Of all the articles regularly used in our services, very few are more than a century old. Two silver chalices and a paten dated 1839 are brought out for special occasions. But every time we gather, we see the font, reminding us of the long history of this congregation.
We do not know when we acquired this font, although already in the 1920’s we had had it “for many years.” Here is a snapshot from 1958, showing the font in the Lancaster Street church, in a baptistry of marble and mosaic, below a mural of “Christ Blessing a Child” and next to the marble and mosaic lectern, now placed in the narthex of the Hackett Boulevard building.
We do not know who made it. But we do know who arranged for its purchase, and therein lies a story.
In the Lancaster Street church, St. Paul’s kept a gallery of photographs of important persons: warden and vestry, rectors, curates and major donors. Among these latter, is a portrait of “Mrs. Sylvanus Reed, through whose efforts the font now in use was presented to the Parish.”
Caroline Gallup was born in Berne, Albany County, August 5, 1821. She moved to Albany with her family in 1832, when her father,
Albert Gallup, became Albany County sheriff, a position he held until 1835. In 1837, Albert Gallup was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The family’s association with St. Paul’s seems to have begun just after Albert Gallup’s single term ended in 1839. Caroline’s mother, Eunice Smith Gallup, became a communicant of St. Paul’s in 1840, and Albert Gallup began a three-year term as vestryman the same year.
Caroline’s early education was in St. Peter’s school, and the school run by the estimable Misses Carter, four “Irish ladies of culture and refinement” who were also St. Paul’s communicants. She then attended the Albany Female Academy, graduating in 1839. Caroline became a communicant of St. Paul’s in 1841.
In 1851, Caroline was married at St. Paul’s to Sylvanus Reed in a service conducted by our rector, William Ingraham Kip. Sylvanus had also grown up in this parish. His father was Sylvester Reed, a St. Paul’s vestryman from 1839 until 1839.
Sylvanus had the distinction of being the first person from St. Paul’s to enter the ministry.
By the time of their marriage, he was rector of the newest Episcopal congregation in Albany, the Church of the Holy Innocents on North Pearl Street.
After their marriage, Sylvanus and Caroline lived in Albany for eleven years and all four of their children were born here. Two of these children may be of interest to you. Caroline’s son Sylvanus Albert Reed became an engineer, and designed the first modern metal airplane propeller. Caroline’s daughter Mary Geraldine was a well-known artist; she married Francois Millet, son of the painter Jean-François Millet. In 1862 Sylvanus accepted a position of minister at St. George’s Chapel, and the family moved to New York City.
Sylvanus’s health failed soon after the move, and in 1864 Caroline founded Mrs. Sylvanus Reed’s English, French and German Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies. Within a few years, it became on the of most prestigious schools for women in New York City, providing the daughters of the the city’s upper crust with a rigorous college-level education not then generally available to women in this country. The school attracted faculty of the highest caliber, and seems to have been particularly successful in providing employment to women, who found it difficult to find other academic appointments.
In another St. Paul’s connection, George William Warren, who had been our organist for twelve years between 1848 and 1860 (and likely the organist at Caroline and Sylvanus’s wedding), taught choral singing and solfeggio, and gave private piano lessons at Mrs. Reed’s School.
Sylvanus died in 1870, but Carolyn continued as head of the school until 1890, and as a Visitor until 1894. when it became the School of the Sisters of the Church. Caroline Gallup Reed died in 1916.
We may never know what efforts Caroline Gallup Reed exerted to bring this font, to St. Paul’s, but its presence in our nave serves as a reminder of our long history, and of our connection to an interesting family with an important role in women’s education.