Peter Phillip Helphenstine / Helfenstein / Helphinstine (1724 - 1778)

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Birthplace: Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
Death: Died in Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, United States
Occupation: Military
Managed by: John Thompson SMALL, MD
Last Updated:

About Peter Phillip Helphenstine / Helfenstein / Helphinstine

A Patriot of the American Revolution for VIRGINIA with the rank of Major. DAR Ancestor #: A054449

The name Helphenstine may also be spelled Helfenstein or Helphinstine. In some documents, his surname is incorrectly spelled "Helveston." Due to military promotion, his title may be found as "major" or "captain." Maj. Helphenstein was born in the city of Koln, Germany, on 17 June 1724, the son of Pieter Helfenstein (1698-17??) and Mary Biedermann (approx. 1702-1787). Pieter married Catheryne Berger in Germany between 1750-1752. One source lists their marriage date as 3 July 1750. Their first child, John Philip Jacob Helphenstein, was born on the ship Recovery en route to the American colonies in 1754. The Helphensteins landed in America on 23 October 1754. Some sources list the civilian Helphenstein as studying surveying at the University of Bonn in Germany before coming to the Colonies. In addition, various historical sources list him as a shoemaker, carpenter and farmer, and it is possible he dabbled in all of these trades. Maj. Helphenstein served in the American Revolution with the 8th Virginia regiment, aka "the German regiment," commanded by Col. Muhlenberg. Legend has it that he became a trusted friend of Gen. George Washington after Gen. Washington contracted him to make shoes for his troops during the Braddock's War campaign. Pieter was one of the founding fathers of the German Lutheran Congregation in Winchester, Virginia. Peter and Catheryne had the following children: John Philip Jacob (b. Sept. 6, 1754 on the Atlantic Ocean), Rosanna Charlotta (b. 1762 in Winchester, VA), Catheryne (b. June 4, 1761 in Winchester, VA), Henry (b. 5 Oct. 1773 in Winchester), William Henry (b. 4 Oct. 1774,in Winchester), Peter Philip Jr. (b. 10 Jan. 1757 in Winchester), and Elizabeth (b. 1767 in Winchester).

Because he had served in Lord Dunmore's War (1774) against the Shawnee in Kentucky, Washington chose Helphenstine to serve as an officer in the Continental Army. Maj. Helphenstine was injured in battle in South Carolina in April 1778 and became increasingly ill due to exposure. Returning home to Fredericks County, Virginia, he eventually died of repeated infections of wounds sustained in battle. He is buried in the Mt. Hebron Lutheran churchyard in Winchester, Fredericks County, Virginia.

Peter arrived on the ship Recovery 23 October 1754. He brought his wife and little son with him from Germany. This is listed as Rhineland Immigrants, from the Palatinate. This little son was John Philip Jacob, born at sea. They arrived in Wilmington from Rotterdam and Cowes. The ships master was Amos Jones. (Another source says he arrived in Phil., Pa.)

! One source gives the marriage of Peter & Catharine as 3 July 1750.

! Before 1756, there were 4 wells (public) in Winchester, sunk by court order. The "Helphenstine Well" stood near to where the Kerr school building stood in 1890. from Cartmell "Shen. Valley Pioneers p. 147.

! Peter was a shoemaker by trade. There has been ref. made that he studied surveying at the University of Bonn in Germany. He was a Major in the 8th Va. Regiment during the Revolutionary War. Major Peter's Military record is in the National Archives, Washington, D.C. It is one sheet, with very little information on it. Very little is known about the 8th or German Regiment as it was called. He was also listed as a joiner (carpenter) on one of the deeds. He was also a farmer. Major Peter Helphenstine served at the Battle of Sullivan's Island. Also in a petition dtd. 1 Nov. 1776, that on march of regt. to which he belonged, to South Carolina, his horse, valued at 20 pounds, died. Could Peter also have been a drum maker? From the State Auditors Papers (now in the State Library) is listed; paid cash, Jan. 9, 1776, to John Carter, for Peter Helphinstine for a drum....2lb 7shillins 3pence.

