Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana Archives

Rev. Elias Birdsall

Rev, Elias Birdsall was born in Hammond, Lawrence County, New York, on 21 February 1830, the son of William and Maria Theresa (Trotwood) Birdsall. A graduate of Nashotah House Seminary in 1854, he served as rector of St. Paul's, Mishawaka, from 1857 to 1858. He married Cornelia Bennett on 2 May 1859 in St. Joseph County, Indiana, and moved to Evansville to become rector of St. Paul's from 1860 to 1864. During the Civil War he moved to California, and became the founding rector of St. Athanasius Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, reportedly the first Episcopal Church in southern California. There in 1865 he delivered a eulogy of Abraham Lincoln. He returned to Wisconsin briefly in the early 1870s before settling in Stockton and San Francisco.  One acquaintance recalled that Birdsall was "an admirable citizen" who believed that "every person who is a public speaker should make a special preparatory study of elocution."  He died on 4 November 1890 and is buried in Oakhill Cemetery, Evansville, Indiana.


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