive Committee minutes. There are four distinct sections to the history:


  1. The Introduction
  2. The History
  3. The Addendum (personal stories and stories about the Harries family)
  4. Additional Notes related to plans for a Book of Remembrance


There is a separate section attached to Branscomb’s History in which I have included additional information about the Harries family and the Harries mansion, “The Lilacs.” (I became quite fascinated with the Harries family history while working on the history and plan to do more “digging” for my own personal information. B.J.)
The transcripts of the Minutes of the Woman’s Auxiliary of St. Mark’s from February 1953 to November 1953 are included in the first volume of St. Mark’s History. The minutes are fun to read for they give us a glimpse of what it was like for women in the ’50’s and the kind of activities they performed for the betterment of church and community.

I have taken the liberty of transcribing Branscomb’s hand-written copies for ease of reading. In a few instances I have changed some of his wording – notably, his use of the words “Mister” and “Mistress” and to abbreviate whenever possible to make for easier reading (his prose would be considered quite “old fashioned” today, but it does reflect the times of which he is writing.)

Betsy Jones

January 2004



The following is a draft for a sort of history that I once began to put together of the early days of Harries Community Church and St. Mark’s Church from about 1931 until 1954. There may be some historical information here that should be in the church archives.


St. Mark’s, especially the old church at Harries Station on the Springfield Pike, holds great memories for me. I became involved with the work there soon after the Second World War. The Rev. Fr. Raymond K. Riebs, then rector of St. Paul’s Church, Oakwood, was minister-in-charge at the time. He was a bright and personable man who faithfully saw to it that the worship services were maintained and the sacraments administered. The work may well have failed without his service, which was pure gift.


He was followed by equally faithful ministers – the Rev. Fr. Eldred Johnston and The Rev. Fr. Carlton Gamble – who were, in succession, curates of Christ Church Parish, Dayton. Both were faced with very discouraging prospects of any significant growth ever coming to the little congregation. The bishop has been quoted as saying that he would have had the building moved if he could. (That was quite impossible because it was made of solid concrete.)


Perhaps the main problem at old St. Mark’s was the fact that it was simply in the wrong place, even on the wrong side of the road. The land behind the building for five miles or so belonged to the Miami Conservancy District and was part of the flood control system built after the disastrous 1913 flood. Most of the people that might have come to the church were scattered along the highway toward the city of Dayton or from the Harshmanville Road toward Brentwood.


The Episcopal Church did not really appeal to most of the people across the highway in the Harshman Homes. They would come once or twice, but were turned off by the altar with its cross and candles – “too Catholic.” It was also dangerous to send children to Sunday School across the busy highway. Hence, there was little growth.
By the time I became part of the work, it was not at all unusual for there to be more people in the choir at a service than in the nave. I did, however, see the congregation grow from that very small beginning to parish status. At the time that happened, however, my wife and I were moving to the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. Hence, I was not involved in the building of the present church and the move from the old site.


What is written on the following pages relates some of the ups and downs in the life of the congregation. The real turning point was a time of the bishop’s annual visitation. Bishop Henry Wise Hobson was a large and decisive sort of man – one of the old-fashioned bishops of whom it was sometimes said, “If God doesn’t look like him, He should!”


I can remember a visitation at a time when we were very few in number and did not have the luxury of a printed bulletin. We depended on the hymn board and announcements holding the complicated Episcopal liturgy together as best we could. There was a lull in the service. As organist, I could not see into the chancel since the organ console was in the right corner (the Epistle side) of the nave at the front. A larger-than-life voice (the bishop’s) thundered, “Take up the collection!” Enough said. The service continued.


To get back to the decisive visitation – unhappily, the date is gone from my mind, probably early 1952 – the bishop told the congregation that if there was not significant growth in the next few months, he would close the church. We really began to work and knocked on every door in a radius of about five miles in every direction. At the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, the church was filled, chairs had to be brought to seat the extra people. As the saying goes, “The rest is history!”




The beginning of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was unusual. Rarely has a building – completed and furnished and even having a small congregation – been given to any church under circumstances similar to those in which Christ Church Parish, St. Mark’s Mother Church, received the Harries Community Church building and grounds to be re-established as a parochial chapel.



The building was planned and given by Mr. Joseph R. Harries, who believed that there should be erected in his neighborhood a substantial house dedicated to the worship of the Almighty God and a cure of souls established. This good work became a dominating purpose in his life and he went ahead with his plans without consulting with any of the Dayton clergy. He saw the cornerstone laid in 1931 on ground opposite his home at the corner of Springfield Pike (Route 4) and Lilac Lane (later renamed Glendean).

The walls of the well-proportioned and handsome Spanish Colonial, mission-style building were raised and arrangements were made to provide for the appointments and furnishings. While this work was in progress, Mr. Harries suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair at his home. He was often taken into a position from which he could observe the progress of the work. When the bells arrived, they were set up on a frame and rung so that he could hear them.


Death of Mr. Harries – 1934

On the twenty-eighth of August, 1934, in the midst of this good work, Mr. Harries died. The interior of the beautiful little church was not anywhere near finished, having neither organ nor pulpit. Nonetheless, the debris of construction was cleared out and the Prayer Book Burial office read there. Later, the children of the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphans Home(which was near Xenia) honored Mr. Harries, who was a great benefactor, with a service in the church.The work was brought to completion by the Misses Bessie and Imogene Harries, sisters, and two of the immediate heirs of Mr. Harries’ estate. The first service of worship open to the public in Harries Community Church was held on November the eighteenth, 1934.

The Harries Community Church becomes St. Mark’s Episcopal Church


May 1938

In May 1938, the sisters, acting in accordance with their late brother’s wishes, proposed to the Reverend Doctor Phil Porter, then rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio, that that corporation receive the building and grounds already set apart for religious purposes and organize and conduct a parochial chapel according to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Mr. Porter said that he was invited to tea at the Harries mansion. The two sisters met him at the door and said, “Dr. Porter, will you take our church?” The rector, church wardens and vestry of Christ Church gratefully accepted this gift, the bishop, the Right Rev. Henry Wise Hobson, of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, approving.

On July the first, with the consent of the other life heirs, Miss Louise O. Harries, Mrs. Mary E. Fisher Jordan, Mr. Ernest Huston, and Mr. Ray Huston, and with the consent of the Board of Trustees of the Miami Valley Hospital, residuary legatee of Mr. Harries’ estate, and with the consent of the Board of Directors of The Third National Bank and Trust Company of Dayton, Ohio, Trustee of Mr. Harries’ estate, the deeds for the building and for seven-tenths acre of ground were made to the church wardens and vestry of Christ Church.


May, June and July – 1938

Plans were soon under way for the establishment of worship services, Sunday School and other activities. Some changes were necessary in the arrangement and furnishings of the nave and chancel. Miss Imogene had the pipe organ console moved from the chancel to the Epistle side at the front of the nave. Through the generous and gracious contributions of various parishioners of Christ Church Parish, an altar, credence table, and prayer desk were constructed of fine walnut wood by Mr. William Boehme, who was then the sexton of Christ Church. A marble baptismal font was presented by Mr. E. J. Barney Gorman. Mrs. George Malone gave fine altar linens which she had made by hand. The basic altar appointments were obtained, and Miss Bessie Harries provided a wine-colored velour dossal. (The account thus far was based on an historical note in the folder printed for the Consecration Service of St. Mark’s Church.)

The building was now ready for use for the rites and ceremonies of the church and instruction in the Faith as received and understood in the Episcopal tradition. Extensive surveys were also conducted by the Rev. Mister David Thornberry, who was the curate of Christ Church, assisted by men of Christ Church. The immediate outcome of this survey was a realization that the ministry of this church would not only serve those who lived around it, but also some persons in the military service stationed at Wright Field.


The Years 1938-1940 under the Rev. Mister David Thornberry

The first service recorded in the Service Record is that of Evening Prayer on the twenty-fourth of July, 1938, read by Mister Thornberry, and attended by seventeen adults and children. A church school was begun under the direction of volunteers from Christ Church Parish, chiefly the Misses Frances Sheplar, Rachael Smith and Ruth Wilson.

The church was consecrated on the twenty-fifth of September, 1938 by the Right Rev. Henry Wise Hobson, the bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, with the Rev. Dr. Phil Porter, the Rev. Mr. David Ritchie Thornberry, who became the first vicar of St. Mark’s Church, and other clergy of the diocese attending.

