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Dr Charles Frederick Ernest Minnigerode

Dr Charles Frederick Ernest Minnigerode

Birth
Ahrensburg, Stormarner Landkreis, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Death 13 Oct 1894 (aged 80)
Alexandria, Alexandria City, Virginia, USA
Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
Memorial ID 11655063 · View Source
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Religious Figure. The "Father Confessor of the Confederacy" and a central part of Civil War Richmond, he is possibly better remembered for helping to introduce the modern custom of Christmas tree decorating to America. Born at Ahrensburg, Westphalia, he was raised in Darmstadt and studied law at the University of Giessen. Becoming involved in radical politics he was jailed in 1834 and during his four year incarceration was denied all reading matter save the Bible which he read eight times. Released due to ill health he sailed for America in 1839 and after landing in Philadelphia learned English within three months. Minnigerode accepted a professorship of Latin and Greek at the College of William and Mary in 1842 and became prominent in local society, introducing the German custom of decorating an evergreen for Christmas at the home of attorney St.George Tucker. He was a well-liked professor and a contributor of articles on the Greek classics to the "Southern Literary Messenger" but having been confirmed in the Episcopal Church at Williamsburg's historic Bruton Parish in 1844 he offered himself as a candidate for the ministry in 1845 and was ordained a Priest in 1847. After pastoring a succession of small churches Minnigerode was called as Rector of Richmond's St. Paul's Episcopal Church in 1856. At his new pastorate he proved popular, giving well-received messages though he never lost his German accent. With the onset of the Civil War Minnigerode unhesitatingly followed his adopted state, then when the new nation's capital moved to Richmond in May of 1861 and St. Paul's quickly became the Cathedral of the Confederacy he found himself in a position of spiritual leadership to much of the government. In 1862 he was called upon to baptize President Davis and throughout the conflict he was to give both public exortation and private counsel to those in power. Numbering President Davis, Generals Cooper and Lee, and much of the Cabinet and Congress among his congregation he was careful not to cross the line between church and state. Minnigerode was tasked with such unpleasant duties as the 1864 burial of General J.E.B. Stuart and was preaching on Sunday April 2, 1865, when Davis was handed the message that he needed to evacuate Richmond. During Davis' imprisonment at Fort Monroe, Virginia, Minnigerode visited him frequently and welcomed him back to Richmond upon his 1867 release. He was to remain at his pulpit through the Reconstruction years and preach a memorial sermon upon President Davis' death in 1889; that same year he retired and moved to a post as part time Chaplain of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. Today St. Paul's remains an active church with the pews used by President Davis and General Lee denoted by brass plaques while Colonial Williamsburg still marks Christmas with the Grand Illumination. Of leading the leader while balancing the obligations of church and state he said: "I never meddled with his policy or measures of his government; still less did I ever use his confidence for any personal purposes. Mr. Davis was not the man for that".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: George Seitz
  • Added: 31 Aug 2005
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11655063
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Charles Frederick Ernest Minnigerode (6 Aug 1814–13 Oct 1894), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11655063, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .