History of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Quincy

St. Paul’s Church in Quincy, Florida, has a rich history dating back to its organization and election of the vestry on December 7, 1838. The parish was quickly integrated into the Diocese of Florida during the Diocese’s Second Annual Convention in January 1839. Officially incorporated on February 28, 1839, by an act of the Territorial Legislature, the church was originally served by the rector of St. John’s Church in Tallahassee, beginning in 1834. Despite challenges, including periods without a rector and the use of the building as a Confederate Army hospital during the Civil War, St. Paul’s has persevered. This history was written in 1958 in preparation for St. Paul’s 125th anniversary.

St Paul's Episcopal Church in Quincy, Florida
St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Quincy, Florida

St. Paul’s Church, Quincy, Florida was organized and the vestry elected on December 7th, 1838 and the parish was received into the Diocese of Florida at the latter’s Second Annual Convention in January 1839. The church was incorporated by an act of the Territorial Legislature, approved by Governor Richard K. Call on February 28, 1839, under the name of The Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church, Quincy, Florida.

Episcopal Services were being held in Quincy as early as 1834 by the rector of St. John’s Church, Tallahassee. At this time the town had been laid out about nine years and Florida had been in the possession of the United States for thirteen years. Though the Diocese of Florida was organized on January 17, 1838, and was received into union with the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America by the General Convention at Philadelphia on September 7, 1838, the Diocese was without a bishop for thirteen years. Meanwhile, Episcopal visitations to the Florida churches and missions were made by Bishop Kemper of the Missionary District of Missouri and Indiana, by Bishop Otey of Tennessee, Bishop Gadsden of South Carolina, by Bishop Elliott of Georgia, and by Bishop Cobbs of Alabama. Bishop Kemper made the first visitation to Quincy on March 16-18, 1838, when the Rev. J. Loring Woart of the Tallahassee church presented a small class for confirmation. Upon Bishop Kemper’s recommendation, the Domestic Committee of the Board of Missions in July 1938, adopted Quincy as one of its missionary stations.

The first priest-in-charge, the Rev. Jehu Clancy Jones of New Jersey, arrived on November 19, 1838, and was generously accorded the use of the Methodist chapel pending the construction of an Episcopal church. The Rev. Jones approached his task with enthusiasm and soon secured the donation of the present building site from the Stockton family[1]Other notes state that A. J. Forman gave $600.00 and a lot for construction of the church. and sufficient funds to erect an edifice, approximately forty-five by sixty feet, with a 20-foot belfry and outside blinds at the windows. The building was consecrated at the next Episcopal visitation, by Bishop James Harvey Otey on February 21, 1841.

The parish had now reached a high point scarcely equaled during the next hundred years. The congregation numbered about eighteen families and included most of the political, social and economic leaders of the community. However, during Otey’s visitation, which lasted four days, an unhealthy situation in the parish life came to light. The Rector had failed to put in an appearance though he had a class awaiting confirmation and it had apparently been necessary to call in the Rector of St. John’s, Tallahassee, to present the class. Bishop Otey was understandably provoked into recommending to the Board of Missions that its support of the Rev. Jones be withdrawn, and in due course it was. A month later on his return trip to his seat in Tennessee, the Bishop was stranded in Quincy for a week by the impassable condition of the roads and ferries from unusually heavy spring rains. At this time, no improvements in conditions were noted, and Jones’ rectorate was shortly officially terminated on the grounds that the parish had been without an effective ministry for more than a year.

Then followed a period of about two and a half years when Quincy was without a rector. St. Paul’s was not unique in this respect; for when the Diocese came together in its Fifth Annual Convention in January 1842, one-third of its parishes were reported as being without clergy. During the vacancy, the parish enjoyed the occasional ministrations of the rev. Francis P. Lee of Tallahassee, and the Rev. Henry Elwell of Monticello. Nevertheless, a number of the communicants drifted into the Methodist and Presbyterian folds. Towards the close of 1843 a new rector in the person of the Rev. Josiah Perry of Vermont was found.