! In the Calendar of State Papers Williamsburg 3 April 1776 Wednesday, Colo. Muhlenburg, Lt-Col. Bowman, and Major Helphinston, appear in comm'ee, subscribed the Articles of War, were sworn and received their Colonial Comm'ns dated 1st March. Major Helphenstine had contributed a good part of his fortune to supply the regiment.

! In Major Helphinstine's will there has always been a question as to whether Rosanna and Charlotta(e) are one or two people. I have read many different theories on this, but here is my conclusion. In the will he was referring to Rosanna Charlotta as one person. As comma's were either not used or no longer legible it was hard to say just exactly what it did say. But all the settle- ments refer to one person named Rosanna Charlotta who married Philip Shearer. But I also believe there was a Charlotte. Reference was made to her several times, also that she married David Young. I think she did exist but both were dead by the time the will was written and probated.

! House of Representatives report No. 193, 25th Congress, 2nd session dated 1838, Pgs. 1-2, states petition was made by the heirs of Peter Helphinstine, ded'd for seven years half pay for his service to the country during the Revolutionary War. The committee report was dated 22 Dec. 1837. Payment was made to the heirs of Major Peter Helphenstein. Which heirs got this, is not known, but I'd venture to say it was Conrad Kremer and Catherine's son George who filed this petition.

! Bounty Land Papers for Major Peter Helphinstine, from the Virginia State Library and Archives, Richmond, Va. Land office Military Certificates No. 3.4761-605 1 Reel 346, Pg. 510 Peter's "Representatives" were issued certificate nos. 5031, 5032, 5033, 5034, 5035, 5036 - for a total of 5333 and 1/3 acres, dtd. 3 March 1803.

Land office military certificates no. 3.6057-9926, Reel 347, Pg. 594 for Revolutionary War services of Major Peter Helphinstine whose heirs was issued scrip for 1702 additional acres of land, dtd. 26 Aug. 1868. Bounty Warrents on Reel 11 for Revolutionary War service of Major Peter Helveston (Helphinstine), 1801. Letters from Brig. General Peter Muhlenberg; Brig. General James Wood; and Capt. Thomas Berry. Attesting to the fact that Peter served in the Revolutionary War as a Major and took sick while in S. Carolina and returned home, never to return to the war. A replacement was not named until the death of the Major Peter Helphinstine was known. Muhlenberg states he lingered on considerable. His military record states he resigned but these officers say he didn't resign.

! There exists an undated document stating Peter was the oldest son of Major Peter Helphinstine, of which he was not. Frederick County Deed Records record John Philip Jacob along with his mother Catherine as administrators of Peter's will as the appointed parties named in his will has declined and John Philip Jacob was the oldest son. This was shown to establish their right to sell off the land, after Peter's decease. I believe this document is on a survey record in the Chilicothe Land Records office. I think what has happened was that Peter thought his older brother was dead for a period of time. When John Philip Jacob sued his brother for his portion of their father's land the fact was established he was alive and well.

! The Major was one of the founders of the German Lutheran Congregation in Winchester, Frederick County, Va., in 1762. His name appears among the founders in a document, written in Latin, placed in the corner-stone of the church, dated 16 April 1764. This was an Evangelical Lutheran Church. One wall of the church still stands in the Mt. Hebron (German Reformed) Cemetery, as a tribute to these people who established a church for the Lutheran Cong.

! The "History of the Lower Shenandoah Valley" Pgs. 301-302 reads as follows; "at an early day there was a large immigration into Pennsylvania from the Palatinate, Germany, and these immigrants in time sought other sections wherein to make their homes. Many of these came to the valley of Virginia, and, of course, brought their religion with them. Those who came to this section at first had no regular pastors, and for many years were visited by both the German Reformed and Lutheran Clergy. Having no church building, services were held and sacrament administered at the dwelling of some member." I have record that Christian Striet, Minister, visited the homes and done baptisms, etc.