An early evidence of the desire of the church to serve the community was the establishment of a Boy Scout Trust Fund by Miss Bessie Harries and the plans were enhanced by the clergy and parishioners of both Christ Church and St. Mark’s. (This trust fund had the quaint title, “For Needy Boy Scouts.”)

However, in spite of careful planning and initial enthusiasm, actual growth was slow and the work did not really take hold. In 1940, the Rev. Mr. Thornberry was called to be the rector of Grace Church, Cincinnati, Ohio and accepted that post. The work passed to the Rev. Mr. Fred Gillette, who became curate at Christ Church.


The Years of Change – 1940-1945

During these years, the work did not prosper due to rapidly changing leaders and members, the confusion of the war years, and physical changes in the community. The Springfield Pike was widened to a four-lane highway and the character of the Village of Harries Station changed as it became part of suburban Dayton. Woodland was cleared, and farmland made available for other uses. A 350 family temporary housing project, called Harshman Homes – built for defense workers and their families – was put up on part of the Harries estate. This project was built just behind the Harries mansion, to south of the Springfield Pike, and within walking distance of the church. Harshmanville, just east of Harries Station, was incorporated as the Village of Riverside.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base came into existence, at one time threatening to take the church property. The air field was enlarged to the edge of Riverside, and in the process took the property of a United Brethren congregation. From February 1943 until September 1944, by an arrangement between the two congregations, both used the facilities of St. Mark’s. A change in the time of the Episcopal services from the afternoon to the morning made it necessary to abandon this shared use.

This period was further complicated by an illness of the rector of Christ Church and the work had to be limited to services of worship and such activities as could be maintained by the laymen. From time to time during the years 1943 and 1944, the Rev. Mr. Phillip Brereton of St. Andrew’s Church in Dayton View came to celebrate the Holy Communion. Mr. Dennis Smith of the Church Army also helped with the work and did considerable canvassing. Corporal Arthur E. Roberts of the Royal Air Force, stationed at Wright-Patterson, became a lay reader.
Also licensed by the bishop were Messrs. Virgil Green and Vanderhorst Imiguard Nelson, members of the congregation. A woman’s auxiliary came into being which, even though it was slated for many rebirths and reorganizations, was to make significant contributions to the work. Although these early years were lean, later congregations are deeply indebted to those who kept the church open so that it could serve at a later time.


The Years under the Rev. Raymond Reibs – 1945-1948

In May 1945, The Rev. Mr. Raymond K. Riebs, then rector of St. Paul’s Church, Oakwood, in a conversation with Dr. Porter, asked if he could do anything to assist with the work of Christ Church Parish. Dr. Porter suggested that anything that could be done at St. Mark’s would be not only of great assistance, but also “the accomplishment of a good work.” As a result of this conversation, Mr. Riebs saw to it that the Holy Communion was regularly celebrated at St. Mark’s on every fourth Sunday of the month at eight o’clock in the evening. The regular morning services continued with lay readers, notably Mr. Guy Nelson in charge. In time, however, the service was rescheduled at four o’clock in the afternoon, and Mr. Riebs became more and more its leader. His wife, Katherine, also became the organist.

The priest-in-charge encouraged other activities, so that a children’s choir was formed, later becoming an adult choir. The church school of St. Paul’s gave a small processional cross. An annual bazaar was established under the direction of the women of the church. The Boy Scout troop was reactivated. A rose garden was begun in the east church yard. Visits of “The Wayside Cathedral” from the diocese were made. There was considerable canvassing done by Mr. Trevor Hoy of St. Paul’s. For the first time in the brief history of the church a certain amount of unity and direction was accomplished. The great contribution of Mr. Riebs, or “Father Riebs” as he began to be called, was the arousing of this significant group consciousness.


The Years under the Rev. Mr. Eldred Johnston – 1949-1951

Mr. Riebs served as Priest-in-Charge until the beginning of 1949 when the Rev. Mr. Eldred Johnston came to Christ Church as curate and was made the Vicar of St. Mark’s.

Mr. Johnston came with fourteen years of pastoral ministry with the Disciples of Christ and added organization to the foundation laid by Mr. Riebs and those before. The Executive Committee was enlarged and its members assigned to departments of common life: worship, education, membership, property maintenance, and social life. A number of appointments and furnishings came to the church, notably a bishop’s chair, a children’s worship center, and some screens to divide the parish hall for classes and activities. These were gifts from St. Paul’s Church. An oak prayer desk from a Mr. Hugh Whitesell of another Episcopal parish was also given.

The Women’s Auxiliary was revived with an immediate goal of assisting the church financially and began holding community dinners. Organization was given to Christian education activities, with the children remaining in the service until the sermon hymn and then retreating downstairs for classes. The facilities of the social room were made available for the use of a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous for its weekly meeting, and the members, in turn, aided the church in many material ways, such as the donation of a coat rack, the loan of folding banquet tables, and the payment of a use fee. Several members also became members of St. Mark’s. Since Boy Scout activities had again lapsed and no benefit was being gained from the trust fund, a troop was reestablished in the spring of 1949.
In May 1949, Mr. Johnston was ordained to the deaconate at Christ Church. In July, the service of Morning Prayer was held at 9:30 a.m. replacing the four o’clock Evening Prayer.
In the fall of 1949, a congregational retreat was held at St. Paul’s Church in Oakwood and committees were set up consisting of appointed members of the congregation, with an Executive Committee member as head, for the departments of worship, education, mission, membership, finance, property and social life. Some of these committees bore fruit. There were some minor property repairs, and a 50% over-pledge to the missions goal was reported from the Every Member Canvass for 1950.

December 18, 1949 was an eventful day in the history of St. Mark’s, as it was the first instance of an ordination being held in the church. Mr. Johnston was ordained as a priest by the Right Rev. Henry W. Hobson, with the Rev. Dr. Phil Porter and the Rev. Messrs. Riebs and Thornberry and other diocesan clergy assisting in the laying on of hands.

This ordination made for a more enlarged ministry by the vicar, who could now preside at the Holy Communion. Soon after this event, the third Sunday of the month was designated as Communion Sunday. Formerly, visiting clergy had come on the first Sunday.

During the early part of the vicar’s ministry, he lived near the church on the Springfield Pike. Later, he moved to a house on Cleveland Avenue in East Dayton. The diocese made the down payment on this house and St. Mark’s was asked to make the monthly payments as its share of Mr. Johnston’s stipend.

Unfortunately, there are no official records for the period of time covering Mr. Johnston’s ministry, as no Executive Committee minutes exist. The only source material consists of a folder containing most of the copies of a parish newsletter called “The Bells of St. Mark’s,” which are now held in the records of the parish office.


Actually, these bulletins, which were published and mailed to all members and friends near the greater feasts and the beginnings of the seasons of the church year, are quite adequate as commentary on this period.

The Annual Congregational meeting for 1950 was held on the fifteenth of January. Soon after, an Altar Guild was formed under the direction of Mrs. Nancy Underwood. For many years prior to this time, this important work had been in the care of Mrs. Anne Carter, Mrs. Janith Nelson and Mrs. Elizabeth Stott. The Altar Guild was admitted to its office on February 20.


Diocesan Fund Raising for Church Buildings near Ohio state Colleges

Early in 1950, St. Mark’s was asked to raise $750.00 to aid in a college building program sponsored by the diocese. This was to build adequate buildings for worship and related activities near the campuses of Ohio State University in Columbus (St. Stephen’s), of Ohio University in Athens (The Church of the Good Shepherd), and of Miami University in Oxford (Holy Trinity). The monies would also be used to assist with the rebuilding of “Old Kenyon Hall,” a dormitory destroyed by fire at Kenyon College, the Episcopal Church’s school in Gambier, Ohio. February 4, 1950 was pledge Sunday, and by the second Sunday in Advent, $850.00 had been raised.

In the mid-1950’s, Mr. Albert Bubolz became a lay reader and began an invaluable contribution of service by assisting at many services and conducting others, especially toward the end of Mr. Johnston’s tenure in 1951, when increased responsibilities at Christ Church and family illnesses gave him less time for St. Mark’s. Another change in service time was made on October 1 when the morning service was moved to 9:45. This change was considered necessary to allow Mr. Johnston more time to drive to St. Mark’s from Christ Church between the services there.

That fall also saw a men’s fellowship organized. By this time, a small nucleus of faithful persons was formed, but there was a feeling – gaining credence both with the clergy and the laity – that the church was in the wrong location and that for all the activity and planning and even small successes, the progress was not encouraging.