The Rev. Perry was dismayed at the slowness of the erstwhile Episcopalians to return from the congregations of what he termed “the dissenting denominations.” He also experienced difficulties in dissociating himself from the tidy, tight plan of climate, countryside and conscience which characterized his native heath, and in adapting himself to a more lush, more easy-going, and to him, a more lax pattern of life in the Deep South. Against these odds he struggled manfully but, his health having failed, after about two years he was forced to give up his contest with an alien man and nature. The need for a more abundant and understanding supply of native clergy was being acutely felt throughout the lower South, and in the next decade, was to lead to plans for the establishment of the University of the South at Sewanee. The parish was fortunate, however, in securing a replacement from Alabama.

When the Reverend Jackson J. Scott became rector on March 1st, 1846, he found only nine families and fourteen communicants on the parish rolls. The new Rector energetically conducted numerous missions on plantations and in isolated communities of Gadsden and neighboring counties, conducting during his first nine months 112 services in all. He established a Sunday school in the morning for white children and in the afternoon for black children with classes in the catechism. He was an outspoken opponent of those who sought to stir up community dissentions in the name of Temperance but at any intemperate price. In October 1848 he left to become rector of Christ church, Pensacola, and St. Paul’s entered another long rector-less period.

By 1850 the Diocese was all but extinct, having only 264 reported communicants whose diocesan contributions amounted to little more than $3,000.00 in the preceding year. At the annual convention in January there were only two clergymen present and in the following year only four. It was now realized that steps must be taken to secure a resident bishop if the Church in Florida were to be saved. On January 9, 1851, the Reverend Francis Huger Rutledge, a native of Charleston, South Carolina and then rector of St. John’s Church, Tallahassee, was elected the first Bishop of Florida, and on October 15 1851, he was consecrated in St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia. From the outset of his episcopate he infused new life into the Diocese, and long gaps in the ministrations of the churches became virtually a thing of the past, though often rectors and missions priests were still obliged to serve more or less as circuit riders.

But to return to the more secular phases of our history: Upon the secession of Florida from the Union in 1861, the Diocese withdrew from the Church in the United States and joined with other Southern dioceses in establishing the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America. After the Confederate States were conquered, the Church changed its name to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Southern Diocese of the United States. This paved the way for its dissolution by the return of the component dioceses to their former places in the Church in the United States through a separate diocesan action. This Diocese accomplished the reunion on February 22, 1866.

During the War of Secession, the church building was used as a Confederate Army hospital according to some traditions. In the hard years that followed the war, the structure fell into such disrepair that is was finally condemned for future use. The present church was erected in 1892, enlarged in 1914, and remodeled in 1928. The old rectory was constructed in 1900-1901 and the parish house in 1950-1951. A new rectory, at the corner of Hillcrest and North Ninth streets, was purchased in 1955. The old rectory has been used partly for educational purposes since 1949 and as quarters for a parochial kindergarten since September 1956.

