Bittinger Family Collection (1824-1913)
Scope and Content:
The collection contains 3 books pertaining to the actions and ideas of Benjamin F. Bittinger, who was a Presbyterian minister starting in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and then later moving on to become the pulpit for the Westminster Church in Washington. The collection contains Bittinger’s journal, his published Historical Discourse, and the Presbytery of Washington city from Bittinger’s time. The journal talks of Bittinger’s own personal experiences through most of his life. Historical Discourse provides one of Bittinger’s sermons. Also included is genealogical information concerning the lineage of the Bittinger family.
The collection also contains 3 scrapbooks, each pertaining to the Bittinger family. One of the scrapbooks was created by Isabella M. Wilson, daughter-in-law to Benjamin Bittinger. The scrapbook contains photographs and information about her two sons, Joseph Wilson and Charles, and their early years. The other two scrapbooks were created by Edith Gay, the wife of Charles Bittinger. These scrapbooks contain pictures of her life while at Radcliffe and Duxbury.
Benjamin F. Bittinger (1824-1913) was a Presbyterian minister who made his mark at the Westminster Church in Washington. He was born August 10, 1824 in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest minister of gospel in Washington and was the oldest living graduate from Princeton theological Seminary when he died. He was ordained in 1847. He served churches in Pennsylvania and Virginia for ten years until he was called to Washington for the Westminster Church Memorial. He remained there until 1863, when he moved to the Presbyterian Church at Ellicott City, Maryland. However, he went back to the Westminster church in 1868 and remained there until his retirement in 1899. He died at age ninety on September 13, 1913 of paralysis. He was married twice in his lifetime. His first marriage was with Catherine Malvina Libbey (1828-1859). The couple had a son, Charles Bittinger (1852-1879). Catherine died at age thirty-one on April 23, 1859 and was buried with their other child, John Libbey Bittinger. Benjamin Bittinger did remarry to Ann Elizabeth Bittinger, who died on March 25, 1896.
Charles Bittinger was a physician and married Isabella M. Wilson. Together they had two children, Charles Bittinger and Joseph Wilson Bittinger. Dr. Charles Bittinger died at age 27 on August 31, 1879. Isabella later remarried and later died in 1922. Their first born son, Joseph died at age six on January 2, 1884. Their other son, Charles, became a painter and later married Edith Gay. Edith Gay was a student on Radcliffe during the early 20th century. Charles and Edith had four children: Isabella, Charles Jr., Francis, and Edmund (d. 1960).
The collection is organized into 3 series.
Series I – Journals
Series II – Scrapbooks
Series III – Books
Series I – Journals (1824-1909)
Journal 1: “Family Record” Personal journal of Benjamin F. Bittinger. Originally contain 21 newspaper articles concerning his death. It is a small black book with a leather binding. The pages in the journal are blue and within the journal there are many articles concerning turning points in Benjamin F. Bittinger’s life.
Series II – Scrapbooks (1877-1902)
Scrapbook #1: This is the scrapbook of Isabella M. Wilson. It records many events and pictures of her two sons Charles and Joseph up until the death of Joseph in 1884 and 1889 for Charles. The book itself contains 28 pictures and is 118 pages long. The book contains some newspaper articles along with the pictures. The book cover is blue with brown spots on it and is made out of some cardboard type of material. The binding is almost completely gone and many of the pages and pictures are falling out.
Scrapbook #1: This is the scrapbook of Edith Gay, wife of Charles Bittinger (grandson of Benjamin). The book itself is a 2 ring binder with a red spine and a black leather cover. There are 62 pages and 303 pictures. The book contains three prominent sections in it. The first is of Edith Gay at Radcliffe with her friends. The second is of the Radcliffe Glee club performing Princess Perfection. The third is Edith Gay’s travels to Duxbury Massachusetts.
Scrapbook #2: This is the scrapbook of Edith Gay, wife of Charles Bittinger (grandson of Benjamin). The book itself is a 2 ring binder with a red spine and a black leather cover. There are 61 pages and 346 pictures. The pictures provide information concerning Edith at Radcliffe as a student and athlete. Also there are of her trip back to Duxbury and finally of her trip out to California.
Series III – Books (1698)-(1902)
Book 1: “Historical Discourse” This book is the published work of Benjamin F. Bittinger. It contains Bittinger’s personal story of what the Presbyterian Church means to him.
Book 2: “Presbytery of Washington City (1823-1902). This book gives the digest of the proceeding of the Presbyteries of the District of Columbia, the Potomac, and Washington City. It also gives the ministerial record of members of the Presbytery of Washington City (June 20 1870- June 2 1902). Benjamin F. Bittinger is mentioned twice.
Book 3: “Bittinger and Bedinger Families” This book provides the genealogical information of the Bittinger family from 1698 to 1898.
There is also a small pamphlet that contains genealogical information concerning the Bittinger’s, “The Family of Bittinger”. It ranges from 1736 to around the 1850’s.