The Darkest Year – 1951

At the Annual Meeting on February 11, 1951, only six members were elected to the Executive Committee, who were admitted to their office at the morning service on February 25. On the fourth Sunday in Lent, the Women’s Auxiliary was again reorganized after a year’s inactivity. Five persons were confirmed at the bishop’s visitation in March. In the late summer, the bishop assigned Mr. Johnston as vicar of the new diocesan Mission of St. Mark’s in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Johnston went with the thanks and prayers of the Executive Committee and the people of St. Mark’s in Dayton, Ohio. A resolution attesting to this was spread upon the minute book of the Executive Committee.


The Rev. Mr. Carlton Kemper Gamble comes to St. Mark’s – 1951

August 1951 saw the beginning of the ministry of the Rev. Mr. Carlton Kemper Gamble, who had come to Christ Church as curate and was assigned as vicar at St. Mark’s by Dr. Porter and the bishop. The work was at a very low point. Mr. Gamble would readily admit that he felt no enthusiasm at the prospect of this part of his new position, as his first reaction was that there was little hope for growth or progress. Nonetheless, services and other activities in place were maintained.

In October, a group of canvassers called on several hundred homes in the communities surrounding the church, leaving a hand bill listing the church’s activities. Some of the people canvassed also filled out questionnaires. The canvassers were made up of members of St. Mark’s, Christ Church, St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s. Calls were made in Harshman Homes, Overlook Homes, Huberville and Riverside, Eastview and Airway Road. The success of this canvass cannot be measured in the numbers of new members, but rather that the church was made known to a wide-spread community in a way that it was never before presented.

Most previous canvassers were directed mostly at Harshman Homes and the immediate neighborhood of the church. Further, they were not organized as this canvass nor were they followed up. There were some members who laid great emphasis on this canvass as being very significant in later growth. Such was not Mr. Gamble’s belief at this time, however, and it was only later on that he became really interested.

Four incidents stand out very clearly in retrospect and are recalled here to present an insight into Mr. Gamble’s early ministry. The first happened at the Christmas pageant in 1951. That year, a program was written by members of the Christian Education Department called “Christmas in Many Lands.” A reader told stories about customs from around the world and adults and children enacted them. About midway through the program, a Yule Log was brought in “to the hearth of the great hall” which had been set up in the round before the chancel steps. The log, appropriately decorated with pine and holly, was drawn in on a small wagon by two “pages” with a third very small and very wide-eyed page who was seated on the log. At rehearsal, it had never occurred to anyone to actually try out this little episode, and the boys simply walked down the aisle simulating the action.
For the real presentation, a wagon had been borrowed from parishioners who lived in Harshman Homes, apartments well known for their lack of storage space, hence the wagon was out in the weather all of the time. The result was that the wheels and axles were rusty and set up a loud screeching noise as the wagon was pulled along. The congregation was in near hysteria and Mr. Gamble almost burst his sides laughing. The manger scene was next and then the lighting of a “Christ candle” at the altar and then the final prayers. It was amazing that both priest and congregation could recover for this more solemn part of the program. The significance of this incident was that it showed a more human and less formal side of the priest and people.

The other incidents have to do with traits of the congregation which must have been rather incomprehensible to Mr. Gamble. The first has to do with a strong sense of parochialism. Mr. Gamble had heard that St. Mark’s was thought of by many of its members as a kind of “family chapel.” (Such was never this writer’s opinion, but, of course he was a member of that “family.”) I have always felt that it was a lack of communication as to what path we were on and how the “goal” was to be reached. There was really a kind of resignation to a feeling that the work was a lost cause.
At any rate, the second incident has to do with a physical change in the chancel, which was suggested by Mr. Gamble and authorized by the Executive Committee. This was the installation of a divided communion railing. It had always annoyed Mr. Gamble that the railing was not closed at the ends by the walls and had no central opening. Few persons in the congregation were aware of this inconvenience and even those who were thought that any changes to the building and furnishings were to be undertaken by the vestry of Christ Church. It had not occurred to anyone that such changes could be financed and accomplished by the membership.

In Epiphantide 1952, the old brass posts were relocated and new woodworking was added, closing the side openings and making an opening at the center. Since it was authorized and financed by members of the congregation, it became their gift. A wine-colored rope to close the “gate” at communion time was given by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Bubolz. The kneeling pad was restyled into two cushions by Mrs. Jane Rohr. This was a great improvement for the appearance and dignity of the sanctuary. It was the first of a long list of such changes that Mr. Gamble was to accomplish.

The third incident occurred at the annual congregational meeting in 1952. The fact that it was held so late (March, rather than in January) suggests a kind of disinterest on the part of the membership. The meeting was quite informal. For some strange reason the chairs were set up facing the entry. About halfway through the meeting, a former devoted member, and a serviceman who was visiting, came into the room. The meeting was disrupted immediately, and the persons were introduced to Mr. Gamble. It is little wonder that he was amazed at St. Mark’s. However, this incident could easily represent the very transient nature of the people.


A Year of Transition – 1952

Early in 1952 a very real threat came to St. Mark’s that it might be closed, as it was so very obvious to everyone that the work was showing little progress and there was an equally strong feeling that the building was simply in the wrong place – even on the wrong side of the road! The highway was very busy and the state would not approve any traffic control lights. Clergy in the diocese were somewhat at premium and the bishop frankly felt that they must be used in the places of greatest need and promise. Since a goodly number of the congregation came from Fairborn, there was serious consideration given to establishing a mission there. A canvass was conducted by the Church Army, which indicated that such a move would not be fruitful. Of course, later all of this thinking was reversed, and St. Christopher’s was established and prospered.

However, the work continued at St. Mark’s. This latter phase of the history is documented in Executive Committee minutes, newsletters and bulletins, and the vivid memories of many friends of this writer. The remainder of this account is drawn mainly from these sources and becomes the relating of enlarged vision and plans, activities and improvements to the physical plant.

At the annual meeting held on the twentieth of March 1952, the very good news was announced that all of the financial obligations for 1951 had been met. Mr. Gamble proposed that the congregation undertake raising funds to purchase a complete set of communion ware by Easter of 1953. We had been using mismatched pieces from Christ Church and St. John’s Chapel. A new set, embellished with a Jerusalem Cross, was used for the first time at Christmas. This was accomplished by the devoted efforts of the Women’s Auxiliary and the generosity of several members of the congregation: Mr. and Mrs. Harry Cordrey, The Doneleys, Mrs. Virginia Raber, Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. Jo Stott and Mr. John Walker.

Each month and season brought new proposals, changes and activities. A Lenten study program, consisting of a covered-dish supper and study was inaugurated. Easter services were well attended. There was a substantial program of cleaning the buildings and grounds. The north and east boundaries of the churchyard were planted with shrubbery, the gift of Mr. George Siebenthaler of Christ Church. A May Day festival was presented on the first Sunday in May by the children, concluding with the planting of a dogwood tree near the fourth bay on the garden (east) side of the church.

May was a month of important meetings. At the Executive Committee meeting, plans were made for a program of advertising. It was thought that notices directed at members and those living within, say, a five-mile radius, might overcome the generally accepted fact that the church was misplaced. Also at this meeting, Independence Day was set as q time to paint the nave and chancel, a project to be done by the members of the committee and some others.

A special meeting of the vicar and the Executive Committee was held at Christ Church on May the twenty-first with Dr. Porter. He made it quite clear that a realistic evaluation of St. Mark’s present and future had to be made. The salient arguments made at the meeting may be briefly presented in five observations:

1. Organizations consisted of the Executive Committee of six elected members.
The choir of about eight members, which added to the spirit of worship in the Episcopal tradition.
The Women’s Auxiliary, with about twelve active members, who aided the church in many material ways.
The Alcoholic Anonymous group met, about eighty strong, every Saturday night.
2. Plans were underway for a teen program, directed not so much toward the youth of the church, as toward those of the community as an extended ministry.
3. It was noted that the Boy Scout work had again lapsed and might again be revised.
4. Liturgical hangings and other appointments were beginning to be obtained.
5. A steady rise in finances could be noted over a three year period.

1950 $2,662.50 (actual)

1951 $3,564.64 (actual)

1952 $4,025.00 (budgeted)

The result of this meeting was a clarification of purpose and a rededication to the work, with a definite goal in mind. St. Mark’s would undertake to pay one-half of the vicar’s stipend beginning in July. The minutes of the regular monthly meeting of the Executive Committee held in July note that the financial situation was sound enough to approach this undertaking with confidence. Much thought was given to the transient element in the life of the congregation the effect that this would have on plans being made.


