Two Southwest Wisconsin Episcopal churches with the word “Trinity” in their names will celebrate Trinity Sunday at a former Episcopal church site.
Trinity Episcopal Church in Platteville and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Prairie du Chien will hold a combined Trinity Sunday Mass at the site of the former Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 310 S. Jefferson St., Lancaster, Sunday, May 26 at 10 a.m.
A picnic will follow the service. The public is invited.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church was an Episcopal Church from 1865 until the 1980s. The building was used by at least one other church after Emmanuel closed.
Westwood Parish was organized as Grant County’s first Episcopal church in the Barber & Lowry law office in Lancaster March 27, 1852. The church was organized after Elizabeth Horner of Philadelphia sent, according to reports, “about $500” for a church to be built before 1860, after which the money was to be returned to Horner.
Emmanuel’s senior warden was Nelson Dewey, who served as governor of Wisconsin from its statehood in 1848 until January 1852. William Horner, Elizabeth’s husband, served as junior warden.
The church building was completed in 1859, but not officially consecrated, due to the Civil War and the Episcopal tradition of not consecrating new churches until the building is paid for, until 1865, five years after occasional services began to be held. Bishop Jackson Kemper of the Episcopal Diocese of Wisconsin conducted the consecration and changed Westwood’s name to Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Rev. Charles Rice, rector (pastor) of Trinity Episcopal Church in Platteville, was Emmanuel’s first rector.
Next to the Emmanuel building is Westwood Cemetery, Lancaster’s oldest cemetery, active from 1841 until 1904. Burials in Westwood Cemetery include Orrin F. Dewey, Nelson’s brother, in 1841; Charles Dunn “Little Charlie” Dewey, Nelson’s son, who died at age 7; Nelson Dewey, who died in 1889; Helen M. Van Vleck Barber, first wife of Joel Allen Barber, the attorney who helped set up the parish; and George and Meta Cox, friends of Nelson Dewey. Those people are all characters in August Derleth’s novel about Nelson Dewey, The Shadow in the Glass, published in 1963.
Burials in Westwood Cemetery stopped in 1904 because of the deed of the land for the church and cemetery. Nelson and Catherine Dewey, who deeded the land to the parish in 1858, stipulated in the deed that burials be restricted to Dewey family members and members of families buried in the cemetery, subject to the approval of the Deweys and the church. Nelson Dewey was the last Dewey who could approve a Westwood burial, and he died in 1889. (The Coxes’ burials were allowed in the deed. Meta Cox was the last person buried at Westwood, in 1904.)