! The Major had also served in Dunmore's War as a captain, and this is be- lieved the reason he was chosen as a Major by Peter Muhlenberg for the 8th Va. Regiment in the Rev. War.

! Col. George Washington (later first president of the U.S.), commanded the Virginia forces guarding the frontier against the French and Indians, after the defeat of Braddock in 1755, in the Southern Campaign. He made his headquarters in Winchester. It was during his stay in Winchester that he bought 41 pairs of shoes, apparently for his soldiers, from Helveston and Otto. General Washington had his headquarters in Winchester from the fall of 1755, until the summer of 1758. See copy of this sheet from his account book included within. This account book is now in the documents division of the Library of Congress. The sheet is dated 27 June 1756. The man Otto was evidently Tobias Otto, another resident of Winchester.

! Also interesting to note is the fact that the flag of the 8th German Regiment is the only flag left from the Rev. War. I believe it is now in the University of Wisconsin.

! In a book called Images of the Past, on page 10 is a photo of Peter Helphenstine's home in Winchester. It appears rather large. It was one of the first brick homes of the area, torn down in the late 1950's for a fire hall. By this time the home was about 200 years old.

! Bertha Martinez says Peter was born in Prussia. Prussia was a former state of N. Germany, once a kingdom.

! From passenger lists, I found the following. I don't know the connection, but it is interesting to note, there were other Helphenstines before 1754, the date of Peters arrival.

! Aug. 27, 1739, Palatines imported in the ship Samuel, Hugh Percy, Commander, from Rotterdam, last from Deal.- 340 Passengers. Michael Helffenstein.

! Sep. 29, 1753, Snow Rowand, Arthur Tran, Captain, from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. Martin Helfeysen.

! Names of males, Salzburgers, settled in Georgia, 1734 - 1741. Third transport, lists these males. Joh. Frederich Helfenstein, Johann Jacob Helfenstein, Jeremias Helfenstien, and Johannes Helfenstein. This last entry possibly supposting the theory that Peter came close to this time with a brother Jacob, as missionaries to the Indians.

-------------------- Peter Philip Helphenstine and Catherine Berger

Major Peter Philip Helphenstine arrived on the ship Recovery at

Wilmington, Cape Fear, NC October 23, 1754. The ship's

passengers were listed as "Rhineland Immigrants from

Palatinate". He was married to Catherine Berger.


The Major was one of the founders of the German Lutheran Congregation in Winchester, Frederick County, Va., in 1762. His name appears among the founders in a document, written in Latin, placed in the corner-stone of the church, dated 16 April 1764. This was an Evangelical Lutheran Church. One wall of the church still stands in the Mt. Hebron (German Reformed) Cemetery, as a tribute to these people who established a church for the Lutheran Cong

---Peter arrived on the ship Recovery on 23, October 1754. He brought his wife and little son with him from Germany. They are listed as Rhineland Immigrants from the Palatinate. The son was John Philip Jacob, born at sea. They arrived in Wilmington, Delaware from Rotterdam and Cowes. The ships master was Amos Jones.

Peter was a shoemaker by trade. There has been reference made that he studied surveying at the Universithy of Bonn in Germany. He was a Major in the 8th Regiment during the Revolutionalry War. His military record is in the National Archives, Washington, DC. It is one sheet with little information. He was listed as a joiner (carpenter) on one of his deeds. He was also a farmer. He served at the Battle of Sullivan's Island.

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Peter Phillip Helphenstine / Helfenstein / Helphinstine's Timeline

1724
June 17, 1724
Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Deutschland
1752
1752
Age 27
Germany
1754
September 6, 1754
Age 30
Ship Recovery, Atlantic Ocean
1762
June 4, 1762
Age 37
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, USA
1762
Age 37
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, USA
1767
1767
Age 42
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, USA
1770
October 4, 1770
Age 46
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, United States
1773
October 5, 1773
Age 49
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, United States
1775
January 10, 1775
Age 50
Wiinchester, Frederick County, VA
1778
October 5, 1778
Age 54
Winchester, Frederick, Virginia, United States