The Turning of the Tide

In September of 1952, the will of the late Miss Imogene Harries established a Music Trust Fund, which had the quaint title, “. . . . that there might be singing in the church.” The court ruled that the interest from this fund might be used to purchase music and vestments and to repair the pipe organ. This fund was a blessing to the music department, which had long made do with little music and makeshift robes and hand-me-downs from other churches.

The advertising campaign was under way and bringing results. The proposed youth group had become a reality and showed promise. A new processional cross had been selected, to be the gift of Mistress Virginia Raber. The growth of the congregation could be measured, for every week brought new persons. The Every Member Canvass proposed “faith giving,” in which the plans and needs of the church were presented without an exact budget being prepared. This was adopted and proved to be very successful.

In December of 1952, the rebuilding of the combustion chamber of the furnace was authorized and other projects “for attention” were considered: all of the plumbing needed repair or replacement; the nave floor needed either repair or replacement because many of the floor tiles were loose or breaking up; the social room ceiling was falling; broken glass in windows and lanterns; lighting in the nave; caulking and painting of doors and windows; painting the outside wrought-iron; repair of the roof; painting of the social rooms and all small rooms; and the repair of the bells.

Obviously this list suggests that very little in the way of on-going maintenance had been done since the church was built. It was projected that much of this work could be done “in house,” but, all of it together, represented considerable financial outlay. A capital improvement fund was anticipated for early the following year.
Also proposed was the payment of three fourths of the vicar’s annual stipend beginning July 1953 so that he could have more time for strengthening and developing the work at St. Mark’s. The advertising program was now acknowledged as an integral part of the church’s life.


Year of Decision – 1953

The annual congregational meeting held on January the fifteenth, 1953 was a significant and well-attended event. Even though the treasurer had to report that the year 1952 was not as good as expected, no outstanding debts had been carried over and the prospect for the new year was good, based on the amount pledged. The vicar’s annual report drew attention to significant growth, especially after September. It also noted the gift of white altar hangings and a dossal, made and given by Mistress Theresa A. O’Neal; a credence bracket, made and given by the Branscomb’s; the processional cross given by Mistress Virginia Raber; and new recreational equipment given by the Women’s Auxiliary. The founding and significant progress of the youth group was pointed out and, also, the enlargement of the choir. The provision of three-fourths of the vicar’s stipend was presented, together with its benefits to the church.

By action of the congregation, the Executive Committee was enlarged to nine members, and the following were elected for the terms indicated: Three Years: Captain Wm. Boyd Gibson, Mr. Fred Moore, Mr. Charles Patton. Two Years: Mr. Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr., Mr. Harry Cordrey, Mr. Lauren Dennewitz. One Year: Mr. Albert Bubolz, Mr. John Pierce, Mr. Fred Stott.

This was to be an important group, who would guide the congregation through this decisive year.
The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting on January twenty-fifth, 1953, record two special announcements made at the morning service. The first was that a gift of twenty pews and two front partitions for the nave, and seven pieces of choir furniture had been made available to St. Mark’s by All Saints Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The second was that of the provision of a house and grounds on Cleveland Avenue had been made by the diocese to serve as a rectory. The latter was a great vote of confidence by the bishop.
Plans for moving the furniture from All Saints and beginning their restyling and refinishing were discussed. The details of the capital expense fund were worked out and the month of March selected for pledging. A minimum pledge of fifteen ($15.00) a week was to be asked, payable in fifteen weeks from March the first to June the seventh. The immediate concern was the repair or replacement of the nave floor.


The Capital Improvement Program

At the Executive Committee meeting on February 16, 1953, three important committees of three members each were appointed by the vicar for Christian Education, Finance, and Property Maintenance. The minutes of this meeting also have an entry as an official notice regarding the gifts of the processional cross and communion ware to guard against the loss of this information. A Lenten program was announced to consist of family nights once a week. These were to begin with a covered dish supper, feature a religious film, and close with a service in the church.

A progress report on the eighth of March indicated that the raising of capital funds was doing well and plans were made for the immediate undertaking of some of the projects. By the sixteenth of March, the progress of the work was exceptional, and a precedence of projects was determined.

By this time, repairs to the roof were already under way. The next project to be started was the conversion of a long unused coal bin into a classroom, since the Sunday School was rapidly outgrowing the social room and other areas. This entailed knocking a door through a wall of the kitchen, and the wall turned out to be solid concrete!
The next project after this major undertaking was to be the installation of a new ceiling in the social room, painting the room and other small rooms in the building, and providing some sort of dividers between the class areas. The third project was the installing of a hardwood floor in the nave. (In actuality, this project followed the roof repair.) All of this work (except for the roof repair, which involved replacement of interlocking clay tiles) was to be done by members of the congregation.

By April, the various projects were well under way. The pews were in place by Easter and shortly thereafter, the nave and choir furniture in place. It was decided that the furniture would not be refinished but only stained and hand-rubbed. The choir furniture underwent considerable reworking by covering gothic ornament with plain panels to bring it into keeping with the simplicity of the mission-style interior. The result of all this work was quite beautiful and very much in harmony with the architecture of the building.

The pews that had been replaced had come from a closed military chapel on the Air Force base. They, in turn, were passed on to a non-Episcopal congregation.

In June 1953, a handsome Altar Service Book and stand were given by Mrs. Virginia Raber. The Women’s Auxiliary was undergoing a revitalization with two meetings proposed for each month. A Mad River Township Council of Churches had been founded and our rector had been elected vice-president. The immediate goal was to be able to finance a full-time religious education teacher in the public schools and have classes to meet in the township churches. (This concept was called “released time.”) St. Mark’s was able to participate in this endeavor by making a pledge.

The mid-year treasurer’s report which was presented at the Executive Committee meeting held on the fifteenth of July, given by Mr. Dennewitz, indicated that the financial situation was quite sound. About one-half of the amount pledged had been received, and one-half of the budget had been met in the disbursement of those funds. The church was in a good position to begin paying three-fourths of the vicar’s stipend in September.
On August sixteenth, the old asphalt floor of the nave was taken up and the next day the laying of the hardwood floor began. Within a week the floor was down, and work was scheduled to replace the ceiling in the social room downstairs. This had to be done, and soon. When the lumber had been delivered for the floor, it had been brought in in rather heavy parcels, strapped together. When they were put down in the nave – a better term would be “dropped” – much of the ceiling in the social room fell down. These were busy days of fellowship and devotion amongst the men and women of the church, and their labors were truly blessed.

The Executive Committee, at its regular meeting, authorized a change in the hour of service and another service was added, the schedule being: 8:00 a.m., Holy Communion, and 10:30 Morning Prayer. This schedule was to go into effect in September.

September 1953 was an important month. It marked the anniversary of the beginning of revitalization and growth. It was also the beginning of paying a larger portion of the vicar’s stipend. By the third of September, most of the capital improvement projects were finished: the refurbishing of the nave and chair furniture; the hardwood floor laid; the acoustical tile put up in the social room. The remaining job was that of painting and obtaining classroom dividers. This was accomplished by Labor Day. The outside doors were also painted an excellent tile red which greatly enhanced the beauty of the building.

At the regular meeting of the Executive Committee in October 1953, it was proposed that the lower section of the office porch be enclosed for further relief of the over-crowding of church school class space, and the project was soon underway.

A contribution was authorized to be made to the Church Federation of Greater Dayton to be used for landscaping at its new headquarters. All of the city’s Episcopal congregations had undertaken this project. St. Mark’s advertising program was intensified; small pocket calendars were sent into the homes of Eastview, Page Manor, Harshman Homes and Overlook Homes. The Committee also accepted responsibility for the payment of the premium on a casualty policy authorized by the vestry of Christ Church parish. Also authorized was the purchase of octavo hymnals and prayer books, made necessary by the larger congregation and a desire for full participation.
A green, gothic-style stole was acquired by the church, which the Women’s Auxiliary had given to Mr. Gamble who, in turn, gave it to the church. At a special meeting on the twentieth of October, dealing mainly with the Every Member Canvass, an estimated budget of $8,920.00 for the year 1954 was presented to the Executive Committee by the Finance Committee. Mr. Fred Moore was appointed chairman of the canvass, and the fifteenth of November was chosen as the date for canvassing.

