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Maj Peter Phillip Helphenstine
Birth: Jun. 17, 1724
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Death: May 11, 1779
Winchester
Frederick County
Virginia, USA

[I have found two dates of death for Major Hephenstine. One is October 5, 1778; the one found in the DAR Patriot Index: Centennial Edition is the May 11 date found here. I have also found his military rank listed as both Captain and Major. The DAR Index has him listed as a Major. If you know of corrections I need to make to this biography, please let me know.] 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."

Peter 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). (Peter's paternal grandfather's name was Phillip Helphenstein/Helfenstein, who was born and died in Germany, and his paternal great-grandfather was John Helphenstein/Helfenstein)

Peter 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 the American colonies in Cape Fear, North Carolina on 23 October 1754. (I have also found a source claiming that Recovery sailed from Rotterdam and Cowes, landing in Wilmington, Delaware.)

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. Peter was one of the founding fathers of the German Lutheran Congregation in Winchester, Virginia.

This information comes from a post made to this site by M.H. Charles: "Major Peter Helphinstine was one of the founding members of Winchester Lodge No.12 and is listed as Junior Warden June 5, 1769. His death is listed in the minutes of February 2, 1785 listing those brothers who gave their lives during the War for Independence."

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.

Following is an abstract from Maj. Helphenstine's will, taken from the online genealogy site GenForum: "Abstracts of the Will of Major Peter Helphenstine. Probated Court House, Frederick County, Va., May 4, 1779.
I, Major Peter Helphenstine, of the town of Winchester, County of Frederick, and Colony of Virginia, make this my last will and testament. I will the third part of my estate to my dear wife, Catherine Helphenstine, with all wearing apparel, plate and the two thirds to be equally divided between my sons, Phillip, Peter, William, and Henry, and my daughters, Catherine, Rosanna, Charlotta, and Elizabeth, sons to be paid at the age of 21, daughters paid at the age of 18 or days of marriage. I witness hereunto, I set my hand and seal, this 24th day of March 1776."



 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Catherine Berger (1731 - 1796)*
 
 Children:
  Peter Philip Helphenstine (1757 - 1842)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
German Lutheran Church Cemetery
Winchester
Winchester City
Virginia, USA
 
Created by: Kathy Riley Williams
Record added: Nov 25, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 16786329
Maj Peter Phillip Helphenstine
Added by: stars&bars
 
Maj Peter Phillip Helphenstine
Added by: stars&bars
 
 
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Grandfather(7) With Love.
- Melodie
 Added: Aug. 14, 2014

- SPratt
 Added: May. 12, 2014
Thank you for being a good neighbor and citizen of Winchester in its early years. I am sure my grandparents were proud to share not only property lines with you; but daily life in this growing Town of Winchester :)
- Charolette Gould Lathers Brown
 Added: Apr. 16, 2014
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