Historical Timeline of St. Paul’s Church in Quincy, Florida

Compiled by: Mary Stuart (Bostick) Auman

1829Rev. Horatio Nelson GrayA missionary from the Diocese of Maryland and Priest-in-charge of St. John’s, Tallahassee, Florida. Probably conducted an occasional service in Gadsden County.
1834Rev. James Higginson TyngA missionary from the Diocese of Pennsylvania and Priest-in-charge of St. John’s, Tallahassee, Florida, conducted the first recorded service in Quincy.
1838Rt. Rev. Jackson KempherA missionary bishop-at-large, attempts to establish a congregation in Quincy. The first confermation is administered in the Methodist Church with the presentation by the Rev. J. Loring Woart, Priest-in-charge of St. John’s, Tallahassee, Florida.
1838 The Board of (Domestic) Missions authorizes the establishment of a mission station at Quincy, Florida.
1838Rev. John Glancy JonesA missionary from the Diocese of New Jersey is appointed first resident Priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, Quincy, Florida.
1839 St. Paul’s church is accepted into union with the Diocese of Florida at its second annual meeting.St. Paul’s is one of the few Florida churches incorporated by act of the territorial (state) legislature.
1841Bishop OteyThe Diocese of Florida not yet having a bishop, the Bishop of Tennessee makes an episcopal visitation. During this visit the church is consecrated and a confirmation class presented.
1841 to 1844Rev. Francis P. Lee
Rev. Henry Elwell
St. Paul’s is without a resident priest but enjoyed visits from the Rev. Francis P. Lee of Tallahassee, and the Rev. Henry Elwell of Monticello.
1842Bishop Stephen ElliottThe Bishop of Georgia makes an episcopal visitation and reports to the Board of Missions that the rector had been absent for three years and a replacement priest is needed.
1844Rev. Josiah PerryRev. Perry is appointed Priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, Quincy.
1846Rev. Jackson J. ScottRev. Scott is appointed Priest-in-charge of St. Paul’s, Quincy.
1848 Rev. Scott becomes first Rector of Christ Church, Pensacola, and St. Paul’s is served by several mission priests.
 1851 The Rev. Francis H. Rutledge (rector of St. John’s, Tallahassee) is elected to serve as the first Bishop of Florida January 9th
 1863 St. Paul’s church becomes a confederate hospital.
 1865 Services are held on the first floor of the Masonic Lodge (the present day Woman’s Club).  
 1866 The Rev. William Dundas Scull, diocesan missionary, opens an Episcopal school and chapel at Midway for freedmen. This chapel is called St. Paul’s Institute. 
1876Rev. S. HarrisonRev. Harrison becomes associated with the congregation of St. Paul’s.
1892 The old church, having fallen into disrepair, was torn down and a new church building was constructed on the same site. The new building was a white frame building with narrow windows and an alter in the west end of the building.
1899Rev. Edward E. JohnsonServed as Rector.
1901Rev. Nassau William StephensServed as Rector.
1906Rev. T. E. CarteretServed as Rector.
1907Rev. Samuel W. MoranServed as Rector.
1909Rev. L. W. BlackwelderServed as Rector.
1912Rev. C. H. H. BloorServed as Rector.
1913Rev. J. H. Webber ThompsonServed as Rector.
1914Rev. Nicholas RighterServed as Rector.
1916Rev. Walter L. LaflinServed as Rector.
1919Rev. Allen JuddServed as Rector.
1921Rev. Robert Poinsett JohnsonServed as Rector.
1922Rev. George John SturgisServed as Rector.
1927Rev. Edward McCready ClaytorServed as Rector.
1941Rt. Rev. Arthur LeaServed as Rector.
1942Rev. Nelson GageServed as Rector.
1943Rev. Ronald S. MorisseyServed as Rector.
1949Rev. Robert Ray ParksServed as Rector.
1955Rev. James William AndersonServed as Rector.
1959Rev. Maurice John BywaterServed as Rector.
1976Rev. Perry William Collins, Jr.Served as Rector.
1980Rev. Jere Chews SmithServed as Rector.
1983Rev. Glenn Parker TotmanServed as Rector.
1989Rev. Ralph E. KellyServed as Priest-in-charge.
1990Rev. Kenneth M. RoachServed as Rector.
1995Rev. Ralph E. KellyServed as Priest-in-charge.

Three priests from the congregation of St. Paul’s have been ordained in the Episcopal Church. They are:

  1. The Reverend Richard S. Corry, ordained at St. Paul’s in December of 1943,
  2. The Reverend Thomas Richard Smith, Jr., ordained at St. Paul’s on July 1st, 1957,
  3. The Reverend Kenneth A. MacGowan, Jr., ordained at St. Andrew’s, Arlington, VA on June 23, 1984.

See Further:

St. Paul’s Church in Quincy, Florida, During the Territorial Period, by Edward B. Gearhart
This document discusses the history and development of St. Paul’s Church in Quincy, Florida during the territorial period. It explores the challenges faced by the Episcopal Church in establishing and maintaining a congregation in a frontier area. The document also highlights the influence of the Anglican Communion in Florida and the interchanging of flags over the Floridas. It emphasizes the importance of church leaders and the impact of the changing political and social landscape on the growth of the church.


1Other notes state that A. J. Forman gave $600.00 and a lot for construction of the church.

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