By December 1953, events were crowding one upon another. The lower porch project was being finished. The canvass had been completed and had been very successful. Eight thousand ($8,000) was pledged on the day of the canvass, and by the time of the regular monthly meeting of the Executive Committee, $10,904.40 had been subscribed. The proposed budget was approved for presentation to the congregation at the annual meeting. Purchase of new social room furniture was considered, and a committee was appointed to select the style of folding chairs and tables.

The most important action of this meeting was the authorization by the Executive Committee of an application for full parish status. By the end of December, the Articles of Association were drawn up and signed by a large number of members of the congregation.

At the regular meeting of the Executive Committee held on the seventh of January 1954, a letter was signed by seven members present and directed to the Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio, asking for consent to form the parish of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, in the City of Dayton, in Montgomery County, and the State of Ohio. A report of the Every Member Canvass showed ninety-five pledges amounting to $11,425.00. The first annual congregational meeting of this proposed church was called for the twenty-seventh of January.
At eight o’clock on the evening of January 27, 1954, about sixty persons assembled in the social room of the church. Presiding were the Rev. Dr. Phil Porter and the Rev. Mr. Carlton Gamble. Mr. William N. Green represented the vestry of Christ Church parish. The vicar’s report took the form of an introduction to and commentary about a brochure prepared as a review of work in the year 1953. His summary stressed thanksgiving and dedication: thanksgiving to God and our dedication to the work of the future.

Dr. Porter was presented, and he gave some historical background and some pastoral counsel, admonishing the people of the congregation to be “democratic and generous.” One of the main items of business was that of naming the parish and the name that was selected was St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio. By-laws were adopted for the election of church wardens and vestry members and the meeting proceeded to the balloting.Mr. Lauren Dennewitz was elected to the office of Senior Warden. He had served for two years on the Executive Committee and had been treasurer for the last year. Mr. Marcus Gunning was elected to be junior warden. Both of these men had been faithful members of the congregation through the times of struggle and decision. The three-year members elected were Major Hunter Robinson and Mr. Fred Stott and Mr. Fred Moore. Two-year members were Lt. James Mahan, Mr. David Klarer and Lt. David Decker. One year members were Col. Ellis Wilson and Mr. George Wilkins and Mr. Charles Poll.

Representatives to the diocesan convention were Major and Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Wilson. Mr. Albert Bubolz, who had so faithfully served the congregation in many capacities for almost six years, was elected as an honorary warden. Two of the members elected to the vestry were long-time members of the congregation. Mr. Fred Stott had been a member of the Executive Committee since 1947, serving as chairman for many years. Mr. George Wilkins was the oldest male member of the congregation from the standpoint of number of years at St. Mark’s, being a member since 1941 and serving on the Executive Committee until 1950.

The organizations presented reports. The Women’s Auxiliary had maintained a good level of work and had increased its programs. A men’s club had been organized in November 1953. The treasurer’s report indicated that the year 1953 had been very sound and that all obligations had been met. The Every Member Canvass chairman announced that one hundred and four pledges had been received amounting to $12,065.00. A report on the youth group showed that it had grown significantly and its leaders were commended by Mr. Gamble. The six members of the Altar Guild were thanked and others were invited to share in this important work, considered to be the highest honor afforded individual women of the church. The remarkable growth of the church school was noted, and an appeal made for teachers by the superintendent, Mr. Fred Stott.

Near the end of the meeting, Mr. Green presented an extract from the minute book of the vestry of Christ Church dated the fifteenth of January 1954, extending congratulations to St. Mark’s congregation for its faithfulness and growth.

The congregation was given authority and responsibility by the Rev. Dr. Porter in his closing address. A milestone had been passed; there now remained acceptance by the diocesan convention. Appropriately, this came in its Mother Church. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was admitted as a parish in union with the diocese on the tenth of May 1954 by the convention assembled in Christ Church, Dayton, Ohio.



In addition to what is included in “the history,” which is based on official records, I want to share some personal information and observations about the old church and the work there.

Old St. Mark’s on the Old Springfield Pike (State Route 4), at what was then called Harries Station, was a vital part of my life in the mid-forties and fifties of the twentieth century.

I had been raised in the Methodist Church, being baptized at age twelve in the Van Buren Street Methodist Church, just off Wayne Avenue in East Dayton. That neighborhood church (which was originally a German Methodist Church) has long been closed – perhaps even torn down by now. When I was a child, so many corners in most residential neighborhoods had a church, a grocery store, or a “filling station.” So many of the churches were fine, small buildings, and most are like the old Van Buren Street church by now, I’m sure.
Just after my return from the Second World War, I joined Christ Episcopal Church, Dayton, and was confirmed. In time, with some other friends from that parish, I became involved with the parochial chapel known as St. Mark’s.

There is little that I did not do at the chapel. I served as organist and choir master, as a member of the Executive Committee in almost every office except warden, taught Sunday School, was sexton, and conducted services – a veritable “Altar Rat,” under the Reverend Messrs. Riebs, Johnston, and Gamble.

On a very warm Saturday morning at 9:30, on May twenty-eighth 1949, I married Joan Webb, with Fathers Riebs and Johnston presiding. The old church, which seated perhaps 120 some persons, was filled for the first time ever. People were standing in the back and side aisles and in the narthex! Joan and I both have many happy memories from the years we were there.


Mr. Joseph R. Harries

Mr. Joseph R. Harries, who built the old church, was interesting to say the least. I never knew him, but he did, at one time, have a thriving little community at the village called “Harries Station,” so-called because the interurban electric railway cars stopped there. The village consisted of a rather spectacular, high-Victorian brick mansion (like something out of the Addams Family TV show) with many beautiful rooms, perhaps a dozen or more.
I was never in the house until was abandoned, but it was a wondrous place with fine woodwork, marble fireplaces with matching damask on the walls, and brass and crystal chandeliers. A splendid porte-cochere covered the entrance and there was a great tower above the entrance and a lesser one coming up from the kitchen at the rear. It was originally set in a lovely park with statuary and a great circular driveway. (The house was burned down by vandals – probably in 1952 or 1953). *

Near the main house was a large carriage house which was later remodeled into a dwelling. The story is told that this remodeling was done for the two maiden sisters of Mr. Harries when he married. The only catch was that the two sisters were making the Grand Tour in Europe when the marriage took place. When they returned, they were “not amused” to find that they had a new home because of “that woman.” They would have none of it and, in time, Mrs. Harries was moved out and into an apartment in downtown Dayton; however, Mr. Harries continued to live in the mansion at Harries Station.

Across the road at the rear of the mansion was a large frame house with wide porches that had been the family dwelling place before, or perhaps while the mansion was being built. The rest of the village consisted of several cottages out on the main highway – perhaps there were eight or ten – in which Mr. Harries’ workers lived. The farmland of the estate was given over to raising asparagus, evidently some of the finest around because of the sandy soil. Across from the main entrance stone gateway to the grounds at the mansion was a small office building, which was later converted into a dwelling. Crepe myrtle lined the roadways.

*Note: The Lilacs burned down in March 1954 (B.J.) On the site where the church was built, there had been a livery. The story is that Mr. Harries got into trouble with the Federal Government during Prohibition over the operation of this livery. The result of all of this was that the Government did take some of the land – probably that is where Harshman Homes were built. The whole estate had the feel of an English manor house and its village. All that it lacked was the parish church.


Description of “Harries Chapel Memorial Church”

The church that Mr. Harries began, and that his two maiden sisters, the Misses Bessie and Imogene finished, was a beautifully proportioned building that took about three years to build. It was actually made of packed concrete, which was then stuccoed on the outside and plastered inside with a rough finish to give it the feeling of being old.
The original doors were paneled with small squares and stained dark. The woodworking inside, which included the wainscoting, window frames, and pulip, were made of pecky antiqued wood. The chancel railing was hand-wrought iron, as was a fan-shaped grille over the main door and two ornamental grilles to the left and right of that door. There were also large wrought-iron lanterns at the doorway, fitted with amber-colored glass. The same glass was used in the nave windows.

In the bell-cote above the west front were two bells that could be rung by ropes in the narthex. In the chancel there was a small round window above the dossal and altar. The framing of the window divided it into four sections; each had stained glass symbols of the four gospels.

There was also a small, but good, pipe organ made by the Wicks Organ Company of Highlands, Illinois. This was installed to the right of the chancel behind a wooden grille of simple balusters covering scrim stretched on a wood frame.

There were two wrought-iron gable crosses. That on the bell-cote was a lovely piece, really a stylized form of the cross based on a Botonee or Celtic-type cross. A second one, on the gable of a porch at the side and rear of the church, was of a Latin style.

