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Monday, May 23, 2016

St. Peter's Church during the Civil War: Rev. Henry S. Kepler

    Death of Rev. H.S. Kepler.-
Rev. H.S. Kepler, a well-known clergyman of the Episcopal Church of this diocese, died at his residence, on Seventh Street north of  Leigh street, yesterday at noon. Mr. Kepler was born in Maryland on the 8th of January, 1807, and in 1848 accepted a call to St. John's church in this city, in which field he labored until 1860. 
Mr. Kepler's family emigrated to America from Germany in 1784, his grandfather being an officer of prominence in the German army. The father of Mrs. Kepler, Dr. Grafton Duiany Harrison, was a descendant of an old English family of distinction, and related to the well-known family of Addison, of this city. 
Mr. Kepler's pastorate at St. John's was I attended with marked results for good. He labored in that venerable parish until 1858, when he resigned to become an evangelist  for the diocese, owing to the infirm health of Bishops Meade and Johns. He continued until in this important work until 1860 the breaking out of the war. During the war, opportunity offered, be officiated in the  parish of st. Peter's, in the county of New Kent, where General Lee frequently attended divine service. Subsequently he spent much of his time in building up the Episcopal church in Manchester and at Hicksford, on the Weldon and Petersburg railroad. When a minister was regularly established at Hicksford he undertook the  building up of the church at Ashland, in  which work he was very successful. Not satisfied with this good work, he went back to St. Peter's in New Kent, where he again endeared himself to the people, and soon built up a flourishing congregation. Resigning the charge in New Kent, he went to St.Mary's church, near Tuckahoe, in Henrico county, and it was owing to the faithful and laborious work in that church at Christmas of last year that the illness which terminated his long and useful life was brought on. There is not a church in Richmond where he was not well known and dearly loved, and throughout the diocese he was honored and respected. 
In the death of Rev. Mr. Kepler the Episcopal Church loses one of its most pious, able, and most zealous clergymen, and Christianity one of its brightest exemplars. Scrupulously modest and unobtrusive in his manner, gentle as a woman and yet as firm as adamant in defence of the right, he made during his long, useful, and honorable life a host not only of warm admirers but loving friends. The life of such a man is not only valuable as a guide and example to those whom, sorrowing, he leaves behind but his triumphant death, with all his burdens cast upon the Lord, the most convincing argument that could be made on behalf of that cause in which the vigor of his youth, the strength of his manhood, and even the feebleness and decrepitude of his old age had been spent, Whenever his services have been called into requisition, no matter in what field he was called upon to labor, he carried to that labor earnestness, zeal, a Christian walk, and an abundance of Christian love. With him the work of the church was a labor of love, and not until bodily infirmities prevented did he cease from laboring. He had passed the allotted three score-and-ten, and in the winter of life he could look back over the great ocean of the past without regret. Faithfully had he performed his share in every sphere of duty in which he had been called to officiate. 
The funeral will take place at 4 o'clock this afternoon from St. James church. 

-Richmond Dispatch, October 6, 1880

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