From the Archives: A Wealth of Information About The People of All Souls

Although there were archivists before me, when I became archivist the archives seemed mostly to be a repository for unwanted equipment e.g., two typewriters, a non-working computer, etc. Below this overlayer of detritus, it turned out that there was a wealth of information about All Souls and, more importantly, about its people. Over the years at least three brief histories of All Souls have been written. The latest was the one prepared by Jack Graves for the celebration at All Souls of the nation’s bicentennial. In his introduction Jack concentrated on parishioners.

Jack claimed that he was baptized at All Souls on Easter Sunday 1916, but that cannot be confirmed from the Baptismal Register. He may be recorded in the Baptismal Register of St. Mark’s, of which All Souls was then a mission. In his remembrances Jack recognized that what is important is the continuum of people, living and dead, that make up All Souls and all of Christ’s church. I hope that the following questions by Jack make parishioners, many of whom I never knew, come as alive for you as they do for me.

“Can you hear in this dusty place the sonorous snores of the Reverend Hugh E. Montgomery dozing through a dull sermon by a visiting bishop?

“Where is the lusty voice of Congressman Jeffrey Cohelan who on Sundays when home from Washington would join his beloved choir to raise his voice in praise of the Lord, rather than legislation?

“Where is the sound of the clergymen in conference assembled praying within the chapel that the Berkeley Fire of 1923 would spare All Souls, while the Servers Guild dashed about the roof with sopping wet gunny sacks extinguishing the sparks that fell upon the shingle roof?

“Can one hear the coffee hour rehashes of the Golden Bears’ Saturday afternoon skirmishes in Strawberry Canyon voiced by all time California football great Carl Van Heuit?

“Where is Admiral Pond with his Van Dyke beard and formal black cloak marching up the aisle to his pew?

“Where is the hearty laugh of Troop Four’s Ben Rogers, whose skeleton lies locked eternally in the rusting hulk of a sunken submarine somewhere in the Pacific deep?

“Do the records tell us who were the teen age devotees of Bacchus who stole the communion wine so long ago during the Prohibition era?

“Where are the prayers of the aged parishioners who struggled from death beds to worship one last time with their brothers and sisters in the eternal Christian family that is All Souls?”

All of these stories, and more, are stored in the Archives. Not just facts and figures, but the real stories of the lives of people, present in body or in spirit-the souls of All Souls which indeed “… are Mine, saith the Lord.”

—Thomas Burcham

Vessels and Appointments

vessels1-thAt a recent service, Fr. Brochard noticed that the chalice being used for wine was engraved “All Soul’s Chapel, St. Mark’s Parish, Easter 1909”. He commented to the parish at the 10 am service that it was the 100th anniversary of the chalice. However, that chalice is not the oldest item regularly used at All Souls during worship services. The Missal stand dates from before the chalice, and is engraved “All Souls Chapel, 1907.”

vessels2-thThree days after the first vicar was installed at All Souls’ Chapel in 1906, the great San Francisco earthquake made many San Franciscans homeless and caused a rapid growth in the East Bay as refugees from San Francisco moved across. The small Chapter House was not large enough to accommodate all of the newcomers, and the All Souls’ Chapel (“the old church”) was quickly built. The Missal stand may well have been given to commemorate the opening of the new church.

We also use a vase engraved “All Souls Chapel, Easter 1916,” and a wine cruet engraved “All Souls, Easter 1917.” The cruet used for water was given later in memory of Catherine Roberta Wilson by the Young People’s Fellowship, to commemorate her short life from 1902 to 1925. All Souls has, and uses, many other items given in memory of parishioners.

Two candlesticks and the two candelabra, all used at the Easter service, were given in memory of Charlotte Rogers Wright on Easter 1919. We have a pair of vases given in memory of Charles Fremont Pond and Emma McHenry Pond. Admiral Pond was a career naval officer who was captain of U.S.S. Pennsylvania, when it was fitted with a wooden deck to become the first naval vessel to have an aircraft land on it. His wife Emma was a noted landscape artist. After Charles’ retirement, the couple lived on Ridge Road and attended All Souls until his death in 1929. John Graves remembered Admiral Pond as the distinguished man who strode down the aisle in church in a black frock coat.

There are many other items used regularly which were given in memory of a parishioners. In the recent past, a paten was given in Memory of Gertrude Watts and a plaque in the chapel given in memory of Margaret Lea Beede, who was senior warden in the 1970s. Next time you enter the nave, stop for moment to remember Maria Burwell Anderson, in whose memory the Baptismal font was given. Just a few of the many souls we ought to remember, as we hope that God will remember us now and when it is our time to join the communion of souls.