When Joan and I returned for a Christmas visit just after the time that the congregation had moved to the new building, I was given permission to take these crosses down. The one on the bell-cote was too much of a challenge; however, we did take the side one down and for many years used it in our home. Just before our retirement in 1998, we gave it to a church retirement community, St. Martin’s in-the-Pines, in Birmingham, Alabama. It was placed on the wall of a covered seating area beside the entrance to the independent living apartments.
For many years, we also had a walnut cross from the face of the altar. It had been removed in a later restyling of the altar and chancel. We gave that to my last parish, Grace Church, Woodlawn, Birmingham, Alabama. It now hangs beside the doorway of a small oratory in the parish hall.

Yet another piece of the furnishings of the old church that comes to mind is a brass lectern. It is somewhat curious because it did not “go” with the rest of the interior and was obviously part of the refitting of the church for Episcopal usage. Happily, it was small and graceful. Somewhere along the line, we painted it beige and rubbed it with umber to “antique” it.


. . . and the rest of the story . . . . the Harries Sisters

To return to the story of the Harries family – the maiden sisters, Miss Bessie and Miss Imogene, in time became near recluses and the grounds of the mansion became unkept and overgrown. I never saw either one – only Miss Imogene in her coffin.

When Miss Imogene died, my wife took the flowers from the church over to Miss Bessie. She went to the grand front door and after much banging of interior doors, a young man appeared at a window and motioned to Joan indicating that she should go around to the back. She came into that grand house through the kitchen and was escorted through long dark hallways with doors at least twenty feet tall into a double drawing room to be reviewed by Miss Bessie. As Joan was leaving, she was asked if she wanted to “see Miss Imogene,” and not waiting for an answer, the person showing her out opened two of the great, solid walnut twenty-foot doors and practically shoved her into a pitch black room where she came close to falling over the coffin.

I honestly believe that the modern world was simply too much for the sisters and in time they simply closed the shutters and bolted the doors and never came outside again. I do know that groceries were just delivered to the back porch. I also think that they lacked their brother’s ability to handle money. They were far from poor; it is said that when the furnishings were moved out, that money was found stuffed behind pictures and clocks and the like. It is said they stopped coming to church when a cabinet grand piano in the social room was painted blue. They, of course, had given the piano.

A wonderful story told about Miss Bessie concerns a radio antenna that blew down from the main tower of the mansion sometime during World War II or just after. The sisters no doubt thought that the Air Force had really stolen some of their land in the settlement between their brother and the government. There was no way that they could get the antenna put back up by themselves. So – Miss Bessie called the headquarters of the Wright Patterson Air Force Base and asked who was in charge and could she please be put through to him. She told the commander who she was and what had happened, and would someone please come at once and make the necessary repair. The story says that an Air Force sergeant did indeed come and put the antenna back up!


More about the Old Church

It is somewhat out of place here to say something about the undercroft of the old church but I did not say anything about it when I was describing the building. There was certainly nothing unusual about the undercroft. It was sort of “English basement” because the nave was raised nearly a story above ground level. There were four steps up to the entrance from the circular driveway in front of the church, then another step up into the narthex. Once inside, most of the narthex consisted of yet another set of side steps – perhaps six – from wall to wall.
To the right of the main entrance, a doorway opened to a stairway to the undercroft. Under the narthex, there were two restrooms which also doubled as choir rooms. Under the nave, was a large open social hall with a row of double sash-hung windows on each side. Since the church was raised above a very shallow excavation, these windows were almost the size of normal windows in a dwelling house, without the need of window wells.
At the other end was a large kitchen with a counter and serving windows separating it from the hall. Beyond the kitchen, and at a much lower level, was the heating plant which housed an enormous steam boiler that probably could have heated a number of buildings. The coal-burning chamber was later converted to oil-heating. As was mentioned before, there was a coal bin which was later converted into a classroom with a doorway that opened from the kitchen.

The Harries Family, the Village of Harries Station, the Community Church, old St. Mark’s, so many who served – all of a time long gone, a time that is really another age. It is remembered here with joy and thanksgiving, even with some tears; but, with many more smiles. Gloria tibi.

Except the Lord build the city, they labor in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalm 127.


Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.October 17, 2003




When I sent the History of the Mission Years, I mentioned plans for a Book of Remembrance that never really got off the ground. I found some notes for it, and the layout of the Title Page, which is included.
Notes found:
– Furnishings and appointments which were in the church when it was received into Christ Church Parish.
The following items were original furnishings and appointments of this church and were provided by the Harries Family:
– twin bells- brass lectern and lectern Bible- neo-gothic communion table – oak- neo-gothic oak sedila- the pipe organ- a cabinet grand piano in the parish hall
Some later gifts given in 1938
the high altar
the missal stand – wooden
the credence table (given by parishioners of Christ Church, Dayton)
the altar linens (made and given by Mrs. George E. Maloneof Christ Church Parish)*
two brass polychromed vases – given by Miss Mary Elizabeth Harries


*Mrs. Malone was a widow whose main occupation was making linens, hangings and vestments for Christ Church in memory of her husband. Her work was exquisitely beautiful.)

the marble baptismal font – given by Mr. E. J. Barney Gorman *
the silver ewer for baptism – given by Miss Mary Elizabeth Harries **

In 1944 – the walnut Honor Roll, inscribed with the names of members who had served in World War II – given by Mr. and Mrs. Jack Doneley.


* This had been part of the Gorman mansion in downtown Dayton, not from Christ Church. I believe that the Gormans were of the Barney Car Works, the business of building beautiful and elegant railway cars. Their stockpile of fine woods was lost in the 1913 flood. Just before that, I believe there was a law enacted forbidding railway cars to be made of wood.


** I’m sure this was from a coffee and tea service from the Harries mansion. It had her initials – M.E.H. and may well still be in the sacristy and used at baptism.


Further notes related to the inventory of furnishings given to the old church by the Harries Family:
I think that the two bells sounded exactly the same note. I’m not completely sure, because I was usually the one ringing them!

In my notes in the History, I said that I thought the brass lectern was added at the time the Community Church became Episcopalian. It appears that I was wrong.

After the altar was installed, the communion table was used at the back of the church for tracts and notices, etc. It was inscribed across the front IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME. It may have been left in the building when the congregation moved to the new building.

If I remember the sedila correctly, there were three separate chairs. However, they may have been joined, but I would doubt that.

The organ I have described in the History.

I mentioned the piano in the History – the one that someone painted blue and made the sisters stop coming. I can’t imagine why it was painted blue – it was one of the ugliest piano cases I have ever seen!


Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.October 17, 2003


Transcription of Minutes of the Woman’s Auxiliary of St. Mark’sEpiscopal Church, Dayton, Ohio

February 1953 – November 1953


Originals, which were badly damaged in storage – copiedBy Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.


Fall 2003February 25, 1953

The February meeting of the Woman’s Auxiliary of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was called to order by the President. Inasmuch as all of the women present had just attended a service of The Litany in the church, there were no customary devotions.

The minutes of the previous meeting and the Treasurer’s Report were read by Mrs. Bainbridge.

The meeting proceeded directly to the business at hand, that being the election of officers for the coming year.

The following women were elected to hold the respective offices:

Mrs. Merle Stott, PresidentMrs. Chester Rohr, Vice-PresidentMrs. Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr., SecretaryMrs. Thomas H. Bainbridge, Treasurer

The president then appointed the following chairmen:

Maj. Joan Weeks, Christian EducationMrs. Everett Buehner, Social RelationsMrs. Fred Stott, U.T.O. Custodian
The meeting was adjourned without further business.


by (Mrs.) Joan Branscomb, Secretary


March 26, 1953

The meeting was called to order by the President, Mrs. Stott, who led the Woman’s Auxiliary prayer for diligence.
A talk was given by Mrs. Verna Webb, who is the Diocesan Chairman of Christian Social Relations. Mrs. Webb presented an enlightening and interesting account of the projects of the national organization and of the projects which can be adopted to and aided by such committees at both the diocesan and parish levels.

Under old business, it was noted that the old sewing machines had been sent to be reconditioned into one, good, portable machine.

New business was then considered. Regarding the sale of “slak-cords,” {sic} it was decided that three (3) dozen should be ordered at present to see how well they sell and perhaps a larger order can be made at a later time.
It was decided that, rather than cutting and rolling bandages at this time, several of the women would make an effort to come at some time in the next few days and get them ready to take to the Central Evangelical and Reformed Church.

The meeting was adjourned and refreshments were served by Mrs. E. Stott, Mrs. M. Stott, and Mrs. Klarer.


by (Mrs.) Joan Branscomb, Secretary


April 1953

The April meeting was called to order and the Woman’s Auxiliary prayer read.

The minutes of the March meeting were read and approved as was the report of the Treasurer.

Under old business, the money was collected from the sale of the cord reels and it was decided that, because of the good results of the sales, an order should be placed for another six (6) dozen.

The Secretary read a card from Mrs. Graf asking that we serve at the Regional Convention as pages and be in charge of the cloak room. Mrs. Jane Rohr was appointed to head this project.

Mrs. Lucille Racz was elected as our official delegate to the convention, and Mrs. Buehner elected as alternate.
The President read a letter from the Children’s Hospital requesting that our sewing project for the year be the making of clinic robes. Mrs. Branscomb was asked to obtain prices for a bolt of appropriate material, at a discount if possible.

It was then decided that, due to the condition of the church with the present improvements underway, a dinner was out of the question as a fund-raising project. A Stanley Products party was planned instead. Fifteen percent (15%) of the total amount of the orders will be given to the Auxiliary and the party was set for Thursday, May twenty-eighth at the home of Mrs. Branscomb.

After the meeting, we were served a delightful snack by Mrs. Seiner and Mrs. Segrist. Mrs. J. Stott and Mrs. Gibson will serve as hostesses in May.


(Mrs.) Joan W. Branscomb, Secretary


May 27, 1953

The meeting was called to order and the Lord’s Prayer was said by all.

Minutes of the April meeting were read and approved, as was the report of the Treasurer.

It was decided that two meetings of Auxiliary would be instituted for each month: A meeting on the first Wednesday would be concerned with program; a meeting on the third Wednesday would be for business and projects. The President appointed Mrs. Klarer as Program Chairman.

Mrs. Racz, the delegate to the Regional Convention, gave a very interesting report on the proceedings. It was also reported that the United Thank Offering for St. Mark’s was far above our normal giving. This year’s offering amounted to a total of four hundred dollars ($400.00), with about twenty-two (22) persons participating.

Discussion was then directed to the problem of aiding Mrs. O’Neil. The following action will be undertaken as possible:

1. We feel that a thorough discussion of her situation with Mr. Gamble is essential before any aid is undertaken.
2. The suggestions should be presented to him, and, if he is in agreement, he should be asked to coordinate with proper authorities and agencies.

3. To secure a full medical report to be sent to Mr. Beckman.

4. If Mr. Beckman agrees to support the majority of the expense, we will adopt a plan to meet certain incidental expenses each month, such as prescriptions and personal needs. An amount to fund this aid will be agreed upon.
5. The Cancer Foundation should be contacted to determine any aid that it could, or wanted, to give.

6. Charity agencies should also be contacted to see if someone needing a home and who would be willing to be a live-in companion might be located.

Several members of the Auxiliary have already consented to schedule days to clean the house and keep it in order until a companion might be retained.

The latest order of cord-reels was distributed for members to see. A report indicated that sales from the Stanley Products party amounted to one hundred and sixteen dollars ($116.00).

The meeting was then adjourned.

Refreshments were offered by Mrs. Stott and Mrs. Gibson.


(Mrs.) Joan W. Branscomb, Secretary


June 3, 1953

The meeting was called to order for a very short business meeting during which the minutes of the previous meeting and the Treasurer’s Report were read and approved. Final arrangements were also made for those attending the workshop in Middletown on June the ninth.

The rest of the evening was spent on the clinic robe project for the Children’s Hospital. Eighteen (18) robes had already been cut out and were ready for sewing, which was accomplished in the course of the evening.

Refreshments were served by Mrs. Bainbridge and Mrs. Buehner. Mrs. Branscomb and Mrs. Klarer will serve as hostesses for the next meeting on June the seventeenth.


(Mrs. Joan Branscomb, Secretary


June 17, 1953

The meeting opened with the Woman’s Auxiliary prayer. The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved. The Secretary turned over the check for the dividend from the Stanley party in the amount of sixteen dollars and seventy-two cents ($16.72) to the Treasurer. The Treasurer presented the financial report to date. It was approved that reimbursement be made to Mrs. Jo Stott and Mrs. Klarer for books and gasoline, expenses related to the trip to Middletown for the workshop.

July the first was designated as a work day at St. Mark’s for serving and for sorting and packing clothing to be sent to Korea.

Clarification was made of the confusion resulting from the appointment of Mrs. Klarer as program chairman. It was pointed out that this actually was part of Christian Education. Instead of that position, Mrs. Klarer was asked to serve as Ways and Means chairman.

The plans for the ice cream social were discussed, and it was scheduled for Friday, July the tenth, with Mrs. Klarer as chairman.

Reports of the Regional Workshop were read by Mrs. Bainbridge and Mrs. Jo Stott. Included were suggestions regarding World Community Day, which has been set for September the first. This might include collecting linens for prison camps and hospitals, UNESCO, etc.

It was decided that the United Thank Offering Custodian should have two assistants, and Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Gibson were appointed to serve.

Refreshments were served by Mrs. Staffstall and Miss Webb.


(Mrs.) Joan W. Branscomb, Secretary


July 1953

The July meeting opened with the saying of the Woman’s Auxiliary Prayer.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved, as was the Treasurer’s Report.

An additional three dollars and fifty cents ($3.50) was received from the Stanley Products party, and also five dollars and twenty-one cents ($5.21) from the sale of Slak-cords.

The Secretary was instructed to send all of St. Mark’s old church school materials to the mission in La Grange, Georgia.

It was brought to the attention of the members by Mrs. Klarer that the two ice boxes were on loan from the Dayton Metropolitan Housing Authority.

It was decided that the ice cream left over from the social should be used at the annual picnic.

A motion was made that members volunteer time and service to the linen room at the Miami Valley Hospital. No action was taken because there was a call for more information. Mrs. Buehner was asked to obtain this additional information.

The August workshop was set for the first Wednesday in that month.

Mrs. Racz gave an interesting report on the Regional Workshop which was held in Middletown.

Miss Williams of Christ Church Parish spoke regarding the altar and its appointments. Mr. R.C. Lucas, recently home from spending two years in the Far East, gave an interesting commentary, with the use of colored slides, about life in Japan.

Refreshments were served by Jean Shoffstall and Doris Webb after adjournment.


(signed) (Mrs.) Joan Branscomb, Secretary


August 19, 1953

The August meeting of the Woman’s Auxiliary met at the home of Mrs. James Diefenderfer in Fairborn, Ohio.

The meeting was opened with devotions by Mrs. Racz.

The minutes and Treasurer’s Report were read and approved.

It was reported that a total of one hundred and ninety-four (194 lbs.) of clothing had been sent for Korean relief on July the thirty first.

A discussion followed of the possible volunteer services that might be undertaken at the hospital. Any hours given would be added to the total of service hours for the Auxiliary.

Since the parish picnic was not held, the problem of using the left-over ice cream was discussed. Mrs. Klarer was asked to propose a solution.

Plans for the Christmas Bazaar were discussed and committees and booth chairman appointed.

Ideas for a gift for Mr. Gamble were discussed, but no decision was reached.

After adjournment, refreshments were served by the hostess.

We want to thank Mrs. Dieffenderfer for opening her home to the Auxiliary for its meeting while the church was undergoing major repairs and decorating.


(Mrs.) Joan W. Branscomb, Secretary


September 1953

The September meeting of the Woman’s Auxiliary of St. Mark’s Church was called to order by Mrs. Stott. Devotions were lead by Mrs. Racz.

An item of new business was immediately considered: the gift for Mr. Gamble. Mrs. Branscomb was authorized to order a green stole as the Auxiliary’s gift to Mr. Gamble.

Mr. Fred Moore, chairman of the Finance Committee, was present and advised the women of a plan to ask St. Mark’s to raise three hundred dollars ($300.00) to match the same amount from Christ Church toward the purchase of a new automobile for Mr. Gamble. The Auxiliary voted that fifty dollars ($50.00) be given for this purpose. A question was raised if this gift would in any way affect our decision to give the stole. It was decided that both would be given.

Mrs. Klarer advised the meeting of the fact that she had moved and was unable to have a telephone installed at her new address. She therefore resigned as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Mrs. Elizabeth Stott was appointed to fill this position.

Discussion turned to the Christmas Bazaar, with consideration of changing the date. It was decided that the date already set – November the twentieth – did not conflict with other bazaars and was best retained. It was also decided that in order to accommodate military families who are paid at the end of the month, IOU’s would be accepted at the various booths. These are to be paid after payday.

Mr. Gamble came into the meeting and spoke about the need for children’s chairs and tables for the Sunday School. He asked the Auxiliary to consider taking on the supplying of this furniture. In order to get this project underway, it was decided to serve a chicken dinner on October the sixteenth to establish a furniture fund.

Mrs. Dieffenderfer suggested that we hold a bake sale after church on Sunday. The motion carried, that if Mr. Gamble approved, such a sale would be held the following Sunday, with Mrs. Dieffenderfer and Mrs. Weeks in charge. Mrs. Weeks also added that she had ordered an initial supply of Christmas cards and would offer them for sale to benefit the Auxiliary.

Mr. Ernest Murphy’s condition at The Veteran’s Hospital was considered, especially his forthcoming surgery. A request was made that young couples from the church visit him. Cards will be sent from the women and the altar flowers taken.

After the adjournment of the meeting, refreshments were served by Elizabeth and Jo Stott.


(Mrs.) Joan W. Branscomb, Secretary


October 1953

The October meeting was opened with prayer. The minutes and Treasurer’s Report were presented and accepted.

A letter was read from Mrs. Bruno, the President of the United Church Women of Greater Dayton, presenting a project for World Community Day: sending linens to work camps in France, Switzerland, and other places in Europe.

A letter was read from Mrs. Mosman, the diocesan director of the Church Periodical Club asking for materials for the Montgomery County Jail. It was decided that our members should bring magazines, books, sheet music, etc. to our workshop so that they may be taken to the county jail. Dues were also asked to be sent to the National New Books Fund. This was tabled until the next meeting, as was a request for a gift to the Church Army.

Mrs. Segrist reported that the green stole, ordered as a gift to Mr. Gamble, had arrived and was presented to him. He, in turn, gave it to the church and it had been dedicated on October the fourth at a service of Holy Communion. Mr. Gamble conveyed his thanks.

Since the women of Christ Church have changed the date of their annual Waffle Shop and bazaar, it was decided that we would change our Bazaar from November the twentieth to December the fourth. The Men’s Club will be asked to take charge of the snack bar.

A discussion followed concerning the church photographs and church calendars. The 8 x 10 photographs will cost one dollar and twenty-five cents ($1.25); unmounted, will be thirty-five cents ($.35). Church Kalendars, featuring a photograph of the church, will be thirty-four dollars ($34.00) for one hundred (100). The plate for the calendar picture will be available for six dollars ($6.00). This could be used for the printing of bulletins, publicity, etc.
Mrs. Gamble and Mrs. Robinson were appointed as co-chairmen for publicity.

Hostesses for November will be Mrs. Weeks and Mrs. Robinson.

After the adjournment of the meeting, refreshments were served by Mrs. Gamble and Mrs. Racz.
(November the first will be U.T.O. Ingathering.)

(Recorder unknown)


October 21, 1953

Mrs. Racz began the meeting with devotions and acted as president.

The minutes and the Treasurer’s Report were read and accepted. It was noted that the children’s tickets for the chicken dinner had been changed from 65 cents to 50 cents. The proceeds from the dinner had amounted to one hundred thirty-five dollars and seventy-seven cents ($135.77).

The Fall Ingathering of the United Thank Offering will be held on November the first.

The Dayton Regional meeting will be held at St. Andrew’s Church on October the twenty-seventh. The program will concern “Devotions.”

World Community Day has been set for November the sixth, and Children’s Hospital Donation Day for November the nineteenth.

An appeal has been made, and presented at church service, from the Archdeacon asking for contributions of equipment for the new recreation center at the Scioto Valley Mission.

Items for the newsletter should be sent in by the twenty-fifth of each month.

Mrs. Osborne, diocesan president of the Women’s Auxiliary, has sent a letter suggesting goals for the next year.
The Diocesan Woman’s Auxiliary treasurer has requested that we pay seven dollars and twenty-five cents ($7.25) to the Central Expense Fund. Due in January, this fund is used for diocesan and national work.
(Recorder unknown)


November 18, 1953

The meeting was called to order by the president. Minutes and Treasurer’s Report were accepted.
The following donations were authorized: Church Army – ten dollars ($10.00). Children’s Hospital – five dollars ($5.00). A decision of a gift to the Scioto Valley Mission was delayed until after Christmas.
A bake sale will be held on November the twenty-second. Martha Segrist, Chair; Shirley Martin, pricing; Peggy Robinson, pricing.

December Workshop on the third will set up for the Bazaar.

Election of a new secretary – Mrs. Robinson.

December hostesses: Mrs. Pierce and Mrs. Lesley.




(Mrs.) Joan Branscomb, Secretary


Some Notes and Observations about these Minutes

There is a note on the first page of these minutes saying, “A New Minutes Book” is begun as of this date. Previous records, both of meetings and finances were kept by one officer in a single book.

– J.W.B.


May 27 meeting. Mrs. O’Neill was a widow who lived in a small frame house directly across “Lilac Lane” (Glendean) from the southwest corner of the Harries mansion grounds. When I first knew the O’Neill’s, they were “housebound,” he with an illness and she, to take care of him. When he died, his funeral was held in old St. Mark’s. She then became housebound due to her own illness. They were dear, gentle folk, sometimes needy and often aided by the church.


In the History of the Mission Years of St. Mark’s, it is noted that Mrs. O’Neill made and gave altar hangings and a dossal. One of the antependia was a super-frontal of hand-made domestic lace. It would be interesting if it were still among the sacristy items. The others were a white, brocaded set made from material that I had provided from the yard goods department of the department store where I worked.


The story of the O’Neill’s attachment to St. Mark’s came to a kind of sad end. She had been a Roman Catholic, and probably he also. Somehow, in the confusion of caring for her and her life’s end, the Romans again became involved in her life. Some nuns did come and care for her. If I remember correctly, they were from Holy Family

Parish in East Dayton.


When she died, the funeral mass was said in that parish church. Many members from St. Mark’s attended, as did Fr. Gamble. We all sat to the left of the aisle; the nuns and others, to the right. It was the Reformation all over. We had to sit there listening to the homily about apostacy and how evil Protestants were and how this last sister had been rescued by Holy Mother Church.


It was an interesting outcome of it all that what little estate Mrs. O’Neill had, all went to the Roman Catholic Church!I’m not exactly sure who “Mr. Beckman” was – I think he was the O’Neill’s attorney.


July-August 1953. In the context of the minutes there is no resolution of the “left-over ice cream.” One thing that I wonder about is how in the world it was preserved! It was in large five gallon paper containers. I think it was re-packaged in similar, smaller containers and sold to members after a Sunday service.


September 1953. I do not remember who “Mr. Murphy” was. I assume he was a member of the congregation, although he may have been a veteran we “adopted.”


October and November 1953. These minutes were not taken by my wife, Joan Branscomb. We were in the process of relocating in the Washington, D.C. area. She worked for the Air Force in the department that recruited civilians for overseas service on military installations. Her entire office was moved from Dayton to Washington. She went on ahead and I did not go until the next year.


I worked for Rike’s Department Store as a television set designer and builder for a merchandising show called “Shopping with Cornelia.” Before Joan’s transfer came up, those of us who were part of the daily show were advised that the contract with the broadcasting company would not be renewed in the new year.


Photographs of the old church are mentioned. The copper plate for printing the small pictures was in the archives at the time that I gave up the post as recorder for the Executive Committee and moved to Washington.


A note on the Waffle Shop of Christ Church. This was a week-long event staged by the women of Christ Church Parish and held in December during the Christmas shopping season. Since the church was in downtown Dayton where there were many banks and offices and department stores (there were no “shopping malls”) it was a tradition for people to go for luncheon during the time of The Waffle Shop.


The second floor auditorium of the parish house was set up as a dining room. On the stage at long tables women presided over a battery of waffle irons. The “specialty of the house” was creamed chicken over waffles. There were also sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts. At the same time, a bazaar was held in the large parlor on the ground floor of the parish house. It was not only a money-raising event, but also a social event!

(The Waffle Shop began in 1929 and still flourishes today. B.J.)


Incidentally, the Gambles lived in an apartment on the second floor of the parish house when he was curate at Christ Church and vicar of St. Mark’s. The Sexton, Mr. Boehme, who built the chancel furniture for St. Mark’s, lived in an apartment on the first floor.


Wm. Maurice Branscomb, Jr.